Hong Kong appeals to everyone. This island city has it all, spectacular scenery, great nightlife and entertainment, fabulous shopping, and some of the best food in the world.
Once a British colony, Hong Kong was the gateway to trade in mainland China. It's still one of the country's major centers of finance and commerce and a leading business destination.
The skyscrapers! Space is limited and Hong Kong invented the trend for building up. The city's magnificent skyline is one of the most recognizable in the world - especially after dark when neon lights illuminate buildings and streets.
Victoria Harbour is one of the city's most spectacular features. Take a tour on the Star Ferry for unique views of the waterfront, Kowloon, and mainland China.
Hong Kong's many parks and gardens are perfect for picnics and outings and most have playgrounds and children's activities. Theme parks are always a hit; younger children will enjoy visits to Disneyland while older children are sure to love the thrilling rides and the famous cable car at Ocean Park.
Hong Kong is known for its colorful festivals, many of which include the famous Lion and Dragon dances, fireworks, and feasts. Chinese New Year each January to February is the biggest. Other notable celebrations include the Dragon Boat Festival, the Spring Lantern Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
No matter where you go in Hong Kong, you'll find a sophisticated blend of east and west that stems from the island's days as a British colony as well as from its Mandarin and Cantonese past. People from all over China make their homes in Hong Kong so expect to meet locals from Shanghai, Fujian, or Sichuan as well as immigrants from all over the world.
Shop for everything from clothing to electronics in the Hong Kong's upmarket malls, pick up original designs in trendy boutiques, or buy traditional Chinese products in the bustling street markets.
Hong Kong is the foodie capital of Asia and there is something to suit any budget. Try regional Cantonese dishes, local dim sum and seafood, or stop to sample snacks from the city's street vendors.
Hong Kong winters are mild but dry while summer is hot, humid, and wet. Spring is cloudy so perhaps not the best time for a visit if you want to see the skyline from the Star Ferry or the view from Victoria Peak. However, it's the ideal time to plan a visit if you'd like to see the amazing Spring Lantern Festival. Peak season is from October to December when the city is cool, pleasant, and sunny, or during the Lunar New Year celebrations in late January or early February.
Many people start their vacations with flights to Hong Kong International Airport (HKG). The airport is also known locally as Chek Lap Kok after the small island it's built on, which is located to the north of Lantau Island and to the west of Hong Kong Island. The terminal building was designed by Sir Norman Foster. The airport is a major regional hub with daily flights arriving from all over the world. All flights arrive at Terminal One and from there you can make the 22 mile journey to the city center by shuttle bus or the Airport Express train service.
Train travel is possible from several Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. All services terminate at Hung Hom station on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong.
If you are traveling overland by car you should be aware that there are land checkpoints between neighboring Shenzhen in mainland China and Hong Kong.
A Cross Boundary Coach service runs from several mainland cities to Hong Kong, operated by numerous private coach companies and overseen by Hong Kong and Guangdong authorities. Buses are required to stop for checks at border crossings.
Splash out on a stay at one of the city's famous 5-star hotels like the Peninsula, Le Méridien, the Mandarin Oriental, the Four Seasons, or the Ritz-Carlton. 4-star hotels like the Crowne Plaza, Novotel, and Marriott are ideal for family vacations while Hong Kong guesthouses around Nathan Road are cheap but very basic.
Hong Kong Island – HK Island was the original British settlement and it's the main attraction for visitors. Go to the top of Peak Tower on Victoria Peak for the best views of the Island. Peak Tower also has a shopping mall with several fine restaurants and a museum.
Kowloon – Malls, street markets, and residential tenement buildings compete for space in this compact district. Kowloon highlights include Wall City Park and Kowloon Tsai Park. Hong Kong Museum of History in Kowloon is ideal for family outings and an opportunity for you to explore the region's past.
Lantau Island – Lantau is west of Hong Kong Island and the airport is located here. It's the first taste of Hong Kong for many visitors and home to the famous Ngong Ping 360 cable car and Disneyland.
New Territories – a vast region of small and ancient villages, large cities, hiking trails, farmland, and industry to the north of Hong Kong.
Lamma Island – You may not automatically think of beaches when you think of Hong Kong. However, there are some great swimming spots around the coastal areas and they're as popular with locals as they are with visitors. Hung Shing Ye Wan on Lamma Island is revered for its clear waters and fine white sand.
The Hong Kong Light Transit system is comprised of five underground lines, three suburban rail lines, a modern tram service, and the Airport Express. Unless you plan to travel exclusively by taxi, an Octopus Card is a must. The prepaid contactless card can be purchased or refunded at Customer Service centers in any MTR station. A basic adult card costs HK$150, which includes HK$100 in credit and a refundable deposit of HK$50. Child and senior cards cost HK$70 with HK$20 credit. Ferries also link the various islands and offer a unique view of the city.
Red Urban taxis can take you almost anywhere apart from southern Lantau. Rates are HK$22.00 for the first mile then HK$1.60 for every quarter of a mile. Green New Territories taxis are slightly cheaper and cover rural regions in the New Territories as well as Disneyland and the airport.
If you plan to drive in Hong Kong you should bear in mind that traffic can be heavy and fast moving. Cars drive on the left since Hong Kong is a former British colony.
Head to Wan Chai Road for computers and gaming or visit Hollywood Road and Loscar Road for art and antiques. Malls are popular; try Landmark for designers like Gucci and Dior or the IFC Mall near the Star Ferry. Street markets like the Ladies Market, the Flower Market, and the Bird Market offer a unique Hong Kong shopping experience.
Pick up essentials at neighborhood convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Vanguard, and Circle K, which the locals call OK. For a larger shop try the city's main supermarket chains like Aeon, Park N Shop, and Wellcome.
Hong Kong is without doubt a gourmet destination and you'll find all kinds of food from all over the world. Seafood is a local specialty and some of the best can be found at the famous floating restaurants at Aberdeen Harbour. Try Asian or international cuisine at upmarket restaurants like Aqua and Felix or sample fast food Cantonese style at Maxims MX. A cheap meal in Hong Kong will cost HK$25-35 while dinner in a mid-range restaurant is HK$150-200 per person.
Dim Sum is a range of tasty snacks that are sold by the piece at street vendors or restaurants throughout Hong Kong. Popular choices include steamed shrimp dumplings, vegetable dumplings, barbecued pork buns, and Hong Kong-style egg tarts.