It has undergone a sustained period of change since handover to China in 1997, but has retained its exotic and glamorous appeal as a port of call on cruises in southeast Asia.
Hong Kong has also become far more Chinese than ever before, with many expats departed and a Beijing-facing government presiding over the former British colony.
Hong Kong Island itself, with its glistening array of skyscrapers clustered around the spectacular harbour, is the core of the old imperial possession, with Kowloon just across the harbour forming the other half of the main conurbation.
Further north are the New Territories, leased from China in 1898, which form a slightly more rural hinterland. And around this main focus are the large islands of Lamma and Lantau and the smaller, quieter, Outlying Islands that complete the patchwork.
Bustling, glitzy and brash, Hong Kong has long been a major cruise destination.
Hong Kong is one of the most riveting and unexpectedly beautiful spectacles on earth. The harbour view reflects the architectural boom of the 1980s and 1990s;a mixture of Manhattan and San Francisco, with added shipping bustle.
At night it just gets better; the view from the Peak of Hong Kong’s glittering lights is unforgettable; almost as dazzling are the towers of Central seen from the lovers’ walk of Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. This tax-free, bustling port and commercial centre has many attractions worth visiting.
• Ocean Park
• Miu Fat Monastery
• Fishing villages such as Aberdeen
• Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island
• Night markets
• Victoria Peak (The Peak)
• Hong Kong Museum of History
• Ngong Ping 360 cable car
• Disneyland Hong Kong
Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Information Centre
Causeway Bay MTR Station (exit F), Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
Tel: +852 2508 1234.
Whether you’re shopping in modern air-conditioned arcades or more traditional street markets, the range of goods available in Hong Kong is vast. Places that display the HKTA sign (Hong Kong Tourist Association) are the best guarantee of satisfaction. Bargaining is practised in the smaller shops and side stalls only.
Hong Kong is the home of authentic Chinese food from all the regions of China, which may be sampled as snacks from the many streetside stalls, or in a vast range of restaurants of all levels – eating is very much part of the Southeast Asian culture. Hong Kong specialities include dim Sum (savoury snacks, usually steamed and served in bamboo baskets on trolleys); cha siu bao (barbecue pork bun) and zhian Jing (a rice wine served hot like sake).
When to go:
In winter and early spring, the climate can be mild and fresh but, in May, the ever-present humidity skyrockets and summer is both hot and frequently wet. Typhoons hit during summer and early autumn and ferocious rains fall intermittently.
2km (1.2 miles).