One of the most densely populated areas on Earth, Hong Kong is a city built for travel in an adventurous vein. Initially, the word "adventure" may seem a bit out of sorts in this glittering cityscape, especially if your picture of adventure consists of white knuckles clinging to sandstone ledges or embattled oars slicing through frothy surf. Then again, much of Hong Kong can be both unexpected and surprising. Case in point: there are actually plenty of rock climbing, kayaking, and other active pursuits to complement the grand scale spectacle of attractions like Victoria Harbour. Believe it or not, for every street that sparkles and shouts of consumerism, there are the quiet avenues of fishing communities like Cheung Chau and the still pure expanses of Sai Kung peninsula and High Island Reservoir. Hong Kong, as you will see, is more than its reputation as a culture of cheap goods and connect-the-dots tourism; it is also authenticity in its many forms.
Largely autonomous from Chinese affairs as a "Special Administrative Region," Hong Kong is a much easier visit than the mainland because it does not suffer from the same expensive and sometimes painstaking visa requirements. Combine that with some of the best public transport in the world and a service sector with more experience communicating in English than the rest of China and you'll begin to see why American travelers have taken so easily to this city. Embark travelers will enjoy it for its proximity to car-free islands like Tung Ping Chau and Lamma, the stilt houses of Tai O, the paragliding of Shek O, the sampan rides of Aberdeen Harbor, and the nature catch-all that is the Maclehose Trail. For a peek behind the culture curtain, check out the Hong Kong Museum of History, located in Kowloon, or do the due diligence of seeking out remnants of pre-colonial Hong Kong on the Ping Shan Heritage Trail in the New Territories. Then again, your interest may lie in the vaunted Hong Kong nightlife, which often caters to Western tastes in hugely popular areas like the Soho, Wan Chai, and Tsim Sha Tsui. And lest we forget about the fact that everyone needs to eat, you can browse the Halal market on Haiphong Road for cheap grub or walk in literally any direction in Central or Kowloon and you'll find something quickly. Anything more can be found on our cuisine page.
For the uninitiated, it won't hurt to try the many street markets of both Hong Kong and Kowloon. Do the tourist dance: walk the promenades, ascend Victoria Peak, eat some street food, and then, when the clogged boulevards become too much, head out to Lantau or Lamma or Sai Kung for mountain treks, sandy beaches, and the more laid-back vibes of traditional fishing communities. You could probably spend your whole trip exploring the world outside of central Hong Kong's overflowing urban sprawl and be content, but then you'd miss out on pork buns at three in the morning after a night of bar-hopping in Lan Kwai Fong.
Which brings us back to our earlier point. To love Hong Kong is to accept its contrasting natures. Part of the fun is bartering for a knock-off pair of sunglasses or a Mao bobble-head or even visiting yet another Madam Tussaud's. Don't be afraid to immerse yourself in the tourist energy that this city thrives on; where else can you enjoy the largest symphonic light display on Earth every night of the week or stuff yourself with the world's best egg tarts? Nowhere but Hong Kong.