Top 10 Things To Do In Hong Kong

Hong Kong has much more to offer tourists than great shopping. Here are the top 10 things to do during your stay in this exciting city.

Hong Kong is best known as a shopper's paradise, with its many malls, stores and street markets offering bargains on everything from designer jeans to jade necklaces. There is so much more to Hong Kong, though, than shopping. This former British colony also has a wealth of cultural attractions. Here are the top 10 things to do in Hong Kong, including some great museums, walks and places to shop and dine.

1. Architecture tour

A tour of the major landmarks in Hong Kong is a good way to get acquainted with the city and learn about its history at the same time. The Architecture Institute of Hong Kong organizes tours of some of the notable buildings downtown. The tours are conducted by a local architect and take about three hours.

On the tours you will be introduced to the older, colonial buildings such as the Central Police Station and the French Mission, as well as some great modern architecture, including the Hong Kong and Shanghai building designed by Sir Norman Foster in 1985.

2. Visit temples

The Man Mo Temple is one of the most important in Hong Kong. Located near Hollywood Road, it was built in 1848 and is named after Man, the god of literature, and Mo, the god of martial arts. Inside, the air is thick with the smoke from coils of incense paper burned by worshipers. You can also see statues of the deities, Man holding a calligraphy brush and Mo holding a sword.

Wong Tai Sin Temple is the most well known Taoist temple in Hong Kong. Ornately decorated with red pillars and a golden roof, Wong Tai Sin is always crowded with worshipers. It is dedicated to a famed healer and Taoist disciple, whose portrait adorns the main altar. Today, people pray at the temple for help with their health and money, and come to have their fortunes read.

You can have your fortune read by one of the many clairvoyants located at the temple entrance. They read faces and palms and draw up Chinese astrological charts. Not all speak English, though. Also, you can find a Chinese herbal medicine seller in the temple grounds.

3. Trip to Lantau Island

The main reason people go to this island is to visit the largest Buddhist monastery in Hong Kong located high in the Lantau hills. Walk up 260 steps to the 100 ft tall seated statue of Buddha and take in the breathtaking view of the surrounding hillsides. You can even stay at the monastery and sample some of the delicious, yet simple vegetarian fare.

Lantau is actually a much larger island than Hong Kong. Much of it is covered in woodlands and in addition to visiting the temple, you can also go on some excellent walks here.

4. Aberdeen Harbor boat ride

You've probably seen Aberdeen Harbor many times in movies and on television the fishing junks, the people, and the ubiquitous seafood restaurants. For an experience to remember, try taking a boat ride in a wooden sampan across the harbor, or have a meal at one of the huge floating restaurants.

5. Try dim sum

Dim sum (little steamed stuffed dumplings) is a speciality in Hong Kong and you should try some during your stay. You can try dim sum anywhere, but Hong Kong City Hall Restaurant is a charm as the food is still served the traditional way on carts. Waitresses roll the carts around the hall and you just point to what you want. It's as simple as that! The dim sum here is really good, but if you're looking for something more upmarket, try dim sum at the celebrated Peninsula Hotel.

6. Visit Tsim Sha Tsui

Shopping malls, designer stores, restaurants, bars and cafes vie for attention in this district of Hong Kong which is extremely popular with locals and tourists. If you are on a tight schedule, make sure you go to Tsim Sha Tsui, because as well as entertainment, there are also a number of cultural attractions located in this district.

The first of these is the Museum of Art which has a collection of more than 14,000 exhibits. Its focus is on preserving the artistic heritage of the Chinese people and the collection includes many works of art from ancient China. It also has an extensive calligraphy section.

The excellent Space Museum is just next door, as is the Cultural Center, where you can take in a dance performance or classical music concert.

7. Trip to Oceanpark and Waterworld

Located in the southwest of Hong Kong island, not far from the harbor is a massive theme park and entertainment center. Amusement rides, a butterfly park, an aviary and marine shows are some of the highlights of Oceanpark. Particularly interesting is the Middle Kingdom walk-through exhibition, which features recreated street scenes and palaces from long ago. It's a fun way to learn about China's past. Waterworld has slides, a wave pool, manmade rapids and other child-friendly activities.

8. Shop at Stanley Market

Everyone who visits Hong Kong goes to Stanley Market. This popular tourist destination is the place to go to haggle over everything from antiques to electronics. Some good buys here are embroidered household linens, cheap children's clothes and all kinds of fun little trinkets and artifacts.

9. Ride up Victoria Peak

Named after the British monarch Queen Victoria, this hilly landmark is visited by every tourist to Hong Kong. A cable-pulled train (funicular) takes visitors from Hong Kong Park to the peak. You can travel up the peak by bus too, but the funicular is more exciting. The views of the city from the peak are breathtaking.

10. Go hiking

It may be hard to believe when you're scrambling around downtown, but Hong Kong is a great place to go on a long nature walk! Over two-thirds of Hong Kong is forest or farmland and much of that is conservation land.

There are trails and walks to suit all abilities. Aberdeen Country Park, for example, is a good place for a leisurely walk with children. It has an information center detailing the flora and fauna that can be found in its grounds. Pat Sing Leng Park in the New Territories, has much more challenging walks that take you through a mountain range fringing the city. For information on these walks and many more, get in touch with the Hong Kong Tourism Board on arrival, or take a look at their website.

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