Hong Kong
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  A city of contrasts:  
  Four ways to get the best of  
  both worlds in Hong Kong  
  festivals to discover  

Whether you’re in the mood for an urban playground or a nature escape, you can get both in Hong Kong.

Victoria Harbour Skyline versus Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark

One of the most photographed views in Hong Kong is of Victoria Harbour, capturing the city’s iconic skyline and skyscrapers. Its gleaming towers are some of Asia’s most recognizable, like the Bank of China Tower with its distinctive diagonal segments. The best way to appreciate Victoria Harbour and its stunning skyline is by visiting the nightly Symphony of Lights show. Here, laser beams, lights and LED screens illuminate a group of harbourfront buildings, choreographed to a soundtrack from the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. The best spot to view it is near the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Contrast Hong Kong’s skyscrapers with another category of impressive structures – the natural rock formations in the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark. Spanning several islands and coasts in the east and northeastern areas of the New Territories, the Geopark features incredible geological wonders. Witness hexagonal volcanic columns at High Island and stunning sea arches on the island of Wang Chau. Some areas of the Geopark are remote and require the rental of a private boat to get there, but many visitors say itʼs worth the effort.

Lan Kwai Fong versus Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve

Hong Kong’s night owls gather in Lan Kwai Fong to revel in the buzz of the city after dark. While the area is named for the steep street where bar hoppers gather, there are plenty of notable restaurants and bars located in and around the district on Wyndham St. and D’Aguilar St. Arrive early for dinner and watch as the area quickly fills with nighttime revellers. Venture down the not-so-secret laneway heading eastward off Lan Kwai Fong proper for a less hectic, but still lively, experience.

Swap people-watching for gazing at creatures of another kind in the Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve. This area is known for its mature woodlands, which attract a range of bird and animal species. Birds commonly seen here include the spotted dove, crested bulbul, cuckoos and owls. Keep your eyes and ears out for barking deer and even the occasional civet cat. Visitors to the nature park in late winter and early spring can witness a kaleidoscope of butterflies – over 100 species of the winged insect have been spotted here.

Victoria Peak versus Tai Mo Shan Country Park

Hong Kong’s spectacular skyline is stunning viewed from Victoria Harbour. But visitors can gain a whole new perspective on the city from up above. Victoria Peak is the highest point on Hong Kong Island and the neighbourhood around this lofty elevation has long been a destination for the city’s elite. Ride the 1,350-metre funicular track (it has been in operation since 1888) to reach the Peak Tower and enjoy 360-degree panoramas from its viewing platform that stands 428 metres above sea level.

A pair of hiking boots will come in handy on a visit to Tai Mo Shan Country Park. Those willing to take a challenging trek up Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kongʼs highest peak, will be rewarded with sweeping views over Hong Kong. On the descent, stop by Chuen Lung Village to witness how a centuries-old village is now embracing modern art in its previously abandoned buildings. Or seek out one of five waterfalls in the park, most of which are at its base.

Causeway Bay versus Repulse Bay

Hong Kong boasts an impressive 456 km of coastline with many bays, islands and inlets contained within it. One of its most famous is Causeway Bay. But this bustling area is better known as the shopping hub of Hong Kong. Causeway Bay is home to a dizzying collection of retailers, notably the mid-range Japanese department store Sogo. For a more unusual shopping experience, head to Island Beverley, a mini-mall filled with boutiques selling Japanese and South Korean fashions popular with locals.

Once suitcases are adequately filled with the latest fashions, retreat to a bay of another kind — Repulse Bay. The main draw of this laid-back region, situated along the southern coast of Hong Kong Island, is the crescent-shaped Repulse Bay Beach. It’s one of the city’s most popular beaches and a great spot to sit back and relax on the golden sands among tourists and locals alike. Or, for a more secluded beach experience, head to nearby South Bay Beach, which is a smaller, more peaceful beach popular with locals in the know.

In summary

With its jungle of skyscrapers, it’s easy to think of Hong Kong as a dense urban landscape. But the city has 828 square kilometres of green space, which represents a surprising 75 per cent of its land area. Here are four urban hotspots contrasted with more natural settings to discover on a trip to the city.

How to shop in Hong Kong like a local

Where to get the best views of Hong Kong

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This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's Globe Content Studio.
The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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