View from Peak Hill, Hong Kong
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View from Peak Hill, Hong Kong

© / Mareesw

Hong Kong travel guide

At first glance, Hong Kong is nothing short of daunting: a thicket of skyscrapers perched on a South China Sea island. But the city can be one of the most engaging and unexpectedly beautiful urban spectacles on Earth.

Hong Kong explodes with life daily; every square inch occupied by someone selling, buying or simply taking in the view.

Yet behind the whirl of people and red and cream taxis, Hong Kong has a more reflective side, although you’re unlikely to find it atop the Peak.

Dominating the city skyline, Victoria Peak towers to 554m (1818 ft) and was once home to a sleepy neighbourhood of colonial villas occupied by the British officials that ran the metropolis until it was handed back to China in 1997.

Guarantees aimed at securing freedom of speech and elected political representation were enshrined in the treaty, although the latter remains elusive as the 2014 Umbrella Protests made only too clear. Don’t expect to be left in peace to enjoy the view at the Peak - it is no less bustling here than anywhere else.

Back down in the city, there’s no shortage of things to do. Explore the backstreets and unexpected traditional temples of Central, then step into the sensory overload of Mongkok where markets selling live birds sit side by side with medicine shops and hipster boutiques crammed with chic threads.

Causeway Bay, just across Victoria Harbour, is another shopping mecca and boasts stores and stalls selling a truly mindboggling array of wares.

The preponderance of buildings, shops and people can leave you thinking that Hong Kong is nothing more than a vast urban sprawl, but that’s not quite true. Quaint fishing villages, gorgeous beaches and a network of cycling and hiking trails are a short bus ride away.

Nowhere is lovelier than the Kadoorie Farm’s striking series of elegant gardens, but after just a little peace, you’ll soon miss the bustle and tussle of Hong Kong.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.