Been to Hong Kong recently? Now’s the time.
It only took five minutes to discover why friends ask: “You’ve not been to Hong Kong? Why not?”
And those five minutes weren’t in Hong Kong because I still haven’t been. It was five minutes on Messenger with Nat who has lived in (and loved) Hong Kong for 24 years.
“Nat, I’m writing a blog post about Hong Kong and wondered if you could give give me your top eight recommendations for first time visitors.”
Whoosh, the messages flew in:
Explore the countryside, waterways and islands.
Boating in all its forms is an absolute highlight.
I absolutely love the markets!
Visit temples and learn about Hong Kong history.
There are so many incredible places to choose from in the food and drinks scene.
Go to Hong Kong’s unique activities and events.
Walk around the local areas.
Every message came with at least eight suggestions.
As Nat says, it’s often only the Hong Kong city sites, shopping centres and harbour that tourists explore. But, there’s so much more.
If I get to go hiking, wander around markets, eat noodles in Michelin star restaurants and take a sampan boat around floating fishing villages, I’m sold.
Explore the beautiful countryside, waterways and islands
- There are hundreds of amazing walks but you could start with hiking the Dragons Back or go to Sai Kung Country Park.
- And so many gorgeous beaches, such as Shek O Beach, Clearwater Bay Beach, Repulse Bay, Stanley Beach, Tai Long Wan near Sai Kung etc.
Boating in all its forms is an absolute highlight
- Ride the famous Star Ferry across Hong Kong Harbour.
- Take an Aqualuna junk boat cruise at sunset.
- Go on a ferry from Central to one of Hong Kong’s outlying islands, such as Peng Cau or Lamma.
- Explore floating fish villages in a sampan boat from Aberdeen or Sai Kung.
- Hire your own junk for a day.
Markets showcase the wonderful culture and people
- My favourite trip would be a visit Mong Kok: explore the Flower Market, Bird Market, Goldfish Market, and Fa Yuen Street clothing market, which leads to a wet food market – all walkable.
- The Temple Street Night Market is great, not only for souvenirs, but fortune tellers and Canto Opera Bars!
- Go to Cat Street for antiques, the Jade Market for pearls, Aiu Street for electronics, Shamshui Po markets for fabrics, Sneakers Street Market for sportswear, and Pottinger Street in Central for costumes.
Temples, sight seeing and museums
- Hong Kong Cemetery in Happy Valley.
- Ten Thousand Buddha’s Monastery – despite its name the path leading up to the monastery has 13,000 Buddha statues.
- Nan Lian Garden designed in Tang Dynasty style with hills, water features, trees, rocks and wooden structures.
- The Big Buddha, which draws pilgrims from all over Asia.
- Stanley, the original administrative centre for Hong Kong.
- Macau, the Las Vegas of China.
So many incredible places in the food and drinks scene
- Some of our favourites are the little local restaurants in villages like Sai Kung, which has one of the cheapest Michelin Star noodle restaurants.
- Try the local floating fishing village restaurants in Clearwater Bay or the seafood restaurants on Lamma Island.
- Dim Sum is a must and there are many restaurants to choose from – like Luk Lu Tea House or Dragon-i or Tim Ho Wan. Make sure you try the pork buns and turnip cakes!
- Upmarket favourites include afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel and also Mandarin Intercontinental for harbour views.
- Hong Kong is home to a huge number of great bars. Experience the crazy Lan Kwai Fong area at happy hour, especially on a Friday. Have cocktails or food with a view at Sevva, Woolamaloo Prime, Aqua, Hotung or Ozone Bar.
- Explore areas like Soho and Central for ever-changing bars, as well as both local and western restaurants.
Go to Hong Kong’s many unique activities
- Horse racing at Happy Valley.
- Hong Kong Sevens Rugby in April.
- Clockenflap Music Festival in November.
- Hong Kong Arts Festival from February to March.
- Local festivals such as the Autumn Festival, Mooncake Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and incredible decorations at Christmas and Chinese New Year.
- Ride to Victoria Peak on the historic Peak Tram.
- Catch the cheapest mode of transport, the tram, from one side of Hong Kong to the other.
- Ride on the top deck of a double decker bus to Stanley Market.
- Ride the glass-bottom Gondola to the Big Buddha.
- You’ll also find Disneyland and Ocean Park in Hong Kong.
Walk around different local areas and get lost:
- Explore laneways, grffiti and cafes in: Hollywood, Soho, Kennedy Town, Mong Kok, TST, Wan Chai, Aberdeen, Stanley and Sai Kung.
- Be sure to get an Octopus Card – a pre-paid tap and go smartcard that pays for metro, buses, trams, ferries, coaches, and even some convenience stores and cafes.