Home to 7.3 million-plus people, Hong Kong is small compared to other Asian cities, however, the Chinese territory moves at breakneck pace, constantly refreshing itself with new restaurants, bars and buildings.
Whether choosing epic city views at the Peak, an Old World afternoon tea at The Peninsula Hong Kong, sky-high cocktails, dazzling architecture and art or famous foot massages, you will love the dynamic experiences in this cosmopolitan hub. There’s an endless list of things to do in Hong Kong, but these are 10 of our favorites.
Walk to the Peak
Victoria Peak is famous for a reason — it’s not only one of the oldest neighborhoods in Hong Kong, but it also boasts panoramic views of the city, reservoirs and outlying islands. To reach the mountaintop, take the 19th-century Peak Tram or hike up the shady Morning Trail and then amble around the Circle Walk.
Take the Star Ferry
The iconic green and white Star Ferry has been shuttling Hongkongers across Victoria Harbour since the late 1800s. In addition to the double-decker’s usual commuter route from Central and Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui, on the Kowloon Peninsula, the ferry also provides scenic circular tours of the harbor — a relaxing way to spend an hour and avoid the jostling crowds.
Sit Down for High Tea
A British colony for 150 years, Hong Kong has assimilated many cultural experiences from England, including a penchant for extravagant high tea. The decadent experience at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Peninsula Hong Kong is the grande dame of them all.
Sit down in the resplendent lobby, with its frescoes and regal pillars, and get ready for white-gloved service, handmade pastries, pewter tea sets and violins playing in the background.
Relax with a Foot Massage
Of course, there are dozens of cheap and cheerful massage parlors in Hong Kong, where an excellent acupressure rubdown costs roughly $20 to $30. But for a unique experience, head to The Mandarin Barber at the Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.
Patronized almost exclusively by men, this intimate spot provides an unforgettable foot service: the Shanghainese Pedicure, where experts sculpt nails and shave dead skin away with scalpels and straight-edge razors.
Also worth a splurge is the Bastien Gonzalez Duo pedicure experience at the Five-Star Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. This technical pedicure is followed by a four-hand (two-person) hand and foot massage, which will leave you feeling like you’re walking on air.
Try Posh Cantonese Cuisine
Nearby, Five-Star Man Wah at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is a romantic address, featuring city vistas, Peking duck and delicately prepared dim sum.
And across the water, Four-Star Tin Lung Heen, on the 102nd floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, offers a spectacular atmosphere and signatures such as steamed crab claw, barbecued Iberico pork with honey, and shrimp dumplings with black truffle.
Devour Old-School Dim Sum
Much of Hong Kong’s social and dining culture revolves around dim sum. There are plenty of upscale dim sum spots around town, including Mott 32 and Dim Sum Library. But if you’re craving an old-school experience, then you can’t go wrong with Maxim’s Palace at City Hall, Lin Heung Tea House in Central, Saam Hui Yaat in Pok Fu Lam, or LockCha Tea House inside Hong Kong Park.
Head to the Islands
Hong Kong is home to more than 260 outlying islands — each with its own personality. A few of the easiest to reach are Lantau Island, home to water buffalo and amazing hiking trails; Lamma, known for its laid-back village life and alfresco seafood restaurants; and Cheung Chau, which is perfect for a bike ride or hike through the mountains.
Many of the islands can be reached from the Central Ferry Pier, with rides ranging from about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Dine with a View
Many of Hong Kong’s best restaurants frame Victoria Harbour and the surrounding skyscrapers. For city vistas and impeccable French food, snag a table at Amber, a Five-Star restaurant inside the Landmark Mandarin.
On the opposite side of the harbor, Four-Star Tosca restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong lures in diners with its elegant Italian fare and skyline views from the 102nd floor.
Anchoring the eastern side of Hong Kong Harbour in Tsim Sha Tsui, newly rebranded Rech by Alain Ducasse at the Five-Star InterContinental Hong Kong spoils you with fresh seafood, aged Camembert and front-row seats to the harbor.
And, of course, beloved Felix bar and restaurant at The Peninsula Hong Kong is not to be missed. The Philippe Starck-designed space does modern European dishes and specialty cocktails like no other.
Hunt for Art
Home to Art Basel, the Asia Contemporary Art Show, Art Central and dozens of galleries, Hong Kong is fast becoming a destination for contemporary and classic art. Big names such as Gagosian and White Cube saddle up alongside more indie, experimental spaces, such as Para Site, Above Second and The Cat Street Gallery.
To see a bit of everything, roam through a few floors of galleries at the colonial-era Pedder Building in Central; stroll west on Hollywood Road; or venture into burgeoning areas such as Wong Chuk Hang, on southern Hong Kong Island, where warehouse galleries and pop-up spaces abound.
Hit the Beach
With its subtropical climate and miles of coastline, Hong Kong is a surprisingly great destination for a beach getaway. The most happening spots of sand are along the southern coastline of Hong Kong Island, in areas such as Shek O, Stanley and Repulse Bay, where a new mega complex of trendy restaurants, shops and bars sits pretty right on the beach.
But the cleanest beaches are up north in Sai Kung, along the hard-to-reach Tai Long Wan bay. A hike here traces rolling hills to beach after beach, each more pristine than the next. But if you’re short on time, there are also boats for hire in Sai Kung town.