The Best Things to See and Do on Hong Kong Island

The historic Peak Tram offers unique angles from which to view Hong Kong’s skyline
The historic Peak Tram offers unique angles from which to view Hong Kong’s skyline | © Daniel Fung / Alamy Stock Photo

Hong Kong is renowned the world over as a hub for flavourful, gourmet and multinational cuisine. But Hong Kong Island is not merely a culinary haven; there is also a massive array of activities to enjoy, including exploring night markets, watching traditional Cantonese opera and visiting the Peak for panoramic views. Culture Trip guides you through the top things to do and see on Hong Kong Island.

Hike Dragon's Back

Hiking Trail
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Hiking on the Dragon's Back trail, Hong Kong
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Hong Kong might be one of the most skyscraper-dense cities on earth, but it doesn’t take much to get out into the wilds. Try this four-hour hike, kicking off from the To Tei Wan bus stop at Shek O Peak, and ringing the island via lush forest and thigh-burning inclines. The first kilometre or so up old steps can be a challenge in Hong Kong’s steamy humidity, but persevere (bring water) and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views over sparkling waters to the peninsula coastline.

Visit Ocean Park theme park

Amusement Park
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Just a portion of Hong Kong's enormous Ocean Park
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Theme parks in Hong Kong aren’t just about Disneyland. Ocean Park channels more retro vibes with its bumper cars, swinging “crazy galleon” and giant Ferris wheel. You don’t have to be big on rides to get your kicks, either; you can stroll through the Emerald Trail, a birdsong-filled garden, meet giant pandas or admire colourful goldfish. A big part of the park’s focus is animal conservation and education, making it a perfect choice for adults with young children.

Take a street art tour of Central

Art Gallery
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Hong Kong, China. 31st May, 2021. Graffiti by Dan Kitchener on Graham Street, Central, for HKwalls festival 2018. 31MAY21 SCMP/Nora Tam Credit: Nora Tam/South China Morning Post/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News
© Nora Tam / South China Morning Post / ZUMA Wire / Alamy Live News
Hong Kong has a thriving art scene – and that extends to its streets. We’re not talking amateur graffiti; renowned artists from around the world have splashed the buildings of vibrant Central with colourful murals and statement pieces, and you can see the highlights on a self-guided street art tour. Kick off with British street artist Dan Kitchener’s hidden “urban impressionist” piece at 45-53 Graham Street, then move on to the much-Instagrammed townhouse mural by Alex Croft nearby.

Cross the harbour on the Star Ferry for the best views

Train Station
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Star Ferry Harbour Tour boat with tourists on board in Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong, China.
© Leonid Serebrennikov / Alamy Stock Photo
Taking to the water is practically obligatory when in Hong Kong, and there’s no better way than aboard the Star Ferry, which has been transporting locals and visitors across the harbour for more than a century. It’s not only the thrifty price of the fares or the romantic retro design of the boats that make it brilliant. Once among the harbour waters, the route towards Kowloon gives you an ace view back towards the city’s postcard-perfect skyscrapers, ideal for a selfie session.

See the Hong Kong Museum of Art

Museum
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Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, outside the Hong Kong Museum of Art during Lunar New Year
© Ben MacLeod / Alamy Stock Photo
Craving a proper dose of culture? Make for the Hong Kong Museum of Art, where you can browse thousands of priceless pieces, both old and new, Chinese and international. For a deep dive into Hong Kong’s history, spend time in the antiquities collection, viewing jade carvings, lacquerware and ritual burial objects that all shed light on what came before today’s glitzy modern metropolis. Keep eyes peeled on the museum website to find out about upcoming exhibitions, too.

Tamar Park

Park
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Tamar Park and Central Government Complex, Admiralty, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong
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Covering around 17,000sqm (183,000sqft), Tamar Park is situated adjacent to the Legislative Council Complex and the new Central Government Offices in Central. Surrounded by high-rise buildings, the green space gives the city centre some lively yet refreshing colours. Designed with simplicity, the place boasts a spacious well-trimmed grassland perfect for throwing a picnic while embracing gorgeous skyline and blazing sunshine. The park is equipped with a floating platform, Tamar Corner, an amphitheatre and Tamar Café, where you can grab a cup of coffee for your stroll along the waterfront.

Hong Kong City Hall

Building
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Low Block Buildings at Hong Kong City Hall, Central District
© Hok Pang Liu / Alamy Stock Photo
Established in 1962, the Hong Kong City Hall is a busy performance venue with various acts ranging from opera and drama to music. Enjoy a classical Chinese concert or a local musical to experience the true essence of traditional Chinese culture. Though most of the performances are conducted in Chinese, you’re still able to observe the distinctive movement and subtle interactions between actors. Check the official website to see upcoming events.

PMQ Night Market

Historical Landmark, Building
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PMQ is a former police marriage quarters that was revitalised into a studio complex for high flyers to develop and promote their artisan goods. Every month, the Hong Kong Markets Organisation hosts the PMQ Night Market that consists of live music, beer drinking and bazaars. The bazaars aim to offer young craftspeople, designers, DIYers and food artisans a chance to promote their brands and sell their products. Strolling around, you’ll find sellers, most in their 20s and dressed in chic clothing, fervidly introducing their artisan goods.

Sing Heung Yuen

Restaurant, Fast Food, Street Food
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travel in Hong Kong,China
© Top Photo Corporation / Alamy Stock Photo
Opened in 1957, this forever-boisterous street food stall is a world-renowned dai pai dong (open-air food stalls) offering classic Cantonese dishes at budget prices. At the stalls, you’ll find women in elegant mini-dresses wearing high heels sitting packed along the table with businessmen in fancy suits and patent leather shoes, all busily savouring instant noodles. Sing Heung Yuen’s signature dishes cover almost the entire menu, including peanut milk toast, kaya crispy crispy, salty seven-up with lemon, tomato and beef with instant noodles, etc. Many locals are frequent diners, and they are thrilled about this stall, where they can recollect the pleasant flavours of dai pai dong from the 1970s.

The Peak

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
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Lion Pavilion on Victoria Peak and skyline, Hong Kong
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Overlook the stunning panoramic scenery of Hong Kong at the city’s most spectacular viewpoint, the Peak. Your eyes will feast on the breathtaking view of Victoria Harbour, the skyscrapers that are intimately packed together and the distant view of the New Territories. To savour the landscape, you can take the historic Peak Tram that offers hard-to-find angles from which to view the island’s skyline while sliding slowly along a steep railway. On arrival at the Peak, the location offers an enormous sightseeing platform, Sky Terrace 428, where you can view the superb panorama of high-rise buildings.

Cheung Chau

Market, Natural Feature
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Cheung Chau Island Aerial Shot, Hong Kong
© keng po leung / Alamy Stock Photo

Take a one-day venture to this small islet featuring the distinctive Cantonese culture of the indigenous people in Cheung Chau. From the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, where residents partake in parades, lion dances and the unique Bun Scrambling Competition, to Cheung Chau Seafood Street, which is packed with seafood stalls serving fresh oysters and fish in a buzzing atmosphere, loads of annual events bring joy and entertainment all year round here. To visit Cheung Chau, you can take commuter ferries from Central that take about 30 minutes.

These recommendations were updated on July 22, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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