Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities in the world. With its iconic skyline, amazing food and interesting blend of cultures. It’s a city of juxtapositions, known as a place where “East meets West”, and where tradition meets futuristic in every facet of life — from its culture, food to architecture, every street is full of something unique and exciting, just waiting to be discovered.
Whether you’re finding your way through the massive crowds, trying out some tasty street food, escaping the city for a beach or hike, or letting the neon lights guide you through the streets at night, it’s a world-class city that never gets boring.
Hong Kong is one of the busiest harbour cities in the world, and the most important trading city in Asia. Globally, it has the 3rd largest international financial center, after London and New York. With over 7 million people, it’s also one of the world’s most densely populated areas. The lack of space means the city is all about its vertical space, and as a result, Hong Kong boosts one of the most incredible skylines in the world.
With so much to do, eat and drink in Hong Kong, here’s a list of my top 30 must do’s to get you started!
Things to do
1. Take in the skyline from the Peak
The journey to The Peak is probably the most uniquely Hong Kong experience you can have. The steep tram ride to the top makes you feel like the city is going topsy-turvy is definitely an interesting experience in itself. At the top, The Peak is Hong Kong Island’s highest point at 1,300 feet above sea level.
The tram runs from 7am until midnight, which gives you the choice of coming for a day or night time view (or both!). I highly recommend buying tickets online to skip the long lines.
2. Ride the Observation Wheel
Hong Kong is all about the views, and located near the Star Ferry Pier if the Observation Wheel, offering sweeping views of Victoria Harbour.
3. Ride the Star Ferry
Taking the Star Ferry will make you feel like you’re transported back in time. It has been operating since 1888, and is a cute and charming boat that travels between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. It’s not only a cheap form of transportation, but it also boosts amazing views of the iconic Hong Kong skyline along Victoria Harbour.
4. Get some new kicks on Sneaker Street
Located next to the Ladies Market, Mong Kok Sneaker Street is definitely a must for any sneakerhead. Sneaker culture is big in Hong Kong and you can find an abundance of Nikes, Adidas, Rebook, Puma and more including rare and special editions.
With so many stores along this street selling the same popular sneakers, it can get pretty overwhelming. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, it can be a great place to shop. If you’re in the mood for something unique, head over to KixDreams or check out 8Five2 in Causeway Bay for some limited edition kicks and streetwear.
5. Go vintage shopping in Sheung Wan
If you’re looking for some cool, unique finds, there are plenty of vintage shops in Sheung Wan that has you covered. Bang Bang 70s, which is full of retro clothing and memorabilia. Another shop in is Label Chic, full of vintage designer goods waiting to be discovered. Other shops include InBetween, which offers items ranging from quirky antique pieces and home decor, to vintage movie posters, fun clothing, and products made by local artists. Other shops include Little Dot Vintage Shop, Select 18 and You Wu Studio x JikSap.
6. Admire the Buddhas at the 10,000 Buddha Monastery
Located in Po Fook Hill Mountains, a path of 431 steps lined with Buddha statues guides you to the dazzling Man Fat Sze, a large complex with over 12,000 statues housed in 5 temples, 4 pavilions and one pagoda. It’s well worth it, seeing the life-sized, gold painted Buddha statues, all uniquely different in their poses and facial expressions.
7. Be amazed at Choi Hung Estate
The colourful building in Choi Hung Estate is one of the most popular Instagram shots of Hong Kong. “Choi Hung” means rainbow in Chinese, and was built in 1964, making it one of the oldest public housing estates in Hong Kong. It consists of 11 blocks of residential buildings, 5 schools, a car park, and the famous basketball court.
With 43,000 people all living in this complex, it’s a lively place for locals to hang out. These days, being such a popular Instagram location (there has been a rising number of complaints from residents about the amount of visitors), if you do visit, be respectful of the residents and support the folks here by buying something from the local shop.
8. Quarry Bay
Another Instafamous site, Quarry Bay is known as the “Monster Building,” it’s a collection of five interconnected towers built in the 1960s, during a population boom, when it was offered as a government-subsidized housing for low-income residents.
Its been featured in movies such as Transformers and , and has since become a popular spot for Instagrammers. As always when visiting residential spots, be sure to respect the locals who live there.
9. Relax at the Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery
Get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and relax at Nan Lian Gardens, a large public park featuring all four elements of a traditional classical Chinese garden: rocks, water, plants and architecture. Built in 2006, it’s managed by the Chi Lin Nunnery, across the street. This is one of my favourite places in the city to relax!
The Chi Lin Nunnery was built in 1934, and is a large temple complex with a series of template halls, treasured Buddhist relics and lotus ponds.
10. Learn about history and design at Asia Society Hong Kong Center
While the site was originally built by the British Army for making and storing explosives and ammunition, today it has been transformed into a creative, cultural and historical hub for locals, expats and tourists. It’s an interesting place to learn more about Hong Kong’s history while serving as one fo the city’s finest examples of contemporary design through its many exhibits.
11. Visit Man Mo Temple
One of Hong Kong’s oldest Taoist temples, it was built in 1847 by wealthy Chinese merchants. Int the temple, two idols — the God of Literature and the God of War, are worshipped. It’s a popular place for locals to pray for success in their academics or for luck before an exam!
12. Browse the Temple Street Night Market
The Temple Street Night Market is a nightly street bazaar with hundreds of stalls selling everything from clothing, to electronic goods, to fake designer items.
While I would never buy fake goods, it is nonetheless a fun place to browse through, and if you’re lucky, might come across some interesting trinkets. There’s lots of food stalls nearby if you get hungry.
13. Visit the Big Buddha
Known officially as Tian Tan, the Big Buddha in HK is the largest outdoor seated Buddha in the world! There are 268 steps to reach the statue.
14. Ride the Npong Ping Cable Car
To get to the Big Buddha, you’ll have to get to Lantau Island first. You could take the bus, hike uphill, or ride the 3.5 mile cable car! I highly recommend it as it boosts incredible views of Lantau Island’s countryside. If you’re feeling fancy, you can upgrade to the crystal cabin with a glass bottom!
15. Party in Lan Kwai Fong
If you’re looking to party, look no further than Lan Kwai Fong (or LKF as locals call it). With over 90 restaurants and bars, it’s a widely popular nightlife spot where you can spot a mix of locals, expats and tourists. If you’re looking for some good drink deals, come during happy hour!
16. Walk the Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade
Take a scenic walk along the southern tip of Kowloon, with stunning views of Victoria Harbour. If you’re there in the evenings, be sure to stay for the Symphony of Lights, the world’s largest laser show, that takes place every evening around 8-8:20pm.
17. Eat Dim Sum, all day, every day
Dim sum is one of my favorite foods in the world, and definitely a must in Hong Kong. As part of the ancient Chinese tradition of drinking tea (yum cha), small bite sized dishes are commonly paired with it, known as dim sum. Dim sum refers to a variety of different dishes, with some of the most popular being har gao (shrimp dumplings), bbq pork buns, siu mai (pork), and braised chicken feet.
There’s so many amazing dim sum places in Hong Kong. The most popular is Tim Ho Wan, also known as the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world. Their bbq pork buns are heavenly!
For something fun and instagrammable, try Yum Cha. A lot of thought goes into making their food as cute as possible, such as their pork buns shaped like pigs, or custard buns shaped like emoji faces. Paired with it’s upscale decor, the food is top notch and not gimmicky at all.
18. Grab some late night egg waffles
Known as egg waffles or eggettes, they’re a widely popular dessert made of different flavor waffle batter molded in the form of detachable mouth-sized balls. They’re crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and can also be filled with ice cream and other toppings.
I randomly stumbled across a place called Mammy Pancake and the waffles there were delicious. Later I found out it’s a pretty popular place and was actually recommended by the Michelin Guide in the street food section.
19. Have some sizzling clay pot rice
One of my favourite dishes, clay pot rice consists of rice cooked within a claypot and filled with different ingredients such as Chinese sausage, chicken, pork, mushrooms or seafood. The rice sizzles in the pot, and the crunchy rice crust that you get on the edge of the clay pot is oh so delicious.
20. Warm up with a hot tofu pudding
A popular and very unique dessert in Hong Kong is tofu pudding, which consists of soft bean curd served in clear syrup and sweetened ginger in a bowl. It’s so smooth and a hot bowl makes for the perfect rainy day snack. It’s also pretty low in calories, so if I could, I’d have one everyday!
21. Explore a bakery
There are tons of bakeries all over the city just waiting to be discovered. They tend to be self serve and with so much selection, it’s impossible to leave with just one. I highly recommend the pineapple buns and egg tarts!
22. Try roasted goose
Marinated in a blend of secret sauces and sometimes over 20 different spices, roasted goose is another must eat in Hong Kong. It’s crispy, juicy, and incredibly tasty. One of the most popular places is Kam’s Roast Goose, which was awarded 1 Michelin star from 2015-17. Avoid going at standard lunch or dinner times as the lines can be pretty insane.
23. Get some curry fish balls to go
This is one of Hong Kong’s most iconic street snacks, and can be commonly found at food stalls!
24. Have a Hong Kong style breakfast
Breakfasts in Hong Kong is a pretty interesting experience because of the variety of food you can get. Try a Hong Kong style french toast, which is typically made with peanut butter and eaten with condensed milk, syrup or honey. Feeling like instant noodles for breakfast? No problem! It’s actually a popular dish with marinated satay beef.
Congee with fried dough sticks is a staple breakfast dish amongst the Chinese (try it with thousand year old eggs). The weirdest breakfast dish I came across in Hong Kong is definitely macaroni soup and ham. It’s the same macaroni from macaroni and cheese, but cooked in chicken broth and topped with ham. It’s actually surprisingly tasty!
25. Check out a 7-Eleven
If you have a hard time deciding on what to eat, checking out a 7-eleven presents some interesting options. While in North America, you would never think to go there for food, 7-Elevens in Asia are actually filled with tasty food options. In Hong Kong, you can find a range of different food such as bbq pork buns, udon noodles, siu mai, chicken skewers and more. You can also find ready made meals such as pork chops with rice as well as desserts like cream buns and mini swiss rolls.
26. Indulge with some afternoon tea
If you’re feeling fancy, afternoon tea is definitely a fun indulgence in Hong Kong. We went to the Lobby Lounge at the InterContinental on a rainy day, and it was fun tasting a variety of tasty scones, sandwiches, tarts and pastries while watching the the city from the comforts of the cozy restaurant.
27. Do it like the locals, with some milk tea
Known as “lai cha,” it’s a beloved drink and available almost everywhere in Hong Kong. In fact, it is estimated that 2.5 million mugs of milk tea is consumed in Hong Kong daily! It can be served hot or cold, and consists of black tea mixed with condensed milk. Some popular places include Cheung Hing Coffee Shop, Hoi On Cafe and Lan Fong Yuen.
28. Reenergize with Vitasoy
Vitasoy is a popular company in Hong Kong that sells high-protein soy milk drinks. It was originally created to be an alternative, affordable high-protein substitution for expensive full milk. Aside from the traditional soy flavour, they also offer interesting flavours like malt, chocolate and taro.
29. Have some cocktails at Ozone
Located on the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, get drinks at the world’s tallest bar with an amazing view of western Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The drinks may be expensive, but the views are totally worth it.
30. Try some Chinese beers
It’s always interesting trying beers from different countries, and there’s a decent amount of beer to be found in Hong Kong. Currently, San Miguel is the best-selling beer in Hong Kong. Other popular beers include Tsingtao, Yanjing and Hong Kong beer.
The most amazing thing about Hong Kong is that it’s an awesome city to get lost in. Just wander around the streets, embrace the smells, noise, people, and discover the city from your own perspective!