Hong Kong is, undeniably, one of the most photogenic places in the world. What makes this city unique is the effortless fusion of old and new, delicate blend of traditional and modern, and amalgamation of Asian and Western elements.
While the picture-perfect skyline is captivating, some of my favourite photos of Hong Kong were not taken at the “Instagram-famous” hotspots; instead, they were taken down quiet side streets or of the everyday hustle-and-bustle that the city is known for.
After 30 years in the city I have scoured high and low for some of the most magnetic Hong Kong photography spots. Let me show you why Hong Kong is the perfect place to wander around with a camera or your smartphone – if you love street photography then you’re going to fall head over heels for this vibrant city.
Must-know tips for visiting Hong Kong
✈️ To get into Hong Kong you’ll need to fly into Hong Kong International Airport. A cab from the airport to the city costs approximately HK$350-450 and typically takes less than 45 minutes/1 hour from door-to-door, or you can pre-book your private airport pick up or drop off here.
However, the best way to get to and from the airport is via the Airport Express train which stops in Tsing Yi, Kowloon and Hong Kong Island – it takes just 24 minutes from end to end! Get 20% off your Airport Express ticket and 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 to swipe through the special gates equipped with the QR reader.
🛂 Most visitors to Hong Kong do not require a visa for entry. See here for more details.
💱 The local currency is the Hong Kong dollar. Most places accept Visa or Mastercard, and I’d say 40-50% of places will also accept American Express. There are tons of ATM machines around Hong Kong, just make sure you’ve enabled international withdrawal or your card has the “Plus” or “Cirrus” logo on the back.
🎟️ You pretty much never have to pay full price for admissions tickets in Hong Kong as most tour operators, car charters, spas and major attractions are listed on Klook. Just click here and search for places you want to go, and book online for discounted entry or head on over here to read more about how to use Klook to book travel experiences.
📱 Buy a local SIM card. The easiest way to do that is via Klook – you can get a 7 day Hong Kong tourist SIM card and pick it up from the airport on arrival.
🚗 Getting around Hong Kong is easy. Public transportation is efficient, cheap and clean, and the network is very extensive. Taxis are inexpensive as well if you are in a hurry and need to get from A to B quickly.
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 buy your pre-loaded tourist Octopus card in advance here – just pick it up from the airport when you arrive.
🌤️ Hong Kong gets 4 seasons so don’t make the common Hong Kong travel mistake of forgetting a coat during the winter months from December to February. The “best time to visit” Hong Kong is from March to early June when the weather is slightly milder, and September to November or early December when the air is crisp and humidity tends to be lower.
🌐 Language in Hong Kong: 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.
🗓️ Wondering how many days to spend in Hong Kong? For a first time visitor looking to visit the top attractions in Hong Kong I would recommend spending no fewer than 3-4 days in the city. If you plan on embarking on any Hong Kong day trips or exploring the city off the beaten track, set aside anywhere from 5-10 days for your Hong Kong itinerary.
🛏️ Booking hotels in Hong Kong: Most visitors opt to book hotels on Hong Kong Island or on Kowloon side. Click here to book accommodation or check out these tried-and-tested boutique hotels in Hong Kong!
There are some fantastic boutique hotels in Hong Kong: I’m a fan of The Fleming (a boutique hotel in Wan Chai which features Hong Kong-inspired design and décor); The Hari (a sophisticated hotel with functional, stylish rooms); Little Tai Hang (a modern, cozy hotel in a quiet neighborhood on the edge of Causeway Bay; Tuve (an industrial-chic boutique hotel in Causeway Bay); Ovolo Central (a funky homegrown hotel in the heart of Central); as well as The Murray (a luxury heritage hotel between Central and Admiralty, within walking distance of Hong Kong Park).
You might also like: top things to know before visiting Hong Kong
Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, read on for some of the best places for street photography in Hong Kong!
1. Wan Chai
Wan Chai is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Hong Kong. Scattered between monuments of modern architecture are heritage buildings, traditional mom and pop shops, an electric wet market, and plenty of hidden gems. It’s one of those rare places that are just as vibrant at night as it is during the day.
Don’t miss the outdoor market in Wan Chai, the Gresson Street flower market and the Pawn (now Woo Cheong Tea House) heritage building.
I don’t typically take many portrait street photography shots, but tucked away down certain alleyways in Wan Chai are some traditional street barbers, locksmiths and watch repair stalls that are manned by experienced craftsmen who would be incredible to capture (with their permission, of course).
Where to stay in Wan Chai: Check out The Fleming boutique hotel, a property that pays homage to the city’s maritime heritage and incorporates Hong Kong-themed elements into the room design and décor. It’s the perfect base for urban exploration on foot in the city. Check out availability and rates at The Fleming here.
I also highly recommend The Hari, an upscale hotel for city slickers who appreciate the finer things in life. The rooms are well-appointed and are conveniently located at the junction between Wan Chai and Causeway Bay. Check out availability and current rates at The Hari here.
2. Tai Hang
Tai Hang is a quiet enclave sandwiched between Tin Hau and Causeway Bay. There are a number of excellent local cha chaan tengs, bakeries and coffee shops tucked away in each of the parallel streets, and I love stopping by to slow down and get away from the crowds.
Tai Hang is also known for the many mechanic and auto repair shops dotted around the neighborhood – if you’re lucky you might spot a vintage car or two during your visit!
Where to stay in Tai Hang: There’s only one obvious place to rest your head here, and that’s at Little Tai Hang. This boutique hotel feels like a “home away from home”, and is sophisticated yet incredibly cozy. The perfect boutique hotel for visitors to explore the quiet neighborhood. Check out current rates and availability at Little Tai Hang.
3. Sham Shui Po
This is one of my favourite photography spots in Hong Kong, and I could easily lose a few hours of my day walking around and snapping away.
This is one of those places where you can’t go wrong by pointing and shooting – some of these shots even surprised me when I got home and started editing!
From the markets to the street art and crafts stalls, there are endless opportunities for Hong Kong street photography in Sham Shui Po with every corner screaming out for your attention.
4. Ap Lei Chau
Ap Lei Chau is an island off the south side of Hong Kong. Once a traditional fishing village, Ap Lei Chau has seen heavy investment in recent years with a shiny new subway line and flashy housing developments.
However, the main street that runs through Ap Lai Chau is still a hub of activity with its bustling market, and the Aberdeen Fishing Village and marina is lined with traditional fishing vessels, houseboats and Chinese sampans.
You can take a glimpse into the maritime heritage and traditional fishing lifestyle of the city by going on the Aberdeen Fishing Village tour which begins in the typhoon shelter.
Hong Kong is incredibly colourful and diverse. Click here for a local’s guide to the most colourful places to visit in Hong Kong or read this guide for where to see the best street art in Hong Kong
5. Sai Kung
Not typically on most tourist radars is the far-flung district of Sai Kung. This area is home to some of the best beaches in Hong Kong as well as pristine country parks offering incredible hiking trails and waterfalls.
It also happens to be one of the best places for street photography in Hong Kong – head to the marina lined with fishermen selling fresh daily catch, and charming shop-lined old town of Sai Kung Village.
Looking to add more things to do to your Hong Kong itinerary and truly want to get off the beaten track? Read on for amazing Hong Kong day trips that don’t involve too much hassle and travel time!
6. Mong Kok
Mong Kok is a popular stomping ground for street photographers in Hong Kong, as it offers a variety of scenes waiting to be captured.
This foot traffic-heavy neighborhood is constantly buzzing with people looking for a bargain at one of its many street markets, and the nearby Temple Street is one of the most popular night markets in the city.
Don’t miss Flower Market Road, especially before and during the Chinese New Year when the shops bring out some of their best festival decorations, or head to Fa Yuen Street for a bird’s eye view of the bustling market.
7. Cheung Chau and Peng Chau
These outlying islands of Hong Kong offer a slower pace and laidback atmosphere. Cheung Chau is an easy 30-minute ferry ride away from Hong Kong island.
Its harbour is lined with rows and rows of colourful fishing boats, and its narrow streets are flanked by local homeware and grocery shops selling everyday wares, seafood restaurants and hipster coffee shops. The weekends can get busy, so head to Cheung Chau on a weekday to capture the sleepier side of the island.
Peng Chau is an even smaller island off the coast of Lantau, just half the size of Cheung Chau.
This tiny isle has a handful of landmarks, but what makes it different from the other popular Hong Kong day trip destinations is its relaxing atmosphere – no one is in a rush, and you’re able to slow down as you wind and weave through its alleyways and residential pockets.
8. Sai Ying Pun
Sai Ying Pun is sandwiched between Sheung Wan and Kennedy Town, and offers a curious hybrid of traditional neighborhood shops selling dried seafood and Chinese herbs, as well as some of Hong Kong’s hippest restaurants, art galleries, bars and speakeasies.
Dotted around Sai Ying Pun is some of the best street art in Hong Kong, and a constant flurry of activity along Des Voeux Road West and Queen’s Road West.
Grab your phone or camera and go for an aimless jaunt through Sai Ying Pun – you’ll find that there are many spots for Hong Kong street photography. You’ll also love the adorable resident cats that hang out at many of the dried seafood shops!
Where to stay in Sai Ying Pun: Ready to grab your camera and go for a walk through the neighborhood? Check out The Figo, a playful boutique hotel close to all of the district’s main attractions and cool cafes. Check out current rates and availability at The Figo here. You might also want to consider checking out Ovolo Central which is a leisurely 20 minute walk from Sai Ying Pun. Check out rates and availability at Ovolo Central.
Planning a trip to Hong Kong? You might also find these guides helpful:
- The best things to do and places to visit in Hong Kong aren’t ALL necessarily in the heart of the city! Here are 11 things you should know before your trip
- Be a smart traveler and avoid these common Hong Kong travel mistakes
- Want to see the quintessential, iconic sights of the city? Here are 8 things you must do and see in Hong Kong if you’re a first-time visitor
- Not sure where to stay? Here are my top Hong Kong boutique hotel picks
- Looking for some day trips from Hong Kong that don’t involve too much hassle? Check out this list
- Try not to drool all over your keyboard – these are some of the best places to eat and drink in Hong Kong
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