Iconic skyline, renowned food and luscious landscapes with a sprinkle of rich history.
This place has it all.
Once you’ve touched down at the airport your first sight of Hong Kong will be on the train when travelling from Lantau Island. At first instance, travelling through Lantau really does feel like you’re on one of the sets from Jurassic Park. It’s stunning.
The main Island, however, is a completely different (but equally exciting) place – enter skyscrapers and precariously leaning bamboo scaffolding…
Even though you’re on an island, it can be a little bit intimidating to think of all the “must see” sights and attractions. It is possible to see a lot in a small space or time. But if there anything my travels have taught me, it’s that sometimes the best things aren’t to be rushed.
Here are a few of my favourite things I did whilst on the Island.
Victoria Peak –
When we visited Hong Kong it was quite hazy, so there was never really an “ideal” day to visit sight where you were supposed to get panoramic views. Regardless, we still decided to go up.
Tip – Make sure you go EARLY. We arrived at the entrance around 10am and were able to join the queue quite close to the entrance. But within 30 minutes the queue spanned across the road…
After a ride in an incredibly steep tram and many escalators, we reached the peak. Even though we couldn’t see out as far as you usually can, which was a bit of a shame, it was still amazing to be able to look down over the island and tower above the city of skyscrapers.
We waited around for about an hour in the hope a bit of midday sun might clear some of the haze that was enveloping the island. Alas, it did not.
Star Ferry –
I was told by quite a few people that I HAVE to go on the Star Ferry to cross over from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon, and that I wouldn’t have visited Hong Kong properly unless I had taken a ride on the Star. But to be honest, I don’t think it’s worth all the hype.
If you do decide to take a ride on the Ferry (after all it is synonymous with the island), you should travel from Kowloon over to Central in the evening as you can get a unique view of that well-known skyline lighting up the night sky.
Man Mo Temple –
This is one of Hong Kong’s oldest temples and has since been declared a monument, though I felt as though we were being intrusive when inside. For me, it feels difficult to combine a temple and place of worship with a tourist attraction.
Temple Street Night Market –
Even if you don’t like crowded places (if so, what are you even doing in Hong Kong in the first place), I still think you should have a peek into this market, just to see what it’s all about.
Some may argue this has been ruined over recent years due to some vendors taking advantage over the popularity of this market with tourists. Personally, I still think it is a must see whilst in Hong Kong as there is nothing else like it on the island on such a large scale.
Surrounded by open-air food stalls and street vendors selling anything and everything under the sun, you’ll have a chance to put your bargaining prowess to the test. I managed to use my new found negotiating skills to pick up some hand painted noodle bowls and a nice bag (presumably knock off but I wasn’t able to notice any difference at all). Whilst it did take me a couple of attempts to get the price I wanted, if I wasn’t happy with a price, we could wander a bit further through the stalls until we saw another vendor selling the same items!
It’s a fantastic place to spend an evening of wandering and to simply see where you end up.
Happy Valley Races –
Once a week on Wednesday evenings the crowds line up at Happy Valley Racecourse to watch and place their bets on the horses. With food and booze lining the viewing area, it’s a sure bet for a good night out and to try your luck for a big win.
In terms of my winnings, I didn’t.
Dim Sum! –
I can’t even explain how good the food was in Hong Kong – I would eat their steamed buns and dumplings every day if possible.
A Symphony of Lights –
I felt this was another anti-climax for Hong Kong. I had read about these shows online, telling me how they lit up the night sky with lasers and lights all to the background of a fancy playlist. Honestly, it didn’t really do a lot for me. The show has been put on every single night at 8pm for the last 14 years and is supposedly recognised as one of the world’s best light shows. In comparison to the images I had been beforehand, the lasers and lights looked like they lit up the whole harbour. They didn’t. Plus, it was quite different to hear the music, although that could’ve just been a tricky spot from where we were standing.
Regardless of my opinion, the show is best viewed from the Kowloon side of the island so you can take in the cities impressive skyline, as the (albeit) less impressive lights take over the city.
Bright Lights Big City –
Once darkness falls upon the city, it is lit back up again in the form of neon.
Bright lights line the streets at night and add to the charm of the city that so many people talk about.
The Big Buddha –
It was a bit of a trek for us to visit the Big Buddha in Lantau, as the cable car which usually takes visitors up the mountain was closed. Instead, we had to pile into a coach and were driven up the mountain, which I’m pretty sure took around 4 times longer than if we had been whizzed up in the cable car… Once at the top it was then another steep climb up the 268 steps to reach Po Lin, the Buddhist monastery where the huge bronzed Buddha can be found.
Though it was (yet another) hazy day, so we couldn’t see the amazing views across the island that we would have if it had been a clear day, it was still amazing to look up to the tallest bronzed Buddha statue in the world and take in our surroundings.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is, Hong Kong is a vibrant, beautiful and exciting city. There are so many things to see, do and try that it would be difficult to fit everything into a short trip.
Make the most of your time in Hong Kong without rushing here, there and everywhere. I hope to be able to return to the island sometime soon and tick off a few more things off my “to visit” list.
Let me know if there is anything I should do/visit the next time I’m in Hong Kong!