Bustling, friendly, architecturally astute, and humid — Hong Kong is a city like no other. The sights are deeply emblematic of Hong Kong’s history, culture, and future. Use this guide as a little photo inspiration for your next trip to Hong Kong.
Choi Hung Estate
Translated as “Rainbow Estate,” Choi Hung is aptly named. Its cheerful, multi-colored facades have been drawing photographers and residents to the Wong Tai Sin district of Kowloon since the 1960s, when the residential buildings were constructed by the Hong Kong Housing Authority.
Head to the basketball courts on the roof of the parking garage for perfectly hued geometric shots — but be sure to use the grid function on your camera to ensure the building lines are straight (or be prepared to fix in post!). If you’re lucky, your photos will also feature children at play, or a few elderly residents as they stroll around the perimeter of the walking track!
Yick Cheong Building
For a photo of one of Hong Kong’s most Instagrammed spots, head to the Yick Cheong Building in Quarry Bay, which perfectly showcases how tightly packed the city’s living quarters really are. Also known as the “Monster Building” for its massive scale, Yick Cheong is best photographed from the ground to show its towering height. Stand at a distance and point your camera up, making sure to align the building’s lines and windows. Photograph during the early morning to avoid harsh shadows cast by the midday sun. Edit after the fact for a dreamy, soft feel or a moodier, gritty image.
Lugard Road Loop
Head to the Victoria Peak Loop trail (which you can access from Old Peak Road or the Peak Tram) and make your way to Lugard Road, which some say is the best place to view the sunrise over Hong Kong. After you make your way to the Peak Tower, turn right and you’ll see signage for Lugard Road. Get there early, since many others will be there to catch the view, too. Use a tripod, if possible, and a wide-angle lens to capture the sprawl of the city below. You can also visit in the evening to catch the setting sun and the glitter of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers over the bay below.
Nan Lian Garden
A public park and one of Hong Kong’s jewels, Nan Lian Garden is built as a classical Chinese space in the Tang dynasty style. Covered in tiny hills, rocks, plants, and ponds, each element of the garden has been planned to minutia. Photograph the pagoda directly from the red bridge, or shoot the entire structure from afar to capture the whimsy of this public space. Capture reflections in the tiny, winding pond, and be sure to photograph the juxtaposition of the ancient-looking pagoda against the city’s more modern-looking skyline. Catch the structure in early morning or early evening light — that’s when it’ll look the most magical.
Striking inside and out, Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Innovation Tower is a must-visit for architecture photographers. Located in Hung Hom, Kowloon, the building is the epitome of futuristic and clean design that makes for striking photographs. Enter the tower to capture the sweeping lines of the interior.
Snap a few shots of a single subject on the sleek escalator, and be sure to photograph the vastness of the space and the welcome addition of natural light. Use a wide-angle lens and experiment with photo orientation (shooting in portrait will allow you to capture the building’s balconies). Adjust your camera’s shutter for long exposure and see if you can photograph the movement of students inside the building. The contrast of movement against the modern architecture will create a great visual composition.
Ping Shek Estate
Many of Hong Kong’s coolest photo opportunities are hidden in its housing blocks, also called “estates.” For an incredible view, venture to Ping Shek Estate in the Kwun Tong district. Head to the center of the cluster of buildings and look up.
You’ll be wowed by the seemingly infinite vortex-like view that the towering buildings afford. When photographing, be sure to focus your camera on the building, otherwise you’ll only capture the square of sky that’s visible and lose the fantastic detail of the stacked balconies. Visit when the sun is higher in the sky, so that each side of the building’s square is nicely illuminated.
Lok Wah South Estate
Located in Kwun Tong, just off of Chun Wah Road, is Lok Wah South Estate, a series of public rental housing “estates” that are inconspicuous, save for a few creative elements. The colorful children’s playground has proven to be excellent stomping grounds for curious photographers, and the roof of the parking garage is Lok Wah’s most oft-photographed asset. The roof hosts turquoise-colored concentric circles that serve as both a bizarre subject and a fascinating backdrop. We’re going to go against the grain here and encourage you to visit during midday — the shadows from the circle cutouts and the bars above create a texture-rich environment that’s fun to photograph on its own or as a backdrop for a portrait, or an acrobatic feat!
Lai Tak Tsuen
The artistry found in Hong Kong’s public housing estates continues with Lai Tak Tsuen, located in Tai Hang in the Wan Chai District. Visit the complex and walk to to the center of each building, but keep your eyes on the sky. You’ll be amazed by the tunnel-like view of the circular balconies. Photograph from different levels to capture a variety of views. Use a wide-angle lens, especially if you’re planning on photographing someone across a balcony, and make the most of the changing light to capture interesting shadows as they pass through the circular structures.
One of Hong Kong’s tastiest traditions is its infatuation with dim sum, a Cantonese cuisine served in small portions from steamer baskets. Dim sum is both a culinary and visual experience, and the sight of a table filled with delicacies is a must-capture when you visit Hong Kong. For traditional dim sum, head to Tim Ho Wan or Yan Toh Heen. Hello Kitty Fans, rejoice. There’s a restaurant devoted entirely to dim sum modeled after this famous feline. Try to photograph your table from above to capture the variety of dishes served and the intricacy of each basket, and don’t forget to utilize natural light for best results!
No visit to Hong Kong would be complete without a snapshot of the city’s famous neon lights. If you have the chance to visit Hong Kong in the next few years, be sure to get a photo because the shops of Hong Kong are slowly making the transition to LED lights, which do not have the same magic as neon. Visit Nathan Road, Jordan Road, Tung Choi Street, and Lockhart Road for neon-heavy zones.
Be sure to set your camera on a low light setting, and use a tripod to keep your image from blurring, since you’ll need to use a slower shutter speed to capture quality images. Experiment photographing from different angles and see if you can capture the flow of traffic alongside the vibrant signs.