Hong Kong is a city of contrasting light and constant movement; a whirl of commotion that combines climbing skyscrapers and golden stretches of sand with steaming bowls of wonton noodles and ceaseless traffic. In other words: it’s an Instagrammer’s paradise.
This dynamic metropolis is prized photography country, even for those who prefer to shoot bite-sized, instantly uploadable images. Inspiration can strike anywhere, but below are the 10 best places to capture Hong Kong’s most iconic photographs.
1. Hong Kong’s garden hideaway
Few photos can capture the essence of Hong Kong better than those taken at Chi Lin Nunnery in Kowloon. Instagram opportunities unfurl before your lens here as classical Chinese gardens give way to a glorious golden pagoda and a lotus pond filled with plump koi carp. This serene Buddhist complex seems all the more tranquil when snapped against the contrasting skyscrapers that tower above, creating a seamless fusion of the modern and the natural.
2. Food too cute to eat
Embedded into Hong Kong’s culture like dragon dances and milk tea, Instagram swells with shots of steaming baskets of dim sum, so head to Yum Cha to snap something more contemporary. This dim sum restaurant does things a little differently: the pork buns are shaped as pigs and the sausage rolls are designed like dogs. Even the pineapple puff cookies are made to look like birds and are presented in a metal cage.
3. The iconic rainbow residence
Thickets of high-rise apartments stretch skyward across much of Hong Kong, so skyline shots and neck-craning close-ups both provide fantastic photo fodder. However, the vibrant Choi Hung Estate (take exit C4 from the Kwun Tong MTR stop) is where Instagrammers should head first. With a rainbow of painted panels adorning the sides of the towers, palm trees lining the entrance and locals shooting hoops on the estate’s basketball court, the Choi Hung Estate could pass as 1970s California – and there’s always the 1977 Instagram filter to play up that effect.
4. Snap something fishy
Mong Kok is home to a number of markets selling everything from phone cases to lingerie, but keen photographers should zoom in on Tung Choi Street’s Goldfish Market where dozens of fish are separated into plastic bags and displayed for prospective pet owners to examine. It is considered good luck to bring fish into the home in China and while the humble goldfish does make an appearance here, expect to snap a wide array of colourful and exotic species.
5. The cocktail snap
What you want from a rooftop photo is an unobstructed view of the skyline, but not all of Hong Kong’s rooftop bars were created equal. While most tourists will flock to Central or Tsim Sha Tsui for a high-rise drink, Wooloomooloo (wooloo-mooloo.com) in Wan Chai offers a completely different perspective on the city. The panoramic view from the terrace is just the spot to capture Victoria Harbour in an envy-inducing Instagram shot, fruity cocktail in hand.
6. The star shot
For a different perspective of the city’s skyscrapers ride the Star Ferry. If you’re quick enough to grab a window seat, Hong Kong’s most beloved boat offers unrivalled vistas of Victoria Harbour and an upward view of the towering architectural giants that dominate the city's eternal skyline. It’s a sight that will make you feel small, but one that will keep your Instagram game strong.
7. That ‘I'm on top of the world’ picture
For a sweeping view of all that Hong Kong has to offer, climb the moderate 2.8km hike from Wong Tai Sin to Lion Rock in Kowloon. Though not as popular or as easy as the trek to Dragon’s Back, those that make the ascent will be rewarded with piercing views that sweep across over cloud-like clusters of skyscrapers below, out across the haze of Victoria Harbour and to the silhouetted hills beyond. The 495m-high mountain is named after the feline-shaped rock at its summit, which also happens to be the city’s most recognised natural landmark.
8. The must-see murals
There are signs everywhere of Hong Kong’s burgeoning art scene, even on the streets. In Sheung Wan, one of Hong Kong’s trendiest districts, it’s not uncommon to stumble across street art murals spray-painted across the sides of buildings. Graham Street in Central is home to one of the most Instagrammed frescoes, a mural depicting a colourful array of buildings, but to break from the mould head to Peel Street, Hollywood Road, Tank Lane and Upper Station Street where new works appear almost overnight.
9. The neon-lit nightlife
Although Hong Kong’s famed neon lights are quickly being replaced by LED bulbs, there is still no shortage of bright and colourful illuminations to capture around the city. Plenty of advertising boards flash up along Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui and Jordan Road in Yau Ma Tei, while the view from the overpass above Tung Choi Street at Mong Kok Road glows so bright, sunglasses may be advisable. On the island side, walk down Lockhart Road to snap some scintillating go-go bar signs.
10. The city’s best sunset snap
The Sai Wan Swimming Shed (Victoria Road), a wooden pier jutting out into the choppy waters of the Sulphur Channel, is a popular spot for wedding photography, but its remote location means you’re unlikely to bump elbows with hordes of tourists. Best captured at sunset when the skies tear apart in orange and purple ribbons, this might be your best chance to hashtag ‘#nofilter’.
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