From 2010-2012, I lived in Hong Kong working as an elementary school teacher. Anytime someone I know travels there, I always forward them the same copy-and-paste email, but haven’t – until now – put into words why I love all of these great places in Hong Kong.
If you’ve done your Hong Kong research, you’ll know that Hong Kong is made up of many islands, the largest being Hong Kong Island, and an area called Kowloon which is attached to mainland China. I’ve separated the best attractions in HK by area.
- Ten Thousand Buddhas is my #1 choice for sightseeing in HK! It is a hike up the mountain, but along the way there are these amazing statues in all sorts of positions and facial expressions. If you go to Hong Kong and you don’t go here, you’re missing out. Check it out for FREE!
- Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden is a peaceful park set amongst the tall buildings of the city. It’s a great juxtaposition of city life / country life. Bonus: it’s free!
- Wong Tai Sin Temple is the perfect place to get your fortune told! When you walk in, you’ll receive 100 sticks in a barrel. Shake the barrel while thinking about health, love life, family, etc. Write down whatever numbers fall out and take it to a fortune teller! Check out my experience here. It’s free to go to the temple, but there is a small fee for the fortune teller.
- Kowloon Walled City Park is another hidden gem amongst the urban sprawl. This tranquil space has loads of history as it used to be a densely populated, largely ungoverned (except by gangs) settlement. Yup, another free park!
- Dialogue in the Dark is one of the coolest experiences my friends and I did while living there. This workshop takes away your sense of sight by placing you in a completely dark room. You’re led by a blind guide through what life would be like living in Hong Kong as a visually impaired person. It’s not near really anything else on this list, but worth it if you have the time.
- Ladies Market is the most well-known market in Hong Kong. It’s full of all sorts of items and souvenirs for you to barter. Despite the name, it’s not just for the ladies!
- If you’re staying on Hong Kong Island, take the very-cheaply-priced Star Ferry to see the Light Show from the Kowloon side. The show happens nightly at 8pm. While the show itself isn’t the best attraction around, it does afford you fabulous views of the skyline of Hong Kong Island. Don’t forget your camera for this night – you’ll want it for the ferry ride, too!
- If hiking is your thing, Lion Rock is a massive mountain on the Kowloon side. Note: steer clear of the monkeys (not kidding, they’re everywhere).
Hong Kong Island
- Tram (or hike!) to Victoria Peak! Fondly called “The Peak”, you can choose to take the tram up and/or down. If you’re up for a steep walk, you can definitely do that, too. At the top, you’re treated to views for days.
- Hong Kong Park/Aviary and Zoological/Botanical Gardens is another of my most favorite places to go in Hong Kong. Whenever I had visitors we always went here. It’s a gem amongst the skyscrapers. Check out the aviary and primates exhibits smack dab in the middle of the city. You better believe this fantastic place is free! Dang, Hong Kong, loves free stuff!
- Hop on the trolley to glimpse a view of the whole north side of the island. It’s only 2.5HKD, so you can ride it all day if you want! The tram is the scenic, slower alternative to the MTR (trains) or buses.
- Man Mo Temple was right near my house in Hong Kong and I’d occasionally pop in for a calming experience. Giant incense coils hang from the ceiling and there are oftentimes people praying to the great Buddha statues. While you’re in my former ‘hood, Sheung Wan, galavant around to see the shops and cafes.
- Hikers, Dragon’s Back is a must in HK! Have your end destination be Shek O so you can lunch here. Another place for fabulous views of Hong Kong; this time you’ll see both the north and the south sides of the island.
- Yes, it’s commercialized, but it really is worth it to take the cable car to the Big Buddha. Instead of taking the cable car back, hop on a bus to the Tai O fishing village. It’ll be like stepping back in time. Join a boat tour of the stilted houses and look for pink dolphins!
This list is really just my favorite things to do in Hong Kong, so click on the links for more information on where to go, opening hours, how to get there, etc.
Check out my list of places to eat and drink in Hong Kong, too!
*Photo credit: my dad took many of these pictures. Thanks, Daddio!