Travelling to Hong Kong? Looking for things to do in Hong Kong? Don’t get sucked into the busy tourist spots. Have an authentic experience in Hong Kong to truly understand the culture!
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Hong Kong is known as an intense, cosmopolitan city. It’s one of the banking capitals of the world, and full of tall buildings, shopping malls, and stylish people. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the lights and sounds! If you can see past all of the glitz (and grime) of the big city it is possible to navigate yourself into a truly authentic experience.
Here’s what to do in Hong Kong for an authentic, cultural experience!
1. Take a Locally-Guided City Tour
Taking a local city tour is a great way to get to know a new city. Locals will know more history and hidden spots than you could find on your own, and they provide a safe place to ask questions about the city.
We took a city photography tour with a local and it was amazing! Not only did we get to see parts of town we didn’t know existed, we also got some great candid family photo shoots a week later. If you’re interested in finding some great Instagram Hong Kong spots this is the best way!
2. Take a classical Chinese painting class
Focus your attention on beautiful, fine details instead of the larger sights and sounds of the city with a beginner’s art class.
Aura art studio has two locations in Hong Kong which rent out easels to local artists. They also offer 2-hour classes on classical Chinese painting or letter seal carving, taught by professional Chinese artists! Classes are in either location and offered in English.
This is a great way to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the art and culture of Hong Kong and mainland China!
3. Get a Reflexology Foot Massage
Massage parlors are very common around Hong Kong. Throughout the city you’ll see Lite Brite-style colored signs featuring a foot and it’s reflexology sections and women on the street handing out massage price flyers. Don’t be alarmed- these massages are perfectly safe! The only difference among them all is going to be the cleanliness of the studios. More expensive parlors will cleaner, as expected.
You can get an hour-long foot massage for between $10-20 USD, which feels wonderful on feet that walk and walk and walk!
4. Take Public Transportation
The public transportation system in Hong Kong is one of the best in the world. It consists of single and double decker busses, double decker rail cars, subway, and ferries.
All of these modes accept coins as payment, but it’s easier to buy an Octopus Card, the local transportation card. Buy the card from an information booth at a MTR (train) station, and fill it as needed by the MTR machines or in any 7-Eleven or Watsons drug store. The card itself is pretty expensive but you get a refund on it when you turn it back in at the end of your stay.
Public transportation in Hong Kong is really easy to navigate! Signs are clearly marked and all stops are announced in English. If you do end up having any trouble stop in at an information booth in any MTR station; employees speak English and are used to foreigners!
5. Eat Your Weight in Dim Sum
Dim Sum are little baskets of pasta filled with different meat or vegetables and then steamed or fried to cook. They are immensely popular in Hong Kong! You’ll find Dim Sum restaurants all over the place. Look for lines: those are usually the best!
The most popular Dim Sum house is Tim Ho Wan. It’s a Michellin-starred restaurant, and there’s usually a long line outside. If you choose to go you’ll be seated at long tables next to strangers, as they fill every possible seat. It can be a really fun experience, though, as you will probably see other tourists and can talk about which Dim Sum you liked!
In any Dim Sum house you’ll be given a long sheet to fill out with your order. Dim Sum usually come in sets of 4 and are relatively cheap, so order as many as you want! Our favorites are shrimp-filled and meatballs. Yum!
6. Take a Hike
We tend to forget that Hong Kong is an island surrounded by hills. There are many large public parks in the city, and many opportunities to get out in nature.
Check out this list of the top 10 hikes in and around Hong Kong to spend a day away from the crowds!
7. Take a Tai Chi Lesson
Tai Chi is a wonderful way to relax in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. Its a traditional Chinese technique with a long history in Hong Kong.
This class is offered by a Tai Chi master with over a decade of experience. It’s taught in the middle of a popular Hong Kong neighborhood with a great view!
8. Run Errands
We believe the best way to get to know a new city and the people who live there is to run errands. We already covered taking public transportation, and the next steps are laundry and groceries. Find a nearby Marks & Spencer or PARKnSHOP and get an idea of what foods locals eat on a daily basis! Try new fruits, drinks, and candies for an authentic and delicious experience.
It’s easy enough to send your laundry out to a service if your hotel or AirBnB isn’t equipped with a working washer (or if you just aren’t interested in doing it yourself.) Search for laundry near you and you’ll probably be directed to a laundry district. There will be a block or so of laundry rooms, filling the street with beautiful smells and tranquil humming.
Bring your dirty laundry in a plastic bag, weigh it in the scale beside the door, and a woman behind a counter will write a ticket for how much it costs based on the weight. We did our laundry twice and it cost around $5USD each time! Pick up the laundry by closing that day and it will be freshly cleaned and folded in a branded plastic bag for you.
Easy, fun, and rewarding!
We hope you take some time to experience the local, authentic side of Hong Kong during your vacation!
If you have any other tips on unique things to do in Hong Kong please share in the comments!