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17 Fun Things to Do in Hong Kong: A First Timer’s Guide

From its spectacular skyline to its exciting theme parks, from its delectable local cuisine to its beautiful nature, Hong Kong has something for every traveller. I’ve been to Hong Kong three times (Jon has only been once), and with each visit I’ve discovered something new to love. I’m sure you will too. Here are some of the best things to do in Hong Kong:

Watch the Symphony of Lights

The skyscrapers along Victoria Harbour come to life at night in the form of a spectacular light show. A great place to see it is from the waterfront area in Kowloon, located on the opposite side of the harbour to Hong Kong’s biggest skyscrapers. We’ve been to quite a lot of big cities on our travels but the skyline here is one of the most impressive we’ve seen, and seeing it lit up at night is one of the best things to do in Hong Kong.

Ride the Peak Tram

One of our favourite things to do in Hong Kong is ride the tram to the top of Victoria Peak. The tram system itself is an interesting piece of history — it first opened back in 1888. From the top you can look out over the mass of skyscrapers on one side and the more natural side of Hong Kong Island on the other. It’s best to go to Victoria Peak just before sunset, that way you can see it when it is both light and dark (the city looks most impressive at night time).

Watch the sunset at Victoria Peak

If you organise your trip to Victoria Peak in the late afternoon you’ll be able to watch the sunset, which is a great experience. It gets busy up there but you should be able to find a spot to relax and watch the sun go down.

A Helicopter ride over Victoria Harbour

If Victoria Peak wasn’t quite high enough for you then you can go for a helicopter ride over Hong Kong. We did it, but for some reason they didn’t put us on the proper sightseeing one. Instead we ended up in the New Territories! It was still fun but make sure you opt for the harbour / Hong Kong Island flight option.

RELATED POST: A Helicopter Ride Over Hong Kong: Kowloon to the New Territories

Ride the (Ngong Ping 360) Cable Car

Located on Lantau Island, the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car allows for stunning views of Hong Kong. Once at the top you can hike through the forest, climb the steps to the Big Buddha and visit various shops, theatres and cafes. It’s one of the top things to do in Hong Kong, beware of the long lines for the cable car though!

If you’r curious what it’s like to ride the glass bottom cable car and if it’s worth the extra cash, check out my post below:

READ MORE: Ngong Ping 360 Crystal Cabin: An Amazing Cable Car Ride in Hong Kong

Discover the New Territories

A world away from the bright lights of the city, the New Territories is one of the top hiking spots in Hong Kong. We did a half-day hike and saw some amazing beaches and forest trails. You can reach the New Territories by public transport (or helicopter!) and it makes for a really nice day trip. We hiked the MacLehose Trail (section 2), starting from Sai Kung East Country Park. It’s quite an easy hike and is very scenic.

Explore Lamma Island

Lamma Island is another Hong Kong destination suited to nature lovers. There are numerous beaches to explore and they are linked by rural walking tracks. It’s a bit easier than the New Territories hike that we did, and if you don’t feel like hiking far you can just walk from the ferry terminal to the first couple of beaches. There are two small villages on the island where you can eat, drink and shop, so there’s something worth seeing for most people. Getting to Lamma Island is easy – just catch a ferry from Central Ferry Pier on Hong Kong Island. For more details, click on Jon’s post below.

READ MORE: Hiking in Hong Kong: A Day Trip to Lamma Island

Hike the Dragon’s Back Trail

If you’re short on time but still want to do a hike, the Dragon’s Back Trail is the one for you. The trail follows a ridge with great views of the Hong Kong island coastline. It eventually ends up at Big Wave Bay, one of the best beaches on the island. The hike is quite easy and is easily accessed by public transport. We didn’t think it was quite as good as the hikes in the New Territories and on Lamma Island, but it was still worth doing.

Ride the Old Tram (Hong Kong Tramways)

While the MTRs have stolen the transport scene in Hong Kong, it’s amazing to see the old city trams are still running after over 100 years. If you want to experience a piece of Hong Kong’s past, hop on one of the double-decker trams on Hong Kong Island. They’re crazy cheap too, adult fares start at HKD$2.30.

Shop at the Street Markets at Tsim Sha Tsui, Sham Shui Po and Mongkok

During my first visit in Hong Kong, I spent half of my time and pocket money on shopping. Whether you’re after bags, clothes or the latest electronic gadgets, Hong Kong has the variety of goods and the bargains for you. Just make sure to do some research beforehand as the options can be overwhelming. Also check that the electronics you buy have international warranty.

Discover Hong Kong Food

From dim sum to Peking duck, roast pork to egg tarts, Hong Kong is home to some of the world’s best dishes. Expect long queues if you wish to visit some of the city’s Michelin star restaurants. Some of the best food that we ate in Hong Kong was at small, local restaurants – it’s the kind of city where you’ll pretty much always find good food!

Unwind at Ocean Park Hong Kong

Ocean Park is one of my favourite theme parks with its thrilling rides, giant aquariums and adorable animals. I remember the reason for my first visit was because I eagerly wanted to see pandas but I saw so much more. Make sure you visit Ocean Park when you’re in Hong Kong.

Cross the Harbour on the Star Ferry

One of the cheap ways to discover Hong Kong is by taking a ride on the Star Ferry between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. It’s essentially public transport so it only costs a couple of dollars – don’t be expecting a fancy cruise or anything. If you’re looking for something more upmarket there are lots of harbour cruise options including an authentic Chinese junk boat.

Embrace Your Inner Child at Hong Kong Disneyland

Is it worth visiting Disneyland as an adult? Definitely! Disneyland will take you back to your childhood. I can still remember my excitement when I finally got to hug Mickey Mouse (Minnie Mouse wasn’t too happy). It’s amazing to come face to face with characters you grew up watching. If you’re not into Disney stuff or think it’s too childish, head for the awesome rides in Disneyland. Space Mountain is incredible! Imagine being on a roller coaster in space!

Escape to the Beaches of Hong Kong Island

Again, if you don’t have much time in Hong Kong and you want to see some beaches, there are some good options on the main island. Repulse Bay, Big Wave Bay, Turtle Cove and Deep Water Bay are all great beaches and all offer something different. You can walk between some of the beaches and catch the bus to the others – it’s a nice way to spend a morning in Hong Kong.

RELATED POST: 10 of the Best Beaches in Hong Kong

Enjoy the Night Life at Lan Kwai Fong

Lined with bars and restaurants, Lan Kwai Fong is Hong Kong’s premier nightlife district. As with most cities this size, nightlife options are almost endless. From rooftop bars to expat pubs and crowded clubs, there is something for everyone in Hong Kong.

Go on a Day Trip to Macau

If you have a few days in Hong Kong you should consider going on a day trip to Macau. You’ve probably heard of its casinos, but far more interesting is its historical sites. Macau was a Portuguese colony up until 1999. You’ll find historic plazas, ruined churches and streets that still retain a romantic, European feel. You can also go to the top of the Macau Tower, gamble in the many casinos and try delicious food (the iconic egg tarts definitely aren’t overrated!).

There are lots more things to do in Hong Kong, but the activities and sights above are good places to start. If there’s one piece advice I can give you it’s to head outside of the city, there is some great nature on offer and it’s a side of Hong Kong that a lot of people miss.

READ MORE: A Day Trip to Macau from Hong Kong: Exploring the Historic Streets

Would you like to visit Hong Kong? Which places would you most like to visit?

About the author

Gia Kristel Algie

Currently based in New Zealand, Gia grew up in Manila, lived in Singapore for three years and travelled the world for nearly two years. From watching sunsets to hiking mountains, she loves the outdoors. She enjoys living in big cities but takes pleasure staying in quaint, small towns. An aspiring photographer and budding writer, she is the voice behind Mismatched Passports, a travel blog dedicated to the journey around the world with her husband, Jon.

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