This shopping, nightlife and culinary capital manages to epitomise the modern metropolis while retaining traces of its fishing-village heritage

Hong Kong, officially known as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The territory consists of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories and over 200 islands – giving visitors plenty of room to enjoy its ample natural gifts as well as its glitzy metropolitan trappings.

The most popular nightlife districts are upscale Lan Kwai Fong and the grungier Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island. While Hong Kong boasts a staggering 62 Michelin-starred restaurants, its many old-school fishing villages are home to bargain-priced seafood. If it’s rugged outdoor activities and a breath of fresh air you’re after, head out to the UNESCO-listed Hong Kong Global Geopark of China to hike through the different volcanic regions, or escape to Lantau Island with its many hiking trails, tiny fishing villages and pristine beaches.

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Things to do: Hong Kong

  • Catch the Wave

    Best accessed by boat, Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay) is home to what is arguably Hong Kong’s most beautiful beach. Thanks to its location within government-protected Sai Kung Country Park, its emerald waters and powder-white sand remain relatively untouched.

  • Faraway, so close

    For spectacular fried calamari and a walk on the mild side, head to laid-back Lamma Island, just 45 minutes by ferry from Hong Kong Island. The island is a no-car zone and many commuters travel by bike. Lamma Island with its vegetarian cafés, deserted beaches and fresh seafood makes for a lovely day trip.

  • First in, best dressed

    Given the high cost of real estate in Hong Kong, many indie boutiques have been pushed out of the city centre in favour of global retail chains. But affordable Hong Kong fashion goods can still be found in places like New Town Plaza in Mongkok. Homegrown chains like Maple Fashion sell affordable, up-to-the-minute outfits.

  • It'll float your boat

    Hong Kongers are rightly proud of their cityscape, especially the views of it that are available from Victoria Harbour. Choose from a host of widely available junk trips, yacht cruises, island tours, sailing classes, romantic cruises and even cinema night cruises.

  • Pork life

    Hong Kong is best known for its char siu yook (barbecue pork) and just about every eatery offers a version of this time-tested classic. To get the crème de la crème of the city’s beloved gourmet invention, try the char siu at Lei Garden opens in new window in Causeway Bay.

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Airport information

CBD 40km

Travel time 25 minutes

Taxi About HK $280-380

Bus HK $40 and journey takes about 20 minutes

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When to go

Hong Kong’s warm and humid summers run from June to September, with occasional typhoons in August. From October to December, temperatures hover around 18-25°C.

At Chinese New Year in January or February, the mercury drops to around 10-15°C.

Christmas is taken seriously here, with elaborate displays drawing crowds at top shopping spots like Harbour City and The Landmark among others. Or visit Hong Kong in early May to catch the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, which is best known for its offbeat bun-snatching competition.

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Getting around

The MTR is the most convenient way to travel, though Hong Kong’s traditional double-decker trams are an affordable means of getting from east to west on Hong Kong Island. The Octopus Card, which can be used to pay fares on the MTR, trams, buses and ferries and even as a cash card at convenience stores and fast-food outlets, is available for purchase at MTR stations and elsewhere. The cost of these stored-value cards includes a HK $50 deposit. Taxi fares start at HK $20 on Hong Kong Island, HK $18.50 in the New Territories and HK $15 on Lantau Island.

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