From the serenity of Nan Lian Garden to the thrilling chaos of the Temple Night Market, Hong Kong is a city of astounding contrasts, a vibrant cultural metropolis as wild as it is beautiful. Use this guide to explore all the city has to offer.

Clock Tower

This brick and granite tower stands 44 meters (144 feet) tall, a stoic monument to the city’s Age of Steam. Built in 1915, the tower originally marked the end of the Kowloon-Canton Railway system, an elegant landmark for the wave of immigrants passing through to begin their new lives in the city. Today, though the train station is long gone, visitors can still admire the memorable structure.

Photo by Emily Nicholls.
Photo by Hagop Bozawglanian.
Photo by Emily Nicholls.

Ladies’ Market

You don’t have to be a lady to enjoy the Ladies’ Market. In addition to its wide selection of bargain women’s clothing and accessories, the one-kilometer stretch features over 100 stalls that carry everything from electronic gadgets to home furnishings to CDs. You’re bound to find something that strikes your fancy among the crowded street — just make sure to practice your haggling skills to get the best price!

Nan Lian Garden

This immaculate sanctuary provides a calm, serene oasis from the hustle and bustle of the often-chaotic city. The garden is meticulously organized, every hill, rock, and structure placed according to very specific rules and methods. A walk through this tranquil place offers a blissful (and free) escape from the city streets.

Photo by Jackie Reyes.
Photo by James Galang.

Ngong Ping Cable Car and Tian Tan Buddha

Ngong Ping 360, the astounding cable car with a scenic view, transports passengers from Tung Chung to Lantau Island, and is the ideal launching point for an exploration of this lush, mountainous region. Thrill-seekers should opt for the Crystal Cabin, a car with a glass floor that will provide stunning views of the blue waters below (and possibly some mild vertigo). Once you set foot on the island, make your way to Tian Tan Buddha (or, informally, the Big Buddha), a massive bronze Buddha statue perched atop the majestic Po Lin Monastery.

Round trip tickets are HK$210 for a standard cabin and HK$290 for the crystal cabin. You can buy tickets here.

Photo by Apinun Tirunuchit.

Stanley Market

Though probably the most “touristy” of the three markets on this list, Stanley Market is certainly more laid back and relaxed than the Ladies’ Market and Temple Night Market — if nothing else, visit for the atmosphere. Take a stroll along the promenade, enjoy the breeze blowing off the nearby beach, and head to Stanley Plaza for a quick bite to eat in the shade of the overhanging trees.

Photo by Jessie Chuen.

Star Ferry

One of National Geographic’s top 50 “places of a lifetime,” the Star Ferry crossing is an absolute must for your visit to Hong Kong. These endearing boats have been shuttling passengers back and forth from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon since 1888. While many locals use the ferry as an efficient mode of transport, visitors to the city often climb aboard for a staggering view of Victoria Harbor, one of the most-photographed harbors in the world. All aboard!

Tickets can be purchased at the Harbor Tour ticket counter at the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier and the Central Pier 7 on the date of departure. You can also purchase tickets ahead of time online. Round trip tickets start at HK$100.

Photo by Teresa Thacker.
Photo by Dennis Li.

Temple Night Market

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Temple Night Market is less of a marketplace and more of a nightly spectacle. At the popular street bazaar, you can shop for clothes, antiques, food, and trinkets, but you can also watch performances from opera singers and interact with fortune tellers. With its lively theatrical atmosphere and ample festivities, this is the ultimate late-night stop amid the Hong Kong streets. As the sun sets, make your way to Temple Street for a night of exploration and excitement.

Photo by Jan Schulze.

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

With a gentle breeze blowing off the harbor and the audacious skyline of Hong Kong Island looming in the distance, the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade provides the perfect setting for an afternoon stroll for those who don’t wish to leave the confines of the city in search of a hike. Stretching nearly all the way from the New World shopping center to the Hong Kong Coliseum, the promenade offers plenty of shops and restaurants. Go for a walk at night when the Symphony of Lights illuminates the 44 skyscrapers of the skyline with a music and light spectacle.

Victoria Peak

The breathtaking view from this can’t-miss vantage point seems to capture the complexity of Hong Kong in a single image. In the foreground, you’ll gaze upon the humbling city skyline and the brilliance of Victoria Harbor, while the mountains to the north sit stoically on the horizon, giving way to the rest of the country. Take the Peak Tram to the top for a sunset view, and watch as the sky fades and the city comes alive below.

Photo by Edward Barnieh.

Wetland Park

Looking to learn more about the nature and wildlife of the region around Hong Kong? Check out Wetland Park, a world-class ecotourism park that offers visitors a chance to explore the flora and fauna of the city. While there, you’ll have the opportunity to spot fantastic wildlife, including butterflies, amphibians, dragonflies, birds, and even a saltwater crocodile named Pui Pui.

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Devon Shuman
Devon Shuman is a creator, a storyteller, and a traveler from Boston, Massachusetts. He caught the travel bug at a young age when his family would take camping trips in southern Maine and New York’s Adirondack region. Since then, his adventures have taken him all across the globe. His favorite journeys include island hopping in the Galápagos, thru-hiking Vermont’s Long Trail, and summiting Mount Kilimanjaro. He currently works as an editorial consultant for Passion Passport, helping explorers from around the world tell their stories.