Explore Victoria Harbor with a Junk Boat
Victoria Harbor is one of the most beautiful places to go to in Hong Kong. This gigantic lake is surrounded by skyscraper buildings and the water surface is continually being rippled by hundreds of boats and ships. From on land it’s already quite beautiful to see, but it becomes even more gorgeous once you’re enjoying the sights from a boat.
I recommend embarking a traditional junk boat from Dukling. These wonderful boats were used for fishing many years ago, but now they’re actually only used for enjoyable harbor trips. In fact, there’s only one real traditional Junk Boat left, and Dukling owns it. The gigantic red sails create a big contrast with the gray-blue skyscrapers you pass by and this makes for a truly magical view.
The beautiful wooden interior of the boat is the perfect place to enjoy all that beauty, and you also get a refreshing drink while on board. Highly recommended!
Try out fantastic Dim Sum in Hong Kong
In this metropolis you’ll find hundreds, perhaps thousands of ‘Dim Sum’ restaurants. Dim Sum can actually best be compared with the world famous Spanish tapas, but then the Hong Kong version of it. It’s a sort of mishmash of small snacks that you can share (or keep for yourself, of course). The fried, steamed or cooked snacks are usually some kind of dough (or rice paper) filled with pork, shrimps or another stuffing.
An absolute highlight is ‘Tim Ho Wan‘, the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world! In fact, it has become a chain, but only the ‘Tim Ho Wan’ restaurants on North Point, Sham Sui Po and Tai Kwok Tsui are on the notorious Michelin list.
For less than fifteen euros per person you can stuff yourself with delicacies and believe me: the food tastes fantastic here!
Another famous Dim Sum restaurant in Hong Kong is ‘Yum Cha‘. At this place you have a very extensive choice, but the best part of it all are the fantastic shapes in which the snacks are prepared. Buns in the shape of a pig or crunchy biscuits that have been turned into birds (and served in a birdcage). During holidays or parties, specials are prepared. When it’s Halloween, for example, you can order creepy fingers or edible eyeballs. It’s slightly more expensive here than the other Dim Sum restaurants, but the fantastic photos you can make here definitely justify that cost!
Don’t go too fast once you enter, because at the entrance you can see how the cooks prepare these delicacies.
Another nice place to try this local specialty is ‘Dim Sum Icon‘.
Perhaps this is mainly intended for children, but I certainly found it one of the nicest restaurants in Hong Kong! The Dim Sum snacks are delicious here, but it’s mainly the cheerful drawings on them and the shapes in which they are made that make the food so tasty. Fantastic and absolutely one of the top places to go in Hong Kong.
To get the best views of Hong Kong, you should go as high as possible! Sky100 is located in the tallest building in Hong Kong, so there’s no better place to get a great panoramic view.
With a lightning fast elevator you are catapulted one hundred floors up and from here you’ll also get stunning views.
The tiny cars, people and boats under you stretch as far as the eye can see.
Another tip for your visit: try to come in the evening. Then you can see the impressive skyline of Hong Kong during the day, but also during sunset and once the city lights turn on. It’s really impressive!
Yick Cheong Building
This building is sometimes called the ‘monster building’. Why? I don’t really know, because the photos you can make from this structure are anything but monstrous!
Through a narrow street you’ll arrive at this very photogenic square that is completely surrounded by high skyscrapers.
The colorful high-rise towers look very special. Dozens of balconies protrude as far as possible out of the actual houses, creating a very special and magical atmosphere. Actually this place is the perfect first impression of Hong Kong, because this is literally the best example of the ‘concrete jungle’ that this city is.
You don’t necessarily have to take a helicopter flight to see Hong Kong from up high! From Victoria Peak you get breathtaking views (if the weather is good or if there’s not too much smog) over this big city. You can climb up via an apparently infinitely long path, and believe me: it’s not a breeze!
it’s much easier to take the authentic tram up and combine that ride with the Peak Tower viewing platform. This is one of the most popular things to do in Hong Kong, so expect long queues (or buy priority tickets). It’s quite possible that you have to wait for an hour otherwise, but the walk up takes at least as long.
From the Peak Tower you get fantastic views over the dozens of skyscrapers in Hong Kong. From here you can also see how this metropolis is (luckily) still surrounded by beautiful nature.
Are you not tired yet? Then visit the park around it as well.
Central Mid Levels Escalator
For me this is one of the less impressive things to see in Hong Kong, but it’s still nice to stop by. Or rather: to roll along.
The Central Mid Level Escalator is the longest escalator in the world and bridges a number of fairly steep streets. Since Hong Kong can be warm and humid, it’s in any case the perfect way to keep your body fluids with you!
Man Mo Temple
There are many temples in Hong Kong, but this is a real gem! This relatively small temple lies hidden between skyscrapers. When you walk in, it’s quite possible that you’re immediately blinded by thick smoke from hundreds of incense. The strange winding sticks overwhelm the temple with the typical smell -and a mysterious fog- while devout visitors pay tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo).
During my visit, not many tourists were here. Strange! Because I thought this was really one of the best places to go in Hong Kong.
During the day it’s already super crowded here, but once the sun has set it’ll only get more crowded. The brightly colored neon lights dance around you while hundreds of market vendors try to sell their (funny) trinkets and toys. A bit further down, street food is prepared for hungry locals and visitors.
This is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Hong Kong. My eyes couldn’t even register everything that was going on here.
This is why I love Hong Kong so much; the mix of cultures, the fantastic eating places, the enormous crowds and the gigantic contrast with Europe. Temple Street is really a place that you shouldn’t miss during your visit!
Yuen po Street Bird Garden
You can sort of compare this small park with a specialized bird shop, but then in the open air. A dozen ramshackle huts sell colorful bird cages with the accompanying feathered creatures. The whistling, scratching and fluttering are (again) an attack on all of your senses and you just have to take some pictures here before you believe it yourself.
Don’t walk too fast, because at the less crowded spots in this park millions of wriggling insects are sold where the animals (or yourself of course) can feast on. The moment one of the saleswoman put her hand between all these creatures to show me, I ran away quickly though…
You might actually think that Hong Kong is one giant pet store! Unfortunately, it’s a bit less animal-friendly compared to the pet stores that I know… Goldfish Market is another street – but much bigger – that specializes in one specific animal species: fish.
Thousands of tiny (and very big) of these scaly animals swim here in neon-lit aquariums or in (too) small plastic bags that are hung high against the facades.
Although I seriously wonder whether the animals like it, the colors of all these fish are very magical to watch. For me this sight is quite peculiar, but for the people of Hong Kong it’s the most normal thing in the world. Occasionally a potential customer taps his or her finger against a bag to make sure that the fish is still alive.
The stores that sell fish are rather scattered, but certainly walk a little further down this street. Because in the same street, you’ll also find quite some pet shops specialized in dogs, cats and rabbits. It’s all a bit strange here. Very strange.
Go to Macau for a day
From Hong Kong it takes only an hour to get to Macau by ferry. You don’t have to be here very long and so I think a day trip is the perfect choice. Although this metropolis is only sixty kilometers away, it’s surprisingly different here compared to HK.
Macau can actually be best seen as the Las Vegas of Asia. This is the only place in China where gambling is allowed, and that of course attracts a lot of eccentric Asians!
The casinos are absolutely breathtaking. From the inside and the outside! Macao actually consists of two islands. For most casinos (and the famous ‘Macao Strip’) you have to go to the other island (by bus or taxi), but the sumptuous sets are certainly worth that effort. Especially ‘The Venetian‘ and ‘The Parisian‘ are impressive. Inside ‘The Venetian‘ you’ll find an almost perfect copy of Venice (with gondolas of course!) and at ‘The Parisian‘ you’ll find beautiful French decors. On the outside you’ll find a beautiful replica of the Eiffel Tower, but then ‘only’ half the size of the original. Definitely wait until the sun sets, because then the Macao Strip bathes in beautiful illuminated shows.
On the island where you arrive with your ferry, I recommend to visit the Grand Lisboa. It’s one of the more classical casino’s, but nonetheless a fantastic casino. Other things you should have seen in Macao are the Fisherman’s Wharf, St. Paul’s Church Ruins and Senado Square.
At these last three sights you clearly notice Portuguese influences. That’s because Macao used to be a colony of Portugal. On the street signs, by the way, everything is always written in Chinese and Portuguese.
Wing Lok Street
In Hong Kong you’ll find lots of strange streets and roads. One that I also find worthwhile to visit is Wing Lok Street. Here you’ll find dozens of shops and warehouses where the strangest products are sold and bought. Dried Idontknowwhat or weird looking whatthehellisthis: you can only sometimes bring home the smells and shapes, but most of these exotic goods didn’t ring a bell at all.
Have a ride on the Star Ferry
Hong Kong consists of dozens of different islands, but the real center of the city is actually spread out over two islands. To get from one to the other you can use the excellent public transport, but a better alternative is to take the Star Ferry. On these old boats you’ll be brought to the other side of the city in about five minutes and in the meantime you’ll also see the beautiful skyline around Victoria Harbor.
It’s less fun than sailing with a traditional Junk Boat, but it’s an excellent alternative!
Hong Kong skyline at night
I can’t talk about the sights of this bustling city without also mentioning the things to do in Hong Kong at night.
During the day, the monstrously tall buildings are already very impressive, but in the evening -when the lights are turned on- you’ll only really get enchanted. The colorful creations are truly breathtaking and certainly deserve a photo (or a hundred)!
Every day there’s also a ‘Symphony of Lights’ show. A spectacle in which the highest skyscrapers of Hong Kong show the best of themselves with the help of strong lamps and lasers. To be honest, I wasn’t really impressed by it. It seems like the lights just are just randomly beaming and without music it’s not very compelling to stay the whole time…
Anyway… The skyline of Hong Kong is definitely worth seeing. Day or night!
Hiking, hiking, hiking!
You wouldn’t expect it in a city of almost eight million inhabitants, but there’s a lot of nature in the vicinity. When you enter Hong Kong by train, you’ll notice that there are many mountains and hills on which you can spot a lot of trees and other greenery. And of course a lot of these natural areas can also be visited!
Put on your walking shoes and start sweating. There are dozens of walks or hikes that you can do in Hong Kong, so you should look out for some routes in advance. The ‘Dragons back hike’ or the walk to Sai Kung are loved by many. Personally, I also found the tiring climb to the Lion Head Rock fantastic (more about that below).
Wong Tai Sin temple
There are lots of temples in Hong Kong, but Wong Tai Sin is another one that you really have to see. From afar you can smell the intoxicating smell of incense while your eyes are being dazzled by the bright red buildings in the typically Chinese style.
Marvel at the hundreds of people who come to practice their religion here or simply admire the beautiful architecture.
I find it really fascinating how this traditional building fits perfectly in an environment of ultramodern skyscrapers!
Nan Lian gardens
I said it before: Hong Kong is a city with a lot of green. Once you enter the Nan Lian gardens you immediately think that you’re walking around in China. Beautifully manicured trees seamlessly blend into the magnificent architecture of temples, pagodas and other traditional buildings. In the park you can also find a lot of water and even a waterfall! It really is a blissful place to visit after the hustle and bustle of the city.
Don’t forget to also visit the Buddhist temple at the top of the park. You’re not allowed to take pictures, but the gigantic (and plump) golden buddhas are actually much nicer if you see them with your own eyes anyway.
Monastery of the Ten Thousand Buddhas
This monastery is located just a bit outside the busy center, yet it’s fairly easy to reach with the help of the excellent metro network in Hong Kong.
Moreover, it’s one of the nicest places to go in Hong Kong and so you really shouldn’t skip it.
During a steep climb to this hilltop you’ll be welcomed by hundreds of gold painted Buddhas in all sorts of (strange) poses. Before you know it, these stone monks have guided you upstairs and the fantastic monastery is finally waiting for you.
Inside there are (literally) tens of thousands of tiny Buddhas built around one giant golden Buddha. It really is beautiful (but also a bit decadent)!
After your visit to the actual monastery, go a bit higher (this time you’ll be accompanied by golden statues of women – Shiva’s?) and admire the beautiful Chinese architecture of another temple. From here you also get a very nice view over the valley below you.
After your visit to the monastery it’s also a great idea to visit the adjacent cemetery. Well… Cemetery? In a gigantic temple complex (strangely enough you reach it with an escalator) are the ashes of thousands of Hong Kong’s devout inhabitants. The difference with a European cemetery can’t be greater! Strange, but actually very beautiful!
Lantau Island is one of the nicest islands in Hong Kong and it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. Here you’ll also find the international airport, but there are of course much more interesting things to do and see. You definitely need a day to discover the coolest sights on this island:
Ngong Ping 360
The best way to explore Lantau Island is via the Ngong Ping 360 cable car. For more than five kilometers (!), you are hoisted high in the air and you can enjoy the most beautiful views of Hong Kong and Lantau Island. The turquoise ocean is interspersed with green peaks and in the distance you’ll also see some skyscrapers. I think you can’t get a better overview of Lantau Island than from up here!
It can get very busy, so I recommend to purchase your tickets in advance (same price, but you’ll not lose time queuing anymore).
You can choose between a ‘standard cabin’, but I recommend to do at least one ride (you can come back with public transportation or walk too) in the ‘crystal’ cabin ‘. In the latter, the floor has been replaced by a glass version so that you can really fully enjoy the beautiful views. For people with fear of heights it might be a less fun activity…
Tian Tian Buddha
At the end of your ride with the Ngong Ping 360 you might already see this gigantic Buddha statue appear, but it only becomes really impressive when you see this mastodon from up close.
The Tian Tian Buddha (or ‘Big Buddha’) is located in a temple complex that is equally worth exploring. The fantastic architecture of the colorful Chinese temple is truly breathtaking!
If you want to see the giant statue from a bit closer, you have to climb a lot of stairs first. But of course you also get a nice view in return! Don’t forget to walk around the Tian Tian Buddha, because at its back you get a very nice overview over the rest of the island.
Everyone who thinks that Hong Kong is only a metropolis can’t be further from the truth! Tai O is the perfect proof of that.
This authentic fishing village can easily be reached by bus from the terminal of the Ngong Ping 360 (or by bus from Hong Kong center). On top of muddy gray-brown water there are hundreds of stilt houses with dozens of colorful fishing boats below. Walk around in this nice town -but beware of the wild cyclists!- and marvel at the strange constructions.
For $20 or $30 (about two or three euros) you can book a ride with such a fishing boat to see the balancing huts from up close. After the short boat trip between the canals of Tai O you also sail at sea to search for the infamous white Chinese dolphin. There are only about sixty left so the chance that you see them is very small, but maybe you’re luckier than me!
Speaking of food: here you’ll also find lots of restaurants with very fresh fish (at some you can even choose your own fish).
Tai Long Wan Beach
Because Hong Kong actually consists of several islands, it’s only natural that there are many beaches as well. Tai Long Wan Beach is one of these paradisiacal place and it doesn’t seem to be discovered by the masses yet. It’s a bit difficult to get there (by bus and then you’ll have to walk quite a bit), but as a reward it’s quite possible that you get this sandy beach all to yourself!
Around the beach there’s a lot of green and the view from the golden sand seems perfect!
Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, because the sun is burning extra bright here!
The most beautiful view in Hong Kong: Lion Rock Head
Many of the places to go in Hong Kong have to do with the fantastic views that you get over the city. There are plenty of viewpoints, but for me the view from Lion Rock Head remains the absolute best.
After a lethally tiring walk (there are several ways to do this climb, so don’t choose the hardest one like I did!) You’ll be rewarded with a grandiose view of this city of millions.
It’s only at the very last moment that you’ll get this perfect view in return. As you climb up the stairs and steep slopes you’ll catch a glance of the skyscrapers here and there, but believe me: keep pushing until you reach the top. Because from there it’s truly becomes magical.
If you’re lucky, you might encounter some monkeys on the way which will gladly share the beautiful views with you.
Fly in comfort to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific flies directly to Hong Kong from a lot of cities. if you’re leaving from Europe, just like me, it’s a flight of about twelve hours. Because of this, it’s not a bad idea to upgrade from Economy Class to Premium Economy.
More comfortable seats, champagne, charging stations and priority everywhere. Trust me: this way your journey to Hong Kong starts and ends perfectly! You want to know what it feels like flying in Premium Economy? Read my own experience here!
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.