Hong Kong City Guide

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You might say Hong Kong has it all. And you'd probably be right. This world-class city is also mostly a vertical one, known for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbor. Seven million people live and work in an area of only 426 square miles, making Hong Kong one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

If there's one thing you should do in Hong Kong, it's go to The Peak. As the highest point on Hong Kong Island, this has been the city's most exclusive neighborhood since colonial times when the well-to-do settled there for the cooler air. Today, it's the views of the city that keep them there.

That view is also what makes The Peak one of the most popular attractions in Hong Kong. By day your eyes scan across a panorama of glittering skyscrapers and Victoria Harbor all the way to the green hills of the New Territories. In early evening this scene glows pink and orange before turning into a sparkling galaxy of light, shimmering beneath you.

To get to The Peak, you'll need to ride the Peak Tram, a funicular railway that's been operating since 1888, and a popular attraction by itself. Hong Kong's skyscrapers glide past your window at what appear to be impossible angles as you make the ascent.

With over 100 stalls of bargain clothing, accessories and souvenirs, the Ladies' Market on Tung Choi Street provides a great place to practice your haggling skills. It gets its name from all the clothing, accessories, cosmetics, bags, and jewelry for women that are on sale within its crowded aisles.

Built in 1915, the old Clock Tower used to be part of the Kowloon–Canton Railway terminal. The once-bustling station is long gone, but this red brick and granite tower survives as an elegant reminder of the Age of Steam. Here, millions of Chinese immigrants passed through to begin new lives in Hong Kong and beyond.

You'll also want to stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade past the Hong Kong Cultural Center, the Hong Kong Space Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Art and Avenue of Stars. Here, too, you'll gaze at the dramatic cityscape that lies below you.

When the sun goes down at the Temple Street Night Market, the traders have already laid out their wares and the opera singers and fortune tellers have begun to emerge. This popular street bazaar, named after a Tin Hau Temple located in the center of its main thoroughfare is a place steeped in local atmosphere. Patrons haggle over trinkets, tea ware, electronics, watches, menswear, jade and antiques while consuming clay-pot rice, seafood, noodles and other treats. Join the action and try some yourself.

The bauhinia is the symbol of Hong Kong. The Forever Blooming Bauhinia Sculpture that gives the Expo Promenade the commonly-used name, Golden Bauhinia Square, was a gift from the Central Government to mark the 1997 Handover. Enjoy the pomp and symbolism of the daily flag-raising ceremony against a backdrop of beautiful Victoria Harbor.

A long-time Hong Kong tradition and landmark is the Star Ferry. Its boats have been carrying passengers from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and back since 1888. Take the ride for an up-close look at one of the world's most photographed harbors. Go in the evening after all the commuters have returned home and stick around for A Symphony of Lights, the nightly multimedia show, which involves colored lights, laser beams, and searchlights, performing against a backdrop of over 40 buildings, synchronized to music and narration that celebrates the energy, spirit and diversity of the city. And while in Kowloon, visit Kowloon Walled City Park on the site of the former Kowloon Walled City, a haven of criminals and prostitutes.