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After just 5 days spent there, Hong Kong has become one of my favourite Asian cities that I have visited. Yes it is busy, but it has so much character that I enjoyed almost every second spent there. Wandering the streets it is easy to forget that every building you walk past is so high, but then you look up or wander into one and realise that each and every building is a maze of apartments and shops that aren’t even visible from the street! Not only are the buildings themselves mazes, but there are also endless walkways that cover the city so you can walk above the streets. It is a place you would never be able to explore completely. So here I have compiled our top things to do in Hong Kong so you can see as much as possible in this incredible city.
GETTING AN OCTOPUS CARD
On your first day in Hong Kong getting an Octopus card should be Number 1 on your list. They are cards that you can use all over Hong Kong to pay for transport and even at shops and 7-11’s. You will be able to get them from any MTR Station! The initial cost is £15 per card, which includes £10 of credit and then the remaining £5 is a deposit. When you are leaving Hong Kong you can get the deposit and any remaining credit refunded to you at the airport or MTR Stations. So don’t be worried if you haven’t used all the credit you have topped up with.
You even get a discounted rate when using an Octopus card for transport, instead of purchasing a single ticket! If you want some more information head over to the website here.
TOP THINGS TO DO
1. LOOK OVER THE CITY AT VICTORIA PEAK
Making the journey up to the top of Victoria Peak is a must do when in Hong Kong. Looking down onto the massive number of skyscrapers that you would usually be craning your neck to look up at is a different but great way to see the city. When we ventured up some of the city was covered in the grey fog, but I just think this added to the smoggy, moody city atmosphere.
To reach the peak you can either take the tram or the bus. To save a little money we decided to take the bus up to the peak, which cost only £1.03 each with our Octopus cards! We got the number 15 bus from the Central bus station on Hong Kong Island which took around 45 minutes. We still wanted to experience the tram, so we decided get it on the way down. It was only £3.70 each for a one way ticket, but I am glad we experienced both options. The bus was a fun way to get to the top, meandering along the windy mountainous roads. And taking the tram down was a little exhilarating as some parts were extremely steep!
2. LADIES MARKET & TEMPLE STREET MARKET
What better way to spend your evening than wandering the night markets, seeing if something catches your eye! The two main markets nearest to the Tsim Sha Tsui area are Ladies Market and Temple Street Market. You can reach both of these by catching the Tsuen Wan Line in the Northern direction. Ladies Market is in Mong Kok and is within walking distance from Mong Kok Station, and Temple Street can be reached from Jordan station. Alternatively, you can always walk up Nathan Road, but depending on where you are starting from this may be too far to walk.
You could always visit both in one night, as they are both situated just a few streets off of Nathan Road. Both markets sell very similar items, but I preferred Ladies Market just a little more.
3. CLIMB THE 268 STEPS TO THE BIG BUDDHA
Seeing the Big Buddha was on my list of must-sees in Hong Kong! We made sure to leave a half day free to do this, as it takes quite a while to reach the end destination at the top of the mountain! From the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station we got the Tseun Wan Line to Lai King Station. Then changed onto the Tung Chung Line and got off at Tung Chung station, which also happens to stop at the Disneyland Resort. From here it was just a short walk to the Ngong Ping Cable Car station. The cable car is the easiest and most interesting way to reach the top of the mountain, and cost £23.43 each for a return trip. Given that the cable car takes half an hour, this doesn’t seem too steep a price.
I believe you can also get the bus to the top, and I even saw steps leading all the way to the top from the city, but that would most likely take hours and hours to walk! After departing the cable car and walking through the street lined with restaurants and gift shops, you will reach the bottom of the steps up to the Buddha. Luckily it is only 268, so definitely doable! We explored around the Buddha and snapped a few photos and climbed back down. There is also a Monastery to explore too. It was a great half day trip, and getting there and back was easy enough with the great public transport! Just make sure to take some warm clothes with you, it can get quite chilly up that high!
4. EXPLORE STANLEY MARKET
Like Ladies Market and Temple Street, Stanley Market sells the perfect souvenirs and gadgets to take home with you. However, being further out of the city it benefits from being much quieter, and is situated next to some lovely restaurants to stop in after shopping. It has much more of a relaxed feel than the markets in the centre of the city. It does take about an hour to get here, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. You can get a bus from the Central station right to Stanley Market without having to change!
5. GO HUNTING FOR NEON LIGHTS
We often found in the evenings that we wanted to go out and explore the area at night and take some photos. But Hong Kong gets so much busier at night time, and it is hard to walk slowly and take in the sights around you when you are constantly having to weave in between other people. This is why we loved finding the walkways that are built above the roads below. We really enjoyed this different level of perspective to be able to watch the city below and also became a good place to take photographs. From getting that little bit of elevation we could find more neon lights and cool signs that we might otherwise have missed from being on the ground!
6. WATCH THE SYMPHONY OF LIGHTS SHOW
Every night at 8pm there is a light show from each of the eye catching buildings in the Hong Kong skyline. It can be watched from either the Tsim Sha Tsui area along the waterfront or from the other side of the water in Wan Chai. It lasts for about ten minutes, with lasers and lights cast onto and out of the buildings along to music. Make sure to get there five minutes early to get a good spot!
7. WANDER AROUND THE TSIM SHA TSUI AREA
For our first full day in Hong Kong, we decided to explore the area around where we were staying. This really helped us get a feel for the area, and we stumbled across a few hidden gems that we would have otherwise missed. We first took a walk North up Nathan Road to Kowloon Park. We didn’t know what to expect as we just saw it on Google Maps, but it was full of groups of locals practising Tai Chi. This seems to be a really popular activity among the people of Hong Kong! There were also mazes to explore, a bird area and even pink flamingos in the water!
We also found a really great lookout onto the skyline of Hong Kong Island, although I’m not sure I would be able to find it again! If you have time, make sure to also take a slow walk along the waterfront. From here you can sit on one of the many benches and take in the views of Victoria Harbour across the water.
8. EXPLORE HONG KONG PARK
After getting the tram down the mountain from Victoria Peak, we stumbled upon Hong Kong Park, and were so glad we did! It seemed to be a big spot for business people spending their lunch breaks in. With many gardens, water fountains and places to sit and relax in, you could spend a slow morning exploring this park away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
WHERE TO STAY
Staying in the Tsim Sha Tsui was perfect for a first-time visit to Hong Kong. We were just a few minutes walk away from the MTR Station, right next to a 7-11 and we still felt secure when entering our room. We booked through Airbnb, and we went with this room here! Like we expected, a lot of the budget options in Hong Kong are tiny box rooms. But for just 5 days it was great, but you could always spend a little more and get somewhere a bit more spacious. I would really recommend this Airbnb lister, she was really helpful in answering any questions we had!
HOW TO GET TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT
By far the cheapest way to get to and from Hong Kong airport is by bus. Luckily before we arrived, our Airbnb host told us which number bus to get, which was the A21. This bus made many stops along Nathan Road so may be the best for the Tsim Sha Tsui area. It only cost £3.30 each, and we had to buy our tickets from the counter when we arrived at the airport in Hong Kong. But we were able to use our Octopus cards for the journey back. Arriving in the evening will definitely add quite a bit of time onto the journey, it took well over an hour in the evening! Compared to just 45 minutes in the day time!
Hong Kong has since become one of my favourite Asian cities so far! Even though I find really busy cities quite overwhelming, the character of Hong Kong more than made up for this! Another one of my favourites has been Singapore, which is actually pretty different to Hong Kong. Make sure to read my Top Five Things To Do in Singapore blog post too.
WHAT’S IN MY BACKPACK
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