Hong Kong’s popularity with tourists is increasing year on year. Make sure you’re ahead of the crowd by following these tips on how to get the most out of visiting some of the most popular sights. I’ll also let you know what to avoid so you don’t waste any precious time in Hong Kong!
What to See
1 | The Peak
Source of most of the iconic shots of HK Harbor, the Peak gives you unparalleled views of the city, day or night.
Do it better: make sure it’s a crystal-clear day or night, otherwise your trip will be in vain. Avoid the long queue by getting a taxi up (approx. 60 HKD/8 USD from central), then take the tram down for the full experience. The restaurants up there are a little pricier, but perfect for a special occasion or cocktails with a view.
2 | The Big Buddha
King of Ngong Ping, the Big Buddha stands at 34 meters high, nestled in the HK mountains with 268 steps to reach him.
Do it better: book online to avoid a massive queue, and only buy a single ticket. Once you’ve done the cable car and visited Big Buddha, make your way to the bus park. Take a bus down to Tai O for a couple of dollars. Not only is the 30-minute coach journey down beautiful, you’ll also see a whole other side of HK when you get to the traditional fishing village on stilts. Once you’re done, you can get a bus from Tai O straight back to the Tung Chung MTR station, avoiding the cable car queues.
3 | Dumplings at Din Tai Fung
It wouldn’t be Hong Kong without dim sum. For an authentic but accessible dumpling experience head to one of the Din Tai Fung branches (Nathan Road and Causeway Bay).
Do it better: don’t miss the classic xiao long bao — traditional steamed dumplings with meat and a clear broth inside the dumpling. To eat them without spurting the hot juices everywhere, let them cool a little first, and eat them from your spoon.
4 | Stanley Market
A seaside pier and promenade, it’s home to a parade of restaurants, but mostly international chains like pizza express or various pubs. If you need a dose of home, Stanley is a safe bet, otherwise it’s a bit sterile.
Do it better: earn those fish and chips by hiking there! Head out early morning and tackle the Twin Peaks if you’re feeling brave, or the Tai Tam Reservoir hike. Both will take you between two to three hours and bring you out a short bus ride from Stanley.
What to Skip in Hong Kong
There’s so much to see in Hong Kong, it can be difficult to know where to start. Ideally, you’d be able to stay for a while and experience its many faces, but if you’re pushed for time, here’s the things to put to the bottom of the to do list:
1 | The Light Show
It took me almost two years to get round to watching the light show, and it was as rubbish as I’d been told. In fact, if it weren’t for the huge crowd of people with cameras, I probably wouldn’t have known I was watching it. If you must go, try and get near a speaker so you can hear the music they’re attempting to match the display to. Better yet, jump aboard the aqua luna junk and watch from the water with a drink in your hand.
2 | The Avenue of Stars
An almost hilariously bad parody of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, it is packed full of the handprints of actors that you’ve never even heard of. Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan break up the monotony, but it’s hard work in the unsheltered heat for little reward.
3 | Macau
If you’re a keen gambler or managed to get tickets to the water show it’s worth visiting Macau, but otherwise the place doesn’t really live up to the price of the ferry ticket for me. The much-advertised ‘Portuguese element’ was Disneyfied, and overcrowded.