Hong Kong doesn’t hurt for unforgettable attractions, but sometimes it’s fun to branch out beyond the well-trodden hot spots. If you’re looking for a slice of Hong Kong that’s as fun as it is authentic, we’ve got the skinny on five experiences that’ll let you soak up the local lifestyle. They’re exciting, fresh and shockingly inexpensive, and we can’t think of a better way to spend your getaway.
1. Scope out the scene at Shek O.
If the sun is blazing, start your adventure on the shores of Shek O. Though this popular beach isn’t as remote as some of Hong Kong’s other seaside spots, it offers an unbeatable peek at the HK way of life. Grab some sunscreen, and go with the flow. The sprawl of people and colorful umbrellas are just part of the charm.
2. Wander through the maze of market stalls.
What’s the best thing about Hong Kong’s markets? They’re seemingly endless, and you can spend days simply browsing. Head to Upper Lascar Row for piles of ultra-cool kitsch, check out the Ladies’ Market for its textiles and vintage clothing, or head to Temple Street for the famous One-Eyed Man’s Cooling Tea. You can even find rare treasures at Yen Chow Street’s hawker bazaar. Don’t feel obligated to buy anything; exploring the maze of items is an adventure all its own.
3. Spend a night partying in Wan Chai.
Though Lan Kwai Fong is known as the area’s party capital, Wan Chai offers a set of charms that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s an area that simultaneously fights and embraces its past; this formerly gritty port of call has cleaned up in recent years, but you’ll find nods to its red-light history in the trendy dive bars and cool lounges. What’s more, the drinks are super cheap, so you won’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the after-hours revelry.
4. Find your inner peace at the Dragon Garden.
Hong Kong’s gardens are known all over the world for their manicured elegance, but not every traveler makes it out to one of the most serene: Dragon Garden. This historic, privately owned space is only open once a month — it’s in the process of being restored — but those who get the opportunity to see it will be dazzled by the stonework, arches and detailed architecture.
5. Check out the cheap eats.
You don’t have to break out your Asia miles cards to have a killer meal. Some of Hong Kong’s most incredible dishes are cheap as all get out, and sampling the regional specialties lets you get into the mix of local life. Head to Tung Po for some of the best seafood, or try the flourescent-lit Queen Street Cooked Food Market for plates of pork, noodles and curries.