Hong Kong is a dynamic city with strong Chinese roots coupled with an interesting colonial history that gives it a multi-cultural vibe. There is so much to do here whether you like shopping, eating dim-sum or getting out and about to explore the history and culture. In some ways, Hong Kong reminds me of New York but with an oriental twist! I loved views of Victoria Peak and the stunning skyline with bright neon lights on the tall skyscrapers.
I went at Chinese New Year and spent about 4 days in city – the atmosphere was great with lots of fun decorations to celebrate plus a massive fireworks display on the harbour. I’d however reconsider if you’re thinking of visiting at this time of the year as a lot of restaurants that I wanted to visit were closed which was quiet frustrating. If you’re not fussed about where you eat then probably not an issue 🙂Here are my top 12 recommendations for how to spend your time in Hong Kong!
Victoria Peak – no trip to Hong Kong is complete without a trip to Victoria Peak for city views. The best way to do this is via the Peak Tram, one of the world’s oldest funicular railways. The tram rises to about 1,300 feet above sea level and is so steep that the buildings you pass look like they are leaning at a gradient of between 4 to 27 degrees! Make sure you go on a clear day to get the best views – if you can’t see the hills from below, that’s a good sign that you won’t be able to see the city from above. There are also a few hiking trails to explore if you’re the active type! (If you’re on a budget, you could take a bus up to the top).
Another place for great views on a budget is Central Plaza on Hong Kong Island. You get stunning views from the 46th floor and it’s pretty much empty so no waiting to take photos which is always a pain! Did I mention that it was free?!Hong Kong Park – this park is a calm oasis in the busy city. It is beautifully designed, with a lake, waterfall and aviary. Definitely worth spending some time relaxing here. There is also a small Museum of Tea Ware in the grounds if you have some spare time.Man Mo Temple – built in 1847, this small temple is a tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo), both of whom were worshipped by students looking to succeed in the exams of Imperial China.Lantau Island – a trip to Lantau island is a must in my opinion – you could easily do this in a day with time to spare. Sights include the Tian Tian Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery.A highlight of the visit is taking the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car to get there, which takes about 25 minutes one way, crossing over misty mountains, and covering a distance of around 5.7km. You can get a return ticket or take the bus one way (which is the cheaper option).If you have time, you can also visit Tai O which is a small fishing village on Lantau Island, home to the Tanka people, a community who’ve built their houses on stilts. It is worth seeing as there are very few places like this remaining in Hong Kong and it gives you a good idea of what Hong Kong may have been like many, many years ago. Walking through the streets, you’ll find all sorts of dried fish – be prepared for the smells that can and will make you a bit queezy!Hong Kong markets – there is an array of markets to explore in Hong Kong from the Jade Market, Flower Market, Ladies Market, Sneaker Street and Temple Street Night Market (popular for street food) to name a few. I didn’t actually buy anything as I found it to be really touristy but found it fun to explore these nonetheless.Victoria Harbour – I would definitely recommend walking along the harbour (on the Kowloon side) for views of the iconic skyline. You can also walk along the Avenue of Stars and spot some famous actors’ hand prints, plus a pretty cool statue of Bruce Lee. Also check out the Clock Tower by the harbour.Symphony of Lights show – I’d highly recommend the Symphony of Lights show, an exciting extravaganza of lights, working in sync to music. The Kowloon side is the best place to watch the show as you get to see the light show with the Hong Kong skyline in the background. The show starts at 8pm every evening.Star Ferry – The star ferry is one of those iconic activities that you have to do at least once in Hong Kong. It’s a normal commuter ferry so a ticket is pretty cheap and the views approaching Hong Kong Island are stunning.Hong Kong Museum of History – Squeezing 400 million years of history (geological and political) is done pretty well in this museum. This is a great option for kids plus a good place to hideout if it rains.Nan Lian Gardens and the Chi Lin Nunnery – Possibly one of my favourite places in Hong Kong, the Garden and Nunnery (a large temple complex) were the quintessential definition of tranquil and unique. The garden is beautifully landscaped and the contrast of the tall skyscrapers surrounding it was pretty cool.Afternoon Tea – one of the ultimate indulgences in Hong Kong is having afternoon tea at one of the luxury hotels in the city. One of the most well known hotels for it is The Peninsula. Unfortunately, I didn’t think the food or the service lived up to expectations or standards expected of such a hotel. It seemed that it was mostly set-up for tourists with a long wait of around 2 hours (they don’t take reservations unless you are a guest) before we were seated! I’d still do afternoon tea but perhaps pick another hotel, the options are endless!Macau – I didn’t have enough time to go to Macau but it’s definitely doable in a day – something for next time I think! Just remember to take your passport with you As you’ll need it at the border!
I had a pretty tricky time in Hong Kong as most of the restaurants that I wanted to go to were closed because of Chinese New Year! I do however want to recommend a few – Shari Shari for dessert, who knew shaved ice could be so delicious!Half Way Coffee for coffee! Cupping Room for breakfast/brunch and Tim Ho Wan for dim sum (make sure you go to the proper restaurant rather than the small eateries that are dotted around Hong Kong island).Some other places that were on my list but that I didn’t get to try were: Papillon Café, Nosh, Flying Pan, Australian Dairy Company, Little Bao, Crystal Jade, Ho Lee Fook (love this name lol) and DimDimSum.
Getting in to the city from the airport is straightforward and there are options to suit every budget. You could take a bus (very comfortable and convenient, especially as ours stopped right next to our hotel), the Hong Kong airport express train (but then you may have to change on to the metro once you’re in the centre of town) and of course a taxi (though this will obviously be the most expensive option and there are also a couple of tolls on the way so factor this in to your budget).
As a Londoner, travelling around Hong Kong was pretty straightforward. I’d recommend getting an Octopus Card which you can purchase at the airport (similar to the Oyster card except you can also use it in shops and at some attractions). You can top this up at any 7-eleven and it works on both buses and the metro.
Hope you found this post helpful. Let me know in the comments if you have any top tips for Hong Kong! X