7 days in Hong Kong – What to see and do (and what not to)
Every new destination we travel to calls for new research to make sure we see as many cool places as possible. However, sometimes our research (usually other blogs!) leads us to places that turn out to be not nearly as cool, instagrammable or awesome as people suggest. During our busy one-week stay in Hong Kong we visited a handful of those famous places. In this post I will break them down into three categories: “awesome”, “okay” and “skip”.*
*Obviously, different people like different things. Those who are into museums, art and history might not appreciate a good sky bar so much and vice versa. During our travels we try to cover a good range of things although we generally bypass three types of places: nightclubs/bars, luxurious experiences and unethical businesses.
I will start with places that we found to be “awesome”, then I will move on to those that we found to be “okay” and finish with “skip”.
Awesome Places in Hong Kong
1. Nan Lian Garden – easily one of the most beautiful parks I have been to. In this place you will find beautiful gardens with Chinese style pagodas and little museum-like buildings. Unlike some other parks in Hong Kong it is not that massive – a couple of hours at a leasurely pace will allow you to cover it all.
2. Hong Kong Park – really cool park in Central Hong Kong. Seeing the contrast between trees and greenery and the skyscrapers is quite extraordinary. Just sit down, relax and enjoy watching turles swim in one of the ponds.
3. Take a tram anywhere – cost is only 26p for a ride and you will be able to do so much more sightseeing than on foot. We did this a couple of times when we did not feel like walking anymore. Also trams can be hired privately! How does a private tour around Hong Kong sound like?
4. HK space museum – awesome place for a quick visit, admission is 10$ for the exhibition and 24$ for any of the movies. Both are worth it.
5. Avenue of stars and dock area impressed us a lot. Great vibe for relaxing after a day of touring around. Coming right before sunset is a good idea. There is also a light show that takes places at 7:45pm, 8pm and 9pm.
6. Victoria peak is one of the must-do attractions in Hong Kong. This is where you will take your best Hong Kong panorama shot. The ride by bus is around 50minutes from Central or Admiralty and is 12 $HK. Alternatively you can take Peak tram for 40 $HK.
Tip: If you get hungry after visiting all of those places visit Dim Sum Square on Hong Kong island. The food these guys serve is delicious (and affordable!).
“Okay” Attractions in Hong Kong
1. Ten thousand Buddhas monastery – around $16 HK to get to from Central Hong Kong. Admission is free. Nice view from the top and the number of Buddha figurines inside the temple is mind-blowing but otherwise it fades into the background knowing how much there is to see in HK.
2. Markets – Bird, Flower, Ladies, Fish (pet) – I would only do it if you have time or are in the area visiting other places or are super into markets. Flower market left us amazed by the size and super low prices of awesome orchids, but other markets were a little underwhelming.
3. Botanical Gardens – cool park with loads of plants, birds and (caged!) animals. It is quite close to Hong Kong Park and the Peak Tram stop so you might want to cover those together.
Tip: All of the places covered here are accessible via an extensive network of trains and MTR (metro). Octopus Card which you can purchase at the airport on your arrival is well worth investing in as it will allow you effortlessly move around without having to buy tickets in stations every time!
The best part – it can be returned at the end of your journey and the money refunded to you immediately in cash.
If you are in Hong Kong Skip:
1. Kowloon Park – It is an okay park although not as cool as HK park, botanical gardens or Nan Lian Gardens. If you are lucky you might see flamingoes roaming around in one of the ponds. Skip if you are short on time.
2. Residential Estates – not quick stops as some other blogs might suggest. These are residential places – mazes made of skyscrapers. This is where real people live (and tourists get lost!) and they don’t appreciate tourists walking around with cameras, taking pictures of their laundry. There is plenty of other things to see in Hong Kong.
3. I am aware this might be a little unpopular of an opinion but I would skip Lantau Island completely unless you have exhausted the pretty much non-exhaustable list of things to do in Hong Kong. The “oldest fishing village in HK” O Tia is what it says on the tin – a fishing village with a fish market. There are boat tours that you can take from O Tia to (hopefully) see pink Chinese dolphins but from what I’ve gathered your chances of success are slim.
People seem to think Lantau is great for escaping the “hustle and bustle” of a busy city but to be brutally honest with you if you came to Hong Kong, one of the busiest cities in the world, hoping to find lush nature your decision making is a bit off.
4. Another attraction in Lantau that will unfortunately go to the bottom of our list is the Big Buddha statue in Lantau. Unless you have never seen a big Buddha statue on top of a hill (plenty of those in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and many other locations) you are likely to leave the place unimpressed.
Tip: Lantau is quite nice to see and is certainly different than the rest of Hong Kong, however I’d only suggest Lantau to someone who is in HK for more than a week. For those with more time in Hong Kong Lamma Island (which we have not visited) might be worth considering!
Take it Easy – There Will Always be anothe time!
Hong Kong buzz seems to not stop ever. It feels there is always something going on so it is too easy to get sucked into the crazyness of this city. You do not even notice how you hit the ground running and never stop to relax and breathe until your legs cannot carry you any more.
Yes, we know how it feels to see your itinerary incomplete but there will always be another time or another visit. We figured it is so much better to take it easy and to not overstrech yourself but rather pick one or two things to do every day and spend the rest of the time observing people, relaxing in a cafe or in a park or having a nice meal.
Hopefuly, this short guide will help you sift out some of the overhyped places from your itinerary and have a more enjoyable visiti in Hong Kong.