Hong Kong - city center

Hong Kong's dynamism is unforgettable. From the vantage point of Victoria Peak, overlooking the world's busiest deepwater port, you can see a city geared not only to making money but feeling good about it. At night, it's like looking down into a volcano. Despite its British colonial past, Hong Kong has always stuck to its roots and the culture beneath the glitz is pure Chinese. That didn't stop locals from feeling apprehensive about being re-united with the motherland when the British handed the colony back to China in 1997, but their unease has largely evaporated. Visitors often find it takes a few days in Hong Kong to get accustomed to the whirlwind pace. If you need some respite, check out the Outlying Islands for a change of tempo and scene.

Hong Kong Island is the glitzy big brother of Kowloon - a tightly packed, towering paean to market capitalism that hasn’t been dented one jot by Chinese rule. The bustle of people living and working is the biggest attraction on the island, although many visitors head around to Aberdeen, on the southern side of the island, where 6000 people live or work on junks anchored in the harbour. Sampan tours of the Aberdeen Harbour are definitely worth the expense. The other major draw is the floating restaurants.

The most popular beach is Repulse Bay, also on the southern side of the island, but it gets extremely crowded on weekends. Stanley, with its laid-back atmosphere, is another good spot for escaping Hong Kong’s hustle and bustle, although it is the hustle and bustle that brings people here in the first place - if you want real solitude, you’ve come to the wrong place. City attractions include the Central Market, which visitors will have no trouble finding (just sniff the air), the old Man Mo Temple and the Zoological & Botanic Gardens. Hong Kong Island is steep, so if your’e heading away from the harbour, do as the locals do and ride the 800m (870 yards) outdoor escalator.

Tsim Sha Tsui, at the tip of the Kowloon Peninsula, is the territory’s tourist ghetto. It consists of one sq km of shops, restaurants, pubs, topless bars and camera stores. However, Kowloon is also home to the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Space Museum, the famous Peninsula Hotel and the Museum of History. The Promenade, in East Tsim Sha Tsui, is a great place for a stroll, and has wonderful views of Victoria Harbour, particularly at night. The liveliest night market in the territory is on Temple St in Yau Ma Tei.

If you’re in Hong Kong, you’d be mad to miss a trip to the top of Victoria Peak, 552m (1810ft) above sea level. The views are extraordinarily beautiful in every direction, with the vista of the business district, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon especially grand. In true Hong Kong style the main viewing deck is on the roof of a large shopping mall (no bargains here). Join the throng of snap-happy tourists - you won’t be disappointed. If you have time, it’s worth making the trip to the top both in daylight (ideal to get your bearings) and at night, when the mass of lights around the harbour will take your breath away and make you wish you had a better camera. The actual peak is a 10-minute walk west and up. To get to and from the Peak, travel at least one way on the Peak tram. Buses also ply the route from the Star Ferry pier.