When you visit Hong Kong you quickly realise it has it all. Mountains, beaches, city life, fashion sense and great food. Sure, life is at a fast pace but hurrying along sky bridges in style and seeing the illuminated harbour at night, what is there to complain?
Hong Kong is a great place to visit by itself or as a transit destination. You can explore on your own (it’s safe and easy to get around) or book one of the many transit tours directly from the airport when you visit Hong Kong. I was amazed by how organized everything was and it was so clean. There is really nothing to worry about and it is an ideal destination for those trying their first big stop abroad or on their own.
Wong Tai Sin
Hong Kong has many temples and shrines throughout, but the most impressive is Wong Tai Sin. So, take the MTR and ride up a few stations, light some incense and shake the sticks to get your fortune told and watch as other templegoers are deeply engaged in prayers with a respective deity. To increase your inner peace, meditate in the zen garden or just take in the beauty of symmetry.
The most outstanding view of Hong Kong city can be had from Victoria Peak. As an alternative option, you can walk along the Avenue of Stars at night and watch the light show illuminate the skyline from there, but high up in the clouds and taking in the busy city from a bird’s view, everything becomes unreal and heightened (pun intended).
Hong Kong possibly has the longest connected escalator since it directly leads from the city centre up the hill to Soho. While you are drifting by the busy passersby and gaze down upon small streets, you should already try to locate the famous bar street Lan Kwai Fong.
The whole island is a must when you visit Hong Kong. It is indescribably beautiful. Go up the mountain with an adventurous bus ride (don’t look out and down if you have vertigo). I’d say, skip on the 360° experience. It is expensive and just a regular tram ride. Unless that’s your thing, then go for it!
However, don’t forget to walk through the jungle, admire one of the biggest Buddha statues and take a harbour drive among white dolphins in Tai O. Important to know is also that there are quite a lot of stray dogs and cows around, but they are quite harmless. Just don’t touch them. (Here’s a confession, I was super scared of them when I arrived and hid in an old shed. Quite embarrassing, really.I wrote about it in my travel book with lots of other silly stories from my many trips.)
One of the biggest Buddha statues in the world is on top of the mountains in Lantau, right next to the Po Lin monastery. The latter hosts 1000 more Buddha statues and is best visited early in the morning when the tourists don’t crowd the space. I arrived at 8am and it was like a ghost town (including mysterious fog). The only life were the stray dogs that were still half asleep and harmless. Oh, and don’t be surprised to see feral cows in the jungle (like I was in the most embarrassing way). They are harmless, too.
Man Mo Temple
Are you currently learning for a big exam or otherwise need academic help for yourself or others? The Man Mo temple (Chinese: 文武廟) complex is just the spot! You can light an incense while kneeling on the little stool and pray for whatever you wish. Or you can have your fortune told by rattling the metal box with fortune sticks in it until it comes out and you can buy the Chinese description.
When you are to visit Hong Kong for a glimpse at its beaches, do not only go for a beach stroll but visit the excellent market and many shopping facilities as well.
Stanley is one of the oldest villages in Hong Kong has remained its very distinct charm. If you happen to be around when the dragon boat races are on, I highly recommend attending those. You can easily reach Stanley via bus from the city centre. It is a very scenic ride, but can be a little bumpy, if you ask me. Still, totally worth it!
If you want to save money when you visit Hong Kong but still get to see most of it and in a typical way, opt for the old colourful trams. They are by far the cheapest way to get around, albeit rather slowly. They only operate in the city centre but that’s fine for a day exploration and it’s definitely one of the must dos!
I am not exaggerating when I say I was blown away by the metro system. You can reach every part of Hong Kong with it. On top of that, it is incredibly cheap, clean, fast and spacious. Unlike with the London underground for instance, people didn’t even look miserable (maybe a bit stressed – Hong Kong working life is very tough and demanding).
Did you visit Hong Kong to grab cheap goods? Head over to Kowloon for your safest bet. If you want daily bits, souvenirs and pretty things, I’d say you need to stop by the famous Ladies Market. You can get luggage tags from all imaginable comic characters (I got Stitch!, toys, leather notebooks, funny outfits, jewellery, you name it! And it is all super affordable and fun to explore even without the intention to buy anything. It is open daily between 10:30 am and 10:30 pm.
Ok, so you might be more into the electronics and super deals on laptops, smartphones and camera gear? Then MongKok and its many stores are a great place to find just what you’re looking for. It might look intimidating at first, but it is a good area and people speak English. Check out the three storey high Computer Centre. Oh, and check your custom allowances in advance to be on the safe side and not buy too much.
Seriously, fashionistas, this is your shopping haven during a visit in Hong Kong. If you wanted to explore every store and boutique, you might spend a whole day here unless you are not into shopping (or on a limited budget). In that case, you may skip it. If you don’t, it is easily reached by bus, tram or underground and very central and you should stay until it is dark to see Causeway Bay in its many lights.
Avenue of Stars
Hong Kong’s Avenue of Stars is very touristy. But if just like you cannot miss the Hollywood Boulevard while in LA, you cannot miss out on the Avenue of Stars when you visit Hong Kong. Kick butt alongside Bruce Lee and take a seat in a metal director’s chair.
I didn’t know most of the Asian stars but the walk opposite the famous skyline is amazing either way. The best time to visit is during sunset when you can watch the daylight fade and the neon lights turn up at Victoria Harbour.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was in Hong Kong and in the middle of the park was someone practicing kick-ass Kung Fu moves. Sure, I had actually come to this place in the hopes of catching the morning Kung Fu practice but I had gotten lost, had underestimated walking distances and was way too late. If you are an early riser, you can check out or even participate in the free morning practices. It definitely is a sight to see!
Upper Lascar Road
This Street is only one of the many places, where tourists can find authentic, Asian souvenirs and antiquities. Just around the corner is Stone Slabs Street, which is made of original granite stone steps – a rarity in Hong Kong. Plus, it makes for great photos.
Now over to you: Which place would you love to see first when you visit Hong Kong?
Well, that were the top 15 places to visit in Hong Kong. Especially if you just arrived and feel overwhelmed by choice (very likely), this is helpful to get your footing. There is so much more and just strolling through the different regions is a great way to experience the city. I was fine walking with a regular printout map but you can also download offline maps with travel apps. Whatever you do, I am sure you will enjoy Hong Kong as much as I did! If you like to print out the tips without it looking weird (you know, when you click “Print to PDF” it just doesn’t do it visually, you can get the free PDF from here. Feel free to share the link with your friends as well.)