Hong Kong (香港) is an autonomous territory, and former British colony, in southeastern China. It is a place with multiple personalities as a result of being both Cantonese Chinese and having been under British colonization. Today, the former British colony is a major tourism destination for China’s increasingly affluent mainland population. Its vibrant, densely populated urban centre is a major port and global financial hub with a skyscraper-studded skyline. It is an important hub in East Asia with global connections to many of the world’s cities. Hong Kong is a unique destination that has absorbed people and cultural influences from places as diverse as Vietnam and Vancouver and proudly proclaims itself to be Asia’s World City.
Hong Kong welcomes with an iconic skyline, a legendary kitchen, and lush, protected nature where rare birds and colourful traditions thrive.
Hong Kong Island (香港島) (Central, East Coast, South Coast)
The site of the original British settlement and the main focus of most tourists. Most of Hong Kong’s highest skyscrapers and the financial centre can be found here. Overall, Hong Kong Island is more modern and wealthy and considerably less dirty than the other areas of Hong Kong. The Peak is the tallest point on the island, with the best views and highest real estate values in the world.
The peninsula to the north of Hong Kong Island, with great views of the island. It offers a chaotic mix of malls, street markets, and residential tenements. With over 2.1 million people living in an area of less than 47 square kilometres, Kowloon is one of the most densely populated places in the world. Kowloon includes Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀), the location of many budget hotels and Mong Kok (旺角), a shopping district. Kowloon city (九龍城區), is worth the visit. Full of local restaurants, this area is famous for Thaï food, the amazing Wall City Park and the Kowloon Tsai park with an incredible swimming pool. This is one of the last area in town where you can find low rise buildings. In fact, 10 years ago, the airport was very close by and it was not allowed to build more than 5 floors buildings. Walking around is a taste of local life.
New Territories (新界)
Named by British officials when leased from the Chinese government in 1898, the New Territories contain a curious mix of small farms, villages, industrial installations, mountainous country parks and towns that have populations the size of some cities.
Lantau Island (大嶼山)
A large island west of Hong Kong Island. You will not find many idyllic villages, but once you get over the stray dogs and the ramshackle buildings you will find beautiful mountains and beaches. The airport, Disneyland, and the Ngong Ping cable car are located here.
Outlying Islands (離島)
Well-known weekend destinations for the locals, the Outlying Islands are most of the islands surrounding Hong Kong Island. Highlights include Lamma (南丫島), well known for its seafood and Cheung Chau (長洲), a small island that used to be a pirates’ den, but now attracts seafood aficionados, windsurfers and sunbathing day trippers.
Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate, but is cooled in winter by sea breezes. Summer (June to September) is long, humid and hot with temperatures often exceeding 32°C (90°F) and with night time temperatures that do not drop below 25°C (77°F). Typhoons usually occur between June and September and can bring a halt to local business activities for a day or less (see natural disaster section).
Winters are generally very mild, with daytime temperatures of 18-22°C (64–72°F) but with nights dipping into 10°C (50°F) and below sometimes, especially in the countryside. Christmas in Hong Kong is considered warm compared with many other Northern Hemisphere countries. Chinese New Year is notorious for cold (10°C/50°F), wet weather; this is because winter in Hong Kong tends to start out mild and dry and then turn a bit cool and wet later, though the cool weather is brief.
Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November/December) have average temperature between 21-24°C (70-5°F). Autumn is probably a more comfortable season as spring tends to be more humid and rainy.
Although most buildings in Hong Kong have air-conditioning to cope with the summer weather, winter heating is something of a novelty. During the coldest days, most locals simply wear more layers even indoors. In a restaurant for example, it is not unusual to see customers eating with their jackets and scarves on.
Hong Kong is much more than a harbor city. The traveler weary of its crowded streets may be tempted to describe it as Hong Kongcrete. Yet, this territory with its cloudy mountains and rocky islands is mostly a rural landscape. Much of the countryside is classified as Country Park and, although 7 million people are never far away, it is possible to find pockets of wilderness that will reward the more intrepid tourist.
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