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Like a shot of adrenalin, Hong Kong quickens the pulse.

Skyscrapers march up jungle-clad slopes by day and blaze neon by night, across a harbour criss-crossed by freighters and motor junks. Hong Kong can overwhelm but offers fantastic experiences, especially to visitors who are willing to step out of their comfort zone.

The Peak Tram rises above skyscrapers, departing from the lower terminus and climbing to the 552-metre Victoria Peak. On clear days and at night, the view from the top is amazing (7am-midnight, every 15 minutes; £3).

The largest of Hong Kong’s Man Mo temples was the hub of civil life on the island in the 19th century. The Taoist temple was built in 1847 by Chinese merchants and was dedicated to the gods of literature, ‘man’, and of war, ‘mo’ (24-126 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan; 8am-6pm; free).

Hong Kong’s first heritage trail, the Ping Shan, includes the territory’s oldest pagoda, a magnificent ancestral hall and temples. All were built by the Tang clan, the most powerful of the five clans that settled in the New Territories around the 11th century (West Rail Tin Shui Wai station, exit E; 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm; free).

Temple Street Night Market is Hong Kong’s liveliest. Aside from the clothes, watches and footwear on offer, it’s worth a visit for the smells and tastes of the open-air street stall and for the occasional Cantonese opera shows. Night owls should try the fruit market, open from midnight until dawn (Man Ming Lane; 6pm-midnight).

Picturesque Tai O, on Lantau island, is one of the oldest fishing villages. It is famous for its stilt houses, rope-tow ferry and temple dedicated to the god of war, Guan Yu. Reach it by bus 1 from the Mui Wo ferry point.

Eat and drink
Dah Wing Wah is the place to go for the village cuisine of the northern New Territories. Local ingredients are sourced from small farms and food producers. Try the lemon-steamed mullet and smoked oysters (00 852 2476 9888; 2nd fl, Koon Wong Mansion, 2-6 On Ning Rd, Yuen Long; lunch and dinner; mains from £3).

Tung Po Seafood Restaurant has revolutionised hawkerstyle cooking. Its novel menu has featured items such as steamed glutinous rice with duck jus. Beer is served in big rice bowls, to be downed bandit style. Book ahead or go before 7pm (00 852 2880 9399; 2nd fl, Municipal Services Bldg, 99 Java Rd, North Point; lunch and dinner; meals from £6).

Famous tea house Luk Yu is known for its dim sum (available from 7am-5pm) and Cantonese dishes. The delectable food and elegant furnishings make up for the cavalier service (00 852 2523 5464; 24-26 Stanley St, Central; lunch and dinner; mains from £8).

Ye Shanghai means ‘Shanghai nights’ and its interior is romantic. The Shanghainese food, lighter than traditional Cantonese dishes, is Michelin-starred (00 852 2376 3322; 6th fl, Marco Polo Hotel, Harbour City, Kowloon; lunch and dinner; mains from £12).

The atmosphere at T’ang Court is plush, the service impeccable and the food divine. Try sautéed prawns with deep-fried taro puffs (00 852 2375 1133; Langham Hotel, 8 Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui; lunch and dinner; mains from £30).

Hop Inn has a youthful vibe and nine small but artful rooms, each featuring illustrations by a Hong Kong artist. Three rooms have no windows, but the art on the walls makes this seem like less of a problem (00 852 2881 7331; Flat A, 2nd fl, Hanyee Bldg, 19-21 Hankow Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui; from £40).

Given its location in the Central Business District, Ice House is excellent value. It’s styled in contemporary fashion with lots of white and colourful, contrasting bedspreads and accessories. Each room has a kitchenette and a work area (00 852 2836 7333; 38 Ice House St, Central; from £80).

Many of the handsomely proportioned rooms at the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui feature harbour views. They are modern, with bamboo flooring, king-size beds and large picture windows. The black-and-white photographs of Tsim Sha Tsui are a stylish touch (00 852 2311 1234; 18 Hanoi Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui; from £155).

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