As millennials, managing our Instagram feeds is an art (is it obvious enough that I’m being sarcastic here…? lol). But really though, Hong Kong being a city where it’s home to over seven million people, there are so many interesting things out there. Here’s a guide for you on where to take the best pictures for your Instagram feeds, and/or just some of the unique locations for photography, here in Hong Kong.
Choi Hung Estate
Sorry to start off this guide with a basic b*tch/millennial location, but trust me, it is for a good reason. A 50-year old public estate would probably be the last thing on your mind when it comes to photography location. Yet Choi Hung Estate has become a super popular location for both locals and visitors for photoshoots in the recent years.
The exterior of the estate is painted in soft pastel shades of rainbow colours (Choi Hung means rainbow in Cantonese), which means that these soft colours are soothing to the eye. It really is a unique place, because who would think a public residential estate would be so nice to look at? Also, having the basketball court in the foreground against the colourful buildings at the background (with palm trees too!) makes it a very unique picture. If you spend some more time here, you might be able to come up with a very Wes Anderson shot! The fact that it is a residential area after all, so if you’re visiting Choi Hung Estate, make sure you respect the residents: keep your noise down and don’t leave any rubbish.
Peak Circle Walk
Anyone would know the Peak is where you need to go to get the perfect ‘Hong Kong’ photo. Many would go to the Peak Tower, but here’s a tip – don’t. You’ll be among the crowds of tourists. So instead, go to the Peak Circle Walk. It’s only a short walk from the main touristy bit of the Peak, and the view is equally spectacular, if not better. It feels much more tranquil and quiet compared with the main touristy bit of the Peak. This relaxing circle walk is essentially a hiking trail that surrounds the Peak, and on the way you’ll see both northern and southern part of Hong Kong Island, and at the end it will take you back to where you started. Being high up above on the Victoria Peak, overlooking the northern part of Hong Kong Island, this is the perfect place to capture the density of the urban jungle.
Mong Kok Flower Market
Mong Kok Flower Market consists of streets lined with one florist next to another (I think there is over 100 of them). Packed with customers over the weekends, it is the perfect spot to not only buy nice bunches of flowers to take home, but also to take photos of the flowers. So many shops, so many varieties.
Mong Kok can be summed up with one word – busy. With both old and new buildings all packed in the area, it holds the record of one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in the entire world. You know what that means? It means that you are able to take great snapshots of people, buildings, traffic and a mix of them here. This is where you’ll witness an intense interaction between the city’s inhabitants and the surrounding urban environment. It’s the epicentre of where a true Hong Kong-ness explode, and quite frankly, this is where you’ll get a quintessential Hong Kong experience.
Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Opened in 1989 by Prince of Wales and Princess Diana, the Hong Kong Culture Centre (HKCC) remains to be one of the top performing arts venues in Hong Kong. Located on the site of a former train terminus built in the 1910s, the station was demolished in the 1970s to make way for the new public venues – Space Museum, Art Museum, and the HKCC – which were built in the 1980s. To be frank, the building as a whole does not really look that appealing – plain shade of beige, and a weird looking main block. The design was actually quite controversial back then. But if you experiment for a bit, you’ll be able to find interesting angles for a nice snapshot.
It is cliche and basic, but for a good reason. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words, posting a picture of Victoria Harbour will in no doubt announce your presence in the city to your friends. Especially after sundown, seeing all the lights of the skyscrapers light up is actually quite an incredible feeling. Apart from that, I happened to be around the area on a particularly stressful day, and this classic view gave me the comfort that I never knew I needed.
Best locations for the harbour view: Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade (near HKCC), Harbour City, Star Ferry Pier, Ozone Bar
Hop on a tram anywhere on Hong Kong Island! The journey will take you on a trip to see our city from a unique angle that you won’t get any other way. It is a great way to tour around the urban jungle (psst: the views are better on the upper deck!). A great route is to take the tram all the way from the west (Kennedy Town) to the east (Shau Kei Wan), as you would begin in the gentrifying old neighbourhood, through the busy central business district of Central, the main shopping area of Causeway Bay, and the older and slightly more residential area towards the east. Being on the tram is one of the moments where I can watch ‘while the world keeps spinning ’round‘, which I enjoy very much, and a much needed getaway from the hectic urban life. The most important thing is, the entire journey is only $2.3!
Chi Lin Nunnery / Nan Lian Garden
What makes this Buddhist nunnery unique is that it is located in the middle of a highly urbanised area. It is literally next to a highway and moments away from a big shopping centre, along with some residential complexes. What I like about this location is the juxtaposition of traditional and modern landscapes. The complex was built in a Tang Dynasty style architecture, which creates a moment of tranquility within the bounds of the nunnery, while being adjacent to everyday modern high rise buildings, which is definitely a surreal feeling. You might feel a little bit confused as to where you actually are as well.
After seeing the densely populated buildings up high from the Peak, it’s time to actually see these buildings up close. Take some time to walk from Admiralty to Central, and take a closer look at these skyscrapers. Lippo Centre, the Bank of China Tower, Cheung Kong Centre, Jardine House, and more. Don’t miss the Court of Final Appeal, a stunning neo-classical colonial architecture that has been playing an important role in Hong Kong’s history.
Since it’s the de facto capital of Hong Kong during the colonial period, Central’s legacy of being the urban centre of Hong Kong still exists today. Not only because most of the remaining colonial architecture are in Central, its many modern skyscrapers are home to the city’s top offices. This is literally the heart of Hong Kong as a global city where the financial and legal services are located in (trying very hard not to turn this into an urban geography essay lol). In short, if architecture – colonial buildings and glamorous skyscrapers – is your thing, you must come to Central.
The Mid-Levels escalator will take you from the hustle and bustle in Central to Soho, where it’s a bit quieter. Soho is an area with a lot of diversity in terms of the things you’ll see, and the neighbourhood has a unique character. Narrow uphill streets with buildings on both sides, street art on the walls, unique restaurants and cafés, antique shops, art galleries, and more. Old traditional local joints next to gentrified hip western-inspired shops. Personally my favourite thing about this area is seeing narrow streets and buildings all packed together on the steep hills. It is almost quite surreal and borderline-bizarre landscape to see.
July 2018 Update: Tai Kwun – Hong Kong’s largest and most expensive heritage conservation project opened in end of May this year. It is an arts & heritage venue, formed by 18 buildings, 16 of which being the former police station, prison, and magistracy built in early British rule in the 1800s. The stunning and unique architecture makes it the latest addition to the Hong Kong Instagram list! See more in my photo diary here.
Being born and raised in Hong Kong, I’ve always taken the hustle and bustle as an essential part of my mundane urban life. But sometimes when I do step back and take a look of my surroundings with a different mindset and point of view, I have discovered a lot of interesting angles that make a good photo that I’ve never thought of before.
I hope this short guide has been helpful for your next trip to Hong Kong?! And/or for one of the seven million of you who live here, some inspiration for your next weekend trip? 😂
Hungry for more? Head over to my Instagram to see more of Hong Kong.
Did I miss any other great locations in Hong Kong? What are your favourite photography locations where you live? Comment down below, I would love to know about them!
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