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Why Hong Kong is more than a stopover

Hong Kong is a thoroughfare for travellers heading to Europe but most people never actually leave the airport during a stopover. Even if you’re pressed for time, families can knock off a lot of the hot spots in one day.

Victoria Peak

The view from the peak is spectacular. The high vantage point gives you a true sense of the enormity of this sprawling city.

A spectacular view of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak.
A spectacular view from Victoria Peak, Photo: Bethany Plint

High-rise buildings compete for dominance and are dwarfed only by the mountains on the horizon. The Peak Tower offers fantastic views but it’s not the only place to score an epic panorama shot. Skip the queue and save yourself some cash by heading to the Lions Gate lookout Tower just past the Tower entrance.

The Peak Tram

The Peak Tram has been operating since 1888, but don’t let its old age fool you. The 120-year old tram is a lot steeper and faster than you’d expect. Descending through a canopy of trees, you’ll want to have your camera at the ready for snapping the perfect shot where the buildings are framed by leaves. For adults, a one way costs HK$37 (around $6.30) and HK$52 ($8.60) return. For kids under 11, one way is HK$14 ($2.40) and HK$23 ($3.80) for a round trip.

The Peak Tram emerging from a surprising amount of greenery in Hong Kong.
The Peak Tram emerging from a surprising amount of greenery in Hong Kong, Photo: Bethany Plint

Victoria Harbour

If you thought the city was impressive during the day, just wait until you see I lit up at night. If you’re staying on Hong Kong Island, take the ferry across to Kowloon and find a spot along the water near the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

If you’re there at 8pm, you’re in for a treat. Looking across the harbour towards the city, the reflection of thousands (probably millions) of lights glimmer on the water as lasers shine up through the purple haze above. The 8pm light show happens daily but don’t be too disappointed if you miss it. The mass of lights from the buildings make for a pretty magical show anyway.

Traditional junk boat and lights on Victoria Harbour at night
Victoria Harbour is quite the spectacle at night, Photo: Bethany Plint

Shopping in Causeway Bay

It’s worth visiting Causeway Bay just to observe the chaos. Double decker trams roll past as impatient pedestrians duck an weave between the traffic. Hong Kong’s own Times Square is an incredible sight to see in the evening, but to take advantage of the fabulous shopping in the area, it’s best to head there during the day.

A few great places to score a bargain or stock up on designer goodies are SOGO (Hong Kong’s biggest department store), the Fashion Walk and Yee Woo street.

Neon signs and traffic in Causeway Bay, hong Kong
With that many neon signs around, I’m glad I’m not paying the electricity bill, Photo: Bethany Plint

Outdoor Markets

Wherever you are in Hong Kong, chances are there’s a market just around the corner. Hundreds of street vendors set up shop around the city, selling everything from luggage to seafood, kitschy souvenirs to delicate antiques.

The night market on Temple Street is the most popular among tourists, Ladies Market in Kowloon is great for clothes, jewellery and handbags, and Cat Street has loads of quirky antique stores to explore.

Colourful vegetables stacked up at roadside market in Hong Kong
One of many colourful roadside markets around Hong Kong, Photo: Alison Godfrey

Ride a double-decker tram

To get from one side of Hong Kong Island to the other, jump on the double-decker tram. It’s super fun and affordable, only HK$2.30 for adults and HK$1.20 for children under 12.

Make sure you have small change and don’t forget to pay the driver as you jump off.

Hong Kong's thin, two-decker trams
The skinniest trams I’ve ver seen, Photo: Shutterstock

Sword fighting in Victoria Park

You might not get the chance to swing a sword of your own but watching the locals practice their routines in the park is still pretty fun.

Victoria Park is a thriving hub for recreational meet-ups. Locals gather in the inner-city oasis to practice their dancing, Tai Chi and, of course, sword skills.

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