A local's guide to Hong Kong neighbourhoods
Hong Kong, one of the top destinations for tourists and expats from across the globe, is a towering, twinkling, dim-sum-filled box you should definitely be ticking off your bucket list. The city is full of life, food and culture and it’s basically impossible to not become enraptured by its epic-ness.
A big part of Hong Kong’s allure lies in its contrast of old and new, and this is best embodied through the neighbourhoods that make it up. From the bustling streets of Central to the calm waters of Tai O, there is something to see and do for each and every globetrotter. Fully immerse yourself in your travels and you may even catch yourself picking up the city’s phrases like m goi, which means thank you but can pretty much be used for any situation!
Transportation is a breeze with the MTR, which is one of the most efficient metro systems in the world. If speed isn’t your style, you can get around on the accessible tram, also known as the Ding Ding if you’re on the island side.
Keep your stomach full and your camera batteries charged. Here is our neighbourhood guide to the must-see areas in Hong Kong!
Work hard, play hard – Hong Kong’s most well-known business centre and luxury hub is where you will find all the famous sky-touching buildings and the city’s crazy nightlife scene.
Towards the water, you will find Victoria Harbour, the HK Observation Wheel and all the ferries that take you to the other islands. Come out to Lan Kwai Fong any day of the week and you will experience one of the wildest nights of your life. With pubs and nightclubs that are packed with locals, university students, other tourists and expats from all over the world, it is guaranteed that you will meet another globetrotter like yourself. For a more chill evening, there are wine bars and high-end restaurants if you take the Mid-Level escalators up to SoHo (which actually stands for South of Hollywood btw 🤔). Walk up the hill and you will find yourself at the Hong Kong Park and the Zoological and Botanical Gardens. Central is also known for its easy access to the Peak, the highest point of all of Hong Kong Island! Make your way up and you’ve got yourself a very fine view of the entire city.
The city dweller’s dream, it’s hard to get bored in Causeway Bay. Stepping outside the MTR on any evening of the week, you will be greeted with city lights and a pedestrian or two out for a night of shopping, dessert, and various activities. There is even an entire block dedicated to ramen – if that doesn’t have you intrigued, nothing will.
With big shopping malls like Times Square, Hysan Place, Lee Garden and Sogo, you can find almost anything for your shopping needs. Fun fact: Hong Kong’s Times Square is the second most expensive place to rent retail real estate in the world (just behind NYC’s Fifth Ave).
Sing your lungs out at late night karaoke, stuff your belly with all-you-can-eat hot pot, or spend the night with your buddies playing VR games.
Bargain-lovers rejoice! It’s no secret why Mong Kok is one of the most crowded neighbourhoods in Hong Kong. Roam the streets and you will find locals, expats and tourists wandering markets and munching on some of the tastiest local snacks.
If you’re looking for a place to drink and eat good, greasy Chinese food, head down to Mr. Wong’s for AYCE beer and cheap eats. There are plenty of places to shop like the famous Ladies Market for knock-off clothing and accessories, the Mong Kok Computer Centre for all your computer, audio and gaming needs, and even a whole street dedicated to sneakers! Just make sure to bring your game face for when you bargain with the local shopkeepers. Start low, people, start low.
Calling all budget travellers! Wan Chai is known for its red light district on Lockhart road, but there is so much more to see in this vibrant neighbourhood. There are tons of rooftop bars and pubs for locals and expats, and plenty of places to eat (shout out to Wooloomooloo rooftop).
There are affordable congee shops around every corner and a cute Instagrammable alley called Lee Tung avenue. If you’re looking for a low-cost Hong Kong meal, try one of the Cha Chaan Tengs like Honolulu Cafe, affordable casual dining with a menu mixed with local Hong Kong and Western cuisine. One of the best parts of Wan Chai is how close it is to the Star Ferry port that can take you on a short, scenic and CHEAP ferry ride to Tsim Sha Tsui!
Tsim Sha Tsui
For the romantics travelling with bae – Tsim Sha Tsui or TST for short, is one of the busiest and a must-see for the first time visitor. On the opposite side of Victoria Harbour, TST is home to the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Avenue of Stars and the famous harbour front.
Begin the evening with a fancy dinner at some of the best Michelin Star restaurants in Hong Kong. Then make your way to the harbour front and enjoy the Symphony of Lights as the buildings in Central light up every evening at 8 pm. Make your way to Knutsford Terrace and you will find yourself in neat little alley of bars and pubs with a chill atmosphere. A little further west and you can have a cocktail or two at the OZONE, the highest bar in Asia (490 meters up)!
Ready to hit the beaches? If you’ve got time and you’re looking to get away from the city for a day, then Sai Kung is the place for you.
An epic mix of gorgeous beaches and delicious seafood options makes Sai Kung one of Hong Kong’s best day trips. If you love the outdoors, you’ll be spoilt for options here. Take a dip in the pristine beaches, go paddle boarding, try snorkelling or visit Hoi Ha Wan, one of the five protected marine parks in Hong Kong. If that’s not enough, venture out on a short one-hour hike to reach one of the most gorgeous freshwater river pools, Sheung Luk Stream aka Rock Pools, where you can go cliff jumping.
Buns and balls – with so many little getaway islands in Hong Kong, it can be hard to decide which ones to pick. One of the best day trips for food and cycling is Cheung Chau, an area known for its famous bun festival. Held once every summer, the festival is a tradition amongst the locals where young men would snatch a bun (“bun snatching”) from the top of the tower. The higher the bun, the better your fortune! You can rent a bicycle and spend the day meandering the island along the quaint cycling routes.
Kwun Yam Wan also makes a great place for surfing, canoeing and even windsurfing. There are many little food stalls and hipster cafes and would make a perfect place for the foodie adventurer. If the little curry fish balls at the street markets didn’t satisfy you, Kam Wing Tai Fish Balls has plenty of plus-sized skewers for you to tackle – hou hou sik (yummy)!
Sham Shui Po
Be both frugal and fabulous. If you want to see what old Hong Kong looks like, Sham Shui Po is a must.
You can find anything here for a bargain, from computer gadgets to fashion accessories, and even kid’s toys at places like the Golden Computer Centre, Toy Street, Apliu Street and Bead street.
The neighbourhood is also a great place to try local cuisine such as dai pai dong, traditional open-air restaurants where you can eat yum cha and drink from the largest bottles of Tsingtao beer – gom bui (cheers)!
Lantau Island is a must visit for those who are looking for more iconic scenery during their trip. Lantau Island is the largest outlying island in Hong Kong and is home to the Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha), Ngong Ping Village, Tai O Fishing Village and Disneyland!
Take a cable car (or hike) up to Ngong Ping Village where you will not only find the Big Buddha but the island’s resident cows roaming around. Reward yourself with a treat and try Tau Foo Fah, sweet tofu pudding, to end the hike. Make your way to Tai O Fishing Village by boat or bus and check out how the community has built their homes on stilts!
Do it for the ‘gram! Quarry Bay, one of the hubs for businesses and office buildings, has more to it than meets the eye. The neighbourhood has some of the best photo spots for travellers looking for colour. It is a growing and evolving neighbourhood, so there are plenty of things to do like indoor sports gyms and chic art galleries. Whip out your camera and visit Monster Building (Yik Cheong Building), one of the most popular spots for that vibrant city look for Instagram – siu jat siu (say cheese)!
In case you haven’t caught on yet, Hong Kong is one of the most Instagrammable places on the planet. Make sure to share your snaps with us using the hashtag #dailyhivemapped.