In 1999, Hong Kong reverted to China as a Special Autonomous Region (SAR) after 150 years of British rule. Parts of Hong Kong are among the most densely peopled places on earth, particularly Hong Kong Island and the West Kowloon Peninsula. The sheer density of so many skyscraper apartments and office blocks, the amount of deeply indented water frontage and the raw energy and bustle at street level can be quite overwhelming at first.
Under Britain, Hong Kong prospered greatly, becoming not just one of the world’s great trading centres, but also one of its interesting cultural anomalies. Its 7 million people are 95% Chinese, but speak Cantonese rather than Mandarin Chinese and retain much of their ancestral culture, yet English is an official language and widely understood. The resulting fusion of East and West has produced a unique form of dynamism packed into only 426 square miles, much of which is too mountainous for building.
The Four Kinds of Hong Kong Maps Most Useful for Visitors
Map of the entire area, showing the names of the four or five biggest islands as well as Kowloon and the New Territories. Use this to pin-point places of arrival and departure for the ship and the airport, and to locate the narrow stretch of water called Victoria Harbour between Hong Kong Island and the West Kowloon Peninsula which is the real heart of Hong Kong.
Map with street detail, train stations, bus routes and main places of interest centred on Victoria Harbour, downtown Kowloon with the shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui and the northern part of Hong Kong Island. This should also show ferry piers, Ocean Cruise Terminal and main hotels.
Map of the whole of Hong Kong Island, because most cruise excursions are likely to visit points of interest here, such as The Peak, Aberdeen Fishing Village, Causeway Bay and Stanley Market.
Map of the sophisticated and efficient MTR Transportation system which has a dozen lines, showing station names in English.
Tips for Cruise Visitors Arriving in Hong Kong
If arriving by sea, note where the ship is likely to dock.
Ships under 50,000 tonnes berth at the central located Harbour City Ocean Terminal unless it is fully booked, in which case the ship will use the container port.
If arriving or departing by air, note that the new international airport (Chek Lap Kok) is on reclaimed land off Lantau Island.
There is a long causeway highway linking the airport by bridges to Tsing Chi Island and then the New Territories on the mainland.
The highway will take new arrivals either to the Kwai Chung container port, or the main hotel district, or Harbour City Ocean Terminal.
The transfer from the airport to the main hotels and Harbour City Ocean Terminal in downtown Kowloon takes about 75 minutes, and is a sight-seeing trip in itself, even at night.
Whatever the hour or the weather, most visitors admit to being quite blown away by their first sight of Hong Kong. And when it’s time to hit the high spots of one of the planet’s most exciting places, don’t forget the maps.