Financial hub, cultural hot spot, pioneering metropolis and yet a bastion of tradition, Hong Kong is both progressive yet firmly tied to its rich customs and heritage. Alongside the towering skyscrapers, world renowned restaurants and glittering malls you'll find age-old markets and healers, shrines and temples smoky with incense and fishing villages. A world-class transport system will swiftly transport you beyond the city’s bright lights and vibrant arts scene to beautiful beaches, quaint villages and religious wonders. Hong Kong makes a very convenient stopover, but to do this intriguing city justice it's well worth planning at least a few days here.
Audley China specialist Adam
Hong Kong's vibrant clash of East, West, old and new makes it an intriguing place to wander. I love meandering along narrow streets and through the markets, sampling street food as I go.
Things to see and do in Hong Kong
Take in Hong Kong's classic views
Built in 1888 for the use of the British governor, Hong Kong's Peak Tram is the world's steepest funicular railway. It rattles up to Victoria Peak, the island's highest point, from where you'll get expansive views of the city and bay below.
Have some lunch and take a walk before descending to hop on one of the Star Ferries for classic views of Hong Kong's skyline and forested hills. You can opt for a harbor tour or head across to Kowloon, but plan to return at dusk when the city skyscrapers are illuminated and the 'Symphony of Lights' light show begins.
Visit Hong Kong’s markets
Hong Kong may be awash with deluxe boutiques, but it’s the city's markets that offer the greatest insight into life here.
The most interesting and authentic markets are on the Kowloon side. One of the best to visit is the Temple Street Night Market, which offers a bewildering array of cheap clothing, toys, electronics and jewelry as well as traditional herbalists and fortune tellers and the occasional opera singer.
Also found in Kowloon is the Jade Market. The distinctive green stone is associated with long life, good health and the calming of emotions. You can browse hundreds of stalls selling jade good luck charms along with bangles, rings and pendants.
The busy Mong Kok district hosts Hong Kong’s vibrant flower market, selling anything from potted plants to bonsais. Nearby, you can stroll along the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden. This market sells all manner of items related to Hong Kong’s long tradition of keeping birds, including the birds themselves. You’ll hear parrots screech as you walk by and see lovebirds fussing over each other in their cages.
On Hong Kong Island, the market in Stanley Village is hugely popular for its homewares and souvenirs laid out across a warren of little streets.
Visit Hong Kong’s outer islands
Stray away from Hong Kong's buzzing metropolis and you'll discover a diverse territory made up of over 260 islands. Emerald hills, wide beaches, lush forests and excellent hiking and wildlife spotting opportunities await in the numerous country parks and outlying islands.
You could take a trip to Lantau, Hong Kong's largest island. It’s home to the Tian Tan Buddha, an enormous seated figure, and Tai O fishing village, where the Tanka people live in stilted houses over the water. Or, venture to laid back Lamma Island with its beautiful beaches, temples and walking trails and lovingly-preserved traditional fishing village.
Hike along the Dragon's Back
The Dragon's Back trail has been named the world's best urban walk by Time Magazine. It follows a rolling 9 km (6 mile) path connecting Wan Cham Shan and Shek O Peak.
The trail starts near the fascinating Shau Kei Wan wet market from where a footpath leads through shady bamboo groves, lush woodland and open hillsides to Wan Cham Shan. You'll then follow the mountain ridge to the viewing platform at Shek O Peak, at 284 m (931 ft), which offers panoramic views over south Hong Kong. From here, you descend to Big Wave Bay where you can enjoy a cooling dip at the end of your hike.
Best time to visit Hong Kong
Hong Kong is at its best between October and December when the weather is comfortable and there are fewer visitors. Temperatures drop at the beginning of the year and visitor numbers increase, as do hotel room rates. June to August is hot and wet with typhoons possible in September.
Festivals, events and seasonal reasons to visit
- Chinese New Year, which falls in January or February, is the city's biggest party celebrated with an enormous firework display over the bay. It gets incredibly busy all over China at this time of year.
- The ancient Dragon Boat Festival, which takes place each year on a moveable date usually in June, now covers a whole weekend of racing by teams from all over the world. This is followed by live music and a party atmosphere around the harbor.
- Hong Kong's Wine and Dine Festival runs for a month each autumn and sees producers, chefs and culinary experts from over 20 countries gathering to run workshops, master classes and food tours around the city.
Suggested itineraries featuring Hong Kong
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Hong Kong, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Hong Kong
Places & hotels on the map
Our expert guides to exploring Hong Kong
Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting Hong Kong, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate Hong Kong at its best.
Accommodation choices for Hong Kong
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Hong Kong. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.