Highlights

The waterfront

From the Star Ferry Pier eastward along the harbour, a waterfront ­promenade extends past the Cultural Centre and InterContinental Hotel towards Tsim Sha Tsui East and Hung Hom Bay, a stretch of reclaimed land packed with hotels, offices and shops.

It provides a great vantage point for viewing the north shore of Hong Kong Island, one of the most spectacular city­scapes in the world. At 8pm each night, anywhere along the promenade is good for watching the Symphony of Lights, the world’s largest sound and light show that takes place nightly at 8pm and illuminates the glittering skyline to mesmerising effect.

Behind the waterfront hotels are a collection of museums. The Space Museum is a favourite with kids. The stars, planets and Chinese astronomical inventions are explored in two interactive exhibition halls. There are also daily IMAX movies on the hemispherical screen inside the Space Museum’s dome. The Hong Kong Museum of Art next door is the city's largest public art gallery and the main venue for major visiting art exhibitions.

Nathan Road and neighbouring streets

Tsim Sha Tsui's major north-south thoroughfare, Nathan Road was dubbed the “Golden Mile” in the 1960s after it had been transformed from a sleepy, tree-lined residential boulevard into a gaudy, neon-lit street lined with electronics shops, tailors, boutiques and other stores targeting tourists more than locals.

Shops have changed, signs have multiplied, but Nathan Road still remains the core of the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping and entertainment district. This has now spread out along the various cross streets, where run-down mansion blocks packed with shabby guesthouses and trading offices are oddly wedged between the shops, luxury hotels and the occasional skyscraper.

From the west side of Nathan Road, Peking and Haiphong roads connect with rather more upmarket Canton Road. To the east there’s plenty of shopping along Carnarvon, Cameron and Granville roads: here you will find factory outlets, inexpensive accessory shops, fashion boutiques and numerous bargains. Nathan Road itself has long been famous for its electronic stores, but note that “buyer beware” is the order of the day. There are also the less salubrious looking arcades that overflow with a fascinating mix of booths and stores, including the ground floor of Chungking Mansions.

Hong Kong Museum of History

Hong Kong Museum of History website

Over in Tsim Sha Tsui East, a short walk from Nathan Road, the Hong Kong Museum of History documents the 6,000-year story of Hong Kong from neolithic times right up to the 1997 handover. The Hong Kong Story is the core exhibition, taking in developments from the Devonian period 400 million years ago to the present day. Most exhibits focus on more recent history, with imaginative displays and mock-ups of old-style teahouses, cinemas and a Cantonese opera stage, and many absorbing  old photographs.