Hong Kong is a fast-paced, dynamic city, with an intriguing blend of Chinese tradition, hints of Western flavour and bucket-loads of modern Asian flair. Here at Flying Fluskey, we are totally hooked! If you are planning to visit Hong Kong, you may need some help planning your Hong Kong itinerary. Here are 42 great things to add to a Hong Kong bucket list (broken into sections to make things a little easier).
Essential Hong Kong Bucket List – The Things you MUST Hong Kong Itinerary.
1. Take to the Water on the Star Ferry – Between Central Star Ferry Pier and Kowloon Star Ferry Pier
Costing between $2.20HKD and $3.70HKD (less than 50p) this commuter ferry across the harbour has become an absolute essential Hong Kong experience, and for good reason. Not only is it lovely to be out on the water, but the view of the Hong Kong skyline reflected in the water is beautiful.
2. Ride the Peak Tram – 33 Garden Road
For over 130 years, these trolley cars have been plying the track between Central and the top of Victoria Peak (more about The Peak later). The cars are still the old wooden trams and are full of charm. Hang on tight if you are standing as the tracks get excitingly steep partway up this funicular.
3. Take a Breather in Hong Kong Park – Between Central and Admiralty
A visit to Hong Kong Park is the easiest way to escape the madness of the city that surrounds it. Hong Kong Park has some rather steep climbs but it is packed with fun things to do. Whether you are wandering through the bird aviary, enjoying the view from the vantage point tower or checking out the plants in the conservatory, you can spend sometime letting your mind relax.
4. Check out the Skyline from the Avenue of Stars and Symphony of Lights -Kowloon Waterfront
On Kowloon’s waterfront is Hong Kong’s homage to its huge film-making industry. You’ll find statues and stars similar to those in Los Angeles. It is nice for a day time stroll but is even better at night.
Along the promenade is the best spot to watch The Symphony of Lights. This nightly light and music show sees the whole skyline flashing and pulsing to a prerecorded soundtrack pumped through loudspeakers. It’s wonderfully cheesy but slightly addictive.
5. Take a Trip up the Mid-level Escalators
A series of escalators may not be the most obvious tourist draw, but as your ascend the steep streets of Central, towards Lang Kwai Fong, you’ll be glad you took them.
Traditional Hong Kong – A Taste of China in Hong Kong
6. Intense Incense at Man Mo Temple – 124-126 Hollywood Road
The scent of incense is almost overpowering as you step into this Chinese temple, built in 1847. Spirals of incense hang from the ceiling and burn for days on end. The Man Mo temple was constructed for the worship of Man, God of Literature and Mo, God of War.
7. Relax in Hollywood Road Park – Hollywood Road
Just across the road from Man Mo Temple, this is a small but perfectly formed Chinese garden. Beautiful little bridges cross the pond, and locals sit reading newspapers or playing games of chess. Fish slowly swim through the pools and turtles line the edges. Look out for the foot massage corner where the brave walk across slightly pointy stones. There are handrails if you need to lighten your tread.
8. Pick up Ingredients at Graham Street Market – 14 Gage St
If you have never been to a wet market, and are wondering just what a wet market is, then get over to Graham Street. Although it is much smaller than it used to be, there is still a small collection of fruit, vegetable and fish market stalls, all set on a surprisingly steep street near Central. Locals have been shopping here for centuries as the city grew up around it.
9. Goggle at Chinese Medicine – Around Sheung Wan
This one isn’t for the squeamish. Take a wander through Sheung Wan and make sure you stop to examine the shop windows along the way. This the place to come for exotic Chinese remedies from the pretty innocuous ginseng, to the toe-curling deer antlers.
Hong Kong Food and Drink Experiences – How to Fill your Belly in Hong Kong
10. Stuff Yourself On Dim Sum
We could go on at length about where to eat dim sum in Hong Kong (in fact, we have in our blog post 7 Top Spots for Dim Sum in Hong Kong). Throughout the city, giant steamers open with a whoosh of steam, revealing the precious parcels within. Whilst traditionally eaten until around 17:00 in the afternoon (like at Lin Heung tea house), there are plenty of places that serve them all evening (like the bargain Michelin star restaurant Tim Ho Wan).
11. Construct the Perfect Roast Duck Pancakes at Spring Deer – 42 Mody Rd
Whilst many think of roast duck as a Beijing speciality, the Cantonese have also mastered the art of a fine roast meat. There are countless places to enjoy this dish, but our favourite is Spring Deer. Here, thick juicy slices of duck are carved at your table before you wrap them in delicate pancakes smothered in sauce and paired with thin strips of spring onion and cucumber. Think you’ve tried duck pancakes at home? These will blow those out of the water!
12. Gobble Roast Goose at Kam’s – 226 Hennessy Rd
Another roast bird that is worth queuing for (and yes, you will probably have to queue). The enigmatic owner of this eatery will demand to know what you want to eat and if you are lucky, a glistening goose will be plonked in front of you within in minutes. This is a very rich, very fatty and VERY tasty treat. Crispy skin sliding off tender meat….nom! Oh, and it has a Michelin star!
Be prepared to share tables at this small, popular joint.
14. Street-side Seafood at Temple Street Night Market
Temple Market is Hong Kong’s most famous. Where plastic toys yip, spin and beep to the tune of a million small speakers. Halfway along the market you will find a collection of seafood restaurants serving noodles, rice and seafood by weight. Grab a plastic stool and tuck in. We love the seafood noodles, the blend of sticky sauce, fresh fish and ribbon noodles satisfies ALL the cravings!
15. Join the Crowds Chomping Bubble Waffles – Mammy Pancake, 12 Carnarvon Rd
Hong Kong loves a good food trend, and it has started a fair few too. Egg waffles (otherwise known as bubble waffles) have taken the world by storm. With their cute bobbly texture and insta-worthy toppings, it’s no wonder.
The batter for these waffles is always a little sweet, containing custard powder, evaporated milk and a little sugar along with the eggs and flour. That is why you will find them smothered in all things sweet! From vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce to more exotic ingredients like sago and green tea, the sturdy bubbles hold their ingredients in a reassuringly stiff cone.
16. Take Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula Hotel – Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
There are many fancy experiences to be had here but for something quintessentially nostalgic then it just has to be afternoon tea. This began as a very English pastime and so it travelled across to the British colony of Hong Kong. When the Peninsular was opened in 1928, it became a staple here.
Expect a selection of tasty teas, finger sandwiches, mini pastries and cakes, and of course a scone with clotted cream and jam. Tea is served in the afternoon (usually between 14:00 and 18:00). It’ll cost you around 400HKD, with a slight discount if you are ordering as a couple.
17. Sip Cocktails in the Cloud at One of Hong Kong’s Rooftop Bars
Getting away from it all doesn’t have to mean a park, instead, you can head up. Hong Kong loves rooftop bars, and with so many tall buildings, it’s no wonder.
A fine example is Wooloomooloo Prime (100 Nathan Road, Level 21, The ONE, Tsum Sha Tsui). This is actually a steakhouse but converts to a bar later on. From its lofty perch, you can take in stunning views of the Victoria Harbour and Happy Valley. In the day time, Wet Deck at the W Hotel (1 Austin Road, Kowloon) has a fabulous infinity pool up on its 76th floor. You’ll pay 650HKD for a spot but the views are killer!
18. Party All Night at Lan Kwai Fong
Known by its initials LKF, this is the centre of nightlife if you want to dance, drink and be deviant into the wee hours. Bars open up onto the streets where revellers chat, dance and trip over on the steep streets. You’ll find a range of nightlife spots from a rooftop joint at the California Tower to plenty of cheap and cheerful bars.
Shopping Experiences in Hong Kong – Where to Spend Your Money in Hong Kong
19. Buy Tat, Toys and T-Shirts at Temple Street Night Market
This is a great market for those things you’ve forgotten to bring on holiday. We have bought sunglasses, phone cables, speakers and if we have children, I’m sure we would have noisy plastic toys from here too.
20. Stroll the Markets of Kowloon
Cute dresses abound in the Ladies market. Here you can also pick up lovely accessories ranging from the super tacky, to the surprisingly nice. Fake handbags, glittering costume jewellery and rack after rack of sunglasses can be yours.
Further north is the goldfish market, so-called due to the little orange fish that hang in plastic bags. This is an interesting street full of pet shops and stalls, but do remember that there are different standards of animal welfare so some people may find it a little upsetting.
Around the corner is the flower market, selling blooms from all over the world. Last time we passed, there was a fantastic selection of tulips from the Netherlands.
Finally, the bird market is another place for Hong Kongers to purchase pets. The birds here make a wonderful racket and some bird owners bring their pet birds and hang up the cages for the day, giving their feathered friends a chance to chat.
21. Let’s Go to the Mall Everybody!
If it is hot and humid, or raining outside, you’ll be glad of the fancy, air-conditioned malls dotted through Hong Kong. Throughout the city, you’ll find cheap shopping centres with shops selling phone cases etc but we like to wander the big malls.
IFC Mall (8 Finance Street, Central) has a lovely mix of super high end retail, a few high street familiars, a cinema and a branch of Tim Ho Wan (yum)! It is located above Hong Kong Station and Central on the MTR, so it’s convenient for the airport and the rest of Hong Kong.
22. Shop Til You Drop in Causeway Bay
Causeway Bay is the best place to shop for young, trendy brands. From the huge Times Square Mall, to the sizeable Forever 21 and the array of independent shops that surround them, if you need cute clothes in a hurry, then this is your best bet. Shops here stay open until around midnight so you really can shop til you drop!
23. Browse the Boutiques of Western Market – Des Voeux Rd Central, Sheung Wan
This is a cute slice of English life in Sheung Wan. There is a even a red telephone box inside this classic Georgian building (built 1906).
The Western Market building housed a food market until the late 1980’s when it was renovated. There are lots of tiny fabric shops to explore on the first floor but they can be a little pricey.
24. Run the Gauntlet on Nathan Road
Oh Nathan Road….
Nathan Road is the main artery that runs through Kowloon. It has some wonderful shopping opportunities with some serious high end shops around the south end and large high street brands further north. However, walk up its wide pavements and you’ll be offered cheap watches, “real” Rolex’s, iPhones, cameras and bargain tailored suits.
Although I don’t doubt the tailors are good and just touring for business, I do doubt the quality of the Rolex’s in your dodgy shop. Don’t be taken in by people out to make a quick buck off naive tourists. Your new watch, no matter how genuine it looks, is more than likely going to stop ticking the day after you leave HK.
25. Pick Up Some Cheap Electronics – Mongkok and Stanley Street
Just off Nathan Road is the Mecca of electronics in Hong Kong. Although it is not as cheap as it once was, you’ll still find some good bargains here, especially around Chinese New Year when deals are bountiful.
Hong Kong With Kids – Hong Kong Attractions for Big and Small Kids Alike
26. Home Grown Fun in Ocean Park – Aberdeen
Ocean Park is Hong Kong’s very own theme park. Here you’ll find some slightly rickety large roller coasters, a good selection of smaller rides for little ones, a small zoo (with pandas!) and even a sizeable aquarium. The park is split into two sections and the way between them is a cable car with some gorgeous views across the bay.
Ocean Park is particularly fantastic for Halloween. You can read all about our experience at the Ocean Park Halloween Fest here.
27. Hong Kong Disneyland – Lantau Island
If you prefer your theme parks with big ears and a squeaky voice then head over to Lantau for Hong Kong Disneyland. This is smaller than many other Disney parks but does have the new and exciting Toy Story Land. You’ll see all ages here enjoying some Disney kitsch and at least you know what you’re getting.
28. Get Some Edutainment at Hong Kong Museums – Mostly in Kowloon
Hong Kong has some cool museums. We particularly enjoyed strapping into a harness to experience walking on the moon in the Hong Kong Space Museum.
However, our overall winner has to be the Hong Kong Museum of History and its excellent Hong Kong Story exhibit. This documents Hong Kong through the ages from its geological roots to the end of English rule. The story is told through great models, huge reconstructions, interactive exhibits and interesting, informative commentary. We were enjoying it so much that we paid to come again the following day to finish it off.
There are too many museums to go into so here is a handy list from The Culture Trip.
29. Jump Aboard the Hong Kong Observation Wheel – 33 Man Kwong Street
When we first saw the HKOW, we thought it was just there temporarily but years later and it is still fixture of the reclaimed land in front of Central.
Hong Kong’s Best Views – Where to see Hong Kong from Above
30. Victoria Peak
Known as “The Peak” Victoria Peak is the prominence that rises skyward and creates a green backdrop to the Hong Kong skyline. The easiest way to reach the summit, is to do it as the rich folk used to when Hong Kong was a British outpost. Take the tram and it’ll whisk you to the top. You can also get the bus which will you save you quite a few HKD (the number 15 goes from Central).
At the top of The Peak you will find:
- The Hong Kong Trail – This path winds its way around the circumference of Victoria Peak. If you time your walk right, you’ll get to see the amazing view over the city by day, see the sunset over the water and then see the skyline light up.
- The Peak Tower and Sky Terrace 428 – You can pay extra to head up a few floors more and get a 360° view but we prefer the walk.
- Madame Tussaud’s Hong Kong – This is the premier Asian branch of this worldwide waxworks museum.
- Peak Shopping Village – There aren’t really any unique shops in this mini mall so unless the weather takes a turn for the worse, there isn’t much reason to spend time in here.
31. Get High at OZONE, The Highest Bar in the World – 118/F International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road
OK, not high per se, but tipsy! I know I have mentioned rooftop bars but this one deserves a special mention. Up on the 118th floor of the Ritz-Carlton, the views over Victoria Harbour are staggering (literally if you get a touch of vertigo). The prices are almost as sky-high as the bar but come for a cocktail or two and drink in the view as well. We suggest trying the Dragon’s Back cocktail with sharp raspberry topped with basil yuzu foam…yummy!
33. In the Thick of It in Hong Kong Monetary Authority Museum – 55/F, 2 International Finance Centre
More entertaining than it sounds, this huge building has a funky little museum on the 55th floor. Although this isn’t above all of the soaring skyscrapers around it, it gives a view that is usually only reserved for the Hong Kong residents who work in these megaliths. Plus, the museum is free and quite interesting.
Around Hong Kong Island – Getting Out of Central
34. Feel the Attraction of Repulse Bay
Located on the Southern side of Hong Kong island, Repulse Bay beats to a different rhythm. There is a great swathe of golden sand, Repulse Bay Beach, that ends in the brightly coloured Tin Hau Temple. This temple is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea and you can visit for free. Cross the longevity bridge to get a few extra years in the bank, and try to toss a coin into the giant fishes mouth.
Check out the building (not pictured below) with the hole in it. Feng Shui dictates that there must be a route for the dragon to travel down from the hills to the beach resulting in this famous architectural quirk.
35. Shop by the Sea in Stanley
Stanley, located on Hong Kong island’s southern peninsular, is a big tourist draw. It is a hot spot for shopping with a small but famous market selling nik-naks, tableware and embroidered fabrics. You won’t find the plastic toys and tat here that are a feature of Temple Street Night Market.
For more familiar, high street brands head to Murray House, a beautifully restored barracks from 1844. This was relocated from Central to Stanley in the 2000’s and has a great selection of shops and restaurants. Grab a drink and watch the waves.
36. Place Your Bets at Happy Valley – Wong Nai Chung Road
Happy Valley is a high end residential area east of Causeway Bay with a slightly dubious past. The name comes from the common nickname given to cemeteries as the death rate here was so high! However, in the 1840’s, the British built the racecourse that bears the Happy Valley name.
Going to the races is a favourite pastime for British expats and locals alike and is nowhere near as genteel as it sounds. Days out here can involve serious amounts of drinking and gambling, music concerts and Happy Wednesday is notorious for a reason! Happy Valley is the only place in Hong Kong where you can have a flutter on the races so get your fill.
37. Dream of the Sea View at the Aberdeen Floating Village
Aberdeen is a high rise residential area on the south coast of Hong Kong island, but we aren’t here for the concrete accommodation. In Aberdeen Harbour there are some 600 junk (traditional houseboats) dwellers. It is a really special experience to visit the village and eat delicious fresh seafood from a floating restaurant.
38. Soak Up Some Sun at Shek O Beach
It is easy to forget that Hong Kong is full of tropical islands and is almost in South East Asia, that is until you are paddling in the water of Shek O Beach. This is the South China Sea so it’s quite warm and the bay creates a nice, flat sea to paddle in. If you like waves then the winds that blow in to Big Wave Bay make it perfect for surfing, windsurfing or body boarding. This is half an hour’s walk away from Shek O.
Further Afield – Escape the City
39. Macau – Culture and Casinos
This is a trip of two halves…if you want it to be.
To take a day trip from Hong Kong to Macau jump aboard the Macau ferry from the terminal by Sheung Wan MTR station. The journey takes an hour and you will be in a whole new SAR. Don’t forget your passport!!!
You can explore the lovely old church ruins of St Paul’s and crazy pavements of the old Portuguese colonial heart, Senado Square. Looking around, you could almost convince yourself you are in Lisbon but nearby you’ll also find amazing Taoist temple of Na Tcha Temple. Don’t leave without munching on a Pasteis de Nata.
If you are hankering for some of Macau’s famous gambling fun then The Venetian is most spectacular of the island’s offerings. The inside is amazingly ornate, and you can even take a gondola ride on the small lagoon inside.
40. Lamma – Hikes and Hakes
Take a 20-minute ferry ride from Central to reach Lamma island. Here, you can embark on the Lamma Island Family Walk. As the name suggests, this isn’t the hardest hike but is very rewarding. The trail is paved and there are plenty of places to stop and grab a drink along the way. There are lots of viewpoints that appear through the vegetation. If you walk this from Yung Shue Wan to Sok Kwu Wan the path ends at some of the island’s best seafood restaurants. Lamma Rainbow is the largest and best known…and it is very good!
41. Lantau – Buddhas and Buses
OK, that doesn’t sound too appealing, but I only mention buses as I have managed to visit when the cable car was broken or closed for renovation every…single…time…but I digress.
On Lantau, as well as Disneyland and the airport, you will find the village of Nyong Ping. Here, the Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Budhha (otherwise known as the Big Buddha) have become a must-see. If you are luckier than me, you can catch the Nyong Ping Cable Car from the Chung Tung MTR station. There is also a bus from here that takes twice the time.
Once you reach Nyong Ping, you can walk to the fun, colourful monastery before tackling the Buddha. There are 288 steps up to the plinth he sits on, and from there he is an impressive 34 metres tall.
42. New Territories – Hutongs and High-Rises
Catch a train north from Kowloon and you will come to the New Territories, the area that most residents live in but is almost entirely overlooked by tourists. This used to be part of China as it is attached to the mainland. It is a clash of old and new.
When you arrive at Tin Shui Wai MTR station, you can marvel at the high rise residential buildings, but that is not the main attraction here. This is the start of the Ping Shan Heritage Trail, a glimpse into a lost way of life in Hong Kong. Along this short walk, you can visit some amazing old buildings including:
- Tsi Shing Lau Pagoda – The oldest pagoda in Hong Kong
- Sheung Cheung Wai – One of the only remaining Hutongs in Hong Kong (a walled village)
- Tang Ancestral Hall – Built in the 1200’s.
- Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall -Built in the 1600’s
- And lots of other cool ancient things.
Information About Hong Kong
If you are thinking of visiting Hong Kong, here is some information you might like to know.
First things first, when you arrive at the airport, buy your Octopus Card. these nifty contactless cards can be used on most kinds of public transport as well as some fast food outlets and lots of convenience stores (7/11). You have to use cash when buying or topping up your Octopus Card so either bring some with you or use the ATM on the arrivals level.
How to Get Around Hong Kong – Transport
There are loads of ways to get around Hong Kong. We have mentioned the Peak Tram and Star Ferry, but these are only on very specific routes. Other great ways to get around Hong Kong are:
- Trams – These run along the North side of Hong Kong Island, and have been doing so for around 100 years. These are not the fastest way to travel but are a lovely way to see some of the city. Happily, they are very cheap and wonderfully vintage.
- MTR (Mass Transit Railway) – The easiest way to navigate the city is underground. The MTR covers the North of Hong Kong Island and runs up into Kowloon and the New Territories. Avoid rush hour so you don’t get crammed in, but most of the time this is a fast, air-conditioned and extremely convenient way to get around. Check out the map here.
- Taxis – Hong Kong has local taxis as well as Uber. You can hail taxis on the street but finding a rank is the easiest place to jump in one. Taxis are metered and you should never take a taxi that refuses to use it.
- Buses – Huge double-decker buses ply the main streets of Hong Kong. The air-conditioning on these can be fierce so bring a cardigan! The buses operate to a schedule and you will see long, organised queues at bus stops. The queues are designated by bus numbers on the floor…it is all rather impressive. The buses run to and from the airport all night so, although not the quickest way to get there, it is great for your wallet and very helpful if your flight is at a horrible time in the morning.
- Minibuses – These light buses only seat 19 people and reach areas of Hong Kong Island that the larger buses can’t navigate. These are great for reaching areas like Repulse Bay and Stanley on the south of the island. Catch a green minibus and the route and bus stops are fixed but if you hop on a red one, it can deviate wildly and passengers jump on and off wherever. As a tourist, the green ones are easier to use. Remember that standing passengers are not allowed, and if a bus is full, it won’t stop to pick you up.
- Airport Express – As the name suggests, this is the easiest way to get from the airport to Hong Kong and takes just shy of 25 minutes. Trains go every ten minutes from around 06:00 to midnight. The two coolest features are the free shuttle buses that will take you to your hotel from Hong Kong Station when you arrive, and the In Town Check In service which allows you check in your luggage before boarding the train when you depart. To find out where it stops en route, and how much costs etc, check out the website.
When to Visit Hong Kong
Hong Kong celebrates some amazing festivals like Chinese New Year (January/February), the Dragon Boat Festival (June) and the Mid-Autumn Festival (September). Although these are fun times to be in Hong Kong, remember that China is often on holiday too so prices can skyrocket, and affordable accommodation is surprisingly tricky to find. If you are planning to visit during these times, book well-ahead.
The weather in Hong Kong is sub-tropical and so it can be unpredictable. However, as a rule of thumb:
- Summer is hot and wet. You will get frizzy hair.
- Autumn is warm, dry and sunny. A lovely time to visit.
- Winter is mild but chilly in the evenings. Bring a light jacket.
- Spring is warm and sunny but can be humid as it progresses. Bring an umbrella just in case.
Where to Stay in Hong Kong
Staying anywhere on the north side of the island or in Kowloon is very convenient for getting around. Here is a quick rundown of areas around here (all opinions are just from what we have seen and in no way professional…)
- Kowloon – Handy for transport but Nathan Road is a pain and there isn’t usually a view unless you can afford the Peninsula Hotel.
- Causeway Bay – Great for transport links and buzzy at night plus, a few hotels have nice harbour views. (Our favourite location)
- Central – Super handy for transport but getting around can be confusing with high-level walkways and strange pedestrian boundaries.
- Sheung Wan – Convenient for getting around but not so many easy eating options.
- Wan Chai – Some seedy bars around here put us off a little.
- Admiralty – Easy transport links but mostly office buildings and not much else.
How to Get to Hong Kong…
….specifically from London and the UK. There are a few airlines who make the trip without non stop. Cathay Pacific has several flights from London Heathrow, Luton and Gatwick.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic both have daily flights direct from Heathrow.
Final Thoughts on your Hong Kong Itinerary
I am pretty sure I have missed a few things that I love about Hong Kong as there is just SO much to do. There is no doubt that we will return many more times and I’ll have to write a “12 MORE great things…” post. We hope you have an amazing time in Hong Kong ticking off this Hong Kong bucket list and please do let us know if we have missed out your favourite things to see and do!