Hong Kong offers tourists more sights and attractions per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world. Its entire spectrum of sights, from traditional Chinese temples to the rural New Territories and outlying islands to the bustling dynamic metropolis, can all be seen with ease in a surprisingly short time.
HONG KONG ISLAND ( click for postcard )
Central District, Hong Kong's business hub, is home to Asia's leading trading companies, international banks, government headquarters and the Supreme Court. Its shimmering skyscrapers house several up-market shopping malls, such as Pacific Place and The Landmark, and top-class hotels. Central's architectural marvels include Exchange Square, the Bank of China Tower and the Hongkong Bank Building. Amid the modernity, however, lie old stepped streets, charming colonial buildings and lush parkland.
- Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
In the mid-19th Century, six hectares of land above the Governor's residence in Central were made into a botanical garden. Zoological exhibitions were added later, and the gardens now contain many endangered species. This is also an excellent place to watch local residents practise their tai chi chunn (shadow-boxing) every morning. Open from 7am to 10pm daily. Free admission.
- Hong Kong Park
This 10-hectare oasis in the middle of Central features a greenhouse, an aviary, pools, fountains, a restaurant, the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre and an amphitheatre. The Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware is also located here. The main entrance is on Supreme Court Road, near the Admiralty MTR station. Open from 7am to 11pm daily. Free admission.
- Lan Kwai Fong
Formerly known as "matchmakers' alley", this narrow lane in Central now houses trendy restaurants and nightclubs.
- Victoria Peak ( click for postcard )
Victoria Peak, which rises to 554 metres above sea level, is still the most prestigious residential address on Hong Kong Island. It can be reached in just eight minutes from Central by funicular railway. The summit offers a superb 360-degree view of virtually the whole territory as well as the islands of the South China Sea beyond. The new Peak Galleria, a three-tiered complex featuring restaurants and shops, is also located at the Peak.
Although Western was the first area to be settled by the British, the district is very much a Chinese domain and is home to many traditional Chinese artisans. Open-fronted shops and stalls sell everything from herbs and ginseng to handcrafted furniture and funerary items. The HKTA publishes the Central and Western District Walking Tour and the Central and Western District Heritage Trail (HK$28 each), which are invaluable guides to the area.
- Western Market
This beautifully reconstructed Edwardian building on the corner of Connaught Road and Morrison Street in Western District originally opened in 1858 as one of Hong Kong's first produce markets. These days kiosks sell speciality gifts and mementos. Eighteen fabric shops are located on the first floor and a food centre features traditional cooking. Open daily from 10am to 7pm (shops) and from 11 AM to midnight (restaurant) .
- Hollywood Road Lok Ku Road
This is the heart of Hong Kong's antique district, where you can find Chinese porcelain, rosewood and blackwood furniture, paintings, curios and chinoiserie. The Cat Street Galleries house four floors of arts-and-crafts shops and an exhibition gallery.
- Man Mo Temple
Situated on Hollywood Road, the temple is one of the oldest and the largest of its kind in the territory. It is dedicated to Kwan Kung, the god of war, and Man Cheong, the god of literature.
Wan Chai ( click for postcard )
At night, Wan Chai's colourful neon signs are switched on and nightclubs, Chinese restaurants and bars bustle with activity. Wan Chai is also home to a unique Police Museum and the Wan Chai Green Trail, an interesting walk that winds through the city up to lookout points in the hills above. Situated at one end of Wan Chai are the Hong Kong Arts Centre, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and Asia's tallest building, the 78-storey Central Plaza. At the other end is the Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
Located between Wan Chai and Causeway Bay, Happy Valley is best known for its racecourse, which is one of the richest in the world. The HKTA organizes a Come Horseracing tour to race meetings here and at the Sha Tin course during racing season from September to June.
Bordered by Victoria Park, a typhoon shelter, the Hong Kong Stadium and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Causeway Bay is one of the busiest areas of Hong Kong by day or night. Modern department stores stand alongside open-air markets, cooked-food stalls, cinemas, bars and restaurants. Tin Hau Temple is located nearby.
- Noon Day Gun
Located in a small garden opposite The Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay, the gun made famous by Noel Coward in his song Mad Dogs and Englishmen is still fired every day on the stroke of noon.
- Aw Boon Haw Gardens
Built in 1935 by a local philanthropist, Aw Boon Haw, with the proceeds from his famous Tiger Balm ointment, these gardens are a truly fantastic series of statues and grottoes depicting ancient Chinese myths. Open from 9.30am to 4pm daily. Admission free.
The area east of Victoria Park is largely industrial, but modern shopping and entertainment complexes have sprung up recently, such as Cityplaza at Taikoo Shing. The settlements of Shau Kei Wan and Chai Wan are Chinese residential areas where markets and temples abound.
Once a quiet fishing village, Aberdeen is now a thriving town best known for its magnificent floating restaurants, excellent seafood and waterborne population.
By night, the glittering neon lights offer wonderful photo opportunities. The floating restaurants can be reached by motor launch.
- Ocean Park/Middle Kingdom/Water World
Ocean Park, Southeast Asia's largest leisure complex, lies between Aberdeen and Repulse Bay and provides a great day out for all the family. Attractions include a cable car and the world's second-longest outdoor escalator, marineland shows and exhibitions, a shark tunnel, an aviary, a butterfly house, the 72-metre Sky Tower, the Dinosaur Discovery Trail, a huge roller coaster and other thrilling rides. Adjacent to Ocean Park is Middle Kingdom, which presents a "living" history of China through replicas of ancient palaces and pagodas, temples and street scenes. Next door is Water World, a giant water-play park which is open throughout the summer.
- Repulse Bay ( click for postcard )
The less congested, quieter south side of the Island is largely a residential area and is particularly favoured by expatriates. Repulse Bay boasts one of Hong Kong's most popular and accessible beaches; in the summer changing rooms and showers are provided, and lifeguards are on duty. Facing the beach are fast-food stalls, a restaurant complex and a supermarket. The former Repulse Bay Hotel is now a complex housing shops and restaurants.
A lively spot on the south side of Hong Kong Island, the open-air market in picturesque Stanley Village is frequented by visitors and locals alike for bargains in overrun designer jeans, fashions, leather, rattanware, porcelain and linen and bedding. There are also many bars and restaurants and interesting walks ta nearby beaches.
KOWLOON ( click for postcard )
Tsim Sha Tsui
Many of Hong Kong's hotels are located here, on both sides of Nathan Road, which is known as Hong Kong's "Golden Mile" of shopping and nightlife. On the waterfront stands the huge New World shopping complex and two de luxe hotels. Further west of the Star Ferry Pier are the air-conditioned plazas of Ocean Terminal, Ocean Centre, Ocean Galleries and the Gateway, which together form Harbour City, Asia's largest shopping centre. Next to this is China Hong Kong City, a complex containing shopping arcades and a ferry terminal to China and Macau.
- Star Ferry
This most famous of Hong Kong's ferries plies the shortest route between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon daily between 6.30am and 11.30pm, giving passengers an ideal vantage point from which to photograph the fascinating harbour scene on both sides
- Hong Kong Cultural Centre ( click for postcard )
Hong Kong's largest venue for the performing arts, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre's facilities are among the most up-to-date in the world. They include the Concert Hall, Grand Theatre, Studio Theatre, an exhibition gallery, shops,restaurants and bars. Adjacent to the Cultural Centre is the Hong Kong Museum of Art
- Hong Kong Space Museum
Beneath this distinctive dome is one of the world's largest and most exciting planetariums, as well as exhibition halls on astronomy and space sciences. Sky Shows and Omnimax shows are presented in the Space Theatre daily, except Tuesday, and simultaneous interpretation on headphones is available. Book ahead for tickets.
- Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre
The Mosque is located in Kowloon Park off Nathan Road, a 10-minute walk from the Star Ferry. It is the prayer centre for Hong Kong's 50,000 Muslims.
- Kowloon Park
Kowloon Park boasts extensive recreation and sports facilities, including a swimming pool complex, games hall, gardens, an aviary and a children's playground. The "Sculpture Walk" and Hong Kong Museum of History are major attractions.
Tsim Sha Tsui East
Tsim Sha Tsui East was developed in recent years on land reclaimed from the sea. Some of the most luxurious hotels are located here on the waterfront amid blocks of ultramodern, air-conditioned shopping plazas and restaurants. The Hong Kong Coliseum, Hong Kong polytechnic University and Kowloon station, The Kowloon-Canton Railway terminal, are nearby.
- Hong Kong Science Museum
Discover the mysteries of science at this museum. Some 60 per cent of the 500 exhibits are "hands on".
Yau Ma Tei/Mong Kok
At the northern end of Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei is one of the older parts of Kowloon, famous for its open-air markets and temples. Mong Kok is an exhilaratingly crowded area with open-air markets. Both districts reveal many aspects of traditional Chinese urban lifestyles.
- Temple Street Night Market
Located off Jordan Road in Yau Ma Tei, this is a lively night market which sells sweaters, shirts, gadgets, CDs and more. Sometimes fortune-tellers and Chinese opera singers can be found there. It is best to visit the market after 8pm.
- Jade Market
Between 10am and 3.30pm daily, a section of Kansu Street in Yau Ma Tei becomes a market selling all varieties of jade at prices which range from the sublime to the ridiculous. It is best to visit the market in the morning.
- Bird Market
In an alley called Hong Lok Street, near Mong Kok MTR station,hundreds of birds and cages are for sale. Songbirds have been prized in China since the early dynasties.
- Ladies' Market
This market in Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok, is open every afternoon and evening. Ladies' clothes, jeans, shoes and accessories are the stallholders' specialities.
OtherAttractions in Kowloon
- Sung Dynasty Village
Experience life in China as it was 1,000 years ago, with everyone in the village dressed in period costume. See a Chinese wedding parade, Chinese acrobatic shows and kung fu demonstrations; enjoy traditional Chinese snacks and watch artisans at work. There is also a Wax Museum.
- Wong Tai Sin Temple
This is a large, modern temple whose deity is famous for curing illnesses. Nearby stalls sell joss sticks, and fortune-tellers ply their trade.
- Lei Yue Mun
Enjoy fresh seafood in this village, situated at the point at which the harbour narrows between Kowloon and the northeastern shore of Hong Kong Island. Make your own seafood selections from the village market and let one of the nearby restaurants prepare them to your specifications.
This 740-square-kilometre area, which is situated north of Boundary Street in Kowloon, was leased to Britain in 1898 for a period of 99 years under the terms of the Second Treaty of Peking. Sino-British negotiations in recent years resulted in the signing of an agreement in December, 1984, under which sovereignty of Hong Kong will revert to China in 1997, the year the lease expires. The New Territories are largely rural but development has been rapid and satellite towns and resettlement estates now occupy more and more space.
- Ching Chung Koon
This Taoist "Temple of Green Pines" houses many Chinese art treasures, including lanterns which used to hang in Beijing's Imperial Palace 200 years ago, and a jade seal more than 1,000 years old.
- Tai Mo Shan
This is Hong Kong's highest peak (957 metres), from which you can see the new industrial town of Tsuen Wan to the south and all of the New Territories to the north. To get there, take a bus from Tsuen Wan, or join "The Land Between" Tour organized by the Hong Kong Tourist Association.
- Ping Shan Heritage Trail
Opened in December 1993, this trail is about one kilometre long and passes through an area where descendants of the Tang family have been living since the 12th Century. Signposts and carved granite blocks guide visitors along the trail, which links up a number of traditional Chinese structures.
- Kam Tin Walled Village
Built in the 1600s, the traditional village at Kam Tin, actually called Kat Hing Wai, is still inhabited by descendants of the original Tang clan. The village is surrounded by a wall, which was built to protect early inhabitants from invading pirates and bandits.
- Lok Ma Chau Lookout Point
Mainland China can be seen from this hilltop lookout, which also overlooks the Shenzhen River, paddy fields and duck farms and Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in China.
- Luen Wo Market
Near Fanling in the northern New Territories, this typical Chinese market features a wide array of fresh produce and daily necessities, which are sold from stalls laid out in a square. The best time to visit this market is between 10.30am and noon.
- 10,000 Buddhas Monastery
There are in fact 12,800 statues of Buddha lining the walls of this temple on the hillside west of Shatin railway station. The monastery features a nine-storey pink pagoda and also houses the founder's remains, which have been embalmed in gold leaf.
- Sai Kung
Located in the eastern part of the New Territories, the Sai Kung area contains two official country parks. Sai Kung Town boasts a picturesque harbour and many excellent seafood restaurants.
In addition to Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories, Hong Kong has 235 outlying islands. Most are uninhabited, while on others the way of life has remained virtually unchanged for decades. Many are easily accessible, very inexpensively, on scheduled ferries operated by the Hong Kong Ferry (Holdings) Company and can be visited for a day or even half a day. Three of the most popular and charming islands are Cheung Chau, Lamma and Lantau.
- Cheung Chau ( click for postcard )
This is a tiny island, only 10.5 kilometres west of Hong Kong (one hour by ferry from Central), where motor vehicles are prohibited. See how the fisherfolk live and visit boat-building yards, fish-processing factories and the island's famous Pak Tai Temple, which was built in 1783. There is a good swimming beach within easy reach of the ferry pier. One of Hong Kong's most famous festivals, the Bun Festival, is celebrated here each year, usually in April or May.
The closest of Hong Kong's outlying islands, Lamma lies about 40 minutes from Central by ferry. The main township is Yung Shue Wan, where stalls selling dried fish, Chinese herbal medicines, incense and candles mingle with modern low-rise cafes, waterfront seafood restaurants and banks. Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma's second settlement, is also famous for its open-air seafood restaurants.
At least two beaches on Lamma are ideal for swimming, fishing and barbecues. During the Tin Hau Festival, which is celebrated every year in April or May, the bay near Yung Shue Wan throngs with junks flying gaily coloured flags.
Twice the size of Hong Kong Island, Lantau is the largest of all the outlying islands, yet has a population of less than 20,000.
Silvermine Bay (Mui Wo), the main township, is reached by a frequent one-hour ferry service from Hong Kong. A 25-minute bus ride takes you to Cheung Sha Upper Beach, which is 3.2 kilometres long and famous for its white sand.
The Tung Chung Valley, a fertile farming area with small Buddhist temples, can be reached by bus from Silvermine Bay. The Tung ; Chung Fort dates back to 1817. Hong Kong's new international airport is being built on a small island, Chek Lap Kok, opposite Tung Chung Village.
Tai O, once the centre of Hong Kong's salt-panning industry, is distinguished by its houses built on stilts above the river. It can be reached by bus from Silvermine Bay.
On the Ngong Ping Plateau (520 metres), at the Po Lin Monastery, is the world's largest, seated, outdoor bronze statue of Buddha (standing 24 metres high). ( click for postcard ) The Monastery also houses three smaller magnficent statues of Buddha. Nearby are the only tea gardens in Hong Kong. Horse riding and cycling are available. Ngong Ping Plateau is accessible by bus from Silvermine Bay.