What Should A First Timer Do In Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities in the world. Since my first visit over a decade ago, I’ve visited Hong Kong dozens of times. I’ve written in the past about my travel philosophy, and how it relates to my love of Hong Kong.

The truth is that I can’t pinpoint what exactly I love about Hong Kong. It has some energy to it which I don’t get from any other city. But my love of Hong Kong may also be nostalgic in nature, and have to do with the fact that it was the first city in Asia I ever visited. I remember that first morning I woke up in Hong Kong and marveled out at the harbor so excited to explore. While I had been to Europe dozens of times at that point, Hong Kong was a new world for me. And I loved it.

With that in mind, several friends are visiting Hong Kong for the first time in the coming weeks and asked what they should do. One friend has a layover of six hours, while the other has a layover of 24 hours.

Everyone is into different things when traveling, so I don’t want to do a list of “10 things you need to do in Hong Kong,” because I think that’s very personal. For example, I’d never voluntarily visit a museum, while I know for other people visiting museums is the highlight of their travel. On the other hand, I’m someone who could wander streets in a city endlessly just watching people, while I know something that unstructured sounds boring to others.

With that in mind, I want to approach this list a bit differently. I figured I’d talk about 10 popular things to do in Hong Kong, and share my thoughts on them. Most guide books will talk about the below activities, so I’ll share if I think they’re worthwhile or not.

1. Take the tram to Victoria Peak

Victoria Peak is located on Hong Kong Island, and has fantastic views of the harbor and Kowloon. The tram ride up to the top takes just a few minutes, and you’ll be treated to some incredible views which really put the layout of Hong Kong into perspective. Ideally go on a day when the weather is nice, but even if the weather isn’t nice, it’s still worth the trip. I highly recommend this.

Victoria-Peak-Hong-Kong

2. Watch the Symphony of Lights

The Symphony of Lights is the world’s largest permanent light and sound show, and nearly 50 buildings on both sides of the harbor participate in the lights show. It happens nightly at 8PM, with narration in English on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (but you don’t need the narration to enjoy the show, so don’t hesitate to go other nights either).

The best place from which to watch the show is the Kowloon waterfront, on the Avenue of Stars.

When I take friends to Hong Kong to watch the show, I get mixed reactions. Some say “wow, that was cheesy, what a waste of time.” Others are as giddy about it as I am.

The Symphony of Lights never gets old for me, and I watch it as often as I can. If nothing else, it’s amazing to observe thousands of people line up along the waterfront every night to watch this show.

Symphony-Of-Lights

3. Visit Stanley

A lot of people have probably heard of Stanley Market, which is probably the most well known market in Hong Kong. Stanley is about a 30 minute bus ride from Central Hong Kong, with very frequent service.

Taking the bus to Stanley is worth it for the ride alone, as you drive along the coast of Hong Kong down some tight, winding roads, in a double decker bus.

There’s also a market at Stanley, which is the reason most people visit. That’s not the reason I go, though. What I love about Stanley is that it’s where the ex pats live, so it gives you a completely different perspective on life in Hong Kong. Have a seat at the Starbucks in Stanley and you’ll witness “Real Housewives of Hong Kong” firsthand.

Stanley-Hong-Kong

4. Shop at the Ladies Market

No, this isn’t as raunchy as it sounds. Kowloon becomes even more vibrant at night, so head to Mongkok for the ladies market, which is busiest at night. There you’ll see hundreds of street vendors who will sell you everything from Hello Kitty USB flash drives to copy watches to underwear.

They’re not going to be as pushy here as in markets in some parts of China or Thailand, though if you do buy something, be ready to negotiate. A lot.

Ladies-Market-Hong-Kong

5. Eat at the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant

Tim Ho Wan is the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant. I wrote about my experience dining there a few months back.

The place is cheap — you can have a filling meal for under $10. And the dim sum is very good. Is it the best I’ve had? No. But it’s a Hong Kong institution, so expect the wait to be upwards of an hour during busy times. Almost no one there speaks English, so aside from the tourists who make it out there, the place is frequented almost exclusively by locals. And they couldn’t care less about the restaurant’s Michelin star.

So I’d say Tim Ho Wan is worth it if you have the time, but don’t expect the wait to be short, and don’t expect it to be a relaxing dining experience, as you’ll be sharing a table with strangers, and they turn tables pretty quickly.

Tim-Ho-Wan-1

6. Take the world’s longest set of escalators

Hong Kong Island is the financial center of Hong Kong, and I could walk around there for hours watching a combination of locals and ex pats all going about their business.

In the busy streets you’ll find the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system, called the Mid-Level escalators. They only move in one direction, and go with rush hour — in the mornings they go down, and in the evenings they go up.

This isn’t so much about visiting the actual escalators as it is about seeing the hustle of Hong Kong. Even if you don’t make it to the actual escalators, be sure you walk in the general area during rush hour.

Hong-Kong-Escalators

7. Take the Star Ferry at sunrise

The most common way to get between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon is on the Star Ferry, which runs every few minutes. Tens of thousands of people take it every day, and it boasts some of the best views in Hong Kong. Do this at sunrise and take in the incredible views. Best of all, the Star Ferry is cheap. It costs under $3HKD, which is under $0.50.

Hong-Kong-Sunrise

8. Visit the Big Buddha using the Ngong Ping cable car

If you just have a short layover and don’t want to head into the city, consider taking the Ngong Ping 360 cable car near the airport to the Big Buddha.

Hong-Kong

I actually think the Big Buddha as such is a bit of a tourist trap, so I don’t necessarily recommend this if you’re in Hong Kong for 24 hours and want to make the most of your time. But if you’re staying for an extended amount of time or just have a quick layover and don’t want to venture into the city, this is a fun option.

Big-Buddha

I’m sort of scared of cable cars, so my palms are sweaty every time I take the cable car. That being said, it has great views of the airport, which is the primary motivator for me to take this. There are even some glass bottom cable cars, which I end up taking every time. I’m not sure why, because they creep me out!

9. Have afternoon tea at the Peninsula

The Peninsula Hong Kong is an iconic hotel, so popping into the lobby is a must.

Peninsula-Hong-Kong-1

Afternoon tea is also popular, though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. You can’t make reservations and there’s usually quite a wait, though fortunately the line moves quickly.

My bigger issue is that afternoon tea is overrun by tourists (as you’d expect, I suppose), and isn’t really a relaxing experience. Instead it’s largely full of people with day stopovers in Hong Kong on cruises, who walk in with their travel guidebook.

The good news is that it’s not too unreasonably priced, at least compared to afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab. So if you have the time and are an afternoon tea enthusiast you might as well give it a try. Otherwise just check out the lobby, in my opinion.

Peninsula-Hong-Kong

10. Visit a fishing village

There are dozens of islands surrounding Hong Kong Island, and in most of them you’ll find a much slower pace of life, which is a nice contrast from Hong Kong Island. I’d note that some of the villages, like Tai O (located on Lantau Island), are pretty touristy, though they’re also the most accessible. So don’t expect all that authentic of an experience, even if it is still cool to see.

Hong-Kong-Fishing-Village

Bottom line

When I have just 24 hours in Hong Kong I always make it to Victoria Peak, the Symphony of Lights, the Ladies Market, and Stanley. Beyond that, I spend countless hours walking around Kowloon and Hong Kong Island just soaking in the hustle and bustle.

With more time I think some of the above activities are great options as well.

Hopefully this is a good starting point for anyone planning a trip to Hong Kong.

For fellow Hong Kong lovers, do you have any favorite activities for a first timer visiting for a limited amount of time?

Comments

  1. Thank you Luck, my partner and I just came back from my first trip Hong Kong, absolutely loved. I would add the Chin Lin Nunnery and its amazing restaurant on the list. After 4 or 5 day in the City, I really enjoyed the serenity that the place exudes. I also enjoyed the street markets on Temple Street a lot. Btw, maybe you are interested in my review of SAS Business Class on the way to Hong Kong. Best Greg http://www.businessclass.co.uk/user-review-new-business-class-cabin-sas-stockholm-hong-kong/

  2. Thanks Lucky – very helpful. Would you mind doing this for middle eastern cities you have travelled to (i.e. Doha and Dubai) thanks!

  3. To experience Hong Kong culture.
    1) Join Tai Chi exercise with senior citizens in the early morning at Victoria park

    2) Relax at Big Wave beach located at Shek O, Hong Kong

    3) Have lunch/dinner at Ritz Carlton Hotel which is in the talest building Hong Kong for view of Harbour

  4. Part of the Avenue of Stars is still blocked off by the morons who decided that a 3 year rennovation was a great idea – specifically most of the walkway in front of the IC HK.

    The Symphony of Lights is underwhelming. The Peak is awesome, Drinks at the Ozone bar @ Ritz, Helicopter tour, Star Ferry and the Big Buddha would be on my short list.

  5. I’m happy to say I’ve done every single one of your 10 suggestions! I thought the symphony of flights was very disappointing.
    Def recommend Peak Tram, star ferry, some sort of dumpling experience, escalators and ladies market. The cable car was a tourist trap and very time consuming.

  6. I’d been to multiple cities in Asia before going to Hong Kong but it turned out to be my favorite too.

    Tim Ho Wan is great especially the pork buns, but if you want the authentic experience head to Lin Heung Tea Shop where you share large tables with the locals and no one speaks any English. But they’ve seen tourists wander in and they try.

    I thought the Gold Fish Market was pretty awesome too if your friends have time. You can also do an hour ride on a star ferry boat around the harbour which really gives you time to take it all in. And then two words: Bubble Tea!

  7. I prefer afternoon tea at the Intercontinental rather than the Peninsula. The two are only a few minutes apart but the IC boasts huge floor-to-ceiling windows with a panoramic view of Victoria Harbour.

  8. Thanks for all the suggestions. In two weeks we are going to Hong Kong for 9 days. Our first time in Asia after countless times in Europe. Both nervous and excited. I have a little more than half those items on the itinerary already. I will research the rest. Thanks!

  9. In my opinion, taking bus no.15 to the Peak is wayyy better than lining up for the tram. Bus no.15 departs from Exchange Square in Central and if you sit on the right side on the upper deck of the bus, the scenery is just beautiful, you don’t get to see that on the tram plus you don’t have to wait in line which sometimes take up to an hour wait. Trust me, I’m a local HKer 😉

  10. I went to Hong Kong right before Christmas on a last minute F ticket from LAX (Cathay of course) and was there for about 36 hours. Funny thing is that I did or semi did more than half of these things. You can really see a lot of Hong Kong in a short amout of time!

  11. As for tea at the Peninsula, forget it.

    What should be an elegant experience has been ruined by the Birkenstock, cargo shorts and daypack wearing slobs who want to do something decadently colonial. Worse, the queue is along a wall just next to the lobby where tea is taken.

    They really should enforce a dress code and set up a reservation system if only for the purposes of crowd management.

  12. For the amount of time they are there, this is a good list.

    We are going this summer, our daughters first trip, and we will do many of these things.

  13. Any XO sauce dish at the Spring Moon inside the Peninsula. The sauce is made by the chefs in the restaurant so there’s no comparison with supermarket brands.

    Especially if you have only limited time to explore, get good directions before heading out. Don’t expect to get by on GPS alone because many streets are anything but walker friendly. Like Lucky’s photo, pedestrians are relegated to walkways in many places and you can’t simply cross an intersection to get to the other side as many streets are barricaded with steel railings. Instead, you may need to negotiate your way through office towers, shopping malls, and the endless open air walkways to reach your destination. So give yourself plenty of time.

  14. There a branch of Tin Ho Wan right in Hong Kong Station, so if you’re pressed for time that’s certainly an option. I’d avoid the tram to the Peak unless you really like waiting in lines, instead take Bus 15 from Exchange Square (connected to Hong Kong Station) or a taxi – the steep windy roads make the ride a lot of fun. At the Peak there are heritage trails you can walk that only take about an hour or so.

  15. Even though I’ve been going to Hong Kong for the last 23 years, I’ve still yet to do afternoon tea at the Peninsula. The High Tea at the Tiffin Lounge in the Grand Hyatt used to be awesome, but last time I went 6 years ago it had gone downhill. We now have the lunch buffet or Sunday brunch at the Kitchen at the W hotel.
    If you’re going to go to a night market, Temple Street is more interesting than the Ladies Market. Especially if you continue over the road and follow it up to the left to come across the adult toys. The Big Buddha is a good choice.
    Kevin is right and heading over to the Ritz Carlton for a drink at Ozone is a must at least once; the view is spectacular.
    If you are heading over to Stanley and want to white knuckle ride Lucky’s referencing, then make sure you take the number 6 bus. The 260, 6A and 6X all head to Stanley as well, but they go through the Aberdeen tunnel.
    Personally I prefer the Star Ferry at sunset, although if you’re there in summer and not a fan of the heat the sunrise trip is slightly better.
    If you’re a foodie then a must try are the egg tarts you can find at various stores around Prince Edward (I think, it’s been a little while since I’ve ventured out further than my folk’s place at TST or running errands in Central the last couple of years).
    For a night place to see the Symphony of Lights while having dinner, BLT Steakhouse on the ground floor at Ocean Terminal is a nice place to have it. Just be sure to make a reservation for a table outside.
    Hong Kong is a great place, there’s a good chance you’ll find something to interest you no matter what that is.

  16. Check mark on Stanley Market, Peak Tram, Cable Car/Buddha, Rush Hour Escalators, Star Ferry, Ladies Market, Symphony of Lights. On a recent trip with Dad and father in law we saw some of the temples on both Hong Kong and Kowloon side. Honestly two highlights of the trip were observing rush hour near food shops in Wan Chai and Shek-O Beach. The markets and shops on the streets and in the alleyways of Wan Chai are almost always bustling. At rush hour, the energy is so tangible and the people watching is second to none I’ve experienced. In the morning, people are in line grabbing sandwiches, dim sum, and quick bites for breakfast/lunch. In the evening people are shopping for ingredients for dinner that night. You’ll feel like Anthony Bourdain watching the fresh food being sold…and I do mean fresh! So different from the eating/grocery shopping that happens in most of the US. The beach at Shek-O is so peaceful and relaxing in stark contrast to the bustle of the city. Shek-O has a few shops and restaurants but it’s not as busy as Stanley and it’s definitely not a market. If you’re in Hong Kong during the warm season, the water here is clear and Shek-O is a great spot for a swim. Shek-O is 15-20 minutes by taxi and is a beautiful drive too. A word on transport options. Uber is uber expensive compared to taxis. Buses are super fun especially the double deckers Ben’s referring to. MTR (rail) is very organized and easy to navigate. It should be said this city is very organized and easy to navigate compared to some other “big cities”. It’s definitely not intimidating to get around.

  17. Drinks @Cafe Gray Deluxe is a must (and respect the dress-code).
    Saturday night bar-crawl in LKF is not on the list 😮

  18. I feel like Lucky is stalking me.. I was just thinking of what things I can do when I go to Hong Kong for the first proper trip (transits don’t count) yesterday – then this pops up..

    *suspicious eyes*…

  19. @Lucky…..Thats a pretty good list. I relocated to HK, live in Stanley haha. I love the plaza and the restaurants on the water front.

  20. The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens in Central give you an amazing up close look at some great wildlife, especially the birds. My favorite was stumbling across a racoon! It was a great reminder of how what’s common in my part of the world is exotic elsewhere.

    It’s also worth dipping into Chungking Mansions to wander around and grab some cheap Indian, Pakistani, or African food.

  21. Growing up in HK I’ve never quite appreciated it until I started studying in UK; London is just lacking something that makes HK so special. I’ve never enjoyed shopping at Harrods as much as Pacific Place or IFC mall per se. Even with the current political problems I’ll still consider it my beloved home 🙂
    With that said I’ve only been to Stanley once and I don’t quite understand the appeal of it.
    Anyways if there’s anyone reading this I highly recommend eating at Caprice at Four Seasons or Tosca at RitzCarlton for unparalleled food, service and views, both being Michelin starred restaurants. Another interesting culinary experience would be the famous Bo Innovation, a 3-starred restaurant, but while it may be a fun experience the food just wasn’t as great compared to the other two in my opinion. For those looking for a more budget meal or just want an authentic local experience go to the central district and look for 大排檔 (street food stalls) or 雲吞麵(wonton noodles stalls) or just go 飲茶 (dim sum) at various restaurants; with that said there are still some rather costly and Michelin starred or recommended for the latter two (wonton noodles and dim sum). For late night drinks I recommend Cafe Gray Deluxe at the Upper House or go clubbing at Lan Kwai Fong.
    To anyone reading this who are planning to go to HK, you’ll love it there :)))))

  22. Few suggestions from a former resident:
    – The tram can get super-crowded with 1-2 hour waits in the HK heat – easiest (and cheapest) way to get to the peak is actually a cab!
    – Peninsula doesn’t take reservations, and due to the number of tourists clamoring to get in, the wait can be interminable – try Cafe Grey for a much more civilized experience with wonderful harbor views from every table
    – Symphony of Lights can be a drag in the humidity – grab a seat in the lobby bar of the Grand Hyatt around 7:40 for unobstructed (and air-conditioned) views of the light show.

  23. Hike the Dragons Back trail. Take the MTR to Chai Wan and walk through the Cemetery (also cool to see) until you get to Shek O country park. The hike takes a couple hours and will end at a bus line that will take you down to Shek O beach. Best to start in the morning, then have lunch at Big Wave beach and hit the beach after lunch.

  24. I love HK too, although I have not been there nearly as often as you, Lucky. I think what makes HK so special for me is the tremendous diversity and contrasts. HK offers excellent service and good quality western hotels, along with a user-friendly and efficient public transportation and overall comfortable experience for people like me who only speak English. It also offers a big city experience and a distinct Asian culture without seeming like “Asia light” (e.g., Singapore) or too chaotic (e.g., Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok). I also love the mixture of a vibrant city with crowds and high rises and nature (parks in the cities, scenic areas on the harbor / coasts), and the ability to take boat trips to other islands.

    Of the suggestions above, I agree with several other commenters about taking a bus to the Peak (or walk). It is also great to go up there for sunset and see the views at the Peak and returning by bus at night with the city lights.

    I also find the Symphony of Lights kind of underwhelming. I have seen it twice, once from the promenade and the other time from my harbor view room at the IC Hong Kong. The view from the Lobby Bar at the IC HK would be great too, but honestly, the show itself does not seem to offer much beyond looking at the same view without the show.

    I like Stanley, as well as the parks (there is one in the heart of HK island and as well as Kowloon), for experiencing a more tranquil atmosphere within the city.

    I also like taking the ferries (Star Ferry and ferries to the other islands) to have a different experience and be on the water.

    I think trying to cover everything listed above in a layover of 24 hours or less is way too ambitious. On a layover stay, I would focus on Kowloon/HK island sites, or if someone did not want to go into the city, a quick trip from HKG to the Big Buddha/Lantau island would be another option.

  25. Going for the second time next month. Agree with you about the appeal of Hong Kong. There’s a lot to do for everyone there. I knocked off most of your list the first time there. This time I’m literally going to bum around and walk the streets, hike the peak (hope it is sunny those days) and eat as much good dim sum as possible. Using my Hilton free night certificates for the Conrad.

    Haven’t seen the lights at night yet. Going to have to figure out a good spot to watch that from with the street construction.

  26. @windchaser777: “if you continue over the road and follow it up to the left to come across the adult toys. The Big Buddha is a good choice.”

    Uhh… There’s an adult toy called the Big Buddha??

  27. Helpful post and comments, thanks.
    We are going a few days in summer. First time for my wife and I have only been once for 1,5 days. So this will be a good list for the start.

  28. I just propsed to my GF at Victoria Peak, during sunset on Lugard Road! Nobody there at that specific time, it was great 🙂

  29. Hong Kong and Paris are my two favorite cities in the world to vacation in. While I go to Paris for a week once a year, I have been to Hong Kong about 12 times in the past 4 years – this is because of my frequent trips to Asia and I make a point to spend 2-3 nights there every time I can. There is so much to do and see there.
    For those who have never been to Hong Kong:
    1. I speak no Chinese whatsoever, but it is super easy to get around and do things.
    2. I avoid going there in July and August when the weather can get super humid and hot – just miserable weather and I do not recommend it.
    3. Don’t walk around in shorts and sandals (except at the beaches) unless you want to stand out. I did that once a long time ago and felt really awkward.

    For those who have been to HK multiple times, here is something fun that I like to do:
    During rush hour at night, get on the packed MTR Underground train. Go to Mongkok and take the D1 Exit. During the height of rush hour you will be caught up in a very orderly and literally river of humanity moving to exit the station. When you get out of the underground you will get one of the most disorienting and surreal experiences ever. As soon as you reach ground level you will be in the midst of a sea of people going in every direction, and all around you are tall buildings with countless lights and colors (a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds) – all in a narrow area. I did this by accident once and it was so surreal and disorienting. I thought it was a lot of fun and a very unusual experience.
    I understand that not everyone will like this (if you don’t then stay away from any underground station in any city during rush hour). Can you tell that I love crowds? I also love complete serenity too by the way, depending on my mood.:)

  30. I am going next year for the first time and was just starting my trip planning. Thanks Lucky and everyone else for all the helpful advice!

  31. I love Hong Kong. I spend every Christmas there, and try to get there a couple of other times each year.

    Christmas Eve along Nathan Road in Kowloon is amazing. Nathan Road is shut down through Tsim Sha Tsui up to about Jordan. At least a half million people crowd the road, parading, singing, dancing, and just having a great time.

    Walking Nathan Road from Tsim Sha Tsui up to Mongkok is a great walk for people watching, and its a pretty easy 5km.

    Eat some street food. Look for a noodle shop with no Anglo faces and a menu only in Cantonese. Have a waffle and an almond cookie from one of the streetside bakeries. Get some fresh roasted meat from a little shop hanging ducks, geese, chicken, and sides of pork in the window.

    Take the hour-long ferry ride to Macau for the day. Or go at night and see casinos that make Las Vegas look tame.

    Walk through the many beautiful public parks in Central.

    And if you want to cut the line taking the tram up to the peak in Central, buy the combo ticket with Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Even if you don’t want to see the museum, for about $10 more than the regular ticket, you can bypass the 1-2 hour line and go right to the front.

    I also love Hong Kong Disneyland (yes, I’m a big kid at heart). It is much cheaper than Disney in the US (just went up to about US$70/ticket) and the food in the park is much less what you’d pay in Anaheim or Orlando. Take the subway and you get to ride in a train that has Mickey Mouse ear-shaped windows.

  32. We were just there for the first time in November. On our last day, the concierge at the Conrad lounge recommended we go to Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery. It’s amazing to see such beautiful scenery in the middle of all the high rises. It was fantastic and eating at a restaurant behind a waterfall was pretty cool, too. There seemed to be far fewer Western tourists in this area.

  33. Definitely second dinner or drinks at the Ritz-Carlton. My wife and I were lucky enough to be treated by some friends of ours to celebrate our wedding last time we were passing through.

    We have a long weekend their in July for my wife’s high school reunion and I can’t wait.

  34. Damn Lucky! I wish you had posted this last weekend – I just got home from a quick RTW journey and overnighted in Hong Kong (in order to position for my first time in Cathay 1st!). It was a trip of firsts, because it was my first time in Emirates 1st, and my first time being the only passenger in 1st class!

    Keep up all the great posts, I certainly appreciate them.

    theBOAT

  35. That’s a great list Lucky. I’ve done half of those things on my trips to Hong Kong. There’s so much to explore so I’m looking forward to the next time.

  36. Well, I’m used to being out of step. I went to HK last Fall, because of Lucky’s raves. Unquestionably the worst trip I’ve ever had. To me, it had all the disadvantages of NYC and none of the advantages. To start, cabs don’t take cc, so after an hour in cab line at the airport I find this out. Then, cabbie speaks no English and had no clue where the Kowloon Hyatt was (in spite of nodding enthusiastically at the taxi captain who told him where to go.) So he got lost and finally,tired of driving around in Friday night traffic, he dumped me out on the street with my two large suitcases, about 1km from the hotel (it was 1130 pm, I’d left home 26 hours earlier, it was humid and about 85 degrees, and I was totally lost with no clue where I was).
    The next few days were not an improvement on that experience. I would some up all my time in HK with 3 things: “copy watch??” “Copy purse?? And, constantly having to bargai n for EVERYTHING, which I detest. (Seriously, for all of you who go to Kowloon often: are you not accosted and followed by the “copy watch”. hawkers all day? I frequently had 2-3 harassing me at once, and if I yelled at them they just laughed and kept on, like a game. It drove me mad.)

  37. I was so looking forward to HKG. Sadly after waiting for 2 months, my wife never got the visa. So I am still flying on CX to HKG with a transfer to Bangkok. Anyone has suggestions for BKK, would be great. I guess HKG will have to wait for next time.

  38. I will be in HKG for about 33 hours (mid night to 9am) the following day. So 1 full day.
    What would be the best location to stay convenience wise?
    As a points person prefer Hyatt or ihg points usage.
    Thanks

  39. From someone who has visited Hong Kong countless times and now lives here, it is always hard to generalize the must-do activities. Lucky’s list is pretty good and ticks the boxes for 75% of the visitors.

    To echo what Adam wrote above, one MUST do a hike in Hong Kong. Dragons Back is easy and accessible and probably one of the best urban hikes in the world, but if you had more time, then head out to the Sai Kung country parks and visit the High Island Dam, Hoi Ha Marine Reserve, or camp overnight at one of the beaches. Did you know you can kayak at Hoi Ha for less than USD 25 per person?

    Hong Kong also has some of the cheapest bicycle rental shops in the developed world (full day for USD 7-10), as far as I can tell from my own random searches, and there are some great rides you can take along Tolo Harbour. Pick up in Tai Po, Ma On Shan or Tai Mei Tuk.

    I would avoid the Peak Tram like the plague. The lines are ridiculously long during peak periods, and the ride itself is boring. You can literally WALK UP to the Peak in less time during peak season. If you are taking the Mid Levels escalator anyway, then half of the uphill work is already done for you. Unless you get good weather, I find the Peak view underwhelming.

    If you go to the Big Buddha then you should have some vegetarian snacks at the bottom cafe and then continue onwards to Tai O. That’s a full day. If you have time, you can walk back along the northern Lantau coast from Tai O to the airport in about three to four hours.

    I love the Star Ferry, again best in good weather. It is the only MUST DO in my opinion. Just as a ferry ride is a must in Istanbul or Sydney.

    There are so many places with good food that it’s pointless to highlight one over another. Just follow your nose and preferred cuisine.

    The street markets in Kowloon are crowded but these aren’t exclusively tourist ghettos (locals shop there too) so they’re better than Stanley, which itself is not worth the effort. Having said that, the street markets sell mostly crap including cheap souvenirs. For electronics, check out Ap Liu street in Sham Shui Po, right off the MTR station, but buying stuff off Amazon is simply easier.

  40. Oh yeah, another must do is take a TRAM from Sheung Wan to Quarry Bay or the end of the line at Shau Kei Wan (from where you can grab a taxi to the starting point of the Dragon’s Back trail).

    It is the cheapest sightseeing tour in the world, passing by many of Hong Kong’s iconic neighborhoods, streetscapes and buildings.

  41. I was just in HK back in January. Buy a BIG BUS pass for 24 or 48 hours. Great value for money, since it includes some of the big attractions, inc the tram to Victoria Peak, a one hour harbour tour and a separate crossing, access to the observation tower in the Ritz Carlton building and many other things that I cannot remember. Also some line jumping at the tram and others.

    What many are not aware of. You can also travel to mainland China for up to 5 days in Shenzhen which is less than an hour away by the HK subway. Very nice if you wish to experience a bit of China, short on time and could not be bothered to go through their visa process. Now I do believe this 5 day visa waiver (available at the train station in Shenzhen upon arrival) is not valid for US Passport holders…so double check for your country. We popped over there for just a few hours very quick processing at the border for arrivals and departures.

  42. My favorite: Hike the Dragon’s Back trail to Shek O and grab some Thai food at Shek O Thai. It’s a pretty easy hike, and Shek O is just gorgeous.

  43. Welcome to Hong Kong guys 🙂
    Glad a lot of you enjoyed HK; sorry to hear about your disappointment mbh. Next time you are here (if you would ever come again), let us (the locals) know, and we will make sure you will have a good time here! Ditto to Greg’s suggestion, Chi Lin Nunnery is fantastic, go there at night! And make sure you reserve a table in the vegetarian restaurant inside for dinner, which is located under a man-made waterfall. Another tip of taking the star ferry in the summer; usually there is an enclosed area in the front, and back tip of the top deck which is air-conditioned 🙂

  44. Going to HKG for the first time in two and a half weeks. Only will be there for a quick stop over on the way to Dubai, 1.5 days both going and coming. Very excited! First time in Asia.

  45. +Bradley Wong Ritz carlton is nowhere near the tallest building in HK! Trust me I’m a local hker. also yeah don’t bother waiting in line for the tram the to the peak the bus is better.

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