Hong Kong Island is the glamorous big sister of Kowloon – a bustling, towering monument to market capitalism that has long attracted adventurers to the South China coast. The impressive skyscrapers marching up the steep hills of the island are nothing short of breathtaking – imagine if Manhattan were built up the side of a cliff. The picturesque bustle of its residents is the biggest attraction on the island. Besides the ultra-modern city there are traditional settlements like Aberdeen, on the southern side of the island, where thousands of people live on junks and sampans bobbing in the harbor. Sampan tours of the Aberdeen Harbor are a must see and another major attraction are Hong Kong’s famous floating restaurants.

Repulse Bay

Hong Kong’s most popular beach is Repulse Bay, on the southern side of the island. On weekends it’s a great place to people watch, as it seems like half the population of Hong Kong is here to soak up the sun. Stanley is another spot to which the locals escape Hong Kong on the weekends. There are quaint attractions that are reminiscent of the old Hong Kong such as the Central Market, the venerable Man Mo Temple with its giant smoldering joss sticks, and the Zoological & Botanic Gardens. There’s even an 800 meter-long outdoor escalator to help you climb back up towards Hong Kong.


Sooner or later all visitors make it to Tsim Sha Tsui, at the tip of the Kowloon Peninsula. Here you will find one full square kilometer of souvenir shops, restaurants, pubs, bars and electronics stores. For those looking for more of a cultural experience, Kowloon is also home to the Hong Kong Cultural Center, the Hong Kong Space Museum, the historic Peninsula Hotel and the Hong Kong Museum of History. The promenade in east Tsim Sha Tsui is a great place for a leisurely stroll, featuring stunning views of Victoria Harbor. At night the lights of the city are particularly striking. The liveliest night market in Kowloon can be found on Temple Street in Yau Ma Tei.

New Territories

Nearly a third of Hong Kong’s population lives in towns in the so-called New Territories, and the area has some scenic escapes, including the Sai Kung Peninsula, in the east, which is an unspoiled and popular playground for hikers, campers, swimmers and boaters. Bird-watchers head to the Mai Po Marsh; cyclists and walkers head to Plover Cove Reservoir; hiking enthusiasts set out on the 100 kilometer-long MacLehose Trail which spans the New Territories from Tuen Mun in the west to Pak Tam Chung in the east. Not to be missed is Shui Tau, a walled village on the outskirts of Kam Tin. Shui Tau is one of several small villages in the area celebrated for its carved roofs and traditional-style Chinese houses.

Outlying Islands

There are over two hundred outlying islands, although many of them are little more than uninhabited rocks. However, Cheung Chau (2.5 square kilometers) has 22,000 residents and is a peaceful escape from the big city – as yet there are no motor vehicles! Lantau Island is the largest of the islands at 142 square kilometers and has a population of 45,000, a 933-meter peak, and a 70-kilometer walking trail. Most agree that this beautiful island has been lucky to avoid many of the development woes of other islands. It is home to several important Taoist and Buddhist monasteries, including Po Lin Monastery with its enormous statue of the Buddha. Lantau is connected by causeway to the mainland. Other islands worth visiting include Lamma Island, Poi Toi Island, Peng Chau Island and the uninhabited Tung Island.