Renting a car is largely unnecessary thanks to efficient public transport and a glut of affordable taxis. Moreover, roads are frequently clogged with traffic and the one-way systems can be intimidatingly labyrinthine to the uninitiated.
Hong Kong is one of Asia's busiest hubs. Most of the world's top international airlines fly to Hong Kong International Airport weekly, if not daily, and it regularly tops the charts in the 'world's best airport' awards (www.hongkongairport.com). Once you have landed, zoom into the city on the Airport Express train service - it takes about half an hour (www.mtr.com.hk).
Arrive by train from the mainland and capture some of the romance of bygone travel. The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) runs regular trains into and out of Hong Kong, as well as around the New Territories (www.kcrc.com). Excellent in both value and efficiency, the MTR subway system is a great way to zip back and forth between Kowloon, Central and Causeway Bay (www.mtr.com.hk).
Country code for Hong Kong: +852
Read Richard Mason's classic The World of Suzy Wong for a taste of Fifties Hong Kong. Also have a flick through James O'Reilly and Larry Habegger's Traveler's Tales Hong Kong. This fun volume packs some great stories by famous nomadic scribes like Jan Morris, Suzy Gershman, and Paul Theroux. For a more heavyweight cultural crib-sheet, Steve Tsang's A Modern History of Hong Kong covers the period between 1841 to 1997, roughly the age of British colonial rule.
Do go / Don't Go
Hong Kong is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit climate-wise is during the cooler period between September and March. Go in late January to mid-February to catch the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Like the islands' colonial history, Hong Kong cuisine combines Western dishes with Chinese culinary tradition. Most of its Chinese food is of a Cantonese foundation, characterised by roast meats, subtle flavours, soups and mild spices. Dim sum is the local breakfast and lunch mainstay, and noodle shops offering soups filled with yummy ingredients, like fishcake, dumplings or braised beef.
Taxis are cheap and plentiful in Hong Kong. Be warned: while in certain neighbourhoods, such as Central, civilized folk patiently queue for their cabs, in others, you have to fight like Tyson to get through the door. Unless you have a huge life insurance policy, avoid the cute but crazy minibuses. While routes are defined, there are no regular stops except a few designated start and end points. Passengers flag down the buses, which are usually careering down roads at bewildering speeds, and yell out to the driver to stop when they want to get off.
Tipping is not standard practice, but most establishments add a 10 per cent service charge to your bill.
Hong Kong dollar (HK$). The exchange rate is roughly HK$16 to £1.
Bring your finest designer togs and look fabulous wherever you go. Sadly, many here do believe that clothing maketh the man and you'll simply get better treatment if you make an effort.
Hong Kong has some fabulous galleries, hawking everything from antiques (and reproductions) to contemporary Chinese art. The coolest and most thought-provoking art-space on the island is the Librarie Galerie (+852 2869 5505) run by French fashion house Agnes B.
Hong Kong does shopping like cows do milk. Kowloon is crammed with brightly lit displays of discount computers, cameras and other top-end gadgetry, tended by over-enthusiastic salespeople vying to ply you with bargains. Kowloon and Causeway Bay are stuffed with dinky boutiques selling both local and regional garments and accessories. Hollywood Road and Cat Street are excellent for furniture and antiques, but be wary: some goods aren't nearly as 'antique' as you might think. Fashionistas in search of international luxury brands should head to Landmark (www.centralhk.com), the elite mall in Central. If you only have time for one shop, go to the militantly on-trend Lane Crawford outlet (www.lanecrawford.com) in the IFC mall.
Have an early dinner at Aqua (+852 3427 2288), the sexy Italian-Japanese restaurant high atop One Peking Road in Kowloon. This achingly hip eatery has the most sensational views of Hong Kong harbour and both the interiors and food are fantastic.
The Hong Kong Tourist Board (www.discoverhongkong.com) run a superb programme of (mostly) free events and classes as part of their Cultural Kaleidoscope programme. It covers everything from Chinese Medicine through to Kung Fu and Chinese Tea appreciation. Pick of the bunch are the free five-times-a-week Tai chi classes held on either the viewing platform at the Peak Tower or the Sculpture Court at the Kowloon Museum of Art. Your teacher will be the renowned Tai chi master, Mr Ng.
February-March The month-long Hong Kong Arts Festival showcases some of the world's best performing artists (www.hk.artsfesival.org). March Hong Kong Sevens is one of the most famous rugby sevens tournaments in the world, seeing around two dozen national teams clashing on the pitch every year (www.hksevens.com).
May-June The Dragon Boat Festival in Stanley attracted around 15,000 people to the port to watch the frenetic amateur water-race and soak up the carnival atmosphere (www.dragonboat.org.hk). June-August The Hong Kong Shopping Festival (www.discoverhongkong.com/hksf). A good time to visit Hong Kong if you're planning some serious retail therapy. December Hong Kong Winterfest (www.hkta.org/hkwf) Hong Kongers embrace the festive season by slashing prices once again.