A recent visit reminded me of what a dynamic and fun place Hong Kong is. There’s always something new to see and do and the public transport system makes it so easy to get around.
If you haven’t been to Hong Kong before, then The Peak (on a clear day) is a must-do, as are Tian Tan (Big Buddha), Stanley Markets, the Star Ferry, Po Lin Monastery, and I could go on.
Here are 7 of my favourite things to do in Hong Kong. Which ones have you done?
1. Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage & Arts
Opened just 12 months ago, Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage & Arts is an outstanding example of not-for-profit conservation and revitalisation.
This 3.7 billion HKD project (funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club) has injected life back into the law enforcement offices of the Central Police Station, Magistrates Courts and Victoria Prison.
Late Victorian and Gothic Revival architecture mixes with Contemporary design over 28,000 square metres. Exhibition space, art galleries, unique retail space, restaurants and bars make Tai Kwun a one-stop entertainment venue.
Tours, both guided and self-guided, share stories of historical Hong Kong’s penal system through exhibitions, personal accounts, and presentations. Follow an audio tour with the architects responsible for the planning and implementation of this fascinating conservation project.
Visit contemporary exhibitions by local and international artists. Browse retail from brands you know and love and some exciting local brands you may not yet have had the pleasure.
After all that, decide on one of the many fabulous restaurants to take a breather and enjoy wonderful cuisine in spectacular surroundings.
For detailed info of Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts, please follow this link where you’ll find additional information regarding registration and other tips and tricks.
2. Lamma Island
When Hong Kong’s exhilarating hustle and bustle gets a bit too much, take yourself to Lamma Island.
Just south of Hong Kong Island, Lamma Island has wide open spaces, wonderful walking trails, fishing villages and plenty of picture-perfect settings for your Instagram account.
It also has Rainbow Seafood Restaurant. A wonderful casual dining experience where you select live seafood, discuss cooking techniques and magnificent dishes arrive at your seaside table overlooking bobbing fishing boats.
Before heading back to reality, take a stroll through the many local stores and pick up dried baby shrimp and squid, XO Sauce, and all manner of necessary items to up your culinary game at home.
It’s tough to single out one bar in Hong Kong when there are so many great ones, but The Old Man has taken things to a whole new level.
Number 1 in Asia and 10th in the World, The Old Man is a hidden gem that takes cocktail mastery seriously.
Distilling onsite through rotary evaporation gives you an idea of just how serious they are but there’s fun here too. After all, the place is named for Ernest Hemingway’s famous “The Old Man & The Sea” and there’s no doubt the writer is with you all the way.
Dai Pai Dongs used to be everywhere in Hong Kong where you could pull up a crate or a plastic chair on the side of the road and tuck into delicious noodles, congee, and wok-fried dishes.
Due to hygiene, traffic and safety issues, licenses for Dai Pai Dongs ceased in 1956. There are very few originals left but you can still find some.
Smithfield Cooked Food Market on Smithfield Street in Kennedy Town still has the feel of a Dai Pai Dong but multiplied. Inside you’ll find stalls cooking street food classics. Wonton soup, brisket, dim sum, so much to choose from.
Bing Kee in Tai Hang opens early so you can get classic tea and toast, the British/ Hongkongese hybrid. An old colonial way to start the day.
Find noodle soups, steamed greens, and all the traditional sides but arrive early, Bing Kee is popular, with queues out the door and around the street. Also, Bing Kee closes at 3 pm so don’t miss out.
5. Sai Wan Swimming Shed
Hong Kong Island has some of the most picturesque hiking trails I’ve been on. Often hard to believe when you’re in the midst of Central’s billboards and neon lights, but even starting at the Peak, trails wind around the mountain down to mid-levels and beyond.
One of my favourites is around Mount Davis and down to Kennedy Town. This one takes in Sai Wan Swimming Shed if you follow the correct path. (Don’t worry, it’s not really that difficult)
The last of the many swimming wharves that used to dot Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Bay, Sai Wan Swimming Shed has become an Instagrammers delight and can get a little crowded so go early or stay late.
The good news is, a plan is in place to add more of these swimming wharves once Hong Kong’s water treatment project is completed.
You don’t even have to buy anything, just go for the atmosphere. This crazy market has everything, I mean - everything, you could possibly want in the computer world.
It gets packed in here so be vigilant with your belongings. If you’re attracted by a no-brand price point, be sure to try it first, there’s never a warranty but you’ll also find branded (with warranty) products here at good prices.
Always negotiate. Stores further inside are likely to be more amenable to offering a bargain.
While it’s all about computers here, you’ll also find video games and consoles, smartphones and accessories, software, and cameras with gear.
Head to 130 Hennessey Road next to Wan Chai MTR station.
7. Little Tai Hang
Tai Hang has become one of my favourite areas in Hong Kong. Adjacent to Causeway Bay it’s in the midst of a face-lift but still has an abundance of local charm.
Bing Kee, previously mentioned, and other food outlets steam, BBQ and wok-fry traditional Cantonese dishes, some from little holes in the wall.
Temples and parks are perfect for morning walks, meditation, and contemplation.
There are hipster bars, restaurants, brewers and coffee houses with a conscience promoting sustainability and ethical projects within the community.
Snuggled perfectly within all this is Little Tai Hang, a boutique hotel & apartments where the most comfortable sleep is almost guaranteed.
I’m talking about the focus obviously spent on the selection of pillows and mattresses.
A word of warning, it’s difficult leaving the bed but you’ll want to when you see the shower. Fantastic pressure, instant hot water, and views of the garden or harbour.
The gym operates 24/7 equipped with everything you’ll need. A self serve laundry ensures there’s no need to overpack and a relaxing lounge area means there’s no need to conduct all of your business from your room.
Feel free to contact me at paraphernalia.co for any tips and tricks you may need for your trip to fabulous Hong Kong.
Shona’s award winning travel blog shares tips and tricks on where to eat, drink, explore & shop in any given destination. At home ordering street food or perusing a fine dining menu, she seeks out venues with a conscience who promote local produce and sustainability. Find her in markets, museums, art galleries and on walking tours as well as wineries, breweries, distilleries and restaurants. Wherever she is, she’s always looking for something a little different to share with her readers. Follow her travels at paraphernalia.co or subscribe to her newsletter and never miss a thing. firstname.lastname@example.org.