How much sightseeing can you squeeze into six days in a jaw-dropping city like Hong Kong?
Probably more than you think. Hong Kong has enough sights to keep you busy.
Hong Kong is made up of a small group of islands, which evoke both, old world charm and new. It’s got beaches, mountains, gravity-defying buildings and a Disneyland.
The two main peninsulas are Kowloon and Hong Kong. Kowloon is the older and more local side; meanwhile, Hong Kong is its more up-scale and commercial sister, housing a number of chic multi-level shopping malls, trendy bars and restaurants.
In the short time I was there, I managed to pack in a lot. Some places I liked. Some, I didn’t.
Top 7 Things to Do in Hong Kong:
1. Capture Hong Kong’s best views
There’s no urban capital, which will make you “oooh and aaah” quite the way Hong Kong city will. As the world’s growing skyscraper metropolis, it holds marvelous views in both, day and night. You’ll definitely want a photograph souvenir.
The two best views in Hong Kong:
- Aerial view overlooking Hong Kong city and the harbor from The Peak.
Is it possible to get an aerial of a sky-scraping city? Well, you can come pretty close. Victoria Peak (aka The Peak) on Hong Kong penninsula is 1,811 feet (512 km) high and offers one of the most spectacular views of the city, as it stretches out past the harbor to Kowloon. Take a relaxing ride up the mountain via the The Peak Tram,
Getting There: By MTR subway, exit J2 of the Central MTR station, then walk along Garden Road for 10-15 minutes until you hit the Lower Peak Tram terminal located at St. John’s Building. Tram Fare is approximately HK$20(one-way) and HK$30(roundtrip).
Photo above: from wikipedia.org taken from Victoria Peak
- The city skyline from the Avenue of Stars.
How long does the skyline stretch in Hong Kong? If you’re facing Victoria Harbor from Kowloon’s Avenue of Stars, you’ll know. The best time to view it is at night, when the city is lit up with glittery neon lights (some buildings even have light show designs). If that doesn’t hold enough dazzle for you, at 8pm there’s a fireworks show.
Getting There: By MTR, take exit J at Tsim Sha Tsui station on Kowloon Island. Here’s timetables for the the bus routes.
Alternative places to see the skyline: Take a tour on the Star Ferry or on a Chinese junk boat.
2. Stroll down the Avenue of the Stars
Are you a Bruce Lee fan? Have a passion for Asian or martial arts films? If so, this spot is perfect for you.
If you’re an Asian film buff like I am, then this will tickle your fancy. It’s not everyday you get to match your hand or footprints with your favorite Asian stars. There were plaques with handprints of famous (and my favorite) Asian stars and directors, such as Wong Kar Wai (In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express), Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Chow Yun Fat, Jackie Chan lining the waterfront promenade with Hong Kong’s glitzy cityscape as a romantic backdrop. Of course, there are times finding your favorite star amongst the many that you don’t know can be like finding a needle in a haystack.
Getting There: Take the metro to Tsim Sha Tsui station on the Kowloon side near the waterfront. Take Exit J and walk to the waterfront
3. Explore Hong Kong’s Specialty Streets
Hong Kong has a handful of specialty streets, named after what they sell. Commodities can range from your average souvenir to things only the Hong Kongese might understand.
On the Kowloon side, you can visit Goldfish Street (video here), Flower Market, Ladies Market (inexpensive clothing), Reclamation Street, Jade Street and Temple Night Street Market (souvenirs and seafood restaurants).
On the Hong Kong penninsula, sightseeing starts at Sheung Wan Street (aka Herbal Medicine Street) and Hollywood street for curios and antiques.
Temple Street Night Market
In Hong Kong, goldfish are said to be lucky. Thus, on Mongkok’s Goldfish Street, exotic pet stores and fish shops with exotic fish sold in a plastic bags, line the streets. A goldfish can run up to anywhere from hundreds– even thousands– of dollars. Read more on CNNTravel.
Sheung Wan (aka Medicine Herbal) Street
Hong Kongese take their traditional herbal remedies very seriously. Shops in Sheung Wan sell a variety of medicinal peculiarities such as bird’s nests, deer antlers and dried seafood, ranging anywhere from sea cucumbers to shark fins.
Getting There: Explore the streets around Wing Lok Street.
4. Visit Lantau Island’s Giant Buddha and Tai-O Fishing Village
Lantau Island is known as the home of the Giant Buddha. But a day trip there, holds more sightseeing reasons than just one.
The half an hour ride cable car ride to the island welcomes an impressive view over the river and mountains. Walk through Nong Ping village and make your pilgrimage to the Big Buddha. On your way back home, stop by the oldest fishing village, Tai-O. Take a boat ride through the village and luck might catch you a glimpse of its legendary pink dolphins.
Getting There: From Hong Kong Island, take the MTR to Tung Chung station. Exit the station and take the Ngong Ping Cable Car to the island.
Budget Tip: At the Cable Car terminal, buy the Sky, Land, Sea one-day pass for $200HK.
5. Explore Hong Kong’s cuisine and Street food scene
Hong Kong is an international city, yet it’s primary taste buds are Chinese. With Chinese food, much of the dishes revolve around meat. Unfortunately, I don’t eat meat and not a big fan of Chinese food, so I was mostly limited to vegetarian dumplings, fried morning glories and some of their tea drinks.
But I’ve heard from foodie friends and there’s only been raves reviews… and I did explore the cuisine, visually. In the restaurants and on the streets, Hong Kong has a variety of interesting dishes to offer.
6. Take a trip to Macau
Known as the Monte Carlo of the Orient, Macau has a big name in the casino industry. As the only destination in China where gambling is legal, it’s even topped Las Vegas in revenues, such that big western chain casinos, such as The Venetian, MGM and The Wynn, have entered the market.
But for non-gambling travelers, Macau’s has a unique feature … it’s a Chinese-Portugese fused culture. Once a colony of Portugal, the Portugese influence shows in its architecture, street names and food. Visit the historical Grand Lisboa casino and hotel or take a stroll through some of downtown’s Portugese-inspired cobble stone streets and pastelarias. It’s enough to give you a little friendly cultural confusion. For more, read What to Do and See in Macau in a Day.
Take the ferry ride out to Macau, get an extra stamp in your passport and have a look.
Getting to and around Macau: Click here.
7. Take a walk on the outskirts of Hong Kong city.
Ever wonder where the locals go to get away from the city crowds?
Up north past Kowloon and below China are the rural acres of the New Territories, where you can hike in parks or stroll peacefully along beaches.
If islands are you thing, you can explore Lamma Island, Lantau Island or Cheung Chau.
But if you don’t want to go far, heading south presents another option, with beach towns getaways like Shek-O, Repulse Bay and Stanley. The environment is slower-paced, more relaxed … you might even forget you’re in Hong Kong.
Where to stay in Hong Kong?
Travelers will either stay in Hong Kong city (newer and urban) or Kowloon (older). Hong Kong city can be fairly pricy as it’s more modern, urban and it has a lot of shopping and swank. It’s a little closer to the airport. Across the river is Kowloon is a little older and houses more traditional sights and buildings. While I didn’t stay in Kowloon, a cheap budget dive that travelers often like to try are Chungking Mansion.
I stayed at this hostel in downtown Hong Kong. It was convenient and not far from the subway or bus stop. People there are friendly and helpful and the hostel is modern, dorms/beds are clean and well-maintained. You get a curtain for privacy. It was a good stay and one I’d definitely recommend. I’ve seen a couple of other hostels in the area and this was by bar the easiest and freshest. It’s located near the Times Square Area, which is a great location. Click here for other hotels nearby.
Getting around Hong Kong
Transportation in Hong Kong is efficient and timely. Options for getting around are: metro, tram, bus and ferry. It’s easy to get around via metro and bus.
Bus: The distinct feature about Hong Kong’s local buses and trams is that they are double-deck. Passengers will get an overview of the the streets by sitting at the top. The bus is laid out as a dynamic network between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Bus stop kiosks and schedules are plentiful, but are mostly in Chinese. Many kiosks list all the main stops on the route and some of them seem to just go the distance of a street and back. They make a stop at the end of the route, and you must get off.
There is a Peak Tram, which will take you to Victoria Peak (for an amazing view of the city). The base is located at Central MTR station.
Buy an octopus card
Buy an octopus card at the metro station information booth on the second floor of the airport. It can be used on subway, buses, ferries, and trams.You’ll pay $100HKD as a deposit, which will be returned upon return. You can add as much money as you want on it. You can also pick these up at any metro station information booth.