Destinations Hong Kong

Hong Kong, How Much I Love Thee

Mongkok Neon Lights at Night

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Hong Kong is a vibrant city with a great vibe. It has a distinct soul and a lot to offer. No matter what you are looking for, you will find it here. It has a unique past full of pride and scars, yet it is trying to heal and present a colorful modern fabric.

Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city that combines both Western and Asian cultures. It is bright as all its neon lights, yet as dark as its darkest service alleyways.

For the reasons below, it has earned a special place in my heart.

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1. Architecture

Hong Kong Skyline

Hong Kong is home to amazing iconic architecture. However, it is dense and that’s something I am not fond of. Nevertheless, it is easy to navigate and get around this concrete, steel and glass jungle. The metro system and other public transport options are clean, efficient and well organized.

Here is my list of must-visit iconic buildings designed by renowned architects:

Those are only a few. Someday I hope to visit all the stunning buildings that make the Hong Kong skyline so stimulating and inspiring.

2. Friendly People

Street Vendor Stanley Beach
Street Vendor – Stanley Beach

People in Hong Kong are friendly and laid-back, even though they lead busy lives and seem to constantly be on the move. Several encounters led me to make this statement.

When I travel solo I tend to get lost, sometimes intentionally, and my recent trip to Hong Kong was no different. However, everyone I asked for help or directions has been helpful and did it with a smile.

One of my hobbies is to people watch, especially when they are living their everyday lives. And I am not afraid to ask for permission to snap a photo. I did this many times in Hong Kong, and no one refused to grant me permission.

Another interaction I’d like to mention here was one that occurred at a restaurant serving locals. The restaurant was packed when I entered, with no empty seat in sight. From a distance, I could see someone flagging me and pointing to an empty seat facing him. Henry, a young software engineer, was welcoming and cheerful. He helped me read the menu as it was in Cantonese with no English translation. He also helped me communicate with the server as she spoke no English. This encounter made me feel very welcome given that I was the only foreigner in the restaurant.

3. Street Food

Hong Kong Street Food

The food scene in Hong Kong is unparalleled, it is a foodie’s heaven. There is a great range of cuisines; you will find cuisines from across the globe at all price ranges. If you are looking for fine dining, you will not be disappointed. Simply choose one of the restaurants from this Michelin Restaurant Guide.

When you travel to a new destination, do you eat street food and explore what the locals eat?

I do. Personally, I wasn’t in search of fine dining on this trip, and I didn’t come here to eat Italian food either. I wanted to eat like the locals. This meant choosing to stay at a location where there is an abundance of options. Looking back, I think I made the right decision to stay in Mongkok. I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Mongkok, which was close to everything.

If you especially love dumplings, Hong Kong is the place to be.

4. Hong Kong Street Art

Street Art & graffiti in Hong Kong

Before visiting, I didn’t associate Hong Kong with street art and graffiti. So, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that this side of the culture is thriving. Once on the island, I walked for hours searching and feasting my eyes on the beautiful wall art.

By far the most fun way to discover street art is by walking. The city streets are becoming a gallery thanks to a growing number of artists.

If you are into street art and graffiti, this post by Olivia Lai on TimeOut provides a detailed account of where to find it. You can also follow HKwalls.org on Instagram.

5. Hong Kong’s Double-Deck Trams

Hong Kong Double-deck Tram

On every trip, I find that I develop an obsession with something. This time, I was fascinated by the double-deck trams. I found myself chasing them at every corner. They are colorful and sexy; advertisements are cleverly wrapped around their bodies. Honestly, I spent hours on the island snapping photos of them in action.

Follow the Instagram account of the Hong Kong Tramways to see what I mean.

6. Street Photography in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Central District

Hong Kong is a photographer’s dream. It offers plenty of Instagramable spots as well as locations for sunset and night photography.

During this trip, I had a great opportunity to experiment. As an amateur photographer, I am still learning and need to try different gear and techniques.

I walked endlessly in the Central District and captured close to a thousand photos. I still need to find time to process all of them. Sigh.

Final Thoughts on Hong Kong

6 Reasons to Visit Hong Kong
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Hong Kong is as welcoming as it may be intimidating to new visitors. But, don’t let the intimidation stop you. It is worth a visit, and for the reasons above, it has earned a place among the top destinations in my travels.

What I was able to experience:

While this trip was limited to three nights, I think I was able to do plenty, including touristy stuff. I also had a chance to experience the fun nightlife the island has to offer, which kept me entertained on this solo trip. In addition to everything I’ve discussed so far, here’s what else I was able to do during this trip:

  • Visited the Hong Kong Museum of History
  • Visited street markets in Mongkok
  • Rode the peak tram to Victoria Peak
  • Rode the Star Ferry to cross Victoria Harbor

On a trip like this, I normally like to explore by myself – self-guided, if you will. But I didn’t have enough time for that, so I opted to join two tours:

  • A free walking tour, which was awesome and the guide provided a lot of historical context.
  • A visit to Stanley Beach and the Aberdeen Fishing Village. This one, while it was worth it, was a bit touristy for my taste. However, I did enjoy Stanley and had a great lunch there.

It is worth mentioning that I took this micro trip to Hong Kong a year before visiting mainland China. However, I did not have a chance to write about it until someone asked for tips on a Facebook group. It reminded me that I have been holding onto my notes for almost two years. The recent political events have also brought Hong Kong front and center. I wish them well, and I hope they find a peaceful political solution. I definitely want to go and visit again, maybe for five days.

What I would Like to experience next time

Here are a few things I wasn’t able to experience on this trip but hope to fit in next time:

  • Hike the Dragon’s Back trail
  • Ride Ngong Ping 360
  • Visit the Tian Tan Big Buddha
  • Day trip to Macau

If you have been to Hong Kong, what was your favorite activity or the most interesting thing you did? I would love to hear from you, so please share your experiences.


10 Comments

  1. Wow Hong Kong is a world unto itself! Definitely on the must see list now!

  2. Hong Kong is definitely on my visit list. Reading your blog has reminded me to bring the visit forward.

  3. Hong Kong has been on my bucket list forever! Your pictures are so beautiful. I’d love to ride the tram to Victoria Peak.

  4. Hi Moawia, Thank you for the informative peace.. I really liked the parts about street food and street art.. Maybe because they felt more personal and maybe because I loved the photos… I don’t know if you do this but perhaps each section /trip could have a separate album on your Instagram account.. As I would really like to see more of the photos on some topic

  5. ASA | Marilyn

    Great read with extra insightful information. I had the opportunity to spend time in Hong Kong and few years back. Watching the nightly light show across the city skyline was a highlight. As you have written the cities architectural landscape has such amazing buildings.

  6. I loved your blog post, thank you for sharing such detailed information I will for sure have a look when I make my way there (hopefully soon)

  7. Hongkong is a colorful place from every point of view. I love the food there. They have food from all over the world, and some really weird food.

Love to hear what you think