Hong Kong

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Claiming boredom in Hong Kong doesn’t fly; finding something to do in this city, with its land and sea attractions, is a no-brainer.

Things to do in Hong Kong

1881 Heritage

In November 2009, Hong Kong’s former Marine Police Headquarters reopened as 1881 Heritage, a “cultural and shopping landmark” (and home of the Hullett House hotel and its various restaurants, as well). In addition to exhibition halls and a range of dining options, you’ll find Vivienne Tam, Rolex, Cartier, Mont Blanc, and Van Cleef & Arpels – along with some outdoor topiaries. The complex is also a popular place to take wedding photos. The white stucco structure is the fourth-oldest remaining government building in Hong Kong.

Canton Road, +852 2926 8000, www.1881heritage.com
Tags: shopping | trendy | things to do

Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula

Relive Hong Kong’s colonial past as you sip a cup of Earl Grey (or Chinese Jasmine or Pu Er) in the lobby of the elegant Peninsula hotel, opened in 1928. If the fleet of Rolls-Royces outside doesn’t impress you, the effortless glamour inside this “Grande Dame of the Far East” certainly will. 

Salisbury Road, +852 2920 2888, hongkong.peninsula.com/en/fine-dining/the-lobby-afternoon-tea
Tags: editor pick | smart splurge | trendy | things to do | history | culinary

Aqua Luna

The Aqua Luna experience gives a whole new meaning to “waterfront drinks or dinner.” Board the red-sailed junk for jaunts around Victoria Harbour and take in the sights in style. Set out in the afternoon, evening, or just before the harbor’s 8pm light show. Or for longer cruises with a dim sum lunch included, sail to Cheung Chau Island, Stanley Village, Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, or the Tin Hau Temple at Joss House Bay. 2009 Smart Luxury Award winner

Kowloon Public Pier 1 in Tsim Sha Tsui and Pier 9 in Central, 011-852-2116-8821, www.aqua.com.hk
Tags: moderate | smart luxury winner | things to do

Fringe Club

The proudly “alternative” Fringe Club has long been a great place to see live music – from jazz to folk to blues – or just to grab a drink and catch up in the open-air roof garden. Converted from the garage of a cold-storage warehouse, the glass-fronted ground floor also operates as a gallery.

2 Lower Albert Rd., 011-852-2521-7251, www.hkfringeclub.com
Tags: nightlife | things to do | cover charge

Happy Valley Racecourse

Wander over to Happy Valley on Wednesday evening or Saturday during the day between September and early July and this historic racecourse (it hosted its first race in 1846) will be buzzing with spectators eager to try their luck on the horses. With hundreds of floodlights and skyscrapers surrounding the track, there is no mistaking that you are anywhere but in the very middle of the city. Note that nearby roads are congested on race nights, so the easiest access is by tram or on foot from the Causeway Bay MTR. This is an event that the whole family will enjoy, and, at less than $3 per person, you won’t find a more budget-friendly activity.

2 Sports Rd., 011-852-2895-1523, www.happyvalleyracecourse.com
Tags: family | great value | things to do | outdoors

Hiking

Beyond the glittering skyscrapers, sampans, and junks, nearly three-quarters of Hong Kong is undeveloped land. That means 300 square miles of rolling hills and mountain ranges, coastal landscapes, cloistered islands, and weird Paleozoic rock formations. Which also means it’s perfect for hiking. Six particular trails are considered Hong Kong’s best. These include the 2.2-mile Peak Circle Walk, with panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island; 3-mile Dragon’s Back, which undulates above the South China Sea like a dragon’s spine (and was once voted the best Urban Hiking Trail in Asia by Time magazine); and the 62-mile MacLehose Trail, which passes through the Kowloon Mountains and winds past reservoirs, sea caves, and hexagonal rock columns that look like a petrified waterfall.

New Territories, Hong Kong Island, Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, Peng Chau, www.discoverhongkong.com/promotions/greatoutdoors
Tags: family | views | waterfront | things to do | outdoors | wildlife | free

Hong Kong Museum of History

For a fascinating primer on the last 400 million years of Hong Kong history (no kidding!), this state-of-the-art museum is a must.  Collections encompass culture, natural history, and archaeology, and include exhibits showcasing traditional costumes, burial objects from the Eastern Han dynasty, and historical stamps.

100 Chatham Rd., 011-852-2724-9042, hk.history.museum
Tags: family | editor pick | things to do | culture | history

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

The Hong Kong Cultural Centre is home to the city’s largest orchestra, the Philharmonic. This Western-style orchestra has been delighting audiences since 1975 and performs regularly from September to July; it also provides live accompaniment to the Hong Kong Ballet throughout the year. Western classical pieces are the Philharmonic’s stock-in-trade, but its repertoire is enriched by the works of Chinese composers. Conductor Edo de Waart heads up this unique blend of Eastern and Western talent.

Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Rd., 011-852-2734-2009, www.hkpo.com
Tags: nightlife | moderate | things to do | culture

Jade Market

The 400 covered stalls of the Jade Market will boggle your mind when you consider them as a group; you’ll find nearly every kind of jewelry that can be made from jade, plus freshwater pearls and tagua nut carvings, too. Thankfully, the stalls are numbered, so take your time – and maybe even take notes – as you explore the inventory. Be prepared to bargain hard.

Kansu St. and Battery St.,
Tags: shopping | things to do | market

Ocean Park

Part amusement park, part educational playground, this mainstay of Hong Kong family fun boasts thrilling coasters, a Giant panda exhibit, and a 1.39-million-gallon Grand Aquarium in its new “Aqua City,” with 5,000 fish, representing 400 species. If you stay past dark, the Grand Aquarium lights up with a cobalt-blue glow. The breathtaking cable-car ride across the park is also a must.

Ocean Park Road, 011-852-3923-2323, www.oceanpark.com.hk
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors | wildlife

Shek O

You won’t forget in most places in Hong Kong that the city is on the water, but with all the glittering towers, markets, and twisting streets, it’s easy to forget that you’re never far from the beach. The nicest of them close to the city center is in Shek O, a beachside village on the southern coast of Hong Kong Island, facing the South China Sea. The name means “rocky bay,” but you’ll also find a very broad and popular swath of sand, plus lifeguards and changing rooms. There are also plenty of nearby restaurants and places to rent umbrellas.

Shek O,
Tags: family | views | waterfront | things to do | outdoors

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

Wong Tai Sin Temple is a sight to behold on any day, but never more so than on the first day of the Lunar New Year when thousands flock here to worship (exact dates vary from year to year depending on the position of the moon). Stroll among the stalls at the entrance of the temple and admire the ample supplies of joss sticks, candles, oranges, and paper money for sale – offerings for Wong Tai Sin, who is said to be a human-turned-deity with the power of healing and granting wishes. Fortune tellers do a brisk trade all year round; for $50 you can “peek” into your future. Better yet, have the mystic read your child’s fortune (guaranteed they’ll receive strict instructions on working hard and respecting their elders).

2 Chuk Yuen Village, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon, 011-852-2327-8141, www.siksikyuen.org.hk
Tags: family | great value | things to do | outdoors | market

Sky100

Unless you’ve splurged for a room at the Ritz-Carlton on the 102nd to 118th floors of the new 1,607-foot International Commerce Centre, your best bet for a view is Sky100, an indoor observation deck on the 100th floor, which at 1,289 feet is still pretty high (and still 39 feet higher than the Empire State Building’s deck). You’ll find 360-degree vistas, a multimedia exhibit about Hong Kong’s culture and history, telescopes that can recreate day or night conditions (including with fireworks), a gift shop, and café.

100/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Rd. W., 011-852-2613-3888, www.sky100.com.hk
Tags: family | views | things to do | history

The Star Ferry

These iconic wood ferries have been plying Victoria Harbour since the late 19th century and you simply can’t visit Hong Kong without boarding one of them. Take the route between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui for staggering views of both skylines.

Operates from ports in the following areas: Wan Chai, Central, and Tsim Sha Tsui, 011-852-2367-7065, www.starferry.com.hk
Tags: family | editor pick | great value | views | waterfront | things to do | history

Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront Promenade

For uninterrupted views of Hong Kong Island and Victoria Harbour, few places beat the Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront Promenade, which stretches from the Star Ferry terminal to the MTR station at Hung Hom. It’s also a good place to pay tribute to the Hong Kong film industry and its denizens, as the “Avenue of Stars,” located here, is Hong Kong’s version of Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame.” See the handprints of Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and Michelle Yeoh, and the life-sized shirtless sculpture of Bruce Lee. Visit at 8pm when the “Symphony of Lights,” a 15-minute musical laser show, illuminates the sky.

Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront,
Tags: family | views | trendy | things to do | free

Victoria Peak Tram

This stylish funicular has been making the 1,200-foot climb to the top of Victoria Peak since 1888 (the ascent is so steep that the buildings appear to be leaning at a 45-degree slant). The photo opportunities at the top are incomparable. For suggestions on what to see and do at The Peak, check out our Top 10 Tourist Trap Tips.

Peak Tram Lower, behind Citibank Plaza, 011-852-2522-0922, www.thepeak.com.hk
Tags: family | views | things to do | outdoors | history

Yue Hwa Chinese Products

Yue Hwa offers the convenience of traditional Chinese products and everyday items under a single roof. There are seven stores dotted around the city, but the main one is in the busy Yau Ma Tei/Waterloo district in Kowloon, and stocks jade jewelry, Chinese handicrafts, tea, furniture, medicinal herbs, arts and crafts, shoes, china, linens, and household goods. Unlike many of the new and trendy department stores in Central and Causeway Bay, Yue Hwa’s stores still have a vague resemblance to the traditional Chinese department store. Can’t find an item? The friendly staff will help.

301-309 Nathan Rd., Jordan, 011-852-3511-2222, www.yuehwa.com
Tags: shopping | things to do | chinese

Yuen Po Street Bird Garden

The urban areas of Hong Kong are hardly the perfect place to walk a dog, but taking a bird for a daily breath of fresh air is a different matter. In the early morning, elderly men gather to natter at the Bird Garden, hanging their caged birds in the trees while they do. There are about 70 stalls in the market, selling everything from handmade wooden cages to bags of seeds or live grasshoppers and even birds, themselves.

Yuen Po St.,
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors | wildlife | market

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