The fun and lovely Dan and Casey of A Cruising Couple are two lovebirds slowly and indefinitely traveling the world. Here they talk about what to do in Hong Kong a place we know and love…
Ultramodern, shimmering and chic—Hong Kong’s cosmopolitan cityscape easily boasts some of the world’s best shopping and dining experiences in the world. But though there might be enough Luis Vuittons and Michelin-starred restaurants to drain even the deepest of wallets, there’s much more to Hong Kong than commercialism alone. Vestiges of British control, traditional Chinese culture, and a large international presence combine to make Hong Kong one of the most unique—and coolest—places around. There’s always something new to discover within Hong Kong’s bustling streets. We’ve picked out a few of the coolest ones to get you started.
Take a foodie tour
Hong Kong Foodie Tours offers in-depth tasting tours that introduce the unique and authentic flavours of Hong Kong. Foodies can choose a culinary exploration of either Sham Shui Po or Central neighbourhoods for good eats and genuine Cantonese cuisine; the perfect serving of history, architecture, and culture is served up on the side. Be sure to come on an empty stomach — you’re going to want to savour every last morsel!
Browse the Cattle Depot
As the name suggests, this historical building was used as a slaughterhouse for nearly a decade. Today it’s not the livestock that makes it an interesting find, but the artist groups residing behind its renovated brick walls. Occasional performances, exhibitions and workshops are open to the public, providing a unique and interesting way to spend an evening.
Ride the Central-Mid Levels Escalator
Starting in Central, winding through SoHo, and ending in the Mid Levels, this outdoor covered escalator system is the longest in the world. It completely revitalised what were once old neighbourhoods disconnected from the city centre, transforming them into some of the hippest spots in all of Hong Kong. The escalators make a great spot to people watch while getting a feel for the lively streets they pass.
Visit the Big Buddha
Tian Tan Buddha, or simply the Big Buddha, is one of the largest Buddhas in the world. Serenely nestled on the hills of Lantau Island, it takes a bit of a time commitment and hundreds of stairs to access the Buddha’s smiling face, but the journey is worth it in the end. Try to time your visit to the Buddha on his birthday to increase the attraction’s cool factor (admission is free that day, too).
Walk around the Peak
The Peak—the highest point on Hong Kong Island—is known for its magnificent panorama of Hong Kong, with China stretching off in the distance; however, you must be graced with a rare sunny day to truly enjoy its famous views. Regardless of the weather, leave time to enjoy one of the easy walking trails around the top of the mountain, like the relaxing 3.5k Peak Circle Walk.
Go island hopping
Although it might not be the first thing that comes to mind, Hong Kong has a staggering number of 234 islands to explore. Regular ferries stop at the Central Ferry Pier, or you can opt to hire a junk to take you exploring for the day. Lamma Island and Cheung Chau are just two popular destinations of the many to choose from.
Feast on Dim Sum
No trip to Hong Kong is complete without going to ‘yum cha’, or drink tea with a sampling of Cantonese snacks. Similar to the tradition of Spanish tapas, dim sum typically consists of individual portions, featuring steaming baskets of dumplings, buns, rice rolls, and vegetables. Most Cantonese eat dim sum in the mornings and afternoons, so be aware that many restaurants will not serve dim sum for dinner.
We highly recommend a stop at One Dim Sum, a Michelin Star restaurant serving dim sum all day long at affordable prices.
Find Zen at the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens
The nunnery is a Buddhist temple complex made all the more memorable by the juxtaposition of surrounding skyscrapers. The Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens are free to enter, and unquestionably warrant a visit if seeking a bit of solitude from the neighbouring urban jungle. There is also a vegetarian restaurant at the nunnery that receives wonderful testimonials.
Hop on the Star Ferry
Riding the Star Ferry offers a distinctly historical and cultural experience as well as a unique visual perspective of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Operating since 1888, the Star Ferry is still the preferred mode of transportation for locals commuting across the harbour. Try to catch the ferry at 8pm when the boat will pause to enjoy the nightly Symphony of Lights show.
Enjoy the view at the IFC
Located on the waterfront of Hong Kong Island is the International Finance Centre (IFC). Head to the fourth floor where you’ll find an outdoor viewing area open to the public, for free (adjacent to the ridiculously priced bar with not-as-good-views). Remember to bring a bottle of wine and watch the spectacular cityscape as day turns to night.
These are just a few of our favourite things to do in Hong Kong. What cool things would you add to the list?
All words and photos (except the Cattle Depot, the peak, and the islands) by Dan and Casey of A Cruising Couple.