Written From… A cold air-conditioned library in Brisbane CBD, Australia
The minute I touched down in Hong Kong I fell in love with the city – Luis and I were staying on the island. The atmosphere from the backstreet hustle and bustle around the stores, and the calm tranquil ambience of the harbour and surrounding parks, had me hooked from the start. I quickly decided that I’d be going back in the future for a longer period of time to really discover the beauty of the city.
This first time around, I only spent 4 days surrounded by the colourful skyscrapers, mountains and turquoise waters, but those 4 days where packed with exploring! If you’re going to Hong Kong as a final destination or you’re just there as part of a stop over, these are the 8 things I did, and totally recommend:
Victoria Peak was absolutely breathtaking once we got up to the summit. Maybe it was the fact that we accidentally hiked to the peak totally unprepared – we thought it was going to be a casual stroll through the park but oh boy were we wrong. I mean we didn’t even have water – but when we reached the top, hot, sweaty and tired, we couldn’t believe the view stretching out in front of us.
Luis standing at Victoria Peak – Photo by Megan Jessica, taken with Panasonic Lumix G7
We stood on the edge of the summit looking over the tallest skyscrapers in Hong Kong as they met with the foggy air in the upper regions of the sky. We went to the highest point of Victoria Peak – not the viewing deck of the Sky Terrace, but a natural platform at the end of a walking trail – which I would encourage doing. We must have spent a good 30 minutes up there and we were with no more than 3 people. We were able to peacefully take in the views and snap some pictures.
You can either choose to hike up to the view point, passing through Lung Fu Shan Country Park, crossing paths with joggers, dog walkers and cyclists – this park makes you feel as though you’ve left the city and entered a jungle – up to Victoria Peak park, and onto Victoria Peak itself. Or you can take the famous Peak Tram. The Peak tram is around $99 (HKD) for a return and you’ll be sure to see stunning views of the city as it climbs the mountain.
Temple Street Night Markets
South-East Asia is known for large markets. By visiting the Temple Street Night Market you’ll not only find stalls selling everything from clothing to gadgets, with street food and small bright stores lining the edges, but you’ll also be experiencing Hong Kong’s last ever night market.
Experience the hustle and bustle as people banter for a cheaper price, listen to the vendors shouting after you, and walk away with something truly memorable from your time in Hong Kong. The easiest way to get to the Temple Street Night Markets is to use the MTR and exit at Jordan Street.
Lantau Island is home to the famous Tian Tan Buddha, also known as The Big Buddha, and the Ngong Ping 360 cable car. I spent an entire day exploring the island and felt like a day just wasn’t enough. There is so much to do on Lantau! If you’re like me and want to stop and take pictures of everything, then I would recommend getting there as early as possible to make the most of the day.
Tian Tan Buddha – Photo by Megan Jessica, taken with Panasonic Lumix G7
Lantau Island was breathtaking, from the natural wonders that can be seen on route up the mountain on a the cable car, to the impeccable designs and details carved and painted on and in the Monastery. At every turn there was something new. As well as the Tian Tan Buddha, you’ll be able to walk around the Po Lin Monastery, Tai O village and the Wisdom Path. There are a number of tours you can book when you buy your cable car ticket that will ensure you get to see all parts of the island, or you can go alone and take your time to see whatever interests you.
Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery
Want to experience a path lined with 10,000 unique golden faces along every step up the Po Fook hill in the Sha Tin region of Hong Kong? I’d never experienced anything like this before, being greeted by a different Buddha in a different position at every step. After leaving the Sha Tin MTR station and walking through the back roads, cutting through a court yard lined with clean laundry hanging on a washing line, children playing and a small outdoor restaurant serving people, the Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery slowly became visible.
A few of the 10 thousand Buddhas – Photo by Megan Jessica, taken with Panasonic Lumix G7
Sitting high up the mountain the red paintwork boldy broke through the surrounding overgrown trees. The walk up to this Monastery isn’t easy, especially if you’ve spend the morning hiking to Victoria Peak like we did. We were so badly prepared that day it’s laughable and almost embarrassing! But once you get up there you’ll be greeted by a colourful monastery, many smaller places to worship, and if you’re lucky monkeys playing and swinging in the trees.
Walk along the harbour
A view down onto Hong Kong Harbour – Photo by Megan Jessica, taken with Panasonic Lumix G7
The harbour was one of the most tranquil places we found in Hong Kong. Wherever we go, we seem to be drawn to city rivers. It’s somewhere we can reflect and feel at peace for a while. On the walk along the harbour you can see the crisp, clear blue water, natives seated along the open steps threading worms onto their fishing rods, and fleets of boats sailing past, carrying either passengers or importing/exporting goods. It’s fascinating to see how a community interacts with a river in the modern age.
Kam Shan Country Park
Known in Hong Kong as Monkey Hill, it’s not just a normal country park. Consisting of 339 hectares, situated in the Sha Tin District, it’s the place to go for those wishing to see Macaque monkeys in their natural habitat swinging through the trees. You may also stumble upon old World War II remains, see native flora, and hear the song of the many birds who call this country park home.
Cruise on the Boat
You don’t have to book a cruise to hop on board one of Hong Kong’s many boats. A lot of the ferries leaving from the Central Ferry Pier are for use of the general public, taking everyone to and from the mainland and to the cluster of surrounding islands. I actually used these ferries to go to both Lantau Island and Lamma Island.
The beach that greeted us at Lamma Island- Photo by Megan Jessica, taken with Panasonic Lumix G7
Lamma Island was an unexpected pleasure for us when exploring Hong Kong’s surrounding islands. We wanted a relaxed day to take in the culture and experience some of the other sides Hong Kong has to offer. Boasting a beautiful beach, fishing village and lined with restaurants selling fresh seafood, we even contemplated staying on the island for a few days to really absorb the peaceful ambiance. Once you’ve left the boat docked at the pier you’ll find a map of the island listing 9 things to do on your visit.
Megan watching the sunset on the hotel rooftop – Photo by Luis Carrillo, taken with Panasonic Lumix G7
Hong Kong quickly became one of my favourite places. Watching the sunset above our hotel rooftop, the older generation exercising in and around the small parks, and the laughs and chatter of the millennials, I’ll be back to explore of this city one day.
Feature image: Megan Jessica
Megan is the Co-founder of Written From. Her love of travel stems from a childhood dream to experience life abroad, of discovering something new outside of her well known territory, London. Not only a traveler but also a web junky, Megan enjoys snapping pictures, designing and making websites, drinking copious amounts of tea and having a good weekend Netflix binge.