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Hong Guide Travel Guide for First Time Visitors

Shopping, restaurants and top sites for your first Hong Kong vacation.

Hong Kong is one of the most exciting travel hotspots on the planet and with shopping, top restaurants, and variety of attractions, it can be difficult to choose what to see and do on your first vacation. Check out our top picks to help you plan your trip to Hong Kong.

#1 Victoria Peak

Epic views at Victoria Peak.

Epic urban views at Victoria Peak.

Start your adventures with a trip one of the world’s steepest funicular railways, The Peak Tram. On this seven-minute journey to Victoria Peak, you’ll truly appreciate Hong Kong’s hilly terrain, as you roll past impressive skyscrapers. Up top the panoramic views are truly spectacular.

A lot of people take the tram up, they look at the views and they go right back down, but to see Hong Kong from a completely different vantage point, try the Peak Circle Walk. It’s part of the Hong Kong Trail and it offers up tremendous views. This approximately two-mile trail is flat and winds around Victoria Peak, getting you away from the crowds and into Hong Kong greenery.

#2 Star Ferry in Victoria Harbor

Amazing views on the Star Ferry.

Amazing views on the Star Ferry.

Hong Kong is known for its amazing skyline and one of the best ways to see it is by riding the Star Ferry. This is an inexpensive way for travelers and locals alike to get out on Victoria Harbor. Starting at only two Hong Kong dollars or about 25 cents, you can take a ride across the harbor, just as Hong Kong locals have since 1888, enjoying Hong Kong’s most iconic waterside views.

#2 Mid-Levels Escalator

Hop on and hop off of this innovative city transportation system.

Hop on and hop off of this innovative city transportation system.

Another fun way to travel like the locals is by riding the Mid-Levels Escalator system, the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. The escalators move downhill in the morning, taking commuters to Central to work, and uphill from around 10:15 until midnight. And they get quite the use. In addition to locals riding the half mile journey, travelers may enjoy the ride for a birds eye view of Hong Kong. See something of interest, just stop at an exit point and enjoy.

Have tea with the locals at Lan Fong Yuen.

Have tea with the locals at Lan Fong Yuen.

One not-to-miss stop is Lan Fong Yuen for Hong Kong style milk tea. You can get it hot or cold here and watching how they make it is fascinating. If there’s a seat on the bench outside, snag it and enjoy your milk tea while you people watch. Hong Kong style milk tea is a staple that you don’t want to miss.

#3 Man Mo Temple

Serenity in the city at Man Mo Temple.

Serenity in the city at Man Mo Temple.

Named for the gods of literature and war, worshipped by students and scholars since the days of Imperial China, ornately decorated Man Mo Temple dates back to 1847 and is still in use today. It’s located along Hollywood Road on Hong Kong Island and uniquely placed amid towering skyscrapers. Incense coils, the size of which I’ve never seen before, hang from the ceilings and unique offerings are laid out on alters.

#4 Mong Kok Markets

Walking along Hong Kong's fragrant Flower Market.

Walking along Hong Kong’s fragrant Flower Market.

Well known for its shopping, you can definitely find anything and everything in Hong Kong. For your first visit, travel through Mong Kok on the Kowloon Peninsula. Mong Kok is famous for its shopping and a variety of markets showcase everything from the latest trends in footwear and fashion to goldfish to fresh flowers. There is actually a Goldfish Market, Sneaker Street, the Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi Street, and the fragrant Flower Market. These markets are all relatively close to one another, so you can walk or take a taxi between them– market hopping.

Mong Kok is a busy section of Hong Kong, so after your shopping experience, you’ll definitely want to rest your feet and eat. We recommend heading to Michelin-starred Lei Garden on Sai Yee Street for a Dim Sum lunch or dinner before or after your shopping adventures.

#5 Foodies Tour

Who's trying the pineapple bun first? With Silvana Leung of Hong Kong Foodie in a local's diner in Sham Shui Po, a foodies area of Hong Kong.

Who’s trying the pineapple bun first? With Silvana Leung of Hong Kong Foodie in a local’s diner in Sham Shui Po, a foodies area of Hong Kong.

Home to everything from top Michelin Starred restaurants to cozy diners, Hong Kong is a top vacation spot for food lovers. To really get to know its authentic cuisine, try an organized tour with a company like Hong Kong Foodie. Local guides will make sure you sample things like Hong Kong style milk tea and that infamous pineapple bun, which by the way doesn’t include any pineapples.

#7 Symphony of Lights

Head to the waterfront by Victoria Harbor for one of the best free shows in town. The Symphony of Lights has been touted by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest permanent light and sound show. It happens every night at 8pm. Arrive early to get a good spot, as this is a photo worthy event for sure.

#8 Nightlife

Interesting cocktails at Aberdeen Street Social.

Interesting cocktails at Aberdeen Street Social.

Hong Kong is a city that never sleeps and checking out the nightlife is a must to get a full picture of life in Hong Kong. Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) is a top area to enjoy restaurants and cocktails and with a range of rooftops through the city, you have your pick of places with awesome views. We tried cool cocktails at Bao Bei in LKF, but also took in the views with ocean-themed cocktails on the 26th floor of a new skyscraper in Causeway Bay at Seafood Room. There are lots of choices as the sun goes down in Hong Kong.

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Travels with Darley is a travel TV series broadcast on PBS stations and on digital networks, including the AOL On Network. Host Darley Newman of "Equitrekking" fame joins locals to showcase the top food, culture and adventure attractions in the USA and around the globe.

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