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. 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.

    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!

    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!)

    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.

    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!

    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!

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

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

    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!

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

    Happy travels 🙂

    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!

    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/

    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. 😉

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

    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!

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