A word like "unique" gets thrown around quite a bit, considering what it's supposed to mean - namely, the quality that makes a person, place or thing truly one of a kind. However, a region like Hong Kong is one to which that term can be appropriately applied. Honestly, "unique" may not even be fully up to the task of communicating the diversity of the cultural and natural wonders that a visitor to this Chinese chain of islands will have the chance to experience.
Because there's so much you can do in Hong Kong, you might find it hard to decide your itinerary. In the interest of avoiding that potential conundrum, we'll examine the absolute essential activities and hotspots you must consider before booking any last minute flights to the city.
Hong Kong's natural wonders
According to the Planning Department of Hong Kong's municipal government, just under 25 percent of the autonomous region's landmass is in developed urban or residential territory. That leaves a great deal of nature unspoiled by human settlements, and nearly half of the territory in which people aren't living and working has been set aside by Hong Kong officials as national parks
Victoria Peak may be the crown jewel of the region's environment - fitting, considering the woman after whom it's named. It's no heavens-scraping summit at just 1,811 feet (552 meters) tall, but Lonely Planet noted that the absolutely breathtaking view of Hong Kong it provides makes Victoria Peak one of its most-visited landmarks. Other major natural attractions include Hong Kong Wetland Park and its intriguing bird life, as well as the austere rock formations in the Global Geopark, which are best viewed via boat tour.
Dim sum and other culinary delights
Cantonese cuisine is different from other varieties of Chinese food, with dim sum being its most visible export. According to Fodor's, it's best to try the bao buns, dumplings and rice rolls (made with fillings ranging from beef and pork to prawn and vegetables) that comprise this meal style at renowned restaurants like Din Tai Fung and Maxim's Palace.
But Hong Kong is far more than the home of Cantonese delicacies. The city is a restaurant cornucopia, where you'll find some of the most famous French, Italian, Thai, British and Indian restaurants in the world. Regional menus accommodate a diverse range of eaters, but if you're set in your ways, chances are good you'll find your favorites within Hong Kong's boundaries.
The inimitable Kowloon
Part of what makes Hong Kong so intriguing are neighborhoods like Kowloon. No place on earth has the same ethnic diversity and range of cultural, spiritual, culinary, commercial and artistic activities as this part of the autonomous region.
Areas like the east promenade of Tsim Sha Tsui and the Temple Street Night Market aren't shopping centers so much as immersions in the full breadth of the human experience. Also, Lonely Planet noted that the Tsim Sha Tsui district alone has four museums worth visiting, and every evening features the colorful, music-tinged extravaganza known as the Symphony of Lights. No matter your interests, Kowloon and Hong Kong will feature something you'll love.