From a small fishing village filled with Chinese pirates and refugees, Hong Kong morphed into a global trade center–becoming the world’s 44th largest economy.
As a former British territory and current Chinese dependency, the metropolis boasts a multifaceted culture and heritage.
Witness the top tourist attractions in Hong Kong through a convergence of its traditional and contemporary cultures found throughout the territory.
Top Hong Kong Tourist Attractions
Ding Ding ride down Central and Sheung Wan
There’s no better way to get a feel of the best things to do in Hong Kong via its past and future than by taking a ride along the tramways of downtown.
Adorably known as ‘ding dings,’ the 110-year-old double-decker trams are some of the earliest methods of public transportation in the Chinese territory.
Better yet? It is the cheapest form of transportation in Hong Kong.
I personally recommend a route crossing amid the towering skyscrapers of Central toward Sheung Wan.
This is historic neighborhood where traditional Chinese temples meet hip shops and eateries.
Once at Sheung Wan, make sure you visit the following spots:
- Handicraft shops and mall at the Western Market
- Ancient Chinese medicine practice at Koh Shing Street
- Hip grub at Gough Street, also known as NoHo (north of Hollywood Road)
Take the tram or hike up to Victoria Peak
Speaking of trams: another great thing to do in Hong Kong is taking a ride up to Victoria Peak.
From here, you can enjoy spectacular views of the world’s most vertical city, including the hilly New Territories.
For a complete experience, pay for the tram and entrance fee to its highest vantage point, Sky Terrace 428.
Alternatively, you can hike the Peak Circle Walk for free (approximately 1.5 hours each way).
Junk boat trip around Victoria Harbour
Sail Victoria Harbour for a few hours or get a different vantage point for the popular Symphony of Lights light show by traditional junk.
No, I’m not talking about trash!
A junk is a traditional Chinese fishing boat–like an Eastern version of a schooner.
Unfortunately, most vessels that call themselves “junks” are motorized and barely close to the originals nowadays.
By time of writing, Aqua Luna was one of the few traditional Chinese junks left in Hong Kong, so I highly recommend booking a boat trip through them.
Seaside stroll by Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
Another top attraction in Hong Kong that is highly recommend would be taking a stroll down the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade.
It is a feast for the eyes, highlighting Hong Kong’s gorgeous topography and the stunning Hong Kong Island skyline over Victoria Harbour.
What makes it one of the best things things to see Hong Kong, though?
The Promenade connects the colonial Clock Tower, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and the Space Museum, making it a top spot for first-time visitors.
Enter Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple
A place that promises to make every wish a reality is bound to become a popular attraction!
Such is the case of Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin–a unique tri-faith temple in the Kowloon district.
Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian beliefs combine here, where worshipers bring offerings in hopes of good fortune.
For nonbelievers, this Hong Kong attraction is a colorful, extravagant architectural masterpiece.
If you’re a Spanish speaker, I highly recommend exploring the area with Lorena from Vive Hong Kong, like I did!
Cheap shopping at Tung Choi Street
Shopaholics rejoice! Tung Choi Street is packed with bargains, ranging from souvenirs and crafts to cheap clothing and accessories.
The main draw here is the kilometer-long Ladies’ Market: a shopping heaven for women of all ages.
Not a lady? Not to worry: there are over 100 shops selling everything from home furnishings and DVDs to watches and other electronics.
Quirky fortune-telling at Temple Street Night Market
If you’re not into cheap Chinese goods, but are up for a better-rounded cultural experience, I recommend visiting the Temple Street Night Market instead.
There, you can slurp traditional noodles while having a local find out your fortune through birds.
Yes, BIRDS! Quite unique indeed.
Other Unique Things to Do in Hong Kong
Not your first visit or simply looking for more unique Hong Kong tourist attractions? Take any of these day trips to explore quirkier parts of the bustling archipelago.
Learn about Hong Kong’s gritty past
Very rarely do you stumble upon a guided tour that uncovers the gritty history of a destination.
As such, I was pleasantly surprised when I joined one of Walk in Hong Kong‘s evening tours.
In the heart of Kowloon I learned more about Hong Kong’s corrupt past, Mafia wars, traditional markets, and even dropped by old-school diners and sketchy-looking karaoke bars.
Definitely one of the quirkiest, yet most informative tours I’ve ever taken!
Art gallery hopping south of Hollywood Street (SoHo)
Once Mao Zedong founded the communist People’s Republic of China in 1949, artists started to flock to Hong Kong in order to freely showcase their work.
In the then-British territory, they were free to express both their love and hate for the new regimen.
An art gallery hop down SoHo with a passionate guide from Liuda Tour was a fascinating introduction to Hong Kong’s art history.
I learned not only about Chinese refugees and communist-era masterpieces, but also about artwork valuation and bargaining tactics.
A must-do for any history buffs and art lovers!
Cable car trip to Lantau Island
Named one of the top 10 most amazing rides in the world by The Telegraph, the Ngong Ping Cable Car trip to Lantau Island is one of Hong Kong’s best city breaks.
This unique 20-minute aerial ride affords spectacular views of the Hong Konger archipelago and port, transporting you to the heart of Ngong Ping Village.
Some of the best things to do upon arriving to Hong Kong’s largest island include:
- Hike the 70-kilometer Lantau Trail, traversing the island
- Sunrise from Lantau Peak, Hong Kong’s seconnd highest peak
- Visit the traditional Po Lin Monastery complex and its the recently-built Hall of the 10,000 Buddhas
- Admire the 34-meter-tall Tian Tan Big Buddha, one of the largest seating Buddha sculptures in the world
Tang Dynasty oasis at Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery
Another welcomed break from the metropolis’ chaos are the Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery.
Walking by the serene lotus ponds and classical architecture is a relaxing ritual, as they are perfectly balanced with its surroundings by following the fundamentals of feng shui.
The urban oases were built in the Tang Dynasty style–highly regarded as a Golden Age of Chinese civilization.