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With such an iconic skyline, extraordinary gastronomy, and lively streets, Hong Kong might dethrone New York as the city that never sleeps. At least in Asia. Thre are so many marvelous things to do in Hong Kong, and for so many kinds of travelers, that sometimes it's hard to know where to start. We've put together a list of the absolutely best Hong Kong sights to give you an overview. Start with these, and you won't be disappointed.
Hong Kong entry requirements
Before we dive into the details of what to do in this vibrant city, you need to make sure that you can get in.
Passports. Hong Kong requires that all passports must be valid for at least one month after your departure.
Visas. Also, be sure to obtain the eVisa for Hong Kong before booking your trip. The Hong Kong PAR is available for citizens of eligible countries and is easy to obtain.
Airport. If you're flying to Hong Kong, the international airport's code is HKG.
Once you’ve made sure you have all the requirements to enter Hong Kong, get yourself ready to get your mind blown by this amazing city.
Top things to see in Hong Kong
Situated on the southeast coast of China, Hong Kong isn’t like any other city in Asia. its strategic location has made it into one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.
The city of Hong Kong, as we know it today, was born in 1842, when the Qing dynasty was defeated in the first Opium War and Britain took over Hong Kong Island. As a British colony, Hong Kong had an important role in international trade. In the 20th century, many refugees and immigrants contributed to making Hong Kong a manufacturing hub.
Britain left Hong Kong in 1997 and it then became a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. The city still maintains a high degree of autonomy.
Hong Kong has a lot of things to see and do, so we've listed a few essential places to visit that will give you a better sense of the city's unique history and culture. You may wish to read about them before seeing them in person on your own. Or, if you would prefer to have a local guide in Hong Kong, you might be interested in Get Your Guide's “Welcome to Hong Kong Private Tour with a Local.”
To explore Hong Kong on your own in more depth, we'd recommend buying a travel guide like this one to help you discover additional Hong Kong attractions that appeal to your interests.
Meanwhile, here's our shortlist for the absolutely best sights in Hong Kong.
1. Victoria Peak
Victoria Peak is the highest point in Hong Kong Island, at 552 meters above sea level. Often ranked as the #1 place to visit in Hong Kong, “the Peak” has been home to expensive real estate since British Colonial days. For most people, however, it is best known for its magnificent views over Victoria Harbour, and the unusual cable-car / funicular which takes you to the peak.
As it should be expected, Victoria Peak attracts many tourists thanks to the spectacular views you get from such a high point. You can reach Victoria Peak in just eight minutes by taking Hong Kong’s Peak Tram. The Peak Tram has been operating for over 100 years.
If you are not a big fan of heights, you can also go to Lions View Point Pavilion with views of a Chinese pagoda, and there you will encounter more locals.
2. Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark
To view the park’s scenery, head for High Island. High Island is located at the southeastern end of Sai Kung. Surrounded by some of the city’s most beautiful beaches and country parks, it is Hong Kong’s largest reservoir.
From here, it is easy to see the hexagonal volcanic columns along the coast, as well as the rock column wall near the East Dam of High Island Reservoir. You’ll also see other geological features such as twisted columns and a sea cave. But it's not all standing and looking. Take a walk along the High Island Geo-trail, which includes a wooden boardwalk and interpretation panels at the end of the trail.
3. Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple
During your visit to Hong Kong, you can’t miss stopping by the Wong Tai Sin Temple. The Temple is a shrine dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, also known as the Great Immortal Wong, who is worshipped by both the sick and those who wish to avoid illness.
The temple is an ensemble of halls, altars, and pavilions. Built in 1973, this Taoist temple is famed for answering the prayers of its devotees. If you want to know what your future holds, you can even find fortune tellers who occupy several tiny booths in the southeast part of the complex.
Wong Tai Sin Temple is always busy. However, it is busiest around the Chinese New Year, weekends and on Wong Tai Sin’s birthday, the 23rd of the eighth lunar month, which usually falls in September.
4. Stanley Village
We enjoyed wandering around this charming waterside neighborhood. Stanley Village is a 40-minute bus ride from Central. Set by the sea, Stanley Village is home to a string of restaurants and bars along its waterfront promenade. Stanley has been a fishing village since before the British came to Hong Kong. In fact, it was the last stand for the British troops before surrendering to the Jananese during the war in 1941.
While in the village, we highly recommend you wander through Stanley Market, as the rabbit warren of streets have a unique charm. The busy market began as a fish market, but these days people go there to get t-shirts and other tourist things.
You can also head to Murray House, a restored Victoria-era building (1844), which was moved brick by brick in order to make room for Bank of China Tower. It has been restored and it now hosts restaurants, bars, and shops. From the verandahs, you will have beautiful views of the village.
Nearby, you will find Blake Pier, a testament to the engineering of the Edwardian period. Like Murray House, it was moved here from Central District.
Stanley has an official beach as well, just a few steps away from the market and the restaurants. It is an official gazetted beach, with shark nets, life rafts and life guards on duty during the swimming season. Hong Kong's swimming season runs from April through to the end of October..
5. Lai Chi Wo
One of Hong Kong’s most biologically diverse freshwater wetlands, you can follow the stream that leads you out of the village to encounter amazing sights, Lai Chi Wo. This 400-year-old village is home to one of the oldest surviving walled villages in Hong Kong. It’s also part of Hong Kong Global Geopark and has intact woodlands.
Back in the day, Lai Chi Wo was one of the wealthiest Hakka villages in the northeastern New Territories. Over the centuries that changed, and it became a poor village with few prospects. At that time, a feng shui master suggested building 3 feng shui walls for the village to get rid of the evil spirits and keep the property safe inside the village. After the setting-up of the three walls, the village regained its prosperity as before.
You can take a 90-minute guided tour on Sundays and on public holidays. However, we advise you to register at the village square or email to reserve a spot.
6. Lantau Island, Po Lin Monastery & Big Buddha
Lantau Island is almost twice the size of Hong Kong Island and is one of the best-loved outlying islands. With the development of Ngong Ping Village, the island has become a big attraction in Hong Kong. The best way to get there is via a 25-minute ride on a Ngong Ping Cable Car, because you can enjoy a 360-degree view as you approach the island.
Po Lin Monastery is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Hong Kong, and it has become a major pilgrimage spot for local Buddhists. Founded in 1906 by three monks, Ngong Ping’s Buddhist monastery used to be known as “The Big Hut,” but it was renamed to Po Lin Monastery in 1924.
The highlight of the monastery is “Big Buddha,” the tallest seated bronze Buddha statue in the world. Measuring 30 square meters, the solemn face of the bronze statue was cast in a single piece. The pedestal contains a visitor's center, where you can appreciate a Buddha’s relic and exploroe an interesting exhibition hall.
Tip: Lantau Island is a popular excursion from Hong Kong. Visits can last anywhere from a few hours to a full day. Click here to see available tours.
What to eat in Hong Kong
Food is an essential part of any culture and if you want to get to know Hong Kong there are a few things you must try.
You might want to try the curry fish balls, because they are one of Hong Kong’s most popular street snacks. Though the balls have very little fish meat in them, they are chewy and tasty. You can get a skewer and keep exploring the city.
In Hong Kong, wonton noodles are served in a light and delicate soup that features thin and stringy egg noodles. The soup is topped with chicken-filled wonton dumplings. Mak’s Noodles is one of the best spots to try this delicious dish.
Another treat you must try during your stay is the Hong Kong-style French toast. Made with thick slices of soft milk bread, it's soaked in egg batter and slathered in condensed milk with plenty of butter. It's a delectable combination of flavor and texture.
Take a Hong Kong food tour
Consider taking a tour to explore Hong Kong's lively culinary heritage. Sample street foods, visit local markets, join a pub crawl, enjoy dinner on a cruise, the choices are endless. Four popular tours are:
- Hong Kong by Night: Harbour Cruise, Dinner on Victoria Peak, & Night Market
- Kowloon Market Walking Tour
- Hong Kong Street Food Feasting
- Hong Kong Symphony of Lights Chinese Cruise Tour with Drink
Shopping in Hong Kong
Besides exploring Hong Kong’s highlights or filling your belly with Dim Sum, Hong Kong is an ideal city to shop until you drop. If you have limited time, you may want to go to one of these key spots to buy presents for yourself or others. And feel free to haggle with street vendors. It's expected!
- Kowloon Street Shopping – a fascinating street market. If you’re looking for a bargain, head to the northern part of the road.
- The Landmark – also referred to as Central is one of the oldest and most prominent shopping malls in Hong Kong. It features brands that aren’t showcased in other cities in Asia.
- Temple Street Night Market – this popular street night market has served as a backdrop in several films. Here you can find teapots, electronic products, watched, clothing, and street food stalls.
- Harbour City – featuring a deck with views of Hong Kong, this large shopping mall has many branded boutiques and gourmet food.
Getting around Hong Kong
Not only is Hong Kong transportation affordable, fast and very efficient, it's easy. Choose from: Metro, buses, minibuses, trams, Star Ferries, Mid-Level Escalator, taxis, Uber, walking, and more.
Hong Kong is a well-connected city and transport is not as expensive as you would expect, especially compared to other large cities such as New York or London. Pay with an Octopus Card and it will be even easier to get around!