Hong Kong is a multifaceted city. Part jungle, part metropolis, a thriving financial hub and a spiritual sanctuary, it truly needs to be thoroughly explored to be understood. If you’re ready to discover this SAR for yourself, check out these 12 experiences.
There are so many ways to experience Hong Kong. Adventure junkies can explore the area’s natural beauty by boat, on foot or even via rope. Those with tamer interests can spend an afternoon honing their Chinese painting skills or mastering the art of tea. Foodies are spoiled for choice, with dozens of tours and cooking classes available every day of the week. These top experiences will take you to mountaintops, through sea caves and everywhere in between.
Taste the Colour of Nature: Five Elements Food Art Box Course
Food and spirituality are both integral parts of the culture in Hong Kong, so embrace them with a hands-on course. This isn’t your traditional Cantonese cooking class. Instead, this one focuses on creating whimsical bento boxes with seasonal ingredients. After a walk through the city’s dried seafood district, you’ll work with trained therapists to uncover your personal colour associations and learn how to work with Wu Xing, or Five Elements, energy to create something both beautiful and delicious.
If you’ve had dim sum before, then you know exactly how delicious xiao long bao are. These steamed pouches of heaven are also known as soup dumplings, because they’re filled with bubbling hot broth. Learn the secret to this culinary miracle (from a family recipe) so you can bring the magic home with you. Vegetarian and pescatarian options are available, just let the team know in advance.
If you love horse racing, then this is the tour for you. Get up close and personal with one of Hong Kong’s two famous horse racing venues, and spend the day rooting for your picks from the lush Members’ Enclosure. If you’re new to racing, this tour comes with a ‘how to’ guide and a HK$30 (£3) betting voucher to get you started. Live the high life by spending the day sipping on complimentary wine, beer and drinks and nibbles at the buffet. It even includes round-trip transportation to your hotel.
Leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind for a day and take in the wild side of Hong Kong instead. Explore Hong Kong Global Geopark’s jewel-coloured water and rolling hills of tropical foliage on a tour that will guide you through dramatic sea arches, caves and more – keep an eye out for the coral beds! This tour is not recommended for those with back issues, or women who may be pregnant.
Another way to experience Hong Kong’s serene nature is a hike. There’s no shortage to choose from – the city is made of mountains, after all – but the Ng Tung Chai waterfalls are truly stunning. This five-hour trek takes you past temples and small villages, lush forest trails and cascading falls. Your guide will point out local plant and animal life along the way and can modify the route to suit your group’s fitness levels. Finish up at Main Falls, the tallest waterfall in Hong Kong, and cool off in its pristine waters.
Ready to see the city from a totally different perspective? Harness up and hit the mountains for a rock climb. Whether you’re brand-new to climbing or an expert, these guides know the perfect route for your group and will tailor it to suit everyone’s abilities. Every group is limited to four people, so you’ll feel safe and supported the entire day. And if you’re nervous, just think of the views to come.
Once upon a time, Hong Kong was completely illuminated with neon signs. They advertised everything from restaurants to printing shops, but now they’re almost extinct. Learn about their fascinating history as you walk through the most iconic spots in the city. You’ll learn how these signs were made and get professional tips on how to photograph them. Take a quick break at Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop for a £3.70 Michelin-star meal, before finishing the night at Ocean Terminal Deck for a 270-degree light-filled view over Victoria Harbour.
Hong Kong is stressful. Take some time to chill out with a tai chi class led by a master. Tai chi, also known as shadow boxing, integrates the mind and body and enhances one’s qi (vital life force). Here, overlooking Victoria Harbour, you’ll learn all about the history of this ancient martial art and go through a series of motions to stimulate your qi and strengthen your body. This is great for beginners, but not suitable for children.
Once you see the Hong Kong skyline, you’ll understand why Hong Kongers are so obsessed with it. Of course, you can check it out from a rooftop bar or ogle it from the top of a mountain, but the coolest way to take it all in is with a helicopter tour. Soar higher than the skyscrapers and see the mountainous, tropical coastline and myriad islands dotting the clear waters. Tours range from 18-45 minutes long, and you can opt to reflect on the experience over the Peninsula Hotel’s famous afternoon tea.
Instead of trawling through markets for the perfect souvenir, make a totally unique one for yourself at this Chinese painting class. Learn what it takes to craft your own work of art under the watchful eye of a talented artist and while sipping on copious amounts of tea. You’ll experiment with Chinese paintbrushes, rice paper and collage techniques before making your final masterpiece. Chinese art is typically inspired by the natural world, so look around you and find the beauty in the everyday, like graceful stalks of bamboo, elegant flowers or colourful fish.
Awaken your senses with a tea tasting at MingCha Tea House. Spend a few hours in the company of tea masters who will take you through four unique teas that are little known outside Asia. Not only will you learn about the distinct production processes, but you’ll delve into the flavour profiles and learn how to expertly brew your own at home. Smell, taste, touch and see the differences between tea leaves and find your perfect blend. This is a great option for families with young children, too.
After days of exploring, you deserve to treat yourself, and how better than with a quintessential Hong Kong experience? Do as the locals do and opt for a relaxing foot massage. Ten Feet Tall offers one of the best experiences in the city. Head to one of their two branches and spoil your sore feet with a reflexology massage. It might hurt a bit at first, but when it’s over you’ll be walking on air. They offer pressure point, aromatic and lymphatic drainage massages as well, if the rest of your body is craving a reset.