Hong Kong's historic heart has been a world center of trade and commerce since the mid-19th-century British-colonial era. Streets and squares are lined with architectural landmarks that these days are overshadowed by soaring masterpieces of contemporary architecture. Somehow the mishmash works. Central is still the city center, packed with businesspeople, shoppers, and tourists. Bankers and diplomats rub elbows with tai-tais—the local term for ladies who lunch, but the term can certainly apply to men as well—who can work off a meal shopping at designer-packed malls or luxury emporiums selling made-to-measure Chinese-style suits. With the harbor on one side and Victoria Peak on the other, Central also provides unrivaled views—once you get high enough to see them, whether from a skyscraper or the hillsides towering behind the district.
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