When I first moved to Hong Kong in 2016, I arrived with a bucket list. It had around 20 things on it: The Peak, Big Buddha, Ozone rooftop bar, the usual tourist hotspots. In the first month, I ticked off most of them — and to my surprise, discovered 20 more.
This happened every time I stepped out to go exploring: I would spot a new cafe or restaurant opening, or hear out about some quirky museum in an industrial building in a neighbourhood I’d never visited. So the list grew.
When family and friends came to visit, in the before-Covid times, I’d hand over this personal bucket list for them to peruse. Eventually, it became so large and unwieldy, I had to start whittling down and curating it for them: first-visit attractions versus their fourth-trip visitors, art lovers versus outdoor adventurers. These friends and family started recommending their friends and family ask me for a to-do list, and after the sharing of Google Docs all got a bit much — this list was born. It’s still an active ‘to-do’ list, because while Hong Kong is pretty tiny, it crams a whole lot into a small space.
This isn’t just a to-do list, but an ongoing compilation of my favourite places in the city I’ve fallen in love with. One of the things moving abroad made me realise is that I never took enough time at home to appreciate the incredible sights around me. But coming to a new city with a fresh pair of eyes, all I could see was incredible landmarks, new experiences, and different opportunities. It’s been six years, but I still refresh this list annually, because whether you’re fresh off the boat or have been here for decades, there’s always something new to explore.
So what are you waiting for? Check out the 101+ best things to do in Hong Kong in 2022.
This post was first published in July 2018, and updated in January 2022
Things To Do In Hong Kong: The Skyline
- Visit The Peak — both night and day. There’s no need to pay for the viewing platform — the roof of the Peak mall has great views, as does the walk around Luggard Road and Lion’s Pavilion.
- Go to Ozone Bar at the Ritz-Carlton, the highest bar in the world on the 118th floor.
- Watch the light show from the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. Formerly the site of Kowloon Railway Station (only the Clock Tower, built in 1915, remains), it’s now a waterfront promenade where you can enjoy the 8pm light show, extending from the Star Ferry terminal to Hung Hom.
- Watch the sunset from West Kowloon Cultural District. There’s unspoiled views of the Island across the harbour, as well as uninterrupted views west make it a great spot in the evenings. It gets busy on weekends, but its ideal for people (and dog!) watching.
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Temples
- Take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car to Po Lin Monastery and Big Buddha (Tian Tan).
- Visit Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin, a huge Confucius, Buddhist and Taoist temple complex and gardens.
- Have a tranquil afternoon at Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens in Diamond Hill.
- Check out the lesser-known Ching Leung Nunnery in Siu Hong.
- Find the Wah Fu ‘Sky Full of Gods’ project at Waterfall Bay. It’s bad luck in Chinese culture to throw away old or damaged statues of gods, so people instead abandon them on roadsides — and one man made it his mission to gather them all up and give them a new home.
- Go off track and hunt down Hung Shin Temple in Sai Kung, which was originally built in 1889 and part of an award-winning restoration project in 2002 to rectify the damage done by typhoons and monsoons.
- Drop into the Tin Hau Temple in Yau Ma Tei.
- Light some incense at Man Mo Temple in Sheung Wan, built in 1847 and one of the oldest buildings in the area.
- Visit the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery (although, it actually contains more than 12,000 Buddha statues, along with the gold-embalmed body of Yuet Kai, the monk who built the temple).
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Historic Sites
- Explore Tai O. The 300-year-old fishing community of old Hong Kong famed for their stilted houses, where you can take a boat ride to try to spot the rare pink dolphins.
- Chill out in Kowloon Walled City Park. Once upon a time, this was one of the most populated places on earth, notorious as a hotbed for triad activity, gambling, and back-alley dentistry. It was demolished in 1993, and a public park was built in its place, but there’s still some of the original walled city buildings left, and a fascinating exhibition with stories from the residents.
- Check out Hong Kong Park’s old Grade II listed buildings and greenhouses.
- Visit Murray House and Blake Pier in Stanley. Although they’re among the oldest structures in Hong Kong, have only been in Stanley for a couple of decades. The 1844 officer’s barracks along with the 1909 pier were dismantled in the 1980s and 2000s respectively, and rebuilt in their current location in 2002 and 2006.
- Visit a traditional walled village. There are three around the Kam Tin area in the New Territories, and Lai Chi Wo in Plover Cove Country Park is accessible only by boat.
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Museum
- Look into the past at the Hong Kong History Museum.
- Get creative at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The collection of contemporary work on the third floor is particularly unique.
- Go to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the Bruce Lee exhibition
- Get your nerd on at the Science Museum and Space Museum.
- Make your own instant noodle flavours at the The Cup Noodle Museum.
- Check out the M+ Museum in West Kowloon Park, which describes itself as Hong Kong’s answer to the Tate Modern.
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Art
- Explore street art in Sheung Wan, Soho, and Sai Ying Pun.
- Visit The Mills in Tsuen Wan. The renovated former textiles mill is now an arts and culture hub with plenty of tech-startup fashion and design boutiques from local craftspeople and designers.
- Check out Tai Kwun Heritage and Arts Centre. The old police station barracks and Victoria Jail have been restored beautifully to house heritage exhibitions with stories from the local neighbourhood, art galleries, and host one-off events.
- Spend a day at Hong Kong’s Museum of Art and M+ Museum.
- Go art jamming. There’s loads of studios around Hong Kong, but my personal favourite is Art Jamming in Wong Chuk Hang.
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Outdoor Activities
- Visit the Alpaca and Pineapple Farm in Kam Tin. It’s really all in the name: pet and feed the alpacas, and then chow down on the farm’s signature Hong Kong pineapple bun, stuffed with homemade pineapple ice cream and a slice of fresh pinapple.
- Cycle around Tai Po. There’s plenty of bike hire shops at Hong Kong’s largest reserviour, Plover Cove, as well as Tai Po and Shatin town center — and a scenic bike path joining all three.
- Explore the UNESCO Hong Kong Global Geopark of China and all its quirky rocks. Best enjoyed from a boat.
- Go bird watching in the Wetlands Park.
- Visit Kandoorie Farm to experience an urban farm and wildlife sanctuary.
- Check out Kowloon Park for its aviary and flamingos pool.
- Go to the Zoological and Botanical Gardens of Hong Kong. Opened in 1871, it’s among the oldest in the world.
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Day Trips
- Hong Kong Disneyland. The smallest Disney Park around the world, it’s easy to pack it all into one day. My personal highlights are The Lion King musical performance, Tomorrowland’s Iron Man VR Ride, and the ever-bizarre It’s a Small World After All.
- Ocean Park. A large aquarium, a very little zoo, and a huge roller coaster park on the south side of Hong Kong Island. Beautiful views and great rides. It’s been renovated recently, so TBC on what actually remains.
- Take a trip to Macau. Technically, this is not in Hong Kong, but it’s a 45-minute boat ride away. Tickets are HK$200 each way, and a day is plenty of time to explore the old Portuguese buildings around Senado Square, or take a look around the Vegas-like resorts and casinos.
- Go on a junk boat (aka, an all-day drinking party on the high seas).
- Visit Shenzhen. Also not in Hong Kong, but just 19 minutes away via high-speed rail, or a 45-minute MTR ride. Note that you’ll need a visa to enter Mainland China, although getting a visa on the border is an option for some nationalities.
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Transport
- Ride the Star Ferry, which was originally the only way to Hong Kong Island from Kowloon. It’ll cost you a whopping HK$2.3.
- Ride the Ding Ding (tram) on the island from Kennedy Town to Causeway Bay. It’s a cool way to sightsee and is also HK$2-3.
- Fall in love with the incredible efficiency of the MTR. You can even download the app in advance and get to know all the pretty lines.
- Let your life flash before your eyes in a Mini Bus. There’s no buttons to get off on these buses, and for the red-roof mini buses you’ll pay the driver cash. When you want off, you’ll need to shout “Yau lok” to the driver, and they’ll stop at the next available spot.
- Ride the Mid-Levels escalator — the longest continuous outdoor escalator in the world.
Things to Do In Hong Kong: The Islands
- Lamma Island. Best for hiking, seafood lunches by the seaside, and chilling on the beach.
- Cheung Chau Island. Best for hiring a bike, exploring caves, and trying out the special giant fish balls and buns. Oh, and the Bun Festival once a year.
- Peng Chau Island. Best for gentle hikes and easy Sundays.
- Po Toi Island. Best for: stunning views and heritage hikes.
- Tung Ping Chau Island. Best for stunning rock formations and exploring a remote place in the Global Geopark.
- Yim Tin Tsai Island. Best for: Exploring creepy abandoned villages. This place was a fishing and salt-farming community for over 200 years, but has been abandoned for a couple of decades. There are dilapidated buildings and an old Grade II listed church.
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Beaches
- Long Ke Wan (Sai Kung). Reached by a bus, a taxi and a short 20-minute hike, it’s one of the trickier ones to get to but so worth the effort. Great for camping.
- Ham Tin (Sai Kung). On the Maclehose Trail section 2, you can only reach this beach by hiking through Sai Kung Country Park, or by taking a 30-minute speed boat from Sai Kung Pier. It’s one of four beaches — including Sai Wan Beach to the south, and Tai Wan and Tung Wan Beach to the north — that make up a stunning stretch of Hong Kong’s coastline. This stretch of coast typically has the best water quality in Hong Kong, and on a sunny day you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re on a tropical Thai island. There’s limited resources out here, but a restaurant and store at Ham Tin and Sai Wan should keep you supplied of food and water.
- Shek O (South-East Island). It’s easier to get to via a bus from Shau Kei Wan, and popular because of the good water quality, which can make it very busy on weekends and public holidays. Great Thai restaurants nearby for lunch, and surfboard rental when the waves are good.
- Big Wave Bay (South-East Island). It’s just along the road from Shek O, and generally quieter and more popular with the surfers. There’s also some prehistoric rock carvings on the cliffs there.
- Cheng Sha Beach (Lantau). Hong Kong’s longest beach, and close to Pui O village which means easy to access by bus and plenty to eat.
- Stanley (South Island). It’s a pretty tiny beach popular with watersport enthusiasts. Be aware that it gets super busy on Dragon Boat race day in June.
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Hikes
- The Maclehose Trail. You could try all 100km of it. Or, try one of the 10 sections and see how that goes first. Sections 1 and 2 are usually done together and are incredibly scenic.
- Dragon’s Back. Often considered a good beginner hike, and one of the most popular in Hong Kong. There’s a lot of ups and downs but nothing too strenuous. Great views for the first half and it ends at Big Wave Bay.
- The Twins. A tricky hike that involves a LOT of steps (a thousand, to be precise).
- The Peak Hike. If you don’t want to take the tram or taxi to the legendary Victoria Peak, walk it for great views along the way. This is a mostly-paved easy walk, but all uphill.
- Tai Tam Reservoir. Pretty scenery through the Country Park, but again, a lot of steep hills. Depending on your route, you can end at the reservoir and bus back, or walk all the way to Repulse Bay from North Point.
- WWII Military Forts and Bunkers on Mount Davis. Another very large, steep hill – but there are historic relics involved this time if heritage walks are your thing. You can do an organised tour, but you can also just explore the hill yourself.
- Lion’s Rock. One of the best views over Kowloon onto the Island, this is a short-but-steep hike with some tricky scrambles over rocks.
- Kowloon Peak. Stunning views, with a few dangerous paths. Not to be taken lightly or by those with unsteady footing.
- Shing Mun Reservoir in Tsuen Wan. An easy hike with a few ups and downs, but all paved. Just beware of the monkeys who will rob you of all of your food.
- Man Cheung Po near Tai O. You can’t swim in the reservoir, but it’s an incredible photo location of this mountain-top infinity pool.
- Ping Shan Trail in Tin Shui Wai. This walk takes you past the cultural sites of 13th-century villages, including temples, pagodas and a museum.
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Food Experiences
- Eat Dim Sum — and while you’re at it, enjoy one of the cheapest Michelin-starred dinners in the world at Tim Ho Wan. (I won’t lie to you, I have on more than one occasion eaten multiple plates of their pork buns.) My favourite dim sum place though is actually Dim Dim Sum, because of their crispy shrimp rice rolls.
- Try wonton noodles. Mak’s Noodles is probably the most famous, but Tsim Chai Kee Noodle Shop is probably my favourite — the shrimp wonton are huge.
- Have an iron-griddled egg waffle. You can get this all over Hong Kong, but my go-to is Michelin Guide-recommended Mammy Pancake.
- Drink bubble tea. This is actually a Taiwanese food trend that has really taken off in Hong Kong and China: the ‘bubbles’ are tapioca balls. My favourite place in Hong Kong is ShareTea. Go for a traditional milk tea or chocolate flavour, or if like me you avoid milk, the passionfruit green tea is super refreshing.
- Have a boozy brunch. This involves free-flow drinks and ridiculous amounts of food. For the view, service and food quality, Aqua is one of my all-time favourites, although Pirata’s semi-buffet is great value and service is always brilliant.
- Eat a slice of mooncake. Just a slice, though: the calories in these dense little things are mad.
- Enjoy Char Siu Fann (BBQ pork rice). A lot of the ‘best of’ lists include variations in fancy restaurants, but it’s best from a local restaurant that specialises in roasted meats. Joy Hing in Wan Chai is the classic, but wander around any neighbourhood and you’ll find somewhere.
- Go to McDonald’s. They have McWings and the gourmet McDonald’s at Admiralty, the first of their ‘Next Concept’ series, lets you build your own burger.
- Satisfy your midnight munchies at Tsui Wah. This 24-hour chain started as a humble single store in the 60s and serves up an assortment of Cantonese and Hong Kong classics. Sadly, many have closed, including the OG in Central, but you can still find them dotted around the city.
- Have a Hong Kong Breakfast: milk tea, scrambled eggs and toast, and macaroni in chicken soup. Australian Dairy Company (which is neither Australian nor serves exclusively dairy) is one of the best for this kind of food.
- Have afternoon tea at The Peninsula, the oldest hotel in Hong Kong. It’s a bit of an institution: it opened in 1928, was the headquarters for Japanese Occupation in 1941, and was one of the locations for the 2007 movie The Dark Knight because it has one of two helipads in Hong Kong (and of course, it’s the more aesthetically pleasing).
- Eat street food, and be sure to try everything from egg waffles to Taiwanese fried chicken to snake soup. The north part of Temple Street in Yau Ma Tei, Mongkok and Sham Shui Po are the best places to sample Hong Kong’s delicacies.
- Visit Chungking Mansions for Indian snacks and the cheapest money exchange in town. If you’re going to eat here, Khyber Pass Mess Club is pretty good.
- Eat Hong Kong egg tarts (‘Daan-Ta’). My favourites are from Tai Cheong, but you’ll see these delicious desserts all over the city.
- Visit Mr Wong in Mongkok for your fix of free-flow Western-style Chinese (think wontons, spring rolls, sweet and sour fish, fried rice, chicken curry, and all the beer you can drink.
- Go to a themed restaurant. There are loads to choose from, but Dim Sum Icon have a menu of themed specials that change every quarter. Their food is average, but it’s more about the experience of eating spring rolls with eyes or French toast that looks like Spongebob.
- Visit the Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market. This wholesaler has been providing local Hong Kong restaurants, cafes and stores with fresh fruit and veg every day for over a hundred years, although they began selling groceries to walk-in customers in recent years. The market is open 24 hours a day, so pop by during the day to buy your own fresh fruit snacks, or walk by at night and watch market come alive while the surrounding roads are taken over with deliveries.
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Markets & Boutiques
- Temple Street Market in Yau Ma Tei for souvenirs, and outdoor eating.
- Ladies Market in Mongkok for fakes, fashion and souvenirs.
- Stanley Village Market for arts, crafts and souvenirs.
- Sham Shui Po Market for electronics, decorations and everyday items. There are also loads of great local restaurants in this area, and the Dragon Centre which has the remains of a now-defunct indoor rollercoaster on its 9th floor suspended above the mall atrium.
- Pottinger Street Market in Central for fancy dress and festive decorations.
- Soho & PMQ in Central for quirky local and high-end boutiques.
- Argyle Centre in Mongkok: for cheap Korean and Japanese high street boutique fashion.
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Shopping Malls
- Landmark for luxury boutiques and fancy cafes.
- IFC for the three-floor flagship Apple Store (and another of The Dark Knight locations). Plus, there are great views from the roof garden.
- Langham Place and Olympian City for high street brands and decent chain restaurants.
- Sneaker Street (Fa Yuen Street, Mongkok) for all your sporting needs.
- Times Square Causeway Bay for luxury brands and more escalators than you knew you needed.
- K11 Musea at Victoria Dockside is a quirky art mall weaves mini ‘museum’ exhibitions in between designer stores.
- Megabox, Kowloon Bay doesn’t do things by halves, and is home to Hong Kong’s largest IKEA, Hong Kong’s first international-sized ice rink and Hong Kong’s first IMAX cinema.
- Elements in West Kowloon for luxury shopping, a huge cinema, and ice skating rink
Things to Do In Hong Kong: Nightlife
- Check out Hong Kong’s secret bars. Hong Kong is home to lots of quirky speakeasies for intimate and tasty cocktails. J.Boroski’s has no menu per se, because you just tell the mixologist what you like (a spirit base, and flavours: ie, sweet, fruity, smoky).
- Gamble at Happy Valley Races (responsibly, of course). This breaks over summer for the super hot weather, but otherwise, it’s every Wednesday.
- Join the Friday and Saturday night street party in Soho, Peel Street, and Lan Kwai Fong (LKF).
- Try local Hong Kong craft beer. My favourites are Gweilo Pale IPA, The Artist’s raspberry beer, Hong Kong Beer Co.’s Dragon’s Back Pale Ale, and Moonzen’s Moon Goddess Chocolate Stout.
- Hit up a Happy Hour – there’s one or forty to choose from. Typically they run around 5-7pm and include buy-one-get-one-free or discounted deals, although a few run all-you-can-drink packages, and others — like Mr Wolf — run most of the day and night.
- Sing your heart out in a karaoke room.
- Enjoy spoken word at Peel Street Poetry
How many have you done? Have I missed any of your favourite things to do in Hong Kong? Tell me in the comments!