Oh, Hong Kong. We have only been together for seven months but I have very strong feelings for you. I like you. There, I said it! There are things about you that make my skin crawl, but as a whole, you are quite good to me.
Do I recommend you visit Hong Kong someday? Yes. Is everything great? No. Are there places that I will gush to others about back home? Heck to the yes! After a lot of thought, I was able to narrow down the five must see places in Hong Kong. This is also doubles as an itinerary if you happen to be in HK for only a few days. Granted, this is purely what I have found to be super enjoyable and there is so, so much more to see in this city. But, if my friend was going for a come visit, this is where I would take them.
The Hong Kong History Museum
I would start here. I only recently visiting this museum for the first time, after six months of living here and I totally regret that I didn’t go sooner. Not only is it a great, huge, quality museum but it’s also extremely insightful into the unique country. Maybe it’s the ultra sleek, modern buildings, but for some reason I never really though to much about the history of this place. The China turnover is such a hot button issue at the moment that I never really thought much about the time before 1997. The museum takes you all the way back to the literal creation of Hong Kong (like rocks and stuff) all the way to the present day. It’s insightful on the traditions and festivals held here and from the first British handover to the current China switcharoo. You get all this for a staggeringly cheap $10HKD or $1.20USD. There is even a cheap audio tour you can take. I wasn’t aware of it at the time but I have no doubt it is worth the couple extra dollars. It will help you appreciate the city in a whole new way and now I’m recommending it to all the new people I meet.
If you’ve ever seen a picture of the HK skyline it was most likely taken from The Peak. The Peak is a total cliched “must do” of Hong Kong, but in reality, it totally is a must do. You haven’t really been to Hong Kong unless you’ve gone up to the peak. So, what is this “peak?” At the top of a mountain called Victoria Peak there is a very fancy mall with a staggeringly amazing view of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon across the water. It really puts the congestion and beautiful architecture into perspective. Admittedly, until recently I had only been up to the peak at night (I watched the New Years Eve fireworks from there which was amazing!). I had been plagued with bad weather on my days off and it’s really only worth it if you can see clearly. But I finally made it and, boy was it worth it! Just as the museum had made me fall for the city, the peak will make it hard to leave. To get to the peak you can:
A) Hike up from Central. I’ll try this once the weather cools down again, but apparently it’s not an easy hike, so beware.
B) Take a bus. This was my route because I’m cheap; and I love double decker buses. The bus (#15) takes about an hour from the star ferry terminal but gives you jaw dropping views as you drive up the mountain.
C) The most famous and popular with tourists is to take the tram. From Central you can get an old 1920s tram up and back from the peak. It’s costly and you can get stuck in long lines, but it seems like a fun time. I haven’t done it yet, but apparently it’s quite fun to take.
I often forget just how tropical Hong Kong really is. Palm trees and exotic fruits are everywhere, along with the crazy rainstorms and sweltering heat. And although the harbor is probably filled with every kind of disgusting thing imaginable, the surrounding beaches are glorious.
My personal favorite is the Sai Kung area. When you arrive in SK it’s like you’ve been transported to another country, Malaysia or Vietnam or somewhere. It’s quiet, the water is blue and clear, and there are tons of water sports to do including kayaking and sailing. You can grab a bite to eat, go hiking, lay on the beach or hit the water, the options are endless!
Whether you love Disney or not, you know that there are universal bragging rights to anyone who has been to an international Disney park. That being said, Hong Kong Disneyland is wonderful and absolutely worth a visit. I personally prefer it to Ocean Park but that is the eternal debate between Hong Kongers. There is so much to do and the ride Mystic Manor is reason enough to visit. Read my in depth post about the park if you’re interested in visiting the happiest place in Hong Kong.
Now, if you’re from a place where monkeys are already a pretty normal thing, then this place may be old hat for you. But, if the thought of seeing monkeys in the wild thrills you, then Monkey Mountain is for you! No, Monkey Mountain isn’t the real name (Kam Sham Country Park), it’s just what the locals call an area outside of a bus stop where macaques roam by the dozens. Literally, you step off the bus and at least 100 eyes will be staring at you, hoping you have a snack. I wrote a post all about my first experience here and it is still one of my fondest memories here in Hong Kong. It’s a unique experience and one to tell your friends about when you get back.
So, there you have it. There’s so many other things to do from eating dim sum to the light show every night to the congestion of Mong Kok, but for me these are memory makers and will lead to some exciting days.