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Overview to Hong Kong: Travel Guide and Tourist Information

Hong Kong's Skyline

Schizophrenic Hong Kong is one of the world’s most extreme and contrasting cities. At once high-rise, hi-tech and highly demanding, it's also covered in national parkland, remote and rural villages, and spots perfect for kicking back and chilling.

The territory itself is made up of some 236 islands, covering over 1000 square kilometers. Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island are the principle ones, while the Kowloon Peninsula and the expansive New Territories make up the part directly connected to China.

Around seven million people live here – many of whom are expats – and most of the demographic is squashed into the inhabitable parts of Hong Kong Island, Lantau, and Kowloon (once the most densely populated area in the world).

The northern coastline along Hong Kong Island is where the majority of businesses can be found – this is the part of Hong Kong that everyone knows through those stunning photos of hundreds of vertiginous skyscrapers seemingly battling each other for light.

Most of those photos are taken from Victoria Peak, which is accessible by a funicular car, and offers one of the best urban views in the world. Look East of the Central Business District, and the shopping/dining areas of Wan Chai and Causeway Bay come into view.

The south of Hong Kong Island, while only half an hour’s bus ride from the center, sits in contrast to the heady financial district. Small towns with distinct characteristics are found here, as are beaches – a seeming impossibility when looking over the center.

From here the large islands of Lamma and Cheung Chau are easily accessible, as are a whole host of smaller landmasses dotted across the South China Sea. Reputedly a sunnier part of Hong Kong, many find refuge here just a few km from the ceaseless activity of Victoria Harbour.

Lantau Island continues the theme of retreat, although there's nothing small about its size. Twice as big as Hong Kong Island, most of the land here is demarked a National Park (although now's the time to go since it seems poised for more major development).

The lush hills of Lantau include the famous Ngong Ping cable car that takes visitors on an incredible sky-bound journey from Tung Chung to the Po Lin Monastery and the immense Big Buddha. The island’s beaches and fishing are also excellent.

Kowloon serves as the home for many Hong Kong residents, yet adds little in the way of tourist sites. Head north past here, however, and you come to the New Territories. This is the land initially ceded to Britain, and it sits in stark contrast to the urban sprawl of HK Island.

The New Territories consist of small and ancient villages, National Parks, and breathtaking scenery in stark contrast to Victoria Harbour. Traditional, authentic, and untouched, this is the area to really get away from things and hike, climb or generally relax.

At its worst, Hong Kong can seem an indigestible street brawl of maddening businessmen. Yet the ostensible frenzy masks much of the country’s diversity. Dig deep and there’s something beautifully spiritual about this contrasting and elusive place.