search

Hong Kong's Best Places to See: Sightseeing Made a Lot Simpler



The whole of Hong Kong is a sight to see: myriad skyscrapers set around one of the world's most dramatic natural harbors make for an intriguing panorama by day or night, at dawn or dusk, noon or midnight. 

Some of Hong Kong's sights have been constructed on purpose, others have just grown up of their own accord. Madame Tussauds is a slightly unusual sight, but it's as much fun observing the reactions of the local visitors as it is marveling at the waxworks of the rich and famous. And the Goldfish Market is pure Hong Kong – right in the heart of the city, a thriving sub-culture that's right on the street. 

And – get this – many of Hong Kong's sights charge no admission at all, or just a couple of bucks. Stroll along Sai Kung's Seafood Street for as long as you want, and it won't cost you a red cent. Star Ferry and the Happy Valley Racecourse must rank as two of the world's cheapest attractions.

Not all of Hong Kong's major sights are in town – hop aboard the ferry or the cable car to see the Big Buddha at the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island, or wind your way out to the east of Hong Kong for a stroll around the old fishing port of Sai Kung and its buzzing seafood street.


Advertisement

10
Sheung Wan
Man Mo Temple
Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board


The gods of literature and the military are celebrated here in one of the oldest temples in Hong Kong. Built in the 1840s, you'll find two unique chairs inside that were once used to carry these deities through the city during festivals. Former visitors have left sticks of incense over the years, which are now hanging from the ceiling; you can still buy one in hopes of fulfilling a wish, while a fortune teller runs a brisk business to one side of the temple. Man Mo is very much on the tourist trail, but with very good reason, and handy for antique shopping along Hollywood Road.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Man Mo's traditional architecture makes for a delicate contrast with the surrounding (rather dull) skyscrapers.

Ed's expert tip: Fans of the Oscar-winning film "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" will recognize Man Mo which was the backdrop for several scenes.

Read more about Man Mo Temple →


Happy Valley Racecourse
Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board


Surrounded by high-rises, this downtown racecourse is one of the greatest stadiums on earth to enjoy a sweaty, noisy and adrenaline-pumping horse race at night. Dating back to 1844, the 55,000-seat racecourse is one of the earliest public facilities in colonial Hong Kong. Regular races take place every Wednesday and Saturday from September to June on the 30-meter-wide grass track. A 978-seat iPad-equipped betting hall is located on the second floor of platform one. Visitors can either pay HK$10 (US$1.3) to sit on the public spectator seats or HK$100-150 (US$13-19) to enter the member-only zone. There are a total of seven restaurants and bars in the complex from Cantonese dining to al fresco drinking. On the second floor of the Happy Valley Stand of the racecourse, there is a 670-square-meter museum, Hong Kong Racing Museum, tracing the past and present of the city's enduring pastime.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Even if you're not interested in racing, you can't help but enjoy the spectacle of this very Hong Kong entertainment.

Ed's expert tip: There's a "beer garden" with racing commentary in English available at Happy Valley near the finish line.

Read more about Happy Valley Racecourse →


Kowloon Walled City Park
Photo courtesy of Kowloon Walled City Park


The Kowloon Walled City was truly infamous as it was the only district in Hong Kong that avoided British rule during the 1840 Qing Dynasty. So who ruled the walled city? No one! It was in a state of lawlessness and ruin until it was demolished and the site turned into an award-winning park in the 20th century. It is home to Bonsai trees, relics from the Qing Dynasty, and a popular giant chessboard. This is the ultimate urban regeneration project, not just in Hong Kong but just about anywhere in the world. There's always a pleasant air of calm, whatever the time of day.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: This would be a first-rate park anywhere; but its history makes it unique.

Ed's expert tip: Get here first thing in the morning to watch, or join in, tai chi classes.

Read more about Kowloon Walled City Park →


Advertisement
Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences


This intriguing museum traces the relatively recent history of medical science in Hong Kong. In 1906, in response to Hong Kong's ongoing epidemic of bubonic plague, the Bacteriological Institute opened in this building as the city's first medical laboratory. Over the decades the focus changed (as did the name, to the Pathological Institute), and the building eventually was turned into a museum. Today it houses several galleries with exhibits devoted to Chinese herbal medicine, dentistry, and a unique comparison of Chinese and Western medicine. The building itself is quite interesting as well; among its charms are several fireplaces, a beautiful entry hall, and carefully tiled floors.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: This is not only an unusual museum in a lovely old building, but its contents are also well interpreted.

Ed's expert tip: This museum lies in a charismatic part of Hong Kong, well worth exploring on foot either before or after your visit.

Read more about Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences →


6
Lantau Island
Po Lin Monastery
Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board


Po Lin translates to "precious lotus," and this monastery is one of the most famous of Hong Kong's numerous attractions. In addition to being one of the most opulent and grandest temples in the country, this is also home to the famous "Big Buddha," which measures more than 100 feet high. Made of bronze and seated in the mythical cross-legged repose, this statue is an attraction on its own. The views of the countryside are spectacular, and an excellent vegetarian cuisine is served by monks in the canteen. Most people come here by road or cable car, both exciting journeys in themselves.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: You can't ask for a bigger contrast to downtown Hong Kong than this hilltop retreat with its superb views.

Ed's expert tip: If you're reasonably fit, it's perfectly possible to hike up here either from Tung Chung or Shek Pik Reservoir.

Read more about Po Lin Monastery →




A hidden gem of Hong Kong, this fishing town is where Hong Kongers retreat for sea-swimming, kayaking and some of the city's best seafood. The center of the town is a 1,000-meter-long street lined with seafood stalls. Each looks like a mini aquarium as the boss displays an amazing array of freshly-caught seafood for diners to order. Across the street, fishermen sell curious looking catch right off the boat at the pier. Many of them also offer sailing trips around the surrounding islands for around US$20. Some six kilometers south of the seafood street is Trio Beach, a nice soft-sand stretch with calm and clean water, relaxed atmosphere and opportunities for seaside barbecue. For the truly energetic type, Sai Kung Country Park provides some of the most challenging but rewarding hiking experiences through mountains to beaches.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: There's something very laid-back about Sai Kung, and especially in the older parts of town.

Ed's expert tip: Tour operator Kayak and Hike organizes kayak trips from Sai Kung waterfront to marine life-abundant Ung Kong Wan.

Read more about Sai Kung Seafood Street →


Madame Tussauds Hong Kong
Photo courtesy of Madame Tussauds


Yes, there's even a Madame Tussauds in Hong Kong. Exhibits include "Hong Kong Glamour" (rich, famous and/or powerful), "Historical and National Heroes" (such as former President Hu Jintao, the British Royal Family, and astronaut Neil Armstrong), "World Premier" (national and international film celebrities), "The Champions" (athletes like David Beckham and Tiger Woods), "Music Icons" (international stars like Elvis and Madonna displayed alongside Chinese pop sters like Leslie Cheung, Teresa Teng and Joey Yung). As always at Tussauds, the waxworks are amazingly lifelike, enough to make you do a double-take, even in an age when international celebrities are so familiar from the media.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: The original Madame T opened its doors in Paris in the 18th century: talk about an enduring attraction.

Ed's expert tip: Get here at opening time (10am) to avoid the crowds.

Read more about Madame Tussauds Hong Kong →


Goldfish Market
Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board

Tung Choi Street is Hong Kong's street shopping center. Not far from the Ladies Market in the north lies a treasure island that's uniquely Chinese, the Goldfish Market. This fascinating market is a great place for families to visit. Bags upon bags of live goldfish in different sizes and colors can intrigue even the naughtiest kids. These are sold as pets as the Chinese consider goldfish a sign of good luck and some of the rarer species in the market can fetch great prices. Besides the kaleidoscope-like display of goldfish, the market also sells other small pets including turtles, rabbit and hamsters.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: There's no razzmatazz involved here, just a straightforward chunk of life in downtown Hong Kong.

Tracy You's expert tip: The Goldfish Market is a quick walk from the Flower Market on Flower Market Road and the Bird Garden on Yuen Po Street. These three can be easily combined into one trip.

Read more about Goldfish Market →


2
Central


Star Ferry is the loveliest attraction in Hong Kong. This 115-year-old service is one of these rare attractions that are hailed by both tourists and locals. Shuttling between Tsim Sha Tsui on Kowloon side, and Central and Wan Chai on Hong Kong island, these 20-minute boat rides represent a lifestyle of the past: slow, soothing and stress-free. That's exactly where the excitement and enjoyment lies. It's fascinating to see the hyper-busy city from these boats: century-old colonial buildings rub shoulders with glass-walled skyscrapers on the two jam-packed waterfronts. Even with the MTR efficiently connecting Kowloon and Central, locals still choose to ride the Star Ferry now and then for that classic Hong Kong moment.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: This is a piece of history, a sightseeing tour, and a super cheap transport of delight!

Ed's expert tip: Time your star ferry ride with A Symphony of Lights to achieve an optimal Hong Kong moment.

Read more about Star Ferry →


1
Victoria Peak


The 552-meter mountain boasts that classic Hong Kong view. Near the summit there is an entertainment and viewing complex called Peak Tower where travelers can snap that perfect souvenir photo. In the foreground, a forest of skyscrapers rises in eye-opening density beneath your feet while Victoria Harbour glitters in distance. Go on a nice day, you can also make out the outlying islands scattered over the South China Sea. Various modes of transport reach the top but the 1,350-meter-long tram (funicular) line is most popular. The 125-year old track is said to be the first railway in Asia and the eight-minute ride can reach as steep as 30 degrees.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Missing out the Peak is like ignoring the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Buckingham Palace in London.

Ed's expert tip: The lush mountain also provides great hiking opportunities. Hikers can bypass the tourist viewing deck and reach the less-crowded summit via several footpaths.

Read more about Victoria Peak →


Map

×