Places to Visit in Hong Kong
Although this is a small country made up of several islands, the places to visit in Hong Kong are as glamorous and exciting as any in Asia.
Exciting, mysterious, glamorous: these words have described Hong Kong for a century. With its vibrant feel and night-and-day activity, Hong Kong is an intoxicating city. Intriguing, puzzling, endlessly interesting, in parts possessed of astounding natural beauty, it is a place that sparks strong emotions. Many say this must be one of the earth’s acupressure points.
On a clear day, the sea, harbour and hills provide a breathtaking backdrop, especially when reflected in the city’s record-breaking number of skyscrapers. This ever-changing, visually stunning architectural landscape makes Hong Kong an exciting and fascinating place to visit.
If you’re planning a visit to this vibrant country, continue reading to find the best places to visit in Hong Kong.
Best Places to Visit in Hong Kong
10. Cheung Chau Island
Just south of Lantau, Cheung Chau offers some good walks, fine beaches, a handful of temples, and is known for throwing some of Hong Kong’s most exuberant and colourful festivals, such as the Bun Festival. Cheung Chau village has a lively waterfront atmosphere; the waterfront promenade is one of Hong Kong’s most pleasant alfresco dining spots, especially after sunset. Head off in any direction from the ferry terminal and you will find both modern and traditional shops and restaurants. The village, around the ferry dock, is a tangle of interesting alleyways best explored at leisure. Cheung Chau also offers excellent windsurfing.
9. Tian Tan Buddha & Po Lin Monastery
Once a humble house built by three monks to worship Buddha, Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island is now a large and important temple. Its crowning glory, the giant Buddha statue facing the monastery, is an object for veneration for devotees and one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist sights. The statue dominates the area from a plinth reached by more than 260 steps. On a clear day, the view across the valleys, reservoirs and peaks of Lantau makes the climb worthwhile. Visit this serenely mammoth statue via the scenic Ngong Ping 360 cable-car ride. Buddha’s Birthday in May is a lively time to visit this important pilgrimage site.
8. Walled Villages of Yuen Long
Let Yuen Long’s walled villages take you back over half a millennium, to a time when piracy was rife along the South China Coast. Isolated from China’s administrative heart, Hong Kong, with its treacherous shores and mountainous terrain, was an excellent hideout for pirates. Its earliest inhabitants built villages with high walls, some guarded by cannons, to protect themselves. Inside these walls today you’ll see ancestral halls, courtyards, pagodas, temples, wells and ancient farming implements – vestiges of Hong Kong’s pre-colonial history, all carefully restored.
7. Hong Kong Trail
Right on the city’s doorsteps, the Hong Kong Trail transports you into emerald hills, secluded woodland and lofty paths that afford sumptuous views of the rugged south and (eventually) glimpses of its wavy shore once you’ve tackled the formidable Dragon’s Back ride. Starting from the Peak, the 50km route snakes across the entire length of Hong Kong Island, past picturesque reservoirs, WWII battlefields and cobalt bays. Spread over five country parks, this delightful trail invites both easy perambulations and harder hikes.
6. Happy Valley Races
Every Wednesday night the city horseracing track in Happy Valley comes alive, with eight electrifying races and an accompanying carnival of food and beer. You can try your luck at betting or simply enjoy the collective exhilaration and feel the earth move beneath thundering hooves as you cheer the finishers home in the ultimate Hong Kong night out. Races have been held at Happy Valley – the widest stretch of flat land on Hong Kong Island, originally a swamp – since 1846 by European merchants who imported stocky stallions from Mongolia, which they rode themselves. Today races are held every week (except in the sweltering months of July and August) beneath twinkling high-rises making for one of the most atmospheric horseracing tracks in the world.
5. Wan Chai
If you were to hurl yourself, eyes closed, into a random neighbourhood and expect to emerge smacking your lips, you’d stand the best chance if you were in Wan Chai. The district is home to a great many restaurants suiting a range of pocket sizes. Regional Chinese cooking, European cuisines, Asian kitchens, East-West fusion, classy, midrange, hole in the wall…Just name your craving and head on down to the Wanch; you’re certain to find it there.
4. Man Mo Temple
Ditch the Soho watering holes and experience Chinese folk religiosity in this atmospheric 19th-century institution. Forever wreathed in thick sandalwood smoke from the slow-burning incense coils, the popular temple is dedicated to Man and Mo, the gods of literature and war. Formerly a cultural and political focal point for the Chinese community, the dimly lit space now commands a much bigger following beyond obedient students and assorted street fighters, as the public come to perform age-old rites and have their fortunes told.
3. Hong Kong Markets
Mong Koh with its specialty markets is your best bet for a rewarding sprawl crawl. The mile-long Tung Choi St Market / Ladies’ Market has clothes ranging from ‘I Love HK’ tees to granny swimwear and sexy lingerie; the flower market sells exotic seeds and gardening tools alongside fragrant florals; and the goldfish market showcases these exotic creatures in softly humming, UV-lit tanks. Complementing these are vertical markets such as a multistorey computer mall, and a mobile phone and gadget lover’s heaven. However, the queen of Hong Kong’s markets is Temple Street Night Market unbeatable for its atmosphere. An overwhelming array of cheap goods can be found here including clothes, shoes, accessories, designer fakes, copy CDs, bric-a-brac and a generous helping of junk.
2. Victoria Peak
You haven’t seen Hong Kong until you’ve seen it from Victoria Peak. Rising above the financial heart of Hong Kong Island, The Peak offers superlative views of the city, Victoria Harbour, South China Sea, Kowloon, and the mountainous countryside beyond. Ride the hair-raising Peak Tram to the cooler climes at the top as a teeming mass of moneyed skyscrapers and choked apartment blocks unfolds below. At dusk Victoria Harbour glitters like the Milky Way in a sci-fi movie poster as the lights come on in this astonishing metropolis. Don’t miss the nighttime view, one of the most spectacular and romantic in the world.
1. Victoria Harbour
The best way to experience Victoria Harbour is to take the Star Ferry between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island which offers one of the most dramatic – and cheapest – 15-minute boat rides in the world. A floating piece of Hong Kong heritage and a sightseeing bargain, the legendary Star Ferry was founded in 1880 and plies the calm waters of Victoria Harbour in the service of families, students, office workers, boat buffs and tourists. The trip is a good reminder that Hong Kong, with its breathtaking skyline, is dominated by water, with one of the world’s busiest harbours. While the vista is more dramatic, when you’re island-bound the art deco Kowloon pier, resembling a finger pointing at the Island, is arguably more charming.