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Destination insight: Hong Kong

Once a former British colony, Hong Kong is now a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. It's the world's 8th largest trading economy and an important global finance centre – attracting businesses from all of over the world.

If you're visiting for business or leisure, Hong Kong's rich mix of heritage and iconic attractions mean that you won't be disappointed.

9 things to see and do in Hong Kong

 

1. Hop on the tram to Victoria Peak

The Peak Tram was the first cable funicular in Asia and it's been in operation since 1888. It's evolved from using coal-fired steam boilers to ultra modern microprocessor-controlled electric drive systems! After what feels like an impossible, vertical climb, take in the spectacular panoramic views, head to Victoria Peak Garden for views of Lamma Island or simply enjoy a drink at the Peak Lookout's garden terrace. Best to go when the weather is good.

2. Travel on the world's longest escalator system

If you happen to be heading from Central to the Mid-Levels, then try this amazing feat of engineering! Made up of a series of 20 escalators and three inclined moving walkways, it covers 800 metres and rises 135 metres into the steep hills of Hong Kong island. It's a great way to explore some of HK's famous attractions including the antiques and arts district, its museums and historic buildings. The Central-Mid-Levels Escalators run from Queen's Road Central to Conduit Road in Mid-Levels.

3. Hong Kong by boat

A well-loved institution, the green and white Star Ferries have been running since 1888 and still ferry commuters, and tourists alike, between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. It's a great way to see Hong Kong's towering skyline – see if you can spot its tallest building: Two International Finance Centre (at 1,378ft)? It's well worth waiting until sunset, when you can see the city in neon.

4. Explore Temple Street Night Market

No trip to Hong Kong is complete without going to a market and Temple Street  is the ideal place to not only find a bargain but also where you can try Dai Pai Dong – street food – see Cantonese opera and have your fortune told! The market sells everything from clothes and shoes to cookware and everyday items – the best time to go is from 7-10pm when it's bustling with stalls and people.

5. Head to Stanley

Once a sleepy fishing haven, Stanley is a short bus ride away on the south coast. It feels a million miles away from the high rises, traffic and general busyness of the north side and is a great escape. It's also where you can glimpse colonial Hong Kong, walk along sandy beaches and enjoy delicious food and drink at one of the many excellent pubs and restaurants.

6. Go racing at Happy Valley Racecourse

Originally a swamp, Happy Valley is now home to Wednesday night horse racing. Gen up on form in the Racing Post and head to Moon Koon Restaurant for fantastic track-side views. The restaurant offers reasonably priced Chinese food but it's worth booking beforehand. If you don't want to spend the whole evening at the races, turn up after a few races have been run and get in for free!

7. Visit Big Buddha on Lantau Island

One of Hong Kong's most popular tourist sites, the Big Buddha is found at Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island. Standing at 112-foot-tall, it's made from bronze and symbolises the stability of Hong Kong, prosperity of China and peace on earth. While you're there why not check out the Tea Gardens and Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car?

8. Day trip to Macau

Today it may be considered Asia's very own Las Vegas – and the only place in China where gambling is legal – but Macau has a rich history including 400 years of Portuguese occupancy intermixed with Chinese heritage. Catch a boat from Hong Kong Island and spend the day exploring Macau's cobbled streets, Mediterranean-style buildings, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Site historic centre. Here you'll find the Ruins of St Paul, Fortaleza do Monte and the stunning square of Largo do Senado. It's also home to China's oldest lighthouse.

9. Relax in Kowloon Park

Once an army fortress, Kowloon Park is now a peaceful haven and where you can escape the hawkers along Nathan Road. Find a bench and watch the world go by... Alternatively head to the aviary, wander around the maze, look for the terrapins in the Chinese Garden, have a swim in the pool or spot the flamingos and other aquatic bird life at the pond...

How to get there

By air

As one of the world's top 10 airports Hong Kong International Airport is located around 34km outside of Hong Kong.

To get from the airport to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, the Airport Express is by the far the quickest option – taking around 24 minutes to Central – and passengers can use the free shuttle bus service to most major hotels from Kowloon and Hong Kong stations. Alternatively, hop on one of the many buses or catch a taxi. Hong Kong taxis are colour-coded according to their operating areas: red urban taxis serve all destinations throughout Hong Kong except Tung Chung Road and roads in south Lantau; green taxis serve only the New Territories and specific roads in Lantau; while blue taxis serve all destinations in Lantau and the airport.

Travellers to and from mainland China can use ferry, road or rail links.

Getting around Hong Kong

To make getting around really easy, it's worth investing in an (tourist) Octopus Card. It works similarly like the UK's Oyster Card: charge with money and then use on buses, trains, ferries and trams.

MTR

The Mass Transit Railway is a great way to get around. Made up of a mixture of underground, overland and light rail services, it's clean, fast and safe – and transports around four million people daily.

Trams

The old, wood-panelled, double-decker trams are great way to get from Kennedy Town to Chai Wan. They're a bit slow but full of atmosphere and not to be missed!

Bus

There is an extensive network of bus routes, but are best for exploring the south side of Hong Kong Island, the New Territories and Lantau Island.

Ferry

Ferries link many of the outlying islands, Macua and mainland China.

By foot

Walking is by far the easiest way to get around and see the city and there's always some form of public transport nearby for weary feet...

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