CHINA  |  Hong Kong, China Travel Guide
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Hong Kong Orientation

Hong Kong Orientation

If you limit yourself to the principal downtown zones, as many visitors do, then you could be forgiven for thinking that Hong Kong is little more than a densely crowded city. But it is actually comprised of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories and some 235 islands. Of these islands, Hong Kong is the most densely populated, while Lantau is the largest and is home to the impressive modern airport, Disneyland, the serene seated Buddha at Ngong Ping and plenty of beaches and hikes. The center of Hong Kong is spread between the northern side of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, just across the harbor. Downtown Hong Kong Island is divided into several districts, which stretch east from Sheung Wan through Central, Admiralty and Wanchai out to Causeway Bay, south of which the lowlands are home to Happy Valley racetrack. These five districts make up the heart of Hong Kong’s business and shopping center and there are countless bars, cafés, hotels and restaurants nestled in and around the hundreds of skyscrapers. This narrow strip of modernity is currently being expanded by the most recent of Hong Kong’s land reclamation projects, which will take a swathe of sea between Central and Causeway Bay. Near the shore, streets in this section of town predominantly run east-to-west, changing names as they pass through different districts. But the farther from the sea you travel, the less ordered the roads become, as they negotiate the increasingly steep hills that rise to the south, the loftiest of which, Victoria Peak, enjoys amazing views over this manmade magnificence.

A bus ride away on the other side of the island, you’ll find some retreat from the madness at Stanley, which has a couple of beaches and a good market. Not far away, Aberdeen is renowned for its floating restaurants, while nearby Ocean Park is Hong Kong’s original theme park. Across the harbor from Central, Kowloon has more hotels, restaurants and shops and offers breathtaking views back across to the island. The southern part of Kowloon is known as Tsimshatsui, which leads north along its bustling neon-lit main artery, Nathan Road, to Jordan, Yaumatei and Mongkok, where you’ll find many of Hong Kong’s best markets and the blurry boundary with the New Territories.

There is more than enough to keep you occupied for a few days (if not weeks) in the two key zones of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, but it is only when you step outside of these areas that you will witness the true diversity Hong Kong has to offer. The Outlying Islands and New Territories contain beaches, hiking trails, small fishing villages and temples. To gain a true sense of Hong Kong (and a break from the fast-paced metropolitan life), a visit to at least one of these areas is imperative.

Last updated December 4, 2010
Posted in   China  |  Hong Kong
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