Hong Kong is one of the most exciting destinations in the world. It's a colorful, thriving combination of ancient Eastern culture and Western innovation. There's nearly 5,000 years of Chinese history and traditions here, overlaid with 150 years of British colonial influence. Ceded back to China by the British in 1997, the city remains a "free-market zone" despite recent regulations, a veritable bastion of capitalism within the communist Chinese system. Locals still refer to the "border" of mainland China, and visitors from the West must acquire tourist visas in order to cross -- these require a photo and generally take three days to process.
In terms of cultural diversity, architectural innovation, infrastructure and cosmopolitan edginess, it's hard to beat Hong Kong. The city is also one of the most vibrant commercial centers in the world. Hong Kong is the foremost deep water harbor in Asia, a fact evidenced by the scores of cargo vessels carrying watches, textiles and other manufactured goods to the rest of the world.
Hong Kong is composed of three main districts. The Kowloon Peninsula houses the city's famed outdoor markets, the upscale shops on Nathan Road's "golden mile," and the busy, tourist-friendly Tsim Sha Tsui area. Connecting Kowloon to mainland China are the scenic New Territories, where you'll find elaborate temples and woodlands. Hong Kong Island contains the city's financial district, and is situated across Victoria Harbour. Dubbed the "concrete forest," Hong Kong Island offers a stunning juxtaposition of imposing skyscrapers set against the verdant slopes of Victoria Peak.