This Hong Kong guide explains what’s worth it, what’s not, how to get there, and what it’ll cost you. In a city with endless things to do, I hope this helps you figure out what to do in Hong Kong!
Start by watching the vlogs, or scroll down for my list of what to do in Hong Kong. Keep scrolling for the quick start guide to Hong Kong public transportation.
Click the picture below to watch the Hong Kong vlogs:
Sightseeing In Hong Kong
There are a ton of gorgeous lookout points in Hong Kong, but this is by far the most popular. Are the views awesome? Absolutely. Is it full of tourists? Absolutely!
Cost: Access to The Peak is free, so you’re just paying for transportation. You could take a taxi, a bus, or the tram. The cheapest options is bus 15 (not 15C!) which only costs $9.80 HKD and takes about 40 minutes to get to the top.
Fun Fact: Victoria Peak is the highest point on Hong Kong Island.
The Peak doesn’t have enough signs to make it easy for pedestrians, but the Peak Tram is easy to find, so it’s understandably the most popular way to get to the top. I didn’t enjoy the lines of people leading up to it, or the shoving that happened when they opened the tram doors, but I enjoyed the ride. It feels a little like a wooden roller coaster. The coolest part is that the incline is so steep that out the window everything looks sideways.
Cost: It’s $28 HKD ($3.61 USD) for a one-way ticket and $40 HKD ($5.15 USD) for a round-trip ticket. My suggestion is the round-trip ticket.
Is it worth it? Yes. The view at the top is spectacular and I’d rather pay $5 so I can spend my time hiking on natural Hong Kong trails instead of getting lost on this populated peak (which totally happened).
Fun Fact: This tram began operating over 100 years ago in 1888.
Sky Terrace 428
This place boasts that it is the “highest viewing platform in Hong Kong.” The key word is “platform” though, because there are higher points you can hike to.
Cost: You’ll want to purchase the Peak Tram Sky Pass instead of the regular Peak Tram ticket. The Sky Pass costs $71 HKD ($9.15 USD) one-way and $83 HKD ($10.70 USD) round-trip.
Is it worth it? No. The two free options below will explain why.
Peak Galleria Green Terrace
The Green Terrace is the free viewing platform located on the roof of the Peak Galleria mall. To get there, enter the mall and take the escalators upwards. At the top of the escalators, take a left to find the best view this terrace has to offer.
Lions View Pavilion
This is another free viewing platform of the Hong Kong city skyline located on Victoria Peak. The Peak Tram spits you out in a shopping building, and if you didn’t pay for access to the Sky Terrace 428, you can just take the escalators up, walk past the coffee shop, out the doors, and take a left. The Lions View Pavilion is a stone platform just through the rounded archway on your left.
This is the largest island in Hong Kong and possibly the easiest to access from the main island. When we first popped out of the subway tunnel, it reminded me a little of Hawaii because of its lush green mountains. There’s a ton of stuff to do on this island!
Fun Fact: Hong Kong Disneyland and the Hong Kong International Airport are both located on Lantau Island.
Tian Tan Buddha
This Buddha is a 112 ft tall bronze statue situated on a hilltop. It’s the most popular tourist attraction on Lantau Island because once you’re on the island it’s impossible to miss.
Cost: Walking up to and around the Buddha is free. The only cost is if you want to get into the museum inside the Buddha which personally I didn’t find that interesting.
Is it worth it? Personally I wouldn’t seek it out, but if you’re in the area and prepared to hike 300 steps uphill you may as well. I actually enjoyed seeing it from a distance more than I did up close.
Fun Fact: The tallest Buddha in the world is in Henan, China and it’s 420 ft tall – more than 3 and a half times taller than the Tian Tan Buddha!
Ngong Ping 360
They call this a cable car, but I would consider more of a gondola. 360 is in the name because when you’re inside, you have a 360 degree view of the stunning island views around you. I’ve been on a few gondola rides in my day, and this is by far the longest and most memorable one so far.
Cost: It’s a little expensive- 130 HKD (16.75 USD) for a one-way ticket, and 185 HKD (23.84 USD) round-trip.
Is it worth it? Yes! This was without a doubt my favorite thing I did in Hong Kong! The views were incredible, and it felt like it went on and on over endless green hilltops.
Fun Fact: Ngong Ping 360 is owned by MTR, the Hong Kong subway.
Po Lin Monastery
This is the Buddhist monastery that owns and operates the Tian Tan Buddha. It’s located just across the way from the popular tourist site.
Is it worth it? I wouldn’t suggest you take a trip to Lantau Island just to see this place, but if you’re nearby, it’s worth the quick walk to see it. The temples are beautiful inside and out, and it’s fun to see the random cows and buffalo wandering around. Since it’s Buddhist, meat and alcohol are not allowed on the premises.
Fun Fact: This monastery was founded by three monks from Jiangsu Province, China in 1906.
Tai O Fishing Village
Tai O is a village with a long history of occupation. Today it’s part fishing village, part tourist destination. The bus drops you off at the entrance to the marketplace, where you’re immediately bombarded by smiling locals trying to sell you boat tours. Keep walking and you get to a bridge with an awesome view of the stilted houses and the canal that runs through them. Walk further and you approach the market where you’re slapped in the face by an overwhelming smell of fish. There’s fish of all kinds in all forms, plus novelty gift items for sale. Walk further into the village and you can weave your way through narrow alleyways to discover the local mom-and-pop style shops selling art, clothing, pour-over coffee, etc. We did a bit of extra wandering and headed away from the main village area across a long white bridge. The walk offered some gorgeous views and ended at a little village that lacked the bustle of the main area. It’s a nice little escape if you’re getting tired of the city, but I would not consider Tai O to be an “idyllic fishing village” as advertised.
Getting There: From Ngong Ping Village, which is the drop-off point for the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, hop on the 21 bus and take it to Tai O. This bus ride is wild, curving and hilly, offering stunning views. To get back into the city, you can grab the 11 bus from Tai O and take it to Tung Chung to get back on the subway (MTR).
Cost: The bus is $11.80 HKD each way and $18 HKD each way on Sundays and public holidays
Is it worth it? Personally, no.
Fun Facts: 1) There are archaeological sites nearby that date back to the Stone Age. 2) During the Chinese Civil War (1927-36, 1946-50) Tai O village was a primary entry point for Chinese people escaping to Hong Kong.
Dragon’s Back Hike
If you’re not super familiar with Hong Kong, you may be surprised to hear that it’s home to some awesome hikes! Dragon’s Back (Hong Kong Trail Section 8) is the most famous hike on the island, and a really easy one to access. The hard part of the hike is that it’s almost entirely uphill, but the amazing part is the stunning island views. I’ll let this picture speak for itself:
Getting There: Take the subway (MTR) to Shau Kei Wan, exit A3. Follow signs for the Bus Terminus and look for bus #9 towards Shek O. When I did the hike (June 2016), bus 9 was in the last row of buses. The bus stop you’re looking for is called To Tei Wan, but on the screen at the front of the bus that announces the next bus stop, it’s called “Tai Wan, Dragon’s Back”. Push one of the STOP buttons on the poles in the bus once you see that pop up on the screen. Once you get off, the trailhead is right in front of you.
Cost: Free to hike, $6.90 HKD one-way for the bus.
Is it worth it? YES! If you like hikes even a little bit, go for it!
Pro tips: 1) After you walk for a bit up the trail you’ll come across a little covered pagoda thing with a bench. Just before it you’ll see a trail going upward – take that trail! It’ll get you to the great views faster than the route I took. 2) Bring bug spray, sunscreen, a hat, and a big bottle of water!
Fun Fact: In 2004, Dragon’s Back was named the “best urban hiking trail” by TIME Asia.
Shek O Beach
This beach is visible from the Dragon’s Back lookout point, and accessible by the exact same bus you take to get to the Dragon’s Back trailhead, so it’s a perfect addition to your day if you plan to do that hike. Even if you don’t do the hike, this is an awesome beach! It’s located in a little seaside village and the beach has everything you want – soft sand, warm water, gorgeous views, a roped-off swimming area, and a ton of (really attractive) lifeguards. Unlike the more popular beaches, this one is secluded and quiet and surrounded by lush green hilltops.
Cost: Free to access the beach, $6.90 HKD one-way for the bus.
Getting There: Take the same route described above for Dragon’s Back, but instead of getting off at To Tei Wan, take the bus to the Shek O Terminus, which is the last stop.
Pro Tip: The bus ride offers some absolutely gorgeous island views, so have your camera ready!
Fun Fact: In 1841, Shek O Village and the surrounding villages had only a few hundred residents, and it doesn’t feel much different today.
Honestly, I’m still on the hunt for a good market in Hong Kong and primarily on the hunt for the local street food.
Temple Street Night Market
This is the most popular night market in Hong Kong, so even when I visited on a Wednesday night, it was jam-packed with tourists. The stalls are tightly packed in rows on either side of the street with a walkway in the middle just big enough for 2 people to stand side-by-side. The vendors are all duplicates of one another, and everyone has different prices. Some of the vendors are really pushy, and will even yell lower and lower prices at you as you walk away. If you like bargaining, you’ll probably enjoy it. The market is full of purses, toys, clothes, electronic accessories, and prices aren’t far off from a typical tourist marketplace in the US. Most of the food is on the actual street in permanent vendor stalls, and none of it seemed that local or unique.
Getting There: Take the subway (MTR) to Jordan Road, exit A. Turn right on Jordan Rd and another right on Temple St.
Ladies Market (AKA Tung Choi Street)
This is literally the same thing as the Temple Street Night Market, and it’s not very far away. It’s packed, it’s repetitive, it’s mainly gift items, and it’s heavy on the bargaining.
Getting there: Take the subway (MTR) to Mong Kok, exit E2. Walk along Nelson St for 2 blocks and the Ladies market will be pretty obvious.
Cat Street Antiques Market
The Cat Street Antiques Market is small and sad. Don’t go here. Seriously. I know that sounds dramatic, but unless you’re on the hunt for some overpriced fake jade, or are somehow having trouble finding a mini brass Buddha figurine in China, you shouldn’t bother.
Getting Around Hong Kong
The main way I figured out how to get from point A to point B was Google Maps – they even have the exits marked for every metro station!
The Hong Kong subway system, MTR, is fast, easy, and affordable. There’s one line on Hong Kong Island, and a bunch of other lines jutting out all over Kowloon, New Territories, and Lantau Island. MTR also has an Airport Express line, which is by far the fastest way to get to and from the airport – only 25 minutes from the airport to Central station!
Cost: There are 2 options for purchasing tickets – single trip tickets and the Octopus Card. Buying single trip tickets is very simple, and if you’re wondering, the machines do have an English option. Prices on the Island Line range from $4.50 HKD to $18 HKD. The Octopus Card gives you a little discount on each ticket, and it also means you don’t have to make a stop at the ticket machine before every ride. You can purchase a card at the airport for about $20 USD. To get the card you have to pay $150 HKD which includes $100 in funds and $50 for the deposit. After your time in Hong Kong, you can return the card and get your deposit back (-$9 for an admin fee).
If you’re going to be in Hong Kong for a while, consider getting an Octopus Card. Not only is it the easiest way to pay for public transportation (it works on the MTR, ferry, buses, tram, etc), but you can use it at McDonald’s, Starbucks, 7-11, Watsons, and a ton of other places.
Pro tip: Download the subway map: click here! It’s just a handy thing to have when the subway is so congested by people that you can’t even see the map.
This is something you need to do in Hong Kong! It’s a two-deck passenger ferry that runs between Tsim Sha Tsui Pier on Kowloon, and Central Pier on Hong Kong Island. The best part about it is that it gives you a great view of the city skyline from Victoria Harbour.
Cost: It’s so cheap – only $2.80 HKD!
Pro tip: Try your hardest to avoid rush hour – people actually do use this ferry as part of their daily commute.
Tram (AKA Ding Ding)
You can call it the tram or the ding ding, but either way it’s the cheapest way to travel the main path of Hong Kong Island. Along with being the cheapest it’s also the slowest, and possibly the oldest. Essentially it’s a two-deck train that runs east to west along the northern part of Hong Kong Island and makes a million stops.
Cost: Only $2.30 HKD per ride.
Fun Fact: The tram began operating in 1904.
Taxi fare on Hong Kong Island starts at $22 HKD and starts going up after 2 km. The increase is about $1.60 HKD every 200 m or 1 minute of waiting time. So if you need to go 6 km, it’ll cost you approximately $54 HKD. It’s certainly not the cheapest way to get around, especially if you end up stuck in traffic. But if you have the luxury of converting Hong Kong Dollars to US Dollars in your head, that $54 HKD = $7 USD, so it’s still cheaper than your average US taxi.
Pro tip: If you’re having trouble flagging down a taxi, check your Uber app to see if there happens to be a driver near you! Hong Kong has Uber, but it’s not nearly as popular or cheap as it is in most major US cities.
An escalator as a form of mass transportation? I realize it sounds silly, but this escalator system in Hong Kong is actually the longest in the world, and it allows you to skate right over the cars and foot traffic in Central Hong Kong. It runs along the length of Cochrane Street and bisects a ton of major roads.
I’m headed to Hong Kong again in less than a month! Why? Here’s the explanation. Did you hear we’re moving to Beijing? That’s explained in there, too.
Thanks for reading! Talk to you soon 🙂
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