Compared to Singapore, Hong Kong is often synonymous with a dirty, rowdy and cramped megalopolis that’s extremely easy to get lost in. It’s maze of cheap shopping and street-side food snacks are thronged with locals and tourists alike, almost always succeeding in confusing your exploration.
Fortunately, there are plenty more to enjoy here other than the frenzied shopping of Mong Kok – here are but ten suggestions for you!
1. Tramming through Hong Kong Island
|Tramming through Hong Kong Island|
The HK2 narrow double-decker city trams trundling on the north coast of Hong Kong Island are a Hong Kong icon. They are much slower, but the route takes you by various points of interests such as the Western Market, Causeway Bay, Happy Valley and finally ends at Shau Kei Wan. Through the journey, you’ll be able to see the landscape gradually changing from that of a CBD to towards public government housings. Definitely the cheapest sightseeing tours around.
2. A Night Out at the Happy Valley
|Hong Kong - A Night Out at the Happy Valley|
For those into a bit of gambling or just wanting a great night out, take off the tram at Happy Valley Race Course, another of Hong Kong’s iconic landmark. Horse races are usually held on Wednesday night, but it’s best to check ahead of time. Bring your passport to get a tourist pass for HK100 (roughly US$13) which gives you access to most areas of the course. The atmosphere is great, and there are always side-shows and activities for those less interested in the horses.
3. Relaxing at Lei King Wan
|Hong Kong - Relaxing at Lei King Wan|
At the east end of the MTR route is Sai Wan Ho, a quiet coastal side town that plays host to the Hong Kong Film Archive and the Museum of Coastal Defence. Take a walk along the Eastern District Tourist Trail, passing by various temples towards Lei King Wan, or Soho East. There are various waterfront establishment in the area serving a wide array of cuisines, from the cheap to the luxurious, a great place to enjoy a slow, quiet dinner and end the night on a high note!
4. A Symphony of Lights at the Avenue of Stars
|Hong Kong - A Symphony of Lights at the Avenue of Stars|
Directly within walking distance of the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station is the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It celebrates icons of Hong Kong cinema from the past century, and the seaside promenade offers fantastic views, day and night. Every night at 8pm, you can also enjoy A Symphony of Lights, a spectacular lights and laser show that is recognized byt the Guinness World Record as the world’s “Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show”. Go on either Monday, Wednesday or Friday, when the show is performed in English.
5. Exploring Lantau Island
|Hong Kong - Exploring Lantau Island|
Lantau Island is the biggest of the 230 or so islands belonging to the territory of Hong Kong. Take the MRT to Tung Chung, and make your way towards the Po Lin Monastery through a 30-minutes cable car ride called the Ngong Ping 360. There is a cultural village at Ngong Ping where you can have refreshment and shop for souvenirs, but the main treat is the Giant Buddha statue. This extraordinary statue is 34 metres high, and visitors can climb the 268 steps to reach the platform where the Buddha is seated. For those more adventurous, skip the cable car ride and enjoy the natural hiking trail through the hills.
6. Bargain Hunting at Tung Chung Factory Outlets
|Hong Kong - Bargain Hunting at Tung Chung Factory Outlets|
Back from your exploration at the Lantau Island, take a quick stop at Tung Chung MTR Station and explore the CityGate Shopping Mall, Hong Kong 1st outlet mall. There are plenty of outlet factories here, which means cheap, quality bargains you won’t find elsewhere. Unlike the street-side vendors and shops at Mong Kok, the goods here are not fake. It is also significantly less cramped, which means less competition in search for that great bargain.
7. Stanley Town
|Hong Kong - Stanley Town|
Accessible by bus, Stanley Town is a tourist attraction located in the southeastern peninsula of Hong Kong Island. Take a walk through Stanley Market, a large open-air marketplace that is similar to Mong Kok, but minus the throng of crowds. The bargains here are mostly souvenirs such as ornaments, arts and crafts. The main attraction however, is the Stanley Main Street, renowned for its many waterfront establishment offering a variety of foods and refreshments. This area is very popular with both tourists and expats, not unlike Singapore’s Clarke Quay.
8. Nightlife at Lan Kwai Fong
|Hong Kong - Nightlife at Lan Kwai Fong|
A buzzing center of clubs, bars and restaurants, this buzzing estate of trendy establishment is a popular hangout place for the night owls, both locals and tourists. Located smack in the middle of Hong Kong’ Central area, the place is always crowded every night. You can also find various bistros and pubs around the area, serving midnight supper and snacks for bar-goers till late at night.
9. Victoria Peak
|Hong Kong - Victoria Peak|
Take the extremely steep Peak Tram and head towards Victoria Peak to enjoy a scenic view of Hong Kong. Up at the Peak, there is the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and also the recently renovated Peak Tower, housing an array of shops and establishments for your enjoyment. There are also various hiking trails and the Sky Terrace from which you can enjoy the best view in Hong Kong!
10. Mystic Reading at Temple Street
|Hong Kong - Mystic Reading at Temple Street|
The Temple Street at night is filled with various fortune tellers who can give you readings for around HK50 to 100. They consists of a varied bunch with differing skills, from reading of tea leaves and palms to Tarot cards and the traditional fortune teller based on your birth date and Chinese zodiac. Some of the more popular ones have queues up to an hour or so, and one stall I saw was fully booked for the rest of the week! I’m pleased to say that my reading was about 75% accurate, and it was right on target on the more important questions!