If a single image could encapsulate Hong Kong, it would be the panorama from Victoria Peak. Looking down at the city from this famous vantage point, you'll see one of the finest harbours on Earth and a skyline so improbable, audacious and lofty that Manhattan's looks provincial by comparison. Beyond the mountains to the north of the city, the rest of China simmers and strains. Everything you've heard about Hong Kong's restlessness and energy is dramatically reaffirmed by the view from the Peak. Even the most cynical locals never tire of visiting.
10,000 Buddhas Monastery
Perched on Po Fook Hill about 500m northwest of Sha Tin KCR East Rail station, this quirky temple is well worth a visit. Built in the 1950s, the complex actually contains more than 10,000 Buddhas - some 12,800 miniature statues line the walls of the main temple. Dozens of life-sized golden statues of Buddha's followers flank the steep steps leading to the monastery complex.
Hong Kong Park
Hong Kong Park is one of the most unusual parks in the world, emphasizing artificial creations such as its fountain plaza, conservatory, artificial waterfall, indoor games hall, playground, t'ai chi garden, viewing tower, museum and arts centre. For all its artifice, the 8-hectare park is beautiful in its own weird way and, with a wall of skyscrapers on one side and mountains on the other, makes for some dramatic photographs.
Hong Kong Wetland Park
The space and serenity of this 60-hectare ecological park make it a wonderful place to while away half a day. Its nature trails, bird hides and viewing platforms are windows on the wetland ecosystems and biodiversity of the northwest New Territories. The futuristic grass covered headquarters houses interesting galleries including one on tropical swamps, a film theatre, a large café and a viewing gallery.
Hong Kong Zoological & Botanical Gardens
Established in 1871 as the Botanic Garden, these gardens are a pleasant collection of fountains, sculptures, greenhouses, a playground, a zoo and aviaries. Along with exotic trees, plants and shrubs, some 160 species of bird are in residence here. The zoo is surprisingly comprehensive, and is also one of the world's leading centres for the captive breeding of endangered species, 16 different species of endangered animal being bred here.
Kwun Yam Shrine
Towards the southeast end of Repulse Bay Beach is an unusual shrine to Kwun Yam. The surrounding area has an amazing assembly of deities and figures - goldfish, rams, the money god and other southern Chinese icons, as well as statues of the goddess of mercy and Tin Hau. Most of the statues were funded by local personalities and business people during the 1970s. In front of the shrine to the left as you face the sea is Longevity Bridge; crossing it is supposed to add three days to your life.
Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple
Lantau Island is twice as big as Hong Kong island and is well worth checking out if you want to get away from the bright lights and pollution of the city for a spell. Here you will find open countryside, traditional fishing villages, secluded beaches, monasteries and more. You can hike, camp, fish and mountain bike, amongst other activities. [Traditional tea house, Po Lin Monastery, Tai O fishing village, Buddah Statue]
An explosion of colourful pillars, roofs, lattice work, flowers and incense, this busy temple is a destination for all walks of Hong Kong society, from pensioners to businessmen, parents and young professionals. Some come simply to pray, others to divining the future with chìm, bamboo 'fortune sticks' that are shaken out of a box on to the ground and then read by a fortune-teller, which are available for free to the left of the main temple.
In the waters just off Tung Chung on Lantau Island, live the Chinese White Dolphins. These dolphins are naturally pink and live in the wild, but their status is currently threatened, with it current population estimated to be between 100-200. Take a boat trip with Hong Kong Dolphinwatch to see these pink dolphins, and if you're lucky you can watch them jumping and playing.