The Hong Kong Bucket List
Hong Kong Bucket List: inspiration for where to go and what to see before you leave Hong Kong.
What to see
Happy Valley Races. You can’t beat the Wednesday night races in the very heart of Hong Kong. An institution, the races have been in action since 1841 and from September until July, thousands flock to the floodlit arena for some fervent fun and frivolity at one of the world’s best racetracks, set amid the strapping skyscrapers.
Hong Kong’s Rugby Seven’s. ‘Experience’ being the operative word here, the world famous Hong Kong Rugby Seven’s event is an institution in Asia’s World City, attracting the world’s best rugby players and thousands of fans from every corner of the globe. A certified party atmosphere, spectators dress up and dance for most of the three day extravaganza, making for an unforgettable experience!
Catch the Star Ferry. Yes surprisingly some long standing residents still haven’t crossed the harbour the old fashioned way. Don’t leave home without a ride on one of Hong Kong’s most iconic modes of transport where you’ll have the best vantage point to see the sparkling harbour.
Island hopping. Whether it’s a ferry out to Lamma Island for an authentic Chinese-style seafood feast or a hike from one side to the other, or simply strolling through old fishing villages; a trip to one of the outlying islands will have you feeling a million miles away from the hustle and bustle. Read more about hiking Lamma Island in this post.
Hire a Junk for the day. Escape the frenetic side of Hong Kong life on one of the many private junks for hire. Spoilt for choice, anchor at any number of Hong Kong’s beautiful, white sandy beaches and enjoy time out, lounging around the ‘other’ side of Hong Kong!
Sham Shui Po. Venture to one of Hong Kong’s oldest and most vibrant neighbourhoods. An eclectic and fascinating part of the city with plenty of unique markets to browse through. Our guide will help you find your way.
Aqua Luna/Duk Ling Junk at night. Travel up Victoria Harbour on one of the city’s last remaining authentic Junks! Catch the stunning harbour lights and the nightly Symphony of Light show with a cocktail in hand. Life’s never looked better!
Helicopter ride from the top of the Peninsula Hotel. There’s probably no better way to see Hong Kong in all its glory than from a helicopter. The Peninsula’s “flight-seeing” tour begins at the China Clipper lounge located on the 30th floor. An unforgettable way to say farewell Hong Kong.
Pink dolphin watch. Take a boat trip to Lantau and spot the famous ‘pink’ dolphins. Technically the Chinese White Dolphin, these majestic creatures can be spotted in the Pearl River Estuary. There are regular tour groups.
Jade Market. In Chinese culture, jade is associated with good health and longevity so it would be wrong to leave the city without getting your hands on your own good luck charm. The jade market in Kowloon is one place where there are collections of jade in every shape, size and colour.
Cheung Chau Island. Hong Kong has it’s very own Treasure Island….this pocket-sized paradise is 7000 years old and a 30 minute boat ride from Hong Kong. Soak up the history, stroll through quaint villages, along sandy beaches and down the pier lined with delicious stalls selling fresh seafood.
Tai O fishing village. A photographer’s dream, this village, is home to the tight-knit community of the Tanka people. These fisher folk have built their houses on stilts above the tidal flats of Lantau Island for generations. It would be a crime to miss out on snapping this enchanting world.
Flower Market. The flower market in Mongkok boasts a kaleidoscope of colour from cut fresh flowers to potted plants, seeds and bulbs. A little oasis that’s testament to the fragrant harbour’s beauty.
Kowloon Walled City Park. Previously one of the most crowded spots on the planet, today the park offers a tranquil escape in an area steeped in history. Perfect for an afternoon of culture and space away from the bustling shopping streets of Hong Kong.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. Located in Sha Tin, the monastery (that’s not actually a monastery) is renowned for being one of Hong Kong’s most famous Buddhist temples. Built in 1949 it actually consists of five temples, four pavilions and one pagoda. Climb a steep concrete path flanked by dozens of life-sized golden buddhas.
Container Port Tour. If you’re living in one of the largest and busiest container ports in the world, it only seems fair that you get amongst some of these gigantic container ships. The tour will have you aboard a luxury yacht winding your way through channels and under bridges for an up close and personal experience with plenty of fun facts from a marine expert.
Tram tour. There’s every chance you’ve been a long time resident of Hong Kong and with such an efficient taxi and MTR system, never taken a good old fashioned ‘Ding Ding!’ Now’s your chance. Cheap and cheerful, jump on one in Central and ride through to Wanchai at night or if you want to step things up a notch take a special tram tour.
The Peak Tram. It’s hard to believe you won’t have been up to the Peak if you’ve been living in Hong Kong for any length of time, but have you taken the tram up? The Venerable Peak Tram will give you a vertical ride up the steep incline with a very unique perspective on the city.
Sampan to Sai Kung. Deserted beach Sampans (traditional flat bottom boats) idle around Pak Sha Wan Pier in Sai Kung heading out regularly for the clean, sandy and secluded shores of Trio Beach as well as many other beautiful Hong Kong hideaways. Escape for a magical day out with an oriental touch.
Elevator ride in the world’s 7th tallest building. Ride to the 100th floor of the ICC (International Commerce Centre) in Kowloon on a clear day and experience breathtaking views of Hong Kong that are so high, you’ll feel like you are in an aeroplane! Want to soak up the views a little longer, enjoy a drink at the 108th floor Ritz Carlton bar, Ozone.
PMQ. Hong Kong’s newest creative hub, the former Police Married Quarters has been transformed into an exciting and innovating space for artists, creatives and foodies alike. If you only go once, make sure you leave plenty of time to explore every nook and cranny.
Big Buddha. You can’t escape Hong Kong without a trip out to the mystical, golden Buddha that watches over the city. Take a cable car across Lantau Island for a spectacularly scenic trip (take a glass bottom cabled car, if you’re game!
Chi Lin Nunnery. A beautiful complex of wooden temples, built without using a single nail! Surrounded by skyscrapers, but utterly peaceful and tranquil, feel transported out of Hong Kong and into a different time and place.
Cantonese Opera. Originating in southern China, back in the day Cantonese opera used to be one of the most popular forms of entertainment! Involving everything from music to singing, martial arts, acrobatics, and acting; today there is only one dedicated theatre to this traditional art form left, so it may be well worth seeing it while you can.
Art Basel. Recognised as the premier international art show, Art Basel Hong Kong provides a platform for more than 3000 artists, galleries and collectors from around the world. An impressive event right on your doorstep, annually.
Ocean Park. Kids or no kids, it’s not a bad little theme park, complete with stunning cable car ride views, a white-knuckle roller coaster ride and one very cute panda! See it at least once during your Hong Kong experience.
Disneyland. Ahhh Mickey! Perhaps not the greatest Disneyland in the world, but filled with all sorts of cute and quirky rides and a magical parade and fire works display at the end of the day. It would be wrong not to treat yourself to the Mickey Mouse train ride there at least once.
Cross the border to Shenzhen. A 30 minute train ride and you’ll step from the platform into a shopping mecca! Take your suitcase on wheels and prepare to haggle with the best of ‘em. Oh and it’s not all about shopping, there’s a lot more to Shenzhen than meets the eye.
Train ride to Guangzhou. 90 minutes by train and you are well and truly on the mainland. Guangzhou is the third largest city in China, located on the Pearl River. A city of extremes, if you’ve never been to the mainland, this city is a good start!
Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance. Way back in the 19th Century the people of Tai Hang Village declared a three day fiery dragon dance was the only way to put a stop to a run of bad luck. Tai Hang may have been all but swallowed up by a swathe of skyscrapers, but the dragon is still breathing fire in Tai Hang on an annual basis. Next Mid Autumn festival, get down and check him out.
Kowloon Street Markets. As mighty as the Mongkok markets are, fantastic handbags aside, they are rather commercial these days… For a more authentic trawl through old Hong Kong, the street stalls in deep, dark Kowloon offer a sneak peek into Hong Kong’s fascinating past. Oh and have you seen Goldfish Street?