If you have never been to Hong Kong before, it needs to be on your bucket list, now. Hong Kong is one of those places that captures your heart, and your stomach. This travel guide will detail some of my favourite hikes, and must-see sites (and yes, that includes the most instagrammable locations!). Hong Kong is a beautiful amalgamation of cultures: it's fast-paced, busy, and incredibly social.
Over the past 3 years, I have travelled to Hong Kong bi-annually. Prior to that, I had only been to Hong Kong twice over the span of 25 years. Every time I travel, I am asked to share about some of the places that I go to, and I thought that I would put it in a blog post for you to scroll, click, screenshot, and send to your travel buddies.
m u s t s e e s
Victoria Peak - This is one of the musts if you come to Hong Kong. Truthfully, there are other locations that will have an even better view of the city landscape, but it will be beautiful nonetheless. I have gone to see the view in both day and night, and I recommend seeing this site at night. My friend and I walked the LUGARD ROAD pathway, and it was absolute serenity; you could hear crickets chirping against the backdrop of the lit up city. One note of caution: beware of taxi drivers that are out to catch unknowing travelers: line up from the taxi stand, don't flag a driver down --they will set a price that is far more expensive than the reality.
Big Buddha - This day trip is a stunning one. Start earlier in the morning to avoid lines and crowds, and to avoid the heat. It is recommended to take the MTR first as it is on the edge of the Hong Kong Island. You will also take a gondola ride. Have your camera ready for the panoramic views --you might even be surprised by all the greenery! When you arrive at the site, you will feel minuscule just by looking the namesake sight. Explore and take note of the intricacies in the design of the buildings. It is a stunning site, and a great cultural resource.
Symphony of Lights Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade - This is a must for every tourist. It's not spectacular or mind blowing, but it allows you to appreciate the skyline of the city. This show happens every night at 8pm.
Star Ferry - The star ferry is an economical and historic form of transportation. It costs $2.20-$3.70 HKD depending on the day and location. I repeat that the price is listed in HONG KONG DOLLARS. Do the conversion, compare it to the price of the MTR or a taxi ride and you will agree. I recommend riding the star ferry at night, during or after the sun goes down: it is stunning on a clear night.
Sky 100 Observation Deck - Located on the Kowloon side, this is an excellent alternative for those that want the panoramic views without the sweat of hiking. It is accessible for all people and people with kids.
Ladies Market - This is another tourist zone that is a must for first-time travelers. I have never personally purchased any items here, but it is a landmark that is fun to visit with friends, and you can practice your bargaining skills here. Be aware that there are knockoffs, but there are lots of cute, cheap little items and trinkets that you can bring home to friends and family.
Ocean Park - This not just a place for kids! If you love rides, you must come here! There are shows to see, a cable car ride to enjoy the view, Pandas and other animals, an animal research centre, restaurants, and more! You can spend a day here. Ocean Park is easily accessible --especially with the newly added MTR stop!
Beaches (Repulse Bay, Shek O Beach) - Depending on the time of the year, the beaches of Hong Kong are going to be your paradise. In order to escape the humidity and heat that gets trapped in the city, I spent my summers at the different beaches. This is an incredibly underrated place, Hong Kong is not normally known for its beaches (or nature in general), but there are so many beaches close to the city, as well as the many islands that are around.
Stanley Bay - Stanley Bay is a lovely day trip. It reminds me of coastal European towns with lots of ex-pats and delicious restaurants. Stanley is one of the oldest villages on the Hong Kong Island: "Official records date the village back as early as the Ming Dynasty (1573-1620). The English name originates from Lord Stanley, a British Colonial Secretary in the 19th Century." In this village you can see a former garrison base, an old police station (the oldest on in HK!), military cemetery, prison, maritime museum, and the street market! It's a lovely escape from the busy-ness of the city.
Macau - I know it claims that it is the Vegas of China, an parts of it aesthetically do, but it also contains a rich Portuguese history that is reminiscent of actually being in Lisbon. From the ornate and detailed tiles, to the cobblestone pathways and European architecture, it is a beautiful amalgamation of culture, time, and history. A short speed ferry ride away, you can spend a night here to see all that Macau has to offer. Whatever your fancy, there are activities for you here.
h i k e s
Lion Rock - My favourite hike in HK. In Vancouver, we have a trail called the grouse grind --its a manmade/natural stairclimber. This is the Hong Kong equivalent. Located on the Kowloon side, your hike begins at the bottom of the hill. The walk up to the trail head is comparable to the hike itself. It is a steady incline for the entire duration. One that makes your legs feel like jelly, but the views at the top are so worth it. You can see all of Hong Kong, and if you are lucky enough to have clear skies, you will see all of it! Due to the smog and/or humidity, views may vary. The photo above was taken at Lion Rock.
Kowloon Peak - Transportation to this hike can be a bit tricky (we missed our stop on the mini bus, and took a rogue route). As someone who is scared of heights, the incline is steep and I felt very exposed with no barriers, and just a trodden dirt trail. This hike is not super tricky, but it is for a more adventurous hiker. At the peak you will be able to see a beautiful panoramic landscape of Hong Kong, similar to Lion Rock, but from a different angle.
Dragon’s Back - Unlike the other two hikes, this one does not provide urban views, in fact it is an urban escape. As you meander peak of the the connecting hills (hence the name), you can see the natural panoramas of the ocean, islands, and beaches. It is an excellent place to catch the sunsets. This hike is 8.5 km with no rest stops, so make sure you bring all that you need and prepare for the weather.
f o r t h e g r a m
FOR THE GRAM:
Choi Hung Estate - This basketball court is now famous all around the world for its aesthetically pleasing backdrop. Admittedly this is not the easiest landmark to find, however after you get off the Choi Hung MTR stop, ask any local where it is, and they can help you. Please be aware that people actually live here. When you arrive, you will see how many people are there taking photos. Make sure you observe and notice the queues that are present waiting to take an uninterrupted shot --likely for the gram. Tommy and I came here to take pictures, and he ended up play a bit with some of he kids while Mattie and I scoped out our wanted location.
Lok Wah South Estate - Also located in Kowloon, this carpark roof has garnered massive attention for its aesthetic.
Yuen Po Bird Garden - Located in Mong Kok.
Mong Kok Flower Market - As you can tell by the name, this is also located in Mong Kok. This is a great place to find bouquets and arrangements, just be aware of the pricing, and make sure you scope around. I bought flowers here for my grandma because I was having a hard time choosing a bouquet that catered to my own taste --they tend to do very bubbly arrangements (with stuffed toys and flowers), and I just wanted more understated and simple. A great place to get those aesthetic grams!
Neon Lights (Nathan Road & Jordan) - To get that HK aesthetic, long live the neon lights! Th quintessential neon lights are slowly being removed, so make sure that you capture these moments before the majority of them are taken away!
Yick Cheong Building (Quarry Bay) - You've seen this building in Transformers. Much like the queue that is created at the Choi Hung Estates, you will have to queue to get the perfect hypebae photo. Please be aware that this is also a residential area.
What are some of your favourite sights in Hong Kong?