Instagram Hong Kong: 12 places for the best vacation photos
In Hong Kong, gleaming glass towers jut between green mountains and the South China Sea, creating one of the photogenic skylines on Earth. Down on street level, the scene is equally electric — wet markets and Buddhist temples sit side by side with dim sum joints and global banks, while hiking trails and white sand beaches are only a short ferry ride away. To get you ready for your trip to this world city of seven million, here are 12 brilliant photos, with tips on getting that perfect shot for your Instagram account or just local exploration.
1. Sai Wan Swimming Shed, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong Island
Getting to Sai Wan Swimming Shed is easy, though be forewarned: Visit on a weekend and you’ll find yourself queuing up on the bridge behind a horde of eager photographers. You can wait in line, but if you’re alone then I recommend heading up the steps for a bird’s-eye view. Take advantage of the people on the bridge — including some figures in your shot will add interest to your image. Try shooting with a wide-angle camera to exaggerate the depth and relative size. Photo location
2. Yick Fat Building, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong Island
A visit to Quarry Bay isn’t complete without dropping into one of the most iconic blocks of architecture in Hong Kong. Yick Fat Building, which shares similar aesthetics to the former Kowloon Walled City, shot to fame when part of The Transformers movie was filmed here. The obvious shot here is to take a photo looking-up. Explore your options. If you’re nice to the security guard, you can visit the opposite car park and take a straight-on image of the Lego-esque tower blocks. Photo location
3. Street art around Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong Island
HKwalls, the city’s annual street art festival, has been giving local and international artists a platform to showcase their work, and spreading creativity in neighborhoods around Hong Kong, since its inception in 2014. When you’re taking your photo, capture a ‘stride-by’ to seamlessly integrate the art into Hongkongers’ daily lives. You’ll want to use a high shutter speed to avoid blurring the person too much. Photo location
4. Chun Yeung Street Wet Market, North Point, Hong Kong Island
If you want a real glimpse of Hong Kong, visit the Chun Yeung Street wet market in North Point. The best part? The tram runs right through the hubbub. Hop on board as it meanders through this narrow street where vibrant stalls on either side of the road sell all sorts of fresh produce, from seafood to fresh fruit.
You’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you take a big camera into a wet market. Nobody wants to be photographed, especially by a tourist, when they’re trying to earn a hard living. Be respectful and subtle — carry a smartphone or pocket camera that will help you capture the people working at ease. Use a high shutter speed, and mute your camera if it makes a sound upon hitting the shutter. Photo location
5. Hong Kong Skyline from ToTT’s Roof Terrace, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island
The Hong Kong skyline needs no introduction. It’s vast, it’s majestic, it’s stunning. Hong Kong is also prone to the occasional tropical storm, and if you get your timing right you can capture a breathtaking moment. The rooftop terrace of the Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay — or any other spot with a panoramic skyline view — will present you with a great opportunity to flex your photography skills.
You can either download an app on your smartphone or bring a camera that allows you to take long exposure shots. The key is to have a tripod or steady base. Experiment with shutter speeds beyond 8 seconds and you’ll have a result — with light trails, stormy clouds, and a beautiful glow — akin to the photo below. Photo location
6. China Ferry Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Conjoined with the biggest shopping mall in Hong Kong is the China Ferry Terminal. Attach a fisheye lens to your smartphone to create an ethereal image of the four buildings surrounding you. Gateway to heaven? It’s plausible when you look at this image. Photo location
7. Fa Yuen Street Bridge, Mong Kok, Kowloon
Mong Kok is changing. Once bustling with bright neon signs, the area is now seeing energy efficient LED alternatives come to the fore. The bridge overlooking Fa Yuen Street carries thousands of commuters to the nearby fish, pet, and assorted markets. Amidst the rush, it can be quite easy to miss this picturesque location.
Get there prior to sunset. A tripod isn’t essential but I highly recommend it. You can create some striking effects with the sky, signs, and stalls below. When using a tripod, try not to lean it on the bridge — doing that will cause the camera to shake, blurring the image. Photo location
8. Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
The Yau Ma Tei neighborhood plays host to Temple Street, one of the liveliest night markets in town. You can put your haggling skills to the test here and then settle for a delicious streetside seafood dinner. Prior to entering the market, head up to the top floor of the Yau Ma Tei parking lot for an aerial view of Temple Street and the orange-clad Alhambra Building. Photo location
9. Shek Kip Mei Estate, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
The site of Hong Kong’s first ever public housing estate, Shek Kip Mei is now recognized as the hub for the city’s creative community. Before you take the lung-busting steps from the Heritage of Mei Ho House to the spot in the photo, stop by the JCCAC — Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre — a once derelict factory building that’s now home to state-of-the-art studios, galleries, and ample space for local creatives to sell their crafts.
Head up the hill around sunset to get the best view of Kowloon. In the city’s creative area, it’s only fair for me to recommend you that you flex your creativity. You’ll find multiple photo opportunities up here, and you can use the fluttering traffic lights below to create some beautiful bokeh images. Photo location
10. Street food across the city
The great thing about Hong Kong is that there’s no shortage of street food for both eating and taking photos of. Wherever you go, you’ll find slabs of honey-glazed meat being cleaved by the butcher-come-chef. Don’t be afraid to get close and personal. A POV shot can help you tell a story. Within a day of your stay in Hong Kong you’ll find that taking pictures of food is the norm, and you’ll also notice that the butchers themselves are often quite the characters.
11. Tai O Fishing Village, Lantau Island
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, one option to consider is the Tai O Fishing Village. Mangroves, houses built upon stilts, and excursions to see the endangered pink dolphins are some of the many lures this small village on Lantau Island has to offer.
With a practically never-ending promenade, photographers often try to capture an image that gives the illusion of a vanishing point. If you happen to be at Tai O during ‘golden hour’, you can use the mountains as a backdrop to create stunning silhouettes. Photo location
12. Tsing Ma Bridge from Tung Wan Beach, Park Island
If you’re visiting Hong Kong with kids, you might find your concierge recommending a trip down to Park Island en route to Disneyland. A giant replica of Noah’s Ark perches at the entrance of Tung Wan Beach, with the gargantuan Tsing Ma bridge in sight.
For a fun portrait of a friend, head down to the beach and towards Tsing Ma bridge. The foliage around here will help you create a natural frame. Get down low so your friend is above the Tsing Ma bridge — the pose, obviously, is to your own discretion. Photo location
Kay Kulkarni grew up in England and, on once being chased by a moose in the Outer Hebrides, his nickname immediately became “Moose!” Hence, @kulkimoose. He moved out to Hong Kong over a decade ago, where he works as a digital marketer and lives on Lantau Island with his one-eyed pirate/Yorkshire Terrier.