Hong Kong: Experience the best of the city
There’s no doubt Hong Kong is one of Asia’s top destinations to visit. With deeply rooted Chinese traditions fused with influences from former British rule, Hong Kong is vibrant, bustling and cosmopolitan. So much so, that it is well-known as the place where “East meets West.” From the chaotic streets of Kowloon to the luxurious hotels and financial hub of Hong Kong Central, Hong Kong is one destination that you simply shouldn’t skip.
Even though Hong Kong is considered to be much more expensive than other Asian destinations, like Taiwan or Japan, the city remains a mecca for shopaholics, culture vultures, foodies and even outdoor enthusiasts. Best of all, Hong Kong is so compact and easy to navigate that you would have no problem doing all of our favorite things in just 4 days.
For an unmissable Hong Kong experience, check out our top 10 things to do in the city, below.
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The 10 best experiences to have in Hong Kong
1. Take the tram to Victoria Peak
Travel tip: Avoid the crowds and head to Victoria Peak during the week, on a clear sunny day.
Victoria Peak is most probably Hong Kong’s most iconic spot for a breathtaking bird’s-eye view of the city’s beautiful skyscraper-studded skyline. For the ultimate 360-degree panoramic view of the cityscape, don’t forget to purchase a Sky Terrace 428 ticket when you enter the Garden Road Peak Tram Lower Terminus.
I highly recommend getting a fast pass, allowing you to cut the long tram queues. It’s totally worth the few extra dollars and let’s be honest, who likes queuing anyway?
If you’re on a tight budget, you might want to consider hiking up the peak. But be warned, it’s quite steep. Single journey tickets can be purchased at either the lower or upper terminuses.
Although, the tram only takes a few minutes to reach the peak, it’s an unforgettable
slightly scary experience which should not be missed on your visit to Hong Kong.
7am – midnight, Monday to Sunday & public holidays, departing every 10-15 minutes.
Peak Tram Return Ticket – HK$52
Peak Tram & Sky Terrace 428 Return Ticket – HK$99
33 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong.
MTR Central station. Take Exit J2 and Walk through Chater Garden. Then make your way up Garden Road.
2. Watch the Symphony of Lights
Every evening at 8pm, Hong Kong’s already impressive skyline lights up with a dazzling audiovisual show. Watch the lights and lasers bop from one iconic building to the next on both sides of the harbor, all meticulously timed to music from the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
The best places to watch the Symphony of Lights extravaganza are the harbor front areas near Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui or Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai.
Operating hours: Every evening at 8pm.
If you feel like splurging a bit, treat yourself to drinks or a meal onboard one of the cruise liners as you watch the Symphony of Lights from the water. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
3. Shop till you drop in Kowloon
Hong Kong offers some of the best shopping experiences in the world. So much so, that it is renowned as an absolute shoppers paradise, no matter your budget. Whether you’re looking for high-end fashion or bargain hunting, you’ll have no problem getting your fair share of retail therapy here. Head to our favorite shopping spots below to make the most of your visit.
The Golden Mile
The Golden Mile, also better known as Nathan Road is the main thoroughfare of the Kowloon peninsula. It’s notorious for its neon lights, as well as being the best shopping area in Hong Kong. With tons of shops and restaurants, you can easily spend hours browsing, shopping or simply watching the crowds. No matter how deep your pockets are, the Golden Mile has it all; from that Chanel bag you’ve been dying to buy to cheap Chinese trinkets and other great bargains.
Temple Street Market
If you are looking for an authentic night out, head to Hong Kong’s best and largest night market; Temple Street Market. Although Temple Street is filled to the brim with tourists nowadays, it’s still one of the best places to experience the city’s bustling atmosphere.
Bargain your way through the stalls, where haggling is considered normal. Expect to find anything from tea ware, clothes, bags, souvenirs, art and selfie sticks here. When your stomach starts to rumble, take in the smells and tastes on offer from the open-air food stalls. Then visit a fortune-teller to discover your path in life or even listen to Cantonese opera singers for free.
Most hawkers set up shop around 6pm and start shutting down around 11pm.
Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon.
Jordan MRT Station. Take Exit C2 and walk along Bowring Street, or
Yau Ma Tei MTR Station. Exit C and follow Man Ming Lane.
Mong Kok’s Ladies Market only covers 1km in length, but is home to over 100 stalls. Unlike its name suggests, the market does actually sell other things apart from goods for the fairer sex. Bargain hunt for toys, clothing, accessories and souvenirs here. Like Temple Street Market, it’s one of the best places to practice your haggling skills in Hong Kong.
Most hawkers set up shop around noon and start shutting down around 10pm.
Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon.
MTR Mong Kok Station. Take Exit E2 and walk along Nelson Street for two blocks.
4. Enjoy the vibrant nightlife in Lan Kwai Fong
Looking for the best nightlife scene in Hong Kong? Then hit the streets of Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong Central for an unforgettable night out. Here you will find a mix of British-style pubs, hipster-hangouts, karaoke bars and just about everything in-between. The bars begin to fill up after working hours and are open until the early morning hours.
Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong Central.
MTR Central Station. Take Exit D2. Then walk along Theatre Lane and head up D’Aguilar Street.
5. Take the world’s longest escalator
The Central Mid-Level Escalator is the longest outdoor escalator in the world. It comprises of 20 escalators and three moving walkways, which stretch over 800 meters. The escalator system is one of the easiest ways to get up the steep hillside, linking Queen’s Road Central all the way to Conduit Road.
It takes about 20-25 minutes to ride the escalator’s full length one-way. So, if you have an hour or two to spare, this is one spot not to miss. It’s also a great place to people watch.
Downhill: 6am – 10am, daily
Uphill: 10am – midnight, daily
Travel tip: A complete refurbishment of the Central Mid-Level Escalator began in March 2018 and will take 4 years to complete. Which sadly means some parts of the system are temporarily closed at times. To see how this impacts your ride, check out the link here which has full details of the affected areas and times.
6. Visit Lantau Mountain for spiritual reflection
For a memorable and spiritually enlightening day trip, head to Lantau Island. The area is a major Buddhism centre in Hong Kong and popular among tourists. The best way to reach the mountain top is by cable car. Enjoy the breathtaking views over Tung Chong Bay, the airport and Lantau Mountain as you make your way up the mountain. Once you reach the top, explore the Ngong Ping plateau, which is home to tons of little shops selling souvenirs. Then head over to Po Lin Monastery for some spiritual reflection before finally climbing the 268-step stairway to get a closeup view of the 34m-tall Big Buddha.
You can buy cable car tickets at the Ngong Ping 360 Ticketing Offices at Tung Chung and Ngong Ping Cable Car Terminals and even at most 7-11’s in Hong Kong. There are tons of tour packages available, too. So, if you are keen on saving time and cutting those long annoying queues, rather consider taking a day tour.
Mondays to Fridays:10am – 6pm
Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays:9am – 6:30pm
Standard Cable Car – HK$210, return journey
Crystal Cable car – HK$290, return journey
Tung Chung MRT Station. Take Exit B. The Tung Chung Cable Car Terminal is a 5-minute walk from the station.
7. Relax at Stanley Bay
When the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong’s city life gets too much for you, head over to the laid back seaside village of Stanley. Enjoy a relaxing day at the beach or hang out at one of the numerous cute cafes, hipster bars or fine dining spots which line the bay. When the sun sets, head over to Stanley Market; one of the best markets to buy cheap trinkets, silk garments, souvenirs and cheap clothes in Hong Kong.
8. Visit Tai-O Fishing Village
Tai-O Village, aka the “Venice of Hong Kong” is one of the few remaining fishing villages in Hong Kong. It’s a great day trip to take and popular among seafood lovers and shutterbugs alike. If you are interested in learning more about the Tanka boat people or simply just want to stroll along the causeway and admire the stilt houses, this is one stop you shouldn’t miss.
Getting to Tai-O Village is quite a mission though. So either consider taking a day tour here, or be prepared to navigate your way through Hong Kong’s intricate bus system.
Looking for something more adventurous? Get your Tai-O Village Sea Kayaking Tour here.
9. Take a cooking class
Hong Kong boasts with plenty of ‘oh-so-delicious’ feasts. So much so, that you will be spoiled for choice; from simple traditional dishes, such as wontons and Hainan chicken to an array of fine dining options at Michelin star restaurants. One thing is certain, you’ll have no problem finding something to satisfy your tastebuds in this city. So, why not take it to the next level? Take the authentic tastes of Hong Kong home by joining a cooking class. Learn how to make the perfect set of Dim Sum or impress friends and family with amazing traditional Cantonese dishes.
10. Take a harbor cruise
Let’s face it, everyone who has ever heard of Hong Kong dreams of taking a cruise on one of the iconic red-sail Chinese junks. If you aren’t on a tight budget, I would highly recommend splurging a bit for this unique experience. For the most reasonable prices, Aqualuna offers some of the best and most affordable packages in the city. Rides usually last for 45 minutes and although it is pricey, consider it a once in a lifetime experience.
The Star Ferry is another great way to enjoy the harbor views. It’s a huge tourist attraction in Hong Kong and for good reason. With pocket-friendly options, there’s no reason not to add it to your to-do list. Plus, no visit to Honk Kong would be complete without a ride on the Star Ferry. The ferry, which connects Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, is a lovely way to cross the harbor and departs from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui, every 8 minutes and from Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui, every 12 minutes.
However, if you really want to enjoy the epic views of the city’s harbor and skyscrapers from the water, I highly recommend taking the Star Ferry Harbor Tour. The tour runs an hour-long circular route around Victoria Harbor, calling at Tsim Sha Tsui, Central and Wan Chai. Unfortunately, tickets are sold on a first-come-first-served-basis, daily at the harbor. So, if you’d like to book tickets beforehand and skip the long queues, get your Star Ferry Harbor Tour tickets here.
Have me missed any of your favorite things to do in Hong Kong? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
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