Psst! I’ve been playing around and thinking about compiling “Top X list of Things to Do, See and Eat” for various countries and cities around the world. Let me know in the comments below if you like this layout. Then I’ll be sure to create more similar stuff in the future. Also let me know if there’s some things to do,see or eat I should add to this Hong Kong bucket list! Cheers.
So, Hong Kong is one of the most densely-populated places on earth, and it’s the awesome place I’ve been residing for the last few years after moving from Norway and finishing studies and work in Australia and South Korea.
Composed of three different islands (Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories), there are more than enough sights and sensations to soak up any type of trip you have planned. From traditional street markets and beautiful temples to the fast-moving, skyscraper-dotted streets, to endless food and drink options, there is so much to do here! It’s really hard to dislike Hong Kong. I can’t get enough of the city, and if you are a foodie like me, then it’s heaven. It’s certainly hard not to walk away a few pounds heavier.
Hong Kong is one of the most exciting places on earth and, even after countless places visited, the city easily remains one of my top places to visit (and live in!).
1. Marvel at the Hong Kong Skyline
Go to Kowloon and the Avenue of Stars and gaze at the amazing cityscape. Did you know that Hong Kong is the city with the most skyscrapers in the world? 317 skyscrapers. That’s a lot! My home country, Norway, has 0!
2. See the Symphony of Lights
You should especially visit the Avenue of Stars during the night to enjoy the spectacular “A Symphony of Lights” on the buildings on the Hong Kong Island side.
This daily light and sound show includes about 50 buildings of the HK cityscape, and according to Guinnes World Records it is the world’s largest permanent light and sound show.
These are shown every night at 7.45 pm and 9 pm.
3. Ride on a Traditional Chinese Junk Boat
If you time it well you could ride a traditional Chinese junk boat simultaneously as the famous light show mentioned above. No, it’s not junk “junk”… Don’t be silly. A junk is an ancient Chinese sailing ship design from 2nd century AD — that is still in use today.
Also, an alternative, especially if you don’t have much time, is to take the Star Ferry, which is a 10-minute ride across the Victoria Harbour that also offers the amazing skyline views.
Star Ferry: Kowloon Point, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon | 852 2367 7065 | Website
4. See the Hong Kong Stars
Should you opt for the boat ride then be sure to arrive early to see the Avenue of the Stars, which is — similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame — a tribute to Hong Kong’s film industry. Jackie Chen and Bruce Lee are probably some of the more famous ones you ought to know about.
Avenue of Stars | Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong | Website
5. Visit the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (Man Fat Sze)
The Ten Thousand Buddhas is a hidden gem in the area called Sha Tin. The walk up is rigorous, but along the way wild monkeys are hanging out, which is so cool! It’s free to enter as well.
6. Visit Hong Kong’s Disneyland and/or Ocean Park
If you’re on a family trip, or even if you’re a backpacker in touch with your inner child, head to Disneyland or Ocean Park for a fun-filled day.
If you love Disney then obviously you got to visit Disneyland and hang out with Mickey Mouse. While the park is relatively small, it’s perfect for one day.
If you’re lucky to be in Hong Kong during Halloween, then you simply just got to visit Ocean Park. It’s such a cool experience where the whole park basically turns into a “haunted house” with lots of “horror” experiences that scared the sh*t out of me last time we went!
In general, for either park, aim to go during the week to avoid the crowds.
Ocean Park | Website
DisneyWorld | Website
7. Ride the Longest Escalator in the World
I mean, why not?! Hehe, I love quirky things like this. Why not take a rest and fly through the hilly streets of Hong Kong on the longest outdoor escalator in the world which links Hong Kong Island’s western districts
There are plenty of shops and restaurants on the way, should you get bored!
8. Eat Snake Soup
While in Hong Kong you obviously have to try a myriad of new dishes and challenge yourself to add a few on your Hong Kong bucket list! Snake soup, an Asian delicacy, definitely falls into that category. The price is also very affordable at around 50 HKD. So, why not? It’s not bad!
Where to eat:
Se Wong Yee in at 24 Percival Street, Causeway Bay
9. Visit Mongkok & the Ladies Market
Street markets are an awesome way to fully immerse yourself in the busy vibe, sight and sounds of Hong Kong. In the markets you’ll find all kinds of things for sale.
Particularly in Mong Kong, the most densely populated area in the world, is a shopper’s paradise. Including Ladies Market, which has an abundance of knick knacks and souvenir items.
Even if you aren’t looking to buy anything, Mong Kok is a great area to explore and experience a part of Hong Kong’s bustling urban life. Mongkok is also famous for it’s trendy clothing, and a great place to find all sorts of typical Hong Kong snacks. Curry fish balls, cuttlefish balls, fish meat, beef balls, pig blood curd, red sausage, pig skin, jelly fish, you name it, all kinds of weird and wonderful adventurous delights are on offer here. Plus beef skewers for the more conservative eaters 😉
10. Visit Temple Street Night Market
Temple Street comes alive at night when restaurants and market stalls are packed side-by-side, offering delicious local food and just about anything else you can think of buying. Pull up a stool on the street and get adventurous with ordering! This would also be a great opportunity to buy small gifts, so brush up on your negotiation skills!
Avoid visiting during the daytime, as the outdoor seating for restaurants and market stalls won’t be opened. Also, if you can’t get enough of markets, you could also check out the Stanley Market.
Kansu Street and Jordan Road, Mongkok, Kowloon | Website
11. Take the Tram and Enjoy the View from Victoria Peak (The Peak)
If you’re lucky enough to be in Hong Kong during a clear day you got to visit the Peak — and you can’t go wrong with either visiting the place during the day, sunset or at night. The view is amazing!
Simply put, it is the highest 360-degree viewing area in the city. This spot is not only good for its stunning vistas, but also includes a great venue for shopping, dining, must-visit attractions and generally a fun-filled experience of Hong Kong’s living culture.
It’s extra cool to take the Peak Tram up, one of the world’s oldest funicular railways. But the queues are generally very long — so to skip the long lines you might want to consider taking a taxi up and down. And if you’re into walking, then you can stroll up/down the Garden Trail which goes all the way down to Central.
1 Lugard Rd, Hong Kong | 852 2849 7654 | Website
12. Climb (or take the cable car) to the Top of Big Buddha
The Tian Tan Big Buddha is one of the main things to do in Hong Kong. Standing at 34 meters tall, the Big Buddha is one of the largest bronze outdoor sitting Buddhas in the world, and it draws pilgrims from all over Asia.
If you don’t want to walk the over 260 stairs (stairs, not stair steps!) to get to the Big Buddha (which I would completely understand) you can ride the Npong Ping Cable Car. This scenic cable car alternative takes around 20 minutes each way, whereas hiking would take around 4 hours! They also offer “crystal cable car cabins” which means that your cable car floor is made of glass, which is pretty fun (especially for me with my fear of heights). Buses and taxis area also readily available, taking around 45 minutes.
As with many tourist attractions in Hong Kong, go early in the morning to avoid crowds and avoid public Chinese holidays. If taking the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, you can prebook cable car times via their website to save time and avoid the queues. Check that the cable car is operational before going.
While at the Big Buddha, also be sure to visit the Po Lin Monastery with its beautiful Buddhist shrines, statues and architecture.
Hong Kong’s Tian Tan | Wikipedia
100 HKD | Lantau Island | Mon–Sun, 10:00 am–5:30 pm | 852 3666 0606 | Website
13. Eat at the Cheapest Michelin Starred Restaurant in the World
Tim Ho Wan is a “hole-in-the-wall” dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong that gained recognition after receiving a coveted Michelin star and therefore being known as one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurants in the world. And it is cheap. Really cheap. Though they are well known for their pork buns, all their food is quite tasty.
G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po | Mon-Fri: 10 am–9:30 pm, Sat-Sun: 9 am–9:30 pm | 852 2788 1226 | Website
14. Stroll Through the Goldfish Market
Hong Kong’s Goldfish Market is a quirky line of shops that cater to the locals and their Feng Shui lifestyle. Aquariums equal good luck in the Asian culture, fish symbolize good fortune and water attracts energy of wealth and abundance. This market is devoted to selling an array of interesting fish and their accessories. Even if you won’t be shoving an aquarium in your carry-on luggage, it is worthy of a a look!
15. Dine at a Floating Restaurant
The Jumbo Kingdom Floating Restaurant is an ornamental restaurant that floats. The eatery was built in the style of of an exquisite Chinese imperial palace, and I think they did a mighty fine job.
While you are there you may as well order the signature dish, the Flamed Drunken Shrimp which is prepared right in front of you.
We went to Jumbo with my brother and father who were visiting from Norway, and we had a blast. Besides the good food, it was really cool that we could borrow Chinese imperial outfits!
Shum Wan Pier Drive, Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen | 11:00 am–11:30 pm | 852 2553 9111 | Website
16. Go to the Horse Races on Wednesday
Head to the Happy Valley Racecourse for the uber trendy Happy Wednesdays. On this weekday evening the racecourse has great food, drinks and entertainment, all while being able to bet on the ponies.
With minimum bets as low as 10 Hong Kong Dollars, you can have fun here while also taking it easy on your wallet.
Each Wednesday is a different theme, such as Wines of the Valley. Could it be any cooler!? You should deffo had this to your Hong Kong bucket list!
Happy Valley Racecourse, Happy Valley, Hong Kong Island | Wed 6:00 pm–11:00 pm | 852 3690 3690 | Website
17. Eat Dinner in the Dark
While this is a growing trend becoming popular all around the world, my first meeting with “dining in the dark” was in Hong Kong, and it’s a place I highly recommend. At Alchemy in the Dark you have the chance to take on a cool unique culinary experience where blind waiters serve you a 3-course meal in complete darkness. I’ve also written a blog post about it, which you can read here.
LG/F, 16 Arbuthnot Road, Central, Hong Kong Island | Tuesday–Sunday, 7pm–11pm | 852 6821 2801 | Website
18. Drink a Few at LKF
Lan Kwai Fong, or LKF as it’s more commonly known is the main night life area of Hong Kong which is packed with people, clubs, bars, sheesha, drinks and a vibrant atmosphere — especially on Fridays and Saturdays.
You’ll usually find a good mix of expats, tourists and students in the party crowd.
Drinks can be fairly expensive inside the bars, so what many budget travellers and students do is buying drinks at 7-11 and drink them on the streets (which is legal). The locals typically refer to it as “Club 7”. It culminates into a good party atmosphere and vibe in the streets as well as for the bars.
Many bars typically have “ladies drink for free”, especially at Thursdays. Moreover, for dance clubs men frequently have to pay a cover charge whereas it’s free for women (what happened to gender equality?).
Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong Island | Website
19. Take a Tai Chi Class
Tai Chi is a neat form of martial arts that plays a big part of Chinese culture. I particularly remember how amazed I was when I first arrived Hong Kong many years ago and saw lots of elderly practicing Tai Chi in the parks. It was really cool, and is a reason to why I’ve added “Learn Tai Chi” to my bucket list!
Tai Chi | Wikipedia
20. Go Hiking (e.g. Hike the Dragon’s Back)
Outside the congested area of the city, you’ll find lots of places to explore nature. You can explore or trek along one or more of the eight different “geo-areas” distributed across the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region and Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region. Both areas provide a great place to experience a side of the city few people ever see because they can’t escape the hustle and bustle of the area!
The Dragon’s Back is a moderately difficult walk with amazing views, that is often highly recommended.
21. Drink at the Highest Bar in the World (Ozone Bar)
Ozone at the Ritz-Carlton is located on the 118th floor of the International Commerce Center (ICC), and is currently the highest bar in the world. It offers panoramic views of the Hong Kong harbour and the Kowloon Penninsula.
It gets quite busy on the weekends, so you should call ahead to check if there is a waitlist. Table reservations require a minimum spend, dependent on the day of the week.
- If the weather is permitting, grab a table or stand on the outdoor terrace. If it’s not, be sure to brave it for a few moments — the pictures are spectacular.
- It’s probably best to go for a drink or two, as if you have dinner here the food bill can get quite expensive. Drinks start at HK$100.
118/F, The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon | 852 2263 2270 | Website
22. Learn something at the Hong Kong Museum of History
This museum does a wonderful job of documenting Hong Kong’s history — from prehistoric times and ancient Chinese dynasties, all the way to the birth of the city and modern day. The museum utilizes dioramas, short documentaries, and a wide variety of other multimedia to engage and interact with visitors and keep things fresh and entertaining. They also have interesting temporary exhibitions that are rotated regularly. All in all, if you are going to visit a museum in Hong Kong, make it the Museum of History. It is a well laid out and informative museum that is well worth your time.
The admission is very affordable, and is free on Wednesdays.
100 Chatham Rd S, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon | Mon-Friday (except Tuesdays when it is closed) 10:00 am–6:00 pm & Sat–Sun 10:00 am–7:00 pm | 852 2724 9042 | Website
23. Eat Dim Sum
This wouldn’t be a legit Hong Kong bucket list without mentioning dim sum! Foodwise one simply ought to have dim sum in Hong Kong! Dim sum consists of a huge collection of small delicious dishes, and is typically a lunch thing. It includes various types of steamed buns, dumplings, rice noodle rolls, beef, chicken, pork , prawn, vegetarian options and more.
Also, considering the big collection of small dishes, you’re bound to find something you really, really like!
BONUS: Visit Macau and Shenzhen
When you’re in Hong Kong there’s basically just an hour back and forth to other great places such as Macau and Shenzhen.
So, while these obviously don’t belong to Hong Kong, if you have the time, then you should go for a visit.
Do you want to visit “China’s Las Vegas”, do the world’s highest bungee jump, or witness an interesting culmination of Portugese colonial heritage etc.? Well, go to Macau on a day trip.
Do you want to experience “China China” and perhaps go for some shopping? Well, go to Shenzhen for a day trip. You can easily get visa on the border.
Honourable Mention to the Hong Kong Bucket List
Don’t have time to visit Macau? Then you got to try the famous “po tat” in Hong Kong at least. It’s like eating a crème brulee in a buttery flakey crust. Which totally is to die for.
Expresso | Excelsior Hotel, 281 Gloucester Road,Causeway Bay | Website
- Use the MTR, it’s a super-easy public transit system that covers major HK districts. Day passes offers unlimited travel, which is a good option.
- Get an Octopus card. They are available at transit stations and 7-11s. You can load them up with money and use them at convenience stores, supermarkets, vending machines, public transport and more.
- If you’re not in a hurry then go for some of the shops and restaurants that have the longest queues — there’s a reason for it!
For a great guide about typical costs, and other indispensable tips about making the most of your stay in Hong Kong, see Nomadic Matt’s great Hong Kong guide.
And that’s all from me. I hope you enjoyed this Hong Kong bucket list! Did I miss anything? Let me know, and I’ll be sure to add it to the list.
Bucket List Fanatic
Jon Pedersen is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, and passionate adventurer fanatically obsessed about his bucket list and the founder of BLF. Besides occasionally sharing bucket list worthy experiences from around the world, he also seeks to offer tools & resources to enable you to really live life to the fullest — which you can read at www.jonandrepedersen.com