December 8, 2022

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15 Incredible Things to do in Hong Kong (Local Tips!)

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Hong Kong is one of those cities that always surprises you. It’s a sprawling, urban metropolis nestled between mountains and white sand beaches.

Its ability to embrace new technologies, whilst keeping true to its heritage and traditions is amazing.

Hong Kong harbour with tourist junk
Hong Kong Harbor with tourist junk

While many people visit Hong Kong on a stop over between the West and Australia, it’s worth sticking around for a few days (or even longer!).

There are so many things to do in Hong Kong, you might even be surprised by what you find…

The Top Things to Do in Hong Kong

1. Take the Cable Car to the Big Buddha

tourists walking up steep stairs to Tian Tan Buddha
Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha

Perhaps one of the most popular things to do in Hong Kong is to ride the Ngong Ping 360 cable car up to the Tian Tan Buddha, more famously known as The Big Buddha.

While Ngong Ping isn’t anything interesting, the Buddha is considered Hong Kong’s most iconic landmark.

Sitting pretty at the top of 236 steps, the site where this 32-meter bronze statue of the Buddha rests offers one of the best views of Hong Kong. You can see across Lantau Island and towards the South China Sea.

Be sure to check out the nearby Po Lin Monastery and its hall of 10,000 golden buddha statues.

It’s free to visit the Buddha statue and monastery, but you do need to pay for the cable car. If you’re not scared of heights, consider getting the crystal car which has a glass floor, allowing you to see the ocean and jungle below. Book your cable car ticket in advance (including the Crystal Car upgrade option)

  • Hours: 10.00am – 6.00pm (buses operate later, but the monastery and Big Buddha close at 5.30pm)
  • Address: to take the cable car, head to Ngong Ping Cable Car Tung Chung Station, Lantau Island
  • For cable car lovers: You may enjoy this virtual behind the scenes tour for a behind the scenes look at the round-the-clock work that ensures the cable car stays safe and reliable.

2. Check out the Tai O Fishing Village

row of stilted homes on river
Tai o Fishing Village

Tai O is a unique fishing village on the South West side of Lantau Island. It’s most famous for its wooden houses built on stilts, as well as being a place to get boat tours out to see the indingious pink dolphin.

The streets of Tai O are lined with shops, restaurants and market stalls selling dried seafood and handicrafts. A popular souvenir to take back from Tai O is shrimp paste, or fish maw soap (it’s apparently very good for your skin).

Top tip: You can get a bus to Tai O from Ngong Ping, so we recommend visiting here after seeing the Big Buddha.

  • Hours: 24 hours
  • Address: Tai O, Lantau Island, Hong Kong

Full Day Lantau Island Small Group Tour in Hong Kong

Visit some of Lantau Island’s most well-known and intriguing spots: Cable car to Big Buddha, village of Tai O, lunch at a UNESCO site, and a boat ride by stilt houses built right on the water. Click to learn more and reserve your tour

3. Go on a hike!

hiking trail with views on Cheung Chau Hong Kong (800 x 534)
Mini Great Wall Trail, Cheung Chau

Hong Kong is probably not the first place you think of as a hiking destination, but it actually has hundreds and hundreds of hiking trails.

The most famous hike in Hong Kong is the Lion Rock hike, which offers views over Kowloon, Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong Island. It’s a moderate hike with some difficult parts, but is by no means the hardest hike in Hong Kong.

Another popular hike is the Dragon’s Back trail. This is located on Hong Kong island and is considered the easiest hike. Its gradual incline and ending spot at Big Wave Bay means it’s a great hike to do for families.

If you want a challenging hike, consider hiking Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest peak, or hike to Sharp Peak in Sai Kung.

You can find lots of information about hikes in Hong Kong, including starting points and time frames by browsing through AllTrails. Here are 5 hiking ideas in Hong Kong.

If you’re not comfortable hiking on your own, you might like to join one of the following hiking tours.

4. Visit the Wong Tai Sin Temple

Wong Tai Sin Temple with hanging lanterns out the front
Wong Tai Sin Temple

The Wong Tai Sin Temple is a popular attraction in Hong Kong and also a working Buddhist temple and shrine.

It is dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, or the Great Immortal Wong, god of Immortality.The locals believe that “What you request is what you get” when praying at the Wong Tai Sin temple, and you’ll likely always see locals praying with incense.

The temple also has a stunning garden with koi fish ponds and bridges. Be sure to check this out when you visit.

Remember that this is not just a tourist attraction but a place of worship for the locals, so dress respectfully, don’t photograph people praying and make sure your kids don’t run around causing a ruckus.

  • Hours: 7.30am – 4.30pm daily
  • Address: Chuk Un, Hong Kong

5. See the Gardens of the Chi Lin Nunnery

yellow temple surrounded by gardens
Chi Lin Nunnery Garden

Just down the road from the Wong Tai Sin Temple is the Chi Lin Nunnery, a large Buddhist temple and garden in Diamond Hill.

It was built in 1934 as a retreat for Buddhist nuns, and then rebuilt in 1998 to resemble traditional Tang Dynasty architecture.

Today it’s a popular place to visit and see traditional Chinese manicured gardens. The garden is surrounded by bonsai, ponds and a waterfall. In the center of the pond is a golden shrine.

As you walk around the garden, you feel disconnected from the hustle and bustle of the city, and yet can still see the towering mountains to the North, and skyscrapers to the south.

Definitely don’t miss this free thing to do in Hong Kong.

  • Hours: 9.00am – 4.30pm daily
  • Address: 5 Chi Lin Dr, Sheung Yuen Leng, Hong Kong

6. Walk Past 10,000 Buddha Statues

The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a monastery located at the top of a hill, but to get there you must pass by 10,000 golden buddha statues. See laughing buddhas, smiling buddhas, angry buddhas and more.

The monastery is a bit misleading, as it’s not really a monastery as no monks live here, but it is a buddhist shrine and complex with incredible views of Sha Tin.

The main attraction of this monastery though is definitely the walkway lined with buddhas.

  • Hours: 9.00am – 5.00pm daily
  • Address: 220 Pai Tau Village, Sha Tin

7. Watch the Symphony of Lights from Tsim Sha Tsui

view of hong kong city skyline at night all lit up
Hong Kong city at night

One of the most popular things to do in Hong Kong at night is to watch the symphony of lights, a light and music show that takes place every day at 8pm.

The light show lasts for about 10-15 minutes and is best viewed from the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, overlooking the buildings on Hong Kong Island.

As the music starts, the skyline is lit up with neon lights and lasers that dance to the sound of the music.

After watching the show, make sure to wander along to Avenue of the Stars to see statues of Hong Kong’s most famous people, including Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.

You can also see the Symphony of Lights from aboard this relaxing cruise.

  • Hours: 8.00pm daily
  • Address: Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

8. Take in the views from Victoria Peak

Hong Kong skyline. View from Victoria Peak.
View from Victoria Peak at dusk

Victoria Peak is located on Hong Kong Island and is the best place to go for views, especially at sunset.

The views are the main reason to visit Victoria Peak, as aside from that, you’ll find a shopping mall with Madame Tussauds and a couple other gimmicky museums.

One thing that is certainly not a gimmick though, is the Peak Tram. This is the best way to get up and down from the Peak.

It’s a funicular railway that was built in 1888 and connects Central to Victoria Peak. It was the first funicular in Asia and covers a distance of 1.4km. Save time waiting on lines and book your ticket in advance.

Known locally as Mount Austin or Tai Ping Shan, Victoria Peak welcomes millions of visitors per year.

  • Hours: trams operate from 7.00am – midnight
  • Address: Central, Hong Kong

9. Eat some Dim Sum

top view of dim sum on table

Hong Kong is a foodie’s haven. You can find delicious food from any cuisine in Hong Kong, and it’s reasonably affordable too.

For the locals, they love dim sum. A form of dining where small dishes are shared around a table. You can have anything from steamed buns to sui mai (a meaty dumpling) and soup dumplings.

Each dish is pretty cheap, so be careful not to order too much as it can rack up the bill.

A great place to try dim sum as a tourist is Man Mo Dim Sum in Central. The staff here speak English and can help you order.

There are dim sum restaurants all over the city, but they are generally quite local and most of the time the menu isn’t in English. This is certainly one of the most authentic things to do in Hong Kong.

  • Hours: 11.00am – midnight
  • Address: Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Tour Idea: Organic Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumpling) Class+ Market walk

Join a private cooking class and market visit that teaches you the ancient art of making Xiao Long Bao—steamed dumpling typically filled with pork. Book your class here.

10. Ride the Ding Ding

pink and yellow hong kong tram on the street
Colorful Ding Dings!

The ding ding is what the locals call its iconic tram that rides from one side of Hong Kong Island to the other (named after the dinging sound it makes). The tram is the cheapest, and slowest, form of transport in Hong Kong.

We don’t recommend it if you’re in a hurry trying to get from A to B, but if you have time to kill and your legs are tired from exploring, it’s a fun attraction in Hong Kong.

The ding ding passes through Hong Kong’s most impressive skyscrapers and modern buildings. It’s been operating since 1901, when Hong Kong was much smaller in size (and shorter).

It’s a little piece of history and tradition that rides through the modern and emerging.

The ding ding operates all across Hong Kong Island and starts from 6am and runs until midnight.

11. Take the Kids to Ocean Park

rides at OCean PArk theme park with views of Hong Kong islands
The beach side roller coaster in Ocean Park Hong Kong.

If you ask any child in Hong Kong which is their favorite theme park, I would bet $10 Hong Kong Dollars they will say Ocean Park over Disneyland.

Ocean Park is a part theme park and part aquarium and zoo. At the bottom of the park, you’ll find the zoo animals. Here is where you will see the rare Giant Panda, the park’s most famous guests, as well as an aquarium housing a whale shark.

Take the train or cable car to the top of the mountain and you’ll be met with roller coasters and theme park rides. There’s also a stadium where you can watch a dolphin show.

If you’re looking for things to do in Hong Kong with kids, they will love you if you take them here.

  • Hours: 10.00am – 6.00pm daily
  • Address: Ocean Park, Aberdeen, Hong Kong

12. Spend a day on the beach

golden sand beach with no one on it
Long Ke Beach

What many people don’t know about Hong Kong is that it has some absolutely stunning beaches. The most beautiful (in my opinion) are located in the Sai Kung Country Park.

It’s a bit of a distance out of the city center and requires hiking to get to them, but it will 100% be worth the effort when you see the unspoiled nature of Tai Long Wan or Long Ke Wan Beach.

If you don’t have long to spend, you can visit one of the beaches on Hong Kong Island which are also really nice beaches, they are just a little busier because of their proximity.

Most people head to Repulse Bay, Big Wave Bay or Shek O Beach for a quick day out at the beach.

You may like this customizable adventure exploring the Sai Kung Wild Beaches

13. Visit one of the outlying islands

golden beaches with buildings and forested hills of Cheung Chau
Cheung Chau

Hong Kong is actually an archipelago of islands. Most people think of Hong Kong as just Hong Kong Island, but it’s actually made up of several islands connected by bridges and ferries.

If you have more time in Hong Kong, I highly recommend you catch a ferry over to some of the outlying islands to do a bit of hiking and exploring the rural villages.

Lamma Island is a popular beach for hiking and visiting the beaches. The town has become a bit of an expat haven on Lamma Island, so if you want somewhere more authentic, then Cheung Chau is another great shout.

Cheung Chau also has beaches, but because of its location on the South China Sea it’s not always clean. However, what I love about Cheung Chau is its only a couple of streets filled with houses that locals still live in.

This island is a popular place to visit during the Cheung Chau Bun Festival. It’s by far one of the most unique events in Hong Kong (aside from the Dragon Boat Festival), where you can see people climbing up towers of steamed buns.

The festival is held on the 8th day of the 4th Full Moon and celebrates the Buddha’s birthday.

14. Shop for Souvenirs in Ladies Market

People walking through at flea market in Hong Kong.
People at flea market in Mong Kok

Ladies Market is an attraction in Hong Kong that must not be missed. There are two sides of Hong Kong; the new, glamorous side of Hong Kong that you see on Hong Kong Island, and then the local, authentic Hong Kong where everyone lives on top of each other in Kowloon.

This is what you see around Ladies Market. Set in the bustling neighborhood of Mong Kok, this market sells everything from souvenirs to knock-off designer handbags to phone cases.

It’s also a great place to find some street food, but really it’s worth checking out to see how the locals live. Make sure to look up as you walk through the market to see the small apartments amongst flashing neon lights.

  • Hours: 4.00pm – midnight
  • Address: Tung Choi St, Mong Kok

You may like the following shopping and food tours

15. Get Your Fortune Told at Temple Street Night Market

man walking through past stalls of clothes in temple st night market
Temple Street night market in Hong Kong.

If you’re keen to try some street food in Hong Kong, then Temple Street Night Market has some excellent local restaurants where you can try fish balls and dumplings and sit out on the street.

It’s similar to Ladies Market in that it has market stalls selling bric-a-brac and souvenirs, but it’s also where you will find stall after stall of fortune tellers.

You can get your face or hands read, have your tarot cards read, or simply get told your fortune based on your date of birth.

The fortune tellers usually occupy the street near the Tin Hau temple at the top of Temple Street Market. If you’re unsure where to go, listen for the sounds of old people singing karaoke.

  • Hours: 2.00pm – 11.00pm (it’s best to come after 7.00pm as not all stalls are open early in the day)
  • Address: Temple Street, Jordan, Hong Kong

Before You Go

So there you have it, those are the best things to do in Hong Kong, and as you can see, there’s a lot to explore here.

Before you go, be sure to organize your esim card. We get ours through Airloa.

Even easier is buying an eSim card. You can get one for Hong Kong from Airola here. All you do is install the app, choose your destination and package, install the eSim and then activate it.

It’s only $5 for 1 GB data for 7 days, or $9 for 3 GB data for 30 days.

When traveling in China, you will also want a VPN, so you can access many sites typically blocked by China. Grab your VPN for China here

Hong Kong Accommodation

We have hand picked a selection of the best Hong Kong accommodation options for 3, 4,and 5-star hotels, plus apartments and hostels. Click here for our Hong Kong accommodation list.

Further Reading on China Travel

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15 Incredible Things to do in Hong Kong