So you’ve got friends in town and they’re nagging you for stuff to do? Be a total hometown hero and steer them away from the tourist traps and towards the genuinely good stuff with this handy alternative bucket list.
Such Great Heights
Skip This: The Peak
Why share the view with hundreds of other morning walkers when you could have it all to yourself?
Do That: Dragon’s Back
Starting at Sai Wan Cemetery, you’ll take the stairs all the way up to the trail and follow it as it rises and falls over the island. The views from up top are incredible — you can see all of Shek O and southern Hong Kong as well as over the reservoir behind you. The two-hour hike ends just a bus ride away from the Stanley waterfront where you can chow down on fish ‘n’ chips as a well-deserved reward.
Skip This: Temple Night Market
Cheap souvenirs combined with hordes of tourists? No thank you. Move along.
Do That: Yuen Po Street Bird
You might not find all the kitschy plastic products that you would at the Night Market but the Bird Market is a fascinating little corner of Hong Kong culture, where old men walk around with their pet parakeets and sell handmade cages and live birds. It’s all set inside a traditional Chinese garden for added charm.
Skip This: Lantau
It’s not that you shouldn’t go to Lantau, because parts of the island are still quite quiet and lovely; however, it can be hard to get around and more headache than it’s worth.
Do That: Peng Chau
For your easy walking pleasure, Peng Chau is so small that you can explore the whole island by foot in a day. Peek into the Seven Sisters Temple, walk the mini Great Wall around the coastline or hike up to Finger Hill for the best views out across the water.
Shop ’til You Drop
Skip This: Mega Malls like Harbour City
Perhaps the most massive mall in Hong Kong, Harbour City is comprehensive, yes, but also completely chaotic.
Do That: Micro Malls like Island Beverly
Instead of all the usual suspects, discover some Hong Kong street fashion from up-and-coming designers at Island Beverly. Shopping here is a great adventure — there are floors full of tiny boutiques, selling design-forward clothes, bags, shoes, accessories… you name it.
Yummy Yum Cha
Skip This: Lin Heung Tea House
It’s a traditional restaurant to enjoy dim sum, but dining here means that you will have to fight for a seat, endure brash service and battle it out for your food. So arm yourself accordingly.
Do That: Fu Sing Seafood Restaurant
Famous for serving the best char siu bao in Hong Kong, the dim sum at Fu Sing is consistently impressive. You can make a reservation, show up with a party of 10 — no problem! That in itself is a rarity in Hong Kong, but add to that excellent fried tofu, har gow, cheong fun, char siu and classic banquet atmosphere.
Battle of the Buddhas
Skip This: Tian Tan Buddha
Sure, the Tian Tan Buddha might be one of the biggest buddha statues in the world, but you can only see it clearly half the time with Hong Kong’s pollution and stormy weather. Plus, it was only built in 1993. Not exactly a heritage site, amirite?
Do That: Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
Why see one big buddha when you can see over 10,000 small ones? The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is a hidden gem out in Sha Tin, where you climb 400 steps lined with life-size buddhas. Once you’re at the temple at the top, cast your gaze southwest for great views of Amah Rock.