Hong Kong’s Top 10
New to Hong Kong and wondering what to see first? Put Hong Kong’s “star” attractions at the top of your to-do list.
The Avenue of Stars boardwalk, along the Victoria Harbour waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, is Hong Kong’s answer to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, paying tribute to the film stars of Hong Kong’s celebrated movie industry. The picturesque promenade reopened to the public in 2019 after four years of extensive renovations.
The bronze “Big Buddha” statue atop Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island is a true spectacle to behold, and one of the “Ten Engineering Wonders in Hong Kong.” At 34 meters high, the bronze structure was the world’s largest outdoor seated figure of the Buddha at the time it was completed in 1993. Since then, it has been outreached by many others — a fitting lesson on the suffering that comes from desire and ambitions, and the passing nature of the physical world. Still, it really is Big with a capital B, and the 268 steps to get to the top of the hill can be quite challenging in the summer heat. Once you’re at the top of Muk Yue Shan, though, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Lantau and the South China Sea from the podium. The nearby Po Lin Monastery offers information about the Buddhist religion and a vegetarian lunch for visitors.
Nearby Wisdom Path is also worth the short walk; it features an arrangement of 38 giant wooden columns measuring eight to 10 meters, which showcase calligraphy by the master of Chinese Studies, Professor Jao Tsung-I, and a replica of the Heart Sutra, a revered prayer. The wood columns are arranged in a “∞” shape to symbolize the idea of infinity.
The Buddha is accessible via Lantau Peak hiking trail or by a 25-minute cable car ride with Ngong Ping 360, a major attraction in its own right. The Ngong Ping 360 experience starts with a panoramic cable car ride through lush green mountainside and includes access to the culturally themed Ngong Ping Village, with its wide array of shops, restaurants and kid-friendly activities. The Big Buddha is a mere 10-minute walk away.
The braver among you can opt for a glass-floored “crystal cabin,” which gives cable car riders literal 360-degree views of the South China Sea and the mountains below.
Hong Kong’s Disneyland, on Lantau Island, is made up of seven distinct “lands,” each with its own themed attractions, entertainment, restaurants and atmosphere, and three themed hotels.
Opened in 2005, the theme park is the second addition to the Disneyland portfolio in East Asia which includes Tokyo Disneyland and, most recently, Shanghai Disneyland. Hong Kong’s Disneyland is small in scale compared to its sister theme parks around the world, but what it lacks in size it makes up for with pleasantly shorter queuing times.
Tickets are sold as a one-day pass, two-day pass or annual pass, with special fares available for children and seniors.
Castle of Magical Dreams
To commemorate Hong Kong Disneyland Resort’s 15th anniversary milestone, the Castle of Magical Dreams stands proudly as the centerpiece of Hong Kong Disneyland and as a symbol of courage, hope, and possibility. Inspired by 13 stories of Disney Princesses and Queens, the castle’s overall design embraces unique characteristics of the stories through the interpretation of color, icons, symbols, and patterns, while celebrating a sense of diversity and inclusion. The reimagined castle also serves as a stunning tribute to the Disney heroines who dare to dream big.
Brand-new experiences await Guests at the castle. From meeting their favorite Princesses and Queens at “The Royal Reception Hall,”, to visiting “Enchanted Treasures,” the first-ever Castle of Magical Dreams Chow Tai Fook Jewelry store for keepsakes and treasures.
To better appreciate the transformed castle, Guests can explore the story behind by visiting the “Building a Dream: The Magic Behind a Disney Castle” exhibition featuring multimedia exhibits, or learn more about it through “Glimpse into the Magic – a tour of the Castle of Magical Dreams,” a special self-guided audio tour combining visual elements.
More surprises to come! The reimagined castle will serve as an idyllic backdrop for the brand-new daytime and nighttime shows coming soon.
Have a closer look at the behind-the-scenes magic here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdNCAJPvSZ8
Tai O Fishing Village
This village on stilts is a living time capsule. Home to the Tanka people, a community of fisherfolk who have lived this way for generations, the picturesque Tai O Fishing Village on Lantau Island makes a nice day trip away from the confines of the city. Purchase some traditional dried fish and chat with the locals while you discover their way of life.
The historic Star Ferry, one of Hong Kong’s most iconic attractions, still serves a practical, everyday purpose in the lives of many residents. The 10-minute ferry service between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon provides open-air, postcard-worthy views of Victoria Harbour and the cityscape lining either side of it. The Star Ferry company also operates 60-minute licensed tours around the harbor at nighttime (see Boat Tours).
Temple Street Night Market
Midway between Jordan and Yau Ma Tei MTR stations, the famous Temple Street Night Market is Hong Kong’s last remaining night market, selling everything imaginable from souvenirs to sex toys. The sights, sounds and smells are an assault on the senses. Have a fragrant meal at one of the dai pai dongs or open-air restaurants and listen as the shrill voices of Cantonese opera singers fill the air, then get your fortunes read by one of the many fortune tellers who appear as the night progresses. Although vendors begin setting up around 4pm, this market really only comes to life after 6pm, and is in full swing by 9pm until the early hours of the morning.
This classic Hong Kong family destination has been bringing in the crowds for its zoo-meets-amusement park attractions since 1977. You will find impressive aquarium displays — definitely don’t miss the penguins or the jellyfish. Oh, and did we mention the pandas? Ying Ying and Le Le are quite famous, although they can be a bit shy at times. (Bowing to pressure from animal rights activists, Ocean Park scuttled its live dolphin and sea lion shows in 2020.)
Ocean Park is also home to many thrilling rides. Oldies like the Dragon — it opened in 1984 and takes thrillseekers out on a cliff overhanging the sea below — are still going strong. Other park originals include the Abyss (a 20-floor free-fall), the Crazy Galleon, the Ferris Wheel and Flying Swing. The more challenging rides can be found at Thrill Mountain, a relatively newer section of the park that lives up to its name, daring visitors with nerves of steel to try rides like the Flash (a bottomless pendulum-style ride with a G-force of 3.9G and a top speed of 60km/hour) and the Hair Raiser (a floorless roller coaster and Hong Kong’s fastest). An all-weather water park, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to open in 2021.
Ocean Park is also known for its annual Halloween celebrations, which never fail to draw in revelers with their well-orchestrated, spookily themed experiences such as haunted houses and street shows.
The southside of Hong Kong Island is home to some of the best beaches in the territory. Deep Water Bay, Stanley, Repulse Bay and South Bay Beaches are among the most popular, boasting well-manicured sands and calm waters ideal for swimming. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) has a complete list of all beaches on the southside, as well as a comprehensive list of beaches to be found all over Hong Kong.
At 552 meters above sea level, Victoria Peak offers unparalleled views of the skyline and harbor below. “The Peak,” as it is commonly known, is a well-developed tourist attraction with shopping and dining facilities, and various world-class attractions, including a Madame Tussauds and a 3D Trick Eye Museum (currently under renovation). Its many walking trails are popular with joggers, families and dog walkers on weekends, and the surrounding areas are home to some of Hong Kong’s wealthiest residents.
The Peak is accessible by bus, taxi or car. But first-time visitors shouldn’t miss a ride up on the Peak Tram, a cable funicular which has been in operation since the 19th century (read more).