What to do in Hong Kong | A Short Guide From A Backpacker’s Perspective!
By Alan & Lourdes | A Belgian & A Filipina
About Hong Kong
An exceptional city in Asia
Hong Kong is still one of the most famous cities in the world for its huge amout of shopping malls, street markets, nearby mountains, many beaches, Disneyland, once scary airport, and so much more.
We visited Hong Kong many times because one of us was working there for three years straight and we planned our holidays too see each other once again. Hong kong became our destination for three times, year after year, until the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in November 2019.
Our fourth holiday was right around the corner and planned for August 2020, but it quickly sunk to the bottom of the ocean as more positive cases arose throughout the world and sadly enough also in Belgium the numbers went up instead of down.
So, almost two years later, June 2021, we still can’t make any plan for our next unity. Vaccinations are going on all over the world since the beginning of 2021, but unfortunately not all at the same pace. We can only hope they open our closed international borders anytime soon. Oh please!
Highlights of Hong Kong
Let’s surprise you
Shopping malls are just everywhere in Hong Kong, wherever you go you’ll find one. Further away from the city are many supermarkets to fill your needs and in every MTR station are plenty shops just in case you’re out of snacks or drinks. The tasty scent of fresh bread spoils your nose while commuting from A to B, ah how badly we miss this.
Asia in general is quite unique for its street food markets and Hong Kong isn’t any different. A must-see street market is the Manly street market in Quarry Bay! Highly recommended to get the full Hong Kong street market experience.
Mountains are also present all around the city and on the many islands around Hong Kong. It’s easy to reach them by MTR or minibus for just a couple of Hong Kong Dollars, which you will spend with the Octopus Smart Card, which we explain right here. Super easy!
Another option for the beach lovers among us is the many beaches Hong Kong counts. It’s more than you think in this not-only-skyscraper city. Also reachable by minibus and all have free entry with restrooms and showers. Every beach also has BBQ places for your beach-perfect romantic lunch or dinner.
Hong Kong even has a Disneyland Resort, which sadly enough we didn’t go to as we didn’t have the time. It must be magnificent to try with your kids! Standard park tickets are HK$ 639 or € 67,6.
Tai Tong Sweet Gum Woods
We recommend to stop at Long Ping MTR station as it is much easier to get a bus to the start of the hike to the Sweet Gum Woods.
Take Bus K66 to Tai Tong, it’s a 40 minute drive.
The harbourfront area is one of the best spaces near Victoria Harbour to spend your free afternoon when enjoying the calm noise of the
Either get the Airport Express or ferry to Mui Wo and bus for a sightseeing tour of Lantau Island. We assure you this island has beautiful mountains to admire.
Take Ferry Pier No.6 from Central to Mui Wo and bus No.2 to Ngong Ping. 30 minutes by fast ferry and 1 hour by bus.
Quarry Bay is famous for only one thing and that is it’s impressive Monster Building, located a bit hidden behind rather ugly skyscrapers and actually not really wanted to massively get too populated with tourists by local residents. They live here in peace after all…
This gun might be orientated toward a fancy building near the Victoria Harbour, but this was once the Old Marine Police Headquarters.
It’s located at TST or Tsim Sha Tsui next to The Peninsula Hotel.
A former Portugese colony about 70 kilometres to the east of Hong Kong, with a gambling industry 7 times larger than that of Las Vegas.
You can get a fast ferry from Hong Kong Macau Ferry terminal near Central and it will take about an hour and 20 minutes.
Street Food Markets
Wet and dry markets in Hong Kong
Street markets in Hong Kong are simply famous for exotic smell, but also for its broad range of Asian products they have to offer and that for a very affordable price too.
Not only they sell food, but in Hong Kong they fill whole streets with clothing, souvenirs, toys, even technology like smartphones and watches can be bought here. Not sure where all that stuff comes from, but at least they try to do business.
Don’t forget to get pineapple shortcakes, mooncakes or your favourite set of chopsticks on your next holiday.
We Europeans are maybe not so fond of the outdoor, smelly stalls from Asia, but in Hong Kong they are usually very clean and strictly checked for their quality and cleaniness. Think of our temporary weekend markets, which sells not only food, but also clothes, candy, fruits, vegetables, burgers, and so much more.
It’s quite the same really, except they don’t have enough space with huge squares to spread out their stalls. So they need to occupy a whole street instead and there it does work like this. They also have their own favourite spot to place their stalls as they are used to and the locals can keep it organised too.
Top 5 Things to do in Hong Kong
Bying the latest and greatest new tech
We don’t need to explain why Hong Kong is famous for it’s huge amount of tourists who just go there for shopping, do we?
Well here’s the thing with this very commercial and financial city of the east…
This city is perfectly situated for the export of goods coming from China and other nearby countries and thereby it has a strong connection with the mother of all good production on the rather cheap side as far as are aware. Although also very expensive stuff can be bought here, yeah sure.
It can be said that all the latest and gratest tech arrives at Hong Kong first and will later be delivered to the rest of the world by overseas transportation.
Shopping in Hong Kong is not on the cheap side, but it’s very extensive range of products is insane to say the least. There isn’t a place without a store wherever you point your eyes at. Unless you’re on a beach or somewhere on a mountain peak, of course.
Here’s one photo not for the vegetarians among us, as we are both not vegetarians we do respect them a lot and we agree that most animals are not treated like it should.
Below a photo of a fresh meat vendor in an indoor street market.
Not only grocery shopping but technology is a key here as well, gadgets, smartphones, laptops, cameras, all the latest and greatest can be found here.
Prices aren’t cheap, but still respectable.
One can hike practically everywhere in Hong Kong and a grand extra is that it has a lot of surrounding nature, which is easily accessible by either MTR, Green Bus or ferry. Just be sure to have enough balance on your Octopus Card!
Ngong Ping, a very small but very special village in the mountains of Lantau island where one can enjoy a relaxing day off from the busy city life. Be it a short hike to the start of the Lantau Peak or bringing a visit to the Tian Tan Buddha statue in combination with the Po Lin Monastery better known as The Grand Hall of Ten thousand Bhuddas, or even exploring the abandoned tea houses that once had a rich history slowly fading away.
Local culture is everywhere, but as this city is growing day by day at a rapid pace, it’s past history is slowly making place for new history and, yes, sometimes this is good, although this is not always the case. We like to chase history, maybe not necessarily the bad sides of it, though. We do love to see past historical things left behind by our ancestors. Like local heritage, art, architecture, buildings, parks and temples.
Fortunately most of it’s heritage is kept safe within its museums and it is definitely worth it to check it out.
Below is a photo of the Man Mo Temple.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
Tucked away on a pieceful mountain slope just above the Sha Tin MTR station, the magnificant path with the golden Buddha statues lead you to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. The climb is steep and counts many steps, although it is possible for people with a baby stroller as well. There is a smooth path next to the steps, but keep in mind that it is steep., although we assure you there’s plenty people who are likely to help a hand if needed.
Bring enough drinking water and a snack with you as the hike can be a little challenging for some.
Don’t feed the monkeys, they can be rather aggressive if you’re carrying a snack in your hands.
Be sure to bring your camera, this place is a holy sanctuary and has many beautiful pieces to capture.
Yes, we admit, December can be on the cold side. At least for the temperature of the sea. Trust us, we tested that. Starting from March till November it is perfect to enjoy the warm temperatures of the sea.
Beaches are plenty on the 261 islands of Hong Kong, to name just a few of our top favourite beaches.
- Clear Water Bay First Beach
- Shek O Beach
- Big Wave Bay
- Repulse Bay Beach
- Cheung Sha Beach
- Mui Wo Beach
- Pui O Beach
- Golden Beach
- Deep Water Bay Beach
Chirstmas & New Year
We have met each other during Christmas of 2017 and it was luck that brought us together in Hong Kong. Alan would have never thought about finding his other half so far from his home country Belgium, but he did.
The New Year came and we celebrated together and we’re going stronger and stronger day by day.
This city is an amazing location to spend your Christmas and New Year combined, although keep in mind our European New Year isn’t on the same day, the Christmas lights will be present everywhere in the gigantic city all for you to admire and there’s even a countdown to the Gregorian New Year at the former Kowloon-Canton Clock Tower at Tsim Sha Tsui.
Staying for the Night
Sleep cheap or sleep wisely
It isn’t difficult to get lost in the massive amount of sweet hotels to nap in in the beautiful city of Hong Kong. But please do beware of the Tsim Sha Tsui disctrict where amany Idian people try to convince you to book a hostel. Yes, those guesthouses are cheap, but they’re dirty and not safe areas to walk freely. It’s better to search a little further away from the Chunking Mansion at all times.
A true fact is that The Peninsula 5-star Hotel is right around that corner lurking over the Victoria Harbour. Luckily they – the Indian people – don’t go so far and you can walk around without any worries.
Silvermine Beach Resort
A true relaxing getaway near the beach of Mui Wo, Lantau island. This hotel is easily reachable by fast ferry from Central Ferry Pier No.6 and it takes only 30 minutes.
Starting from € 77, US$ 94
Just a short walk away from Diamond Hill MTR station, this sweet hotel will let you sleep quietly and it overlooks the Lion Rock and Kowloon Peak mountains.
Starting from € 71, US$ 86
Holiday Inn Kowloon East
Tseung Kwan O is simply a beatiful place to explore as it is rather a new part of the city. The rooms are extraordinary perfect for the price. Our personal favourite.
Starting from € 79, US$ 96
It doesn’t have to be expensive
Getting around in Hong Kong is easy, very easy. No car rental needed, just only one pass is required for you to enjoy as many days as you plan to stay in Hong Kong.
Our short answer is getting the Octopus smart card, this card saves you a lot of hassle and worries. Don’t be, just buy an Octopus smart card as soon as you arrive at the Hong Kong International Airport at Chep Lap Kok for just HK$ 100. You’ll need to buy this in cash at the MTR machine at the arrival hall, which leads to the Airport Express Train that will bring you to Hong Kong station, located on the Hong Kong Island.
Be sure to exchange some of your home money to the local Hong Kong Dollars right at the airport, but leave the rest for when you arrive in the city as the exchange rate is much cheaper there. Just get around HK$ 500 and you’ll be fine.
Check the link for current prices and options here. There’s even an option for a cross border travel if needed.
The Octopus Smart Card, it’s a must have item in Hong kong. This contactless payment system is valid in many stores all spread over the city. From coffee shops to bakeries, convenient stores, all public transportation systems, tram, bus, MTR, taxi, you name it, it’s all possible with one single card. We love it!