Hong Kong skyline from top of hill

Our guide to the districts of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a city of two halves. Off the coast, Hong Kong Island is the shiny, modern, Westernised half; on the mainland, Kowloon is the scrappier, more “authentic”, more traditionally Chinese quarter.

These distinctions have become more and more blurred over the years, and today you’ll find grimy authenticity mixed with flashy modernity on both sides of Victoria Harbour. Nevertheless, the two halves still have their different flavours.

Kowloon is the place to browse markets brimming with birds, flowers, electronics and trinkets, to revel in Wong Kar-Wai’s old Hong Kong at Chungking Mansions, and to gaze across the bay at the skyline with a cocktail in hand. Hong Kong Island is where you’ll get to experience the city’s iconic double-decker trams, to ride the longest outdoor covered escalator in the world, and head to Victoria Peak for even more incredible views of the city below.

You could be forgiven for thinking that was it — but Hong Kong is much more than just the city. It’s actually remarkable how quickly you can go from tightly packed apartment buildings to wild surroundings that feel a million miles away — whether that’s on the Dragon’s Back Trail, the clan villages and wetlands in the New Territories, or the beach towns and pirate caves of the outlying islands. Hong Kong’s outer reaches are where the adventure really begins.

“You can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you.” – Nury Vittachi, Hong Kong: The City of Dreams

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Picture that iconic skyline: bristling with skyscrapers; backed by green mountains; the waters of Victoria Harbour glittering just below. You’re picturing Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong

If you’re looking for nostalgic Hong Kong — the gritty, neon-lit street-food markets of post-war photograhs, or perhaps the saturated cityscapes of 1990s Hong Kong as envisioned by Wong Kar-wai — Kowloon is where you’ll find it (or remnants of it, at least).

Hong Kong

With its hodgepodge of Buddhist heritage, fishing villages, high-rise shopping centres and theme parks, Hong Kong’s largest island is a patchwork of a place — but one that’s worth exploring.

Hong Kong

Fringing the edge of Kowloon and radiating northwards into mainland China, the New Territories are a place for long bike rides through country parks, kayaking along craggy coastlines, and visiting clan villages dating back to the Qing and Ming dynasties.

Hong Kong

Beyond the New Territories and the Kowloon Peninsula, Hong Kong is a province of islands — 261 of them to be precise — riddled with pirate caves, fishing villages, 3,000-year-old rock carvings and unexpected histories.

The InsideAsia team in Bristol

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