15 Unique Things You Can Only See in Hong Kong
In a city that never ceases to amaze, Hong Kong has it all. Not only an iconic skyline and rich history, this incredible city also has many hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, from tranquil islands, culinary delights, dramatic mountains and enchanting neighbourhoods. Whether you’re a regular visitor to the city or you’re travelling to Hong Kong for the first time, don’t miss 15 of the quirky and unique things Hong Kong has to offer.
1. Chungking Mansions
The 17-floor sprawling labyrinthine towers of Chungking Mansions have housed some 4,000 people nightly, and the “Chungking Express” mall on the first two floors is a Hong Kong travel must know, having claimed a sort of legendary status among curious tourists. While Hong Kong, in general, is one of the safest parts of Asia, Chungking Mansions is one notable exception, having become a haven for drug dealers and prostitutes. It’s worth a visit for the fearless traveller, however it’s important to keep your valuables at home and just take along an open mind.
2. Junk Cruise and Food
Don’t miss the chance to take a trip on a traditional Chinese sailing ship, otherwise known as Junks. While the golden days of Hong Kong’s fishing industry are over, and the sight of Junks in Victoria Harbour are somewhat less abundant, you can still catch an evening cruise on the Aqua Luna. The stunning handcrafted vessel is modelled after a traditional wooden junk, complete with Hong Kong’s signature crimson sails. Enjoy a relaxing evening with either a 10-dish or 6-dish set menu, and incomparable views of the harbour and nightly Symphony of Lights show.
3. Eat Stinky Tofu
Stinky tofu may not sound like the most tempting thing to eat...nor does it smell tempting, but don’t let the extremely off-putting odour stop you from trying one of Hong Kong’s best street food delicacies. This well-known local delicacy is fermented in a brine of vegetables, milk, meat and herbs and covered in a sweet and spicy sauce. Loved by locals, this dish is abundantly found amongst the street food stalls in Mongkok.
4. 'Monster Building'
Built in the 1960’s, the Monster Building, as it’s been nicknamed by locals, is a complex composed of five connecting structures: Oceanic Mansion, Fook Cheong Building, Montane Mansion, Yick Cheong Building, and Yick Fat Building. Due to the buildings photo-friendly symmetry and aesthetically striking architecture, the building has very much become a popular hot-spot for many urban explorers and Instagrammers. The area has even been used as a film set in such films as Ghost in the Shell and Transformers.
5. Kowloon Walled City Park
Once a no-go zone monopolised by criminals after it was disbanded in the mid-20th century, this traditional Chinese park retains a number of its wonderful original features, such as the imperial government administrative building. This picturesque park today attracts many lovers of the outdoors, as it is the perfect spot in Hong Kong to relax and unwind.
6. The Bird Garden
In Yuen Po Bird Garden, be amazed at the many kinds of beautiful and exotic songbirds at Hong Kong’s bird market. The Bird Market is a popular tourist stop-off along with the nearby Flower Market and Goldfish Market. Of course, most visitors come to admire, rather than purchase the birds, but there’s also a regular sprinkling of locals who have brought along their own birds for a play date or walk, while they enjoy a chat with other bird owners. If you go early in the morning you might just catch feeding time.
7. Tian Tan Buddha
Seated peacefully atop a lotus flower, the world's largest seated bronze Buddha dominates the valley on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. While the size of Tian Tan Buddha is average in comparison to some of the world’s massive Buddhas, it holds the distinction of being the largest seated bronze Buddha in the world. In a valley surrounded by densely forested peaks, the Buddhas location alone is somewhat impressive. At 112 feet high, the Buddha can even be seen through the mountains from nearby Macau on a clear day. It’s worth the climb up the 268 steps to the Buddha’s feet.
8. Cheung Po Tsai Pirate Cave
Thanks to its idyllic setting and the fascinating folklore that lies behind it, this small cave on Cheng Chau island is a popular tourist attraction. Said to have been the hideout of one of Hong Kong’s most notorious pirates, who went by the name of Cheng Po Tsai. At his height of activities, he is said to have commanded a fleet of some 600 ships and an army of 20,000 men. Legend has it, that on this very island he hid his booty.
9. Noonday Gun
A central part of Hong Kong culture, this naval gun is fired every day at noon, as part of an unusual timekeeping tradition. While this practice is somewhat charming, the folklore behind the gun is intriguing. As the story goes, during the mid-19th century the privately-owned Causeway Bay was regularly used for illegal trade and a private militia would fire the gun whenever the owner sailed in or out of the harbour. Eventually the practice was clamped down on by the authorities, but he was ordered to continue firing the gun every day at noon, as a way of announcing the time to residents, and therefore repenting for his sins by providing a public service.
10. A Walk in The Hong Kong Geo-Park
This conservation area has been officially named Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geo-park, comprising of two main regions: the volcanic rock region in Sai Kung and the sedimentary rock region in the North-East New Territories. Opt for one of the free tours of the different Geo-park sites that are available on the regular basis, some of which involve an exploration of islands, sea caves and abandoned fishing villages.
11. Watch Old Hong Kong Movies
Soak up true Hong Kong culture at the Hong Kong Film Archive, where they regular screen a variety of movie gems from Hong Kong’s past, including many silent films and black-and-white films or a modern documentary. Check out the regularly updated screening schedules on the Film Archive’s official websites.
12. The Whampoa
Arguably Hong Kong’s most unique retail space, at first glance The Whampoa may look like a hapless seafarer has run his ship aground, but it is in fact a purpose-built shopping mall housed within a giant replica of a large cruise liner. Located on the site of what used to be one of Asia’s busiest shipyards until it came under heavy attack during World War II, after which it was transformed into a private housing development for which The Whampoa shopping centre was erected, featuring theatres, department stores, restaurants and even a small theme park.
13. Cartoon Restaurants
Hong Kong people really love their Japanese cartoon characters, so much so, they even want to eat them. Perhaps the most famous cartoon restaurant is Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine, a dim sum restaurant where you’ll find everything from custard buns to shrimp dumplings bearing Hello Kitty’s face and trademark pink bow. Of course, it doesn’t stop there - Dim Sum Icon is all about Gutedama, an adorable Japanese egg, while Moomin Cafe, offers traditional Nordic dishes themed around Moomin characters.
14. Noah’s Ark
Although Christianity is a minority religion in Hong Kong, the giant model of Noah’s Ark celebrates one of the bible’s most well-known stories. At approximately 450 feet, the full-size simulation, featuring sculptures of 67 pairs of animals emerging from it, can be found in an evangelical Christian theme park on Ma Wan Island. Quirky on the outside, it’s even more surprising on the inside where you’ll discover a fully operational hotel and youth hostel, plus full multimedia experience, including a wide-screen theatre that convey messages about Christianity to visitors.
15. Striking Harbourfront Hotel
The brand-new Hotel VIC is prominently located in the newly-fashionable district of North Point, offering spectacular panoramic views of Victoria Harbour. This stunning hotel consists of 671 affordable luxury guestrooms and suites, with all the amenities you could ever want and more, including direct access to a newly-created waterfront promenade.