The highest point on Hong Kong Island, The Peak has one of the most stunning views of the skyline, Victoria Harbour and even the New Territories. Get to The Peak at 5pm to see the beautiful transition from daytime to night – including the sunset, which will take your breath away. To get up there, take a taxi or the Peak Tram, which takes you past amazing skyscrapers as you ascend on the railway to the top. Be warned that queues for the tram can be very long!
Not only is this street a hotspot for chic bars and restaurants, a walk along it will also open your eyes to the numerous antique and jade shops, all modern-day treasure chests filled with trinkets from times gone by and ornately cut pieces of stone. Look down the alleys to see some authentic street art and graffiti, or grab a quick drink off the beaten path. Head to Sai Ying Pun or Sheung Wan MTR stations and follow the signs.
Lan Kwai Fong
One of Hong Kong’s most popular nightlife hot spots, Lan Kwai Fong has over 90 bars and restaurants. With diverse restaurants offering all kinds of cuisines, and bars based on different themes (ranging from Irish to music to gardens!), the area truly comes to life after 11pm. The revellers move from the bars to the street, creating a street-party atmosphere, mixing amongst themselves and partying the night away. If the large crowds aren’t really your thing, only two streets down is Foxglove – a speakeasy bar disguised as an upscale umbrella shop, with a great jazz band and cocktails to transport you to the prohibition era. Get to Lan Kwai Fong by taking the MTR to central station and follow the music!
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
In Hong Kong’s oldest park, built in 1860, you will find peaceful gardens to while away a couple of hours in the afternoon. The park is home to many animals and the Old Garden contains aviaries with flamingos, cranes and other tropical species. The New Garden is where the mammals and reptiles live, with orangutans, gibbons, lemurs, tamarins and more on show (don’t forget to visit the Siamang, which you will hear before you see). The park is within walking distance of the Peak Tram, or take a taxi.
Po Lin Monastery
In the early 1900s three Buddhist monks from the Jiangtian Monastery of Jinshan came across an expansive flat land amid the tranquil, serene mountains that would later become the monastry. It started off as a small stone house though, and grew into the “Big Thatched Hut”. In 1924 it was renamed the Po Lin Monastery and, since then, the Grand Hall of Ten Thousands Buddhas has been constructed. This houses the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Scripture Library, Abbot’s Chamber, Dharma Hall and a permanent Ordination Platform. Light some incense outside the monastery gates, take a wander around the halls and see the beautiful displays, which include precious Chinese and Buddhist relics, as well as the plentiful offerings from visitors, or enjoy a light meal at the vegetarian café on the grounds.
If you are taking a day off from the plethora of history and culture, or you need somewhere fun to take the kids, this is well worth a day trip. Filled with roller coasters for all ages, as well as animal experiences including the Panda Village, the North and South Pole Encounters, Adventures in Australia, Amazing Birds Theatre, the Arctic Fox Den and the Aquarium, this is edutainment at its best. Plus there are cable cars, restaurants and shops. A must-see is the Giant Panda enclosure with playful pandas in their habitats. Tickets for adults are Dh182, and Dh91 for children. Visitors can visit by bus or taxi.
Tian Tan Buddha
The majestic bronze statue sits 34m high atop the peak of Mount Muk Yue on Lantau Island, and is said to deliver blessings to all and represents the prosperity of China and peace on earth. It’s enthroned on a lotus on top of a three-platform alter, and visitors can get a close look at the statue by climbing the 268 steps up to the three platforms. There is a museum below the Buddha with the halls of the ‘Universe’, ‘Benevolent Merit’ and ‘Remembrance’. One of the most significant features is the relic of Gautama Buddha, allegedly containing some of his cremated remains. Visitors can get to the statue by taxi or the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, located near the Tung Chung MTR Station – the last stop on the Tung Chung line.
If the city’s hustle and bustle is proving too much, escape to Lamma Island – only a 30-minute ferry trip away! The laid-back atmosphere of the island makes the blend of Western and Chinese influences all that much better, with a good hiking trail for those who love the great outdoors, as well as beaches with incredible views and caves that supposedly hid soldiers in the Second World War. Visit the Fisherfolk’s Village or Yung Shue Wan Main Street for some livelier scenes, with gift shops and restaurants lining the narrow streets. The seafood restaurants are highly recommended, serving the freshest fish, shellfish and other marine delicacies with great views. Along the trails, you will find trinket stalls and shops, and local cafés serving up delicious grilled sweetcorn and other quick bites, all surrounded by lush greenery. The Hung Shing Yeh Beach is one of the first stops along the trail, and if you are only on the island for a short time, is a great stop to make – visit the Concerto Inn for a sundowner or a tasty meal before heading back to the ferry. It’s worth mentioning that there is a ban on cars and lorries on the island, with specially designed vehicles and ambulances to get down the narrow streets. To get to Lamma Island, take a ferry from Central Pier 4 to Yung Shue Wan. Tickets cost Dh9 per adult one way, Dh6 per child one way.