Hong Kong, is one of those iconic bucket list destinations that you’ll never ever forget. We lived there for over 3 years on Lantau Island and loved every minute. There are a multitude of Hong Kong tourist spots to discover, and whether you have just one day in Hong Kong (on a cruise excursion perhaps), or 3 days on a stopover or hopefully longer, you should definitely consider including some of the following suggestions in your Hong Kong Itinerary.
3 Days in Hong Kong
If you’re looking to spend around 3 days in Hong Kong and want to discover the best Hong Kong tourist spots and some of the most fascinating Hong Kong sights, then read on for the real deal of what to expect in this incredible city.
I hope to give you a ‘feel’ for Hong Kong as well as some facts, and explain some of the fun activities in Hong Kong. I’ll also point out some of the non touristy things to do that you can discover quickly, especially if you’re just there on a quick Hong Kong stopover.
Before you Go
Hong Kong’s Vibe – What to Expect
A blast of hot air sears into my lungs. It’s tinged with exotic smells. an interesting pot pourri of spices, fish, incense, a slight whiff of urine, exhaust fumes and what I think is a curious sort of duck-dung aroma.
I’m tumbled from the calm of my long haul flight into frenetic activity and my senses are on high alert.
On my first visit to Hong Kong I’m immediately immersed, just one step from the airport terminal, into the glorious intensity of England’s former golden goose. The glittering lights of tall skyscraper buildings in Hong Kong at night sparkle like rare gemstones and suggest high excitement, a delicious uncertainty and the hint of far eastern promise.
“I lug my suitcase into the cavernous boot of the taxi and sweat begins to form in rivulets on my forehead. The humidity is dense and feels like thick warm soup. But I’m unconcerned with the heat because this, after all, is Hong Kong! One of the most exciting cities in the world, and I’m looking forward to my first cold beer, hopefully in an old colonial building with a history.”
Things to see in Hong Kong
As bucket list experiences go, the thrust and excitement of down town Hong Kong is nothing short of mind blowing. There’s just so much to discover about Hong Kong and its islands. From shopping, to sightseeing, to history, to theme parks, to walks, to beaches, to junk boat trips, to ancient Chinese temples, a fascinating culture, and an astonishing selection of food.
I’m dizzied and dazzled by the surging humanity and busy streets of Hong Kong island and Kowloon. They are frenetic, and alive with garish street signs which straddle buildings in colourful profusion, below which may be storefronts or old buildings fronted by carved dragons and gilded sculptures of lions.
Next to a grand entrance might be a street hawker, offering something of interest, possibly illegal, which may be hurriedly bundled up into a suitcase at the first sniff of the law.
Interesting Things to do in Hong Kong – Impressions and Observations
All around I sense a sort of organised confusion but I don’t feel unsafe. Certainly I don’t know what to look at first. There is so much going on.
I hear raised voices in alleyways, and the clatter of mah-jong counters on rickety table tops, along with the ubiquitous click-clack of chopsticks emanating from street side restaurants.
I love the street side eating stalls with their sizzling barbecues and big cauldrons emitting tantalising smells. I love the chaotic fusion of menu choices from curry fishballs, to stinky tofu, dumplings, fried chicken, steaming noodles, freshly cooked chestnuts and barbecued delights. Whether you’re in Causeway Bay, Tsuen Wan, Sham Shui Po or any other number of places around Hong Kong you’ll find delicious morsels to tempt your tastebuds either small street stalls or fancy restaurants with grand decor.
And as I wander I begin to realise that Hong Kong is all about extremes.
Teetering high in the thick mists and vertiginous heights of Victoria Peak, where there are some stunning walks, are grand Hollywood-esque mansions where the very rich live. Down below at sea level many Hong Kong citizens live on board small Chinese styled fishing boats called junks.
Many thousands more live in tiny flats in soaring tower blocks which rise like monoliths reaching for the bleached out sky.
Then beyond the steaming feverishness of Hong Kong island are 235 other islands; some of which are merely little dots in the South China Sea. Nearly all can be reached by an impressive selection of large ferries, small ferries, pleasure boats and Chinese junks.
When relief from the racket of human endeavour or your own pleasure seeking becomes necessary, then it’s time to leave the shopping, the bargain hunting, the noise of jack-hammer drills, and the cacophany of Cantonese for an outing to walk into the calm hills of Lantau Island, or a swim at Lantau’s Cheung Sha beach.
A gentle ferry ride on the South China Sea to Lantau or any another island is in fact a delight.
“The slight cooling breeze in my hair, the diffused almost opaque light, and the promise of a little peace and quiet are in direct contrast and completely opposed to the city’s hot manic excitement.”
Unique Things to do in Hong Kong
There are so many special places in Hong Kong. Don’t just stay on Hong Kong Island. Do get out to the outlying places.
On one weekend trip we discover Tai O, home to the Tanka people, a community of fisher folk who’ve built their houses on stilts above the sea for generations, their houses constructed with corrugated iron, scraps of wood and rotting canvas.
We dine, on different occasions, at Peng Chau, and Cheung Chau island where my buccaneering spirit is rewarded with a delicious seafood meal outside on the sea front listening to the gentle lap of waves on a moonlit beach.
Nothing can prepare you for Hong Kong’s assault on the senses. It’s a glorious kaleidoscope, a treasure island of fabulous sights and experiences, where a ride at night on the Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central with the backdrop of Hong Kong’s incredible skyline seems nothing short of fairytale – you may just want to stay onboard and repeat the 10-minute journey several times.
Shopping in Hong Kong
As far as Hong Kong Tourist Spots go – the markets are definitely high up on the list.
In Hong Kong bargain shopping is a sport and it’s great fun. Believe me!
There are streets and streets of shops, and huge department stores too, but it’s the markets I love the most. The markets are some of the most fun places in Hong Kong if you love shopping!
One of the biggest outdoor markets on Hong Kong Island is Wan Chai Street market which is essentially an outdoor department store. For designer gear you could try the Ladies Market in Mongkok, or if you’re shopping for gadgets and electronic items then Temple Street Night Market is the place – where you might also find fortune tellers and Cantonese karaoke stars after 8pm too.
Stanley Market is a Hong Kong tourist spot that you won’t want to miss if you’re visiting for the first time. Although it’s considered more of a beginner’s market for tourists hunting for souvenirs, I always enjoyed it immensely and didn’t feel ripped off.
However Stanley Market’s wares might seem a little tame when your next street find is the slightly gory discovery of some caterpillar fungus, or a crusty slice of sea-horse, an edible bird’s nest, or some fossilised lizard’s dung at a Chinese herbalist’s shop – followed by the sight of a street hawker cutting off frogs heads with a pair of scissors.
Such are the extremes and oddities of Hong Kong.
So many unique places in Hong Kong
You’d need half a lifetime to explore everything, but you’ll definitely find some unique things to do in Hong Kong even on a short visit. It’s certainly a bucket list destination that lived up to all the hype and far exceeded all my expectations.
Cool Things to do in Hong Kong
- Ride on a traditional Chinese Junk.
- Hop on the Star Ferry, especially at night.
- Take the Peak Tram for an almost vertical ride to se the magnificent views at Sky Terrace on The Peak.
- Go to the Ladies Market in Mong Kok for bargain priced clothing.
- Visit Disneyland (with or without kids)
- Chill out at The Nan Lian Garden, a Chinese Classical Garden designed in the Tang Dynasty-style.
- Jump on the Hong Kong Hop on Hop Off Bus.
- Get your fortune told at Temple Street Night Market
- Ride the longest escalator in the world which links the Central and Western districts on Hong Kong Island, with many shops and dining stops along the way.
- Enjoy a Victoria Harbour Dinner Cruise with magnificent night views of Hong Kong, plus the symphony of lights show.
- Eat from a street stall.
- While you’re travelling to, and while in Hong Kong read the historical saga, Tai Pan by James Clavell.
- Visit Repulse Bay, the most famous beach in Hong Kong, situated in the southern part of Hong Kong Island. This is one of the most expensive residential areas in Hong Kong and fronted by a sandy beach.
- Take a ferry 10 kilometres southwest of Hong Kong Island and visit Cheung Chau Island. You’ll find old temples, sandy beaches & a coastal walking trail, plus seafood restaurants. It’s nickname is the ‘dumbbell island’ because of its shape.
- Or hop on an Island Hopping Cruise and discover more of Hong Kong’s Islands.
On My Wish List
Hong Kong is known as the “Pearl of Orient” for its beautiful night views. The tour above will take you on a unique cruise ride, to the top of the city sky observatory, and to the famous Victoria Peak.
7 Top Things to do in Hong Kong with Kids
If you’re in Hong Kong with kids then you’re in for a treat because there are some fabulous things to do.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Kids will love Hong Kong Disneyland. It’s a a theme park on reclaimed land in Penny’s Bay, on Lantau Island. It’s the largest theme park in Hong Kong.
Ocean Park Hong Kong
Ocean Park Hong Kong, also just known as Ocean Park, is a marine mammal park, oceanarium, animal theme park and amusement park situated in Wong Chuk Hang and Nam Long Shan, Aberdeen, the Southern District of Hong Kong.
Mid Levels Escalators
Hold their hands, but kids will love riding the longest escalator in the world linking Central and Western districts on Hong Kong Island. There are lots of shops and places to eat along the way.
Tian Tan Buddha
One of the largest seated Buddha statues in the world can be found on Lantau Island at Ngong Ping near Po Lin Monastery. The Tian Tan Buddha is a large bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, completed in 1993 that symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith. Kids will love racing to the top of the 260 steps leading up to this huge bronze Buddha, with a carved bell, museum and relics inside.
The Peak Tram
Kids love the novelty of this tram which travels up to the Peak district almost vertically at times. It dates back to the Victorian-era, taking visitors to the highest peak on Hong Kong island for spectacular views of the city.
Book the Fast Track Peak Tram with Harbour View Meal (combo)
Located at the Peak Tower on Hong Kong Island you’ll find Madame Tussauds, part of the international museum chain of wax museums exhibiting life-size wax replicas of famous & historic people.
Book Madame Tussauds in advance and avoid the queues.
Hong Kong Park
Located in Central you’ll find an 8-hectare park with landscaped gardens & scenic ponds, plus a large aviary & historical buildings.
Hong Kong Science Museum
This is a super Kid-friendly museum featuring hands-on science & technology exhibits & live demonstrations.
My Favourite Things to Do in Hong Kong
By Sandy from Tray Tables Away
“The reason Hong Kong remains my favourite Asian city has a lot to do with the huge amount and variety of things to do.
With over 20 inhabited islands sitting close offshore as well as Macau to the West and Shenzhen to the North there is no end of places to visit for day trips and it can be as fast paced or as laid back as you like. Cheung Chau, Lamma and Lantau islands are places we’ve returned to numerous times.
Shopping is a big thing in Hong Kong, whether it be in a big modern mall, one of the many high end label stores or one of the many street markets throughout the city. Food of course is a major drawcard and with 51 Michelin starred restaurants, including modest noodle bars, its easy to see why. Visiting Soho in Central at night is mandatory for fantastic bars, restaurants and its vibrant atmosphere.
Sandy from Tray Tables Away
Despite the chaos, the noise and the frenetic energy it is still easy to find pockets of tranquility throughout the city. The Chi Li Nunnery and adjacent Nan Lian gardens are easy to access by MTR to Diamond Hill and are breathtaking in their detail and design.”
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