Pretty much everyone has heard of Hong Kong. Bustling metropolis, near China but not China, tons and tons to see. That’s not an exaggeration – it can be hard to sort through all the different attractions to visit, something I found out for myself when I was planning my trip to Asia. Now that my husband and I have been there ourselves, we’ve been able to experience first-hand some of the best off-beat things to do in Hong Kong. And I’m about to do my good deed for the day and share it with you.
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Where to Stay While in Hong Kong
While I’m not exactly an authority on the subject, I’ve stayed at a couple of different places in Hong Kong. So, I feel pretty confident in recommending The Langham Hong Kong. It’s a really nice place with good eat-in options and a luxurious atmosphere. If you can snatch up a room for a good price, definitely take it.
PHOTO CREDITS: THE LANGHAM HONG KONG VIA HOTELS.COM
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Off-the-Beaten-Path Things To Do in Hong Kong
1. The Hong Kong Walls
The Hong Kong Walls are part of a non-profit beautification project, where various artists paint murals around the city. There are new murals and street art projects every year in different locations, so you’ll want to check ahead so you know where it is. I couldn’t make it to their last art festival, but they host one every March. So, if you’re a big fan of street art, you definitely want to aim to travel then you don’t miss it!
2. Lantau Island and the Biggest Buddha You’ve Ever Seen
This one might be stretching the definition of “off-beat” considering how famous it is, and yes, the tourism is very strong. But how many people can say they’ve been inside a Buddha statue?
Climbing those 268 stairs leading up to the giant Buddha statue is no picnic, especially if it’s hot. (And let me tell you, when I went, the humidity was doing its best to kill me.)
In spite of all that, it’s majorly impressive. The Tian Tan Buddha is massive, even from far away. And once you get close, it just towers over you. You can walk around or even inside, which is pretty neat.
3. Yuen Po Bird Garden
Hong Kong has a lot of little parks (which they call gardens) scattered throughout the city. You’ll probably run into a few on your way to Yuen Po Bird Garden, which is like an outdoor temple bursting with birds. Birds in cages, birds flying free, and lots of bird food for sale. Note: said bird food includes live bugs. Delightful.
4. Man Mo Temple
You know those “three for the price of one” sales? Man Mo Temple is basically that. It is three temples in one, filled to the rafters with incense. While the resulting smoke was a bit too much for me, Jeff really enjoyed it. The inside is bursting with colors in red and gold, plus lots of religious and historical artifacts. The incense comes from these huge coils hanging from the ceiling, which gives the temples a unique look. Definitely worth checking out.
5. Little Villages on Lamma Island
There’s not a ton to see on this little fishing island, but it’s a nice snapshot into village life in Hong Kong away from the bustle of the city. You can check out the markets and the restaurants or take a trip to one of the beaches. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, and if you prefer non stop excitement and adventure, this is a safe one to skip. Otherwise, taking a trip to Lamma Island is a quiet, peaceful retreat.
6. Temple Street Night Market
Ever want to try bargaining for something? Seekers of slick, clean-cut shops, steer clear! The Temple Street Night Market is a grittier, more down-to-earth taste of what Hong Kong is like for the locals. It has food stalls, souvenirs, and can get pretty chaotic, especially later at night. You can swing by early evening if you want to avoid the crowds.
7. Central-Mid-Levels Escalator for a Cool Way to Get Around
For anyone tired of buses and trains, the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator offers a new way to get around: take an escalator. It’s basically an Overpass Deluxe, used mainly by commuters to get between Mid-Levels and Central Hong Kong. And it’s actually the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system.
It’s absolutely free and lets you avoid the hassle of dodging cars on the streets below. If there’s an entrance anywhere near your hotel, hop on for a half-hour ride to the heart of the city.
8. Night as Bright as Day on Jordan Road
There are lots of places in Hong Kong where you can go to see neon lights. One that has been famous for its neon signs for decades is Jordan Road. One of the signs apparently got into the Guinness World Records for the largest neon sign of the decade, though that was a ways back, in the 60s or 70s. The neon lights are still going strong, too. You definitely don’t have to worry about stumbling around in the dark on this street.
9. Grocery Shopping on Graham Street
Another market! But where Temple Street mostly sold street food and cheap souvenirs, Graham Street has a lot more fresh produce. You’re a lot more likely to find locals picking out foods to cook at home, and really good prices for street foods. It’s one of the oldest markets in Hong Kong and it’s still going strong.
10. Yau Ma Tei Floral Stairs
I debated whether to put this one up or not, because when I went there myself, it was something of a let-down. It’s basically some flowers painted onto the stairs so that you can only see them going up. In all fairness, I’m sure it was bright and vibrant when it was first painted, but let’s just say it needs a touch-up. And maybe a good ol’ scrubbing.
In the end, I decided to put it up because it’s still a nice splash of color in the middle of the city, and a quick stop on the way to other places.
The List of Things to Do in Hong Kong Doesn’t Actually End
… But, unfortunately, this post does. Hong Kong is a one-of-a-kind city, so there’s always something new to do. If you enjoyed it, check out some of my other travel tips or follow me for the latest updates.
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