How much sightseeing can you squeeze into six days in a jaw-dropping city like Hong Kong? Probably more than you think. Traveling Hong Kong has enough sights to keep you busy, so i’m going to share the best things to do in Hong Kong in a week!
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 more historical face of Hong Kong, where locals love to shop cheaply and backpackers love to rest inexpensively. Traveling north will take you towards more historical parts of the island as well as, the New Territories.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong Island is more contemporary, upscale and downtown central. This is the financial sector, it’s more business-oriented and shopping malls will be more expensive, booming with multi-levels and with designer labels. Trendy bars and nightclubs are in Lan Kwai Fong district and Hollywood streets. There are also Chinatown pocket businesses such as meat and produce streets and Herbal Medicine street. Victoria’s Peak is on this island as well as, you can visit some of the southern towns of Hong Kong such as Stanley.
In the short time I was there, I managed to pack in a lot! Here’s my Hong Kong travel guide.
Table of Contents: 11 Best Things to Do in Hong Kong: Hong Kong Travel Guide
Top 11 Things to Do in Hong Kong:
1. 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 from Hong Kong and Kowloon:
Hong Kong: Aerial view 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, which will take you to Victoria Peak. The base is located at Central MTR station.
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
Kowloon: 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. See timetables for bus routes.
Alternative places to see the skyline: Take a tour on the Star Ferry or on a Chinese junk boat.
2. Soho Stairway
Hong Kong Island occasionally has raised walkways to connect you between buildings and to lift foot traffic over the streets. Hong Kong’s Soho Stairway is an 800 m escalator walk way up the side of a hill. It is the longest escalator in Hong Kong and possibly the world. It’s a 20 minute walkway, but otherwise, on foot it takes 45 minutes. The escalator is broken up into a series of twenty escalators and three moving walkways. It gives you a chance to see a few cool second-level shops and cafes, you otherwise might not have noticed. There are 14 entrances/exits so you can get off at any point to explore the cafes and shops in the area.
Getting there: Soho Stairway starts at 100 Queens Road Central and Cochrane Street. The first section is a moving walkway that takes you to Wellington Street.
3. Graham Street Wet Market
Update: This market closed in April 2015 Thriving for 160 years, Graham Street Wet Market is located on Hong Kong penninsula. The original wet market of Hong Kong, it sells fresh produce and meat and seafood cuts all on the street in the heart of a busy downtown. It services locals living in the Central and Mid-Levels neighborhoods and is crowded daily. Best time to arrive is 10am -11am before the lunch crowds start arriving.
4. Sheung Wan (aka Medicine Herbal) Street
On Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan Street, You’ll find many shops which cater to oriental medicine and its curious concoctions. From deer antlers to bird nests, there’s a curious range which may look like Hong Kong practices witch doctor medicine. The streets in Sheung Wan are also aromatic with the scent of dried seafood. From sea cucumbers to shark fins or simple dried squid, you’ll find a visual feast, questionable peculiarities and an interesting excursion of medicinal and healing benefit.
Getting There: Explore the streets of the Hong Kong penninsula around Wing Lok Street.
5. Shop at IFC Mall
The Hong Kong penninsula is the more modern and urban face of Hong Kong with skyscrapers, downtown Chinatown and popular contemporary stores. The International Finance Centre Mall is the shoppers paradise filled with upscale grandeur and cosmopolitan elegance with big brands like Victoria Secret and Giorgio Armani. This is where I bought a new Apple laptop at the Apple store there (price was equivalent to the U.S). Mall Website.
Getting there: MRT to Central station, Exit A.
6. Ride the Double Decker bus
If you want a literal overview of the city and its streets, take the Double Decker buses. A distinct feature of Hong Kong transportation are its double decker buses. You pay by distance, through either your Octopus card or cash (you must have exact change!). It’s a great way to feel like you’re getting the perks of a double-decker bus tour!
Best sightseeing bus routes: #15 The Peak (it’s a winding road that goes past the peak up the mountain; be prepared to take snaps as you pass over the towering skyscrapers! You can catch it from Star Ferry, cost: HK$9.80); #6 and #14 Stanley (Stanley is a photogenic town, but the ride to Stanley is equally scenic with oceans and southern Hong Kong Island countryside), Nathan Road ( from So Uk Estate in Sham Shui Po to the Star Ferry Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui, Route #2 takes you through Kowloon and past the crazy hustle and bustle of crowds and bright neon signs.
Note: Eating, drink and smoking are strictly forbidden on Hong Kong public transportation. If caught, you will be served a penalty of HK$5,000.
6. Avenue of the Stars & Symphony of Lights
Are you a Bruce Lee fan? Have a passion for Asian or martial arts films? If so, this spot is perfect for you. Up until the mid 1990’s Hong Kong used to be the second biggest film producer in the world. Thus, against the backdrop of Hong Kong penninsula and Victoria Harbor, is Hong Kong’s Avenue of the Stars, a version of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame… but Chinese.
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 directors, like Wong Kar Wai , and Asian stars such as 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. While you’re there, grab a hot-rolled squid and gnaw on it as you walk.
Also, at 8pm there is a laser light show over Victoria Harbor. The show lasts for ten minutes. If you’d like an even more romantic setting, book a dinner buffet boat cruise on the bay.
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
4. Mongkok Goldfish street
In Hong Kong, goldfish are said to be lucky. Thus, on Mongkok Goldfish Street, exotic pet stores and fish shops line the streets. Walking down the street, it’s almost like walking down carnival game booths. Fish gawk from plastic bags paraded outside shop wall displays. Step inside the shop and there’s a grander array of exotic fish up to prized gold fish, considered good luck for Hong Kong households! A goldfish can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Getting There: Take Mong Kok Station, Mong Kok East Station, or Yau Ma Tei Station to Tung Choi Street.
5. 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.
Kowloon side: Mongok Goldfish Street is a street lined with pet and fish shops. Some of the fish shops showcase their fish outside and it can be an insane sight. Flower Market is the most fragrant street of the city, as it is lined with florists and their floral designs. Ladies Market sells inexpensive clothing for women.
Other specialty streets worth a visit: Reclamation Street, Jade Street
Hong Kong side: Sheung Wan (Medicinal Herbal) Street is an area of streets dedicated to the most unique and sometimes, peculiar herbal remedies. From deer antlers to bird’s nests, passing by these shops is sure to catch your attention. Hollywood Road is dedicated to eclectic and antique souvenirs and furniture shops. You’ll discover fine rugs, Chinese furniture, porcelain. There are also a growing number of art galleries here. Birds Nest Street is a small street of shops specializing birds nest.
Temple Street Night Market
6. Street food at Temple Street Night Market
Hong Kong is an cosmopolitan city, best known for its fine dining and Michellin stars. For more of a street food flair, head over to Kowloon’s Temple Street Night Market . Once known as the Poor man’s Night Club, the market sells fun souvenirs for tourists, has fortune tellers and Chinese opera and is the hot spot to visit for if you love seafood. Seafood restaurants with dai pai dong (aka open outdoor seating) populate the area. You’ll also find a lot of noodle soups to slurp and street snacks from shui mai, stinky tofu, eggettes, deep fried pig intestines and many things served on a skewer! Hours: 4- midnight, Location: Jordan Road and Kansu Street.
Getting there: Take MTR to Yau Ma Tei Station, Exit C, turn onto Temple Street at Man Ming Lane; or get off at Jordan Station, Exit A. Turn right onto Jordan Road and right onto Temple Street.
Interested in exploring Hong Kong’s food through a food tour? Take a walking Kowloon Food tour visiting restaurants, markets and food stalls. Don’t want to walk? Take a 2.5 hour Kowloon bus tour exploring dim sum.
7. Take a cable car ride to Lantau Island
A 30 minute Nong Ping 360 cable car ride to Lantau island welcomes an impressive, tranquil and romantic view over the river and mountains. The Crystal cars even have a glass bottom so you can see below you (book a one way crystal car pass). The ride ends at Nong Ping village. You can buy a single ride, round trip or day packages. Get a Lantau Island NP360 cable car or Tai O village pass.
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.
8. Visit the Giant Buddha of Lantau Island
A day trip to Lantau Island is a must if you have an extra day. About a 30 min metro ride from Hong Kong penninsula, Lantau Island is known as the home of the Tian Tien Buddha (Giant Buddha). Arriving into Nong Ping Village after taking a cable car ride to get there, you can stroll through the man-made tourist village to get to the Giant Buddha. Hiking to get to the top of the Buddha isn’t more than a 3 minute hike. Afterwards, visit the nearby Lin Po Monastery for a hearty, delicious and very inexpensive vegetarian meal.
9. Visit Tai-O Fishing Village
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.
10. 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 venues such as The Venetian, MGM and The Wynn.
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. Take the ferry ride out to Macau, get an extra stamp in your passport and have a look.
Getting To Macau:
Ferries to Macau run from two locations~ Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal is at Shun Tak station on Hong Kong Island and from the China Ferry Terminal in at Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) on Kowloon. Hours of Operation: 7:00am – 12:ooam. Ferries run every 15-30 minutes, depending on location (Central or Tsim Sha Tsui)
11. 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?
As far as where to stay in Hong Kong, you’ll either stay on the Hong Kong penninsula side or Kowloon side. Hong Kong can be fairly pricy as it’s more modern and upscale dwellings and has a lot of prime shopping and it is closer to the airport and Lanta Island. Rent is insanely high here, reducing some locals to cage homes! A hostel might run anywhere from $25-50 USD. Across the river is Kowloon, which is a more historical Hong Kong, learning towards more traditional sights and buildings. While I didn’t stay in Kowloon, a cheap budget dive that travelers will try are Chungking Mansion– it’s a hit or miss!
An issue i’ve found with booking accommodations for Hong Kong is that you really have to read the wording on listings well. Due to this housing insanity, you may find prices visibly misleading. Some costs listed might be very cheap until you go to book and find that it is a family or group rate. …Or even a minimum of days! I found researching places to stay in Hong Kong very frustrating and wasteful in time. I even almost went homeless for one night if it wasn’t for my hostel, which let me sleep on their couch! Always read ratings!
Yesinn @Causeway Bay Causeway Bay, Hong Kong ( map) Conveniently located not far from the subway or bus stop. Staff is friendly, helpful and the hostel is modern, dorms/beds are clean and well-maintained. You get a curtain for privacy. I’d 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.
Snooze Capsule Hotel is in a great location in Causeway Bay near Times Square Hong Kong. Pod with sideways entrance. Shared bathroom with free toiletries. Great for solo travelers.
Roomlord -Capsule Hotel (Formerly Vee Inn), Tsim Sha Sui, Kowloon. This wood panel minimalist capsule hotel hostel is located in the Yau Tsim Mong District. Has free wifi and plug charge in
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.
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. More information on Hong Kong transportation here
There is a Peak Tram (bus #15) which will take you to Victoria Peak (for an amazing view of the city). The base is located at Central MTR station.
Traveling Hong Kong by MRT is easy and speedy. It allows you to cross Victoria Bay to pass between Kowloon and Hong Kong penninsulas. It services Hong Kong airport, Nong Ping and New Territories. Check this transportation timetable for MRT and buses.
Star Ferry allows you to enjoy a leisurely ride on the bay. It runs between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui and between Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui and Hung Hom.
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.
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