Don’t worry, Hong Kong is so small it’s so easy to get around!
The worldly city of HK is constantly filled with travelers, expats, and a growing number of locals because people fall in love with Hong Kong and want to stay… forever. Made up of three main islands, HK is exceedingly easy to get around (even on foot) that you’ll get a good grasp of this dynamic metropolis within a few blissful days.
We didn’t list every neighborhood on here but the ones below are your must-see’s. Have fun exploring. PS. Enjoy Sheung Wan, it’s a personal favorite!
LANTAU ISLAND 大嶼山
This is where you’ll arrive in Hong Kong, since it’s where the airport is located. A mere twenty minutes from Kowloon/Hong Kong Island by car, Lantau Island was originally a fishing village but recently transformed via the establishment of Tian Tan Big Buddha and, of course, Disneyland.
HONG KONG ISLAND 香港島
Reputation: Where the city action is at. They don’t call it Central for nothin’!
411: One may argue that Central is the heartbeat of HK. Situated on Hong Kong Island and across from Victoria Harbour, Central holds the headquarters of global financial service companies and consulates of various countries. But the best part: a conglomerate of chic hotels, restaurants, and awesome bars!
Reputation: Upscale and chic, but filled with cool hidden gems.
The 411: Today’s Sheung Wan is probably one of the coolest areas to be on Hong Kong Island. Right next to Central, it is filled with authentic shops, vintage markets, and local eateries. But for locals, it’s also a relatively upscale place. For many offices, Central has gotten to be so expensive that companies have started to move toward Sheung Wan for a less combusted alternative.
Reputation: Perfect for party-goers and barhoppers.
The 411: Literally inside Central, there’s Lan Kwai Fong where you’ll find many expats and foreign travelers chilling on bar stools, chitchatting on restaurant patios. Before WWII, this area was meant for hawkers but Lan Kwai Fong went through a makeover during 1980’s to provide expats who had an appetite for clubs and bars.
An 8-minute walk away, you’ll come across SoHo which stands for “South of Hollywood Road.” Another area dedicated to bars and restaurants, SoHo is also where you can find the past and present infuse by visiting the famous Man Mo Temple and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Museum.
Reputation: Affluent residential area.
The 411: Situated between Central and Victoria Peak, Mid-Levels is filled with affluent Hong Kongers since apartments here have panoramic views of Victoria Harbour. Residents can be away from the pollution of the city but staying close to Central. Streets here are named after Governors of HK, including: George Bonham, Arthur Edward Kennedy…etc.
Reputation: Former red light district turned modern artsy.
The 411: Wan Chai used to be known for its exotic nightlife due to its past as a small fishing village attracting Chinese settlers and foreign sailers. Today, it’s home to Hong Kong Arts Center, Academy for Performing Arts, and Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center (HKCEC.) Don’t miss Causeway Bay’s designer stores, especially on Leighton Road, and the Wan Chai Heritage Trail – a 2-hour walk where you can stop by 15 sites, including: Blue House, Wan Chai Market, Nam Koo Terrace and the Star Street Precinct.
Reputation: Governmental and HK administration complexes.
411: Admiralty would attract travelers because of Hong Kong Park, which is why this area made this list. Unless you work for the government or HK admin, you wouldn’t come to Admiralty. Many walk pass this area to reach The Peak trams. In Chinese, Admiralty means “golden bell,” which refers to a gold bell that was used for keeping time at Wellington Barracks. During the Umbrella Movement 2014, protests also took over many streets in this area.
Reputation: Home of TOURISTS!!!
411: Tsim Sha Tsui is at the tip of Kowloon Peninsula, facing Victoria Harbour and is directly opposite from Central. In Chinese, the name means “sharp sandpit.” You’ll run into massive groups of tourists here, they arrive from all over the world. The must-do in Tsim Sha Tsui is to have afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel. It’s a classic. Head over to Harbour City for the view of Victoria Harbour and mix a bit of shopping along with dining here.
Reputation: All kinds of markets!
The 411: If you love local markets, then you can’t miss a trip to MK or Mong Kok. Ladies Market (fashion and accessories,) Flower Market, Bird Market, Traditional Market…etc. You name it, you can find it here! If you prefer a more authentic way to collect souvenirs, then come to MK for a shop-til-you-drop afternoon!
Reputation: Totally up-and-coming and in the process of gentrification.
The 411: Yao Ma Tei remains incredibly local, but it’s fantastic because it oozes a certain type of authenticity that Brooklyn and San Francisco’s Mission District used to exude. Yao Ma Tei is very up-and-coming, attracting travelers with its fruit markets and the famous Tin Hau Temple. You can also find the enormous and popular Starbucks Reserve in this area, screaming gentrification from the top of its caffeinated lungs.