Things to do in Hong Kong
Ride Hong Kong’s iconic Peak Tram
There's no arguing that Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island, is like a magnet for tourists. Yet what's just as memorable as those sweeping views is the thrilling ride up to the top and down again. Travelling in Hong Kong's 130-year-old Peak Tram is one of the city's most unique experiences. Over the years, the Peak Tram has been carefully maintained, however the Peak Tram Upgrade Project from 2018-2021 will enable more passengers to enjoy this very special journey. If you're riding Hong Kong's Peak Tram, look out for the Peak Tram illusion. This is a phenomenon whereby passengers experience a visual illusion going uphill: if you're sitting on the right side of the tram, the skyscrapers will appear to lean into the hill. If you're a movie buff, look out for the 1955 film Soldier of Fortune, which was filmed when Hong Kong's Peak Tram carriages were painted green.
Tourist Peak Tram in Hong Kong
Soak up the stunning city views from Victoria Peak
All those images of Hong Kong's incredible skyline are captured here. Victoria Peak has attracted people to its summit since colonial times, and remains one of the most important Hong Kong landmarks. From the top, you can gaze out over the sparkling skyscrapers, the expanse of Victoria Harbour and, on a clear day, you can see as far as the New Territories. The historical Peak Tram funicular railway is one of the oldest and steepest funicular railways in the world and an experience in itself (see above). For the best views from Victoria Peak, head to Peak Tower and travel up to level 5. Here you'll arrive at Sky Terrace 428 which is – you guessed it – 428m above sea level and offers those breathtaking 360-degree views.
Beautiful Sunrise over Victoria Harbor
Gaze in awe the big Tian Tan Buddha
At 34m high, this ‘Big Buddha' as it is colloquially known, is the world's largest seated outdoor bronze and gold Buddha statue. Tian Tan Buddha sits tranquilly on top of a lotus throne, opposite the Po Lin Monastery and gazes north toward mainland China, offering its blessing. It is one of the most beautiful places in Hong Kong to visit, surrounded by the lush mountainous landscape of Lantau Island. The Big Buddha was completed in 1993 and if you want to get a close-up look at the 202-tonne statue, you can climb the 268 steps and be rewarded with some pretty impressive views when you get to the top. If all that walking gives you an appetite, you're in luck. The operational Po Lin Monastery is not only one of the most important Buddhist sanctums, its popular vegetarian restaurant offers some super-tasty sustenance. The monastery gardens are also lovely to wander around, abundant in flowers and birdlife, while the beautiful Lantau Tea Garden – the only tea garden in Hong Kong – is a short 10-minute walk away.
Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha) at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Find holiday happiness at Hong Kong Disneyland
If you're yearning for that ‘sprinkle of pixie dust' feeling while on your Hong Kong getaway, Hong Kong Disneyland is ready and waiting for you. Packed with all the Disney fun you would expect, Hong Kong Disneyland brings a little flavour of Hong Kong to the experience too. You may not even notice, but the design incorporates Feng Shui and traditional Chinese elements such as the colour red, lots of water features and a north-south orientation of the theme park to encourage good fortune. The different ‘lands' that you can visit within Hong Kong Disneyland include Adventureland, Fantasyland, Grizzly Gulch, Main Street U.S.A, Mystic Point, Toy Story Land and Tomorrowland, with this final land incorporating the Iron Man Tech Showcase and Star Wars Command Post. Even though there are a dizzying array of restaurants and food outlets, if you want a fun and delicious treat unique to Hong Kong Disneyland, stop into the Crystal Lotus restaurant inside the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. Here you can take your pick from the special dim sum menu filled with all your favourite Disney and Pixar characters… too cute to eat?
Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Hong Kong Disney
Take a punt trackside at Happy Valley Racecourse
One of the most quintessential Hong Kong experiences is a day at the races. Happy Valley Racecourse staged its first race back in 1846 and the Hong Kong Jockey Club is one of the city's oldest and most powerful entertainment institutions. Redeveloped into an international calibre racing facility in 1995, the curved façade of Happy Valley's grandstand dominates the main straight of one of horse racing's most iconic venues, which is surrounded on all sides by the city's dazzling skyscrapers. This seven-storey grandstand accommodates more than 55,000 spectators, and watching your horse hit the lead in the home stretch is an exhilarating experience. While it might not be easy to line your holiday up with the Hong Kong Derby or Champion's Day, Happy Valley's traditional Wednesday night races are one of the must-do experiences in Hong Kong, raking in millions of dollars and raising the buzz around the track to fever pitch. Hong Kong's only other track is at Sha Tin Racecourse in the New Territories, and is also a fun day out.
Aerial view of the famous Happy Valley racecourse in Hong Kong island in Hong Kong SAR, China
Escape to Lantau Island for the weekend
The largest outlying island in Hong Kong offers a wonderful mix of experiences, from the universal fun of Hong Kong Disneyland to the tranquil walking paths and fishing villages dotted around the coast. Lantau Island is also where you'll find the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. If a spiritual theme is what you're after, seek out the Wisdom Path, set in the hills of Ngong Ping just a short walk from the Big Buddha. Wisdom Path is marked by a series of 38 wooden upright monuments containing verses from the centuries-old Heart Sutra, one of the world's best-known prayers. Other highlights of Lantau Island are the themed village of Ngong Ping 360; the stilt houses of the Tanka boat people in the historical fishing village of Tai O; the beautiful Cheung Sha Beach and Pui O Beach; and the endangered ‘pink' dolphins which frolic in the waters to the east of Lantau Island. You may be lucky enough to glimpse on one of the dolphin-watching tours organised by Hong Kong Dolphinwatch (departing from outside the Kowloon Hotel, on the mainland).
Gondolas of Ngong Ping Cable Car over the mountainside on Lantau Island.
Kick your shoes off in Victoria Park
A popular Hong Kong tourist attraction as well as a firm favourite with locals, Victoria Park is the largest area of green space on Hong Kong island and an oasis of serenity in this bustling city. If you visit the park early on a weekday, you'll be treated to the mesmerising spectacle of people practising the flowing movements of Tai Chi. Victoria Park offers visitors large swathes of green grass as well as a bowling green, football fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool and several jogging tracks. There are quite a few things you can't do in the park, such as play music or fly a kite, so make sure you note the regulations beforehand. The park comes alive even more than usual during the Mid-Autumn Festival, when it's transformed by glowing lanterns, and just before the Lunar New Year, when a large flower market is held here. The best way to get to the park is to take the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) and hop off at Causeway Bay Station.
Causeway Bay and Victoria park in Hong Kong
Make a day of it at Ngong Ping 360
Set atop a hill on Lantau Island, Ngong Ping 360 is culturally-themed village offering visitors a panoramic view of Lantau and plenty of activities. Getting there is one of the biggest drawcards, with a world-renowned cable car experience taking you from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping. Options include a private cable car cabin and the Crystal Cabin, which has a glass bottom for greater views. You can use Ngong Ping village as a starting point for a day trip that could include the Big Buddha, Tai O fishing village, Po Lin Monastery, the Wisdom Path, Lion Hill, Tiger Hill and more. Set on a scenic 1.5 hectares, Ngong Ping Village has plenty of cafes and eateries, shops, and entertainment such as VR 360 and Motion 360.
Breathtaking views from Ngong Ping cable car, Lantau Island.
Criss-cross Victoria Harbour on a Star Ferry
It's a must-do in Hong Kong – getting out on that world famous harbour in one of the humble Star Ferries. These boats have been taking passengers from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and back since 1888. Today their popularity shows no sign of abating: visitors enjoy the iconic Hong Kong experience and the chance to take some pics of this photogenic harbour, while locals jump on a ferry to avoid the peak hour traffic jams and commuter crowds. The names of the original four vessels were Morning Star, Evening Star, Rising Star and Guiding Star, although now you might be lucky enough to jump on a Celestial Star or a Twinkling Star, among others. It's only a 10-minute journey across the harbour, and the most dramatic route is from Kowloon to Central, especially on a cloudless evening. Ferries depart every 10 to 12 minutes, and travel two routes, from Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon to either Central or Wanchai, both on Hong Kong Island. Tickets are slightly more expensive for the top deck, but you'll have a much better view.
Traditional junk boat sailing across Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong.
Discover the natural wonders at Ocean Park Hong Kong
Clinging to a cliff face which offers sweeping views of the South China Sea and parted in the middle by an iconic mountain range, this sprawling aquatic-themed amusement park is one of Hong Kong's oldest and best-loved tourist attractions. Ocean Park Hong Kong can be divided into two distinct areas: the Waterfront and Summit, which are connected by cable car and Ocean Express funicular train. Before we even get to the attractions, it's worth noting that these two modes of transport are amazing things to do in their own right, with sweeping ocean views available from the cable car ride and the sensation of travelling underwater recreated by the funicular railway. So then, what are the best attractions at Ocean Park Hong Kong? There's Shark Mystique, which takes you on a journey deep underwater to meet over 100 sharks; Polar Adventure, which takes you on a bobsled ride and gives you a chance to explore both North and South poles; Aqua City, featuring the world's first 360-degree water screen, and so much more.
Jump on a traditional Chinese Junk Boat
Symbolic of days gone by, the traditional junk boat with its red sails presents a striking image as it cuts its way across Victoria Harbour. The original junk boat, or sampan, is Duk Ling. This flat-bottomed Chinese wooden boat is an authentic fisherman's boat which underwent a full restoration in the 1980s, sank during a typhoon in 2014, and has now been retrieved and painstakingly restored. It is joined by more modern vessels (built to resemble the traditional boats) such as the Aqua Luna and the Aqua Luna II. Plan ahead if you wish to experience this popular Hong Kong attraction, because spaces are limited with Duk Ling only taking 36 passengers, for example. Junk sailings around the harbour will take around 45 minutes and if you want the deluxe option, Duk Ling is even available for charter.
Traditional Junk Boat at the Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong.