Because there’s much more to see than Victoria Peak – read on for the hidden gems and non touristy things to do in Hong Kong!
The Big Buddha, Avenue of Stars, the Peak, Man Mo Temple, Stanley Market, Temple Street…these are but a few of the typical “Top 10” places to visit in Hong Kong that you always hear or read about (click here to read more about these top iconic Hong Kong sights).
Not to say that they aren’t spectacular and fun, but there are a whole host of off-the-beaten-path places to visit and things to do in Hong Kong that the guide books don’t tell you about.
If you’re planning a trip and putting together your Hong Kong itinerary, I’ve teamed up with some fellow travel aficionados to put together this list of unique things to do in Hong Kong (that you might not have thought of doing or known about). But first, a quick refresher on basic Hong Kong travel tips!
Quick tips for traveling to 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. 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 20% 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 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 scattered 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 to stay connected. The easiest way to do that is via Klook – you can get a Hong Kong tourist SIM card and pick it up from the airport on arrival. You can use Google Maps to find your way around the city, or even track public transportation schedules to make it easier to get from A to B.
🚗 Getting around Hong Kong is easy. Public transportation is efficient, cheap and clean, and the network is very extensive. 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. 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! If you’re planning on traveling to Hong Kong again at some point, just hang onto the card for your next trip.
Taxis are cheap as well if you are in a hurry, with fares starting at just under US$4, but make sure you have enough cash as 99% of taxi drivers do not accept the Hong Kong Octopus stored value card or credit/debit cards. Taxi drivers in Hong Kong are also sometimes reluctant to accept large denomination notes, and you’ll need to let them know if you don’t have anything smaller than a $100 note before you get in as they may not have enough change.
🌤️ Hong Kong gets 4 distinct seasons! It is not a year-round tropical country as many people seem to believe. Summers are sweltering hot and it gets fairly cold during the winter months (December to February). The best time to visit Hong Kong for milder weather is from March to early June, and September to November (but you may want to avoid the 1st week of May and 1st week of October as the city can get busy during China’s “Golden Week” holidays).
🌐 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 where to stay in Hong Kong? Most visitors opt to book hotels on Hong Kong Island or on Kowloon side. Look into hotels in Wan Chai, Central, Soho, Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay for maximum convenience and easy access to public transportation!
I’m a big fan of The Fleming, a Hong Kong-inspired boutique hotel in Wan Chai; Little Tai Hang, a modern boutique hotel on the fringe of Causeway Bay in a peaceful enclave called Tai Hang; and Ovolo Central, a funky boutique hotel in the urban heart of the city. For an upscale option head to The Murray for a luxury stay in a heritage building. Here are some other incredible boutique hotels in Hong Kong (tried and tested by yours truly), or you can also click here to book accommodation in Hong Kong.
For a full list of things you ought to know before your trip, head on over here for important things to know before visiting Hong Kong or read my guide on common Hong Kong travel mistakes to avoid!
20 things to do in Hong Kong that are off the beaten track
Want to avoid the tourist traps in Hong Kong? It’s not difficult to explore Hong Kong off the beaten path, you just have to know where to go. Keep reading so that you can plan your unique Hong Kong itinerary!
1. Visit Sham Shui Po
One of the best places to take visitors to is Sham Shui Po, a Hong Kong hidden gem. This colourful Kowloon locality is one of the poorest of all the districts in Hong Kong and provides a stark contrast to the glitz and glam of the Central skyscrapers.
Each street specialises in different goods, from kids clothes and suitcases, decorations to match the season, electronics of every kind, craft and jewelry making supplies and every fabric under the sun.
For an even more immersive experience go for a walk through the busy wet market to see fish fillets so fresh the hearts are still beating, every manner of sea creature and literally every part of the pig in the pork butchery. If that’s not your scene you can go on a Michelin foodie hunt with the famous Tim Ho Wan dim sum and new inclusions to the street food guide Kung Wo Tofu and Soybean shop and Kwan Kee dessert shop.
Hit up Sham Shui Po in the afternoon or early evening to see daily life in full swing – there are plenty of opportunities for Hong Kong street photography around every corner.
Contributed by Jess of Expat Getaways
2. Go on a sunset cruise on the Aqua Luna
Going on a traditional Chinese junk is one of the most unique things to do in Hong Kong. The stunning red sails of the Aqua Luna are iconic and clearly visible every night as it sails up and down Victoria Harbour. It’s one of the last remaining red-sail Chinese junk boats and has been refurbished to take passengers on short harbour cruises.
Tickets are HKD$220 (approximately US$28) and includes 1 standard alcoholic beverage. The boat leaves from both sides of the harbour and you can get 10-15% off your harbour cruise if you book online here!
Prefer to stay on land? Not to worry, there are plenty of incredible rooftop bars in Hong Kong. Click here for some of my favorite rooftop bars to grab a drink at.
Going on a Hong Kong harbour cruise is one of the best things to add to your itinerary, whether its your first time to Hong Kong or your 10th! Click here to read up on the various Hong Kong Victoria Harbour cruise options!
3. Head up to Victoria Peak gardens
One of my favorite destinations in Hong Kong is Victoria Peak gardens – not the famous Victoria peak you most probably know. It is not on the common tourist trail but it is one of the best Hong Kong hidden gems. To get there, keep left when you reach Victoria Peak Observatory/Peak Tower and walk up the road for 10-15 minutes before you see a set of stairs. Keep your eyes peeled, since these stairs are barely visible.
Once you’ve taken them, you’ll get to Victoria Peak gardens, but don’t stop! You’ve got to climb up the hill, because when you get on top of it, you’ll see a wonderful nearly 360-degree panoramic view of Hong Kong. And most probably, you’ll be there completely alone and can enjoy the view in silence.
Contributed by Liza of Tripsget
Looking to pair the amazing views of Hong Kong with a good glass of wine? Click here to find out where the best rooftop and outdoor bars are in Hong Kong!
4. Walk around Lugard Road
This is one of those hidden places in Hong Kong that most tourists don’t know about. If it’s beautiful views you’re after, skip the hordes of people at the Peak Tower and take a stroll along Lugard Road instead.
Lugard Road is right next to the Peak Tower and offers a leisurely, mostly-shaded stroll around the Peak. I have two small dachshunds and this is one of my favorite places to take them – they get a nice, long walk and I get unparalleled views: a win-win!
The leisurely walk takes around 90 minutes to complete and loops right back to where you started. About mid-way through the walk you will reach a small park and a fork in the road, take the path on the right hand side and keep walking.
You might also like: The Best Short Hikes in Hong Kong With Amazing Views (That Aren’t Too Strenuous!)
A few more minutes and you’ll get to a long cliff-side path for breathtaking, unobstructed panoramic views of Hong Kong. The view from these lookout points are, in my opinion, much better than those from the Peak Tower!
Looking for a convenient and safe place to stay in Hong Kong? Look into hotels in Wan Chai, Central, Soho, Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay – click here to book accommodation in Hong Kong!
You may want to check out Ovolo Central (a boutique hotel right above Lan Kwai Fong with a view over Tai Kwun), The Hari (a sophisticated luxury hotel steps away from Wan Chai MTR station) or The Figo (a budget-friendly quirky boutique studio located between Sai Ying Pun and Sheung Wan).
5. Check out all the street art
Over the past few years, street art has really taken off in Hong Kong and there are lots of beautiful pieces scattered around Soho, Wan Chai, Sai Ying Pun and further afield. You can easily spend a few afternoons walking around different neighborhoods and stumbling upon funky and colorful street art.
Going on a self-guided street art tour is one of the coolest things to do in Hong Kong. In Central, start at Graham Street and walk along Hollywood Road towards Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun.
In Wan Chai, start on Queen’s Road East and make your way towards Morrison Hill Swimming Pool – make sure you explore all the different side streets: honestly the fun is in wandering around and spotting the pieces on your own! You can read more about other cool things to do in Wan Chai here.
Have more time? Head over to the warehouse district of Wong Chuk Hang, wander through the markets of Sham Shui Po and seaside town of Sai Kung.
Hong Kong has incredibly colourful places to explore. Click here for a local’s guide to the most colourful places to visit in Hong Kong
6. Take a ferry to Cheung Chau Island
Rich in pirate tales, the island of Cheung Chau is a quiet escape where fishing boats bob in the harbour and beach sports are a popular pastime.
Bicycles are the main mode of transport and you’ll find life is lived at a much slower pace until the annual Bun Festival celebrations when the island is home to one of the craziest (and tastiest) festivals in the world.
The ferry from Hong Kong Island to Cheung Chau leaves from Central Pier 5 and the journey takes about 30 minutes if you hop on a fast ferry, and an hour if you get on a slow one. The ferry schedule is available here.
Contributed by Lisa of The Wandering Lens
For even more easy Hong Kong day trip ideas head on over here!
7. Explore PMQ
PMQ is a complex in Soho that has become a creative hub for local designers and funky brands and products. PMQ stands for “Police Married Quarters” as it used to house married junior police officers before being emptied in the year 2000.
It sat there until it was revitalized as a heritage site and was opened to the public in 2014. It is now home to about 100 different design galleries, shops, exhibits and boutiques with an emphasis on homegrown designers and brands.
PMQ is a great place to pick up unique gifts and check out cool storefronts – the complex is always hustling and bustling over the weekends with pop-up exhibits and workshops, so even if you don’t buy anything, you never leave empty-handed. It’s one of the best unique places to visit in Hong Kong as there’s something for everyone.
8. Walk around Tai Kwun
Like PMQ, Tai Kwun is a heritage site that used to serve an entirely different purpose and one of the most unique places to visit in Hong Kong. Tai Kwun is just a few steps away from PMQ and opened to the public in May 2018 after years of extensive renovation.
The massive complex dates back to the mid-1800s and used to be the Central police station, prison and magistracy.
Today, the buildings have been revitalized and preserved, and has been converted into a heritage & arts centre.
It is one of the most underrated places in Hong Kong and is filled with many art and history exhibits throughout the complex as well as plenty of shops, restaurants and bars – I loved the cocktails at Dragonfly, and it is now home to the newly reopened Hong Kong speakeasy, 001.
Give yourself a solid 1-2 hours to soak in everything it has to offer! Entry is free.
Wondering where to stay in Hong Kong? Look into hotels in Wan Chai, Central, Soho, Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay so you have easy access to public transportation – click here to book accommodation in Hong Kong!
You may want to check out TUVE (a small industrial-chic boutique hotel just next to Causeway Bay), Little Tai Hang (a boutique hotel and serviced apartment complex tucked away from the hustle and bustle) or The Fleming (featuring Hong Kong-inspired decor and design in Wan Chai).
9. Eat egg waffles
Egg waffles are a type of waffle created by a store owner who was trying to find a way to use up the leftover eggs, flour, sugar and milk back in the 50s. The name is derived from their shape, which is also called bubble waffle or eggettes.
Nowadays, you can get egg waffles at almost any corner street food stores and it comes in a variety of flavours.
In fact, some stores even have some whacky-yet-delightful flavours such as orange chocolate, pandan, pineapple and even meatfloss and sesame.
Contributed by Nam of Laugh Travel Eat
10. Chase waterfalls
There are beaches, waterfalls and hiking trails just outside of Hong Kong’s CBD – it may surprise you to learn that Hong Kong is a perfect blend of nature and the city!
I don’t know anybody who doesn’t love a good waterfall, and this is one of the top Hong Kong hidden gems that most visitors don’t know about. Sheung Luk Stream in Tai Long Wan is a great Hong Kong day trip destination if you’re looking to get out of the city and bask in nature.
If you are visiting Hong Kong from May to about October/November, aim to head here on a weekday as you’re almost guaranteed to have the place to yourself. The best thing about this one is that you can swim in the cascading pools of fresh water!
To get off the beaten path in Hong Kong and make the long journey to Tai Long Wan and Sheung Luk waterfall, take the MTR (subway) to Choi Hung Station and then hop in a taxi to Sai Wan Pavilion (Sai Wan Ting).
Take the path on the right and follow it for about 45 minutes to get to Sai Wan beach. Once you’re at the beach go to one of the local shops to pre-purchase your boat ticket back to Sai Kung as they tend to fill up fast.
After you’ve bought your ticket, head left down the beach and turn towards the woods. The waterfall is another 10-15 minute walk from the beach and you will need to climb over a few jagged hill faces to get to it so wear comfortable walking shoes.
More detailed instructions on how to get to Sheung Luk Stream are available on Hike Hong Kong.
11. Go for high tea at the Mandarin Oriental
Delve into Hong Kong’s British colonial history by sipping on tea and stuffing your face: one of the most popular places for afternoon high tea in Hong Kong is the Peninsula Hotel…however, I much prefer the high tea at the Mandarin Oriental in Central. We have been going to Clipper Lounge for high tea ever since we were little and it was always such a treat.
While the prices aren’t exactly cheap, the sandwiches, cakes and pastries are delicious. The star of the show, however, would have to be their raisin scones with rose jam and clotted cream. Unlike the Peninsula, you can actually book a table at the Clipper Lounge so you don’t have to wait around like a chump.
Note that there are 2 Mandarin Oriental hotels in Central – the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and the Landmark Mandarin Oriental – you want to head to the original Mandarin Oriental. Just tell your taxi driver, “Gau Mun Wah”.
12. Try to spot pink dolphins
Pink dolphins in Hong Kong were first recorded in the Pearl River Estuary by explorer Peter Mundy in the early 17th century, and they are also known as the Chinese White Dolphin. They are called the Hong Kong Pink Dolphin because they appear light pink in colour.
One of the most unique hidden gems in Hong Kong, the population has dwindled with fewer than 50 left in Hong Kong waters. These dolphins can be spotted in the wild just off the coast of Lantau Island.
Going on a pink dolphin watching tour is one of the most unique things to do in Hong Kong, but make sure you go with an ethical and responsible dolphin watching tour. I recommend Hong Kong Dolphinwatch – you can read more about the Hong Kong pink dolphin by clicking here!
Don’t go on a cheap pink dolphin tour to save a few bucks. Click here for even more things to avoid doing in Hong Kong!
13. Check out The Mills
The Mills is a heritage landmark that used to be working textile factories back in the day. Today, it is a hub for retail shops, business incubation and a number of restaurants and coffee shops.
The Mills complex was painstakingly revitalized to preserve its heritage and architecture – for instance, original staircases, signage and window frames were restored and maintained, while other elements were repurposed into benches, signage and so on.
Not only does it feature stunning architectural features, it also showcases some seriously retro and vintage-inspired street art. It recently opened to the public at the beginning of 2019, and if you have a day to spare it’s a great place to grab a coffee, check out the murals and immerse yourself in a part of old Hong Kong. Though it has been around for a few years it still remains one of the more hidden places in Hong Kong due to its more far-flung location in Tsuen Wan.
The easiest way to get to The Mills is via the MTR on the red line – take the subway all the way to Tsuen Wan station at the end of the line, and from there it is a short 10-15 minute walk away. Alternatively, The Mills also offers shuttle buses from Tsuen Wan station exit A4 – check the bus schedule here.
Want to see the iconic sights in Hong Kong for first time visitors? Head on over here!
14. Pick your own strawberries
Hong Kong is home to several organic farms where you can go strawberry picking – it’s a great day trip for adults and children alike, and the strawberries are gobsmackingly good! If you want to get off the beaten path in Hong Kong, venture out to the New Territories (near the border between Hong Kong and Mainland China) where a number of these farms are located.
Some farms offer small picnic areas for you to enjoy a leisurely afternoon with the fruits of your labour, but there’s a catch: strawberries are only available from mid-December to April. Read more about strawberry picking in Hong Kong here.
15. Learn about Cantonese opera
The Xiqu Centre is a new arts centre designed to conserve, promote and develop Cantonese opera and other genres of xiqu (Chinese traditional theatre) in Hong Kong and beyond. The spaceship-esque building is one of the most unique places to visit in Hong Kong and features a main entrance that resembles parted stage curtains.
You can go on an hour-long guided tour (currently open to registered schools, non-profits, and charitable organizations though they may open to the public again) through the building to learn about the design elements as well as about the history and features of Cantonese opera – did you know that Hong Kong performers usually do their own makeup, and that different characters use different styles of makeup, colours and costumes?
If you want to delve a little deeper, check out the “Tea House Experience”, a 90-minute performance showcasing a selection of short excerpts. It also includes narration by an expert moderator to help newcomers to Cantonese opera gain insight into the history of the art form.
To recreate the warm, authentic atmosphere of Hong Kong’s early 20th century tea houses, audiences are served traditional tea and dim sum during the performance.
Editor’s note: The Tea House Experience is not currently a regular event on the event schedule as of 2023.
Xiqu Centre can be reached via MTR. Take the subway to the Austin MTR station and take exit F. For easy access to public transportation in Hong Kong, look into hotels in Wan Chai, Central, Soho, Sheung Wan or Causeway Bay.
You may want to check out Ovolo Central (a boutique hotel right above Lan Kwai Fong with a view over Tai Kwun), The Hari (a sophisticated luxury hotel steps away from Wan Chai MTR station) or The Figo (a budget-friendly quirky boutique studio located between Sai Ying Pun and Sheung Wan). Click here to see highly rated accommodation options in Hong Kong!
16. Try some local and Asian desserts
If you’re a dessert fiend, make sure you hit up a few of these spots and try out some yummy Asian desserts the next time you visit Hong Kong. Most of these dessert dishes are hard to find outside of Hong Kong, and many of them have been homemade over generations.
Don’t miss “Yeung Zee Gum Lo”, a classic mango and pomelo sago dessert, or “Dou Fou Fa”, a tofu-based pudding. Click here for more delicious Asian desserts in Hong Kong!
17. Nerd out with all the gadgets
Hong Kong is one of the best places to buy electronic gadgets and accessories. If you’re a photographer, go camera and second hand lens shopping at Sim City in Mong Kok, but make sure you shop around before you make a purchase. Insider tip: the top floors tend to be cheaper, and the shopkeepers tend to be friendlier. Make sure you also bring your own camera to test a second hand lens out.
If you want to buy any tech accessories, head to Wanchai Computer Centre, a multi-level mall with dozens of shops filled with everything you could ever need. Looking for a new charging cable? Wanchai Computer Centre will have it. Need replacement blades for your drone? Yep, you’ll find it here.
18. Tour the Aberdeen Fishing Village
This tour in Hong Kong offers a glimpse into the maritime heritage and traditional fishing lifestyle of the city. The Aberdeen Fishing Village tour allows you to experience Hong Kong off the beaten track – the tour begins in the typhoon shelter aboard a Chinese sampan boat, and sails around the village with an informative audio guide in Cantonese, English, Mandarin or Japanese.
Afterwards, you are taken to a traditional houseboat with cultural relics on display to immerse yourself in what it was once like living aboard one of the 2,000 houseboats back in the 1960s. For a unique experience in Hong Kong, book this tour to learn about this lesser-known cultural heritage of the “Fragrant Harbour”.
The tour takes approximately an hour, after which you can visit the nearby Hung Shing Temple dating back to 1773, one of the oldest remaining temples in Hong Kong.
Update June 2022: Regrettably the Jumbo Floating Restaurant is no longer. The floating landmark has been towed away due to shutting as a result of lack of business a few years ago, and a subsequent lack of revitalization funds to bring it back to life. The tour will still however take you around the Aberdeen harbour and tour a traditional houseboat.
19. Check out a restored market
Like PMQ and Tai Kwun, Central Market is a heritage building that underwent significant restoration and conservation works and recently re-opened to the community in mid-2021. This 80-year old building was one of the city’s fresh food markets, and though its exterior is somewhat unassuming, the interior has been jazzed up with an assortment of homegrown boutiques and casual eateries.
The urban space is also set to host events, performances, workshops and monthly guided tours for anyone looking for an in-depth look at the story of Central Market. Check out the event calendar for more details on upcoming festivities.
20. Grab a board and go surfing
Yes, really! Surfing is one of the more unusual things to do in Hong Kong that most people don’t know about. Hong Kong has some of the best beaches in Asia, and while the surfing conditions are nothing compared to what you might get on a consistent basis in Australia, Sri Lanka, Hawaii or Bali, there are a few spots around the city where the die-hard surfers congregate.
If you want to try your hand at surfing in Hong Kong, head to the aptly named “Big Wave Bay” in Shek O, or Sai Wan Beach in Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung. You can rent a board from either one of these spots and paddle out for a fun surf.
The best time to surf in Hong Kong is from about October to April (though the swell generally tends to be on the smaller side), but freak typhoon swells during the summer months are not unheard of if you’re looking for more advanced conditions! Even if the waves aren’t perfect, how many people can say that they’ve been surfing in Hong Kong?
Ready to book your trip to Hong Kong? Click here for more accommodation options! I’m a fan of The Fleming, a Hong Kong-inspired boutique hotel in Wan Chai; Little Tai Hang, a modern boutique hotel on the fringe of Causeway Bay in a peaceful enclave called Tai Hang; and Ovolo Central, a boutique hotel in the urban heart of the city. For an upscale luxury option head to The Murray for stylish furnishings in a heritage building. Here are some other tried-and-tested boutique hotels in Hong Kong for a unique city stay.
I told you there was plenty to do in Hong Kong off the beaten path! Have you been to Hong Kong before? What are some other cool and unique things you would recommend? Share them in the comments section below.
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 – take it from a local!
- Looking for some day trips from Hong Kong that don’t involve too much hassle? Check out this list
- Are you an avid photographer? Arm yourself with a phone or camera and go hunting for the top street photography spots in Hong Kong
- Try not to drool all over your keyboard – these are some of the best places to eat and drink in Hong Kong!
Pin this for later!
This article contains affiliate links. If you choose to book using these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my website by using these links!
Enjoyed reading this article? Subscribe to the mailing list!
* Unsubscribe at any time. Your e-mail address will only ever be used to send the occasional Yoga, Wine & Travel newsletter.