Hong Kong might not be the city that never sleeps, but it’s certainly one of them. Some of the best things to see and do in the metropolis can only be found after dark so if you’re heading to Hong Kong, be ready to stay up late.
Watch the sunset from the Victoria Peak
Every perfect night in Hong Kong starts at the top. The best view in the city is from Victoria Peak, which towers a mighty 552 metres high and offers a dazzling look at the metropolis below. The ideal time to go is at sunset, when skyscrapers begin to illuminate the skyline, so catch a ride up on the Peak Tram by 6pm to see it.
See the city’s symphony
Every night at 8pm, the world’s largest permanent light and sound show illuminates Hong Kong. Symphony of Light sends dancing lasers, LEDs and searchlights darting across the buildings that line Victoria Harbour, all timed to music from the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s free and the best viewing points are the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, the promenade at Golden Bauhinia Square or a ferry on the harbour.
Haggle at Temple Street Market
Hong Kong’s liveliest market kicks into gear after the sun sets. Temple Street Night Market doesn’t take over just one street but several blocks in Kowloon, where hundreds of vendors sell bargain clothes, trinkets and tea at prices that are very much negotiable. Dig a little deeper and you’ll even find fortune tellers and herbalists in amongst the stalls, making this the perfect place to see old and new-world Hong Kong collide. Get here after 7 o’clock but before 10pm.
Go ghost hunting in Wan Chai
Shopping malls, mahjong centres and historic sites like the Blue House line the streets in Wan Chai, Hong Kong’s beating heart. For a unique look at the district sign up for one of the nightly ghost tours, which will take you for a walk through the neighbourhood’s “haunted” sites. Even if you’re not a believer, it’s still a fun way to see another side of the city.
Drink your way around Lan Kwai Fong
No night out in Hong Kong is complete without a stumble through Lan Kwai Fong. The city’s entertainment capital whirrs 365 nights a year, as crowds pack out the more than 100 bars and restaurants found here. Try a cocktail at Employees Only, the cosy speakeasy regarded as one of the world’s best, or dance until dawn at the mammoth nightclub Play.
To do as the locals do, hit the races. A flutter on the horses at Happy Valley Racecourse is a quintessential Hong Kong experience -- this is the only sport residents can legally bet on and they do so enthusiastically. The atmosphere is the best on Wednesday nights during the racing season of September to July, when punters enjoy drinks and live music trackside. Horse racing not your bag? Bowling alleys around the city stay open until 1am, or you can play pool at the likes of Scratch or Joe’s Billiards Bar until 5am.
Stay out and eat up
Save room for a midnight snack: some of Hong Kong’s best eats are only open after dark -- cheap and cheerful dim sum joint Sun Hing Sik Gah in Kennedy Town doesn’t even get started until 3am. Even if you’re not up that late, a meal at one of the city’s open-air restaurants, called dai pai dongs, is a must. No frills delicacies like noodles, congee, fish balls and stir fries are served up at the street eateries, the highest concentration of which you’ll find in the neighbourhood of Sham Shui Po. You’ll probably end up sharing a table with a stranger but that’s part of the experience.
Catch a fresh squid
For an entirely different food experience, hit the water. Hongkongers are big on squid fishing, regularly hiring junk boats with friends in the hope of reeling in the squid and cuttlefish that only come out after dark. It’s generally less an exercise in hunting and gathering and more an excuse to socialise, but boat staff will fry and season your catch for you nonetheless.
Hear the opera
Built in 1930, the Yau Ma Tei Theatre is the only surviving pre-War cinema in Hong Kong. It’s also the home of nightly opera shows -- exclusively in Cantonese, though many are accompanied by English subtitles -- which certainly aren’t short on theatrics, in-your-face costumes or falsettos. Go to see a show quite unlike anything else on earth, stay to admire the beautiful Art Deco building.