Secret spots, hidden gems, and fun things to do! We’re spilling our top secret information on living in Hong Kong.
Whether you’re a party person or a homebody, Hong Kong has so much to offer, including a variety of karaoke bars, dive bars, and local markets. And if you want to scout out interesting locations, avoid busy situations, and find hidden spots in the city, we felt it only right to share some of our personal favourites. So, here are some useful tips and hacks for you and your friends who are living in Hong Kong – pass them on!
Tips you need to know if you’re living in Hong Kong
Carly Wu, Writer
1. Durian dou hua
If you’re into both tofu and durian, you’ve got to try the durian dou hua by Yi Dou Hua. Dou hua (豆花) is a type of popular Chinese dessert incorporating soft tofu and brown syrup. With a generous dollop of durian on top, it becomes such a unique and deliciously divine street snack, and this combo is only available in the Mong Kok branch! (You can’t not try dou hua when you’re living in Hong Kong.)
Yi Dou Hua, G/F, 80 Bute Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong, p. 3956 9422, 旺角弼街80號地舖一豆花
2. Make some money!
My favourite platforms to buy/sell secondhand CDs, books, or vintage clothing are Carousell and Sparktake. Snap a picture of the things you want to resell, post them on the apps, and potential buyers will direct message you! Then, simply set up a meeting and close the deal. You will find lots of cool stuff over there at a much cheaper price.
3. Where to find comics
Having a hard time finding French novels or comics when you’re living in Hong Kong? I love going over to Parentheses Librairie Française and having a browse through the latest offerings. From Guy Delisle to Riad Sattouf, it has it all!
You can also shop manga at Mong Kok’s Sino Centre.
Parenthèses Librairie Française, 2/F, Duke Wellington House, 14-24 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, p. 2526 9215, 中環威靈頓街14-24號威靈頓公爵大廈2樓
4. Have a picnic
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park in Sai Ying Pun is a convenient location to have a picnic. It has a nice soft patch of grass to lounge on. Plus, it is very close to Sheung Wan MTR – not far away from the city at all. Honestly, you’re not living in Hong Kong right if you’re not picnicking!
Read about our favourite picnic spots in Hong Kong.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park, 16 Eastern Street North, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, 西營盤東邊街北十六號中山紀念公園
5. Chill out at the luxe Pret A Manger
Wanna enjoy a healthy Pret sandwich in Central but want to avoid crowded branches like the ones in the MTR or IFC? We recommend you check out the cosy Pret cafe in Nan Fung Tower. It has such a comfy and relaxing ambience, unlike the others, and there’s always lots of food to choose from.
Oh, and with Pret celebrating its 20th anniversary in the 852 this year, don’t miss out on its limited-edition items (available until 21 June), all inspired by #HomeKong. We love the Char Siu-ndwich; Siu Mei Goose Baguette; Typhoon Prawn Hot Wrap; and the Birthday Longevity Cake in Passion Fruit & Peach (which resembles a Chinese birthday bao!).
Pret A Manger, Shop G-6, G/F, Nan Fung Tower, 88 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong, 中環干諾道中88號南豐大廈地下G6號鋪
Anson Yip, Videographer and Photographer
6. Yen Chow Fabric Market
If you are a fan of crafts or fashion, then you need to visit the unique textile market in Sham Shui Po and join the handmade workshops. There are so many fabrics to choose from!
Check out our Sham Shui Po shopping guide for craft lovers.
Yen Chow Street Temporary Hawker Bazaar, 373 Lai Chi Kok Road, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong, 深水埗荔枝角道373號欽州街臨時小販市場
7. Football match
Watch a Hong Kong Premier League Football match at Sham Shui Po Sports Ground, and enjoy a local soccer match with enthusiastic fans.
Sham Shui Po Sports Ground, 3 Hing Wah Street, Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 長沙灣興華街3號深水埗運動場
8. Yum Cha and hike combo
You can’t miss out on yum cha when you’re living in Hong Kong! One of my favourite things to do is eat Yum Cha at Choi Lung Teahouse in Tsuen Wan. Then, you can do an easy hike to Tai Mo Shan that takes about four hours.
Choi Lung Restaurant, 2 Chuen Lung Estate, Route Twisk, Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, p. 2414 3086, 荃灣荃錦公路川龍村2號彩龍茶樓
9. A day trip to Shek O Village
Located on the southeastern corner of Hong Kong Island, Shek O Village maintains its old-school style. Go to the beach, visit Cape D’Aguilar, or enjoy a barbecue or picnic.
Stay on track with our guide to Cape D’Aguilar.
10. Food trip to Tai On Building
Looking for good and affordable local snacks when you’re living in Hong Kong? Head over to Sai Wan Ho and enjoy a selection of local food inside Tai On Building. There are so many tasty things to choose from, but it’s pretty hidden from view.
We also love these Hong Kong food tours.
Tai On Building, 57-87 Shau Kei Wan Road, Sai Wan Ho, Hong Kong, 西灣河筲箕灣道57-87號太安樓
Kristy Or, Partnerships Manager
11. Take a walk down Fa Yuen Street
Explore Fa Yuen Street. Take a walk down the road to see a range of secondhand clothes, jewellery, toys, tech gadgets, accessories, and even fruit! Find yourself lost in a sea of knick-knacks and discover affordable treasures that you never knew you needed.
Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong, 旺角花園街
12. Lan Fong Yuen in Central
Sit down for a nice cup of Hong Kong style milk tea or lemon tea at Lan Fong Yuen. The classic and vintage Hong Kong style cafe – cha chaan teng (茶餐廳) – takes you back in time and allows you to relive the atmosphere of the big cinematic Cantonese movies in the early 80s and 90s. Depending on what time you go, it can be loud or it can peaceful, but it is a must for those who want to experience the city’s culture.
Lan Fong Yuen, 2 Gage Street, Central, Hong Kong, p. 2544 3895, 中環結志街2號蘭芳園
13. Thrifting at Mee & Gee
A second-hand vintage clothing shop that offers a range of clothes including authentic leather jackets, worn denim suspenders, and even outrageous over-the-top formal dresses. There’s a number of these shops throughout the city, but my favourite is tucked away at the end of Granville Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, as you feel like you’ve been transported into a Wong Kar Wai 90s movie scene. This definitely one of our favourite secrets about Hong Kong.
These are our top places to shop vintage clothing in Hong Kong.
Mee & Gee, G/F, 71 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, p. 3422 8029, 尖沙咀加連威老道71號地舖美之時裝入口店
14. Explore the hidden Rise Shopping Arcade
Hidden from plain sight, Rise Shopping Arcade, located in the Granville Circuit in Tsim Sha Tsui, is a small building where you can discover three floors of little boutique shops lined up in rows. Find small treasures, from used designer bags, imported beauty products and makeup, to tailored suits and dress shoes. Plus, some really great Hong Kong designers have stalls here – #SupportLocal!
Rise Shopping Arcade, 5-11 Granville Circuit, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, p. 2311 1810, 尖沙咀嘉蘭圍5-11號利時商場
15. Fireworks at Victoria Harbour
Hong Kong likes its fireworks, and there are a number of celebrations throughout the year when you can see the gorgeous colours across the skyline: Chinese New Year, National Day etc. You can watch from either side of the harbour, but I recommend befriending someone who lives in Causeway Bay. Failing that, rent a hotel room with a sea view and flash it up for the night.
Check out the best places to view fireworks displays in Hong Kong.
Victoria Harbour, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 尖沙咀維多利亞港
Sophie Cullen, Editor
16. Ikea Causeway Bay hack
Shopping at Ikea is always fun, same for those of us who are living in Hong Kong. The best time to go to Ikea in Causeway Bay is at 1pm on a Friday. For some reason, there is never anybody there then, but I guess there will be now…
Ikea, Upper Basement, Parklane Hotel, 310 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, p. 3125 0888, 銅鑼灣告士打道310號柏寧酒店地庫宜家家居
17. Jump the taxi queue
Traffic seems to get on the nerves easily when you’re living in Hong Kong. If the queue at the taxi line is looking disgustingly long, head to the nearest hotel. Friendly staff will be more than happy to get you a cab, and the line is always much shorter – yes!
18. Sushi train
One of my favourite places to eat is Genki Sushi, as they have these awesome trains that bring the food to you. I also love ordering on the digital device and the cute graphics they have everywhere. No, it’s not the best sushi in town, but it’s cheap and cheerful and makes for some good Boomerangs on Instagram.
If you want some insider Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong secrets, this story is for you.
Genki Sushi, B7-B9, B/F, Windsor House, 311 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, p. 2907 1020, 銅鑼灣告士打道311號皇室堡地庫B7-B9號舖
19. Cheap movies
Did you know that if you become a bcinephile member at Broadway Cinematheque in Yau Ma Tei for the annual fee of just $60, you get loads of cool stuff? Free movie tickets, invitations to advanced screenings, birthday gifts, discounts at Kubrick (the adjoining bookshop/cafe that is life changing), AND an awesome card with a picture of your bad self on it. This is one of the best secrets about Hong Kong.
Take a look at our favourite movie theatres in Hong Kong.
Broadway Cinematheque, Prosperous Garden, 3 Public Square Street, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong, p. 2388 0002, 油麻地眾坊街3號駿發花園百老匯電影中心
20. Living Plaza by Aeon
If you don’t already know this budget Japanese store, you are seriously missing out! Kind of like a dollar shop, here you can find everything from brightly coloured cooking utensils, to quirky shoes to a range of costumes. Definitely a great place to hit up if you are furnishing an apartment; I challenge you to leave without a random product that you didn’t know you needed.
Living Plaza by Aeon has branches across Hong Kong.
21. Join the library
For the grand old price of $0, you can sign up for a library card. That’s right, for absolutely zero money, you can get a card that grants you access to the hundreds of libraries throughout Hong Kong. Check out eight books or magazines at a time and catch up on all the reading you’ve been meaning to do.
Can’t find the book you want in the library? Have a go at the bookstores in Hong Kong instead.
22. Buy your vinyl here
There’s a lovely little lady who sells a great selection of old-school vinyl out of cardboard boxes at the end of Apliu Street in Sham Shui Po. Snap up disco albums and 80s gems along with some great Canto classics for around $50 an album or haggle for a ten-album bundle. I’m not telling you exactly where though, just in case you beat me to the good stuff.
Visit these vinyl stores in Hong Kong if you’re looking for more.
Fashila Kanakka, Junior Editor
23. Explore abandoned villages
While Hong Kong may seem all glamorous with its tall glossy skyscrapers, there are a bunch of hidden abandoned buildings around for a dose of eerie energy. Get a sense of lost history and visit the Hakka villages frozen in time. We love exploring the Ma Wan village, So Lo Pun, and Wong Chuk Yeung to name a few. Some of these places are even thought to be haunted so bring out your inner ghostbuster if you must!
24. Take a trip to the Night Market
Discover cheap finds at Hong Kong’s night markets all across the city. You will be supporting locals and you’ll stumble upon super adorbs Hong Kong-themed goodies that you’ll want to bag them all. Also, you don’t have to sweat about snacks, these street markets are full of small snack shops and restos.
Prefer to wander around during daytime? Hit up these markets in Hong Kong.
25. Do your banking virtually
You’ll not want to miss out on the quickly advancing world of FinTech, after all Hong Kong is a financial hub, so it’s no surprise if you want to jump on the bandwagon of virtual banks. Manage your savings, apply for loans, and register for credit cards with handy rewards all with a touch of your fingertips.
Also, take a look at our guide to cryptocurrency if you need a head-start into the world of FinTech!
26. Never miss a bus
Never miss another bus – download the Citymapper and KMB apps to know exactly when the next bus will come, and you’ll never have to make a dramatic run for the bus again (hopefully). These two apps cover a wide range of routes all around Hong Kong and you can check everything from the location of the stops, to the fares, to the timing for the next three buses.
We have full story on all the best Hong Kong apps you need in your life too.
Elaine Wong, Editor
27. Get a discount on transport
We bet even some locals living in Hong Kong wouldn’t know about this secret: MTR fare savers. There are these machines dotted around Hong Kong near certain MTR stations (not actually inside MTR stations though, mind), where you can simply wave your Octopus Card over the reader and get a $2 discount on your next MTR journey from the nearby stop. $2 isn’t a lot, but if you accumulate that… Well, you can probably save up for a meal or two (or more). Can’t complain, really. Oh, and here’s the website that contains all the places with these fare savers around – thank us later.
Living on a budget? Fret not – there are (surprisingly) plenty of things to do for free in the 852.
28. Discover lesser-known parts of town
Don’t be afraid to venture out of the Island and Lantau areas! We know lots of you tend to stay near your havens on Hong Kong Island and DB (and honestly, we don’t blame you), but there are also many gems in Kowloon and New Territories that are worth exploring. And (gasp) they go beyond hiking trails and the street markets. For starters, our insiders’ guide to Hung Hom, Wong Tai Sin, and Kowloon Tong should get you in the right direction.
29. Get to know the thriving arts scene
There are loads going on in the arts scene, and they always deserve more attention. Whether it’s art galleries or creative courses, you’ll be able to get a dose of art and culture in Hong Kong. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to HK Phil, Hong Kong Sinfonietta and HKMoA, as they are some of the most active cultural organisations in the city.
30. Support local brands
Take some time to know and support more local fashion labels and Hong Kong-based makeup brands. Many of them have been on the rise in recent years; they are creative, authentic, and probably more worth your money than the ever-changing and disposable high fashion (as much as they’re still our guilty pleasure…!).
31. Take time to relax
Hong Kong can be notoriously intense. Don’t forget to check in with yourself once in a while, talk it out with those you trust, and please – we can’t stress this enough – do ask for help if you need it!
Ronnie Lam, General Manager
32. Enjoy the waterfront promenades
As a place surrounded by water, there are a number of waterfront promenades that can be enjoyed year round. In recent years, the waterfront on Hong Kong Island has really opened up, meaning you can walk from Kennedy Town to Wan Chai with great views along the way. Spend time in TST, Wan Chai, Hung Hom, Island Eastern Corridor, Quarry Bay, Tseung Kwan O, or Kwun Tong.
33. Always arrive on time
34. Score a discount on dining
Get some of the best deals on dining, thanks to Hong Kong Restaurant Week by Dining City. It’s the best time of year to afford to splash at some of the fine dining restaurants you’ve always wanted to try.