Planning an East Asia vacation? Carve out time to tackle all the fun things to do in Hong Kong! Located off the southern coast of Mainland China, Hong Kong is one of the coolest destinations in Asia and a must-see city for travelers moving around the region. From gawking at the skyline from above at Victoria Peak to chowing down on Cantonese delights at Temple Street Night Market, dig into Hong Kong’s coolest attractions with this complete guide!
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Marvel at Hong Kong from above at Victoria Peak
Even if you’ve only got one day in Hong Kong, don’t miss out on visiting Victoria Peak. Located on the western side of Hong Kong Island, this famous mountain is one of Hong Kong’s must-see attractions, thanks to its stunning city views.
The vista over Hong Kong Island and across Victoria Harbor to the Kowloon waterfront from Victoria Peak is the most classic panorama in the city. Even if you’ve never been to HK, you’ve probably witnessed the view in countless movies and photos.
Getting up to Victoria Peak is half the fun. Although you can hike up, the most scenic route up (and the best choice if you’re travelling to Hong Kong with kids) is via the Peak Tram. This famous cable car has been running the 1.4-kilometer route up to The Peak since 1888.
The Peak Tram route is insanely popular with visitors. Unless you’re keen on wasting an entire morning in the queue, I’d recommend picking up a Skip-the-Line Peak Tram Ticket. The ticket includes a return ticket on the tram and a chance to check out the amazing views from the observation deck at The Sky Terrace 428 in Peak Tower.
Trounce through Temple Street Night Market
If you want to whittle away your evening with cheap shopping and food chomping, don’t miss out on Temple Street Night Market. If you’ve ever been to a flea market, you’ll know what to expect at one of Hong Kong’s markets. (Maybe just a little wilder than what you’re used to.)
The vendors at Temple Street Night Market sell everything from vintage electronics (even cassette tapes—remember those?) to a wide assortment of men’s clothing & accessories and souvenirs. (Just don’t be shocked by the sheer volume of knock-offs!)
And, of course, besides the goods, Temple Street Night Market delights with its food. If you’re not already stuffed from plying through Hong Kong’s tastiest restaurants, grab a late-night snack at one of the open-air food stalls (dai pai dong) here.
Randomly choosing street food at an Asian night market is always fun. But for something a little “safer,” try the tasty fried oyster omelets here. Yum!
Find your inner peace at Man Mo Temple
One of the most beautiful temples in Hong Kong, Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan holds a history that slips back into the mid-19th century. The temple’s name derives from the two main deities worshipped here: “Man,” the God of Literature; and “Mo,” the God of War.
Even if you’ve visited your fair share of temples in East Asia, Man Mo Temple is a little different. The cozy interior doesn’t showcase the same grandeur as others in the region or even Hong Kong itself. Ostentation is kept to a minimum, focusing the energy on the hanging coils of burning incense that depart a placid feeling upon the temple.
Chase Cantonese culinary delights at Tim Ho Wan
It’s not often that a restaurant cracks a list of what to do in a city. But this is Hong Kong, a city that’s absolutely bananas for its food! And there’s a good chance that eating at Tim Ho Wan will be one of the highlights of your trip, too. A purveyor of some of the best food in Hong Kong, Tim Ho Wan is a must-visit to delve into its delicious Cantonese treats.
The Cantonese delights prepared by chef Mak Kwai-Pui at Tim Ho Wan were enough to crank foodies’ heads at Michelin, who bestowed one of its prestigious stars upon the restaurant. Whereas most restaurants in the guide practically require you to sell a kidney to foot the bill, Tim Ho Wan is surprisingly affordable. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants in the world!
Although the original location is, sadly, no longer with us, the Fuk Wing Street location in Sham Shui Po is the next best thing. Settle into the perpetual queue and wait out your chance to chow down on some of the tastiest ha jiao (shrimp dumplings) and char siu (BBQ pork) buns that will ever touch your lips. Anywhere.
Awaken your spirits at Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
It’s a two-for-one deal when you set aside time to visit Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island. Once the city noise has worn upon you, Po Lin Monastery makes for a great escape from the bustle of the city—if not necessarily from the crowds of tourists.
Set among greenery that spills into the sea outside of Ngong Ping Village, the monastery isn’t just a pretty face. Po Lin Monastery is an active place of worship. The Buddhist temple complex attracts the devout from far and wide to pay respects and present offerings.
As you slink inside the monastery’s Great Hall, towering ceilings shrink you with their grandeur. Intricate details spread both inside and outside the hall.
Po Lin Monastery dwells in the shadow of another must-see: Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha). And while it’s hardly a monument preserved from antiquity (it’s just over 20 years old!), the Big Buddha is one Hong Kong attraction you can’t leave without checking out.
Tian Tan Buddha soars 34 meters into the sky, looking north towards the mainland. To slide into the shadows of the Big Buddha, you’ll need to power up 268 steps. The views of the sea and the surrounding mountains alone are worthy of the strain!
Half the fun of visiting these twin sites is getting there. Test your patience in the seemingly never-ending queue to score a ticket on Ngong Ping 360, a cable car that soars between Tung Chung and the Ngong Ping Village in the hilly center of Lantau Island.
Re-live your childhood at Hong Kong Disneyland
If you’re traveling with kids, add Hong Kong Disneyland to your itinerary. The fifth installment of one of the world’s most famous theme parks, this fun-filled attraction hardly needs an introduction!
Much like in its sister parks elsewhere in the world, families will experience the magic from the moment they enter the park. Among the most popular attractions at Hong Kong Disneyland is Adventureland. The Adventureland area features a cruise through jungle landscapes, with all the sights and sounds you’d expect.
Also, don’t miss out on visiting Fantasyland, where you and the family will get to see all of your favorite Disney characters come to life.
Chug across Victoria Harbour on the Star Ferry
There’s little chance you’ll find another boat ride that’s as cheap, quick, and awe-striking as the journey across Victoria Harbour on the Star Ferry. Long before Hong Kong became a well-to-do global city, Star Ferry was Hong Kong Island’s only public transportation connection to the Kowloon peninsula. It was built by the British in 1888, long before they handed HK back to China in the late 20th century.
Pinch together as little as HK$2.50 ($0.32), and you can hop onto what’s easily the best value harbor cruise in the world. Soak up stunning views of Kowloon to the north and Hong Kong Island to the south as the ferry makes its 8- to 10-minute voyage.
The ferry launches every 6-12 minutes from the Kowloon Public Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui to Central on Hong Kong Island.
Explore the past in Lai Chi Wo
Most travelers know Hong Kong simply for its urban sprawl. But there’s far more to the colony than the city lights, skyscrapers, traffic, and dim sum. For a taste of the out-of-the-ordinary, add a day trip to Lai Chi Wo to your vacation plans. This Hakka village is located in Plover Cove Country Park on the northeastern fringes of the New Territories, towards the Mainland China border.
Lai Chi Wo dates back hundreds of years and is one of Hong Kong’s most interesting sights. Over 200 houses pepper Lai Chi Wo alongside two ancestral halls and two temples, including a God of War temple.
Feng shui woodlands, traditionally maintained and curated by the Hakka villagers, and intertwining mangroves surround the well-preserved village. The dense and fertile terrain both sustained the village and served as natural protection.
In a densely populated city like Hong Kong, Lai Chi Wo can seem a bit out of the way. (Isn’t that part of the charm, though?) To get to Lai Chi Wo from Kowloon using Hong Kong’s public transportation, hop onto the MRT at Mong Kok East, heading towards Tai Po Market Station. At the minibus stop, take either 20C or 20R to Wu Kau Tang. From here, it’s a 4.4-km walk (about 1h15m) through relaxing woodlands to Lai Chi Wo.
Chill out in Sai Kung Country Park
Many travelers are shocked to find out that there’s far more to Hong Kong than big city vibes. Among the coolest places to escape the grind is Sai Kung Country Park, a protected area on the far eastern fringes of the New Territories.
Although Sai Kung Country Park is famous for hosting some of the most popular hiking trails in Hong Kong, perhaps the biggest drawcard here is the beaches.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, take the MacLehose Trail. The trail starts at Pak Tam Chung and follows a route to Long Ke Wan, one of the most beautiful beaches in Hong Kong.
Dig through the past at the Hong Kong Museum of History
History buffs visiting HK simply need to get their fix at the fascinating Hong Kong Museum of History. The exhibits at this popular museum dig way back into the territory’s past (and I mean waaaaay back—400 million years!). The museum’s exhibitions cover everything from archeology to history to the culture of Hong Kong and other areas in South China.
The main permanent exhibition at the museum features over 4,000 exhibits spread over eight galleries and two floors. Give yourself at least 3-4 hours at the Hong Kong Museum of History to walk through the journey from prehistoric times through British colonization and Japanese occupation to its current state in modern China.
Burn some calories en route to Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
A little off the usual tourist paths, the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery completely lives up to its name. More than—you guessed it!—ten thousand miniature Buddha statues adorn the walls of the temple.
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery complex features several pavilions, temples, and a pagoda. But don’t expect the views to come easily.
Bring some (or, in summer, lots of!) water and an energy bar, and prepare for a thigh-burning trek up over 400 stairs to the complex. The stairway is lined by several gilded Buddhas. Each offers a unique and impressive distraction should you want to take the trip more slowly.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for the wild monkeys who call the area home. As always, be careful with your belongings around these cheeky little dudes’ you’ll want your camera intact to capture the views after expending so much energy to get up there!
To get to the temple, find your way to Sha Tin MTR Station on the East Rail Line. From Exit B, follow Pai Tau Street, holding left until you see Sheung Wo Che Street. Turn right here, following the street to the end. Signposts mark the path to the calorie-torching stairwell.
Experience the seaside charms of Tai O
Not exactly the type of thing you’d expect to find on the doorstep of one of the world’s top financial centers, Tai O is a small fishing village with a character usually reserved for locations much further off the beaten path.
The stilted houses of Tai O chill on the western shores of Lantau Island, not far removed from the Po Lin Monastery. Visiting Tai O on a day trip, you’re immediately confronted with all the trappings of a bygone seaside village. Tai O’s Tanka inhabitants still adhere to age-old fishing traditions, obvious as the smells of fresh and dried seafood linger among the market stalls.
Besides wearing out your shutter button among the throng of unusual houses, one of the most popular activities in Tai O is to take a quick cruise around the shoreline. The area’s seaside claim to fame is to spot rare pink dolphins.
Unfortunately, due to increasing pressure from pollution and overdevelopment, numbers are dwindling heavily. For more information and to see how you can support their preservation, visit Hong Kong DolphinWatch.
To get to Tai O, take the MTR to Tung Chung. From here, it’s about a one-hour bus ride to Tai O Fishing Village.
Watch the Symphony of Lights from the Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade
Even by day, few places have better skyline views than the Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade. The true magic of this sometimes-kitschy boardwalk (yes, Bruce Lee statue—I’m looking at you!) happens, though, in the evening.
When 8 o’clock strikes, the buildings of Hong Kong’s business district erupt in color as the nightly Symphony of Lights surges forth. The views across Victoria Harbour from Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade are simply fantastic. Set up your tripod and camera alongside dozens of other amateur photographers to capture the dancing lights overtaking the skyline from this unique vantage point.
Before you leave the promenade, be sure to take a stroll along the Avenue of Stars. The city’s take on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, this landmark celebrates Hong Kong’s film industry, with over a hundred singers, directors, producers, and actors emblazoned on its stones. Keep on the lookout for the famous 2.5-meter Bruce Lee statue, located near the pedestrian bridge over Salisbury Road.
Slurp down wontons at Mak’s Noodle
We all know that the food in Hong Kong is pretty stellar. One of the city’s most famous joints for chowing down is Mak’s Noodle, located at 77 Wellington Street in the Central District. Patrons pop into this Hong Kong institution mostly for one thing: wonton noodle soup.
When a recipe is passed on and perfected over three generations of Maks, you know it’s gotta be good. The shrimp wontons and noodle soup here are simply divine. They practically melt in your mouth in a silky waterfall with just the perfect blast of umami to light up your tastebuds.
Undoubtedly, this is some of the tastiest food in Hong Kong!
Settle down for an afternoon tea (and dim sum) at Luk Yu Tea House
Any visit to Hong Kong is incomplete without sipping on afternoon tea. No doubt, there are friendlier places in the city. (Although you’ll soon find out that HK isn’t exactly known for its “friendly” service!) But there’s perhaps no better place to experience the tradition than the post-colonial Luk Yu Teahouse, located at 24-26 Stanley in Central.
The Art Deco interior and stained glass windows certainly feel a little out of place in the deeply traditional continent of Asia. At Luk Yu Teahouse, it’s not hard to picture colonial aristocrats fussing over politics in the long-gone days of British rule.
Even if tea isn’t your thing, Luk Yu Teahouse is a popular place for lunchtime dim sum. Their Shanghai-style xiao long bao dumplings are as melt-in-your-mouth as anywhere in the city!
Walk the Wan Chai Heritage Trail
While Hong Kong’s ultra-modern face often takes center stage, destinations like the Wan Chai Heritage Trail put the city’s roots into perspective. Located just next to Central and Admiralty on Hong Kong Island, the Wan Chai district is one of the oldest parts of the settlement. In this neighborhood, you’ll uncover some of the Chinese territory’s most compelling historical attractions.
The walk along the Wan Chai Heritage Trail takes about two hours. Along the way, you’ll run into several important historic properties, including the unmistakable Blue House, Wan Chai Market, and Pak Tai Temple.
PRO TIP: Although it was once a dodgy red-light district, Wan Chai has cleaned up its act to become one of the more popular nightlife areas in Hong Kong. If you’re visiting in the evening, explore the streets around Lockhart Road. Options include everything from sipping beer with new friends in dive bars to enjoying signature drinks in upscale cocktail lounges.