Top Hong Kong Attractions

Hong Kong: It’s the place where East meets West. A major Asian financial center that was once part of the British Empire, Hong Kong has absorbed people and cultural influences from places as diverse as Vietnam and Vancouver. Most people know it as a major shopping mecca. But there’s more to do here than open your wallet. Here’s a look.

Victoria Peak

The highest mountain in Hong Kong offers stunning views of the city and harbor by day or night. Take the 110-year-old Peak Tram up the 1,800-foot-high mountain and head to the observation platform atop Peak Tower, with 360-degree panoramic views. Also in the tower: Madame Tussaud’s Hong Kong, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, and the Peak Explorer Motion Simulator. Conserve enough energy to walk the one-hour circular stroll around the Peak.

Po Lin Monastery

Located on Lantau Island, the monastery of Po Lin, or Precious Lotus,, is Hong Kong’s largest temple and monastery. Here you’ll find the Tian Tan Big Buddha, the world’s tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha at 111 feet high. The 250-ton statue, which took over 10 years to complete, sits atop 268 steps overlooking lush scenery. The Po Lin Monastery attracts Buddhists and devout monks from all over Asia. Have lunch at the vegetarian dining hall served by monks and walk along the enchanting Wisdom Path.

Situated at the southwestern corner of Hong Kong Island, Aberdeen is probably the oldest settlement on the island. It’s famous for its floating restaurant and the boat people who live on junks in Aberdeen Harbour. These are fishermen and women who have dwelled on boats in local waters for thousands of years. However, the Hong Kong government has invited them to disband their boats and settle on land reclaimed by the harbor which is leading to big changes in Aberdeen, though you can still see vestiges of its past. Tour the settlement in a sampan and you’ll see huge boats that house extended families. There was a time when a boat person could be born, live, marry, and die onboard, hardly ever setting foot on shore.

Man Ho Temple

One of Hong Kong’s oldest temples, the Man Mo Temple is dedicated to two deities; Man, the God of Literature; and Ho, the God of War. The temple, built in the mid-19th century, is a frequent stop for locals who, in an effort to bring good fortune, purchase giant coils of incense that hang from the temple’s ceiling and blanket the interior.

Chi Lin Nunnery

A Buddhist nunnery founded in the 1930s, Chi Lin was rebuilt in 1998 using hand-crafted timber and traditional Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) construction techniques in which no nails were used. The complex contains halls of religious relics and lotus ponds. Across the street is the Nan Lian Garden, which is also built in the style of the Tang dynasty.

Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware

The museum for all things tea is housed in the oldest colonial building in Hong Kong, an 1846 house built for the commander of the British forces. The collection includes about 600 pieces of tea ware ranging from earthenware to porcelain, primarily of Chinese origin, dating from the 7th century to the present day.

Hong Kong Museum of Art

The museum houses some of the world’s finest examples of ancient Chinese art from the Han to the Qing dynasties. The museum features a wide collection of calligraphy as well as ceramics, bronzes, jade, cloisonné, lacquerware, bamboo carvings, textiles and paintings dating from the 16th century to the present. Works are arranged in five permanent galleries on three floors of exhibit space, plus two galleries devoted to changing exhibits.

Ocean Park

The world’s largest oceanarium is located on 170 acres of land on Hong Kong and consists of two sections: a lowland site and a headland site connected by a cable car.

The lowland is subdivided into several areas and attractions including the Dinosaur Discovery Trail, with 17 lifelike models of dinosaurs and Kids’ World, with rides, playgrounds, remote-control cars and boats, shows geared toward children, and shooting-games arcade.

Overlooking the South China Sea on the top of the headland is the Ocean Theater, the largest marine mammal theater in the world, with a capacity of 4,000 people and a giant pool large enough for dolphins and killer whales. Nearby Wave Cove is home to dolphins, sea lions, seals, penguins, and numerous sea birds. Atoll Reef, the largest aquarium in the world, houses about 30,000 sea creatures on three different levels of viewing galleries. The headland also features an amusement park with numerous rides, a high-tech theater containing 100 hydraulic seats that tilt forward, backward, left, and right and Ancient World, a trail with interactive displays that recreates seven scenic zones of the primeval equatorial rain forests.

Star Ferry

Traveling on Star Ferry across Victoria Harbor has been named by the National Geographic as one of the “fifty places of a lifetime.” It’s the ultimate Hong Kong experience. These vessels have been transporting passengers for over 100 years and are still one of the cheapest forms of transportion, costing $HK2.20 for the upper deck or HK$1.70 for the lower deck. The Star Ferry is a double-decker vessel recreation of the ferries of the 1920s that were the major passenger connection between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula.

Temple Street Night Market

Here you’ll find stalls selling clothing, pens, watches, CDs, cassettes, electronic gadgets, hardware and luggage. Keep your eye out for inexpensive silk items like scarves or ties. But even if you don’t want to buy, it’s worth a trip for the atmosphere alone. Fortune-tellers cluster at the Yau Ma Tei end of the street, as do Chinese opera singers who put on impromptu performances. It is open from 4pm to midnight, but really comes alive after sunset.

Tsim Sha Tsui
8pm in Hong Kong
Creative Commons License photo credit: McPig

Tsim Sha Tsui has the greatest concentration of shops in a city known for fabulous shopping. Nathan Road, which runs the length of Kowloon, and the streets radiating off of it is home to shops selling everything from clothing to jewelry to electronics to Chinese crafts. There are also department stores, and shopping malls.

Creative Commons License photo credit: jpvargas