Just 15km across, Hong Kong Island is the heart of the whole territory, its administrative and business centre and site of some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Development is concentrated along the island’s north shore, a 6km-long strip of financial, commercial and entertainment districts overlooking Victoria Harbour. At its core, Central sprouts an astounding array of high-tech towers, edged to the west by Sheung Wan’s smaller-scale and traditional Chinese businesses. Behind this the land climbs steeply to The Peak, a superb escape from street-level claustrophobia with unequalled views over the city. Back along the harbour and moving east through Wan Chai and Causeway Bay, the emphasis shifts from finance to wining, dining and shopping – not to mention gambling, with Hong Kong’s main horse racetrack located nearby at Happy Valley.
The south side of Hong Kong Island straggles into the sea in a series of dangling peninsulas and inlets. The attractions here are separate towns such as Aberdeen and Stanley, with a flavour of their own, and also beaches, the best of which fronts the little outpost of Shek O. If you’re travelling with children, Ocean Park, a huge adventure theme park, has enough to keep them occupied for a day.
Transport around the island is easy, with the MTR, buses and trams covering the north shore. An MTR line to the south coast is in the early stages of construction, but buses here are plentiful too, and nowhere is more than an hour from Central.