Big Red’s Guide to Hong Kong – Geography

This is a no-nonsense guide to Hong Kong, written by Big Red; a Scotsman in temporary hot and sweaty exile in the far east. Big Red’s opinions don’t necessarily reflect those of Colin’s Travel Guides. Well… actually, they do, especially those relating to cheap beer. Enjoy!

Hong Kong is made up of 2 main areas – Hong Kong Island itself (island-side), where most of the big skyscrapers and night time activities are and where I live, and Kowloon (Kowloon-side), which is attached to China and is a bit more mental. I don’t think either is any more “authentically” Hong Kong than the other.

Hong Kong is a ridiculously modern, progressive place that is reflected as much by giant skyscrapers and ludicrously high end shopping malls as it is by dodgy geezers trying to sell you suits in the midst of Mongkok night market. If you’re after a hint of the old days of Suzie Wong and the Walled City of Kowloon then you should pop over to Shenzhen for a day. You’ll be (literally) itching to get back to the Kong.

See below for a summary of the main areas. Details what to do, eat and drink to follow in later parts of the guide.


Central and Western District

This includes…

Central: Business district, Lan Kwai Fong and Soho for boozin and eatin, ferry terminal to Kowloon and outlying islands, start of Peak Tram.

Sheung Wan: Older school area, probably ties up well with your image of old Hong Kong. Also has the Macau Ferry Terminal.

Mid-levels: Largely residential ex-pat holiday village, like Butlins for overpaid rich bawbags.

Admiralty: Nothing to see here, carry on.

Wanchai District

This includes…

Wanchai: A business district by day, rough and ready booze district by night. Good fun. Ferry terminal to Kowloon.

Causeway Bay: Ludicrously busy shopping and eating district. Most expensive shop rents in the world. Worth a look on a Saturday afternoon to make it clear just how busy Hong Kong can be.

Happy Valley: Quiet residential area with the (in)famous racetrack.

Further West

Kennedy Town: Residential area popular with locals and expats alike. Pretty dull.

Further east

Quarry Bay, North Point, Chai Wan: Mostly residential for locals (Quarry Bay, Chai Wan) and Japanese ex-pats (North Point). Probably not worth the trip.

Island North

Stanley: Pleasant wee seaside town, famous market, a few bars and restaurants along the promenade. Worth a visit – get the number 6 bus (not the 6X) as it will take you right over the top of the island rather than through Aberdeen tunnel, so you get good views (although you may crap yourself, some of it is pretty high)

Aberdeen: Not been here, but it’s basically a big ass residential town with big apartment blocks.

Repulse Bay: Exclusive residential town with a nice beach. Pretty beachable even into the winter for us cold weather types.


Lack expertise here so far, so some of this is hearsay.

Tsim Sha Tsui: The “ts” is pronounced like the English sounds “sh” “ch” “j” “z” and “zh” all at the same time. Just say TST. Busy, hectic and pretty cool, lots of hotels, restaurants, dudes selling suits and fake watches. Ferry terminal to central and Wanchai.

Mongkok: Pretty bonkers apparently, a few markets, lots of locals, the only bit of Hong Kong considered even slightly dangerous (even though it is no way dangerous). Good for cheap/fake electronics.

The Rest of Kowloon: lots of locals live here. Not sure if there is much to do.

Outlying Islands

Both reachable from central piers, and Lantau is on MTR.

Lantau: Big buddha and a couple of cool wee villages.

Lamma: Hippys and hills, and no towerblocks!


Hope that gives you some idea of where to go – check out the later guides for details on what to do when you get there.

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