Let's travel to: Hong Kong
It’s hard to put into words how incredibly amazing Hong Kong is. You’ll instantly fall in love with Hong Kong’s thriving energy and upbeat atmosphere. Living there for four months, I found myself constantly wanting to be out and about, surrounding myself in all the liveliness and soaking up all the energy. Aside from having one of the world’s most breathtaking skylines, my favourite thing about this city is the wonderful diversity it has to offer. You have areas where you feel like you’re in a more extravagant version of New York City, while at times you’ll find yourself trekking atop beautiful high mountains and peaks. Hong Kong has something for everyone, and although there are endless things to do in this vibrant city, allow yourself to get lost aimlessly through the streets to really get in touch with the local culture and people.
SIGHTS TO SEE/THINGS TO DO:
Hiking & Sight-seeing:
- Lantau Island: Take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car up to Lantau Island, where you’ll be high up in the clouds, overlooking a beautiful scenic and peaceful view. This is the perfect day trip and a nice little getaway from the loud and hectic city. You’ll instantly feel refreshed and rejuvenated as you step onto the island, surrounded by fresh air and a naturally preserved environment. Make sure to check out the Ngong Ping Village and the Po Lin Monastery Plaza. Most importantly, take a trek up (268 steps, to be precise) towards the world’s largest outdoor bronze statue – The Big Buddha. Feeling a little adventurous and up for a challenge? Not many tourists know the existence of this hidden gem, but there is a beautiful natural INFINITY POOL on this island. The Tai O Lantau infinity pool is a little difficult to get to and requires a bit of a hike, but 100% worth the visit.
- Lion’s Rock: The Lion’s Rock hike offers a magnificent panoramic view of Kowloon and the Hong Kong Island Harbourfront. However, this hike is no walk in the park...I would suggest beginners to stay away!! Just kidding, but this was definitely one of the more challenging and tiring hikes I took on in Hong Kong. The majority of this hike is a steep inclined hill, with many stairs to climb. The hike will probably take you 3-4 hours, from the MTR station and back. Don’t feel discouraged though, I was accompanied by elderly seniors and even some young children along the way, so anyone can conquer it. If you’re looking for some good exercise and a rewarding view at the end, the Lion’s Rock hike is what you’re looking for.
- Dragon’s Back: Ah, the Dragon’s back trail. This hike was my absolute favourite trail, providing a beautiful scenic route and a window of views of the city, mountains, and sea. It’s been claimed as the best urban hike in Asia by TIME magazine, which comes as no surprise at all to me. Keep in mind that this hike is very climate dependent, as sometimes the humidity in Hong Kong can make the air extremely smoggy and detriment the clarity of the skyline. The hike consists of many ascending and descending peaks, so if you ever feel like you’re climbing up an endless hill; have no fear because the end is probably near and you’ll be heading downwards in no time! Towards the end, you’ll arrive at Shek O peak where you’ll be blown away by stunning views of the Shek O village and Big Wave Bay beach. After the 3-4 hour, reward yourself with a nice and refreshing dip at the Big Wave Bay beach.
- Sai Wan Beach: Enjoy nice walks along the beach and stargazing? Plan yourself a weekend getaway to Sai Wan Beach and camp overnight on a beautiful and mesmerizing island. I’m not exaggerating when I say the Sai Wan Beach trail left me speechless. The village even offers overnight rentals for tents so don’t even bother bringing one! Explore the island yourself and you’ll find a hidden area where many tourists and locals like to go cliff jumping. If you’re brave enough, take a splash into the Sheung Luk Stream off an 8-meter cliff (the trick is to jump without hesitation, or you’ll chicken out like I did the first 3 attempts…heh).
- Stanley Market: Stanley Market is one of those must-go tourist attractions. It’s one of the oldest fishing villages in Hong Kong, and is extremely popular for its wide range of markets offering anything from cool antique knick knacks to fancy ballroom gowns. This is also the perfect place to buy souvenirs for your friends and family! Aside from the shopping, you can check out the Stanley beach, the military cemetery, the Murray House, and several historical temples.
- Victoria Peak: Being atop of Victoria Peak will give you the perfect snapshot image of Hong Kong’s city skyline. You’ll be amazed by the tall-standing skyscrapers covering the land contrasted perfectly with surrounding mountains. This is the highest point on Hong Kong Island, and is the ideal destination to witness a breath-taking sunset or sunrise glistening ahead. Ride the Peak Tram to the very top to fully enjoy the visual experience, and visit the Sky Terrace 428 and observation deck to capture the best views.
- Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade & Avenue of Stars: If I only had one day in Hong Kong, I would immediately hop off the plane and go straight to the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. Throughout the 4 months, this place constantly drew me in as the energetic atmosphere pulled me back over ten times. It’s an experience you have to see for yourself, but truly honours the spectacular skyline and harbour view of Hong Kong Island. And of course, catch “The Symphony of Lights” (the world’s largest permanent light and sound show) for that cherry on top, starting every night at 8.
- Happy Valley Racecourse: Horse racing is HUGE in Hong Kong, and you’ll be surprised at how popular and how passionate the locals are about betting on horses. The racing season runs from September to July, and races take place on Wednesday nights. I would recommend checking these events out; the high-energy and crazy cheering will instantly bring you excitement. Many tourists like to have their own little fun and blindly bet on horses with their friends (I usually choose the one with the coolest name, hehe). If you’re lucky, you’ll go home with some extra bucks!
- Rent a Junk Boat: You’ve probably seen the movies where a group of rich teenagers have their own private boat party on a luxurious white yacht. Well, this isn’t an uncommon thing amongst the youth in Hong Kong. Junk Boat parties are extremely popular and a ton of fun. Gather a group of friends, rent one of these bad boys, split the cost, BYOB and you’re all set. It’s very affordable and definitely worth it for larger group outings.
- Ride the Star Ferry: The Star Ferry is a convenient and cheap way to get back and forth from Hong Kong Island to the Kowloon side. It’s an efficient form of transportation, and offers great views of the harbour.
- Ocean Park: For those of you who are kids at heart, you’ll love this place! Ocean Park is Hong Kong’s most popular amusement park, offering over 40 attractions and rides. Also, pandas. PANDAS!!!
- Wong Tai Sin Temple: Like I said, the diversity in Hong Kong is incredible. Along with scenic views and busy city streets, you can also visit some historic and cultural temples. Apparently, the temple claims to “make every wish come true upon request”, so I’d say it’s worth the visit.
- Mong Kok: Visit Mong Kok on Saturday and Sunday Nights, you won’t regret it. The main streets are cleared for several street performers and vendors, and the energy and upbeat atmosphere is amazing. People usually think the locals of Hong Kong are shy, but Mong Kok on the weekends…you’ll think otherwise.
Tip: When you’re shopping at markets – bargain, bargain, bargain! Seriously, I would go as far as asking for 60-70% off of items. Just be stern, and you’ll eventually get a good haggle.
- Mong Kok Ladies Market – perfect place for souvenirs, fake designer brands, cool knick knacks, bags, accessories, cosmetics, household products
- Temple Street Night Market – strong local atmosphere, shop for tea ware, electronic, watches, antiques, lots of street food
- Apliu Street Flea Market – known for affordable new and second-hand electronic devices, laptop cases, cameras, audio cables, power tools, batteries, etc.
- Hollywood Road – three words: art, antiques, cocktails
- Causeway Bay – upscale shopping district, you’ll find your luxury and designer brands here, over 230 stores
HONG KONG NIGHTLIFE:
Head’s up: You can basically purchase alcohol in any convenience store or grocery store in Hong Kong. Your best friend: 7/11. You’ll find a 7/11 at every corner at every street in HK, and these are popular pre-drink destinations. Oh, and you can casually chug back a beer on the streets. Of course, don’t do anything dumb and don’t be a nuisance to the public, you know the drill.
- Lan Kwai Fong: LKF! Where do I even begin with LKF. Well for one, bar-hopping couldn’t be any easier. LKF is literally a long strip of over 90 bars and restaurants, and is known as Hong Kong’s most popular hot spot for night life. You’ll find anything from fancy and elegant wine bars to pubs that offer crazy jello shots and mixed drinks. Ou, and you’ll never believe it but FREE drinks for ladies on Thursday nights. Thursday night is ladies night- Every. Thursday. Here are some bars/clubs to check out:
- Boujis: High end, classy bar, free champagne for ladies on Wednesday nights
- Linq: Located right beside Boujis, this is a gay bar where guys get free mixed vodka drinks on Wednesday nights
- (If you’re going out with a group of girls and guys, boujis + linq is the perfect combination because everyone gets free drinks!)
- Red bar: Rooftop bar, awesome place to hold pre-drinks because you can bring your own drinks!
- Ozone: World’s highest sky bar, great views but relatively expensive drinks
- Fly: Very cool retro club, plays a lot of hip-hop and electronic music (my personal favourite hehe)
- Bungalow: Plays mostly EDM music but extremely fun atmosphere
- Tonic: Go-to place for all you hip-hop lovers out there, and free drinks on Thursdays for ladies
- Wooloomooloo: Fancy and high-class resto bar, perfect for any GNO’s, high priced drinks, great city view
- Wan Chai: Wan Chai is another must-go destination for a ton of bars and clubs, and people have coined the term “Wan Chai Wednesdays” since it’s extremely live and popular on Wednesday nights. Also, it’s ladies night on Wednesdays at Wan Chai, so more free drinks, yay!!
- Check out Carnegies and Typhoon
PLACES TO EAT:
Head’s up: Sharing a table in Hong Kong is very common, since a lot of crowded places expect you to eat and leave as fast as you can. Also, don’t be offended by the lack of customer service – remember, everything in Hong Kong is very quick and fast paced!
- Tim Ho Wan
- Din Tai Fun
- One Dim Sum
- Tsui wah – open 24/7
- Tai Cheong Bakery
- Kam Wah Café – THE BEST pineapple buns
- Kau Kee Beef Brisket Noodle
- Teawood – Taiwainese cuisine
- Mr. Wongs- $60 HKD for all you can eat & all you can drink beers – great for big groups
Soho Street: Home to many exotic and international restaurants, serving anything from Italian, to Mediterranean, to Japanese cuisine.
List by: Christine Xin
Christine spent four months studying abroad in Hong Kong, at the City University of Hong Kong in the fall of 2015. This amazing opportunity to study abroad and travel throughout Southeast Asia to 8 different countries allowed her to take on new experiences and meet awesome people along the way. She is eager to venture off and see more of the world!
Take a look through her eyes on Instagram: @christinexxin