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The Best Things to Do in Central, Hong Kong

Star Ferry, Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong | © travel images / Alamy Stock Photo
Picture of Lavanya Nair
Updated: 27 March 2019
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Previously called Chung Wan, Central Hong Kong’s Westernised name came from the establishment of the Island Line (of the MTR Metro) in the early ’80s. Despite being home to the city’s central business district, it’s not all work and no play.

There’s far more to Central than just the headquarters of financial corporations. For those seeking adventure and excitement while visiting, here’s a list of ten things to do in Central Hong Kong.

Ride the Peak Tram

A unique way to appreciate the Peak experience is to embark on a trip via the renowned Peak Tram (established in 1888) and soak in the incredible, panoramic views of Hong Kong from The Sky Terrace 428. Regarded as the tallest 360-degree viewing platform in Hong Kong, it’s an idyllic and scenic landmark that you should not ignore.

Broaden your intellectual horizons and tune into the informative audio tape that provides tourists with a bucket load of interesting facts covering the culture, architecture and gastronomy of the spectacular city that is Hong Kong. Should you obtain a Peak Tram Sky Pass, you can revel at the breathtaking sights that include luscious vegetation and steep mountain peaks, and marvel at the amazing visual illusion of the buildings appearing to tilt as the tram transports you uphill.

Riding the Peak Tram is a quintessential Hong Kong experience
© Lucas Vallecillos / Alamy Stock Photo

Have a night out in Lan Kwai Fong

Those craving a night of ultimate debauchery should definitely visit this vibrant party street. It’s a booming district packed with bars, restaurants and gregarious travellers seeking a haven in which to unwind and socialise. Easily accessible via public transport, this area – once a petite quarter dedicated to hawkers before World War II – is situated right in the heart of Central, exuding an energetic buzz attracting tourists and locals alike. Indulge in a premium cocktail during happy hour or dine at one of the many restaurant options. A must-see attraction, Lan Kwai Fong is the venue that never sleeps and has been that way since its reinvention during the ’80s.

The nightlife in Lan Kwai Fong is as vibrant as its neon-covered street signs
© dbimages / Alamy Stock Photo

Go shopping at IFC Mall

Luring the self-proclaimed shopaholics and big spenders, the International Finance Centre Mall offers the best of Hong Kong, accommodating a grandiose range of attractions from retail to cuisine and entertainment. For those desiring more than just a souvenir to treasure, this miscellaneous paradise is guaranteed to please all.

Oozing opulence and charisma, the mall boasts some of the most sought-after, high-end names in fashion, including Giorgio Armani, Givenchy and Victoria’s Secret. Sample the fine selection of dishes with roots in multiple continents and munch on popcorn while watching the latest blockbuster films in the deluxe screening rooms. The ability to cater to a plethora of preferences without spreading itself too thin is perfectly harnessed by the IFC Mall.

Hong Kong’s IFC Mall is home to some of the most sough-after names in fashion
© Roland Nagy / Alamy Stock Photo

Check out Central-Mid-Levels Escalator

A ride on the Mid-Levels Escalator is one of the world’s most unique urban experiences. In fact, it’s the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. In all, this series of roofed moving walkways and bridges spans 2,600 ft of steep hillside, rising over 440 ft from bottom to top. Start your journey from Queen’s Road Central and be sure to stop off at SoHo, a stylish district known for its many restaurants, art galleries and boutiques.

Using the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator is one of the world’s most unique urban experiences
© Steve Vidler / Alamy Stock Photo

Visit Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

Covering an area of 13.8 acres, the gardens are filled with more than 1,000 species of plants and an abundance of different animals. This is the place to go to appreciate nature at its finest. You’ll find some wonderful creatures such as the American Flamingo, Hawaiian Goose and the Red-crowned Crane alongside a huge variety of plants. It’s a vibrant area, with additional educational perks that provide a better understanding and appreciation for the living things we need to protect the planet for.

Flamingoes are just one of the many animals on show at the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
© Edmund Lowe / Alamy Stock Photo

Immerse yourself in an exhibition at Tai Kwun

Formerly the Central Police station, Tai Kwun has recently undergone a HK$3.8 billion restoration project transforming it into a stunning centre for heritage and the arts. The venue hosts a variety of heritage and contemporary art exhibitions, as well as performing arts showcases. It’s also home to several bars and restaurants, as well as a number of local boutique stores. You can easily spend a few hours taking in its diverse offerings.

Tai Kwun is now a bustling centre for heritage and the arts
© ma hei lit / Shutterstock

Order dim sum at City Hall Maxim’s Palace

You cannot visit Hong Kong without trying its famous dim sum. These delicious bite-size dishes, like a Chinese version of Spanish tapas, are a Hong Kong classic. For many locals, City Hall Maxim’s Palace in Central takes the crown when it comes to the best local dim sum. It’s a classic dim sum joint – a big hall decked out with chandeliers, white tablecloths, dragon decorations, and huge windows looking onto the Hong Kong harbour.

Traditionally, eating dim sum is meant to be a loud and happy dining experience and this is exactly that. Dim sum trolleys are wheeled out, the traditional way, and you pick and choose which dishes you would like. There’s a huge variety and something to suit all tastes. Best tip – arrive early!

City Hall Maxim’s Palace is home to Hong Kong’s best dim sum
© Paul Thompson / Alamy Stock Photo

Broaden your culinary horizons at Graham Street Market

This gem of a market hosts a vast array of stalls exhibiting produce ranging from local fruits and vegetables to ornate trinkets. It’s a paradise for those living on a budget or staying in hostels. Immerse yourself in the more rural side of Hong Kong and eat the food that has been cherished and adored by many generations. Whatever you require, look no further as the market entices you with inviting foods wrapped up in a welcoming ambiance, enhanced by the cheery dispositions of the stall owners. Relish the mouth-watering dim sum, among other delectable street foods and dried fruits and nuts, relive the old Hong Kong, capture the sights with your camera and make memories that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Graham Street Market is a paradise for those in search of new culinary experiences
© Roland Nagy / Alamy Stock Photo

Travel back in time at Hong Kong Maritime Museum

Located in the heart of the Central Harbour Waterfront, the Hong Kong Maritime Museum is the place to go to peruse an extensive collection of historical objects that span the history of trade and maritime in Hong Kong. There are around 1,000 items on display across the three levels of the museum; including a wonderful exhibition on Hong Kong’s development as a port from 1841 and the creation of Victoria Harbour.

Hong Kong Martime Museum is a must for history buffs
© picturelibrary / Alamy Stock Photo

Explore Victoria Harbour on a ferry cruise

There are few better and more relaxing ways to see Hong Kong than on a one-hour circular cruise of Hong Kong’s famous Victoria Harbour. With its pick-up point at Central ferry pier 7, the cruise sails out to the Eastern Harbour, along Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and North Point. You’ll take in a number of the city’s major landmarks. Have your camera at the ready.

The Star Ferry is a great way to see Hong Kong’s dual skylines in all their glory
© idp hong kong collection / Alamy Stock Photo
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