by Rachel Au

This blog was originally published on November 30, 2018 and was updated on December 16, 2019.

Got friends or family visiting Hong Kong soon and can’t decide where to take them? Other than the typical tourist haunts like Aqua Luna, the Peak Circle Walk, Dragon’s Back, the Star Ferry or the Peak Tram, here are our favorite activities in Hong Kong guaranteed to amaze all visitors in the city.

1. Be amazed by the architecture at K11 MUSEA

K11 MUSEA, Hong Kong’s newest cultural-retail shopping mall on Victoria Dockside in Tsim Sha Tsui, boasts stunning architecture both inside and out. Helming the architecture of K11 MUSEA is James Corner, who also designed the High Line in New York City, and Forth Bagley of Kohn Pederson Fox.

On its facade is one of the world’s largest living walls– a vertical stretch of greenery that looks amazing both in photos and in real life. Warm shades of wood and brass line the interior, which features fluid contours resembling the movement of the sea.

The shopping mall even has a rooftop garden designed by James Corner Field Operations on the rooftop. Named Bohemian Garden, this oasis is spread across two levels, and features cascading water terraces, a chef’s garden and an oval lawn where children to run around in. The beautiful architecture makes K11 MUSEA one of the best places to take visitors in Hong Kong in 2019.

2. Relive childhood memories at the AIA Carnival

Relive your childhood memories of summers at the fairground at the AIA Great European Carnival at the Central harborfront! Hong Kong’s biggest carnival, it offers thrilling rides, tons of game booths, and an endless array of toys as prizes! The carnival will also see the return of the Great Circus of Europe, bringing incredible aerial skills, balancing acts and lots of fun entertainment lined up for the entire family. Open from December 12, 2019 to February 16, 2020, the carnival is a fun-filled addition to itineraries for visitors in Hong Kong this winter.

3. Take a free guided tour of Tai Kwun

Tai Kwun

Tai Kwun in Central is one of Hong Kong’s hottest spots for art and heritage. Extremely popular among Instagram influencers and photographers as a location for photoshoots, this restored historical site now offers free guided tours in English or Cantonese. The 45-minute tour serves as an introduction to Tai Kwun’s heritage as the city’s former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison. Click here to book a session! After the tour, enjoy high tea at Madame Fu or colonial-themed cocktails at The Dispensary.

4. Bet on horses at racecourses

Take your friends and family to try their luck at the Sha Tin or Happy Valley Racecourse and they might just become millionaires overnight! Races are usually held on Wednesdays and Sundays (and the occasional Saturday), but check this calendar out to make sure. We suggest taking visitors to the Happy Valley Racecourse on Wednesday nights for the Happy Wednesday party, where you’ll find great music, scrummy bites and tons of drinks! The racing season is from September to July, so if your friends and family are visiting in August, you’ll have an excuse to have them come again. Just a reminder– only gamble in moderation, and your wallet will thank you.

5. Take a Foodie Tour

If we could only choose one thing to do in Hong Kong, it would be eating. There’s nothing better for visitors in Hong Kong than taking a food tour and eat at the best tried-and-tasted joints. If you are stuck at work or want to avoid the hassle of planning and bringing visitors to line up at local eateries, just send them on local food tours! Offering interesting local delicacies and insight into each neighborhood’s unique history, architecture and culture, a foodie tour is bound to serve up some food for thought for first-time and frequent visitors alike.

Hong Kong Foodie’s tasting tours are available on Saturdays and in the evenings too if you want to come along with your visitor but have a regular Monday to Friday job. Check out our Foodie Tours:

Daytime experiences — Central & Sheung Wan Foodie Tour, Sham Shui Po Foodie Tour

Evening experience — Temple Street Night Foodie Tour

6. Visit Tsz Shan Monastery

Nestled within the lush, rolling hills of Tai Po is a Buddhist temple named Tsz Shan Monastery, its architectural style inspired by the solemn and elegant styles of the Tang, Northern Song, Liao and Jin dynasties. After braving through the overwhelming hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, your friends and family will appreciate the calming atmosphere of this spiritual sanctuary. Visit the monastery by registering online here, and return to the city feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

7. Feast on a seafood dinner in Sai Kung

Sai Kung seafood

A seafood feast is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on any visitor in Hong Kong, especially one in Sai Kung. This picturesque seaside town may offer fun boat trips to nearby islands and plenty of water sports, but its fleet of seafood restaurants is what all locals flock there for. Treat your friends and family to the freshest seafood at Sai Kung’s seafood street, and have the best time chatting over a cold beer while digging succulent crab meat out of the shell.

8. Go hiking

Besides Dragon’s Back, Hong Kong offers countless quieter hikes that offer just as nice a view, if not better. Take your visitors to discover lesser-known trails that offer pristine waterfalls, colonial history and traditional temples to burn off the extra calories from your Sai Kung seafood feast. Check out our round-up of Hong Kong short hikes and lesser-known hikes for ideas!

9. Bike along the sea

If hikes aren’t enough to burn off all the calories from your seafood binge, bike along the gorgeous Tolo Harbor, all the way to the picturesque Plover Cove dam, where you’ll be greeted with majestic bodies of water on both sides– the Plover Cove reservoir on one side, and the Plover Cove sea on the other. We suggest taking the 18 km route from the Sha Tin Sports Association Bicycle Park near Tai Shui Hang MTR station to Plover Cove reservoir for the best views, which will take 2-3 hours.

10. Explore street markets in Sham Shui Po

sham shui po fabric

From fabric and ribbons on Ki Lung Street and Yu Chau Street to electronic trinkets on Ap Liu Street, DIY gurus, tech geeks and basically anyone will find knick-knacks that strike their fancy at Sham Shui Po’s street markets. Visitors in Hong Kong will love these digging through goodies in these open-air markets to find their own piece of treasure. Sham Shui Po is also home to some of Hong Kong’s best local eateries– check out our Sham Shui Po Foodie Tour to see where to grab the best food in the area!

11. Go grocery shopping at wet markets

Give your friends and family the full Hong Kong treatment by taking them on a tour of a wet market, where they’ll be presented with a cacophony of crazy scents, sounds, and sights. With live fish flopping around for their last breath, bullfrogs squashed against each other in tiny cages, and animal guts being hung around like bloody laundry, wet markets will definitely shock animal rights activists and impress adventurous foodies.

12. Get lost in Tai O

Tai O

For a slice of Hong Kong’s history as a fishing village, head over to Tai O on Lantau Island to experience the city’s only village on water. Teeming with tradition and old-school charm, Tai O presents a quiet, friendly side of Hong Kong rarely seen in the city. Houses are perched seemingly precariously on stilts, while small boats shuttle in between them. Make sure your visitors buy a jar of shrimp paste– one of Tai O’s best-known exports, and absolutely delicious in stir-fries.