Hong Kong surprised me. A place of intriguing contrasts — tradition meets modernity, nature meets a densely populated city, East meets West — I discovered on closer inspection that this small region has a lot to offer.
Here are my top must-sees and recommendations.
Victoria Peak, known locally as The Peak. The highest mountain on Hong Kong Island, it boasts a spectacular 360-degree view of Hong Kong, and is the origin of the photos most typically associated with the area. If you have time to join the queue, the recommended form of transport to the summit is the Peak Tram. Otherwise, you can travel to the top by bus, by taxi or, as we saw from the comfort of our taxi, on foot. The Peak is a destination, with a multi-level shopping complex, dining options for all budgets and nature walks. My recommendation: Make your way to The Peak in the late afternoon, so you’re in position with your camera at sunset. Treat yourself to dinner at one of the restaurants with a view of Victoria Harbour, and relax and enjoy your meal.
A Symphony of Lights, Victoria Harbour. Viewed from the Kowloon side, this spectacular light and sound show operates nightly. Celebrating the diversity, energy and spirit of Hong Kong, the show is a great introduction to your visit. My recommendation: Pick your vantage point and enjoy being among the crowd as you take it all in.
Aberdeen. Want to experience more of the historical side of Hong Kong? Aberdeen, a former fishing village, offers a contrast between old and new. Here, junks were once the main form of housing. They remain, but are now set against a backdrop of modern highrises. My recommendation: Take the ferry to the Jumbo Kingdom floating restaurant and enjoy Yum Cha in a unique setting.
Temple Street Night Market. A bazaar that comes to life when the sun sets, this market is fun. Expect cheap electronics, knock-off designer handbags, menswear, teaware and trinkets galore. My recommendation: Try your skill at haggling. It’s expected.
Causeway Bay and Times Square. A trip to Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without experiencing one of the activities for which Hong Kong is renowned — shopping — in one of the areas with the best offerings. Located on Hong Kong Island, this bustling area is not for the faint-hearted. Easily accessed by the MTR, hop off at Times Square so you step right into the heart of it. My recommendation: Set aside a day and shop till you drop. You’ll find everything here, from luxury designer stores to market stalls.
Hollywood Road art galleries and boutiques. This one was a personal discovery. Hollywood Road takes you past boutiques, art galleries, Man Mo Temple and cafes. My recommendation: Start at the Sheung Wan end, walk slowly and stop frequently to refuel with a cappuccino and lunch.
Star Ferry harbour ride. From Hong Kong Island to Kowloon, or from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, a ride on the Star Ferry is an experience not to be missed. Catch a closer glimpse of the iconic red Aqua Luna, and enjoy being on the water. My recommendation: Take the trip at night, so you see the cityscape lit up.
Tin Tian Buddha on Lantau Island. The world’s largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha statue is an impressive sight. The most scenic way to reach the Big Buddha is by the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car. You can also take a bus, taxi or, yes, hike. At the top, climb the 268 steps to the statue, and take in the views across Lantau Island. My recommendation: Enter the grounds of Po Lin Monastery; if you’re lucky you’ll hear the monks singing.