An Insider’s Travel Guide to the Most Colourful Places in Hong Kong
Read on for the history and context of these seriously stunning and very “instagrammable” places around Hong Kong
If you are a regular reader of Yoga, Wine & Travel and are following me on Instagram, then it’ll be no surprise to you that I’m all about big, bold, bright, beautiful colours. Hong Kong has been home for more than 3 decades and is a feast for the eyes (and stomach, of course) – almost every single corner is extremely photogenic! It is one of the most vibrant cities in the world, so it should come as no surprise that Hong Kong is home to a plethora of multicoloured places.
The city has such rich and fascinating stories to tell, so these places are just only seriously stunning Instagram spots in Hong Kong, they also hold plenty of cultural, social and historical significance. The colours and designs showcase the diversity of Hong Kong’s rich melting pot of cultures, dynamic landscape, and ever-changing aesthetic. But first, a few quick travel tips for getting around Hong Kong:
The local currency is the Hong Kong dollar. You’re likely to get a better exchange rate by withdrawing cash from an ATM or by visiting a currency exchange shop in-town rather than at the airport.
Hong Kong is not a tropical country as many people seem to believe. Summers are HOT and it can be bitterly cold during the winter months (December to February). The best time to visit Hong Kong is from March to early June, and September to November (but avoid the 1st week of October).
The main language spoken in Hong Kong is Cantonese, a local dialect. Many people speak English (or at least basic English), and almost all signs are bilingual.
One of the first things you have to do when you arrive in Hong Kong is get an Octopus card. It is a stored value card that works on all public transportation (but not in taxis). You can purchase your tourist Octopus card in advance here – pick it up from the airport when you arrive, and it comes with HK$50 already pre-loaded!
Public transportation is efficient, cheap and clean, and the network is very extensive. Most of these colourful places in Hong Kong are accessible by subway (the MTR). Taxis are cheap as well if you are in a hurry, with fares starting at just over US$3, but make sure you have enough cash as taxis do not accept the Octopus card or credit/debit cards.
The best way to get to and from the airport is via the Airport Express train. Tickets can be purchased at the station and the train stops in Tsing Yi, Kowloon and Hong Kong Island – it takes just 24 minutes from end to end! Want 30% off your Airport Express ticket? Buy your ticket ahead of time online here! Once you’ve purchased your ticket online, you can use the QR code that they send you via e-mail to swipe through the special QR reader gates.
Most visitors opt to book hotels on Hong Kong Island or on Kowloon side. Look into hotels in Central, Wan Chai, Sheung Wan or Causeway Bay for maximum convenience and easy access to public transportation. I am a big fan of The Fleming, a stunning Hong Kong-inspired boutique hotel, as well as The Hari, a stylish design hotel in Wan Chai. You can check out some of my other top boutique hotel picks in Hong Kong, or click here to book other accommodation in Hong Kong.
Without further ado, here are some of the most rainbow-rific, colourful places to check out in Hong Kong!
1. Victoria Harbour at night
This one is a dead giveaway, but had to make it on the list! Victoria Harbour lights up after dark and is one of the most stunning skylines in the world. The harbour sits between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon with boats dashing from side-to-side all through the day and night. There are a few ways to go about appreciating the stunning skyline:
- Hop on a refurbished classic Chinese junk boat and go on a sunset cruise along Victoria Harbour (with wine!). I would recommend booking through either Aqua Luna or DukLing. Prices are comparable and you can book ahead online – click here to get 10-15% off your Aqua Luna evening harbour cruise or click here to read about the various Victoria Harbour cruise options. Remember, Hong Kong experiences different seasons so the sunset time will vary – it is closer to 7 PM in the summer months and closer to 5:30/6 PM in autumn and winter.
- Get comfortable at Ozone Skybar, one of the highest rooftop bars in the world.
- On a tight budget? No worries – hop on the iconic Star Ferry to cross over to Kowloon side and check out the Hong Kong Island skyline from the Kowloon waterfront.
Victoria Harbour has a rich history and played a major role in turning Hong Kong into the city it is today. The harbour’s strategic location on the Far East trade routes and Asia-Pacific basin was instrumental in Hong Kong’s development into a major trading hub, and to this day it is still one of the busiest ports in the world.
2. The Blue House Cluster in Wan Chai
The cluster is made up of 3 brightly coloured buildings (blue, yellow and orange), all built between the 1920s and 50s, and are one of the few remaining examples of old-school tenement buildings in Hong Kong. In particular, the bold Blue House is listed as a “Grade I historic building“, which means that it is a building “…of outstanding merit, which every effort should be made to preserve if possible.” In a city like Hong Kong that is full of skyscrapers and constant urban development, the conservation of these heritage sites is increasingly critical.
The Blue House is also home to the Hong Kong House of Stories, which hosts exhibitions that introduce visitors to the community and showcase the history and architectural features of the Blue House Cluster. The mini museum aims to raise public awareness of the regional and cultural conservation by providing information of past Hong Kong society and culture.
Getting to the Blue House Cluster is easy – it is located along Stone Nullah Lane just off Queen’s Road East. You can’t miss it as it sits just behind a row of rainbow-colored buildings!
This is just one of the many unique places to visit in the Wan Chai neighbourhood – head on over here to read my Wan Chai district guide for things to do, where to eat, drink and play.
3. Street art in Soho
Over the past few years, street art has really taken off in Hong Kong and there are lots of beautiful pieces scattered around Soho, a neighborhood just above the CBD. The appearance of mainstream street art is a relatively new phenomena, with many local and international artists leaving their mark in the form of beautiful murals.
Many of these pieces are hidden around little side streets, and you can easily spend an afternoon walking around and stumbling upon funky and colorful street art in Hong Kong. It’s no surprise that Soho is one of the most popular Instagram spots in Hong Kong!
Start at Graham Street and walk along Hollywood Road towards Sheung Wan, make sure you explore all the different nooks and crannies.
4. Street art in Wan Chai
Earlier this year, artists from around the world descended upon the neighborhood of Wan Chai (my hood!) to add dozens of awesome new murals. If you are a die-hard street art fan then you have to check out some of the new paintings around this part of Hong Kong. In Wan Chai, start on Queen’s Road East and make your way towards Morrison Hill Swimming Pool.
If you really want to delve into the street art culture in Hong Kong, follow HKwalls, a non-profit arts organization that hosts annual street art festivals in the city, or read my guide on where to go to see fantastic street art in Hong Kong.
5. Flower Market Road
As the name suggests, this little road in Prince Edward is lined with a dozen or so flower shops. You might not end up buying anything, but a stroll along Flower Market Road is guaranteed to boost your mood instantaneously.
Flowers are an important part of Chinese culture, and almost every flower has a different meaning behind it (never give a Chinese or Taiwanese person white flowers, unless you’re attending a funeral! They signify death and mourning).
If you are visiting Hong Kong around Chinese New Year (typically around January/February), then you have to visit the flower market as it is packed to the brim with auspicious flowers and plants for good luck.
Needless to say, it is extremely photogenic and one of the best locations for photography lovers in Hong Kong.
6. Mini Flower Market in Wan Chai
Can’t make it over to the Flower Market Road in Kowloon? Then head to this (much) smaller market on Gresson Street in Wan Chai district. There are only 3-4 shops selling potted orchids, succulents and other flowers, but what I love about this little nook is the multi-coloured stalls!
I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to visit this, but it is centrally located and a great place to stop if you’re in the area.
7. The Rainbow Stairs in Sheung Wan
Another landmark made popular by Instagram, this set of rainbow-coloured stairs is located in Sheung Wan on the corner of Mercer Street and Jervois Street. When you visit in person, you’ll notice the words “#prideinrainbow” at the bottom of the steps, and this is because it is thought that the steps were painted in support of LGBT rights in Hong Kong by an anonymous LGBT graffiti group. Though Hong Kong is an extremely international and diverse city, same-sex marriage is not yet legal.
Unfortunately the stairs have since lost their vibrant colours over the years! These days the stairs look much more faded and in need of a fresh lick of paint and a little love.
Desperate for your rainbow stairs fix? Head to Sau Wa Fong in Wan Chai instead. While you’re there, grab a coffee around the corner from APT, or some handmade pasta from Pici.
8. Choi Hung Estate
Would it even be a “Colourful Hong Kong” list if it didn’t include Choi Hung Estate? Choi Hung literally means “rainbow” in Cantonese (the local language in Hong Kong), and as soon as you arrive at the subway station you’re greeted by multi-coloured subway walls! Once you arrive at Choi Hung stop, take the C4 exit and turn left after the underground tunnel. Look for staircase number 4 and take the stairs up to the top of the car park where the basketball courts are located.
It is a very popular Instagram spot in Hong Kong and you’ll find many people doing their thang here for the ‘gram, so it’s best to come here on a weekday when kids are in school. While its colourful exterior makes it an amazing photography location, it’s important to be mindful of the fact that many, many people call this place their home. Don’t obstruct residents from using the basketball courts, don’t be loud and obnoxious, don’t leave trash laying around! Click here for even more things to avoid doing in Hong Kong!
What you also need to know is that Choi Hung Estate is one of the oldest housing estates in Hong Kong and is home to more than 18,000 people (according to the Hong Kong Housing Authority). The wealth gap in Hong Kong is one of the highest in the world, with the richest household now earning about 44 times what the poorest family makes according to a government report; additionally, Hong Kong is constantly named as one of the most expensive places in the world to live in.
Beyond its multicoloured facade, the density of the Choi Hung Estate gives you a glimpse into the living conditions of millions of people in Hong Kong.
9. Temple Street Night Market
Temple Street Night Market is the most famous night market in Hong Kong and has been a local fixture since the early 1920s. Named after a temple located along the main drag, vendors gathered there to serve people who visited the temple and became a major social meeting point.
Nearly 100 years later, the night market is still a bustling hub of activity with fortunetellers and tarot card readers, street hawkers and vendors selling everything from clothing and electronics to paintings and souvenirs. Though it is an extremely lively area and very photogenic, I do have to leave you with a word of warning: come here to experience the electric atmosphere but don’t bother buying anything as there are a lot of junk and cheap products for sale. Read more on what not to do in Hong Kong here.
10. ArtLane in Sai Ying Pun
Street art in Hong Kong is slowly becoming more mainstream and transforming unused spaces into blank canvases for vibrant artistic expression.
The latest neighbourhood to embrace street art is in Sai Ying Pun and backed by a major real estate developer in Hong Kong: ArtLane is a small pocket of mainly narrow pedestrian streets lined by colourful graffiti. Get there by hopping onto the MTR and taking the B3 exit.
If you are looking into where to stay in Hong Kong, check out hotels in Central, Soho, Wan Chai, Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay to make the most of your time in the city. Here are my top boutique hotel recommendations in Hong Kong, or you can also click here to see what other accommodation is available in the city!
You might also find these Hong Kong guides helpful:
- Traveling to Hong Kong for the first time? Here are 11 things you should know about Hong Kong before your trip!
- Looking for some off-the-beaten-path things to do in Hong Kong? Read my latest article on unique things to do in Hong Kong
- Here are some important dos and don’ts in Hong Kong to know before your trip
- Have more time in the city? Venture beyond the main areas and head out on one of these Hong Kong day trips
- Foodies will love the culinary scene in Hong Kong. Here are some of my favorite Hong Kong restaurants
- Still not sure where to stay in Hong Kong? These are some tried-and-tested boutique hotels in the city that you’ll love
- Looking for even more insider tips for Hong Kong? Click here for more Hong Kong travel tips and destination guides
I’m constantly on the look out for more colourful places in Hong Kong, so be sure to subscribe to the e-mail newsletter below for more insider tips and guides! Have you visited any of these Instagram-famous places in Hong Kong? Tell me all about your trip in the comments section.
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I was reading through this post, trying to pick my favourite spot, but it was a bit impossible to be honest. They’re all so colourful and lovely, I’d visit every single one of them! Pinning this for a future trip 🙂
I love this! I would never have thought Hong Kong looked like this! Shows what I know! Your pictures are stunning btw. As always 🙂
Thanks for checking this out, Chiera! Many people don’t know this but Hong Kong is mostly made up of mountains, beaches and country parks!
Wow I’d never realised that Hong Kong was so colourful – I love the first picture of the high rise, it looks like a playing board, so symmetrical and with all those colours. I’d love to visit Hong Kong one day, as I only hear good things – and especially so I can see the Choi Hung Estate for myself!
If you love good food, nature and amazing views then you’ll absolutely love exploring Hong Kong!
I actually never thought about traveling to Hongkong but since a week or two I am coming again and again across posts about this city and now I am REALLY in the mood to go there 🙂 Maybe we can add it to our world trip 🙂
You definitely should visit! There are ton of kid-friendly things to do in the city, and plenty of beaches and hiking trails as well.
We have a friend who have always invited us to visit Hong Kong and now thank to your post we know why. With your photos you inspired us and we’d love to try your same experience especially the tour around the Street art in Soho!!
There are so many amazing places to see in Hong Kong. It’s an incredible mix of city and nature.
Gorgeous photographs! Hong Kong is a fabulous city. There’s something for everyone, and there’s always colour and excitement.
I’ve selected your post to kick off my “Channels” feature, where I supply a low-res image, a paragraph of text, and a few words explaining my choice, as well as a link to your post: http://athousandflights.com/hong-kong-colour/
Thank you so much, Pete! I appreciate you taking the time to read and feature this.
Thanks for your amazing work. I’m trying to build up a library of links to the best travel posts around. Those that really stand out. This one really made me go wow!
Such a colourful post Flo! I love the row of rainbow coloured buildings, behind the Blue House Cluster and the Choi Hung Estate! Such Insta worthy locations hehe 🙂
Thanks so much for checking this out, Priti!
Wow! First of all the pictures are extremely nice. I really like them. Also this post inspired me a lot because I plan to visit Hong Kong in the future. As a photographer I am always happy for some recommendations.
Hope you get to photograph these places (and more) – Hong Kong is extremely photogenic, I think you’d love it!
Some people consider colorful places to be a bit tacky and lacking a good taste – but my opinion is that they do bring life and originality to otherwise boring and neglected, gray concrete buildings. I love the blue building and the rainbow streets! Looks so cool! I saw one place that was post-communist (Tirana) and an artist painted all those gloomy concrete apartment blocks in variety of colors and designs – it is different and gives a unique touch to the city.
The blue building is full of history and charm – I hope you get to see it n person one day!
Ohh I love the rainbow stairs! What a beautiful & vibrant city to explore 🙂
It’s a seriously cool city – thanks for checking this out, Lena!
Hong Kong is such a fun and vibrant city. I’ve seen some of these before but completely missed the others. Love the Choi Hung Estate!
Hope you get to revisit the city soon!