Hong Kong describes itself as “Asia’s World City”, and it’s hard to disagree. This is the place where East Asia and the rest of the world meet to do business, a social and intellectual melting-pot and a cultural powerhouse. It’s not surprising that everyone falls in love with its unique charms as soon as they set foot on its neon-bright, bustling streets, or catch a glimpse of the glittering South China Sea.
Hong Kong is a city of contrasts, with tranquil countryside and quiet coastal inlets just a short journey from pulsating business districts and upmarket residential areas. Whether you’re a shopaholic or a gourmet, an art lover or an adventurer, there’s something here for all tastes. The Hong Kong Museum of Art houses a valuable collection of Chinese artworks, while the lively street markets of Mong Kok offer an alternative view of local culture. If your taste in shopping is more upmarket, you can happily splash the cash on luxury brands in the malls of Tsim Sha Tsui, or catch the famous Star Ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island’s chic Central district.
Party animals should head straight for bohemian Soho or the ultra-trendy Lan Kwai Fong district, where cosy cafés and smart restaurants serve cuisine from around the world and the lively bars and clubs stay open until the early hours.
If you’ve had enough of the bright lights, go in search of peace and tranquillity in one of the many country parks that are dotted around Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The traditional fishing town of Sai Kung is a perfect choice for a day trip to the beach followed by a delicious feast of locally sourced seafood. Hike through the mountains or take a coastal walk to breathe the fresh air and savour the views.
Hong Kong’s excellent public transport system provides an efficient, quick and cheap way to see the sights. Most people find the MTR metro system refreshingly user-friendly, while lovers of history will enjoy a nostalgic ride on one of the classic double-decker trams that still ply the old routes.
English speakers will feel immediately at home in Hong Kong, as this former British colony has left a powerful legacy. Most locals, particularly those working in the tourism and leisure industry, speak English as well as Cantonese or Mandarin Chinese, and the Western-style street names are a reminder of this vibrant city’s colonial heritage.