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Hong Kong is a land of beautiful paradoxes, a place where cutting-edge modernity meets centuries of tradition. It’s designated as a Special Administrative Region of China, yet retains its unique and independent identity, while a history of colonialism brings a vibrant clash of East and West to its cultural attractions. Away from the skyscrapers of Central, the city gives way to rolling mountains and verdant islands.
One of the best ways to experience these distinctive sides of Hong Kong is to travel by boat. Take a ferry from Kowloon Bay on the mainland to the Central Business District on Hong Kong Island and you’ll see traditional wooden boats floating next to sparkling cruise liners. Then, you’ll pull into a bay of gleaming, ultra-modern skyscrapers surrounded by mountains that can be accessed only by rickety old trams.
Join throngs of shoppers as they hit the streets of Hong Kong for a diverse day strolling between high-end boutiques and noisy markets. Visitors have to choose between the classy brand names on offer in Admiralty and Central or the countless options available in ever-busy Causeway Bay. After spending big, hunt for bargains in the markets of Tung Choi or the Temple Street Night Market.
Food options similarly veer between the exquisite and the easy. Hong Kong’s cosmopolitan population have given the city a wonderfully global dining scene, so try the best in cuisine from Europe, Japan, Shanghai and, of course, the province itself. Celebrity chefs populate the chic restaurants in Central, but if you’re wanting something on the go then stop by a dai pai dong, the open-air food stalls that serve hearty and quick meals.
Travel around the region for a day of varied sightseeing. Ancient cultural sights like Man Mo Temple sit alongside modern parks like the Zoological and Botanical Gardens. You can choose between intellectually engaging attractions like the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the Liangyi Museum or opt for the adrenaline-fuelled thrills of Disneyland. To escape the hubbub of the city, visit nearby islands like Lantau and Lamma for beautifully preserved religion and culture.
Hong Kong, both the city and the surrounding area, might seem intimidatingly big, but the province is served with world-class public transport. Boats criss-cross on the Pearl River Delta, linking Hong Kong Island and the rest of the archipelago to the mainland, while the region’s slick subway system serves all its major regions. Sometimes the journey itself is part of the Hong Kong experience, something you’ll realise as you take a 125-year-old tram up Victoria Peak and peer down at the city far below.