10 Things To Do In Hong Kong
We planned our Hong Kong trip in the ‘spur of the moment’. One of our very dear friends has been in Hong Kong for the last 4 years and he promised it was going to be a good idea to visit him. Well, he was darn right!
Thanks to him, we got an inside view of the place – with tons of info that a regular tourist may not get. We lived in his beautiful house at Kennedy Town, very close to the Kennedy Town MTR station – the lifeline of Hong Kong!
Your Hong Kong trip will involve visiting Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Lantau Island. These 3 are connected through the metro service, MTR (Mass Transit Railway).
If you go through any itinerary for Hong Kong, it will tell you about these things for sure:
1. The Victoria Peak Tram
An old school tram that almost goes vertical up to the Victoria peak! It is an exceptionally crowded activity – we had to stand in line for a long time before we got on. On our way back, we took a cab though. You could take a bus as well. Or just wait in line for the tram again. The Victoria Peak gives a great view of the entire city.
2. Madame Tussauds
Once you go to the top in the Peak Tram, you can visit this museum. It’s not too big but if you haven’t seen a Madame Tussauds anywhere else – this is good fun!
3. Visit Kowloon at Night
It’s a shopper’s paradise! High-end brands to night-market knick-knacks – Kowloon has it all.
4. Watch Symphony Of Lights at Victoria Harbour
It’s always crowded! And yet there’s place for every one to get a great view. The show is spectacular although you might find it boring after 5 mins. But what the heck! It tarts every day at sharp 8 pm.
5. Star Ferry
After watching the show, you can go back from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island by a ferry!
6. Visit Lantau Island for Big Buddha
Take the MTR to Tung Chung station and then right outside you will find a bus to Ngong Ping. That’s where Big Buddha is. The place has lots of restaurants, souvenir shops, etc.
When we went there, the weather was exceptionally nice. We were looking around to find the Big Buddha and couldn’t see it until the clouds slowly moved away. It seemed like a curtain raised on the Buddha in slow motion. It was beautiful.
A picture clicked by me of Tian Tan Buddha was published in Hindustan Times’s supplement, HT Café, Mumbai.
7. The Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
From Ngong Ping, you can come back to Tung Chung MTR station by a 5.7 km long cable car that goes over a breathtakingly spectacular view of hills on one side and South China Sea on the other. It takes almost 25 mins to complete the journey and it’s absolutely quiet up there. Some may find it boring after a point but I could hardly get over the misty view – in fact we even went into the clouds. You can also get an aerial view of Hong Kong airport during this ride.
8. Visit Tai O Fishing Village, Lantau Island
From Tung Chung, you can also take a bus to Tai O. It’s a long drive but the village is one of its kind. Take a boat ride for HK $25 each through the conglomerate of stilt houses. All the houses are inter-connected and just to look at them is a an exciting experience.
It’s a small village which offers some very unique street food options. Try the spicy fish balls right next to the boat ride station. Oh yumm! And if you are feeling too adventurous, there’s so much more to eat.
9. Eat Street Food at Graham Street
It’s hard to find a place to sit at the open-street restaurants at Graham Street. But there are some regular restaurants alongside where you can find place. The Chinese food is nothing like the Chinese food we know in India. We were lucky we were being hosted by our friend who would tell us what to eat and what to order – it can be quite confusing and over-whelming otherwise!
10. Visit Lan Kwai Fong for a club night (or just a couple of beers)
It’s an experience! Even if you are not into parties, this is a must visit for one night. Full of happy people (mostly expats) just chilling and pub hopping. You could be walking on the streets of Lan Kwai Fong or LKF with a beer in your hand and it would seem like just the most normal thing to do! The energy is here is contagious if you just be!
I had an exceptionally good time here! Sorry no photos to show you how it was – I was so excited I didn’t bother clicking! 🙂
Apart from these regular must-dos, here are my extra recommendations which are quite off-beat and do not usually make it to most Hong Kong itineraries:
11. Visit PMQ
To define it simply, it’s a government funded mall which houses only local designers, handicrafts, accessories, pop up art, et al. They have over 100 creative stores in the same building and just walking by and looking at these things will give you a deep insight into Hong Kong’s culture and art. It is situated in Aberdeen and offers a lot more than meets the eye. You can easily spend half a day if you enjoy creativity – which you will see here in abundance. Also – a great place to buy souvenirs. You can find out all about it here: http://www.pmq.org.hk/
12. Visit Stanley
It’s at the south coast of Hong Kong island and the drive leading to this place is beautiful. This is where the ultra rich residents live. It’s got street shops which offer clothes, accessories, artifacts, paintings, souvenirs, etc. It has an array of restaurants with a great view. Also in the vicinity is a temple.
13. Eat at a local Yum cha
Literally, it means to have tea. These a type of restaurants which serve tea and Chinese finger food / snack dishes. These are mostly meat dishes which could be steamed or fried. These places will usually have menus in Chinese only, so that may be a problem if you don’t have a local host. The menus could be in form of leaflets with a list of all the dishes and you have to simply tick on what you want. There will be lots of hot Chinese tea to go with all the variety of food that you can try here. It’s a must for those who enjoy meat and want to explore the Hong Kong cuisine closely. The place also usually serves freshly baked cake slices which are only mildly sweet.
14. Sampan Ride, Aberdeen
Aberdeen is the largest town in Hong Kong Island and is also situated on the island’s South Coast. A Sampan Ride is the best way to explore the very crowded Aberdeen harbour.
You can also see a floating restaurant in the middle of the water body!
Recommendations, tips, etc:
- You could book yourself a Hop-On-Hop-Off from Big Bus tours near Central Station. Their buses have an open air seating arrangement which makes the tour absolutely amazing, especially if the weather is nice. Their tours cover a lot of things in Hong Kong Island, Stanley and Kowloon.
- It’s best to explore Lantau on your own.
- The public transport system is amazing and you can easily do without taking a cab during your entire trip. Just get an Octopus Card which you can recharge in every 7-Eleven. In fact, you can shop in these 7-Eleven outlets with this card so that makes it extremely convenient. If you had to take a bus, this card would work there as well.
- There is no concept of giving tips at restaurants, etc so don’t bother about it!
- There are clean public toilets almost every where – so no panicking for that!
- Restaurants are not known for their hospitality so expect the staff to be curt – but they mean no harm. Just don’t test their patience.
- You can spare a day for Macau. I will write about that in another post.
- You can even go to Ocean Park and Disney Land (in Lantau Island). We went to Ocean Park and skipped Disney Land.