Answers from Our Experts (4)
Whether your passion is fashion, nature or exploring the diverse culture of Hong Kong, you'll find plenty of ways to stay busy in this ever-busy city. Here are my recommendations for the best activities in Hong Kong:
Engage in retail therapy. From high-end retail stores to the busy local markets, there's always a great treasure waiting for you in Hong Kong. Causeway Bay and the International Finance Centre towers are surefire places to find designer threads, but don't miss out on the quirky jewelry, sourvenirs and trinkets that can be picked up for mere pennies at the famous outdoor markets.
Get outside. For an urban city, Hong Kong has a surprising number of outdoor escapes that are a breeze to access via the MTR and public transportation system. Take a ferry to Lantau Island and climb the staircase that leads to the Big Buddha. Hike Lion Rock. Swim at Shek O beach. Whatever you do, don't stay cooped up inside during your stay in Hong Kong.
Get out of your comfort zone. Venture to Lamma Island for a fresher-than-fresh dinner of seafood pulled from the waters by local fishermen. Take the Peak Tram to Victoria Peak. Try moon cake during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Hong Kong is full of opportunities to try something that's a litlte unusual, or perhaps a tad different from the way things are done at home; that's what makes a visit here so special.
There's an obvious trifecta of things to do in Hong Kong: eat, shop and drink. And while the most obvious of the city's activities definitely deserve your attention, you should also make sure not to sidestep some of the other, lesser known entertainments available.
Eat: There's something for everyone here, both in terms of cuisines and price points. You're just as likely to find great food in a hidden hole-in-the-wall as you are in a swanky fine-dining spot. There are plenty of Asian and Chinese cuisines to pick from, as well as plenty of Western options. You'll even find rarer offerings including Nepalese, Turkish and Peruvian if you look hard enough.
Shop: Such a common local activity that "roaming around windowshopping" has its own specific Cantonese slang (hang gaai), you'll be hard pressed to find a spot in the city that doesn't offer some sort of shopping mall or shopping street. Do some luxury shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui or Central; head to one of the many themed markets and shopping streets in Mong Kok, where you'll find everything from flowers to goldfish to trinkets; or peruse the many trendy local- and international-brand boutiques in Soho and Causeway Bay.
Drink: Considering the the fast-paced lifestyle of most Hongkongers, the city is obviously one of the many "cities that never sleep" around the world. There are events going on almost every night. Hit up one of the nightlife hubs around the city and catch a DJ set, watch some live jazz or simply enjoy a quality cocktail.
Hike: While it may not seem like it at first glance, Hong Kong is actually a decent place for hiking, with plenty of trails and mostly hiking-friendly weather year round (except for the typhoon season). Between the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) and buses, most hikes are fairly easy to get to from the center of the city. Dragon's Back and the MacLehose trail are both popular choices.
Soak up some culture: While Hong Kong has gained a reputation among some as a "cultural desert," within the last five years or so the local arts scene has grown exponentially with big names like White Cube opening galleries here recently and plenty of solid classical music acts visiting the city. Check out the galleries along Hollywood Road, or book tickets for a dance or music performance.
Hong Kong, like many Asian metropolises, isn’t so much a city you tour as a city you experience.
Outsides the confines of Hong Kong City, there’s an entire natural paradise to be explored. Few tourists recognize the breadth of natural beauty that lies outside the city limits—from sandy beaches to rocky cliffs to rainforest. In fact, all of Lantau Island and Sai Kung Peninsula are designated national parks. On the Hong Kong Island you’ll find the scenic and accessible Dragon’s Back. A little farther afield, in Sai Kung, is Shun Luk stream, which leads to a lovely natural waterfall pool.
Some of Hong Kong’s best eateries are tucked away, in markets and down alleys, out in Sai Kung and in the high-rises of Causeway Bay. Don’t be afraid to explore and try your luck. It helps to get acquainted with different Hong Kong specialties, like cha siu bao, so you can recognize and request them at Cantonese-speaking restaurants.
Hong Kong’s tram network is a wonderful and charming way to see the city. Another good idea is to choose a different MTR station each day, get out, and just wander around.
At night, Hong Kong transforms into a booze-fueled city. Whether you want an artisanal cocktail or an all-night club, there’s always something going on.
Not only does Hong Kong have some of the best galleries in the world, they’re concentrated in a relatively small area. Start on Wyndham Street, above LKF and walk along Hollywood Road until Man Mo Temple. Then veer south, up the hillside into PoHo, where many the newest additions are popping up. Keep an eye out for Sundaram Tagore, Blindspot, Osage, and Para/Site.
Some other great art scenes are burgeoning in Sai Ying Pun/ Kennedy Town, Aberdeen, and the very unusual Cattle Depot—a former-slaughterhouse-turned-artists’-village.
Eat, hike, shop, repeat. Here are just a few ways to make the most of a trip to Hong Kong.
Eat There’s something for every palate and budget in Hong Kong, from noodle shops to banquet halls to fine dining. For a truly local taste, try specialties like congee, dim sum, wonton noodle soup and char siu (barbecued pork). Regional Chinese and Asian cuisines are well-represented, and some of the world's most renowned chefs have outposts here. It's not a question of what's available, but what you're in the mood for.
Take a Hike Hong Kong’s urban density is set against a backdrop of verdant hills, criss-crossed by well-maintained trails to suit every ability. Try Dragon's Back for sweeping South China Sea views, or venture out to the Sai Kung peninsula, the site of HK's most pristine beaches.
Shop Luxury brand junkies will feel at home in this city, but there’s more to HK than Hermès. Visit the jade market in Yau Ma Tei, shop for curios and antiques (some precious, most not) on Cat Street, gallery hop on Hollywood Road or brave the frenetic streets of Causeway Bay, where endless street-level boutiques go shoulder to shoulder with high-rise malls and department stores.
Hire a Junk To escape Hong Kong's oppressive summer heat, charter a junk (a well-equipped party boat, basically) for a day of catered cruising.