Before becoming a Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong was a British colony for almost 150 years. Given its rich and complex cultural heritage, this cosmopolitan city is a place of great contrasts and is full of surprises. Today, the bustling metropolis is a major connection hub in East Asia and travelers from all over the world come to sample its diverse spirit. If you are visiting, we have some recommendations for unusual things to do in Hong Kong; some of which will surely take you off the beaten path. All addresses and contact details are at the end of this post.
1. Get Lost in the Nan Lian Garden
Covering an area of 3.5 hectares, the Nan Lian Garden is a Chinese classical garden designed in the Tang Dinasty style. Set amidst high-rise apartment buildings, this well-kept park is a peaceful oasis. Entrance is free and you can also check the permanent exhibitions or try the vegetarian restaurant.
2. Fill Up Your Belly in a Cooked Food Centre
Located on the top floor of most of the municipal buildings that house wet markets, cooked food centres showcase the typical flavours of Cantonese cuisine at cheap prices. They are a sort of dai pai dong, but located indoors and less dirty. They cook with fresh ingredients straight from the wet markets and are usually packed with locals. For a great list with recommendations go here.
3.Take a Ride on a Junk Boat
Junk boats are traditional Chinese sailing boats that have been around for many centuries. In Hong Kong, you can book tours aboard some of the few still existing junk boats to sail around the harbour or to some of the islands. These tours are specially pleasant in summer to escape the oppressive heat.
4. Stop by the Flower Market
If you like flowers, a visit to this colourful market is a must. Here you can find anything from a great variety of orchids, exotic local flowers, plants that bring good luck, and much more. If you are in the area, it is worth the detour.
5. Follow the Path to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
Built on the side of a steep hill, you will have to climb a lot of stairs to get to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. But it’s worth the effort. The entrance to the path is well hidden and the way up is lined up with unique golden Buddha statues. The complex includes five temples, four pavillions, one verandah and a pagoda. Admission is free.
6. Go Hiking
Surprisingly, there are great hiking possibilities for all levels in Hong Kong. The Dragon’s Back is an scenic mellow hike and is easily accessible. It is one of the most popular hikes, so it can also be quite crowded. If you want something more challenging, head to Lantau Island and summit Hong Kong’s second tallest peak; which stands at 934 m.a.s.l. For the ultimate hiking experience though, have a go at the MacLehose trail. National Geographic featured this 100 km trail as one of the world’s best. If you don’t have time to hike the whole way, you can choose to do some of its eight sections.
7. Don’t Miss the Street Art
Hong Kong’s street art scene is developing quickly, thanks in part to HKwalls — a street art festival that invites local and international street artists to come paint the walls in different neighbourhoods. In 2016, they celebrated their third edition by showcasing 40 pieces by 17 artists in the Kowloon neighbourhood of Sham Shui Po. For maps showing the location of some of these murals, click here for the 2016 and 2015 editions.
8. Take a Bite at Hello Kitty
If you are a die-hard Hello Kitty fans, you will love to learn about this place. Last June, the first ever dim sum house dedicated to the cute iconic figure first opened its doors. Each of the 37 dishes on the menu and even the last piece of the decoration had to be approve by Sanrio.
9. Go Bird Watching
Built over a natural valley in Central, the heart of Hong Kong, the Edward Youde Aviary offers a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. Here, you can stroll on a raised walkway (wheelchair accessible) and watch exotic birds from many levels. The aviary is home to about 70 different species of birds, some of which are endangered — like the Bali Mynas, that magnificent white creature pictured below. Entrance is free, so you can come as often as you like.
10. Explore the Hong Kong Geopark
You don’t have to be a geologist to enjoy a visit to the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark, which is world famous for its volcanic hexagonal rock columns. Scientists have estimated that some of these rock formations developed some 400 millions of years ago. The park also includes other scenic areas, so it’s worth it to take some time to admire its treasures.
11. Experience Life in Darkness
Dialogue in the Dark is an innovative exhibition that gives visitors the chance to experience different situations in total darkness. The idea is to offer some insight into what is like to be visually-impaired and to show that even without vision the world can be a very enjoyable place. Besides the standard tour, you can also try other related activities: experiences for couples, dinner in the dark, birthday parties and family tours.
12. Enjoy the Silence at the Man Mo Temple
This fascinating little temple offers a serene escape from the bustling city. Located in Central, the Man Mo Temple pays tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo). The Temple is a fine example of the traditional Chinese vernacular architecture and features some exquisite decorations.
13. Revisit Your Childhood at Snoopy World
This small theme park in the New Territories is full of cute figures of Snoopy and its gang. The park is located in the New Town Plaza Shopping Mall in Sha Tin. It is a nice place to visit with kids or for us die-hard Snoopy fans. Entrance is free.
14. Take a Hike in Monkey Territory
Known as Monkey Hill, Kam Shan Country Park is famous for its macaque monkeys. There are monkeys everywhere! Some of them can be aggressive and boldly try to steal your food. Just remember, it is forbidden to feed them and you could get a fine from doing so.
15. Get Lost in the Chungking Mansions
This building complex is like a maze of shops, restaurants and cheap guest houses. The Chungking Mansions can be rough and overwhelming, so they are not the best place for the faint-hearted. Still, this buzzing melting pot offers quite a cultural experience for the more adventurous travelers.
Addresses & Contact Details
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