It may be one of the most densely populated places in the world but that just adds to the Hong Kong experience. Rich in history, culture, heritage and architecture, not to mention retail outlets, entertainment and cuisine, this small island nation, which boasts not only some of Asia's top universities but some of the world's top universities, offers an education both inside and outside the classroom. Top Universities has come up with the top ten things any undergraduate student should do to get the most out of your time studying abroad in Hong Kong.
1. Visit Stanley Markets
It may be one of Hong Kong's most popular tourist destinations, but it's also frequented by the locals - and as an undergraduate student studying abroad, you classify as both! Stanley Market is home to the hustle and bustle of local businesses selling anything from silk scarves to tacky souvenirs. Satisfy your retail therapy needs, then treat yourself to a well-deserved meal at one of the restaurants nearby. The trip to get there could be as much of an experience as the market itself, especially if you get car sick, but put up with the windy road - you'll be rewarded with bargains at the other end, perfect for that international student budget.
2. Head to the top of Victoria Peak for a spectacular view over the island
At times you may not be able to see much through the smog but don't let that deter you from heading to the top of Victoria Peak, also known as Mount Austin, although most commonly referred to as simply The Peak. The highest mountain on the island at 552m, Victoria Peak provides spectacular views over Hong Kong, Kowloon and Victoria Harbour. Reach the top via the Peak Tram, or if you're really in need of some exercise and time away from the books, walk up the steep Old Peak Road. There's a bit of history to The Peak as well: in the 19th Century, residents headed to the top to escape the sub-tropical climate of the island!
3. Place a bet on the horses at Happy Valley Racecourse
Believe it or not, horse racing is Hong Kong's favourite sport and Happy Valley Racecourse is where most of the action takes place. The season runs from September through to July and during this time there's no better place to be than trackside. Bets are easily placed on computerized betting terminals and you'll always be able to see how far ahead - or behind - your horse is on one of the giant screens around the complex. Forget a night out at the movies, Happy Valley Racecourse is where you need to be to really experience Hong Kong's nightlife!
Did you know? : The Hong Kong Government prohibited rice growing by villages in the area so that Happy Valley Racecourse could be built in 1845 to provide horse racing for the British people in Hong Kong.
4. Satisfy your cravings
If you have a sweet tooth then Hong Kong is the place for you. There are plenty of dessert houses to choose from, which will satisfy any cravings. Make sure you try the latest phenomenon - the mango dessert house. All desserts are made with fresh mangos, watermelon and many other exotic Asian fruits.
You won't go hungry studying abroad in Hong Kong. In fact, this tiny island is known as the culinary capital of Asia. There are more than 1,100 restaurants all over the island offering a range of Asian and Western cuisine to cater for all tastes.
5. Marvel at Hong Kong's Light and Sound Show
The Guinness Book of Records has officially recognized it as being the world's largest permanent light and sound show, and it happens every night in Hong Kong at 8pm! Illuminating the scenic Victoria Harbour, the Symphony of Lights involves 40 buildings showcasing their architecture through coloured lights and laser beams, all synchronized to music and narration. There are five main themes - Awakening, Energy, Heritage, Partnership, and the finale, Celebration. Take a seat along one of Hong Kong's waterfront promenades, or make a real night of it and head out on the water for a harbour cruise.
6. Visit Kowloon
Whether it's the Ladies Market, the Avenue of Stars, the Clock Tower or Lei Yue Mun Seafood Bazaar that tickles your fancy, Kowloon is an area of Hong Kong rich in heritage, seafood and markets - it even has a goldfish market! But don't just go there for the shopping, although you may not be able to resist buying your roommate a bamboo birdcage complete with a songbird. Located north of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon also has a number of historical buildings which have been declared monuments by the Antiquities and Monuments Office, as proof of their historical significance.
7. Get hooked on Dim Sum
You won't be able to resist the towers of bamboo baskets filled with tasty morsels that get delivered to your table in a dim sum restaurant. That's if you've managed to be able to choose from the extensive menu. But if you're having trouble selecting just a few dishes, don't hold back - once you've finished that round, why not order again? To experience real dim sum, make sure your meal also includes Chinese tea. Yum cha (which literally means drinking tea) first arose along the Silk Road. Weary travellers would call in for a cup of tea and once they found out tea aided digestion, began eating light dishes, what we know now as dim sum.
8. Experience Hong Kong's Chinese culture
As one of two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China, it's no wonder that Hong Kong is rich in Chinese culture. That includes many festivals all year round, such as the Chinese New Year, Spring Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival or the Birthday of Confucius (to name but a few!). Experience Chinese opera, dragon dancers, fortune telling and Chinese cuisine as Hong Kong becomes enveloped with festivities.
Did you know? : Hong Kong used to be under the rule of the British Sovereignty but in 1997, the island was returned to the Chinese. Today, 95% of Hong Kong's population is ethnic Chinese.
9. Escape the crowd: head to the New Territories
It's no secret, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world, so if you're not a people person, Hong Kong may not be the place for you. However, there are ways to escape, and that's exactly what the mountain trails and nature reserves of the New Territories offers you. Unlike the rest of Hong Kong's islands, the New Territories has remained largely undeveloped, allowing an idyllic rural retreat for undergraduate students and visitors alike to escape the hustle and bustle. Explore ancient villages, Buddhist monasteries and rural villages in Hong Kong's 'hidden oasis'. Hike to Big Wave Bay in Sai Kung, the most remote place in Hong Kong. Just be sure to start your two-hour journey early as you'll have to hike back at the end of the day too!
10. Explore Hong Kong's outlying islands
Less than an hour's ferry ride from central Hong Kong is a selection of outlying islands, perfect for a mid-week getaway. Visit Lantau Island and its famed Giant Buddha, sample the famous seafood at Lamma Island, or take time out on the unspoilt beaches of Cheung Chau and Peng Chau islands. Hire a bike, trek some trails, visit quaint fishing villages or simply enjoy looking back on Hong Kong from afar.
Did you know? : Hong Kong is made up of 236 islands. Lantau Island is the biggest, followed closely by Hong Kong Island.
Once you've finished those:
1. Enjoy a cruise on Victoria Harbour
2. Take time to explore some of the many temples around the island
3. Take a feng shui class
4. No visit to Hong Kong is complete without the fish bowl experience, or for the girls, Ladies Night.
5. Take time out from the lecture hall and visit one of Hong Kong's most popular attractions, Ocean Park. It'll bring out the kid in you again!
Hong Kong's top universities