What do you think of when you think of Hong Kong? Exotic smells? Busy streets? Bruce Lee? Skyscraper architecture? If you said yes to any of those, you’re right on the money, but also just brushing the surface with what the city has to offer. Hong Kong is without a doubt a city that is easy to love, its vibrancy will take a hold of you and make you want to keep coming back for more time and time again.
The city is such a melting pot of cultures, due in part to its history of British rule for 150 years, and there is truly something of interest for anyone who visits this island city.
These are a few classic experiences to look out for with your first visit to Hong Kong.
Go Dim Sum Hopping
You can’t deny that Hong Kong is a bustling place full of every imaginable food and some of the best restaurants you’ll find in Asia. One type of foodie experience that you must try while you’re in Hong Kong is dim sum; the traditional small Cantonese dishes that come in bamboo baskets or on small plates that are meant to be shared.
In traditional venues, you usually just order off a cart that comes by your table, whereas in more modern restaurants you’ll probably get a slip where you can mark down which dishes you would like. Once the food comes to your table, the actual act of eating dim sum is called yum cha.
Ride the longest escalator in the world
Maybe a little on the cheesy side, but how many people can say that they’ve ridden the longest escalator in the world? Okay, it’s actually a system of elevators, called the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator, but it is the longest system in the world. 800 meters and over 20 escalators and moving walkways to hop on, it will take you 20 minutes to ride the whole thing through, although you can jump on and off at certain points.
The escalator has become a tourist attraction these days, but it actually opened up in 1993 to help with the daily commute for locals. About 60,000 people ride it every day, so you have to be prepared to ride with the masses before you jump on.
Take a day trip to one of the outlying islands
You probably already knew about Hong Kong as a city before this post, but did you know that there are multiple outlying islands outside of the city too? One of the most famous ones to go to for an all-day or weekend trip in Lantau, where you’ll find the Big Buddha statue. There are also a great many hiking trails (although steep) on the island if you want to get some exercise in for your visit.
Another ideal spot to stop in at is the island of Lamma, which is known for its laid back and beachy vibes. If you’re looking for an escape from city life and just want to get away, Lamma is the perfect little hideaway to find some island time.
Ride the Peak Tram to Victoria Peak
Arguably one of the best views in Hong Kong, Victoria Peak gives grand lookouts over the city and the countryside beyond. This isn’t surprising since it’s the highest point on Hong Kong Island at 552 meters. Ride the historic and steep Peak Tram, in operation since 1888, and sit back and enjoy the scenery. The Peak is a lovely place from which to watch the sunset as well.
Hike Dragon’s Back Ridge
Most people just think of big city lights when Hong Kong comes to mind, but there is an abundance of nature to be found just outside of the city as well. In fact, 38% of the land around Hong Kong is all park land.
The most popular of these nature spots would have to be Dragon’s Back Ridge, a trail that snakes its way through glorious views of the city and water down below in the course of about 2 hours. And if that trail doesn’t quench your thirst, it’s also part of the much larger Hong Kong Trail that spans 50km, with even more stunning views and places to get lost.
And lastly, Wednesdays mean free museum day at 7 different museums in Hong Kong! Save your cultural sightseeing for an all-day Wednesday event and see how many you can hit in one day. The museums that offer free admission are the Museum of Art, Museum of History, Heritage Museum, Science Museum, Space Museum, Museum of Coastal Defence, and Dr Sun Yat-Sen Museum.
If you don’t happen to be in Hong Kong on a Wednesday but still want to get your cultural fix, The Museum of Tea Ware and the Railway Museum have free entry every day of the week.
Have you been to Hong Kong before? What do you love to do when you visit the city?
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. Follow her on The Atlas Heart for more great stories and photos of a worldwide adventurer.