Having studied and lived in Hong Kong for 6 months. I did my fair share of exploring this incredibly eclectic city. As a result I have compiled a list of places and things I recommend you visiting during your stay. I've made it quite diverse so that there is something for everyone to do.
1. Hike! Hike! Hike!
I'm sure whoever you mention to that you're visiting Hong Kong will tell you hikes are must do and they're not wrong. My 3rd day in Hong Kong I was out there hiking Dragon's Back.
Pictured: Sign of Dragon's Back trail
This was quite a fun hike and definitely one I recommend as it isn't too demanding but you get excellent views and there's a beach at the end of it. So after your hard work you can reward yourself with a dip in the ocean.
It is easy to access due to it being on Hong Kong Island, where you'll need to catch the MTR to Shau Kei Wan Station (use exit A3) and then take the bus from bus stop 9 in the bus station to bus stop Tei Wan, Dragon’s Back. There will always be groups of people doing the same trail so you'll never get lost.
As well as this trail there are numerous other ones such as Lions Rock (Yes, it's called that because the mountain resembles the head of a lion.) and the views are pretty spectacular as you are quite high up.
Eagles Nest Nature Trail where you're able to spot monkeys. This trail is also quite tame in comparison to the first two and there are plenty others that are also not too strenuous. For more monkeys Kam Shan Country Park Trail is also a must.
Pictured: Eagles Nest Nature Trail Entrance
There is Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung that is home to four beautiful beaches and a waterfall. This is can be a long trail, so I would recommend getting the speed boat or bus back once you reach the other end.
2. Its all about the views
If views are your thing, then head to these places to get the best views of Hong Kong. From cityscapes to beaches, Hong Kong has views of it all and here are some of my favourites.
Victoria Peak is one of the most popular attractions mainly due to the views which can seen from there. To access this attraction, you can get the Peak Tram, but bear in mind due to its popularity there are often long queues to get on the tram (though this is dependent on the time of day).
I'm unsure of what the journey is like in the tram as when I visited the peak it was during a tour so we went by coach. If you would rather not queue for the tram you can catch a bus either the 15 from Central Pier 5 (frequency 7-15 mins) or the 15B from Wanchai Convention Centre (frequency 20 mins)
Pictured: View of City from Victoria Peak
Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, along the harbour side this gives you a close up of the scale of which the sky scrapes of hong kong are really like. Both in the day and at night this backdrop makes for great views.
Ham Tim Wan Beach, Sai Kung, as mentioned before in the hike recommendations. This area is great for the clear sea water and soft sand and has great landscapes of the sea and mountains
Pictured: Left to Right. Ham Tin Wan Beach and Highland Reservoir
3. Tian Tan Buddha
One of the most talked about attractions is the Tian Tan Buddha (or Big Buddha) which has free entry. This is located on Lantau Island and can be accessed by Ngong ping 360 cable car or bus. Unfortunately, during my stay, the cable cars were not running, so we took the bus which was an interesting journey to say the least but best fit for those who don't do well with heights.
Both the Ngong Ping 360 cable car and the no. 23 bus can be accessed from Tung Chung centre only a short walk from Tung Chung MTR. The cable car is a 25-minute journey and the bus journey is approximately 50 mins. Whilst the cable car gets you there in half the time, it is to note that it is considerably more expensive. So the choice is yours.
Pictured: Big Buddha on Lantau Island
This Buddha is so big you can see it from quite a distance and its exciting spotting it before you've even gotten there it builds up the intrigue. Once you've arrived either from being on the cable car or bus you have a short walk to the entrance of the Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery.
On this brief walk you come into contact with cattle wandering around whom I loved and made sure I snapped a picture. Then the tough part, the steps. You've got a climb of 268 steps to reach the top where you come face to face with the Buddha and take it all in. The surrounding area is divine mountain terrain as well as the monastery and its colourful murals makes for some excellent photographs.
Pictured: View of Po Lin Monastery and surrounding area from top of Big Buddha
4. Day trips to nearby islands
A day trip to a nearby Island should be on your list. It allows you a short break from the hustle and bustle of the city itself, but welcomes a whole new lease of excitement as it is like a mini break within a holiday.
Cheung Chau, If you love seafood then you'll love the restaurants this island has to offer. Only 10 kilometres southwest from hong kong island on a short(ish) ferry ride. Ferries leave from Central Pier 5 and you have your choice of the fast or slow one. The fast being, a 40-minute journey and the slow one an hour. Ferries depart roughly every 30 minutes.
Here are the Central - Cheung Chau and Cheung Chau - Central ferry schedules.
Pictured: View from Ferry on the way to Cheung Chau
There are many activities and places of interest to see on this island. You can rent bicycles and tricycles from many of the harbourside shops that you can use to transport yourself around the island.
Whilst walking around don't miss out on the tiny alleys which provide shops full of souvenirs, trinkets and food! There is a Tun Wan beach on the east side of the island which is ideal to relax on a hot sunny day.
Macau, previously a Portuguese territory reflects a mixture of cultural influences from. There are two options to get to Macau from Hong Kong. You can drive or get the ferry.
Pictured: View from viewing point in Macau
Getting the ferry can be somewhat confusing however ensuring you've planned in a dance which terminal you want to depart will save you any stress.
The ferries to Macau depart from both Kowloon and Hong Kong Island and the journey takes around one hour.
Cotai Waterjet offers ferry trips to Macau from the Hong Kong ferry terminal.
If you choose to drive to Macau, you can do so via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.
There is a bridge shuttle bus service, which operates between the Hong Kong and Macau border control points. This operates 24 hours a day at intervals of between and 5 and 30 minutes.
Pictured: View from viewing point in Macau
Now once you've made it to Macau its time to explore this place, that was once under the rule of Portuguese. Below is a list of sights to see some that I managed to get others I didn't.
Ruins of St Paul (UNESCO), is one of the most popular attractions. St Pauls church was considered the greatest church in Macau. This site stands adjacent to the Macau Museum and Mount Fortress.
Senado square. The heart of Old Macau is a paved town square. The paving mirrors the movement of waves. It offers shops, restaurants and buildings of interest.
Pictured: Tiles in Senado Square
Try a Portuguese custard tart if you haven't already had one in Hong Kong.
Marvel at the casinos lighting the nights sky after sunset. During the day they are not much to behold but by night they've undergone a transformation that draws in everyone.
Pictured: Casinos in Macau at night
Tai O, Fishing Village is on the western side of Lantau Island. This was a place on my list that I had to visit as it was like nothing I had ever seen before. Whilst you are there you can take a boat ride which goes around the river. On here they will tell you about the history of Tai O.
Pictured: Welcome sign in Tai O
The bountiful market has many interesting foods and craft stalls. Expect seafood, Tai O was one of Hong Kong's most important fishing ports for over 200 years. Try the Chinese Sata Andagi (aka Sugar puff) it is along the lines of a donut and very tasty.
Pictured: Tai O market
Tai O had once been famous for its Salt industry, hence why you will notice many salty egg yolk snacks, whilst walking around the island.
Pictured: Salty egg yolks and fish
The stilt village (The houses are called Pang Uks.) The only ones I had come across in HK and this is what drew me in. If you want to know more about the history, there are combination tours with Tai O and The big buddha. We were fortunate enough to bump into a small tour that welcomed us to join as they were going around.
Pictured: Stilt houses in Tai O, with mountains
If you are after seeing the rare pink dolphins (like I was) I hope you have better luck than me. There are two options a boat ride which is your best shot of seeing them or the hiking trail which takes you to a viewing point above the sea where you can attempt to spot them. I opted for the hike but to my dismay I didn't see any dolphins.
Pictured: Pang Uks in Tai O
There are two options on how to get Tai O, and you can decide which will fit your day better.
From Central, take the ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo, then Bus No. 1 to Tai O.
From Kowloon, the easiest route is the MTR to Tung Chung Station, then Bus No. 11 to Tai O.
5. Did someone say shopping!
If you love shopping Hong Kong boasts countless malls and markets fit for everyones needs.
You have the Stanley Market great for purchasing various goods, including Chinese-style works of art, silk fabric, antiques. Located in south Hong Kong Island, take bus 40 (from Exit B at Causeway Bay Station)
There is Ap Liu Street electronics market in Sham Shui Po this is a flea market for brand new or second-hand electronic equipments.
The ladies market (for everything fashion) in Mong Kok is Hong Kong’s Most Famous Street Market. To get there take Exit E2 from Mong Kok MTR and then walk along Nelson Street for two blocks.
There are hundreds of malls, so I'll only list a few as you'll likely come across plenty whilst you're out doing your daily activities. There is Times Square mall in Causeway Bay.
Festival Walk in Kowloon, closest MTR is Kowloon Tong (this was my local mall and I was there way too often.)
Pictured: Festival Walk Mall
IFC mall on Hong Kong Island closest MTR is Central. This is also great for an evening out as there is a roof terrace which is home to a number of bars/restaurants and great views of Hong Kong's cityscape.
6. Food! food! food!
Try the street food, and I promise there isn't a shortage. Some of my personal favourites were the Egg waffles, Curry fish balls, Mochi, Cheong fun and the Pineapple buns, well any sort of bun really.
I suggest doing a food tour as this provides to you the chance to try a broad array of foods. Mainly sourced from highly rated locations and some are even Michelin starred, this isn't something you'd want to miss.
Pictured: Egg waffle and Coconut Juice Stand in Mong Kok
Pictured: Mango Mochi
Pictured: Egg Waffle and various sweet treat balls
7. Party in LKF Lan Kwai Fong/ Drink in Ned Kelly's Last Stand
If you love a good night out, head down to LKF as there's always a crowd and its often great vibes. There are plenty of clubs in the vicinity with all genres of music. You're bound to find somewhere you like.
Pictured: Outside of Ned Kelly's
If you are after a more chilled out night out, head to Ned Kelly's. It is the oldest bar in HK and has live Jazz music. Make sure to be early as it is reasonably small and is extremely popular meaning seats are taken very quickly.
Pictured: Live band playing in Ned Kelly's
8. A day out for the kids
Relive your childhood by visiting Hong Kong Disneyland, which is located up on Lantau Island. You can use the MTR to take you to Sunny Bay Station, from there you can get the Disneyland resort line. Entry to the park ranges from HK$639 (£66) to HK$938 (£96) for adults 12-64 and for children 3-11 HK$475 (£49) to HK$774 (£79) depending on the package you are after.
I'd advise to have a look around for a discount, China Travel Service offer HK$50-100 off of regular ticket prices. They have a counter at Hong Kong Airport as well as a number of branches in downtown Hong Kong. Another option is Klook an online reseller that you can purchase passes off of for roughly 10% or 15% off.
Pictured: Entrance sign to Disneyland
Pictured: Mickey Mouse waffle at Disneyland
If Disneyland isn't your thing head to Ocean Park, it is a marine mammal park, oceanarium and animal theme amusement park. IT is located in Wong Chuk Hang and Nam Long Shan in the Southern District of Hong Kong. The price for entry is HK$498 for adults 12+ and HK$249 for children 3-11. This is cheapest they offer, however there are other pass choices which are at different price points. Remember to check out Klook for a discount!
If by chance, you have a rainy day during your trip. You can head to Ryze trampoline park. This is a fun activity for children, from as young as 6 and is enjoyable for adults as well. The trampoline park is located in Quarry Bay. For more information and pricing click here.
9. Fitness classes
Whilst I was out there I took the opportunity to do Yoga classes by the harbour and Tai Chi classes in the park. They were free when I was there, sadly they no longer offer that. However, I would still recommend trying to attend a Tai Chi class if you have the spare time as it is very rewarding. You are able to sign up for a class with Hong Kong's Cultural Centre otherwise having a little nosy on facebook could be beneficial.
10. Be a tourist and just wander around
There are so many fascinating places and things to do. A lot of the time you come across those by chance, so wander about the populous streets and just take it in your stride. Maybe jump on a Hop on, Hop off Big Bus Tour and see Hong Kong in a relaxed way. There are three possible routes, so you can do them all or decide which routes have locations that sound suited to you.