As a city with over 7 million in residents, life in Hong Kong is such an exciting, fast-paced, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it adventure.
For the first-timer, it may seem difficult to do every activity – shopping, eating, sightseeing and food-tripping – all at once, so here are 10 things to do in Hong Kong for the first-time traveler:
1. Start your morning with a dai pai dong
Literally means “restaurant with a big license plate”, dai pai dong is an open-air stall that serves cooked food. Hong Kongers typically eat here for their breakfast.
- Location: Tai Hang, Central and Stanley areas all have dai pai dong stalls
- Operation Hours: Varies; most common operation hours are 9AM – 3PM
- Budget: HKD 30-40 (PHP 200+) per meal
- What You Need to Know: Most notable dishes include milk tea, congee, noodles, yuen yeung (a mixture of coffee and Hong Kong-style milk tea), pork noodle soup, macaroni in tomato soup and Hong Kong-style French toast.
2. Ride a glass bottom gondola
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Have a fear of heights? Don’t try bungee-jumping to get rid of it just yet! Start with something simple like a cable car first.
Make your way towards Lantau Island: a bus, a tiring hike uphill or a 5-kilometer cable car ride at the crystal cabin with the glass bottom? For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the crystal cabin at Ngong Ping 360 is your best bet.
- Location:Lantau Island, Hong Kong
- Operation Hours:10AM – 6PM
- Fees: HKD 180 (PHP 1,200)
- What You Need to Know:It may be better for you to buy your tickets online. This way, you get the ride the gondola faster and with less queuing.
3. Check out the Tian Tian Buddha (Big Buddha)
The Po Lin Monastery in Lantau Island has one of the biggest bronze statues of Buddha in the sitting position. Known as the Big Buddha, the Tian Tian Buddha is a 202-ton statue situated in the west of the city center.
- Location:Ngong Ping Road, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
- Operation Hours: 10AM – 5:30PM
- Fees: Free
- What You Need to Know:If you really want to experience just how massive the statue is, climb 268 steps to reach the top.
4. Figure out your fortune at Temple Street Night Market
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Sure, you can spend most of your night shopping at Temple Street Night Market. After you’ve done shopping and hunting for the best sales you could find, you can visit late night fortune tellers – highly regarded in Hong Kong! – and ask about what your fortune has in store for you.
- Location: Temple St, Jordan, Hong Kong
- Operation Hours:5PM – 11PM
- Fees: HKD 200 (PHP 1,300) for palm and face-reading
- What You Need to Know:You even have different fortune-telling methods to choose from: the bird method, Chinese fortune sticks, palm, face reading and tarot card reading are some of the most common ones.
5. Dine at a Floating Restaurant
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An ornamental restaurant that floats, Jumbo Floating Restaurant is one of Hong Kong’s most popular dining establishments. And rightfully so, as its construction required over four years and millions of dollars because it was built in the style of an elegant Chinese imperial palace.
Keep your eyes open for celebrities. In the past, icons such as Tom Cruise and even Queen Elizabeth II have dined here!
- Location: Shum Wan Pier Dr, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
- Operation Hours:11AM – 11PM
- Fees:HKD 40 (PHP 270) and up for dimsum; HKD 220 (PHP 1,500) and up for entrees
- What You Need to Know:Clueless on what to order? Check out the Master Menu at Jumbo Floating Restaurant here. Price ranges are there also, so you’re well prepared before dining here. Make sure to make a reservation!
6. Take the tram up to Victoria Peak
Victoria Peak (or The Peak) can be accessed by the Peak Tram that operates nonstop from 7AM to midnight. The ride will take seven minutes upwards.
If one of the things you must do in Hong Kong is checking out the skyline and taking a selfie with the breathtaking view as your background, go here.
- Location: Hong Kong Island
- Operation Hours: 7AM – Midnight
- Fees: HKD 52 (PHP 350) for the return ticket
- What You Need to Know: If you have plenty of time, check out The Peak during both day and night time and decide which gives you the better view.
7. Adventurous? Try Snake Soup
Made from snake meat and bones and simmered for several hours, the broth in the snake soup is infused with chicken, mushrooms, chopped ginger, lemongrass, and other herbs and spices present in traditional Chinese cuisine.
Where else can you find this authentic Asian delicacy but in Hong Kong? If you’re a foodie, this is one gastronomical adventure you shouldn’t miss.
- Location: Se Wong Yee at Causeway Bay area
- Operation Hours: 11:30AM – Midnight
- Fees: HKD 50 (PHP 350)
- What You Need to Know: Snake Soup is noted to be good for blood circulation and treatment of arthritis.
8. Drink at the highest bar in the world
Sip top-notch cocktails at Ozone bar, located on the 118th floor of the ICC as part of the Hong Kong Ritz-Carlton hotel. Make sure you’ve eaten beforehand, since you’ll be coming here for the view of the Hong Kong skyline anyway.
- Location: International Commerce Centre (ICC), Austin Rd W, West Kowloon, Hong Kong
- Operation Hours: 5PM – 2AM
- Fees: HKD 105 (PHP 740) for beer
- What You Need to Know: As for drinks, Ozone doesn’t have a lot of options, but their martinis – classic, lychee and vesper – are considered to be high-quality. But if you’re too overwhelmed and confused, a bottle of beer would be your safest bet.
9. Visit Wong Tai Sin Temple
With its claim to “make every wish come true upon request”, the Wong Tai Sin Temple is home to three religions (Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism). It’s also called the Sik Sik Yuen temple.
- Location: 2 Chuk Yuen Village, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon
- Operation Hours: 7AM – 5PM
- Fees: Free
- What You Need to Know: Since it’s one of Hong Kong’s busiest and biggest temples, it’s better for you to come here early as they open as early as 7AM so you can avoid the crowd.
10. Unleash your inner child at Hong Kong Disneyland
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
The first Disneyland to be opened in China is calling your name, so go out there and talk to it! Spend the whole day with this classic Disney attraction.
Eat at their Disneyland-themed hotel and enjoy dim sum with the faces of your favorite Disney characters. Or you can also try riding the Space Mountain and the Iron Man Experience.
- Location: Lantau Island, Hong Kong
- Operation Hours: 10:30AM – 8PM
- Fees: HKD 619 (PHP 4,150)
- What You Need to Know: Don’t forget to stay for the parade and most especially, the fireworks at night!