Hong Kong Attractions

Star Ferry and the Island skyline, Hong Kong

Star Ferry and the Island skyline. Photo by jpatokal via Wikitravel

Hong Kong is a place with multiple personalities, as a result of being Cantonese with a long-time British influence and increasingly more China connections. Perhaps the hallmark of this city is the frenzied vibrancy and the world class cuisine.
On the surface, it’s an urban landscape without the charm of what one would consider “China”. It offers the same upscale shopping malls and boutiques found in other world cities. But the small curious nooks, as well as the beautiful greenery and hiking trails, make it unique. The city is also known for its incredible efficiency as a result of its convenient transport, quick customer service and fast pace.

Hong Kong boasts lots of attractions for visitors to enjoy: bays, islands, parks, museums, religious buildings and many natural or man-made landmarks.

Hong Kong Island was the site of the original British settlement. The Northern part of the Island is densely populated. Because of the scarcity of land supply, you’ll find most of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers and the famous skyline along the northern coastline. The main business and nightlife districts, in addition to the government offices, can be found here. The southern part of the Island has more leisure facilities, with beautiful beaches and luxury residential complexes.
– The Peak. Overlooking the Victoria Harbour from the island side, offers views of the Hong Kong and Kowloon skylines, as well as many other touristy but fun attractions. To get there, take the scenic 10-minute Peak Tram from Central ($20), and then enjoy a high-speed rollercoaster ride down with green minibus #1 from below the Peak Galleria ($7). Get away from the hordes by taking a circular walk around the Peak. The walk starts along Lugard Road, and follows the beginning of the Hong Kong Trail. It finishes along Harlech Road. The walk along Old Peak Road is also recommended, but take the tram up and walk down unless you are fit.
– Hong Kong Planning and Infrastructure Exhibition Gallery, 1F City Hall, Central. Mostly of interest to infrastructure buffs, but to its credit this small propaganda exercise manages to make even, say, sewage treatment reasonably interesting with well-presented exhibits, some interactive. The highlight, however, is the Infrastructure Walk, with a giant scale model of a wide swath of Hong Kong showcasing projects completed and planned. Free admission, open daily except Tuesday from 10 AM to 6 PM.
– Man Mo Temple Hollywood Road, Hong Kong Island’s oldest temple. It was built in the 1840s
– Check out Ocean Park on the southern side of Hong Kong island.
– The many beaches of the southern coast are a nice escape on a sunny day, especially outside the weekends when they’re often packed. Repulse Bay is largest and the most popular of the bunch. To get there from Central, take bus 6 or 61 for a scenic, slow and cheaper trip over the Island’s hills, or expresses buses 6A/6X for a faster trip through the Aberdeen tunnel.
– Walk around the grocery market in Wan Chai
– Ride the tram between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan. The journey takes round 80 minutes and costs $2. The Hongkong Tramways runs between the West and East of Hong Kong Island. Starting from the old district Kennedy Town, you can see the residental areas, followed by the Chinese herbal medicine wholesalers in Sai Ying Pun. Then the tram goes in the famous Central district with high rise commercial buildings and banks. Wan Chai and Causeway Bay are the districts popular with shoppers and are always crowded with people at all times. Travelling further east are North Point and Shau Kei Wan areas, which are of completely different styles from that in Central and Causeway Bay.

Street in Tsim Sha Shui, Kowloon

Street in Tsim Sha Shui, Kowloon. Photo by jpatokal via Wikitravel

Kowloon(“nine dragons” in Cantonese) is the peninsula jutting down towards Hong Kong Island. It is the most populous area in Hong Kong, at one time the most densely populated place in the world.
– Kowloon Park
– Cruise ships berthed at Ocean Terminal
– The Kowloon Waterfront offers splendid views of the Hong Kong shoreline and skyline. At night the best spots to take photographs from are occupied by enterprising locals who will take your picture for money.
– A Symphony Of Lights. Every night at 8pm there is a light show involving Hong Kong Island’s key buildings. On Monday evenings, spectators can listen to the show’s music and English narration live at the Avenue of Stars, on radio on FM103.4 MHz or by calling 35 665 665.
– From the waterfront you can take the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island, getting an excellent view of the skyline in the process.
– Built in the 1950s, Shek Kip Mei Estate is the only place where you can see the living conditions in Hong Kong during the 50s – 60s. There are still a few blocks of buildings built in 1950s and residents are still living in them! Walk from Shek Kip Mei MTR Station.
– Hong Kong Space Museum
– Hong Kong Cultural Centre
– Tai Chi Free lessons in English every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning from 8am-9am on the Avenue of Stars.

The New Territories, named by the British officials when leased from the Chinese government in 1898, are Hong Kong’s residential hinterland. The main attractions of the New Territories are real Hong Kong life, as opposed to the jetset expat experience of the Island, and the vast (for Hong Kong) parks with their many sport opportunities.
– Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Rd, Sha Tin (KCR Sha Tin). One of Hong Kong’s best museums, this modern, informative and attractively presented museum houses several permanent exhibitions of life in the New Territories, Cantonese opera, and Chinese art, as well as changing exhibitions of a high caliber. Admission $10, open 10 AM to 6 PM daily except Tuesday and some public holidays.
– 10,000 Buddhas Monastery, off Sheung Wo Che St, Sha Tin (KCR Sha Tin exit B, down the left ramp, left to Pai Tau St, right to Sheung Wo Che St). This rather garish but enjoyable modern temple dating to the 1950s in fact contains no less than 12,800 Buddhas lining the walls of the main hall. There’s also a nine-story pagoda and some smaller temples above the main complex. Half the fun is getting there: the 500-meter path climbing up the hill is lined with life-sized golden plastic statues of Buddhas in poses ranging from serene to outrageous. Free admission, but donations welcome.

10000 Buddhas Monastery, The New Territories

10000 Buddhas Monastery, The New Territories. Photo by jpatokal via Wikitravel

– Kat Hing Wai, Kam Tin Rd (near KCR Kam Sheung). Of more historical than practical interest, this tiny walled village was one of the first settlements of the Tang clan, who arrived in Hong Kong in the 12th century and have dominated much of the area ever since. The village today, however, has lots of nondescript modern lowrise concrete housing blocks crammed behind a crumbling gray brick wall. $1 donation requested, and the old Hakka women lounging near the sole entrance expect to be paid $10 or so if you take their picture.
– Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree, near Tai Po. The Wishing Tree is an old tree. Traditionally, it is believed that it will bring good luck and fortune. Nowadays, it is a touristic spot for both Westerners and locals. Simply go to Tai Po Market Railway Station and take green minibus route 25K or bus 64K to get to the Wishing Tree. Alternatively, you are advised to take a green taxi from Tai Wo Railway Station if you have 4 or 5 people travelling together. See
– Man Mo Temple, Tai Po Market. A temple built in the 1890s. It was regarded as a must-see tourist destination in Hong Kong. Get off the train at either Tai Po Market Station or Tai Wo Station and follow the signs to get there on foot.
– The New Territories offer a wealth of hiking and sports opportunities as well as one very Hong Kongian pastime, horse racing.
– Horse racing: Sha Tin Racecourse, near Sha Tin (special services to KCR Racecourse on race days). Participate in the most popular sport in Hong Kong at games held most Saturday afternoons from September to June. Regular stand seats $10, but a Special package available to overseas tourists only allows box access for $50.
– Outdoor sports: Tai Po Waterfront Park. The Tai Po Waterfront Park is the largest park in Tai Po District. The Park provides a wide range of facilities including a 1.2 long promenade, rest-gardens, sitting-out areas, a jogging trail with fitness stations, a cycling track and a 600-seat amphitheatre. There is also a 32.4-metre-high Lookout Tower in the Park. After visiting the tower, visitors may move on to the Insect House nearby.
Tai Mei Tuk. Tai Mei Tuk is famous for the natural view of Pat Sin Leng and Plover Cove Reservoir, the largest reservoir in Hong Kong. You can also make use of the free barbecue site in Tai Mei Tuk and the adjoining country park.
Kam Shan Country Park. Kam Shan Country Park, also known as Monkey Hill, is famous for the wild monkeys. A free barbecue site is available in the country park.

Lantau Island, The Outlying Islands

Lantau Island, The Outlying Islands. Photo by jpatokal via Wikitravel

The Outlying Islands are the 234 other islands in the territory ranging from Lantau (twice the size of Hong Kong Island) to rocks poking out of the sea. Situated on Lantau is Discovery Bay a resort type residential area and home to approximately 40000 inhabitants, many of them expats or middle class locals.
For tourists the most popular are Lamma, well known for its seafood and only 3 km south of the main island; Cheung Chau, a small island off Lantau that used to be a pirates’ den but now houses mostly windsurfers and sunbathing daytrippers.

Hong Kong is a little chilly in the Winter and hot and humid in the Summer. The best times of year to visit are thus Spring (March-April), when the average temperature is around 25°C and the climate is not too humid, and Autumn between September and November. Typhoons usually occur between June and September and sometimes can bring a halt to local business activities for a day or less. The weather in winter is unstable. It can range from 12-22°C.
Rugby fans, and those wishing to party, should come during the weekend of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. During the Chinese New Year, whilst there are some extra celebrating events such as a lion dances, fireworks, and parades, many shops and restaurants are closed for an entire week.

Cantonese is the language spoken by 95% of the people in Hong Kong. Though Hong Kong is a former British colony, the degree of English proficiency is limited among non-professionals in those districts where more locals visit than tourists. However, others including most taxi drivers, street vendors, salesperson etc. are fluent enough for sufficient communication, especially at tourist destinations such as hotels and certain restaurants. English is fluently spoken among the business community.
All official signs are bilingual, in both Chinese (Traditional) and English. Most shops and restaurants also have English signage, though don’t expect this from the more local or obscure establishments.

Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated regions in the world, and is famous for its energetic metropolitan area. It is a place of contrasts – frenetically urban and adjacent to pristine greenery; extremely rich next to dirt poor; Western culture and oriental culture.
Hong Kong is a world-class tourist destinations. Highly recommended.

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