Wondering what you could do besides eating and going to the nicest bars? We have visited most of the tourist attractions, found an escape from the busy city, and found a way to blend in with the expats and locals. Read all about the places we visited Symphony of light, Mong Kok markets, biggest Buddha, Ten thousand Buddhas, Tram, IFC rooftop garden, Happy Valley Horse Race, Wan Chan, Macau, the Peak, Lamma island,
Please let us know if you have found additional places and feel free to share your opinion!
Take the old tram up to the highest point and have an amazing view over Hong Kong. The tram ride is a couple minutes and enjoy the stunning view. There was line when I arrived and people were telling that it would take 1.5 hours at least, 30 minutes later I got into the tram. They offer the possibility to buy a ticket including access to the view point on top of a restaurant. I didn’t go to this view point but I assume that it’s about the same as the ‘free’ viewpoint. On top of the top are several restaurants and souvenir shops located so you don’t have to worry about bringing enough food, there is even a Starbucks.
From the top is a 3 km hike around the top and a trail to the Victoria Garden. I planned to do the 3km hike and then go to the top. Somehow, and I’ve still no clue how, but I manage to head into the wrong direction somewhere and ended up at the bottom of the hill in the University area. I took me quite sometime to walk back to Central but it was a nice walk through the city and a good way to sight see everything in this area.
Cost: 45 HKD for a round trip.
This is a true escape from the city. This bay is located at the south side of the main island. From the bus station take bus 6 (if I am correct) for 20 minutes and enjoy the relaxing vibe in one of the many beach bars or just sit back and relax in the sand.
Symphony of lights
Every night at 8pm the Symphony of light starts in Central HK. You can take the star ferry to cross the water from the main island to the viewing point at Tsim Sha Tsui. When you exit the ferry just walk to the right across the boulevard and find a spot where you can see the skyline. Make sure to be early to claim a good spot, around 7pm. Everyday is the Symphony in a different language so you might need a schedule if you want the English version. The show takes about 20 minutes and after the show I went to the night market which is a short walk over this island.
Mong Kok markets
Mong Kok is located a bit north of the Symphony of lights and offers a different vibe than Central. I thought that it felt more like China (Shanghai). There are more restaurants, thousands of lights and big shopping malls. The streets are crowded and you’ll find here many markets. During the evening I went to the night market, I went back a couple days later during the day and did a 2.5 km walk through the area which you can find in the lonely planet.
This is a market during the evening from 8 pm and one. I arrived around 10 pm when it was busy but fun. You find restaurants set up on the streets with fish steel being alive in crates that you can pick to eat. Or look around in the stands where they sell almost real Louis Vuitton belts, bags, watches and the usual assortment at these kind of fake markets. Make sure to bargain about the prices, often I got 40% of the price.
This market doesn’t have stands but there are many stores on both sides of the streets selling all kind of fish, turtles, the whole cast of finding Nemo and Dory, coral, and fish tanks. You’re not allowed to take pictures, but we got a bad ass over here so enjoy:
There is a small area where you’ll find a bird garden/ market. You will assume to see a lot of birds flying around, but they aren’t. It is actually a place where old man let their bird out, in a cage. You can buy all types of bird in this garden and it is just fun to walk through.
Well you can guess what they sell here. Ladies can buy all their lady toys of the street. There are many stand and they offer everything. Yes you’ll find customers standing by the stand being interested at stuff and bargaining about the price. I am not sure if this market is only at the end of the day and night or during the day as well.
When visiting Asia you need to see a Buddha. Why not the biggest Buddha in the world? you might have seen it from the plane already but it is worth visiting.
You can take the boat from Pier 6 and then take bus 2 to the Buddha. There is a temple and a big square where you can walk around and some store to buy souvenirs. From the square is a 268 steps stair leading to the Buddha. The place is touristy so it is difficult to get a picture with you and the Buddha alone. To get back to central take the cable car over the mountains to the MTR station.
Boat 15 HKD
Happy Valley Horse Race
There are no places to gamble in Hong Kong, except on Wednesday night at the Happy Valley Horse race track. This weekly event is a place where many people come together to have some beers, food and hang out, or to gamble for real. There were six races on the day we were there. You could gamble for 20HKD and every half hour there is one race. First they show the horses and then you can see the race. The vibe there felt like the baseball games in the States. The stadium has many private lounges but next to the track is an area for the normal people. You can walk around and there are many beer and food stands. Many locals and expats meet at the race and afterwards the trams are waiting to bring everyone to Wan Chan to party.
Cost: 10HKD to get into the stadium.
This neighborhood is located at the main island west of Central. Easily to reach by taxi, tram or MTR. We went to this place after the horse race with all the other supporters.
The place offers many bars and everyone is spending all the money they won at the race. So one good thing about Hong Kong is that you’re allowed to consume alcoholic beverages on the street, that the 7/11 is open 24/7, and that the 7/11 is located between all the bars. Many people just get their beers at the 7/11 and enjoy the music from the bars outside to save some money.
Ten thousand Buddhas Monastery
Take the MTR to Sha Tin and visit the Ten Thousand Buddhas. This place is famous in the Netherlands because of the TV show ‘Wie is de Mol?’. But the place was a bit disappointing to me. You walk up the stairs to a temple on top but the place needs to be renovated soon because it is falling apart. Some Buddhas are a different kind of gold or the paint is falling off and so is everything else as well. It takes some time to get to the place and the area has nothing else to offer besides the Buddhas and the temple. Of course it would be worth going, but if you’re short in time you can consider skipping it and just enjoy this picture:
Tiered of walking? Take the tram that crosses through Central from east <–> west. The tram crosses to all the neighborhoods over the busy streets. I took the tram at the end of the day so on my way up I saw the city during day light and on my way back all the lights were lid.
Cost: 2.4 HKD each way.
Rooftop Garden IFC
This is actually a cool place to just lay back for a while. This rooftop garden has lounge sets, heaters, music playing, and it is all for free. You can buy drinks at the bar next to it but you’re allowed to bring your own dishes. We hanged out there for an afternoon and bought lunch at the grocery store in the IFC tower. The view is stunning over the water looking at Tsim Sha Tsui.
If you still have money left it might be worth visiting Macua. This is the Las Vegas of Asia. They have build exactly the same complexes including hotels, clubs, massive casinos and restaurants. The place is expensive to stay and you don’t have to go to Macau for the ‘old city’ because it is basically a burned down church and small overcrowded streets. However, you’ll have a fantastic night out. The next day probably feels like the movie the Hangover but it is fun. We gambles in the Venetian casino from there we went to the club Pacha and later to Cubic. Both clubs are okay to visit. We didn’t have to pay entrance fee, luckily because it wouldn’t have been worth it. The casino is amazing, it is just like Vegas with tables as far as you can see and they offer free drinks if you gamble. The clubs are filled with tables that you can buy and a small dance floor, not really my type of clubs. We were lucky and won a lot of money otherwise you will spend a fortune in Macau
Boat: Central to Macau 168 HKD each way, 1 hour.Hotel: 1,900 HKD for 2 nights
Casino: a fortune
Besides escaping to Repulse Bay you can escape to Lamma Island. Just take the ferry from pier 4.
The island has a relaxed atmosphere and offers a hike of a couple hours to the other side from where you can take the boat back to central. The hike is over some beaches and to small villages. The island is a half hour away from Central but has completely different and a very relax vibe. You read about the hippie island and even though I haven’t seen any I can image why.