Capturing Hong Kong in Photos

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Hong Kong is not a beautiful city.

It's not one of those cities that you arrive in and are immediately charmed by, mostly because it's not particularly charming at first sight. If you're not at first struck by the by the smog, you'll be taken aback by the endless display of skyscrapers and neon advertising.

At least, this country girl was.

Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

But just because Hong Kong isn't beautiful doesn't mean that it's not interesting. It's VERY interesting — I mean, here you have a city that was under British rule until the mid-90s, and that now operates as a sort-of part of China.  It's an extremely modern city, with great, efficient public transportation and a skyline that is world-famous — and yet only about 30 years old.

I only had 2 days in Hong Kong, which of course is not long enough to truly uncover its character. But I did my best. Here's what I was able to see in the city in 2 days:

The Peak

Officially known as Victoria Peak, The Peak is one of the top tourist destinations in Hong Kong. On a good day, you can see out over Hong Kong Island, Victoria Harbor, Kowloon, and beyond from here. (Though, “good days” are not the easiest to come by here… I lucked out and actually had decent visibility!) To get the The Peak, you can take the Peak Tram, an old funicular that zooms up the mountain at a slightly alarming speed and angle. Just be aware that you will have to utilize your elbows while waiting in line to board. The views, though? So worth it. I paid extra to go up to the Sky Terrace 428, which is the weird-shaped building where my skyline shots were snapped.

The Peak Sky Terrace, Hong Kong

Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

The Peak, Hong Kong

Causeway Bay

One of the major shopping districts in Hong Kong is located around the Causeway Bay MTR stop on HK Island. Here you'll find multiple multi-level malls and just about any store you could dream of. You'll also find TONS of people — be sure to have a stroll around and cross one of the big intersections just for fun. I was also able to spy some fun Chinese New Year decorations here at a mall called Times Square.

Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Chinese New Year Decorations at Times Square Hong Kong

Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Chinese New Year Decorations at Causeway Bay

Markets

Hong Kong has some great markets to explore, whether you're looking for jade, antiques, or knock-off purses. I ventured to the Ladies Market in Mong Kok (Tung Choi Street), as well as the Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon. I didn't do much shopping, but these are usually great places to pick up souvenirs/gifts and to try out your haggling skills.

Hong Kong Ladies Market

Hong Kong Ladies Market

Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong

Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong

Green spaces

Believe it or not, even within this concrete jungle there are green spaces to be found. On my way to The Peak I stumbled upon Charter Garden and Statue Square — surprisingly quiet spots in the middle of the city.

(And I also spent half a day on Lantau Island, but that is being saved for my next post!)

Statue Square, Hong Kong

Charter Garden, Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong at night

Lastly, I explored a bit of Hong Kong at night. Taking the Star Ferry from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon one evening, I wandered around TST (Tsim Sha Tsui), walked the Avenue of Stars, and watched the skyline twinkle from across the harbor (though I sadly never did catch a light show). The city is perhaps even more lively at night, since most Hong Kong residents can be found out and about in the evenings.

Hong Kong Skyline at Night

Hong Kong at Night

Hong Kong at Night

Hong Kong at Night

 

So, is Hong Kong worth adding to your Asia itinerary?

For people who hate big, crowded cities, perhaps not. After all, in a relatively compact city with a population of about 7 million, there isn't much personal space to be found here.

I, however, am glad I decided to visit for a couple of days. It's extremely easy to get around Hong Kong (and nearly everything is in both Chinese and English), and it was interesting to explore a city so different from those I've found myself in in the past year or so.

Hong Kong

——

Is Hong Kong on YOUR travel list?

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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72 Comments on “Capturing Hong Kong in Photos

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  1. So glad you visited HK after all! It truly is an incredible city. For me, it was love at first sight (I cannot wait to go back!) but it is quite intense. You seem to have managed a good itinerary, and you even went to the Big Buddha!
    Can’t wait to continue following you on your Asia trip!
    Enjoy 🙂

      I won’t say that I’m not a big city person, but Hong Kong didn’t capture me like it did you! I still had a good time, though. And yes, the Big Buddha was actually the highlight of the trip for me!

    What I most remember about Hong Kong was the HUGE outdoor escalators that people used to get home to their apartment buildings. We only have a stopover in Hong Kong and were soooo jetlagged it was hard to enjoy it. Need to give it another go.

      I sadly didn’t make it to the really really long escalators (well, I saw them, but I didn’t have time to ride them!), but there are escalators EVERYwhere in HK! Even just on random side streets that are hilly.

    Great shots Amanda. So jealous right now. Hong Kong has been high up on my list for some time now. Have to make it happen soon!!!

    Great photos! I’ve seen some shots that it is just brown outside, so it looks like you got lucky with not as thick smog.

      It was still way too smoggy for my liking, but yes, compared to how it could be, I lucked out!

    What great photos! I’ve been to Hong Kong a few times and just love the place, I’d love to spend some extended time there someday. I see you also squeezed Sasa into a few of your shots too – that is my favourite beauty products/perfume store IN THE WORLD, sort of an Asian version of Sephora with tiny prices. Looks like your weather was good for January too! It was perhaps 5-10 degrees Celsius every day I was there a few Januarys ago, and all the locals thought it was like Antarctica, knocking each other over in their big North Face jackets 🙂

      People were still wandering around in puffy coats, but it wasn’t cold at all by my Ohio standards! I clearly stuck out like a sore thumb, though. 😉 Glad you liked the photos!

    gees it is just such a big and crazy city! overwhelming I imagine

      If you’re not a big city person, then yes it would be very overwhelming!

    Wow! Hong Kong is somewhere that I don’t really know much about, but from this it seems like a very vibrant, busy place. Even possibly a bit overwhelming (especially for a country girl like me)! But it looks like a great place to spend a couple of days. 🙂

      Yeah, it’s definitely a big change from the countryside!! But I didn’t know much about it either, so it was good to check it out for a couple of days.

    Not exactly, but I’d want to visit it for its dining scene.

    I rather enjoyed Hong Kong…but probably only for a few days. It’s pretty full on! Luck you got a good view from the The Peak; when I went one March several years ago it was really foggy and could barely see the water.

      Yes I definitely lucked out with the weather that day! I’ve seen plenty of cloudy photos, too.

      And I agree – I don’t know that I’d want to spend weeks in Hong Kong… unless I had lots of money to shop with. 😉

    Hong Kong is definitely on my travel list. I’m not into Asia all that much so I feel Hong Kong might be a good introduction, a good starting point to further exploration of the Asian continent. It does look kind of fabulous to me, a hardcore urbanite!

      It would be a GREAT intro to Asia for you. It’s super easy to navigate, and is Western enough that it’s not a huge shock to the system. And if you love cities, then you will probably adore HK!

    Great photos! Hong Kong has never really been on my radar. I just haven’t felt a pull there compared to other cities. But it certainly seems like a very unique place to visit, and how can you go wrong with so many knock off purses!

      Haha, yes, plenty of “copy purse, copy watch” to be found here. 😉

      Hong Kong was never really on my travel radar, either, but I guess that’s just because I haven’t read a ton about it. Hence why I decided to go!

    I love mega cities, the bigger the better 🙂 But yes, “beautiful” isn’t necessarily a word I would use to describe them. I studied abroad in Seoul, South Korea and your pictures definitely reminded me of there.

    And yes, Hong Kong is definitely on my travel “to do” list 🙂

      Sounds like you would really love Hong Kong!

      I definitely appreciated it. But HK is definitely not a “beautiful” city in the typical sense!

    Great photos and sights for just 2 days. I am not sure I would go to Hong Kong unless it was a layover stop. I am just not a crowd person and like my personal space a little too much 🙂

      Yeah, HK might be better for you as just a long layover then! It’s interesting to see, but I wouldn’t have wanted to spend a ton more time there either.

    As a “local”, I love seeing HK through your “tourist” lens! It was so great to meet up with you and I’m glad I was able to show you a tiny bit of my city. Well, as you know, I adored Hong Kong so after living there for two years that I decided to move back! It definitely can be a shock to the system if you’re not used to the smoggy, busy mega-cities in Asia. The funny thing is that while I love Hong Kong I really don’t like Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City — they are way more aggressive in terms of congestion, noise, and pollution! Very curious to read your impressions of those cities. Happy travels!

      It was great meeting up with you, too, Oneika! Thanks for showing me around a bit. 🙂

      I will be interested to see what I think of Bangkok and HCMC in comparison, too!

    Interesting to read your impressions on HK, because I actually felt quite differently. We arrived very late at night and all I could think was how dazzling and, yes, pretty the city was! It may not be beautiful in the conventional sense, but as someone who loves big cities, HK is just so striking and alive, I can’t help but love it and find it big city beautiful!

      Ah, you’re a city person! Well then yes, I can see you loving Hong Kong, especially if your first view of it was at night!

    Looks great! I’m heading to Hong Kong soon, looking forward to discovering the city’s interesting features!

    I consider myself to be a big urbanist, so I am raring to head there … maybe on an extended layover when I head back to Canada after this winter in SE Asia!

      It would be a good way to end your trip! And, you can fly pretty much anywhere from HK. 😉

    This is truly lovely! My favorite was going up to Victoria Peak to see the amazing views! Also incredible was the night market and taking a boat ride!
    http://liveitinerantly.com/

    Hong Kong was our first stop when we first visited SE Asia.. and it was definitely a culture shock but we loved exploring the city. We were there during Chinese New Year and the amount of people was insane! We only spent 4 days total before flying out, but are glad we stopped by!

      Yes this time of year is a fun time to be in this part of the world! I think HK is a great intro to Asia. Yes, there’s an element of culture shock. But it’s not nearly as shocking as if you went straight into China or Vietnam or something!

    So colorful! Your pictures are beautiful, as always. I’d love to explore those markets. Thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

    I don’t know if I want to go to Hong Kong…. Like I don’t really like crowds for a start.

    I get what you mean about being a country girl who is not used to the city lights and think they’re quite ugly. I showed my boss the picture you put on instagram, actually, and was like, “it’s quite… ugly”, haha.

      HK might not be the place for you then, Sammi. But that’s totally okay!

    I love love love your night shots! The city during the day doesn’t do too much for me, but the lights are fantastic.

    A very beautiful, colorful and sensory picture essay. Hong Kong certainly seems very interesting as you say Amanda!

    I think your post captured the essence of Hong Kong really well. Its skyline of skyscrapers are unmatched, so a visit to The Peak and/or Victoria Harbour is definitely a must. Probably the only other thing I’ll add is the food!! Street food in Hong Kong are abundant and they’re just awesome.

      Thanks, Andrew! I can’t say that I tried much street food (I’m not a super adventurous eater), but there definitely is lots of it!

    My 4th and last visit to Hong Kong was in summer 2005. Since my mom’s family lives in the New Territory, it’s a huge help having them around navigating the streets and which places to go for stuff.

    Chinese (Lunar) New Year starts on Jan. 31st this year. This year is the Horse. Happy New Year!

      Happy New Year to you, too, Elisa!

      And I agree – having someone local to show you around a new city is always great!

    Hong Kong has always had a strange allure to me – from it’s history as a British colony to now a major financial and cultural powerhouse in China represented by it’s sparkling skyline and energy. You just make we want to visit even more 🙂 – also agree with the comment above from Andrew, must try the food!

      Good to hear I’ve convinced you, Joseph! You should definitely get to HK sometime.

    I find it funny that you don’t think Hong Kong is beautiful. I guess it is pretty gritty and dirty, but I think that adds to its character! And the skyline! It’s probably the best I’ve seen.

    I feel that those who just visit for a few days, it’s very intense and most people end up disliking here. However, those who stay longer get a better feel and appreciation for here!

      Yes, I’m sure that I would need to spend more time there in order to really get a feel for HK. But I dunno… I’m just not a big city girl! (But I’ll agree with you on the skyline – it’s amazing, especially at night!)

    I’ve been to Hong Kong twice and it’s one of my favorite cities in the world! I could easily see myself living there. It’s easy to get around, has tons of things to do and see, and boasts a great culinary scene. I also find it an extremely beautiful city! The glitzy skyline surrounded by mountains is hard to beat. But I’m a big city kind of girl 🙂

      I’m not really a big city girl (with the exceptions of London and Chicago, which I LOVE), so that probably explains why I couldn’t picture myself living in HK. It was great to visit, though, and I agree with you on the great transport and wealth of things to do and eat!

    Hong Kong is my hometown and although the city is crowded and sometimes smoggy, it is indeed beautiful. You pictures are brilliant! I’m glad you enjoy it. The country side and outlying islands are great as well for hiking and breath some fresh(er) air!

      Thanks! I’m glad I got to explore it for a couple of days.

    Beautiful pictures! We are planning a trip to HK for next month (most likely) but will probably only spend 2-3 days there. I’m more of a small-town gal too so think that will be more than enough time in the city! 2 days in Bangkok was actually too much for me! Curious to see what you think 😉 Safe travels!

      Thanks, Brittany! I hope you enjoy Hong Kong – definitely head over to Lantau Island if you want to escape the crowds!

    Hong Kong is now on the travel list. I am looking forward to the markets, they look like my spot and the night time scene of the lights and glowing sky scrapers. I am also a little nervous for the Bungy Jump I will be doing over in Macau, hopefully I don’t crap myself. Cheers for the informative post

      Oh awesome you’re doing a bungy in Macao?? Wicked!

      Hope you enjoy Hong Kong!

    […] plan to spend a whole lot of time there. After being overwhelmed by the amount of people in Hong Kong and the amount of motorbikes in Hanoi, I was perfectly happy to limit my time in Bangkok to just 2 […]

    Beautiful city…
    I’d probably walk for days, weeks on end, exploring Hong Kong 🙂

      There’s certainly plenty to do and see!

    My husband goes to Hong Kong yearly for fair.
    but this time …like in two week we are going for our family get away to China, HK and Singapore.
    Not excited here but well I will have to see.
    China is exciting but being a veg /halal food eater it scares me.
    Your pics are way too good.
    loved your China wall post.

      Well I hope you enjoy it! I’m pretty sure you should be able to find vegetarian food. 🙂

    Hi Amanda,
    I’ve been trawling through the sites of my favourite bloggers doing some research for Hong Kong, as we’re headed there next – 10 days all up! We love big Asian cities though and think there’s a lot to discover and explore here. Will definitely add some of your experiences to the list.

      Hong Kong is so different from some of the other big Asian cities I’ve visited, but I think that’s part of what makes it so interesting! Have a great time!

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