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Top 5 things to do in Hong Kong

Updated on December 17, 2009

Hong Kong is a big city, with lots to do. But how to choose? Here I will list the top five things to do. So have a look and enjoy!

The Peak

Take the little train up to the peak on Hong Kong Island. From here you will have the most amazing view over Hong Kong.  You look out over the skyline of the city, the Victoria Harbour, Kowloon and hills as far as you can see. It is best to go at the end of the afternoon. Have a look at the spectacular view while it is still light. The viewpoint is 686m2 and has a 360 degrees panoramic view. Then go for a little walk in the picturesque little village on top the peak. Then wait until it is dark and look at the view again, with all the city lights turned on. This is just as spectacular. The little train up to the peak is quite nice as well. It is rather steep and that makes the experience very special.

Temple Street Night Markets

As the name already states, this market is in Temple Street in Kowloon. It starts around 4 pm and goes on until late at night. You can find absolutely everything your heart desires here, although most of what they sell is cheap designer knock-offs and souvenirs. But they have some very nice jewellery, beautifully made chinese games like mah jongg, and all sorts of other interesting things. There are a lot of rather cheap eateries around, which sell good food, mostly fish dishes.

At night there is a lot of theatre going on as well. You will find Chinese Opera performances, and other types of theatre. Absolutely worth a vist when you ar in Kowloon.

Cheung Chau

This is a little island, a little west of Hong Kong Island. Take the ferry there from Hong Kong island. This takes between 30 and 40 minutes and is a great boat ride already. When you arrive in the harbour of Cheung Chau, the place looks lovely. In the harbour are fishing boats of all sorts and colours. All the little houses and shops are very colourful too. The only thing spoiling this beautiful place is the McDonald’s which is the first thing you see when you come off the ferry. But all the other little shops and restaurants are locally owned and set up. At every restaurant they have huge fish tanks, where you can pick your own meal. They have all sorts of other traditional Chinese meals as well.

After your lunch, hire a bike to go around the island. This is the means of transport used by the locals as well. So the bikes are absolutely everywhere. Just cycle around the little streets and feast your eyes. There are two temples on the island, which are worth visiting. Access to both is free. You can easily spend a full day here, but an afternoon is enough time to cycle or walk around the island too.

The Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery

Take the ferry or the metro to Lantau Island. Here you can take the Ngong Ping 360. This is a 5.7km long cable car ride. It goes over the tops of the mountains to the Big Buddha and is quite amazing. The view is once again spectacular. You can now take special cabins, with a see-through bottom. These are called Crystal Cabins, and are not for the faint-hearted or people with a fear of heights. Once you arrive, it is only a short walk to the Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery. There is a little village which looks very nice, but was a bit too commercial for my taste, but the Big Buddha and the monastery more than make up for that. Try to avoid going here on weekends, especially Sundays though, because about half of Hong Kong will be there too.

The Po Lin monastery is beautifully decorated with paintings and gold ornaments. The main colors are green, red and gold. There is a library with lots of information on Buddhism and a vegetarian restaurant with beautiful dishes. Absolutely splendid for vegetarians, but even the meatlovers will find something to their taste here. You can bring your own food and have a little picnic on one of the benches. You are not allowed to bring any meat unto the monastery premises, so take care you don’t pack any of that.

Then continue your walk up to the Big Buddha. This is the biggest outdoors, bronze, sitting Buddha in the world. It was build on top of a mountain, and can be seen from afar. It is 34 metres high. It was made in China en it took 10 years to complete. It weighs 250 tons and it was finished in 1993. The climb up to the Buddha consists of 268 steps. Up in the Buddha is a little museum, but this is not that interesting. Most of the text is in Chinese too, so maybe they had some good things to say, but I just didn’t understand. The view from the plateau is very nice though. All in all a great day out.

The Happy Valley Race Courses

This is a rather large and popular venue for horse races. Many a Hong Kong resident gambled away his wages, or walked out with a fortune here. It is on Hong Kong Island. There are races going on almost daily, but make sure you check before you go. All the betting is electronic these days, but the thrill of the races is still the same as when the first races were held about 150 years ago. So place your bet and join the locals in cheering on your horse. Just make sure you won’t get carried away, and gamble all your holiday money. The Hong Kong Racing Museum is close and offers some more fascinating information on the race course, and the history of racing in China.

These were my absolute favourites when I visited Hong Kong. Let me know what you enjoyed most. 


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