There are so many great Hong Kong districts. Even though Hong Kong is relatively small, it’s large when it comes to places to stay and things to do. Hong Kong is separated into districts, and each district offers a unique mix of culture, food, activities, and transportation. When planning your visit to Hong Kong, it’s helpful to become familiar with these different “neighborhoods” and what they have to offer visitors.
While there are many Hong Kong districts, the list below only includes the most popular districts for visitors to Hong Kong – places that are close to the main attractions, transportation, and accommodations.
Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island is the heart of Hong Kong. It is where the biggest part of the city is located, as well as a lot of history and free tourist sites. That’s not to say that there aren’t sights elsewhere, off the island. But there are many parts to this island, and some areas feel a world away from the bustling city neighborhoods!
Hong Kong Districts: Central & Mid-Levels
The Central area is the primary financial and commercial hub of the city. Trade and finance has always been major industries in Hong Kong, so you will find many international banks and corporate headquarters around here. The area is also known for it’s many skyscrapers & seemingly endless luxury malls and shops. So you can do a lot of damage to your bank account around here.
From Central, you can head up the mountain toward the “mid-levels” using the escalator system. The Mid-Levels escalator is the largest escalator-transportation system in the world, which connects apartments high up on the mountain to the Central business area. The steep mountains and streets are difficult to walk, so taking the escalator makes it much more enjoyable. Essentially, this is an “escalator-highway” and people commute to and from work by escalator…which is pretty unique!
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The Central / Mid-Levels area has a lot of great restaurants, and nightlife. After all, this is where busy workers come to relax for happy hour between work and home. This area is also where you can find many awesome international restaurants — just about any kind of food from anywhere in the world, from American, Italian, French, Mexican, and even Southern BBQ…you can find it here! However, this is a pricey district for accommodations and restaurants.
Lastly, you will find The Peak Tram in this area. This funicular tram takes people on a steep journey through the mid-levels to The Peak Lookout for great views over the city. For a unique way to experience The Peak, there is also a hiking trail that connects the lookout to the mid-levels. Warning, it is extremely steep — difficult to walk up, and hard on the legs to walk down. But we have walked down from the Peak before, and it’s a beautiful journey through the lush forest to the mid-levels.
Hong Kong Districts: Sheung Wan
This area adjacent to the Central district is actually where the British first landed on the island. However, they moved most of their business and living to the Central area — and the Sheung Wan area quickly became a primarily Chinese neighborhood.
This part of town is full of traditional Chinese medicine shops, as well as a some local shopping market streets, including Asian antiques. You will also find the Man Mo Temple. Built in 1847, it was once the heart of this old Chinese neighborhood. The Sheung Wan district of Hong Kong is a wonderful place to go for a walk and explore the traditional lives of people in Hong Kong.
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Hong Kong Districts: Wan Chai
With a long history, the Wan Chai district was one of the earliest developed areas of Hong Kong. And this vibrant neighborhood is one of our absolute favorites! It has a ton of character with it’s long history, and mix of international residents, and it is a hub of art and culture in the area. There are a number of hotels located in Wan Chai, and transportation is plentiful and easily accessible.
Wan Chai is less luxurious than in the Central and mid-levels area, but it definitely has a mix of high-end shopping and dining along with affordable shops and street food. It makes for a colorful, laid back area. If we could pick a place to live in Hong Kong, this would be it! There’s a lot to do for both locals, and visitors…and TONS of great restaurants!
Causeway Bay is loaded with shopping. A bit of entertainment too…but mostly shopping! It’s a heavily touristy area, with a lot of shops, restaurants, and hotels. While there is a street market here (Jardines Crescent), the area mostly consists of massive shopping malls.
It’s connected well to the rest of Hong Kong with transportation (including a tunnel coming from Kowloon) and it’s convenient for people traveling to and from the south side of the island (through the tunnel to Aberdeen). Beyond shopping and dining, Victoria Park is a beautiful place for a stroll, or to watch early morning Tai Chi.
Hong Kong Districts: Fortress Hill and Beyond
Travel northeast from Central and Causeway Bay, you will enter Fortress Hill. This district, as well as many of those beyond it, are primarily local residential areas. There are some offices here, and a few sights and some markets…but overall, there isn’t a lot for visitors to explore here beyond the neighborhoods.
However, there are some moderately priced hotels here, which may be cheaper than nearby Causeway Bay — yet it’s easily accessible to the touristy areas. I’ve stayed in this area before, and found it to be cheap while still convenient.
Hong Kong Districts: Aberdeen / Stanley (South Side of Hong Kong Island)
Heading to this part of the island is a great escape from the busy city districts. Taking the tunnel from the Causeway Bay area, it takes barely 10 minutes to feel like you are in a whole different country! Instead of skyscrapers, you will find relaxing villages like Stanley, resort areas like Repulse Bay, and old fishing areas such as Aberdeen. You can also take the hop on and hop off Big Bus Tour to get here.
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There are beaches galore, watersports and hiking, and some great scenery. Beyond that, you will find Ocean Park, Hong Kong’s original theme park that stretches out onto a steep peninsula! Josh and I actually have a blast visiting Ocean Park…and the views from the rides are just incredible!
You can get more hotel for your money here in this area, and it is much of a peaceful and relaxing setting. Yet, you can take public transportation to the bustling city areas whenever you want. Just know that if you primary goal is shopping and nightlife, then you may feel far removed from the action if you stay in this part of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Districts: Tsim Sha Tsui
The heart of Hong Kong’s tourism, Tsim Sha Tsui is a busy area on the Kowloon Peninsula (just across from Hong Kong Island) and loaded with shopping, dining, hotels, and tourist attractions. Nathan Road is the main street that runs all the way through numerous districts, to the water at the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade area.
The Tsim Sha Tsui promenade overlooks the famous Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong Island’s skyline, the Avenue of the Stars “Walk of Fame,” historic Hong Kong forts, and iconic Hong Kong hotels (such as the Peninsula). Many visitors take a Victoria Harbor cruise, but in the evening, many people will gather along the promenade to watch the light show over the harbor. But another popular activity is taking a night cruise on the harbor during the Symphony of Lights show.
Museums in the area include the Museum of Hong Kong, the Space Museum, and the Hong Kong Art Museum, Science Museum, and cultural center are located here to. So there’s lots to do in this part of Hong Kong!
Tsim Sha Tsui is also very well connected by public transportation to all parts of Hong Kong. This area is also close to Hung Hom, the train station that connects Hong Kong to mainland China. There are many MTR stations and bus stops in this area, making it easy to get to and from the airport. This is also where some ferries dock, as well as cruise ships that are making stops in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Districts: Jordan & Yau Ma Tai
Similar to Tsim Sha Tsui to the south, Jordan is bustling with things to do for visitors. There are a number of markets here (including the Jade market and Temple Street market), as well as hotels and restaurants.
You will also find a lot more local food in this area, but there are international options too. The food can still be a bit expensive if you eat right in the middle of the market areas. So we recommend venturing just off onto the market side streets &you will find better deals.
Hong Kong Districts: Mong Kok
Mong Kok is historically a more local side of Hong Kong, and it maintains its traditional roots. It was actually named the busiest district in the world by Guinness World Records.
You will find a lot of things to do here, including shopping at many of the local markets (there are a lot of them), including the Gold Fish Market, the Flower Street Market, and the Ladies Market (However, personally we find the Ladies Market to be very touristy – with pushy sellers and not very good prices. We have gotten better deals at other markets around town).
While shopping is popular, there are also a variety of food options in Mong Kok. International food is available, but popular local foods include Dim Sum, fishballs, and fried beancurd (tofu). Another activities is to pay a visit to the early morning Po Street Bird Garden also makes for a cheerful morning, while watching the birds and owners socialize with each other.
For a unique perspective, how about taking a walking tour of Hong Kong’s street markets?
Beyond the city, the New Territories offer things to do for travelers who are a bit more adventurous and want to see the true local culture. Taking the train just a short trip outside of town, it feels like you are in a very different place.
There aren’t as many places to stay out in this part of Hong Kong, and they are not as convenient to some of the attractions; so this is where you want to go to escape the big city. It is much more peaceful out here, and more relaxing.
There are a few museums, such as the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Sha Tin, where you will find a lot of art and historical artifacts from Hong Kong, as well as an exhibition about their most famous resident, Bruce Lee. Also, there are a number of religious sites such as the 10,000 Buddha Monastery.
But the most popular thing to do in the New Territories is to relax with nature. Taking a bike ride, going for a hike, or finding a hidden waterfall or beach are popular things to do.
The Islands of Hong Kong!
While there are technically more than 200 islands in Hong Kong, only a few of them are accessible and have things to do. You can visit many of Hong Kong’s islands and beautiful beaches (yes, beaches!), but the most popular is Lantau Island, famous for it’s giant Buddha statue and Po Lin Monastery high up in the mountains.
But this large island also offers many other things for visitors, including Tai O fishing village, lots of hiking trails, beautiful beaches…and the Discovery Bay resort area, which is actually where Disneyland is located! There are actually many things to do on Lantau Island. To make the most of your visit (and save you time with planning), you can choose to take a day tour of Lantau Island which will take you to all the top spots.
Lamma Island is also another popular, and more peaceful island. This smaller island is located just off of the Hong Kong Island and accessible by ferry. It’s much more relaxed, and offers great beaches and hiking trails.
Cheung Chau Island is a very quiet island. While there aren’t are whole lot of tourist sites here, the island is famous for it’s windsurfing beach and annual Bun Festival. Peng Chau is another small island in Hong Kong. With some small beaches, hiking and biking trails, and temples, it is mostly a relic of old industry with abandoned workshops.
Choosing the Right Place to Stay in Hong Kong
With so many different areas of Hong Kong, it can be difficult to decide on a place to stay. The good news is that the different districts and even many of the islands of Hong Kong are relatively well connected to each other via Hong Kong public transportation – whether that is train, bus, tram or ferry. However, transportation can get pricey if you are constantly having to travel around town.
Our recommendation is that you put together a “must see” list for your visit to Hong Kong, and then look on the map to see where they are located. Then you can narrow down your hotel search based upon the districts that are most convenient for the sights that you want to see. Enjoy your trip!
Check out a complete list of awesome tours and activities for your visit to Hong Kong!
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