What to do in Hong Kong besides Eating and Shopping? Hong Kong alternative attractions!
Updated: Mar 20, 2019
Most people think of Hong Kong as a foodie and shopper paradise, but it is a lot more than just that! Concrete jungle aside, there are still a lot to do in Hong Kong!
This post is a collation of all our travels to Hong Kong for the past 4 trips, it is definitely still a work in progress as we venture to the outskirts and discover more of Hong Kong aside from the usual Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.
1. Victoria Harbour
Each time I visit Hong Kong, I will definitely make it a point to visit the Victoria Harbour. On a clear day, the view of the lighted skyscrapers at the edge of the river is a magnificent sight. Whether or not you are at the Kowloon side, or the Hong Kong island side, you'll be able to catch the light show - A Symphony of Lights - every night at 8pm (unless there's bad weather). The light show is a medley of lights, lasers, LED screens, with music performed by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
Besides positioning yourselves at the harbour, you may also want to take a retro chinese-style boat cruise or a luxury boat cruise to get views of both sides. Since these are prime time slots, it would be better if you reserve your tickets online in advance. Should you be wanting to save a few bucks, you may also wish to take the day-time cruise to enjoy the cityscape.
Otherwise, book yourselves a room in hotels that have a view of the harbour. That way, you won't have to squeeze with the rest of the crowd, and enjoy the Symphony of Lights in your comfy pyjamas!
Some of these harbour view hotels include:
These hotels are indeed costly but if you are in Hong Kong for a special occasion - anniversary or honeymoon, it may be worth it for a once-in-a-while splurge!
2. Avenue of Stars
The Avenue of Stars is located along Victoria Harbour. Here, you'll find handprints and plagues to honour Hong Kong's famous celebrities. You'll also see a Bruce Lee statue. While you are strolling to Victoria Harbour to catch the lightshow, make it a point to get through the Avenue of Stars!
Do note that the Avenue of Stars is currently undergoing upgrading works that are expected to be ready by 2019.
3. Central-Mid-level escalators
The mid-level escalators found in Central, Hong Kong is the world's longest outdoor covered escalator system. It was built to help locals to get from the street-level (Queen's Road Central) to the mid-levels (Conduit Road). The escalator is not just one long escalator, it is in fact, a series of 20 escalators with 3 travellators that are connected by foot bridges. To get from start to end, you'll take around 20 to 25 minutes!
Do also note that the escalator is up-riding after 10am. To get down, you'll have to head down by foot, and it is a long way down... Should you not want to walk down, you may also choose to take Minibus Number 3 on Conduit Road (about 20 metres from the end of the escalator) that will take you down to IFC mall.
The building of the escalator was a huge controversy in the beginning as many people initially thought of it as an unnecessary construction and happened to also fail to realise its objective to ease traffic congestion between the Central and the Mid-Levels. However, it has now been widely used both by the locals and tourists. Because of the fact that it is the world's longest outdoor covered escalator, it has helped to revitalise surrounding neighbours with more cafes and shops opening close to the entrances and exits of these escalators. The Central-Mid-Level escalators also provide a way to transit from the bustling Central region, to the more relaxed and serene Mid-Levels.
Besides riding the escalators, one should definitely pop by the many interesting stores and cafes found near these escalators. It would be a great way to explore the less crowded regions of Hong Kong when you're at the Mid-Levels!
Do also note that the escalators are currently undergoing some refurbishment works. These works started in March 2018 and is estimated to complete in four years time. As such, some portions of the escalators will be closed at various times.
4. Victoria Peak
Victoria Peak is the highest point in Hong Kong where you'll get to admire the skyline of Hong Kong! The Madam Tussads Musuem is also located here. The best time to visit is actually during sunset or in the evening. There are also some restaurants like Bubba Gump Shrimp that offer a good view of the skyline while you have your meals!
To find out more about Victoria Peak and how to get there, read also our blog post on: A Trip to Victoria Peak, Hong Kong.
5. Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland is the nearest Disneyland to Singapore and families who visit Hong Kong with their children should definitely consider heading to the theme park for a day! I'm sure that your kids will thank you for that!
You may also be interested in our blog posts on: All you need to know about Hong Kong Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland Hotels: Should I stay at the hotels in Disneyland Hong Kong?
Save time and avoiding waiting in the queues by purchasing your tickets online, you'll get a further discount if you book them on Klook!
6. Hong Kong Ocean Park
Hong Kong Ocean Park is really for the more adventurous teenagers and adults. Unlike Disneyland Hong Kong, where most of the rides and characters are suited for the children, Hong Kong Ocean Park has more thrilling rides. Furthermore, pay just one price and you'll get to see the pandas and head to an aquarium!
You may also be interested in our blog post on: Hong Kong Ocean Park Guide and Travel Tips
Klook's having a 1-for-1 promotion for the Ocean Park tickets till 13 June 2018, what are you waiting for? Get your tickets here!
7. Lantau Island: Ngong Ping 360, Big Buddha, Po Lin Monastery
A great day trip to Lantau Island, Ngong Ping 360 is a cable car that gets your to the Ngong Ping Region where you'll get to see the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. It is a yearly pilgrimage for devout Buddhists to climb up the stairs to get a close look of the Big Buddha. Even if you are not a Buddhist, it is still worth the trip to get up close and view the Ngong Ping region as a cultural site!
For more information on how to get there and information about the tickets, read also our blog post on Ngong Ping 360, Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery.
8. Tai-O Fishing Village
While you are at Ngong Ping, you could also try to squeeze in a trip to Tai-O Fishing Village. Here, you'll be able to see Houses on Stilts (very much like Kelongs in other Southeast Asian countries). For those who like seafood, you'll be in for a treat. Everywhere you go at Tai-O, there will bound to be a street food stall. Be it selling grilled shellfish, or the famous dried salted fish, it is not that difficult to find them!
From Ngong Ping, take either a taxi (10-minute ride) or New Lantao Bus 21 (20 minutes).
9. Lan Kwai Fong
**For adults only**
Lan Kwai Fong is the area that comes alive at night! It is full of bars and clubs that is popular amongst the locals and especially the tourists. When you first visit Hong Kong, you should definitely explore this area at night!
10. Ladies Market
Alright, this is actually an attraction that involves eating and shopping. But I can't mention Hong Kong's attractions without naming the Ladies Market! This is a shopping haven for the ladies! But do be warned, it can be pretty crowded!
Besides the Ladies Market, there's also the flower market, a market where they sell fishes and birds, all in the Mongkok area.
11. Temple Street Night Market
Another place that is a must-visit will be the Temple Street Night Market. The night market scene in Hong Kong may not necessarily be as extensive as the Night Markets in Taiwan, but you'll find lots of interesting souvenirs and street food at this Night Market.
Also, Hong Kong doesn't really need a Night Market for it to be bustling with activity, just head to Mongkok you'll be blown away by the street performances that makes the place come to life at night. Mongkok is the district where the young hang out. For older folks who wish to feel like a teen again, soak in the atmosphere here at Mongkok!
Another interesting observation we noticed while we were prancing around the streets and buildings in Mongkok were the abundance of educational centres. Students, who were still in uniform, would rush up the stairs for their next class. Talk about competitiveness in Hong Kong? Many of these centres market Star or Celebrity Tutors that you will also see plastered all over public buses and on posters everywhere in Hong Kong.
Have you seen some of them? Spot these the next time you visit Hong Kong!
12. Check out Chung King Mansions, or better, live in one of the shoebox apartments!
Chung King Mansions is a building that is supposedly for residential purposes. It is the venue where you can find some of the city's cheapest accommodation. The building is still functioning as a residential area, but the lack of space and flats in Hong Kong has also led to many of the owners segregating an entire apartment to fit in as many as 10 smaller "rooms".
Sadly, many Hong Kong-ers are unable to afford a roof over their heads (even the working graduates). The soaring prices of the housing market has made it quite impossible for people to pay for an apartment. As such, many of the lower income groups had to resort to renting a shoebox apartment in order to have accommodation.
If you dare, try out one living in one of the rooms in Chung King Mansions. Do note that these rooms even though it is small, is still far from the reality that some of the Hong Kong-ers are facing. In many of these budget rooms, you'll still be able to get a private (though very small) toilet and shower area but most residents are living in shoeboxes that can only fit a single bed.
You may also be interested in our blog post on: A look at Hong Kong's Shoebox Apartments.
13. Ride the Iconic Ding Ding Tram
Credits: Hans Johnson, Flickr
Another you-can-only-get-it-in-Hong-Kong activity is to ride the Ding Ding Tram. It is the oldest and cheapest public transportation in Hong Kong. These trams run on electricity and is environmentally sustainable as compared to other petrol vehicles.The Ding Ding trams in Hong Kong are operated by Hong Kong Tramways Ltd ever since 1904. Till today, there is a fleet of 164 trams serving 6 routes in Hong Kong Island.
To ride the Ding Ding Trams, you can either hop on to the public trams on Hong Kong Island, or join a TramOramic Tour. These tours often have an open-top second deck that allow you to have a good view of the streets of Hong Kong. The entire journey is an hour, and you can either start at Causeway Bay, or the historic Western Market. Get the tickets online here.
14. Visit Cheng Chau Island
Cheng Chau Island is still relatively unexplored by many travellers. Most people think of Hong Kong as the bustling metropolis, not exactly a beach or island adventure. But there's a lot to explore! Being in a densely populated area for holiday can sometimes feel slightly suffocating... Instead of being amidst the crowd, take a 40-minute ferry to Cheng Chau Island. From Hong Kong Island's Central Pier, take the ferry easily with your Octopus Card. By fast ferry, it costs around HK$28 to HK$38 (S$4.80 to S$6.60). Otherwise, visit in luxury by taking the AquaLuna Traditional Junk Boat Cruise.
When you're there, you can basically just walk around the village, or rent a bicycle to cycle at the side of the promenade. Some of the attractions include:
Tung Wan Beach
Mini Great Wall
You can find many hiking trails in Cheung Chau Island. Most of these trails are well-suited for beginners as they involve slight inclines and are basically a walk along the coast. One of the more challenging one is the "Mini Great Wall".
Cheung Po Tsai Cave and The Reclining Rock
The Cheung Po Tsai Cave was the hideout for olden day pirates to store their stolen stash. The character played by Chow Yun-fat in the ever popular The Pirates of the Caribbean: At the World's End, and the setting in which it was shot is actually inspired by the Cheung Po Tsai Cave.
Even though there isn't any more treasure to be found in the cave, it is still interesting to explore the winding passages in the Cave and imagining yourselves as a pirate! A torch is definitely required should you want to visit the cave!
Near the cave, you'll also find the Reclining Rock. If you look closely, you'll see five eroded rocks. The biggest rock then perpetually looks like it is about to fall off the cliff, hence its name as the Reclining Rock.
For Cheung Chau Island, you can pretty much do-it-yourselves. Should you want to have a more guided experience, consider joining a guided tour.
15. Hiking at Tai Mo Shan
Hong Kong, though known for a city that is overcrowded and full of concrete skyscrapers do also have lots of nature. Of which, hiking is another good way to explore the city. Many of the hikes in Hong Kong are relatively easy and are suited for beginners. For a more challenging hike, head up to Tai Mo Shan!
The entire hike up Tai Mo Shan is a total of three hours but as you can see in the picture, we did not manage to complete it due to threatening weather. The end of the hike should bring you to the Ng Tung Chai Waterfall, while passing by the Shan Fat Waterfall (which we would definitely want to visit the next time!).
As for all hikes, there is definitely some risk involved. Do ensure that ample research about the trails, including checking online for the weather conditions as well as the route closure notices (if any). For those who wish to have a guide to bring you up, you can book the Tai Mo Shan Waterfall Hike online.
16. Hike up Lion's Rock to get a bird's eye view of the city!
Lion's Rock Country Park is situated at Hong Kong Island and is the easiest trail to get to by public transport.You can either take the MTR to Won Tai Sin or Diamond Hill and walk an hour to the start of the trail. Should you wish to save your energies for the actual hiking path, take a taxi that will cost about 30 HKD (tell your driver to bring you to Lion Rock Peak or the Lion Pavilion).
Before you start your journey, do make sure you head for a toilet break! There are NO toilets along the walk so do make sure you've cleared your systems before the hike!
This hike is one of the easiest hike of all as there are no turns and you pretty much just have to follow the path straight up. It takes approximately 3 hours to reach the peak where you'll get a good view of the cityscape!
17. Dragon's Back Trail
This is one in our to-do list and is a popular hiking trail for many adventurous souls. Should you require a guide, book your tour online!
Do you see Hong Kong differently already? The highly recommended ones are definitely the hiking trails and Cheung Chau Island. Get there before it becomes crowded too!