Hong Kong has an energising quality to it that is difficult to define. Whether it’s an ancient temple, a shop selling the latest electronic item, or a man walking his caged bird, there’s something fresh and interesting around every turn.
Hong Kong, as a Chinese Special Administrative Region, offers a fascinating study of ancient Chinese culture’s impacts, as well as its own attitudes and history distinct from that of mainland China.
With our list of top attractions in Hong Kong, you can find out what to see and do, as well as the best places to visit.
1. Ferry of the Stars
Victoria Harbour is a bustle of activity, with ships of all sizes chug, whizz, or wallow by as the Star Ferries’ skilled commanders miraculously avoid collisions.
Don’t bother about making a reservation for the ferry; it runs every few minutes throughout the day and into the evening, making it easy to snag a nice seat at the front or along the rail. The journey from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui is equally breathtaking on the way back.
You can see one of Hong Kong’s Symphony of Lights shows if you go late enough in the evening. One of the city’s free attractions, the 360-degree sight of laser beams striking the skyscrapers on either side of the harbour, is one of the most popular things to do in Hong Kong at night.
2. The Skyline of Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s skyline is one of the most recognisable and magnificent in the world. The dense collection of skyscrapers on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon, as well as the surrounding mountains and bay, distinguish this city.
Traditional red-sailed Chinese junk boats and the iconic Star Ferry stand out against the backdrop of modern high-rises in the port.
As the sky darkens and the city lights fill the landscape at night, the skyline takes on an entirely other personality.
The top of Victoria Peak and the Kowloon waterfront (along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade near the clock tower, not far from the Star Ferry pier), where benches line the shoreline and gaze across to Hong Kong, are two of the greatest sites in Hong Kong to observe the skyline. The greatest site to observe the nightly A Symphony of Lights laser and light show set to music is at the latter location.
3. Victoria Peak
You haven’t seen Hong Kong until you’ve seen the skyline from Victoria Peak, or The Peak.
The tram stop is near the Murray building, which serves as the entrance to Hong Kong Park. The Peak Tower and Peak Galleria, featuring stores, restaurants, and an observation deck, are located at the top of the tram. A vast park with lush flora, natural walks, and more spectacular lookouts with views over the bustling metropolis below covers the majority of The Peak.
A track also runs down from The Peak to the city below, following a mix of forest trails and occasional portions of road. Finding your way around can be a little perplexing.
For additional information, see our article on Hong Kong hiking routes.
The Peak is best visited in the evening, when the stunning skyline is illuminated by the night sky. This is one of Hong Kong’s outstanding nighttime views. You can also take a taxi to the top if the tram queue is long or you wish to travel straight from your accommodation.
4. The Great Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha Statue)
The 34-meter-high “Big Buddha” towers over Lantau Island’s Po Lin monastery, which was once a somewhat remote location before the statue was completed in 1993. This is one of the world’s largest Buddha statues, and it took 12 years to create.
Both up close and from afar, the magnitude is mind-boggling. The environment is likewise spectacular, with views of the ocean and islands from a lush green forest.
The picturesque Ngong Ping cable car, which takes you on a 5.7-kilometer, 25-minute ride through forest, river, and mountains, is the ideal way to get to the Buddha. The ride ends at Ngong Ping Village, a small tourist trap through which you must walk before reaching the monastery and Big Buddha. A massive flight of stairs goes up to the base once you’ve passed through the settlement, but don’t be intimidated. The ascent is short, and the views from the statue’s base are well worth the effort.
The cable car can be accessed from the MTR Tung Chung Station. Some visitors combine a visit to the Big Buddha with a visit to Tai O fishing hamlet, which is 20 minutes away by bus but still on Lantau Island. A Hong Kong Travel Pass Combo: MTR Pass, Ngong Ping Cable Car, and Big Buddha Tour, which includes a one- to three-day MTR Pass (metro), a round-trip cable car ride, and a guided tour of the Big Buddha, is also available. If you plan on using the MTR throughout your trip in Hong Kong, this is a great offer.
5. Wong Tai Sin Temple
The Wong Tai Sin Temple is one of Hong Kong’s newest and most intriguing temples. The first temple, erected in 1920 and located in Kowloon, was a private property. In 1968, it was demolished and replaced with a newer structure, which is now visible to visitors.
The temple was established to worship the Taoist god Wong Tai Sin, who is revered by the villagers as a healer of ailments and a bringer of good luck in horse racing. Each fall, a celebration honouring Wong Tai Sin is celebrated at the temple.
The Hall of Three Saints, the Good Wish Garden, and another hall dedicated to Confucius and his 72 pupils are among the structures that make up the temple complex.
6. Beaches and Repulse Bay
Although not everyone associates Hong Kong with beaches, you don’t have to travel far to see some spectacular lengths of soft sand. Although it is not extremely touristy, the beach at Repulse Bay is the most popular in Hong Kong, offering breathtaking vistas and a fantastic area for swimming.
A day spent here is complimented with the luxury and style that is characteristic of Hong Kong. Trendy restaurants and stores surround the strip that runs along the seaside and overlooks the vast beach. With informal open-air dining overlooking the ocean, Amalfitana is a wonderful spot to enjoy a pizza.
Big Wave Bay is another neighboring beach for a day at the beach. The water flows in slowly to form a big U-shaped cove with a beautiful beach. Compared to Repulse Bay, this place has a considerably more easygoing and laid-back vibe. Walking part of the famous Dragon’s Back trail to Big Wave Bay and swimming in the ocean is a popular trip.
Barbecues line the walkway to the parking lot at the back of the beach, serving seafood and other delicacies. In the carpark area, there are scheduled buses and the occasional taxi that will take you back to the city.
7. Temple Street Night Market
This market in Kowloon is a great location to try new foods and get great deals on anything from clothing and souvenirs to electronics and household goods. Vendors sell a variety of electronics, as well as jade jewellery and traditional Chinese crafts, in all shapes and sizes.
This is Hong Kong’s best tourist market, although there are a slew of other interesting street markets selling practically anything you can think of. To learn about marketplaces to visit during the day, read our post on Hong Kong street markets.
8. Kong Disneyland
Lantau Island is home to Hong Kong Disneyland. You’ll find a magical world full of fantasy and excitement, populated by the cast and characters from Disney films.
Parades, musicals, and nighttime fireworks above the castle are among the many performances that take place throughout the day in the many kingdoms. A wide range of excursions, from Jungle cruises to a visit to Tarzan’s Treehouse, as well as water-based fun at Liki Tiki, are also available.
In late 2019, the park underwent extensive renovations and enhancements. The creation of the Castle of Magical Dreams was one of the key centrepieces of this rejuvenation. Your children will be awestruck by wonders such as Cinderella’s coach, Snow White’s apple, and Belle’s rose. The new castle will also host musical concerts and extravaganzas during the day and evening.
The addition of the Frozen area and the construction of the brand new Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleigh ride, where Olaf and Sven pull your sleigh to the top of the hill and send you on your way, is the second big renovation. You’ll be able to meet Elsa and walk about the country of Arendelle in addition to the ride.
This location is accessible through the MTR Disneyland Line, Disneyland Station. Pick up a Hong Kong Disneyland Admission with Transportation if you wish to save time and effort.
9. Ocean Park
As far as theme parks go, this one has everything you might want in a single day: a stroll through old Hong Kong, roller coasters, a Grand Aquarium, and a look at rare and exotic animals.
Special programmes about the North and South Poles are also worth watching. The Mine Train, Raging River, Hair Raiser, and Eagle are all fun rides. Take the MTR South Island Line to Ocean Park Station to go to Ocean Park.
Ocean Park will undergo significant renovations beginning in 2021, with outdated rides being replaced by new ones and the park concentrating more on marine conservation.
10. Hike to the Back of the Dragon
If you’ve had enough of Hong Kong’s cramped quarters and want to get some fresh air, head to the Dragon’s Back Hike. This climb offers beautiful views of the ocean, Big Wave Bay, Mount Collinson, Stanley, and Shek O, and is Hong Kong’s most popular hiking track. Hearing birds singing, the sound of little waterfalls, and the leaves shaking in the ocean air is a welcome contrast from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The hike is moderately easy, however you must begin at Section 8. (bus stop To Tei Wan). From here, the walk ascends for a short distance before descending with rolling sections to Big Wave Bay.