An island surrounded by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Under British rule until 1997, and still possessing a great deal of autonomy, Hong Kong is a unique blend of East and West, Britain and China. The official languages are Chinese and English, and public holidays are a mix of Chinese festivals and western observances. A popular tourist’s destination, and having the honor of carrying vital portions of the economy on its shoulders, Hong Kong is made of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon peninsula (north of Hong Kong Island), the New Territories and the Outlying Islands. With a large and diverse population that ranges from Australian to American to Malaysian, the majority are Chinese, and Cantonese is the prevalent language.
Mainly known for its domineering metropolis, much of Hong Kong is, nevertheless, an island with vast amounts of natural beauty. From the national parks to the mountains, to the multitude of beaches, bays and natural harbors, it is a sight for all variations of sore eyes.
Hong Kong’s climate is characterized by hot, humid summers and mild winters, with typhoons frequenting the island in between.
Hong Kong’s skyline was born out of lack of space on the ground, despite vast amounts of reclaimed land, and consists of one thousand two hundred (give or take) skyscapers. Aesthetically pleasing with light shows and intriguing architecture, topped off by the beautiful Victoria Harbor, it is consistently rated the best skyline in the world, leading to the nicknames “The World’s most vertical City”, “The orient Manhattan” and “Pearl of the orient”.
Hong Kong culture draws from traditional Chinese culture, with heavy influences from the British colonists. Fusion is observed in everything from street names to cuisine to the entire entertainment industry.
Transport in Hong Kong is covered by the beautifully located, and extremely well-connected, Hong Kong International Airport, the efficient Mass Transit Railway, the Hong Kong Tramways, buses, ferries, taxis, cars, and the outdoor escalator.
Victoria Peak is Hong Kong’s most iconic landmark. Five hundred and fifty two meters tall, this mountain looms over Hong Kong and attracts tourists for both natural and urban reasons. Victoria Harbor is a natural harbor in between Hong Kong Islan and Kowloon. Responsible for Hong Kong’s blooming economy, Victoria Harbor is renowned for its sublime vista and is a regular venue for fireworks displays and light shows.
Ocean Park is an amusement park and oceanarium. Rife with numerous rides and exhibits, it is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, along with Hong Kong Disneyland.
The Avenue of Stars is a 400 meter long esplanade mimicking Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, with plaques (for deceased members of Hong Kong’s vivacious film industry) and handprints and autographs (of actors yet alive) set into the concrete. The actors include Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Bruce Li and Jet Li.
Lantau is the largest island in Hong Kong, and is famous for it’s picturesque scenery, the Tian Tan Buddha (a humongous bronze statue of the Buddha).
Major festivals include Chinese New Year, the Birthday of the Buddha, the Spring Lantern festival, the Hungry Ghost Festival, Halloween, Christmas, the Dragon Boat Race and New Year’s. The western holidays are adulterated with Hong Kong’s chutzpah, and the deliciously festive mood all around is extremely contagious.
Recreational activities are abundant on land and in the water by way of hiking trails (the Lantau Trail, the Hong Kong Island Trail), beaches (Middle Bay, Shek O, Big Wave Bay) and sailing.
Hong Kong is vibrant, lush with energy – embracing contemporary practices, yet steeped in tradition. With infinite attractions that suit people of all interests, it is an island no one should let slip by unvisited.