About Hong Kong
East is East and West is West? Not so much in Hong Kong, the special administrative region on China’s south coast that was part of the British Empire from 1842 to 1997. Here, in a region of 7 million people and 1,200 skyscrapers, Cantonese culture and Western-style capitalism have met, mingled, and got along very nicely indeed.
Around one in six Hongkongers live on Hong Kong Island, which is separated from the mainland by Victoria Harbour. The core urban areas cling to the island’s north coast and are home to financial multinationals, media conglomerates, high-end hotels and restaurants, and cutting-edge contemporary architecture befitting the world’s most vertical city.
To appreciate Hong Kong Island’s ravishing, neon-lit skyline without cricking your neck, take a dusk cruise with Watertours (www.watertours.com.hk) or ride the tram to the top of Victoria Peak (www.thepeak.com.hk). Head west to Lantau Island, the largest island in the territory and home to major tourist attractions like Hong Kong Disneyland (park.hongkongdisneyland.com) and the Ngong Ping 360 cable car (www.np360.com.hk/en/). Hop on the Star Ferry (www.starferry.com.hk) to cross over to the mainland districts of Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories, where you can shop on Canton Road or chill out in quiet seaside towns like Sai Kung.
Don’t pass through Kowloon without exploring one or more of its many traditional markets. Hit the Jade Market (near the intersection of Canton Road and Jordan Road) for charms and accessories, the adjacent Temple Street Night Market for menswear, and the Mong Kok Flower Market for blooms of all varieties. Back on Hong Kong Island, Stanley Market (www.hk-stanley-market.com) is a happy hunting ground for souvenir seekers while Causeway Bay is crammed with late-opening shops, among them the 13-storey SOGO department store (www.sogo.com.hk) .
As easy on the eyes as it is on the taste buds, Cantonese cuisine is justly revered. Steamed crab and slow-cooked belly pork are just two of the mouthwatering options at The Chairman (www.thechairmangroup.com). For dumplings with a view, ascend to the 28th floor of One Peking, home to trendy Hutong (www.aqua.com.hk). Located in Wan Chai, Bo Innovation (www.boinnovation.com) recently climbed to No.51 in San Pellegrino’s list of the world’s 100 best restaurants.
Hong Kong has several quarters renowned for their nightlife, most famously Lan Kwai Fong (www.lankwaifong.com), a maze of streets in the Central district packed with bars and clubs. Walk west from here and you’ll hit Soho, another district with a high concentration of nightlife spots but less hyped and touristy than Lan Kwai Fong. Wan Chai is famous for its strip joints and sailors on shore leave but it’s also home to a growing number of hip bars and top-notch restaurants. For dim sum and dancing, centrally located Dragon-i (www.dragon-i.com.hk) is hard to beat.
Lively all year round, Hong Kong hosts several events that push the city's abundant energy to the limits. These include: March’s Rugby Sevens (www.hksevens.com); the International Races horse racing meet (www.hkjc.com/home/english), which typically takes place in December; and the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival (www.hkdba.com.hk), which generally happens in June or July and is well worth planning your trip around.