Surrounded by the South China sea and bordered by mainland China in the North, Hong Kong is a bustling city with so much diversity that it can be overwhelming for not only first time visitors, but for many who have visited a number of times! Being my fifth visit to Hong Kong, I decided to venture beyond the norm and find the best neighbourhoods for both first time visitors and those looking to get off the beaten track. Here are the top 8 must visit areas of Hong Kong:
Start Here: Central
Central is home to many of the city’s most distinct skyscrapers and architectural highlights, so it’s a good place to start for the first time visitor and anyone wanting to get a taste of typical Hong Kong in the 21st Century. This area is also home to many (if not most) of the cities’ expats, so if you want to mingle with people from all around the world head to one of the popular cafes or bars in this area and you will be spoiled for choice – and nationalities!
Tourists love: Tsim Sha Tsui
Just across the harbour on the Kowloon side is the popular Tsim Sha Tsui. TST is home to most of Hong Kong’s markets, many of the best shopping malls are here, and there are oodles of dining options to choose from throughout this area. The Intercontinental has the best harbour views and is a superb luxury hotel, while the Peninsula is a typical choice for a fancy lunch or spa treatment.
Shopping in Causeway Bay
Causeway Bay is THE shopping destination for Hong Kong locals – so be sure to drop by and see/understand why. This area is densely compact, so be sure to expect to forgo personal space and don’t be surprised when you get smacked into by a person passing by – it is inevitable! Some of the biggest landmark shopping areas in the area include Sogo, Times Square Mall, and IKEA is also here.
The hustle and bustle of Mongkok
Flashing neon lights in abundance? This must be Mongkok. It is here where one will find the busy streets, horrible smells, and something new around every corner. The relatively new Landmark Place Hotel Mongkok is positively changing the area by bringing a luxury hotel and world-renowned spa to the area, so be sure to consider staying here if you’re looking for authentic Hong Kong with a modern flair.
As the oldest district in Hong Kong, Wan Chai has changed dramatically over the years. Especially over recent years, Wan Chai’s old and shanty buildings have been replaced by an urban revival. While it was once known for being ‘that’ part of town offering Asian girls in abundance (for a fee), it has really come a long way in recent years and is an interesting ‘one to watch’ neighbourhood – just don’t blink, it’s changing constantly!
This is perhaps one of the most exciting up and coming neighbourhoods in Hong Kong. Traditionally this was a cheaper part of town to live, but recently has become more and more expensive as locals are forever looking to relocate with the never-ending rent price hikes. The area around Hollywood Road and Cat street is perfect for antique shopping and treasure hunting.
Hipsters, hippies, the ‘hip’ area of town is where you will least expect it – Lamma island! Catch the ferry to Lamma island for a really different look into Hong Kong life. It’s also a great part of town for hiking and outdoor activities – true bliss to escape the city!
Another one of the outlying islands to visit is the tourist-popular Lantau island. Here one will find the Big Buddha, Tai O fishing village, Ngong Ping 360 cable car, and Hong Kong Disneyland. While a more popular island for tourists (okay, it is over-saturated with tourists), it really is a must visit once whilst in Hong Kong.
World of Wanderlust visited Hong Kong as a guest of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.