Unique Honeymoon city: Hong Kong

Unique Honeymoon city: Hong Kong

Hong Kong offers couples compelling contrasts, with high-end luxury rubbing up against the chaotic and ramshackle. It's also a great starting point for China

Essential info

Where? South coast, China
Why? Hong Kong is a brash, buzzing metropolis that stirs up colonial and Chinese ingredients into a sizzling mix
When? Oct-Apr, for pleasant weather
Population: 7 million
Language: Cantonese; English and Mandarin widely spoken
Time: GMT+8
International dialling code: +852
Visas: Not required by UK nationals for stays up to six months. Note, you will need a visa if you wish to visit mainland China.
Currency: Hong Kong dollar (HK$), currently around HK$13 to the UK£.
Highest viewpoint: Rugged Victoria Peak (552m) offers the city's quintessential view of the glass skyscrapers perched on Victoria Harbour.
Health: Minimise the risk of upset stomachs by avoiding unpurified water and eating freshly cooked food.
Recommended guidebooks: Hong Kong (Time Out, 2011); Hong Kong & Macau (Lonely Planet, 2010).
Web resources: www.discoverhongkong.com/uk, the Hong Kong Tourism Board's site, is a comprehensive source of practical information on where to go, where to eat and where to stay.
iPhone app: The tourist board site (see above) contains a number of apps including walking and dining guides.
Climate: Sub-tropical Hong Kong is best visited Oct-Apr when temperatures are cooler and humidity is low. The average temperature in March is 18ºC. The sweltering summer monsoon months (May-Sep) are best avoided if you can help it.

Before you arrive

It's hard to imagine a honeymoon destination that offers more variety than Hong Kong. The sprawling metropolis' colonial legacy means it has a surreal familiarity, and like any Western city you can expect multi-national fine dining, plenty of nightlife and luxury shopping aplenty. But venture to Lantau island just outside the city and you'll find the Tanka people, a community of fisherfolk who have built their homes on stilts above the tidal flats for generations.

In the same day, you can immerse yourself in Chinese tradition by visiting Buddhist temples before dining at the Aqua Spirit, where couples can enjoy the Symphony of Lights, a synchronised laser show. If the jetlag hasn't worn off, why not take a stroll at dawn through Victoria Park and watch the locals perform Thai Chi against the early morning sun rising above the skyline. Indeed, views don't get much better than those seen from the Peak, which provides spectacular sights during night or day (a perfect spot for all those honeymoon photos). Options for thrillseekers include horse racing at the Happy Valley Racecourse, a helicopter tour of the island and trekking along the Dragon's Back Trail. They don't call it the city that never sleeps for nothing!

At the airport

Modern facilities and slick operations mean it's a breeze through immigration at HK International on Lantau Island. Immediately after customs you'll find a tourist information stand where the helpful staff speak excellent English and have an extensive stock of literature and maps. In the same area you'll find foreign exchange booths, ATMs and counters selling transfers into the city and last-minute hotel rooms.

Getting into town

Several buses leave from outside the terminal and serve the city from HK$33 (£2.50) one way. Journey time is around one hour, including travel over the 2.2km Tsing Ma Bridge, one of the world's longest suspension bridges. The Airport Express Train whisks to both sides of Victoria Harbour in about 24 minutes. Trains depart every 12 minutes, 5.50am-1.15am; fares cost from HK$100 (£7.60) one way.

Air-conditioned taxis cost HK$250 (£19) to get to Kowloon, HK$350 (£26.80) for Hong Kong Island.

Other ways to arrive

HK's border with mainland China can be crossed at Lok Ma Chau (open 24 hours) or Lo Wu; the latter is on the East Rail line of the MTR metro system, which terminates at Tsim Sha Tsui.

First day's tour

Share one of the rickety double-decker trams together and explore the vibrant districts of Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and Central, popular for shopping and entertainment. Lunch on dim sum and jasmine tea at Lin Hueng (no. 160 Wellington Street), where old ladies push trolleys piled high with steamed dumplings around the dining room.

At dusk, catch the Peak Tram - Asia's first funicular railway - to visit Victoria Peak in time to see the skyscrapers start to twinkle. Then nip across Victoria Harbour on the iconic Star Ferry to take your place for the Symphony of Lights, a synchronised laser show, best viewed from the Avenue of the Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Finish with a trip to Temple Street Night Market, home to bustling, romantic streetside restaurants, and stalls selling souvenirs and handicrafts. Don't forget to haggle hard!

Where to sleep

Top end: The Ritz-Carlton is Hong Kong's tallest hotel. Notable facilities include a spa with ESPA treatment room, OZONE (the tallest bar in the world), jaw dropping décor and unbeatable harbour vistas. (1 Austin Rd West; +852 2263 2263, www.ritzcarlton.com). Doubles from around HK$4,500 (£360).

Mid-range: A little out of the way - a 20-minute metro ride from Central - but East (29 Taikoo Shing Rd; +852 3968 3968, www.east-hongkong.com) remains a tempting choice, especially with the pampering that newly-weds receive on arrival. Doubles from HK$1,500 (£120), room only, incl tax.

Budget: The award-winning boutique Butterfly Hotels and apartments have five locations across the city, (www.butterflyhk.com). Rooms are basic, but smart and centrally-located - perfect for exploring. Doubles from HK$1,000 (£79), room only, incl tax.

Extend your stay

Once you've seen the main sights, venture to some of HK's other 236 islands. Lantau, the largest in the archipelago, is a welcome escape from the madness of the metropolis: explore lush peaks, empty beaches and fishing villages; look for pink dolphins off the coast. The main attraction is the giant statue of the serene Tian Tan Buddha (34m) but the island also offers great hiking.

Macau deserves a day. Far more than a gambler's haven, the former Portuguese colony has much to see - most notably the imposing 17th-century ruins of the Church of St Paul. Don't miss the egg tarts at Lord Stow's Bakery (1 Rua da Tassara) - the best in Macau. It's also worth remembering that Hong Kong can provide a good staging post for Asian honeymoons. Hop from here to Bangkok, Bali or even Australia.

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