Hong Kong is a fantastic city that offers a lot of fun activities for travelers. Whether you are interested in food (they have some of the best), shopping (lots of different options), the great outdoors (it is surrounded by mountains), or history (they have a free museum!) there is something for everyone to enjoy here! Check out my list of 10 things to do below, including some that are free!
1. Victoria Peak
A visit to Victoria Peak is probably one of the most popular things to do in Hong Kong. The views from the top are breathtaking with the awesome Hong Kong skyline and impressive number of skyscrapers reaching up toward the sky. On the opposite side of the peak, you can see views of many islands dotting the sea surrounding the island. Absolutely beautiful and definitely worth a trip up!
Cost: Free! If you are interested in visiting the Sky Terrace 428 (highest 360 viewing platform in the city), you can buy a combo ticket along with a ride up the Peak Tram (see #2). There are also places at the peak to take pictures of the view for free.
Insider Tip: The peak is a popular place to visit during the day but especially at sunset. If seeing the sunset is a must for you, than be prepared for crowds. I went in the late afternoon and headed down in time to catch the light show at the harbour (see #6). Also check the weather before you head up since clear days are the best for the view!
2. Peak Tram
This historical funicular that opened in 1888 carries tourists up to the top of Victoria’s Peak in Hong Kong. The tram is a fun way to ride up to the top on some very steep parts of the hill – at times you feel like you are going almost vertically up! The tram has endured the test of time and is a great attraction to combine with a visit to Victoria Peak. For more on the history of the Peak Tram click here.
Cost: There are two types of tickets for the Peak Tram – one for just the ride and one that includes entrance to the Sky Terrace 428, the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong, where I took my pictures above. See the chart below for exact pricing. I did a combo ticket and enjoyed the unparalleled views from the terrace.
Insider Tip: If you want to avoid long wait times go earlier in the day, otherwise you could be waiting at least an hour or more! People love this attraction! If a long wait is not worth it to you, simply take a taxi up to the top and take the tram back down (the lines were much shorter at the top).
3. Lan Kwai Fong
This area on Hong Kong Island is a great place to party the night away! The small section of hilly streets has bars, restaurants and clubs that line both sides of the street, with some stretching back into small alleys. While the area caters to the expat community, you can bump into tourists and locals here as well.
Cost: Free to walk around, only pay for drinks. Between 7-10 there are many happy hour deals.
Insider Tip: It is hard for me to say which bar in the area is the best – I did a lot of bar hopping while looking for the best deals. The ‘best’ bar really depends on what you are looking for. Because the area is not big, it is worth walking around to take in the various vibes and to find the best drink deals first.
4. Hong Kong Museum of History
Before visiting Hong Kong, I did not know much about the history of the area or its development into becoming a part of China. The free Hong Kong Museum of History tells the natural history of the environment as well as the culture that blossomed in the area. It begins 400 million years ago and proceeds through the historical development up to the reunification with China in 1997.
Insider Tip: The museum features 8 galleries over two floors. I advise 2 hours minimum to go through them all, though you may need more if you include time to watch a few theatre shows and interactive exhibits (3 – 4 hours)
5. Nan Lian Garden
Located in the Diamond Hill area of Hong Kong, this classical Chinese Garden designed in the Tang-dynasty style is a quiet place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. With hills, small ponds, waterfalls, rocks, trees and wooden structures, the garden is a gorgeous example of Chinese gardens. It was a joint project with Chi Lin Nunnery located just opposite; make sure to cross the bridge to view the stunning temple structures and buildings of the nunnery during your visit.
Insider Tip: The garden is open for visitors between 7:00 am – 9:00 pm. There is a restaurant and a small cafe if you get hungry or thirsty, as well as restroom facilities. Easily accessible from the MTR.
6. Symphony of Lights
The skyline of Hong Kong is impressive both during the day and at night but becomes even more dazzling once the nightly Symphony of Lights begins. Named the ‘World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show’ by the Guinness World Records, the show is definitely worth seeing. Find a spot to take in the lights, lasers and synchronized music along the waterfront; you won’t be disappointed! Shows begin at 8:00 pm and last about 15 minutes.
Insider Tip: The best places to watch the light show is in front of the Hong Kong Cultural Center. You can also catch the show from Hong Kong Island or from a boat in the harbour! Check rates with companies at the many docks along the water. Live narration of the show is available in three languages: English on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; Mandarin on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; and Cantonese on Sundays.
7. Star Ferry
A quick and easy way to get between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon (on the mainland) is via Star Ferry. This is a fun and cheap way to cross the harbour while also taking in the views of the skyline on both sides of the water. If you plan on heading to Hong Kong Island, I highly recommend taking the short ferry ride across!
Cost: See table below for ticket pricing on the Star Ferry ferry across Victoria Harbour.
Insider Tip: Check the Star Ferry website for time tables between Kowloon and Central Pier or Wan Chai Pier on Hong Kong Island. The ferries run very frequently. They also have Harbour Tours available.
8. Hong Kong Disneyland
Who wouldn’t want to take some time during a trip to Hong Kong to visit one of the happiest places on Earth? My birthday fell on a day during the middle of my trip to Hong Kong and I couldn’t think of a better place to spent it than Disneyland. I have visited Disney World in Florida several times and was curious to see how it compared. It turned out to be a magical day filled with classic rides I have grown to love and new ones! Hong Kong Disneyland recently opened the Ironman Experience and is the only Disney park to have Toy Story Land! So fun!
Cost: A standard one-day day pass is HK$589 (~$75) for adults, HK$419 for children (~$54) and HK$100 for seniors (~$13). They also have 2 day tickets and meal vouchers available online. Check their website for the latest deals and packages.
Insider Tip: Plan to get to the park right when it opens (10:00 am) to maximize your time. Visit the rides that generally have the longest lines first so you can avoid long wait times. Another option is to buy a fast pass if the park is particularly busy during your visit. The Hong Kong Disneyland app is a great way to see how long the wait is for rides and where to stop for food and entertainment throughout the day! I highly recommend downloading it!
9. Eat like a local
There are lots of amazing restaurants and foods to try in Hong Kong. Below is just a small sampling of some of the delights you can discover there!
- Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan – Visiting Hong Kong without having Dim Sum at least once would honestly be a waste of a visit in my opinion. In my short stay, I had time to visit the famous Tim Ho Wan’s, one of the most affordable Michelin Star restaurants – the meal did not disappoint! When you enter, each guest is given a list of menu items and you simply check off what you would like before returning it to a waiter or waitress who then bring you all of the items. Make sure to try the BBQ pork buns! Yum!
- Pineapple Buns and Egg Tarts at Kam Yah Bakery – When looking up foods to try in Hong Kong, I came upon Kam Yah Bakery on several lists. I went one morning for breakfast to try their famous pineapple buns (the name is a bit of a misnomer as there is no pineapple in these sweet treats) and egg tarts. Service was fast and the food delicious – an amazing start to my day!
- Hong Kong Waffle – A trip to Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without indulging in a Hong Kong waffle! This is a common street food found throughout the city. While a plain waffle is common, you can also find variations with lots of different toppings on them. So good!
- Mr. Wongs – This local spot was recommend by a fellow traveler and I am so glad I checked it out! It was filled with locals (my boyfriend and I were the only westerners in sight) but the owners were so sweet and happy to practice their English with us. We had a huge meal that we couldn’t even finish and left stuffed and fully satisfied. All of the food we got was ordered for us by one of the owners – so honestly couldn’t say definitively what we even had. All I know was that every bite was delicious! Go here!
10. Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha)
Located on one of the many islands that make up the Hong Kong area, the Big Buddha is a large bronze statue at the Po Lin Monastery that faces North and is said to look over the Chinese people. There are 268 steps that lead to the base of the state with great views of the surrounding mountains and sea. Make sure to visit the monastery opposite the Buddha and take in the serenity of the area.
Cost: Aside from the cost of transportation, this is a free attraction!
Insider Tip: Easily accessible from the MTR – go to Tung Chung stop and either take the Ngong Ping cable car or a bus and then walk a short ways. There is also lots of local food around if you get hungry.
- MTR – One of the easiest ways to get around Hong Kong is using the train system known as the MTR. The train connects to several islands, runs from the airport and even to Disneyland! If you plan on using the train often, it is worth investing in an Octopus Card. Ask at the ticket counter about different options. I got a 24 hour tourist card with unlimited rides since I was only there a few days; I felt it was definitely worth the money. If you will be in Hong Kong for longer, you can buy a card and add money to it.
- Taxi – Hong Kong has some of the cutest taxi’s I have ever seen! The old school-looking cars are common around the city. Don’t worry about asking them to turn on the meter – they do it automatically. Rounding up the fare is a nice way to tip your driver.
- Bus – In addition to the train, Hong Kong has a good bus system as well. On Hong Kong Island, they even have buses that run on cables! A fun way to see the sights!
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.