Answers from Our Experts (5)
Hong Kong is a destination that's defined by dichotomy — old vs. new, English vs. Cantonese, busy city live vs. simple traditions. With that in mind, my recommendations for the best things to see and do in Hong Kong follow similar suit.
Seek out historic landmarks such as The Big Buddha and the adjacent Po Lin Monastery.The sheer grandeur of the Big Buddha is breathtaking (as is the steep hike to the observation deck at its base, so bring your walking shoes). One of the most fascinating things about Hong Kong is the juxtaposition of modern culture and ancient relics, so just for kicks, add a stop at Hong Kong Disneyland to your itinerary.
The best place to witness the omnipresence of Hong Kong's two official languages, English and Cantonese, is one of the famous open-air markets. My personal favorite is the Temple Street Night Market, where you can haggle in English and listen to the buzz of Cantonese around you. Of course, this is a phenomenon that you'll experience at most any market, whether it's the indoor Jade Market or the Ladies' Market in Mong Kok.
To truly feel like you're in world-class metropolis, you'll have to spend a few hours amidst the skyscrapers of Admiralty, Central and Soho.These are the neighborhoods where you'll find the trendy boutiques and big-name design houses, as well as a strong representation of the city's star-rated hotels. Book a night at any one to experience Hong Kong's world-famous hospitality, and in the morning, head down to the Central docks to board a ferry to one of the outlying islands. Lamma Island is a perfect place to unwind, with its secluded beaches, casual seafood restaurants (which often let you take your pick of the day's fresh catch for your meal) and friendly village atmosphere.
Hong Kong is compact and easy to navigate, thanks to an efficient subway and tram system that is affordable and accessible (but prepare yourself for the steep inclines of the Hong Kong Island side of this megapolis). Some of the best things to see and do in Hong Kong require no money at all—people watching and taking in the vibrant sights and sounds of Hong Kong's crowded, dyanmic neighborhoods and open air markets such as the Night Market, Bird Market and Stanley market; watch the nightly laser light show (A Symphony of Lights) from the Kowloon promenade; breathe in the incense and pause to reflect at the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road; ride the Star Ferry (for a ticket price that's less than a US$1). Have tea at one of the island's classic tea houses, or dig in to dim sum at a casual restaurant or the city's best, Lung King Heen at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Indulge in a rich opera cake or fruit tart one afternoon at Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong's Cake Shop (the personal-sized cakes are each a work of art). Go to the races on a Wednesday night at Happy Valley Race Course and place your bets on the horses you think will be a winner. Visit one of the city's expert tailors and have a bespoke suit or shirt created just for you (a great one can be found at The Peninsula Hong Kong's Ascot Chang.
1. One of the nicer things to do is to go to the south side of the island. You can take a car and just drive by South Bay, Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay — that long string of beaches. A lot of people come to Hong Kong for a few days and they don’t realize that on the other side of the city it’s so leisurely and picturesque. It might sound obvious, but a lot of people do miss that, especially when they’re here for business.
2. In Kowloon, there’s the Kadoorie Hill. It’s basically a small hill of residential properties that has been developed over the last 50 years, so there’s some post-war architecture and some houses built today. A lot of it was built in the 1960s and ’70s. It’s really amazing because Hong Kong is a city with a lot of brand new buildings and high-rises. When you have a mountain of these low-rises alongside landscape, it’s really interesting.
3. There’s a restaurant called Yardbird, which is located on Bridges Street in a Bauhaus-style white building with black window frames. It’s a very urban yakitori experience. It’s quite edgy, very much encapsulating the modern spirit of Hong Kong.
1. Venture up to Victoria Peak for the best view of Hong Kong.
2. Be sure to take the Star Ferry to enjoy the views from either side of the Victoria Harbour.
3. You should enjoy a typical local Hong Kong meal in a cha chaan teng (a tea food hall).
4. I like wandering around Hollywood Road, which is dotted with antique stores. I rarely buy anything from Hollywood Road, but I like to stroll and browse the neighborhood — just to stop to have a chat with the shop owners or simply soak up the local culture and rich atmosphere.
5. You have to sample dim sum at Hong Kong’s famous Fook Lam Moon restaurant in the Wan Chai district. Fook Lam Moon serves very traditional and authentic dim sum, unlike some of its counterparts. And the quality is very consistent.
Take in the views Victoria Peak is a must, but it’s far from the only view in town. High altitude drinking and dining options abound. Active travelers should check out HK’s abundant hiking trails. And every visitor should take at least one ride across the harbor on the Star Ferry.
Visit the outlying islands On Lantau you’ll find a massive bronze Buddha, dramatic landscapes and charming villages. Head to Lamma for a laid back vibe and fresh seafood.
Explore the street The markets of Mongkok are a great place to start.
Eat, eat, eat Go for dim sum, feast on fresh fish, get a bowl of wonton noodles, sip a sweet milk tea, treat yourself to an egg tart or three, and be sure to have plenty of char siu (bbq pork).
Shop Whether you’re looking for art or antiques, fine jewelry, cheap trinkets or designer duds, Hong Kong is a consumer’s paradise.