Hong Kong is where ancient Chinese culture, old colonial customs, and modern city life come together to create one of the world’s most idiosyncratic destinations – all set against possibly the most stunning skylines you’ll ever see.
The gateway to the East is also a popular stop-off destination for long-haul flights further around the globe, so whether you’re stopping for one night or a full week, here are the top 10 things you must experience on a trip to Hong Kong…
Things to SEE in Hong Kong…
The view from Victoria Peak
At almost 2,000 feet above sea level, Victoria Peak offers the best views of this most breath-taking area. Take a seven-minute ride on the Peak Tram – the world’s steepest funicular railway, and the only way to the summit – and you’ll be rewarded with the most spectacular sights of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Victoria Harbour, and Kowloon’s eight mountains. Go when the weather is clear, otherwise you’ll be robbed of the views, and if you can, time your trip to the top to fall just before dusk so that you can enjoy both day and night time views.
Temple Street Market
Take to the street markets after dark and let the bright neon lights, the chatter of the market stall holders, and the smell of the street food immerse you in the most sensory of shopping experiences. Temple Street Night Market, is arguably the most popular street bazaar, where you can pick up anything from trinkets to gadgets, and tea ware to fashionwear. There are also dedicated markets for flowers, fish, birds, jade, antiques, trainers and anything else you can possibly think of.
The historic temples
Hong Kong is about more than modern skyscrapers and colonial history, and no trip would be complete without visiting some of its ancient religious sites and temples. The oldest is Man Mo, a temple dedicated Taoist gods of literature (Man) and war (Mo). Or climb the 431, life-sized, golden Buddha-lined steps to the 10,000 Buddha’s Monastery, where inside lie around 13,000 gilded ceramic statuettes. Plenty of Buddha for your buck!
The skyline from Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
After you’ve taken in the view from Victoria Peak, it’s time to take in the skyline from street level at Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. Starting at the colonial-era Clock Tower and stretching all the way to Hung Hom, a stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui offers the most spectacular views of the Hong Kong Island skyline – take a trip at night for maximum effect.
Things to eat in Hong Kong…
Dim sum is known locally as ‘yum cha’ – which translates as ‘drink tea’, from when dim sum was more about tea appreciation than dining. Let me tell you this – no trip to Hong Kong is complete without sampling the dim sum! For the best value dim sum, Tim Ho Wan is a hole-in-the-wall in Mong Kok, but if you’ve more expensive tastes, dim sum at the two Michelin star rated Yan Toh Heen is worth forking out for.
Beef brisket noodles are a classic Hong Kong dish that you can pick up from all local restaurants, but for a meal to remember, try Kau Kee Restaurant, a local favourite that’s been in business for 90 years, or Jun Yuen, an old-school noodle spot known for its incredibly tasty dishes at budget-friendly prices.
Alternatively, the signature beef brisket dish served at Sister Wah keeps customers coming back for more.
Egg tart is another Hong Kong delicacy – think along the lines of classic British egg custard tart, or Portuguese pastel de nata. A specialty of both Tai Cheong Bakery in central district, Kam Wah Café in Mong Kok, and EXpresson at Causeway Bay, an egg tart is the ideal way to round off a dim sum, follow up a beef brisket, or eat all on its own, swilled down with a cup of tea.
Things to do in Hong Kong…
Hike the Dragon’s Back
Look beyond the glitzy skyscrapers where the mountains stand protectively over the territory and you’ll find some remarkable hiking spots – not least the Dragon’s Back trail that undulates and winds for 31 miles, cutting through five of Hong Kong Island’s country parks. Make it to the Shek O Peak for breath-taking views of the islands beaches, bays and countryside.
Take the Star Ferry
The Star Ferry has been taxiing people across Victoria Harbour since 1888, and although it’s not the quickest way to get between Hong Kong Island and the mainland at Kowloon, for a nominal fare you can enjoy the views of Hong Kong from sea level.
Alternatively, and for a lot more than the Star Ferry’s fee, you can hire a Chinese fishing boat, more commonly known as a ‘junk’, for yourself and up to 13 more adults. Chartered rides usually last between seven and eight hours, with food and a fully stocked bar to help you kick back and relax as you sail around the harbour and beyond.
Go for High / Afternoon Tea
It might seem strange to partake in a terribly English tradition while on your travels, but this isn’t like packing bacon and brown sauce in your hand luggage, as high tea in Hong Kong is a little bit of luxury. A hangover from the British occupation of the territory, The Peninsula restaurant serves its popular (and pricey) high tea in the lobby from 2pm, or try the lobby of the InterContinental, which looks out over of Hong Kong Island.
Bonus activity! Cocktails
Hong Kong is home to the world’s finest cocktail culture, so if you need to wind down at the end of a busy day’s shopping and sightseeing, make sure you do it with one of these:
- The Optimist – a blend of Bacardi, lime juice, honey water and ginger, finished with a spray of yellow Chartreuse, available from 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana’s bar
- Ron Burgundy – a blend of blend of rum, burgundy syrup and perfume bitters, served with a Sex Panther label, available from Ham & Sherry’s backbar.
- Nuclear banana daiquiri – a concoction of rum, Chartreuse, Velvet Falernum and sugar syrup, available from Beef & Liberty.
Pin for later?
Have we missed anything? Have you a favourite Hong Kong restaurant? Or something you’re planning to do that’s not made our top 10? Let us know…