no alt text

Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 06 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Lee Cobaj

Asia’s most cosmopolitan city dazzles like no other, with its pretty puzzle of mountains and harbour, malls and markets, high-rises, temples and trams.

The landscape constantly amazes, while the pace of life is relentlessly exciting day and night – Hong Kong doesn’t so much tick boxes as fill them out in technicolour.

Superb food and shopping are two of Hong Kong’s main draws, but don’t come expecting the bargains of yesteryear from the city’s famous markets.

However, Hong Kong’s million-dollar harbourside views won’t cost you a bean, and the five-minute hop across Victoria Harbour on the iconic Star Ferry is the perfect introduction to the city.

Orientation

Hong Kong can be split into four parts: Hong Kong Island, which is the seat of government and business; Kowloon, which is more commercial; the New Territories, mainly made up of dormitory towns; and the Outer Islands. Visitors generally base themselves on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon.

While for most people Hong Kong conjures up images of neon high-rises around a glittering harbour, some 40 per cent of this Special Administrative Region (SAR) is designated country park.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Aqua Luna

Hong Kong, China

This cinematic junk boat, complete with stiff fan sails, is the most stylish way to cruise Hong Kong’s mesmerising harbour.

Best for ages: 12+ | £23 | 45+ mins

Po Lin Monastery

Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong’s most famous centre of Buddhism – complete with gargantuan Buddha – offers a fascinating insight into the spiritual side of the city – and some spectacular views too.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

Wong Tai Sin Temple

Hong Kong, China

One of Hong Kong’s largest temples, swathed in incense and set against a backdrop of high-rises, is famous for its ranks of fortune-tellers.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

Website >
Overview >

Boat tours of Victoria Harbour

Hong Kong, China

Cruise across Hong Kong’s famous harbour, ringed by skyscrapers, for a stunning perspective on the city. Opt for the iconic Star Ferry, a traditional red-sail junk or a luxury dinner cruise.

Best for ages: 4+ | £3 | 1+ hours

Website >
Overview >

Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Row of souvenir shops with red lanterns
Experience

Antique and souvenir shopping on Cat Street

Hong Kong, China

Formally known as Upper Lascar Road, Cat Street is the place to buy genuine antiques, as well as pretty souvenirs and artsy trinkets.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

Website >
Overview >
Chi Lin Nunnery
Experience

Chi Lin Nunnery

Hong Kong, China

This incredibly peaceful Buddhist nunnery, built in the Tang Dynasty style and surrounded by rambling gardens, is the perfect antidote to the hustle of the big city.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

Website >
Overview >

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

4-Hour Private Hong Kong Layover Tour

4-Hour Private Hong Kong Layover Tour

Hong Kong SAR

If you are traveling through Hong Kong International Airport on a transit, make the most of your layover by taking a private guided tour of ...

$237 | Rating 4.94 / 5 [18 ratings]

Website >

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
A Magical Evening in Hong Kong: Private City Tour

A Magical Evening in Hong Kong: Private City Tour

Hong Kong SAR

As the sun starts to set, Hong Kong lights up, showing its true beautiful colours. Enjoy a night to remember in Hong Kong exploring the be...

€61 | Rating 4.33 / 5 [18 ratings]

Website >

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Big Bus Hong Kong Open Top Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

Big Bus Hong Kong Open Top Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

Hong Kong SAR

See Hong Kong’s highlights on this hop-on hop-off tour! Hop off at any of the 6 sightseeing spots to explore attractions on the bus. Visit...

H480 | Rating 4.02 / 5 [877 ratings]

Website >

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Full-Day Private Customized Walking Tour of Hong Kong

Full-Day Private Customized Walking Tour of Hong Kong

Hong Kong SAR

Private Full Day Customized Walking Tours with a private tour guide are 8 hours long and combine Hong Kong’s must see sights with hidden gem...

H2,130 | Rating 4.98 / 5 [85 ratings]

Website >

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Eaton Hotel

Hong Kong, China

Fashionable, socially aware four-star hotel near Temple Street Night Market, with plenty of facilities and a buzzing bar.

Official star rating:

Hotel Ovolo Central

Hong Kong, China

Trendy, modern boutique hotel in Hong Kong’s liveliest nightlife district. Handy for other attractions too, including the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts, a few minutes’ walk away.

Official star rating:

Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong

Hong Kong, China

One of the tallest hotels in the world, oozing opulence and luxury. This is the place to come for jaw-dropping views at every turn – and some of the city’s best cooking.

Official star rating:

Hotel Icon

Hong Kong, China

A youthful design hotel with regal harbour views, a refreshing lack of attitude and a fantastic, harbour-facing rooftop pool.

Official star rating:

When to go

Visitors will swelter in summer, but that’s better than the cloying humidity, grey skies and general gloom of March and April. Then again, if you’re just here to eat and shop, the air-con is always on. Lunar New Year is now a major public celebration, with fireworks, fierce crowds and high hotel prices.

Weather-wise, September and October are the best months to come, but avoid the mainland holiday in the first week of October (Golden Week) at all costs, when thousands of tourists from the north pour into Hong Kong.

Getting there and away

The international airport at Chek Lap Kok is rightly hailed as one of the world’s most efficient. It is linked by express train to Kowloon and Central, and journey time is 25 minutes; shuttle buses link the express stations with major hotels. Taxis are readily available at the airport, and cheap airport buses connect the airport with the main destinations in the SAR. However, be warned – both can be subject to serious traffic jams.

Getting around

Much of Hong Kong is connected by the swift, inexpensive and air-conditioned Mass Transit Railway, which is complemented by an extensive public bus network. Cheap, plentiful taxis fill in the gaps. A free 800-metre outdoor escalator climbs the hill between Central Market and Mid Levels. Ferries run to Macau and other Pearl River Delta cities.

Hong Kong’s main outer islands (Lantau, Cheung Chau, Lamm, Peng Chau) are also reachable by a ferry that’s both practical and picturesque.

Where to stay

Most hotels are on Hong Kong Island (Central/Wanchai/Causeway Bay) or on the Kowloon peninsula. Central should be first choice, for its proximity to transport links, shopping, bars and sights. Wanchai is a little wilder (but handy for the Convention Centre), while Causeway Bay is good for shopping.

In Kowloon, the waterfront hotels command superb views, but somewhere like Mong Kok provides the full-on metropolitan experience. With the exception of Sha Tin, the airport and the Disneyland hotels, staying elsewhere is a bit too close to exile.

Where to eat or drink

Central hosts three contiguous entertainment zones – Lan Kwai Fong, SoHo (South of Hollywood Road) and NoHo (North of Hollywood Road) – each hosting a plethora of excellent restaurants, bars and clubs. The streets fill with al fresco drinkers most nights of the week.

Wanchai’s bars are a tad more risqué and attract a younger, more raucous crowd. For sensational seafood dinners, head out to picturesque Lamma and Cheung Chau islands; they also make for a fun expedition.

Where to shop

For designer labels on Hong Kong Island head to the malls in Central (ifc, Landmark) or Admiralty (Pacific Place). In Kowloon, traditional shopping areas like Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok now face competition from upscale new mega-mall Elements. For bargain hunting, tasteful and tacky souvenirs and clothing factory over-runs, head to Stanley Market. Temple Street Night Market is a tourist trap – but great fun. Don’t forget to haggle.

Hong Kong is known for jade and antiques, but fakes are a problem so always take expert advice on expensive purchases.