With one of the most iconic skylines on Earth, competition is fierce for Hong Kong's most sweeping vistas; but our favourite viewpoint is Victoria Peak, looking down on clusters of shooting skyscrapers towering over the harbour. We love the spine-tingling view of the city at night, when soaring black silhouettes glitter with lights, and the water's edge glows a warm gold. Restlessly romantic, this is the image of Hong Kong we have burned on our minds.
Great prices, endless choice and bargaining power are what Hong Kong shopping is all about. Whether you are staying on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon, you're never far from a chance to splash some cash. Head to Stanley Market to pick up local handicrafts and paintings, visit Nathan Road for everything from touristy souvenirs to high end goods, try Chungking Mansions for the best bargains, and don't miss Temple Street Night Market for the lively experience.
With an eye-popping 11,000 restaurants, holidays in Hong Kong are guaranteed to loosen your belt a notch or two. Whether you choose a steamy noodle shop, a tempting buffet restaurant or a five-star dining room, you don't have to spend a lot of money to eat really, really well. From Cantonese to Sichuan, every region of Chinese cuisine is here, as well as Italian, Indian, French, American, Mexican, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, vegetarian, and East-meets-West fusion cuisine.
Far more than just a way of getting from a to b, the ferry between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island is a tourist attraction in itself. These green and white boats have been around since the 1920s, offering sweeping panoramas of both islands' waterfronts and skylines from their decks. It only takes five minutes, but this trip through one of the world's busiest harbours is one you will never forget.
This must-see Hong Kong attraction used to host statues of British royalty, now it is home to a dazzling cluster of soaring buildings. Gaze up at the Norman Foster-designed HSBC headquarters, featured on Hong Kong Dollar notes; the Bank of China Tower, where you can take in the view from the 43rd of its 72 floors; colonial leftover St John's Cathedral, dwarfed in comparison; the Legislative Council Building, which houses Hong Kong's assembly; and the 88-storey International Finance Centre, with its Four Seasons hotel, shopping mall, cinema, restaurants, and bars.
Making himself comfortable at the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island, this is the world's tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha. Symbolising the relationship between man and nature, people and religion, it is well worth climbing the 268 steps to reach this 34-metre-high cross-legged giant. Reached by boat or cable car, the trip to the island is just as breathtaking, with gorgeous views of high peaks and sparkling water.
There are a number of carriers flying from the UK to Hong Kong.
Direct Carriers: Cathay Pacific offers up to 4 direct flights a day to Chek Lap Kok Airport. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Quantas also offer direct flights. The average flight time is just under 12 hours.
Indirect Carriers: Emirates fly to Hong Kong via Dubai from 6 UK airports, while KLM operate via Amsterdam.
None for British citizens
The Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) is the legal tender and is pegged to the US Dollar.
June - August
Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid immunisation and malaria tablets are recommended
We recommend you check the weather before you go and pack accordingly. Make sure you leave room for new purchases, especially bargains found in the many markets. Comfortable walking shoes for exploring the city are an absolute must and possibly a small umbrella for the odd surprise shower in the spring and summer. If you're visiting people, then you might want to pack some small gifts which will be well-received as gift giving is part of Hong Kong culture.
A camera for snapping all those incredible sights;
jumpers and jackets in winter;
lightweight clothing in summer;
A waterproof jacket;
Comfortable walking shoes for exploring;
An electrical adapter (the power supply in China is 220 volts at 50 hertz).
A country as huge as China doesn’t have one national cuisine. Instead, styles vary by region with Cantonese (Guangdong) cooking most familiar to us in the UK. Northern cuisine, like Peking duck in Beijing, is filling and hearty. Southern, including Cantonese, is the most exotic, with varied dishes like dim sum and the use of unusual meats like dog, snake, and turtle. Eastern cuisine, including the food of Shanghai, is rich, sweet, and sour, with a lot of seafood. And Western cuisine, including Sichuan, tends to be bold and spicy, with classic dishes like kung po chicken.
Beijing’s most famous dish is glazed with syrup and slow roasted until it turns a glossy red-brown colour. The crispy skin is so good that authentic eateries dish up more skin than meat, sliced in front of you by the cook. Wrap your duck in a thin pancake, smother it with hoisin or sweet plum sauce and add cucumbers or onions.
A religion in Hong Kong, dim sum consists of bite-sized portions, usually steamed, served in bamboo baskets and shared. There are thousands of dim sum delicacies available, including pork buns, spring rolls and shrimp dumplings. Going for dim sum is known as yum cha, translated as ‘to drink tea’, which is traditionally served with the meal (or vice versa).
Like a Chinese version of fondue, Mongolian hotpot is a communal meal centred on a large pot of simmering broth, into which a variety of uncooked meats and vegetables are dipped, cooking them on the spot. Eaten for over a thousand years, it is believed to have all kinds of restorative effects on the body.
Street food might be a little less common than it used to be, but we still think the route to experiencing the real China is through your stomach. Follow your nose to back alleys and markets, letting your taste buds discover slippery dumplings, pan-fried noodles, stuffed rice balls, grilled kebabs, warm wonton soup, and tea eggs, hard-boiled in green tea and soy sauce. In Beijing, Wangfujing night market has all these delights, not to mention some more unusual and acquired tastes, like skewered scorpions. Be careful to only order street food from vendors whose food is clean, fresh, and cooked right in front of you.
Follow clouds of steam to find these much-loved stuffed buns, crammed with an endless choice of different fillings. The steamed dough might be filled with beef with ginger, mushrooms and diced tofu, carrot and coriander, pork, or chicken. Buy a selection and tuck in before they get cold.
Found throughout China, watch street vendors make this crispy pancake by cooking the batter on a hot skillet, cracking an egg on top, scattering it with spring onion, and rolling it up crepe style for a tasty portable snack.
Known as Shengjianbao in the rest of the country, these more-ish fried buns are a Shanghai classic. Filled with pork and gelatine that forms a salty liquid inside the bun, they really do melt in your mouth. Garnished with spring onion and toasted sesame, they taste best just out of the pan, just be careful not to burn your tongue.
On average, a three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant could set you back 120 Yuan Renminbi, with a domestic beer about eight Yuan Renminbi. In the shops, a 1.5 litre bottle of water might cost around five Yuan Renminbi. And in Hong Kong, a three-course meal will cost you in the region of 300HKD
When it comes to etiquette, try to keep the following in mind:
From deserts and mountains to grasslands and rainforests, China’s diverse habitats are home to nearly 500 mammal species, 1,189 birds, 320 reptiles, and 210 amphibians. The country’s rapid economic development has endangered habitats and the creatures that live within them, with over 900 nature reserves established to protect them. China’s most well-known animals include giant and red pandas, golden monkeys, Siberian tigers, Chinese alligators, red-crowned cranes, and white-flag dolphins.
Sadly one of the world’s most endangered species, the giant panda is still found in the bamboo forests of Sichuan, but rarely spotted in the wild. You can see these beautiful bears up close at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre, where the captive population has risen from 6 to 83 since 1987. The centre is also home to red pandas, rare birds, and a museum.