If you look online for the best things to do in Hong Kong, undoubtedly Victoria Peak will come up top. It offers sprawling views across the Hong Kong cityscape and beyond to the South China Sea. After a wonderful day in Macau, we wanted to get acquainted with the crazy city of Hong Kong. What better way than scaling the highest peak of the city? So off we set in search of those iconic views.
Arriving at Victoria Peak
Usually, there’s a Peak Tram which many visitors like to take up to Victoria Peak. It’s meant to be a great experience, but unfortunately, it was undergoing maintenance during our visit in June. Not a problem – we caught the bus instead. We took two buses from Mong Kok and settled in on top deck for the view. There’s something about being on a double decker bus that really does remind me of Hong Kong’s colonial ties.
How crazy must it be to live in this building? We enjoyed the forty minute ride up to the top of Victoria Peak taking in the surrounding views as we climbed the height gradually. It’s undoubtedly the best bus journey I’ve ever taken, and part of the experience itself. Before you know it, you reach the Peak Lookout, and get the treat of incredible panoramic views.
Victoria Peak Lookout, Hong Kong
Hong Kong never looked so good! The view reminds me a little of Vancouver, with its glossy skyscrapers and blue ocean landscape. The peak itself is a mountain on Hong Kong Island, that’s a whopping 1,181 feet above sea level.
If you’re so inclined, some people do choose to walk up Victoria Peak. I can’t imagine how sweaty you’d be in June’s humidity, but we did see several people doing it.
We took in the beauty of the area and couldn’t take our eyes off the breathtaking views. Visitors can walk around from the Lookout to the Lions Pavilion, which is surrounded by lush vegetation. We spotted butterflies in among the jungle like greenery.
Conveniently, at the Victoria Peak Lookout there’s a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants. It was surprising to even see a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. We went into the Peak Galleria, which is a shopping mall at the peak. Searching for food, we found KALA Toast, which specializes in natural grilled cheese with a difference.
I chose the rainbow toast, which includes a variety of flavoured cheeses. There’s blue lavender cheese, green basil cheese, red tomato cheese, and regular truffle cheese too. It’s a little expensive and gimmicky, but is pretty tasty and certainly filled a hole.
Victoria Peak Gardens
After our pitstop, we went to carry on right to the top of Victoria Peak. Continue a short walk up from the Lookout, and you’ll soon find Victoria Peak Gardens. It’s a stunning Victorian-style Chinese garden, complete with pavilions and pagodas.
Victoria Peak Gardens was once the site of Mountain Lodge, the summer lodging of the Governor of Hong Kong. Nowadays, it’s these gorgeous lush gardens with another beautiful view of Hong Kong.
As well as the gorgeous iron railings and British style garden, the highlight here is the views. Although the Victoria Peak Lookout has incredible vistas, they only look north. From the Peak Garden, you can also see the west and south of Hong Kong Island too, for completely different scenery.
There’s a small refreshment stand at the top, where you can grab a cold beer and enjoy the lookout point. We found it’s a little quieter up here which made it a wonderfully peaceful place to hang out. Lucy and I sat and watched the fog roll in across the scenery.
We took one last look over the north view across Hong Kong on our descent down from Victoria Peak. Truly magical, and my Hong Kong highlight so far. It took us around thirty minutes to walk down to the bottom, and my goodness, our calves afterwards!
Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong
For our next stop, we wanted to see a temple so set off for Man Mo Temple. We passed this amusing number plate en route – someone clearly takes their dim sum very seriously.
Man Mo Temple is a grade I historic building in the busy Sheung Wan neighbourhood of Hong Kong. It pays tribute to both the God of Literature and the God of War.
Built back in 1847, Man Mo Temple is one of the largest in Hong Kong. Visitors can step inside from the craziness of the surrounding streets, and into the tranquility of the temple. Relax with the burning incense coils that are hanging from the ceiling.
Don’t miss the fortune-telling area – it’s a traditional practice at Taoist temples. You take a container of bamboo sticks and shake them in front of one of the golden statues. Ask a question out loud, and shake the sticks. One will fall out onto the floor. You then take your stick to the fortune teller, who selects a piece of paper based on the stick you give him.
We both then had our fortunes told, for a price of around $3 each. Mine told me he knew I was single, and that I’d meet someone between August and December (we’ll see about that). Lucy’s was interestingly pertinent as she’s recently moved to Vancouver from London. He mentioned that she’d had a big change in her career, and to not make any changes again any time soon. It was a truly fascinating experience.
Outside, there’s a stunning pink wishing tree. If you like, visitors can pin their wishes to the tree in the hope of them one day coming true.
Dim Sum in Hong Kong
Next up – some proper food! We wanted to try some authentic dim sum, so walked past Cat Street Market towards Dim Sum Square. We passed some bizarre signs along the way.
I really love being able to work through a menu and simply put a cross next to all the delicious things you want to try. We got a handful of dim sum dishes to share.
We tried baked barbecue pork buns, steamed prawn dumplings, pan fried turnip cakes, roasted eggplant, and some fried chicken and mushroom cakes. It was all pretty good and by far the best dim sum of our trip. So good in fact that we ordered a second round of dishes. It was all very reasonably priced too, so I’d highly recommend.
We were off out that night drinking in Hong Kong, so left feeling accomplished that we’d lined our stomachs. We walked across to the MTR station, taking in the sights around us. With similar infrastructure, left-hand driving, and red double decker buses, I did feel relatively at home in Hong Kong.
A lot of our time in Hong Kong was spent giggling at shop and street names. That’s what you get if you stay on Man Fuk Road. Mankee certainly means something us for us Brits, that isn’t quite so appetizing.
Happy Valley Racecourse, Hong Kong
Horse racing has long been a Hong Kong tradition. It’s something I knew I wanted to attend since before booking our trip to Hong Kong – I’m from Cheltenham after all! Racing became a fixture in the city back in 1841, when it was only for the elite. Nowadays, Happy Valley Racecourse on Hong Kong Island shows that horse racing is a mainstream sport for anyone who wants to catch it.
Between September and July, punters can try their luck at the horse racing. There are a few championships throughout the year, but Happy Wednesdays is usually where they’re at. We visited on a Wednesday, where there are night carnivals, live racing, food, drink, and competitions. It’s also just a few dollars for entry, which you can pay using your Octopus card.
We didn’t have too much luck on the races, but we did have drinks and lots of fun. We spoke to some locals, and joined contests from local sponsors. Lucy even won a bespoke San Miguel chopstick set.
It was a really fun evening, and an event I’d recommend anyone attending on a Wednesday night. We grabbed some chicken nuggets from the onsite McDonald’s, and headed off for our next destination – Lan Kwai Fong.
Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong
For anyone unfamiliar with Lan Kwai Fong, it’s one of Hong Kong’s most popular spots for nightlife. Almost a hundred bars and restaurants are located in the area, serving up anything from classy cocktails to two for one buckets of cheap booze. Expats and locals alike mingle here to party and drink the night away, and it’s a lot of fun.
As a Wednesday, this means it’s Ladies Night in many of the bars. Depending on which bar you go to, this can mean a different deal. We went first to Graffiti, which served up unlimited vodka and cranberry for girls all night long. It was lovely not to have to reach into our purses all night!
We had such a fun night, met a bunch of people, and partied the night away. Lan Kwai Fong is one of the best party streets I’ve been to for sure. We ended the night with shots and woke up feeling not so great.
A wonderful first full day in Hong Kong, and I can’t wait to see what else this vibrant city has to offer over the rest of the week.
Have you visited Victoria Peak? Which are your favourite viewpoints to enjoy? Let me know if you love Lan Kwai Fong as much as we did!