Visitors to Hong Kong quickly find it lives up to its image as a bustling, dynamic city and thriving economic and financial centre, but its cultural and historical roots are still strong beneath the modern facade. Temples, museums and gardens are some of the many places to visit, although shopping remains one of the most popular activities in Hong Kong, for tourists and locals alike.
China gave Hong Kong Island to Britain in 1843 as part of the settlement that ended the First Opium War, and added Kowloon Peninsula and Stonecutters Island in 1859, after the Second Opium War. The Convention of Peking in 1898 awarded more land, increasing the colony’s size 90 per cent.
Britain returned Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 and since then the Chinese Government has operated a "One Country, Two Systems" policy, allowing Hong Kong to retain some economic independence from China.
British passport holders can live in Hong Kong visa-free for six months, providing passport validity covers the length of stay. Entering mainland China requires a visa. British visitors cannot apply for a visa at the border.
Hong Kong's weather is very hot and humid during the summer and relatively cold and damp during the winter. The best months to visit are March, April, October and November.
Hong Kong's long historical association with Britain has made it one of the most accessible Asian cities for English speakers. Most signage has English translations and many locals are familiar with the language.
Landmark Atrium, in Central District, is home to more than 100 designer boutiques, including Dior and Fendi. Nearby is the largest Armani store in Asia and the first Harvey Nichols branch opened outside Britain.
Causeway Bay is another large shopping area, containing many small boutiques and street stalls, and Hong Kong's biggest department store, Sogo.
Ladies Market and Temple Street Night Market are two popular tourist markets in Mong Kok, Kowloon, selling clothing, shoes, bags, bric a brac and souvenirs. Stanley Market is in south Hong Kong Island and specialises in designer clothing and Chinese curios.
The largest seated Buddha statue in the world, standing 34 metres (110 feet) tall, is Po Lin Monastery near Ngong Ping Village on Lantau Island. Visitors can arrive at the village by cable car from Tung Chung MRT station.
Wong Tai Sin Temple provides visitors with an insight into Chinese religious beliefs and rituals. Although a Taoist temple, it also houses Confucian and Buddhist texts. Wong Tai Sin is the god of sick people and businessmen. Behind the temple are the Good Wish Gardens. After exiting the Wong Tai Sin MRT station at the B2 exit, follow the crowds to the temple.
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