Sunset from the Peak, Big Buddha, Dragon's Back, Dim Sum, Ladies Market -you've done them all. You know your classics. Or you think you do. What about the hidden gems and off-the-guides attractions? From the most unusual roller coaster ride to a bridge that prolonges your life three more days each time you cross it -you'll need more than a couple of days in Hong Kong to do it all.
It is not uncommon to hear people saying they've seen everything in Hong Kong once they've ticked all the boxes on their check list. But the truth is, beneath its skyscrapers and temples, there are lots of great alternative things to do in Hong Kong, that are not too hard to find, and absolutely worth the effort.
Read on to find out the top 10 alternative things to do in Hong Kong...
1|Experience Hong Kong from above
Hong Kong's skyline is considered to be one of the most spectacular in the world, with the surrounding mountains and Victoria Harbor complementing the skyscrapers. We've all looked for the place with the best view. Don't sweat it anymore. Found it! Head up to the top of The Peninsula Hotel (you'll to feel like James Bond!), where a helicopter awaits you for a ride over the city. Taking off on top of this building was surreal -it felt like we were floating in the atmosphere. We overflew all these buildings that usually give us vertigo. Hong Kong Island is incredibly awe inspiring from the sky! Then we flew over the New Territories, to discover places we didn't even know existed...
Who: Heliflight Services
Where: Departure from The Peninsula Hotel or Wan Chai Heliport, next to the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre and Golden Bauhinia Square
$: Starting from 1.999HKD for a 15 minutes flight over Hong Kong Island. See their packages here.
2|Dig and find some treasures in Hong Kong's vintage stores
Hong Kong may be best known for its luxury malls, but dig deeper and you'll find plenty of antique items, from second hand furnitures to vintage clothes. You can go treasure hunting through Hong Kong's lovely streets for some timeless finds. I got lost in Soho's charming streets after a meeting, and that is how I've discovered the vintage scene of the city. I ended up coming home with looots of vintage wonders, such as retro sunglasses, little globes, handbags...
Who: There are plenty, all over the city (one day I'll write a proper HK vintage shop guide, I promise!)
Where: Bang Bang 70's - 45 Staunton St, Central | Midwest Vintage - 15 Watson Rd, Tin Hau | Brand Off - 28, Wellington St, Central | Mrs Vintage - 18, Centre St, Sai Ying Pun | Select 18 - 18, Bridges St, Central
3|Learn how to cook Hong Hong's traditional treats - including egg tarts!
You want to try local food, but you're having troubles to find the good and authentic places to go? Bake it yourself! If you want to get to know more about Hong Kong's cuisine culture (and if you love to EAT), you've just found your place. I took the Traditional Hong Kong baking class in the Mixing Bowl and re-discovered the pineapple buns, creeeamy egg tarts and childhood sausage rolls (Hong Kong's own style of hot dogs). Their Instagram gallery make me feel sooo hungry every time I look at it -oh and if you're more into eating than cooking, they also have a café!
4|Cross the bridge that makes you live longer
At the Southeast end of Repulse Bay's sandy strip, Kwun Yam Shrine is a charming temple dedicated to protect the fishermen. It features an amazing assembly of deities and figures and a lovely, vivid red bridge: the auspicious Longevity Bridge. It is said that your life will be prolonged for three more days each time you cross it. Definitely worth seeing -come early morning on weekdays to avoid the tourists. After your visit, you can relax in one of the many cafés on the beach front (that's my favorite place to work!).
What: The Longevity Bridge at Kwun Yam Shrine Repulse Bay
Where: Repulse Bay Beach - by bus 6, 6A, 6X or 260 from Exchange Square
5|Climb up to the best vantage point of the city
The Lion Rock hike is part of the MacLehose Trail #5, situated in the Lion Rock Country Park that overlooks the city and offers spectacular views over the New Territories. I've done lots of hikes in Hong Kong, and this one still remains my number 1. The panoramic views over the city are breathtaking -you can see the whole city, with Kowloon and Hong Kong Island laying out at your feet. The blend of beautiful nature and outrageous urban skyscrapers sets the stage for impossible contrasts.
What: The Lion Rock
Where: From Won Tai Sin MTR, Exit 3
Duration: Depends on your fitness level -it took us 2h.
6|Indulge yourself in some afternoon tea
The Peninsula is a legend in the Hong Kong -it's one of the oldest hotels in the city, and it serves one of the most renown afternoon teas outside the British Isles. Opened in 1928 and expanded in 1994, the hotel combines colonial and modern elements, and is notable for its large fleet of Rolls-Royces in the entrance. The Lobby is absolutely fabulous, with an elegant and magical atmosphere, beautified by a live band playing classical music. The scones, macarons, miniature pies and puff pastries are to die for.
Who: The Lobby in The Peninsula
Where: Salisbury Road - Tsim Sha Tsui MTR, Exit E
$: The Peninsula Classic Afternoon Tea Set for two persons is 628HKD
7|Get some serenity in Ching Chung Koon Temple's landscaped gardens
Surrounded by splendid pagodas, pavillons, archways, Chinese gardens and fish pounds is Ching Chung Koon -or Green Pine Monastery-, a stunning, large Taoist temple, founded in Kowloon in 1949. I visited this temple on a quiet morning, it was pure beauty -no noise pollution, only the sound of waterfalls and birds... The place gets even more beautiful (thus crowded) in April-May each year, for the annual bonsai exhibition, that features hundreds of the artistically shaped trees -it's fabulous!
What: Ching Chung Koon Temple
Where: Siu Hong MTR, then taxi or Light Rail 505 to Ching Chung Station
8|Scale the highest peak in Hong Kong for a unique sunset
The beautiful drive along Twisk Route brings you to Tai Mo Shan, the highest peak in Hong Kong, with an altitude of 957m above the sea level. It's actually a dormant volcano. The landscape is very different with the rest of the country parks in HK, being dotted by volcano rocks, which really is unusual here. There are plenty of gorgeous trails from there, offering green, stunning views on the city and the countryside. A place to explore again and again.
What: Tai Mo Shan
Where: Take bus No. 51 at the bus terminal next to Tsuen Wan West MTR, and get off at country park stop.
9|Visit the quirkiest shopping center in Hong Kong
I love getting lost in Sham Shui Po busy streets. My last discovery there? The Dragon Center, an old-school nine-storey shopping center that features loads of 90s-style games arcade, a collection of 'kawaii' shops, an ice rink and a revolutionary concept: an indoor roller coaster. It's a unique mix of kitsch, old and new. The best of the mall is on the top floors, so don't miss it!
What: Dragon Center Sham Shui Po
Where: 37, Yuen Chow Street, Sham Shui Po - Sham Shui Po MTR
$: You can still play at the Arcade games for cheap, but unfortunately the roller coaster is not running anymore.
10|Escape from Soho and relax with some yummy al fresco cocktails
Situated around Quarry Bay, the Sugar Bar and Lounge is on the 32nd floor of the East Hotel, offering a sweeping panoramic view on the harbour to kill for. The atmosphere is a perfect balance of modernity and class with no pretension, plus a casual touch. Beside the perfect setting, the Sugar offers a great choice of cocktails. We opted for the Mojito Reloaded and the Victoria Secret -there were both lovely. I couldn't ask for a better evening! It's the perfect alternative to the old usual Soho.
What: Sugar Bar + Deck + Lounge
Where: 29, Taikoo Shing Road, Taikoo Shing - Tai Koo MTR, Exit D1
$: Signature cocktails from 105HKD, bubbles from 100HKD
I began my love affair with Hong Kong in 2014 and I simply can't get enough of it This city inspires me every day, as you may have reckon in My Illustrated Journey : Hong Kong, the Pearl of the Orient. The city never sleeps, so there are always alternative things to do in Hong Kong.
Have some of your own favorite spots in Hong Kong that you would like to recommend to readers? Shout out in the comments box below. I'm always happy to explore the city. Thank you and happy traveling!