Hong Kong is an incredible city all around. From the magical culture and cuisine to the beautiful architecture and history, it’s hard not to want to stay forever. It may seem like another modern metropolis from above or far away, but once you’re walking through a traditional market, eating dim sum at a local restaurant, or listening to an experienced feng shui artist, you’ll really understand why Hong Kong has so much to offer. What I love most about this city is that there are so many things to do and see, you’ll eventually find yourself running out of time! This post will give you my favorite things in Hong Kong to help you understand what’s really worth your time during your trip. Enjoy!
Chi Lin Nunnery
If you want to take a break from the rush of Hong Kong, you must visit the Chi Lin Nunnery. It is a Buddhist temple with amazing buildings, gardens, and water features. It is located a little bit away from busy Kowloon, in a peaceful area, which makes it quiet and relaxing. There were hardly any tourists, so we got to see all of the temples by ourselves. We learned about the structures of the architecture, how they were built, and who the nunnery was occupied by and when. It was created as a retreat for nuns in the 1930s and was styled for the buildings to look like some in the Tang Dynasty.
To give you an extra weird taste of the city, you must walk down Tung Choi Street and to the Goldfish Market, Yuen Po Bird Garden, and flower market. Along the street, you’ll find tons and tons of shops selling all types of fish in small plastic bags, or big tanks. It was amazing to walk down this notorious street and get a feel for Hong Kong’s culture.
At the Yuen Po Bird Garden, which was a short street up from the Goldfish Market, we saw many cages in a dark alleyway with colorful birds chirping super loud. Some were big and were flying everywhere, which was scaring my mom and sister, but I thought it was amazing.
To switch it up from seeing tons of temples and traditional architecture, Quarry Bay is the perfect place to go. It is a residential area filled with tall, aged apartment buildings covered in bright colors, which are specifically great for photography. The best way to explore Quarry Bay is to get lost; walk down random alleyways leading to incredible courtyards, walk through local markets selling all types of seafood, and admire the beauty in the old, dirty, buildings.
Tian Tan Buddha
Visiting the Tian Tan Buddha is an amazing day trip from Hong Kong. After a thirty minute train ride from the city, a twenty minute gondola over mountains, and a trek up exactly 268 stairs, you’ll reach the foot of the massive Buddha. It is one of the largest in the world, and I truthfully can’t explain how magical it was, being directly underneath it. We got to walk all around the sides of it, taking pictures, but for the most part, admiring its beauty.
The Po Lin Monastery is about a five minute walk from the Buddha and is also worth a visit. It is a giant place, designed like almost every other temple, shrine, or monastery in Hong Kong, with loads of the colors red and yellow, many details engraved in the walls, local monks praying in front of the golden gods, and the smell of incense flowing through the building. While you are at the Tian Tan Buddha, I definitely recommend visiting the Po Lin Monastery as well.
Out of all the things I am suggesting to do and see, Victoria’s Peak is certainly the most touristy and full of crowds. However, it gives an absolutely incredible view of the bay and the city. At night, when we went, you could see all of the colorful, flickering lights of the buildings and it was pretty cool. Definitely not my #1 recommendation, but Victoria’s Peak is something you should see if you aren’t exactly running out of time.
On the first day of our trip, we went on a Big Foot Tour of the city with our guide, Ivan. He taught us about all the history and past of Hong Kong, which was nice going forward to have some knowledge about the place we were in. We learned about the rivalry between the largest banks of Hong Kong, how the Japanese invaded the city during WW2, leaving many bullet holes through the famous lions of Statue Square. He took us to local markets including Lan Fong Yuen, which had the best traditional french toast I’ve ever had, he took us to the longest escalator in the world, a small, unique temple, and last but not least, a one-hundred-year-old dim sum restaurant called Lin Heung Tea House. Oh, how that dim sum was incredible.
Here is a short list of my favorite places for food and desserts in Hong Kong:
- Le Garcon Saigon – an amazing Vietnamese restaurant
- Little Bao – for great pork baos and truffle fries
- Classified – perfect for a nice breakfast
- Mammy Pancakes – for the best egg waffles in the entire city
- Tokio Joe – great udon, tempura, and sushi!
- Elephant Grounds – for the yummiest french toast ever
- Mak Noodles – traditional Chinese noodle spot