Rainy Day Entertainment in Hong Kong
On a wet day, it can seem that the best thing to do is stay at home. But fear not, Hong Kong has plenty of wet weather entertainment. Here’s a few great ideas for keeping busy during dreary days.
What better time to indulge in sweet treats and warming tea than on a cold, damp day? Stay inside and relax in luxurious surrounds for an afternoon tea. And not just the English kind – you can opt for tea sittings of the French, Cantonese and Scandinavian variety too. Seasons transports you to Paris with their tea set of choux pastry and Champagne, while Above & Beyond tempts you with dim sum and brilliant views of Victoria Harbour. Nibble lingonberry mousse and fruit Danish at Scandinavian favourite FINDS or stick with British tradition and enjoy your tea and scones in the elegant Lobby at the Peninsula.
Find our pick of Hong Kong’s best afternoon teas here.
Malls are the perfect escape when the clouds open up – you can spend an entire day indoors with plenty of things to occupy you and forget the miserable weather outside. Elements in Kowloon checks all the boxes for rainy day entertainment under one roof. Set up in different zones representing the Chinese five elements of nature (fire, wood, water, metal, earth) the mammoth mall has all the brand names, fine dining and cafés of other mega HK malls, but they throw in the largest movie theatre in the city (the 1600-seat Grand Cinema) and an ice rink for good measure.
Also in Kowloon, Festival Walk has the major shops you need when life calls like Watsons, Taste, Marks and Spencer and Fortress. There’s often eye-catching displays on the lower level for kids and adults alike, and decent eating options on the upper level. Like Elements, Festival walk also has an ice rink and cinema to keep you entertained.
Times Square in Causeway Bay will make your eyes boggle when you step inside and look up at the high floors of shopping wonder and lengthy escalators. It has 16 levels to keep you occupied with more than 230 shops, a cinema and numerous food options (Toast Box in the basement is our go-to for cheap and delicious fare – you must try the beef rendang). There are also revolving exhibitions held outside by the main entrance, and if you’re lucky, sometimes they’re under cover.
Bargain hunters will revel in Citygate Outlets over in Lantau, with year-round discounts on major high-endbrands, and food and drink to keep you fuelled.
All these malls are directly linked to MTR stations, so you can stay nice and dry.
After hours at the mall carrying heavy bags and navigating the crowds, soothe your aching limbs with some spa time.
A foot massage is a quintessential Hong Kong experience and the perfect way to hideaway from that wet weather. Give your tender soles a break at Iyara. You’ve probably seen people inside, soaking their feet and getting their legs rubbed, as you hoof up and down the Mid Levels escalator. Now it’s your turn.
Happy Foot can also treat your tired feet – the name says it all – but on a more budget-friendly basis. With locations in Lan Kwai Fong, Happy Valley and Wan Chai, take some friends to any branch and plop yourselves down in one of the many cushy chairs for a luscious foot or hand massage in a pleasant setting.
Make it a relaxing afternoon with added health benefits and get a dose of TCM – Traditional Chinese Medicine. Find out what those red circles on celebrities’ backs are all about and go for a cupping treatment. Chuan Spa does cupping, along with moxibustion, an ancient TCM technique to strengthen the blood and stimulate the flow of ‘Qi’. It involves holding a lit moxa stick to acupressure points on the body, and can be surprisingly calming.
We all know Hong Kong is the place for dim sum, and rainy days are an ideal time to line your belly with basket after basket of Cantonese goodness. Tim Ho Wan is a favourite, known for its Michelin-starred cuisine at affordable prices (dishes start at a mere $11). Or go for a fancy dim sum experience with a spectacular view at Tim Lung Heen among the misty clouds, 102 floors up in the ICC.
Another great way to while away the hours during a rainfall is to hole yourself up in a café. Cozy up with a good book or magazine, and sip on a strong coffee or whipped cream mocha concoction as you watch the rain drizzle down the windows.
Kubrick is one of our favourites, not only for its great coffee and cakes (they also do proper meals if you’re feeling particularly peckish) but for the laid-back atmosphere of its café and bookstore in one. Head directly next door to the Broadway Cinematheque for the best film line-up in Hong Kong, with a mix of new releases and special screenings of repertory films.
Your eyes will compete with the cool industrial décor and myriad of coffee equipment on display at The Coffee Academics. The baristas are happy to go over the many brewing techniques they employ, including ice-drip and hand-brewed, resulting in some truly delicious coffee. The bakery display case is always jam-packed with beautiful pastries and cakes to go with a lovely cup, taken on the cushioned benches at a communal table or private table. Find them in Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, TST and Repulse Bay.
Butcher & Baker in Kennedy Town incorporates a café, florist, butcher and bakery under one roof. Bring the kids and watch them let off some steam in the play area while you dig into a scrumptious dessert, or go the healthy route and come solo for one of the weekday yoga classes followed by a ‘Green Surprise’ juice (kale, cucumber, apple, mint, coconut water, lettuce and pineapple).
Cinemas and Theatre
Bigger is better when it comes to many things in Hong Kong (like the aforementioned shopping malls) and the cinema scene is no exception. The Sky Cinema at Olympian City 2 boasts six houses that can seat 951 movie-goers in lush environs, like the Vivo Deluxe House; its reclining leather seats let you kick back in comfort as you delight in the free flow popcorn and soft drinks.
Not for the queasy, Sky’s D-BOX VIP motion lounger seats move with the action on the screen, sending you forward and back, side to side and up and down. Each seat is equipped with individual controls that let you increase or decrease the motion effect. Best to put down the popcorn for this one.
UA Cinemas are scattered across Hong Kong (even at the airport) so there’s a good chance if you’re seeking shelter from a sudden downpour, you’ll find one of their cinemas close by. Several have IMAX screens and the UA iSQUARE has a Phoenix Club if you want to pay a bit extra for a VIP experience, with light gourmet meals served at your seat and a tea set included free with your ticket.
Here’s a handy tip: you can browse the latest showings with the HK Movie app and buy your tickets ahead of time to avoid waiting around in long queues.
Or go for some live entertainment and buy a last-minute theatre ticket. There’s always something showing in the city, from ballet to classic plays, and we list them every week in our events round-up.
If tomorrow is calling for rain, plan ahead and have a lazy day with a free-flowing brunch. With a myriad of restaurants offering bottomless brunches, the big question will be what you’re in the mood for: brunch with a view, meals that won’t hurt the wallet, or true luxury with your eggs? Ozone at the Ritz is a real treat, allowing you to sip Dom Pérignon from 118 floors up while drinking in the remarkable view. Or do something completely different and go Balinese for brunch at Tri in Repulse Bay. The beach scene, exotic flavours and beautiful décor (book to sit in one of their striking bamboo ‘cocoons’) make for a memorable outing.
Find our pick of free flow brunches here.
There are some markets in the city that are under cover and chock full of items on display to kill several hours browsing and buying. Jade Market has table after table of all things jade – accessories, bracelets, earrings, figurines – you’ll be walking in a sea of green. However, approach with an air of caution as these aren’t the highest quality jade items you can find.
Stanley Market in the picturesque seaside of Stanley has some open air bits, but the majority is under cover. Goods for sale range from clothing to artwork, and there’s shops selling quirky stationery and bits and bobs that you probably don’t need, but that’s what rainy day shopping is for.
Not a traditional market but a great venue nonetheless is the PMQ, the former Police Married Quarters on Hollywood Road. Nip in and out of the unique boutiques and galleries, then later have a chat about the inspiring art you’ve just uncovered in a cool café or restaurant. Aberdeen Street Social , the much talked about place from famed British chef Jason Atherton, is a good choice for casual dining or drinks, or try Mediterranean bar and restaurant Isono for great cocktails. If you’re craving something more quintessentially Hong Kong then visit Gong Fu Teahouse for a traditional Chinese tea service.
You’ve been saying for awhile that you want to learn your way around the kitchen, so what better time to brush up on the culinary skills than when it’s pouring down? Impress your family with homemade dim sum and meet new people as you fashion dumplings with your own hands at Easy 123. They also do wine tasting and table manner classes along with cooking lessons, while The Mixing Bowl brings out the baker in you with enjoyable classes in bread making and traditional Hong Kong goodies for adults and children.
We couldn’t forget the little ones – after all, they’re often the hardest customers to keep entertained when stuck indoors. Luckily, there is no shortage of fun things to do with kids: trampoline parks, bowling, climbing walls, free government playrooms and even indoor skiing.
For a creative spin, let them get their hands dirty and express themselves through art. Chocolart Studio breaks out the paint brushes and easels for budding artists, allowing children to discover their drawing and painting skills.
Escape rooms are an adventurous way to put their problem-solving abilities to use and work in a team, with the main object to ‘escape’ from a locked room using a series of puzzles and clues. Lost offers 45-minute games, which are best suited for ages 10 and up.
Find our full roundup of HK’s best indoor play spaces here.
Step into a museum and broaden your mind, or get youngsters hooked with the many interactive exhibits on offer. Entry is sometimes free, but they’re not open daily, so check in advance before you head out with your umbrella.
Some of our favourites are Hong Kong Science Museum, a great venue to get children interested in science as they have fun, hands-on exhibits; Hong Kong Museum of History gets you better acquainted with our city’s rich historical background, and is located next door to the Science Museum to keep the culture trip going; and Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum gives you a peek into the HK penal system, with informative galleries, mock gallows and cells.
Find inspiration for family days out and entertaining kids in Hong Kong, including plenty of indoor options, in this post.
Nancy Matos is a lifestyle and culture writer from Vancouver, Canada currently based in Hong Kong and London.