The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises travelers to exercise caution when visiting Hong Kong due to a series of protests around the country.
Hong Kong welcomes with an iconic skyline, a legendary kitchen, and lush, protected nature where rare birds and colorful traditions thrive.
Neighborhoods & Islands
Hong Kong's enchanting neighborhoods and islands offer a sensory feast. You may find yourself swaying along on a historic double-decker tram, cheering with the crowd at the city-center horse races, or simply gazing out at the glorious harbor. What most visitors don't immediately realize is that over 70% of Hong Kong is mountains and sprawling country parks, some also home to geological and historical gems. Escape the city limits on one of the world’s smoothest transport systems and spend your day wandering in a Song dynasty village, hiking on a deserted island or kayaking among volcanic sea arches.
One of the world's top culinary capitals, the city that worships the God of Cookery has many a demon in the kitchen, whether the deliciousness in the pot is Cantonese, Sichuanese, Japanese or French. So deep is the city's love of food and so broad its culinary repertoire that whatever your gastronomic desires, Hong Kong will find a way to sate them. The answer could be a bowl of wonton noodles, freshly steamed dim sum, a warm pineapple bun wedged with butter, a pair of the sweetest prawns, your first-ever stinky tofu, or the creations of the latest celebrity chef.
From off-the-rack Chinese gowns to bespoke speciality knives (and vice versa), the sheer variety of products in Hong Kong’s shops is dizzying. Every budget, need and whim is catered for in "can do" spirit by a similarly impressive assortment of venues: glitzy malls where the moneyed shop, chic side-street boutiques and vintage dens where fashionistas find their gems, nerdy gadget bazaars, and a mix of markets where you can haggle to your heart’s content. The city has no sales tax so prices are generally attractive to visitors.
Underneath the glass and steel of Hong Kong’s commercial persona is a dynamic cultural landscape where its Chinese roots, colonial connections and the contributions of its home-grown talent become intertwined. Here you’re just as likely to find yourself dissecting art in the dizzying number of contemporary galleries as joining in dawn taichi or reading the couplets of a local poet to the drumbeat of a dragon boat. Culture could also mean indie music by the harbor or Chinese opera in a bamboo theater, not to mention the thousands of shows staged year-round at the city's many museums and concert halls.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Hong Kong.
Standing at 552m, Victoria Peak is the highest point on Hong Kong Island. It is also one of the most visited spots by tourists, and it’s not hard to see why. Sweeping views of the metropolis, verdant woods and easy but spectacular walks are all reachable in just eight minutes from Central via Hong Kong’s 125-year-old, gravity-defying Peak Tram. Predictably, it's become a money-making circus with restaurants and two shopping malls, but there's still magic up here if you can get past that.
One of Hong Kong’s oldest temples and a declared monument, atmospheric Man Mo Temple is dedicated to the gods of literature (‘Man’), holding a writing brush, and of war (‘Mo’), wielding a sword. Built in 1847 during the Qing dynasty by wealthy Chinese merchants, it was, besides a place of worship, a court of arbitration for local disputes when trust was thin between the Chinese and the colonialists.
Handsome architecture, the South China Sea, and 140-million-year-old volcanic rocks make this one of Hong Kong's most breathtaking places. High Island Reservoir East Dam is the most easily accessible part of Hong Kong Global Geopark and the only place where you can touch the hexagonal rock columns. The scenery is surreal and made even more so by the presence of thousands of dolosse (huge reinforced concrete blocks shaped like jacks) placed along the coast to break sea waves.
This cable-hauled funicular railway has been scaling the 396m ascent to the highest point on Hong Kong Island since 1888. A ride on this clanking tram is a classic Hong Kong experience, with vertiginous views over the city as you ascend the steep mountainside. It's become so popular that the whole experience is being upgraded with larger trams and a bigger lower terminus. A five-month service suspension will take effect in the third quarter of 2020 so work can be completed by early 2021.
Prepare to be whisked through millennia of Hong Kong history at this extraordinary museum, starting with prehistory (don't linger, the best is yet to come) and ending with the territory’s return to China in 1997. Highlights of the 'Hong Kong Story' include a recreation of an entire arcaded street in Central from 1881, a full-sized fishing junk, lots of informative video theatre exhibits (including an even-handed stab at the Opium Wars) – and so much more.
Po Lin is a huge Buddhist monastery and temple complex that was built in 1924. Today it seems more of a tourist honeypot than a religious retreat, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors a year and still being expanded. Most of the buildings you'll see on arrival are new, with the older, simpler ones tucked away behind them. The big draw is the enormous seated bronze Buddha, a must-see on any Hong Kong trip.
The 270-hectare nature reserve includes the Mai Po Visitor Centre at the northeastern end, where you must register; the Mai Po Education Centre to the south, with displays on the history and ecology of the wetland and Deep Bay; floating boardwalks and trails through the mangroves and mudflats; and a dozen hides. Disconcertingly, the cityscape of Shēnzhèn looms to the north.
Part of Hong Kong Global Geopark, 400-year-old Lai Chi Wo is Hong Kong's best-preserved Hakka walled village and has an intact woodland. With 200 houses, ancestral halls, temples, and a breezy square fringed by old banyans, it is a sight to behold. There are 90-minute guided tours every Sunday and public holiday (usually at 11am and 1.30pm), as well as bespoke tours available on weekdays; all must be booked two weeks in advance by email.
When night falls and neon buzzes, Hong Kong's liveliest market rattles into life. Covering multiple city blocks from Man Ming Lane in the north to Nanking St in the south, Temple St is cleaved in two by the Tin Hau Temple complex. In the 1920s, vendors gathered there to serve temple-goers; a century on, the crowds descend nightly for cheap clothes and watches, street food, trinkets and teaware. Marked prices are mere suggestions – this is a place to bargain.