Victoria Peak is the most popular attraction among those who visit Hong Kong. You can catch the Peak Tram funicular on Garden Road beside Hong Kong Park. You will either need to join an organized tour or use local transportation, because it’s a half hour walk to the gondola from Central Pier. Enjoy views of the skylines of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon across the bay.
Watch the sunset and the nightly Symphony of Lights, but the views of the Symphony of Lights are better from Kowloon on the opposite side of Victoria Harbour. Visit several tourist attractions at the Victoria Peak Tower as well. Get to the Peak Tram early to avoid the crowds. Wait times can easily exceed one hour for the tram.
In addition to Victoria Peak, there are a number of other attractions to see in the Central District:
IFC Mall – enjoy roof top views and dining. Buy food and drink anywhere in the mall and take it to the roof top. The complex includes “One ifc” and “Two ifc” towers as well as the Four Seasons Hotel and Four Seasons Place. Catch the express to the airport from the IFC Mall too.
Mid-Level Escalators – the longest series of outdoor escalators in the world. The mid-level escalators help pedestrians climb through the Central district of Hong Kong. The Lan Kwai Fong & SoHo restaurant areas are located here.
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). For political historians, the HKCEC is the site of the 1997 Handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China. For movie buffs, it’s a Jackie Chan film site. The Golden Bauhinia sculpture here is the symbol of Hong Kong. Take a walk along the water on the Expo Promenade.
Cruise Hong Kong Victoria Harbour from Central Pier 9 or Kowloon Pier with Star Ferry or Watertours of Hong Kong. Both offer a large variety of cruising options. Cruise the islands on a Chinese junk, such as the Duk Ling or Aqua Luna which is owned by Aqua Restaurant Group. To cross between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, you can use a credit card at the ferry terminal if you don’t have an Octopus card or cash.
Kowloon Pier has a lot of attractions near the ferry pier and cruise ship terminal. Catch a Star Ferry for a Victoria Harbour tour or a quick crossing to Hong Kong Island Central District. Passengers pay less than $1 to ride the Star Ferry. Visit the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower, the very popular Kowloon Park, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Hong Kong Space Museum and Salisbury Garden.
Watch the Symphony of Lights each night at 8 pm from the Avenue of Stars on the waterfront promenade in Kowloon. The Symphony of Lights depends on lighting from more than 40 skyscrapers on Hong Kong Island every night. The building light show is best seen from Kowloon, but can also be seen from Victoria Peak.
Just a couple blocks inland from the waterfront is Chungking Mansions, which is the heart of non financial trade and cultural diversity in Hong Kong. Low cost guest housing, inexpensive restaurants, currency traders, computers and cell phone stores make Chungking Mansions an exotic adventure.
Your adventure in Hong Kong starts at by landing at the Hong Kong International Airport on the man-made island of Chek Lap Kok. From the airport your best option is to take the Airport Express train to the city. You can buy individual Airport Express fares or add on 3 day travel passes for unlimited use of MTR subways, buses and trams.
The Airport Express 3 Day Travel Pass may be a better option than an Octopus Card for short term visitors, because you don’t have to track down a refund from a Customer Service kiosk at the end of your trip. The 5 stops on the Airport Express are Asia-World Expo, the Airport, Tsing-Yi Station, Kowloon Station and Hong Kong Station.
Another must see when you visit Hong Kong is the Tian Tan Buddha. Use the MTR to reach the Tung Chung Station, which is near the airport on Lantau Island. The Airport Express doesn’t stop at Tung Chung though. From the Tung Chung Station, catch the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car to the Tian Tan Buddha. The Tian Tan Buddha is over 100 feet high. You have to walk up more than 250 steps to reach the base of the Tian Tan Buddha. Nearby, visit the Po Lin Monastery and the Wisdom Path with carved wooden statues.
Also near the Tian Tan Buddha are the Ngong Ping Piazza, the Wisdom Path and the Ngong Ping Village Amusement Park. The Ngong Ping Village includes Walking with Buddha, Stage 360, Motion 360 and VR 360, plus a restaurant and a teahouse. Continue from Ngong Ping Village on the #21 bus for a half hour to Tai O Fishing Village. The Tai O area has stilt housing over the water and an atmosphere that is totally different from Hong Kong. It’s harder and harder to find any pink dolphins near Tai O Fishing Village though.
Tin Hau Temple – dedicated to Tin Hau, goddess of the sea. At night consult a fortune teller outside the temple.
Happy Valley Racecourse – horse racing in downtown Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Sevens – rugby at the Hong Kong Stadium.
Market, Visit Hong Kong
Dim Sum in Hong Kong
Dim sum is small portions of a wide variety of dishes, such as dumplings and pork buns. It’s the specialty of Hong Kong. Tim Ho Wan in Kowloon Station is an extremely popular Michelin Star dim sum restaurant with the cheapest Michelin prices in the world. Try their barbecue pork buns. Lin Heung Tea House on Hong Kong Island serves dim sum in an authentic non-English speaking environment, but it’s very busy all the time. Luk Yu Tea House also serves dim sum.
More to Eat in Hong Kong
Kam’s Roast Goose has a Michelin Star.
Joy Hing Roasted Meat
Mak’s Noodle or Tsim Chai Kee – for their wonton
Try a street vendor, known as Dai Pai Dong, for an inexpensive meal. Try curried fish balls.
Hong Kong Heritage Museum – just north of the central portion of Kowloon.
Nan Lian Garden and the Chi Lin Nunnery
Hong Kong Wetland Park
Travel an hour by Turbojet ferry to Macau. Macau is the Monte Carlo of the Orient. Casinos in Macau produce more revenue than Las Vegas. Ferries run every few minutes, day and night. The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge opened in 2018, so you can now make the trip by vehicle in 45 minutes instead of taking a ferry. The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge is an amazing 34 miles long.
Be careful if you plan your own transportation from the airport to your cruise ships, because there are now two cruise terminals in Hong Kong. Cruise ships used to all dock in Kowloon on Victoria Harbour. To reach the old cruise ship dock, you can either cab there from the airport or you can take the Airport Express in combination with a short cab ride from Kowloon Station. In 2013 the old Hong Kong Airport was converted to the much larger Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, which is a bit east of downtown. To reach Kai Tak Cruise Terminal you are better off to take a red colored cab from Hong Kong Airport.
Get Around Hong Kong – Octopus Card
In addition to the Airport Express 3 Day Travel Pass, you can use the Octopus Card instead to get around Hong Kong. The Octopus Card is a great option for wandering about the city. You preload funds. The balance is reduced each time you scan the card at an MTR subway, bus, tram or ferry. When you leave Hong Kong, return the card for a refund of the remaining balance. You will find that the transportation system in Hong Kong is clean, inexpensive and efficient. Don’t bring food or drink along on your ride, because you can be fined.
If you do choose to use a cab, they are more reasonably priced than other major cities. Red colored cabs take you throughout the city. Green colored taxis stay in the New Territories and blue cabs stay in Lantau. If in doubt, choose red for your taxi.
Leaving Hong Kong by Air – Early Check In
When you leave Hong Kong by air, your airline probably has early check in options if you aren’t flying to the United States. For example, with Cathay Pacific you can drop your bags the day before your flight at either the Kowloon or Hong Kong MTR stations downtown and check in for your flight too. The next day when you board the Airport Express for the airport, your luggage will have already been checked through to your destination. How cool is that? Well, not cool at all for U.S. destinations 🙁
From May to September, Hong Kong weather is hot with heavy rainfall and typhoons. The winter months are comfortably warm. Rainfall is lowest from November to February. November and March are likely the best time of year to visit Hong Kong for comfortable temperatures and clearer skies.
Due to its British heritage, entry requirements for Hong Kong are not the same as the rest of China. Most visitors will not require a visa. Check your specific country at VisaHQ. For a list of exempt countries, visit Project Visa.
Visit Hong Kong – Background
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. More than 7 million live in Hong Kong. The city is located where the Pearl River delta intersects the South China Sea. The British took over Hong Kong during the First Opium War in the early 1940s. Britain returned control back to China in 1997. The British influence has produced a capitalistic society that is unique in China.