Hong Kong is a truly fascinating city, where the East meets West. You will be amazed by the architecture and the tall skyscrapers dominating the landscape; astonished by the contrasting views and landscapes of the different islands and will certainly enjoy the variety of food the city has to offer.
Hong Kong has a little bit of everything to offer – from amazing architecture, pristine beaches, spectacular islands, and traditional villages. The city is busy during the day with a bustling nightlife all week round. Plenty of things to do and see during your stay there.
- How to get there and where to stay
- Top things to do in Hong Kong
- 1. See the Symphony of Lights show
- 2. Admire the Skyline at Victoria Harbour
- 3. Go to Victoria Peak on the Peak Tram
- 4. Discover Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery
- 5. Visit the Amazing Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple
- 6. Spend a day in Lantau Island
- 7. Visit Hong Kong Park and Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
- 8. Enjoy an Evening at Happy Valley Racecourse
- 9. Learn More at the Hong Kong Museum of History
- 10. Other Things to do in Hong Kong
- Food highlights
Hong Kong is a metropolitan area and special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. It became a colony of the British Empire in 1842 and was later transferred to China in 1997. As a special administrative region, Hong Kong maintains separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China under the principle of “one country, two systems”.
With over 7.5 million residents in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world. You will see lots of super tall residential buildings and wonder what happens if the lift breaks and you need to climb so many stairs to go home.
How to get there and where to stay
Probably the best way to reach Hong Kong is by plane, flying to Hong Kong International Airport. There are direct and connection flights from London. From the airport, you can easily get to your accommodation by taxi, train, bus or coach.
I had a connection flight with Emirates Airline, from London Heathrow to Hong Kong, with a stop at Abu Dhabi. Be sure to check our article on how to find cheap flights where we explore how sometimes a connecting flight might be cheaper than a direct one.
In terms of accommodation, there are plenty of options to choose from. Use TripAdvisor or Booking.com to check for any properties well in advance and see if you can squeeze any discounts if possible. I stood at Cosmo Hotel Hong Kong in Wan Chai, just 8-min walk away from the Causeway Bay subway station.
To get around Hong Kong, the tube (MTR) is probably your best friend. I would suggest exploring the city by taking the Ding Ding – Hong Kong’s tramways. You won’t miss these double-decker trams running from East to West of Hong Kong Island.
Top things to do in Hong Kong
Well, where do I start? There are so many things one can do in Hong Kong – from admiring the amazing skyscrapers to vising temples, strolling through the markets and tasting some of the amazing food Hong Kong has to offer. I will share my highlights and things I will certainly recommend.
If you don’t have enough time in the city, you might consider Hop-on Hop-off Hong Kong Bus Tour to cover the main attractions.
1. See the Symphony of Lights show
You should definitely see the Symphony of Lights show – the world’s largest permanent light and sound show taking place every night at 8pm. You can choose your own spot to watch this, but the best vantage points include the “Avenue of Stars” on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, on the waterfront promenade outside the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai (this is where I was) and on sightseeing ferries (i.e. Star Ferry) running across the Victoria Harbour.
2. Admire the Skyline at Victoria Harbour
Victoria Harbour is a must – it offers spectacular views of the impressive skyline of Hong Kong Island and you will definitely like it! If you get a chance, hop on the Star Ferry for an iconic trip from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island. This offers a great views and fantastic photo opportunities.
3. Go to Victoria Peak on the Peak Tram
Take the Peak Tram from Central district to Victoria Peak. The Peak Tram is a funicular railway which carries both tourists and residents to the upper levels of Hong Kong Island. Although you can get a bus or taxi to Victoria Peak, jumping on the Peak Tram is an experience you won’t forget. Once at the top, you are welcomed by spectacular scenes. For even better experience, I went to the Peak Tower’s sky terrace to enjoy these unforgettable views of Hong Kong.
4. Discover Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery
To get away from the crows of Kowloon, I would strongly recommend visiting the Nan Lian Garden – a Chinese classical garden with amazing bonsai trees and huge Koi carp fish.
Whilst there, pay a visit to the Chi Lin Nunnery – a large Buddhist temple complex featuring statues made from gold, clay, wood and stone. A great way to enjoy a beautiful peaceful walk after the busy streets and night life of Hong Kong.
5. Visit the Amazing Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple
Whilst in the area, I also visited Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple – a devout ensemble of halls, shrines, pavilions, and altars. This busy temple is a destination for all walks of Hong Kong society, from pensioners and business people to parents and young professionals, queueing to pray, attend fortune-tellers and make wishes, hoping they will come true.
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6. Spend a day in Lantau Island
Allocate a full day to visit Lantau Island and the Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha) and Po Lin Monastery. This is a real sky, land and sea adventure starting off with a nice journey on the Ngong Ping cable car. In addition to the great views from the cable car, you will remember the contrast of getting away from the busy streets of the city.
Admire the Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha)
Once at Lantau Island, head to the Big Buddha. Be prepared to climb a lot of stairs to reach to this magnificent man-made bronze statue, which is major centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong.
Explore Po Lin Monastery
Po Lin Monastery, which I visited next is near the Big Buddha statue and symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith. The main temple houses three bronze statues of the Buddha – representing his past, present and future lives – as well as many Buddhist scriptures.
After this spiritual visit to the monastery and the Big Buddha, it’s time for the sea adventure I promised you earlier. There are a number of fishing villages on the island, I went to Tai O, a little fishing village with many shops with dried seafood and traditional Chinese snacks, sold by the locals.
I did plan a boat ride; however I didn’t get the chance to experience this as it started pouring so strongly, that I had to take a bus and then a tube to get back to my accommodation, all soaking wet!
7. Visit Hong Kong Park and Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Back to Hong Kong, another place to see is Hong Kong Park. It’s a stunning park in the Central District of Hong Kong island where you can see lovely trees and plants, tai chi garden, an artificial lake with some amazing huge koi fish, bird part, Olympic square and much more.
Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, one of the oldest zoological and botanical centres in the world, and the oldest park in Hong Kong.
The zoo is not as impressive as the London Zoo in the UK, but considering it’s free to visit, I would absolutely recommend a visit.
8. Enjoy an Evening at Happy Valley Racecourse
If you’re looking for fun and to add a little ‘do’ to your ‘see’, you can visit Happy Valley Racecourse, offering weekly horse races most of the year. My hotel was just 5 minutes away from the racecourse and we had a work function on Wednesday evening – enjoy the horse race, tasteful dinner and a bit of betting (unfortunately I didn’t win ☹).
9. Learn More at the Hong Kong Museum of History
Pay a visit to the Hong Kong Museum of History which preserves Hong Kong’s historical and cultural heritage. The collections of the museum encompass natural history, archaeology, ethnography and local history.
10. Other Things to do in Hong Kong
Visit at least one of Hong Kong’s street markets – a great way to get a bargain and practice your haggling skills. I went to Temple Street Night Market and to the Ladies Market and bagged a few souvenirs, magnets and presents.
Other places I visited include Xiqu Centre in West Kowloon Cultural District and the Avenue of Stars. In addition, I did a walking tour of Hong Kong and exploring the architecture of the city. Really enjoyed visiting temples, they were so different from what I am used to and a real highlight for me.
From chicken feet (phoenix talons as they call them) to some amazing steamed shrimp or pork dumplings, yummy beef brisket noodles, egg tarts, pineapple bread or sweet and sour pork … you will be spoilt for choice. You can see where East meets West in the food as well. I went to Hard Rock Café and had the Local Legendary burger – roasted duck slices served with a steamed bun with shredded cucumber and scallion.
I was really excited to visit the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world – Tim Ho Wan, specialising in dim sum and bite-sized Chinese delicacies. I went there with colleagues and we had a variety of things including baked BBQ pork buns, steamed fish dumplings, steamed port dumplings, seasonal greens, rice, veggie rolls, tonic medlar & petal cake, drinks and all of this for under £10pp! It was delicious and amazing – a must visit restaurant!
Tip: most of the restaurants in Hong Kong don’t accept card payments, so make sure you have cash with you all the time.
For an European visiting Asia, Hong Kong was a truly amazing experience and a destination I would visit again and again. I was fascinated by the architecture – tall skyscrapers and residential flats; spectacular islands, busy streets day and night; beautiful gardens and amazing Buddhist temples. It’s a destination that should be on everyone’s “to-visit” list.
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