When you visit Hong Kong you quickly realise this small island state 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? Maybe all the Hong Kong sightseeing overload? So here are the top 15 Hong Kong tourist places you absolutely must check out.
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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 one that should go on your Hong Kong to do list 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 and by far one of the best things to do in Hong Kong is 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 and the main places to see in Hong Kong 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. If you ask yourself where to go in Hong Kong to experience nightlife, this is it!
The whole island is a must when you want to explore Hong Kong scenic spots. 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 ask a local Hong Kong guide, a Hong Kong attraction that is popular among locals but not so well known among foreign tourists is Stanley Beach. 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!
It might be one of the oddest mentions among Hong Kong top attractions, but the trams are iconic. If you want to save money when you are out to disover 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).
If you are a serious travel souvenir shopper, then this market is a Hong Kong must see! Head over to Kowloon for 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 Mong Kok 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. After all, shopping is one of the most sought after things to do in Hong Kong island, so you might as well make the most of it.
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.
This park is a fabulous oasis in the middle of the busy city lined by concrete skyrise buildings. Sit in the shade, watch the tranquil water or join the crowd for free early morning feng shui session. If you ask me this is one of the best places to visit in Hong Kong when you need a mini break from sightseeing.
Upper Lascar Road
Your little Hong Kong tour needs to include this street as it is perfect for stumbling upon authentic, Asian souvenirs and antiquities. Just around the corner is Stone Slabs Street, which is made of original granite stone steps. That is a rarity in Hong Kong. A big bonus is that Upper Lascar Road makes for great photos and is one of the most photogenic places in Hong Kong.
Where to Stay in Hong Kong
For a great view over the Hong Kong harbour and basically one of the best place in Hong Kong to be, check into Ibis Hong Kong Central & Sheung Wan. To stay close to the Botanical Garden and tram up on Victoria Peak, look into mini hotel Central. If you really want to treat yourself to a luxurious stay with topnotch design, magnificent balcony views and outside of the city centre, then you really should consider Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Sha Tin. If you decide on staying here, make it into its own mini trip to fully explore the surrounding nature.
Alternatively, to stay nearby shopping paradise Causeway Bay, book a room at Metropark Hotel Causeway Bay Hong Kong or Cosmo Hotel Hong Kong. Right in the heart of the busy Hong Kong city centre, Mong Kok is another great spot of Hong Kong hotels. Try Metropark Hotel Mongkok. If you are travelling on a shoe string budget, double check the reviews for hostel stays. Hong Kong doesn’t offer the most glamorous hostel stays. If you want to rough it a little though, you could stay at the YHA in the middle of Lantau island’s forests on top of the mountain next to the famous Po Lin monastery.
Best Time to Visit Hong Kong
I visited Hong Kong in June and it was absolutely sweltering and the humidity was almost worse than the heat. Hong Kong has subtropical climate that is influenced by the monsoon. This means, that the winters are pleasantly mild, but the summers hot and wet/humid. To make the most out of your Hong Kong vacation, plan your Hong Kong trip between October and early December. If you can, avoid travelling from April to June. That being said, Hong Kong is always a great idea.
What to Pack for Your Hong Kong Holidays
For a Hong Kong trip, you can leave your sweaters at home. Instead, pack for mild weather and warm days. Avoid synthetic fabrics and opt for airy, natural clothes instead because it will be humid and warm, especially in summer. However, be aware of the Arctic blasts from the excessive air conditioning inside buildings and malls. Having a light cardigan or jacket on you works wonders!
I noticed that sundresses and simple pumps or ballerina flats are ruling the Hong Kong street fashion. But above all, don’t forget to pack sunscreen, sunglasses and tissues (as Hong Kong’s residents seem to dap away their sweat constantly). Keep in mind that Hong Kong is a bit more conservative, so dont show too much skin even on burning hot days.
And if after your Hong Kong getaway, you simply cannot live without Hong Kong, why not go hard on the souvenirs? You could decorate your home with unique coasters (I love mix and matching different ones from my travels) and beautiful photography prints.
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.)