A four-kilometre-long strip of the mainland ceded to Britain in perpetuity in 1860 to add to their offshore island, Kowloon was accordingly developed with gusto and confidence, not least in the still-ongoing land reclamation, which has more than doubled the width of the original peninsula. These days, it's not so clear-cut where Kowloon really ends: the original "border" with the New Territories to the north was Boundary Street, though now Kowloon district runs past here for a further 3km or so.
While Hong Kong Island has mountains and beaches to offset the effects of urban claustrophobia, Kowloon has just more shops, more restaurants and more hotels. Initially, it's hard to see how such an unmitigatedly built-up, commercial and intensely crowded place could possibly appeal to travellers. One reason is the staggering view across the harbour to Hong Kong Island's skyscrapers and peaks; another is the sheer density of shopping opportunities here – from high-end jewellery to cutting-edge electronic goods and outright tourist tack – especially in the couple of square kilometres at the tip of the peninsula that make up Tsim Sha Tsui. Hong Kong's most famous street, Nathan Road, runs north up through the middle of Tsim Sha Tsui, the streets either side alive with shops and shoppers at all hours of the day and night. To the north, Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok are less touristy – though no less crowded – districts teeming with soaring tenements and local markets, some of which sell modern daily necessities, others with a distinctly traditional Chinese twist.
The two main ways to reach Kowloon are by the Star Ferry from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui, or along the MTR's Tsuen Wan Line, which runs from Central under the harbour and up through Kowloon, with stations dotted at regular intervals along Nathan Road.