Home » Hong Kong Tours » Hong Kong Travel Guide & Things to do in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Travel Guide

Hong Kong Travel Guide

Hong Kong, as international financial, trade center and free port, is called the “Pearl of the Orient” and “City of Life.” After Hong Kong had been governed by England for a century and a half, it finally returned to China on July 1, 1997 as a special administrative area.

Hong Kong is divided into three areas including Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and New Territories (offshore Islands are also included). Kowloon and HK Island face each other across Victoria Harbor. These two areas occupy a small land of HK, but are the most populous places in HK. Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon and Central in HK Island, sitting at the either bank of Victoria Harbor, are two economic and cultural center as well as the most thriving places in this region.  

The New Territories are seen as the periphery of HK. With a large area, it also includes many offshore islands. A lot of country parks and walking lanes are spread across New Territories. The well-known Lantau Island where Disneyland, Tsing Ma Bridge, the Monastery Buddha and international airport of HK also belong to New Territories. Nanya Island, Saigon, Cheung Chau are all a part of the offshore islands of New Territories.

The full name of HK is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of Republic of China (HKSAR). HK has been a territory since the Qing Dynasty, but it had been ceded in batches and rented to England as a colony after China lost it in the middle of 19th century, which led to the development of ports in HK. In the 1980s, China and England had an agreement on future development of HK and signed Sino-British Joint Declaration which specified the Republic of China would resume its rule over HK. China promised to govern the country under the policy of “one country, two systems” in which HK would maintain its capitalist regime and the previous lifestyles, enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all areas except diplomatic affairs and defense, which was called “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy.”

After the Second World War, HK witnessed the rapid development of its economy and society of HK, not only becoming one of the Four Asian Tigers, but also one of the regions with the most advanced economy and highest living standards. HK is an important financial, service and shipping center in Asia, famous for its government, stable public security, free economic system and rule of law. The historical vicissitudes that transformed HK from a small fishing village with only 5,000 people to an international metropolis reputed as “Pearl of Orient” today.

As regards to the name of Hong Kong, there are two sayings throughout the region. It was said that the name is relevant to spices. In the Song and Yuan Dynasty, HK was affiliated to Dongguan, Guangdong Province in terms of administration. Beginning in the Ming Dynasty, a small port in the north of HK was a feeder port for transporting Nanyue spices which was produced in Dongguan, Guangdong province, thus the name of fragment harbor (Hong Kong). It was said that the spices shipped in HK had superior quality and was called the “Treasures of Hainan.” Many local people of HK were engaged in planting spices so that HK became famous for its spices. Soon, this kind of spice was listed as one of the tributes to the emperor, which prospered the industry of spice manufacturing and shipping. Then the plantation and transportation of spices gradually decreased, but the name remained. 

The second saying is that HK is a natural harbor with sweet stream water nearby where sailors used to come to drink water. After a long time, as the sweet stream water rose to fame, the stream was called “fragment river,” while this river flew into the sea and formed a small alluvial harbor and since then it was called “Hong Kong.” Many British people named this island “HK” as they disembarked at this harbor when they went to HK Island. Until today, “Fragment River” (香江) is still another name for “Hong Kong.”  

Although there are different sayings to explain the name that was given to Hong Kong, it is almost certain that this name first appeared in Ming Dynasty. It referred to a small harbor, village and then was used to describe the whole island (HK island). In the early 19th century, it was known as the name of the entire area occupied by British colonizers.