Top Things to do in Hong Kong
February 2, 2018
When I visited Hong Kong, I arrived at the airport with no idea of what to expect. In my mind I imagined this crazy place filled with busy business people, over crowded metros, and well, in terms of things to do in Hong Kong, I had no idea!
Instead though, what I found was a beautiful city. Besides being plagued mostly by pollution from mainland China, the city itself and surrounding landscape is surprisingly a beautiful and clean place.
Most of the people seemed to be in no hurry. The footpaths moved rather slowly and people seemed not to be concerned of the time. People let you pass or held a door open and the stereotype I once had disappeared quicker than I made it!
However, the thing that really surprised me most was all the amazing things to do in Hong Kong! In the six days I spent there I was run off my feet trying to explore as much as I could, and even though I tried hard, I still left feeling like I didn’t see enough. From viewpoints to gardens to hiking the coastal mountains, the things to do in Hong Kong are vast. Below are my top things to do in Hong Kong (in no particular order of course!)
Top Things to do in Hong Kong
Take the Peak Tram to Victoria Peak
This is by far the most popular of the things to do in Hong Kong, and with good reason! This relatively cheap activity gives the best seat in the house to Hong Kong’s amazing skyline. Victoria Peak is essentially a viewpoint on the top of a large hill, where the Peak Tram is the most popular method to get there. At the top of Victoria Peak there is a 360 degree viewing deck, a shopping mall-like facility with restaurants and souvenir stores, as well as Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.
When I decided I wanted to go, I wanted to see the view both during the day and night. So, heading up at 4pm was the perfect time to enjoy the sunrise and then see the city light up as it got dark.
Unfortunately, being Hong Kong’s most popular tourist attraction means big crowds and long lines, so there’s a few things you will need to know before you go!
When to go
If you plan on making it up for sunset you will need to allow at least an hour to get through the lines and up to Victoria Peak. That being said, just to be safe give yourself 90 minutes. I headed to the tram at 4pm and managed to have plenty of time before sunset, however others who arrived at 4:30pm were met with a line 3 times as long!
If you simply plan to visit during the day a local guide told me that 45 minutes is fine.
Though getting up was a test in patience, getting down was just as long of a wait! So be prepared to spend a few hours there with all of the waiting!
If you are staying on Hong Kong Island then heading to the Peak Tram will likely be accessible by walking. If not, you simply need to get the MTR (the metro train) to Central Station on the red line.
Once at Central Station the Peak Tram is only a 10 minute walk.
*for the exact location of the Peak Tram download the app called “Maps.Me” and search for The Peak Tram. We always recommend downloading Maps.Me and downloading the city you are in so you have maps offline.
The Tram itself only cost HK$45 for a return ticket. However, if you also want to take in the amazing views from the Sky Terrace it’s going to cost you another HK$45. So for HK$90 you can get up, down, and enjoy the amazing views! I recommend paying the extra money for the Sky Terrace as it is truly the best view of the city.
– Take a sweater as temperatures on the sky terrace gets cool (especially at night)
– If you are on a budget then bring your own snacks, the food on Victoria Peak isn’t cheap!
– Don’t lose your Peak Tram ticket. The same ticket is used for getting up in tram, the sky terrace entrance, and getting back down in the Tram.
– Try to go on a clear day, when it is super cloudy or raining the view would not be nearly as spectacular.
Take a Food Tour
Chinese culture is famous for their food, and Hong Kong is no different! Getting out and exploring all of the nice, crazy, and damn right weird things they eat is a must. To me, no trip to Hong Kong would be complete without a food tour and it is my favorite of our “top things to do in Hong Kong” list.
We did a tour with Eating Adventure’s Hong Kong and it was nothing short of amazing! We were taken through the streets near Mong Kok station and explored different restaurants, food stands, and street markets. In the end I must have tried about 15 different foods including the best Dim Sums I have ever had! Some of the foods we tried include snake soup, roasted goose, traditional tofu and much more!
The tour was fun and our guide was great. Not only did we learn about all the foods but we also got an insight into the lives of people who call Hong Kong home. I really liked the area the tour was in. The local vibe was vibrant and we met so many nice locals at the markets who were more than happy to show off all of the cool foods they sold! This tour was so much more than just a food tour, it was a complete cultural experience!
The tour cost HK$690 per person and goes for about 4 hours, if you want to book click the link below!
– Go hungry because you will leave full
– Take comfortable shoes as you will do a fair amount of walking
– Take your camera! It was really fun taking photos and videos when we took our first bites!
Hike the Dragon’s Back Trail
When I first found out about the hiking opportunities in Hong Kong I was over the moon excited. I only expected to see huge skyscrapers but instead I also got to see the beautiful landscape that surrounds Hong Kong. It was the one thing that shocked my most during my visit. I simply didn’t expect to get out into nature while visiting, and I especially didn’t expect views of gorgeous beach views! This is definitely the most unique of our things to do in Hong Kong.
Upon arriving in Hong Kong we contacted Wild Hong Kong Tours to sign up for a day hike! We chose the famous Dragon’s Back Trail and we weren’t disappointed. We hiked up and along the Dragon’s Back and ended the day by the ocean at Big Wave Beach.
The hike took 3 hours and the whole tour 4. The hiking is easy and suitable for all fitness levels!
The whole experience was fun and we saw a side of Hong Kong which many visitors don’t get to see! This would be great for anyone who loves the great outdoors and wants to escape the craziness of the city for a couple hours!
The Dragon’s Back is just one of the many hikes and tours Wild Hong Kong offer, if we had more time I would have loved to explore Hong Kong’s waterfalls on their Tai Mo Shan tour.
The Dragon’s Back hike cost HK$500 per person and included transport and a guide!
Visit The Nan Lian Garden
If you’re short of time in Hong Kong and only want to visit one Garden or park I highly recommend Nan Lian Garden. This place really is so beautiful and the best thing – it is free!
The gardens span over a large area and include a few different ponds, a temple, and a beautifully colored bridge leading to a traditional building (I really don’t know what to call it, but it’s gorgeous!) Most of the area is marked with small signs that tell you about the plants. The small paths that wind through the trees is a great place to relax and will have you forgetting that you are in the big city of Hong Kong.
This activity is totally free!
Whether you are staying on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon it is the same route. Get on the red line on the MTR (metro train) and head to Mong Kok station. Once there change trains to the green line heading towards Diamond Hill Station (the train is on the same platform, opposite side), get off at Diamond Hill and follow the clearly marked signs to the beautiful garden!
Watch the World Famous Light Show
Every night at 7:45pm hundreds of people gather on the foreshore in Kowloon to watch the world’s largest light show! For things to do in Hong Kong at night, this is a great option!
It sounds amazing, however I can’t overly comment on it as the day we went we had a little bit of bad luck. It was 2 weeks before Chinese New Year and extra smog is produced on main land China as the factory’s ramp up production. Our show was somewhat blocked by this smog and therefore wasn’t anything special. However, I have seen photos of it on a clear night and it looks amazing. I still recommend checking the light show out as it’s free and only takes 15 minutes of your time.
Even if you don’t fancy the light show, the viewing deck along the harbour is still amazing to see and take some cool photos!
When and Where
The lookout for the show is located next to the Star Ferry terminal in Kowloon. The lookout location is on Maps.Me, just search for “Symphony of Lights.”
To get there from Hong Kong Island just take the red line on the MTR from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui station then walk to the water’s edge.
Visit one of the Markets
Of course markets would make our list of things to do in Hong Kong! While we were in Hong Kong we visited a few different markets. Our favorites were the Ladies Market and the Temple Street Night Market. Both markets sell similar stuff, but for us it wasn’t about the things we bought. The whole market is an experience, it’s a place to practice your bartering skills, meet some locals, and have fun. Both markets are interesting, however, if you only have time for one then the Temple Street Night Market is the best.
The Temple Street Night Market is more than just a market, it becomes the heart of the nightlife in the area. Open from 7pm to 12pm every night it is a great place to go out to shop, have a few beers, and eat at one of the many nearby seafood restaurants (serving fresh seafood!)
The area has this buzzing vibe that invites you in and makes it hard to leave. The streets light up and it becomes everything I thought Hong Kong would be. For those reasons, the Temple Street Night Market was my favorite!
The Ladies Market is open during the daytime everyday. It has more shopping than the Temple Street Night Market, but less of the “nightlife vibe.” Here you can find everything from souvenirs to knock-off designer items. The ladies who run the markets drive a hard bargain, so make sure you have decent negotiating skills or you will likely pay too much!
The Temple Street Night Market is on Temple Street in Kowloon. The closest MTR station is Jordan Station on the red line. From there it’s only a short walk, just ask a local to point you in the right direction or check Maps.Me.
The Ladies Market is located on Tung Choi Street in Kowloon. The closest MTR station is Mong Kok station on the red line. From there it is two blocks off of Nathan Road to the east. The location is also marked on Maps.Me.
I would like to give a special mentions to the parks of Honk Kong, especially Kowloon Park. They are worth checking out if you have the time or just want to relax. They are free and in Kowloon Park you can see turtles, swans, birds and flamingos!
Of course there are so many more things to do in Hong Kong, these are just our top picks. I hope this guide of things to do in Hong Kong has helped plan and inspire your trip. Please let us know if you found it helpful in the comments below or by sharing it to your friends.