If you’ve been following me on social media recently you’ll see that last month I went on a family trip to Hong Kong. I’ve always been intrigued but never really hyped on visiting Asia. However, when I found out my sister was doing a semester abroad in Hong Kong for her degree, it felt like too good an opportunity to miss.
It didn’t take long to realise that Hong Kong was well worth a visit. For nine days straight, we barely stopped. My dad is the type to buy a travel guide book and think of it as his bible for the week so by day 1 the week was planned and we had a jam-packed trip ahead of us.
*We did visit Hong Kong during a turbulent time. If you’ve watched the news recently you’ve probably seen lots of protests taking place. A bit of a back story if you’re not up to date, Hong Kong used to be a British Colony, meaning it used to be controlled by Britain. Since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 the city has benefitted from more autonomy than the mainland and it’s people have more rights. In April this year, China tried to enforce an extradition bill which would have allowed for criminal suspects to be sent back to mainland China. This triggered a series of protests and was eventually suspended, but since then there have been a number of protests supporting the Hong Kong movement and claims of police brutality towards protesters have emerged. We were fortunate not to see any protests during our time in Hong Kong however we did see evidence that there had been some chaos. Lots of MTR (underground) stations were vandalised and as masks are now banned in Hong Kong, Ocean Park (Theme Park) cancelled their Halloween Fest with little warning. Apart from that it was clear that tourism is down, most tourist locations were extremely quiet and hotel prices have dropped which was a benefit to our trip, but not for the city. If you’re thinking about heading to Hong Kong for a holiday soon, do not be put off by the news, it certainly didn’t impact our trip.
So, without further ado, here are my top 10 must-see things to do in Hong Kong:
1. Victoria Peak
We kick started our trip with a nice 2 hour hike to the top of Victoria Peak. Little did we know we could have got a tram to the top to save our tired little jet-lagged legs but where’s the fun in that, hey? Undoubtedly the view is stunning, I could have spent hours just staring out over the whole of Hong Kong. It’s also mad that there are two massive shopping centres at the top of the mountain. Victoria Peak definitely has to be your first stop in Hong Kong!
2. Man Mo Temple
Next stop is a bit of a cultural one. Man Mo Temple is around 200 years old and it’s a real beauty that stands out amongst the high-rise housing blocks. The temple is known as a worship destination for students wanting to do well in their examinations. I’m a bit too old for school now but I’m hoping I’ve picked up a bit of luck if I have to sit any exams in the future.
3. Big Buddha plus Cable Car
So one of my main recommendations to visit in Hong Kong is Tian Tan Buddha, also know as Big Buddha. It is accessible via bus or cable car, both of which take around 30 minutes to reach the summit of the mountain. We took the cable car for the view and it didn’t disappoint.
Once you reach the top of the mountain there is a quaint little town with loads of authentic shops. Once you walk through the town you’ll start to spot the Big Buddha on the top of the mountain. It was only built in 1993 but the place definitely has a more historic feel and the Buddha himself is 35m high!
It’s a family tradition to take our #andyband wherever we travel in the world, in memory of our cousin Andrew who passed away whilst travelling on a climbing trip in America. Please search the hashtag #andyband to see pictures from all around the world where the memory of Andy is living on.
Within the same area as Big Buddha you are also able to see Po Lin Monastery which dates back over 100 years.
4. Ladies Market
The ladies market is located in on Tung Choi Street in Kowloon (nearest MTR station is Mong Kok). The market goes on for streets and streets and if you’re looking to pick up a bargain this is the place to do it. ALWAYS barter with the sellers as if they see you’re a tourist they’ll start at really high prices. You can pick up authentic items and also some really good fakes if that’s your thing.
5. Ferry from Victoria Harbour to Tsim Sha Tsui
The best way to step back and look at the Hong Kong skyline is to catch the ferry from Victoria Island on Hong Kong Island to Tsim She Tsui in Kowloon. I love a scenic boat trip and this is only 10 minutes and costs about 35p (transport is sooo cheap in Hong Kong).
6. Hong Kong Light Show
One of the most magical sights to see in Hong Kong is their daily light show. All the sky scrapers on the other side of the water light up to music everyday at 8pm and lasts around 10 minutes. If you’re looking for the best spot to watch it, I’d recommend the Kowloon Public Pier by the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower, which is also right next to the ferry port I mentioned in point 5!
7. Happy Valley Racecourse
If you’re over 18 then on a wednesday night you’ve got to visit Happy Valley Racecourse. Originally being from Cheltenham, my family loves a day at the races and with that skyline, it’s not to be missed.
8. Day trip to Macau
It’s really easy to go on a day trip to Macau from Hong Kong. If you’re unfamiliar with Macau, it used to be Portuguese territory and is known as the Vegas of Asia due to it’s amazing experience-hotels and casinos built by the same people that own American Las Vegas Sands Hotel. There are about 10 different hotels and each one is like a little town. At the Venetian you can actually ride Gondola’s down the canal on the first floor where the shopping mall is!
Macau also has a lot of history in the centre like the ruins of St Paul which was destroyed in a fire during a typhoon in 1835.
9. Ocean Park
I was surprisingly impressed with Ocean Park, mainly due to it’s variety. The park is split in two halves, the first half of the park acts as almost a safari park with lots of different animals. Our most favourite was An An the Panda. Although I don’t really agree with having animals in captivity, there was a big emphasis on how we can look after our planet to care for these animals.
You can then catch a cable car to the other side of the mountain where all the rides are. It’s no Thorpe Park but some of the rides were pretty cool!
Last but not least I’d recommend visiting Stanley, on the other side of Hong Kong Island from the city. It’s a 50 minute bus ride (that costs less than £2) and has a beautiful beach and more authentic markets. Well worth a visit if you want more of a chilled out day.
If you’ve got this far reading then you’re probably about to put Hong Kong next on your list of places to travel to. I couldn’t recommend it more. There are so many places and things to see, it’s a must to visit at least once in your lifetime.
All photos and were taken by me on an iPhone 11.