I went to Hong Kong for the first time in February this year and because we only went for just under 5 days, we had to make sure we got as much as possible packed into our schedule to make the most of our time. For being quite jet lagged and tired, I think we did pretty well at seeing many different sides of Hong Kong, and I feel we discovered everything we wanted to. So I wanted to share with you what we got up to and give you my top 5 things to do in Hong Kong…
On the first night we wanted to go into the city centre and experience the hustle and bustle on a night out in Hong Kong. We went to SoHo in Central which is a district full of tourists most of the time, and is regarded as the entertainment zone. It’s full of big brand stores (including M&S if you’re looking for something familiar) and around the corner from that you have an array of restaurants and bars that will entice you with all sorts of offers to pull you and as many other tourists as possible into their bars. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat I would travel a bit further afield to find something a bit more authentic. It’s got a great atmosphere though and definitely worth exploring on an evening if you fancy a drink.
On our first day out exploring, we took the Star Ferry to the north island as we were staying on the south side. I can highly recommend taking the Star Ferry to get between the islands, it’s really cheap and gives you a much more pleasant experience and gorgeous views compared to the underground. When on the north side, do walk along the harbour and take in the views. It’s a stunning cityscape and even though we were there on a day with relatively bad visibility, it was still a amazing to see. Even more amazing is to watch the light show in the evening from here. Be prepared to be one of may tourists gathering around this area to get a good spot to see the light show, but it’s worth it. Unfortunately the light show’s accompanying music/entertainment was very disappointing, but the view itself and the lights all made up for it.
Kowloon City is great to explore by foot. Start at the tranquil Kowloon Park and spot the gorgeous flamingos in the backdrop of skyscrapers. Then continue walking north (or take the underground to Yau Ma Tei) to the Jade market. It’s a small market but with everything you can image made of Jade. Green is my favourite colour so I could have spend a lot more time (and money) than we did… If you continue walking north from here, or take the underground to Prince Edward, you get to the flower market. At the flower market you should expect to see a lot of flowers, and you can also visit a bird market which I can’t recommend if you’re a bit sensitive to animals in captivity (very small and dirty kind of captivity). By this time if it’s getting dark, it’s a perfect time to travel back down from where you came, either to Yau Ma Tei or Jordan underground stop, and visit the Temple Street Night Market. It’s a wonderfully mad place which all the usual stuff you expect to see anywhere in Asia where there are tourists. So if you fancy picking up a golden cat, or a fake designer hand bag – this is the place for you. It’s also a great place to grab some local street food!
Hong Kong Park is not far from the underground station Admiralty and is also close to (and walking distance from) the Central Station. It’s a little haven in the middle of Hong Kong, well actually not so little; its 8 hectare of landscaped gardens holds ponds full of birds, tortoises, and other wildlife. It’s got an observatory tower you can walk up to enjoy the amazing contrast between the cityscape with skysrapers and its surrounding lush landscape. The park also has a large aviary that is definitely worth visiting. If you enter the park from walking from the underground station, you will get out at the side of the park where the Peak Tram is located that will take you up to Victoria Peak. The queue to get on the tram can be quite long so make sure to take that into account at peak times. In the queue you can see a small exhibition showing old images and information on when the Brits settled at Hong Kong and Victoria Peak. Once you get on the old wooden tram (don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe), you have a very steep journey ahead of you up the mountain. When you get up you arrive straight into a shopping mall filled with souvenir shops and restaurants. We went up to the view point on top of the building and admired the view of Hong Kong before heading inside and had lunch at one of the restaurants with a great view. Once at Victoria Peak, the walk around the area for more amazing views is a must. You get to see Hong Kong from more angles and it gives great photography opportunities.
Hong Kong airport is on the Lantao Island outside the city of Hong Kong. The island isn’t just the home of the airport but also the giant Tian Tan Buddha (also known as Big Buddha). A short bus ride from the airport will take you straight to Ngong Ping Village where the giant Buddha is as well as the Po Lin Monastery which is the home of the Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas. It’s a place full of wonders to explore, from the man sized incense outside the monastery, the beautiful village laced with cherry blossom, to the giant Buddha looking down on you at all times. It a magical place, full of things to discover. It’s got a sense of serenity and is a perfect place to spend a day or an afternoon. There are places in the village to eat as well as to shop. We spent the last day of our holiday here, as we could leave our baggage at the airport to come back to later – I can highly recommend doing that!
I hope my guide to Hong Kong was useful and that you could find some inspiration for things to do! Please do let me know if you have any more tips or any questions in the comments below or on Twitter.