7 ways to not be a tourist on your trip to Hong Kong

Apr 7 2018, 5:25 am

A good life is a life well-travelled, and being well-travelled requires going off the beaten path.

Hong Kong and its surrounding areas are full of mysteries just waiting to be discovered. As one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, this incredible city offers everything from shopping and gourmet dining experiences, to hiking and iconic cultural sites.

But when you’re visiting such a popular place, it’s often easy to fall into tourist traps and miss out on exploring the hidden parts of the city. If you want to avoid looking like a clichĂ© tourist and get to know a different side of Hong Kong, here are seven lesser-known things to see and do on your next trip to this amazing city.

Take a dip at the Sai Wan swimming shed

Image: Sai Wan swimming shed

For those looking to escape the bustle, this spot is the perfect getaway. Take a dip in the open sea, relax with locals, and enjoy spectacular panoramic sunset views that are any photographer’s dream. The Sai Wan Swimming Shed is the only swimming shed (AKA a structure that serves as a change room and pier for swimmers) left in Hong Kong. So if you’re looking for an authentic experience, you better get here before this place hits Instagram!

Go shopping in Mong Kok

Mong Kok is a world of its own. It’s a great place to get a sense of the classic pedestrian streets that crisscross Hong Kong and, if you know where to look, it’s also where you’ll find some of the most unique local stores and restaurants in the city. Visit the Flower Market, Ming Court, and the Langham Place Shopping Mall for some truly unforgettable experiences. And make sure you sample some street food, like takoyaki (a Japanese snack of octopus, ginger, and green onion battered in wheat flour), milk tea, or siu mai (pork dumplings).

Explore the Cat Street Market

Image: Cat Street Market

On any map, this area is called Upper Lascar Row. But the locals know it by its other name: the Cat Street Market. What was a contraband market at the turn of the 20th century is now where you’ll find treasures that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else, including vintage items, fun knick-knacks, and antiques.

Visit Hong Kong’s spectacular bird sanctuary in Mai Po

Image: Bird sanctuary in Mai Po

If you’re a wildlife fan, or just looking to get away from the city for a while, Mai Po is the place to be. Located in Deep Bay, close to the Shenzen border, this wetland is a major wintering area for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds. You’ll be enthralled by fantastic views and the opportunity to catch glimpses of some of the world’s rarest birds.

Call it “yum cha” not “dim sum”

Order like a local when you go out to eat this Hong Kong classic. While dim sum refers to the dishes themselves, yum cha refers to the entire dining experience — and literally means “drink tea.” If you’re looking for a variety of delicious traditional options that are sure to satisfy any palate, look no further than City Hall Maxim’s Palace. And if you’re looking for a more old-school experience, head over to the Lin Heung Teahouse, where you’ll be surrounded by Hong Kong residents who really know what they’re doing.

Hike the Morning Trail

Another spectacular way to get out of the city for a bit, the Morning Trail takes you on an easy hour-long hike to the top of Victoria Peak. This trail promises breathtaking views of the Hong Kong skyline and passes through Lung Fu Shan Country Park, which is filled with historic war ruins such as Pinewood Battery. Plus, if the hike up tires you out, you can always rest your feet on the Peak Tram as it winds back down the hillside.

Take a junk boat for a spin

“Junk boat” was a term that traditionally referred to a fishing vessel, but is now used to refer to any sailing boat. Charter a group or private boat to take you along the Victoria Harbour and see the city from a whole new angle. Or, if you prefer a more peaceful (and unique) seaside experience, take in the junk boats at the Aberdeen Floating Fishing Village: a sea port dating back to the 19th century that’s still home to many fishermen who live and work on their boats, and features floating restaurants that serve freshly caught seafood.

All of this (and more) is just waiting for you to discover, and with Cathay Pacific flights leaving 17 times weekly from Vancouver to Hong Kong and 10 times weekly from Toronto to Hong Kong, it’s easier than ever to book your trip. Not only will you arrive knowing you’ve flown in style, you’ll also arrive knowing a few secrets that will set you apart from the common tourist.

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