The Geography of Hong Kong is surprisingly varied, beyond the compact jungle of the high-rises and the busy retail and entertainment districts, lie large expanses of greenery, rugged mountain peaks, natural reserves and over 260 islands.
Clinging to the southern tip of China's Guangdong Province (Canton), Hong Kong lies on the eastern edge of the Pearl River Estuary.
There are four major areas in Hong Kong:
Geography of Hong Kong: Main Areas
Visitors normally spend most of their time in the northern side of Hong Kong Island and in the opposite shore in Kowloon the red area on the map above.
If you are arriving by plane, however, the first place you will set foot will be one of the Outlying Islands as Chek Lap Kok Airport is located in the island of Lantau.
The New Territories comprise over 68% of the total land area and offer quite a different aspect of the geography of Hong Kong with the protected country parks that comprise woodlands, wetlands, marshes and reservoirs. And beyond in the coastal areas, there's the charming beaches and traditional fishing villages.
Getting around in Hong Kong is no problem, the public transport system is extremely efficient and economical for big city standards and reaches to all four of the main areas.
Here is a brief introduction to each one of them. I would like to encourage you to see them all as they represent such a distinct facet of the geography of Hong Kong and can give you so many different glimpses of life in the Fragant Harbour.
In contrast, only a few miles away in the southern shores lie laid-back coastal towns and vast open areas.
There are many districts in Hong Kong Island, we have grouped them in 4 main areas for practicality purposes:
|Central: A very compact and dense area, banks and trading houses occupy the skyscrapers that define Hong Kong's skyline. Amongst that jungle of concrete, you find traces of Hong Kong's colonial past and there's Victoria Peak overlooking the bay.|
|Wanchai and Causeway Bay: To the East of Central, this area has some of the best shopping centers in the city, also home to the Convention Center and the Happy Valley Race Course|
|Sheung Wan in the West: Although rapidly modernizing, this district still retains some of its traditional charm, lots of incense shops, herbalists, curios, small temples, dried seafood stalls...|
|Everything else, mostly to the south: the southern districts offer quite a different perspective and more open spaces. It's worth visiting a few of these coastal towns for a change of pace.|
Geography of Hong Kong: Hong Kong Island
What's in Hong Kong Island?
|Central||| Waterfront Promenade | Cool Buildings |
| Star Ferry | Victoria Peak | Ferris Wheel |
| Lan Kwai Fong | SoHo | Statue Square |
| Midlevels Escalator | Hong Kong Park |
|Wanchai and Causeway Bay (Island East)|| | Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center ||
| Happy Valley Race Course | Golden Bauhinia |
| Victoria Park |
|Sheung Wan (Island West)||| Man Mo Temple | Western Market | Cat Street | Dried Seafood Street|
|Island South||| Aberdeen | Jumbo Floating Restaurant | |
| Repulse Bay | Stanley | Ocean Park |
| Shek O |
|Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui East are at the very core of it. There's of course the bustling and gaudy Golden Mile in contrast to the chic and dashing vistas of the Promenade. Electronic stores, tailors, bars and restaurants and some of Hong Kong's best museums and galleries are to be found here.|
|Yaumatei and Mongkok with their narrow alleys and passageways, this district is unmistakably Chinese. Some of the best street markets are here, and the mahjong shops, herbalists, kite shops, feng shui tellers, hot pot and dim sum stalls...|
|New Kowloon comprises many districts including the area to the east where the old Kai Tak airport used to be. This is a mostly residential area and where the locals shop, eat, pray and play. A new Cruise Ship Terminal is being built in this area, coming soon in 2013.|
|West Kowloon is the newest area and all from reclaimed land. The reclamation effort which started towards the end of the century,
increased the area of the Kowloon Peninsula by 30% and was part of a series of projects in connection with the Airport Infrastructre Programme to
connect Lantau Island with the Peninsula.
West Kowloon is home to Hong Kong's highest building, the ICC tower. Construction of the West Kowloon Cultural District is underway and will include a modern art museum, theatres and other entertainment venues.
Geography of Hong Kong: the Kowloon Peninsula
What's in Kowloon?
|Tsim Sha Tsui||| The Golden Mile | Star Ferry | The Peninsula ||
| TST Promenade | Hong Kong Museum of Art |
| Hong Kong Space Museum | Kowloon Park |
|Tsim Sha Tsui East|| | Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade and |
Avenue of the Stars |
| HK Museum of History | HK Science Museum |
|Mongkok and Yaumatei|| | Temple Street Night Market ||
| Bird Garden and Flower Market |
| Gold Fish Market | Jade Market | Ladies Market |
|New Kowloon||| Wong Tai Sin Temple | Chi Lin Nunnery | |
| Lei Yue Mun Seafood Village |
|West Kowloon||| ICC Sky100 ||
The New Territories make up more than two-thirds of the land, it fans out from the Kowloon peninsula upwards until the border with Mainland China.
Beyond the urban sprawl of the previous two areas, the New Territories offer a refreshing and totally different perspective of the geography of Hong Kong.
There are large expanses of green and lush forests, reservoirs and bird sanctuaries, waterfalls, beaches, fishing villages, the marshes and the sparkling waters of the bays.
There's also the century old temples and the historical villages.
Geography of Hong Kong: The New Territories
What's in the New Territories?
|The New Territories||| Hong Kong Wetland Park | Saikung Beaches ||
| Hong Kong Heritage Museum |
| 10,000 Buddhas Monastery |
| Mai Po Marsh | Sha Tin Racecourse |
Technically, the Outlying Islands are part of the New Territories, but for practical purposes we set them on a separate category.
Although there are more than 260 islands in the territory only a few are inhabited, and some sparsely populated.
The Outlying Islands offer some of Hong Kong's best beaches, rugged terrain and greenery, fresher air, quiet fishing villages, and are great for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. There's wilderness trails, sampan rides, dolphin watching, and even Mickey Mouse!
The main Outlying Islands are:
Geography of Hong Kong: Outlying Islands
They are all easily interconnected with Hong Kong's ample ferry services and a day or half-day outing is easily done.
Lantau is the largest of the islands, larger than Hong Kong Island and very easily reached with the MTR, a number of buses and ferries.
What's in the Outlying Islands?
| Lantau Island Attractions and Day Trips | |
| Tian Tan Big Buddha | Po Lin Monastery |
| Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car |
| Tai O Fishing Village |
| Hong Kong Disneyland | Pink Dolphin Watch |
| Chek Lap Kok Airport |
|Lamma||| Sok Kwu Wan Seafood Village and Market ||
| Cheung Chau Village and Harbour ||
| Tin Hau Temple |
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Here is to a wonderful Hong Kong travel experience!