Hong Kong’s blend of Cantonese culture and its British colonial past makes it a city unlike any other in Asia. Clamber to the top of Victoria Peak for unrivalled views across the bay, gorge yourself at Kowloon’s street markets and hit rooftop bars for a taste of the high life.
Hong Kong’s MTR subway system is fast, efficient and covers Hong Kong Island as well as the New Territories and Lantau. Bus services serve the suburbs and outlying villages, while taxis are readily available and excellent value for money, although traffic can get clogged during rush hour.
Hong Kong’s soaring skyline is best appreciated from the water. The Star Ferry is an institution, its 60-minute route around the bay via Kowloon especially good as the sun goes down and hits the glass of Central’s skyscrapers.
Those who prefer to stay on dry land should ride the old–style funicular Peak Tram to the top of Victoria Peak. Hong Kong’s highest point sits amid lush trees, the twinkling lights of the city spread out below.
The heady smell of incense is inescapable at Man Mo Temple. This holy Taoist site is home to stunning gilt plaques and idiosyncratic statues. Built by the Qing Dynasty in 1847, it was used as a place to settle legal disputes as well as being a symbol of Chinese religion.
For those who love to simply wander, the Mid–Levels Escalators allow you to take a leisurely climb up through this affluent district, home to a string of excellent bars, restaurants and shops.
Intrepid shoppers should head over to Kowloon and lose themselves among the stalls of the Temple Street Night Market. Clothes, trinkets and antiques are all up for grabs in a sight that offers a truly amazing assault on the senses.
Leave the centre of Hong Kong behind and the city’s other side quickly reveals itself. Strap on a backpack, jump on a bus and you can be hiking the stunning Dragon’s Back trail within an hour. This walk affords huge views and a chance to stop off at some of Hong Kong’s easily overlooked beaches on the way.
The 10,000 Buddhas Monastery, a short walk from Sha Tin station, is also worth taking the time to visit. The complex is home to a number of temples and a pagoda, the main building housing thousands of unique Buddha statues.
Hong Kong’s Dai Pai Dongs, open–air food stalls, are inescapable and serve the very best Cantonese food in the city. The narrow strip along Graham Street, running up to the Mid–Levels, is an essential stop off. Try the eggs with shrimp or beef and tomatoes. Across the water in Kowloon, Dai Pai Dongs run parallel to the Temple Street Night Market, serving even more Cantonese delicacies.
If you’d rather eat inside, then Maxim’s Palace City Hall is a true institution; its huge dining room is traversed by waiters pushing trolleys laden with steaming dumplings. Simply ask for what takes your fancy.