The Best Places to Visit in Hong Kong, According to a Local Guide

This Hong Kong Local Shares Her Recommended Places & Activities for Tourists

Find out her favourite spots in the city — some of which are not in the guide books.

“If there’s one word to describe Hong Kong, it would be ‘home,’” says HK-born and -raised Filipino writer, Jianne Soriano. “Being a third-culture kid, looking for a sense of belonging in a place where I’m considered a ‘minority’ — despite being a local — feels like a lifelong journey. But to me, Hong Kong is always home.” That said, we can’t think of a better person to ask about the best places to visit in Hong Kong. 

Jianne cycling in Cheung Chau.

Read on and find out some of the best, off-the-beaten-track experiences, IG-worthy attractions, natural escapes, cafes, and shopping destinations in Hong Kong recommended by Jianne.

Also read: 10 Affordable Airbnb Apartments in Hong Kong for Budget Travellers

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Her recommended Hong Kong sightseeing experiences

1. Taking the Star Ferry to see Victoria Harbour

places to visit in hong kong

A view of Victoria Harbour onboard the Star Ferry | Image credit (right): Houses Cheung

“More than places, I’d recommend experiences,” shares Jianne. For her, taking the Star Ferry is the best way to see the iconic Victoria Harbour. “I love taking ferry rides because it’s not every day that I can do so. And because the Star Ferry is on the verge of disappearing (thankfully still here), I encourage people to take it.”

For more than 12 decades, the Star Ferry has voyaged from the Kowloon Peninsula’s southern tip to Hong Kong Island. For those who don’t know, Hong Kong Island is the main and southern part of the region and is home to many major attractions such as the aforementioned Victoria Harbour. That said, if you’re visiting HK for the first time, head to the above level of the ferry to fully absorb the vista. 

2. Hiking up The Peak to see Hong Kong’s stunning skyline

places to visit in hong kong

Image credit: Viraj Rajankar

“There are many ‘must’ in various guidebooks about Hong Kong, such as The Peak or The Big Buddha. And while I think these can be overrated at times, it makes sense for first-timers to visit these, especially if they’re short on time.”

The Peak boasts an unobstructed panorama of the city and Victoria Harbour, making it one of the most popular places in Hong Kong for sightseeing, both day and night. While there is The Peak Tram available, you can also hike up the 552-metre-high mountain which gives you a more unique and rewarding Hong Kong sightseeing experience. 

3. Art-hopping around Sheung Wan, PMQ, and/or Tai Kwun

Tai Kwun (left) boasts amazing architectural design. | Image credit (right): PMQ 元創方 Official Facebook Page

Checking out artworks in the areas of Sheung Wan, PMQ, and Tai Kwun is another experience that Jianne recommends for both first-time visitors and returning travellers. It’s all a matter of which type of art you’re looking for! Sheung Wan is home to tons of art galleries, museums, and street murals, such as Liang Yi Museum, Blue Lotus Gallery, and Contemporary by Angela Li

Formerly called the Police Married Quarters, PMQ is now a vibrant arts and dining hub in Hong Kong. This space is home to artsy studios and galleries like Odds and Ends, Reborn, and Korean Cultural Centre

The arts and cultural heart of Hong Kong, Tai Kwun is another must-visit destination for art lovers. Situated in Central and Sheung Wan, it is easily accessible via public transport like MTR and the bus. With the compound’s plentiful art exhibitions, IG-worthy revitalised heritage buildings, as well as antique shops, restaurants and bars, no wonder it’s one of the must-go places to visit in Hong Kong on Jianne’s list.

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IG-worthy places to visit in Hong Kong for tourists

1. Artlane in Sai Ying Pun

“I love murals, so I find the Artlane in Sai Ying Pun much better than the murals around Sheung Wan,” Jianne explains. To get here via public transport, take the MTR Island Line to Sai Ying Pun Station and head out Exit B3. That’s where you’ll find these colourful, rejuvenated old buildings. “Most locals would know about [these places to visit in Hong Kong], so some recommendations [such as this] are more for tourists.”

Address: Hong Kong, Sai Ying Pun, Chung Ching St, 8號奇靈里石棧里 ONE ARTLANE, SHOP NO.2 & 2A

2. Chi Lin Nunnery

Love walking in a beautiful garden with amazing architecture? Check out the Instagrammable Chi Lin Nunnery, an attraction with a sophisticated garden design. It was founded in the 1930s and then rebuilt in 1998, which followed the traditional Tang Dynasty architecture. Think a combination of brick and stones and symmetry in every silhouette. It’s also connected to Nan Lian Garden, another similar city park by a footbridge.

Address: Chi Lin Nunnery, 5 Chi Lin Dr, Sheung Yuen Leng, Hong Kong

3. Shek Kip Mei Estate

Image credit: Qwer132477

“I used to go to Shek Kip Mei Estate quite often as my university was nearby. I particularly love the affordable restaurants there, especially when I was a student!” shared Jianne.

These pastel-coloured buildings are undoubtedly picturesque that make for fun Insta-worthy travel photos. Yet, these are also among the more underrated places to visit in Hong Kong. Go cafe-hopping and shop at the traditional Shek Kip Mei Wet Market

Fun fact: Shek Kip Mei Estate was also the first public housing estate in Hong Kong. 

Address: Woh Chai St, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

4. Shun Sum Yuen

For tourists travelling to Hong Kong during summertime, Jianne recommends Shun Sum Yuen, another lesser-known gem that is worth a visit. This scenic farm features a sunflower field, a rice field, waterlilies, and other stunning flowers that will leave you in awe. 

Address: Siu Hum Tsuen, San Tin, Hong Kong

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Her favourite cafes in Hong Kong

1. T.w.i.g in Wan Chai

When asked what her go-to cafes in Hong Kong are, t.w.i.g in Wan Chai is the first on Jianne’s list. This minimalist hangout spot features various food options, including pastries, healthy brunch, pasta, and waffle dishes. “Quiet, good place for working, and tasty menu,” she described, adding that the waffle chicken is her favourite. 

Address: Shop A2, G/F, 4 Swatow St, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Opening hours: 9am to 6pm (Monday to Thursday); 9am to 7pm (Friday to Sunday)

2. Bite by Bite in Mong Kok

Tasty snacks at Bite by Bite and its playground-inspired interiors

An eatery that offers both local street snacks and desserts? Don’t mind if we do! At Bite by Bite in Mong Kok, you can expect a blend of Chinese and Western cultures as well as authentic Hong Kong flavours. “I love the aesthetic and creative dishes!” Jianne gushed. “[Their] curry fishball with naan is my favourite — it feels very nostalgic every time I eat!”

Address: Shop 4, G/F, 22 Pak Po St, Mong Kok, Hong Kong

Opening hours: 12pm to 11pm (Sunday to Thursday); 12pm to 12am (Friday to Saturday)

3. Between at Tai Kwun

Between is a cafe located at the previously mentioned Tai Kwun. You can come to this heritage building to take part in art exhibitions, then stop by the cafe for a therapeutic afternoon. Jianne especially loves the ambience; think wooden sculptures, simple yellow lamps, and floor-to-ceiling windows that boast a city view. Aside from coffee, the cafe also serves unique coffee cocktails and traditional Japanese desserts.

Address: 2/F, JC Contemporary, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Rd, Central, Hong Kong

Opening hours: 11am to 8pm (Tuesday to Sunday)

4. Brewed in Sheung Wan

Brewed in Sheung Wan district is another one of Jianne’s favourite cafes in Hong Kong. “[It’s] a good place for working, and their scrambled egg is my favourite!” Other best-selling menu items include grilled chicken toast, freshly-baked sourdough, and shakshouka. 

Besides this, she also recommends Halfway Coffee, which is situated in the same area. It only takes approximately a seven-minute drive to get here from Brewed during peak hours. This cafe uses traditional porcelain dishes for some of the menu items, and there is even a tiny museum where you can take a glimpse at the owner’s cup collection.

Address: Hong Kong, Central, Shop E, G/F, Fu Fai Commercial Centre, 27 Hillier Street

Opening hours: 9am to 6pm (daily)

5. Plantation Tea Bar

Other than cafes, Jianne also recommends Plantation Tea Bar: a teahouse in Sheung Wan that serves craft teas and alcoholic beverages. “I don’t actually drink coffee and am more of a tea person. When it comes to drinks, I’d say Plantation Tea Bar is good, especially for tea lovers like me!” This quaint tea bar also features a four-course tea-tasting menu that changes every month, as well as tea workshops from time to time.

Address: 18 Po Tuck St, Shek Tong Tsui, Hong Kong

Opening hours: 12pm to 12am (Sunday to Wednesday)

Also read: 10 Movies Set in Hong Kong and Their Filming Locations

Natural attractions to travel Hong Kong off the beaten path

1. Cheung Chau

Fishing boats are a common sight in Cheung Chau.

Among the famous places to visit in Hong Kong is Cheung Chau. This small island is home to a fishing village that has been around for decades. You’ll stumble upon people fishing, working on the boats, or simply strolling along the beach while relishing the tranquillity. 

Eat delicious and jet-fresh seafood on the island.

Jianne particularly loves eating seafood and the local island snacks in Cheung Chau. Among the local snacks, Cheung Chau’s fish balls are regarded as the best ones in Hong Kong. Other food like ping on bun, red bean cake and ice cream, and chicken thighs are also popular. You can also bring home an adorable ping on bun keychain as a souvenir!

2. Lamma Island

Go hiking and exploring around Lamma Island.

Lamma Island is, without a doubt, one of the places to visit in Hong Kong worthy of your attention. Like Cheung Chau, Jianne enjoys both seafood and local food on this island. Check out attractions like Yung Shue Wan, a multicultural fishing village with its own charm. There is also the Lamma Fisherfolk’s Village, an educational place that showcases the culture and history of the local fishermen and fishing industry in Hong Kong. Some visitors also enjoy spending a cosy afternoon at the cafes or shopping for local handicraft products on the island.

3. Peng Chau

Image credit: Clars Puk

When asked what are the best natural attractions in Hong Kong to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Jianne named Peng Chau as her favourite. She describes it as a lot less touristy compared to the other islands. This is an ideal spot to visit if you long to explore Hong Kong off the beaten path. Also known as the “Flat Island,” it is only around a 40-minute ferry ride away from the Central Ferry Pier.

“Love the laid-back vibe on Peng Chau. [It’s] just a completely different experience on the island versus when you’re in the city,” she explains. “I like cycling around the island and watching the sunset.”

4. Tap Mun (or Grass Island)

hong kong sightseeing

Image credit: Kin Shing Lai

Tap Mun, aka Grass Island, is the place Jianne recommends for travellers who really want to be close to nature. It’s home to several fishing villages, the 400-year-old Tin Hau Temple, and a sea cave called the Tap Mun Cave. While you’re here, seize the opportunity to try out the local sea produce, or try camping at the hilltop for a one-of-a-kind experience. 

5. Dragon’s Back

hong kong off the beaten path

Image credit: Mike Towers

Jianne also recommends hiking to the top of Dragon’s Back. This mountain ridge features a stunning overlooking coastal view once you’ve arrived at the peak. “There are plenty of trails to choose from, depending on what you’re looking for,” says Jianne. “Whether it’s a challenging hike, an easy one, one that leads to a beach, one that’s more historic in nature, or even a pet-friendly option.”

Her favourite shopping destination in Hong Kong

1. Argyle Centre in Mong Kok

Image credit: WiNG

“I admit, I’m not a frequent shopper,” Jianne shares. “But when I do shop, I tend to go to Mong Kok. And no, not at the Night Market — but instead, at places like Argyle Centre.” This spacious complex is only a one-minute walk from Mong Kok MRT Station, making it extremely convenient and accessible. It’s a office-cum-retail centre, with 14 floors of office space offering all sorts of professional services, as well as a five-storey shopping arcade featuring more than 200 outlets.

Address: Nathan Rd, Mong Kok, Hong Kong

2. Granville Road

Jianne loves shopping in areas around Kowloon, with her go-to being Granville Road. It’s a lively “fashion street”  where you can find sportswear, accessories, cosmetics, and other fashion items. While there are high-end branded boutiques, people can often score cheap finds at other smaller shops, too. 

3. Harbour City

“When it comes to malls, I prefer Harbour City — lots of affordable options.” Spanning two million square feet, this shopping paradise in Tsim Sha Tsui is the largest in Hong Kong. Apart from shopping and dining, there is also an observatory deck on the rooftop for visitors to enjoy the sunset while overlooking Victoria Harbour. 

Address: 3-27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Also read: A 48-Hour Guide to Shopping & Eating in Hong Kong

So, there you have it — a list of fun experiences, shopping spots, nice cafes, and things to see in Hong Kong as recommended by Jianne: a true HK local. Whether it’s your first time visiting or already on your nth trip here, these must-visit places in Hong Kong that are out of the mainstream guidebooks will for sure leave you with a wonderful memory!

Images credited to Jianne Soriano, unless stated otherwise. 

About Author

Cecelia Chang
Cecelia Chang

Born in a new village in Selangor, Malaysia, Cecelia loves three things in life: Good food, good views, and good deals. She also enjoys exploring new places and experiencing new things on her travels.