Looking for some photo inspiration for an upcoming trip to Hong Kong? Check out my Hong Kong Instagram Guide for details of my favourite spots…
Hong Kong Instagram Guide (Hong Kong Island Edition)
I naively thought that putting together a Hong Kong Instagram guide would be fairly easy (read; quick). However, there are just too many photo opportunities in Hong Kong. With that in mind, I’ve decided to break this guide down into two parts. This first part is all about Hong Kong Island. For a guide to Kowloon, check out this article.
Now, I won’t be covering the really obvious show stopping attractions which I have talked about n previous articles. If you want information on Victoria Peak or the Big Buddha, check out my 10 things to do in Hong Kong article. Similarly, I’ve previously discussed the incredibly photogenic 10,000 Buddhas monastery, Chi Li Nunnery & Nan Lian Garden and, of course, the world class Hong Kong sky line in my 10 free things to do in hong Kong article.
Instead, this article will focus on a few of the lesser known sights and a number of my absolute favourite places from a purely photographic standpoint. The good news is that in Hong Kong, you are never far from a special photograph opportunity…
1. Montane Mansion
If you don’t instantly recognise the name, I’ve no doubt that you will recognise the imagery. The stacked, almost claustrophobic residential blocks have become iconic and an extremely popular Instagram spot for locals and tourists alike. This is in no small part following the mansion’s appearance in blockbuster films such as Transformers: Age of Extinction and Ghost in the Shell.
Montane Mansion’s thin courtyard is surrounded by densely populated residential blocks. Constructed in the 1960s, it is a throwback to old Hong Kong. The combination of symmetry and the multicoloured facade makes for a spectacular composition.
Be mindful that it is a residential area, so be respectful. Before I visited, I had read stories about idiots flying drones and generally causing a ruckus (and was worried that I might get told to move along). As long as you are quiet and mindful of the people living there, you should be fine.
Montane Mansion Getting there: take the island line to the Quarry Bay MTR station. Alight at exit A and follow King’s Road south. Montane Mansion is number 1028.
2. Quarry Bay
If you have taken the trip to Montane Mansion, you might as well stick around and explore the neighbourhood. Quarry Bay is one of the older, more authentic neighbourhoods on Hong Kong Island (at least in my mind). Think worn and dilapidated high-rise public housing, a million air conditioning units, Chinese symbols and washing hanging high above street level. It’s certainly more gritty than west side of the Island.
Interestingly, in the middle of the Quarry Bay area is the One Island East building. This modern glass monolith creates an interesting contrast with the older neighbourhood that surrounds it.
3. North Point
After you’re done exploring Quarry Bay, walk back to King’s Road and hitch a ride on a Ding Ding. Head north-west to neighbouring district, North Point.
North point is packed full of the older, densely packed apartment blocks; their once bright paintwork now faded. King’s Road (and the Ding Dings) run all the way through North Point, the tracks precisely dissecting the urban sprawl. This is high-rise, sardine tin living.
4. Sai Wan Swimming Shed
At pretty much the western most point of Hong Kong Island lies the Sai Wan swimming shed. Although originally constructed for people to take a swim, the choppy waves and frequently passing ferries mean that few are brave (or should that read foolish?) enough to take a dip. The crooked wooden jetty extends out over the waves and has become one of Hong Kong’s premier Instagram spots. You’re more likely to find couples and groups of friends posing for the camera than somebody perfecting their freestyle.
Sai Wan Swimming Shed Getting there: head west to Kennedy Town, the final stop on the island line. From there, walk west for approximately 15 minutes.
5. Instagram Pier
Stacked barrels of cooking oil, rusting boats, piles of bamboo scaffolding and discarded wooden pallets. Welcome to the Western District Public Cargo Working Area. This container terminal and cargo dock has become a very popular photo location in Hong Kong. It’s not uncommon to see wedding photo shoots. Talk about juxtaposed. Check out this National Geographic article, which showcases some of the more creative photos taken here. Instagram pier also offers some great views of the Kowloon skyline, dominated by the International Commerce Centre (see the header photo, at the start of this article).
Instagram Pier Getting there: take the MTR to the HKU (Hong Kong University) stop (it’s one stop east from Kennedy Town). Alight at exit B2 and head north for approximately 5 minutes.
6. Man Mo Temple
Tucked away amongst the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island is the Man Mo Temple, a throwback to when Hong Kong was a mere fishing village. The temple was built in 1847 and is a tribute to two Chinese gods: the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo).
Despite its scruffy exterior, the interior of the temple is rather wonderful. Coils of incense are suspended from the ceiling. Natural light penetrates from above. The air is thick with smoke of burning incense and candles. It is rustic, atmospheric and intimate.
Man Mo Temple Getting there: the temple is a short walk from both the Sheung Wan or Central MTR stations.
7. After dark in Central
Once the sun has set, Central is transformed by the ruby red and diamond white light trails of cars, trucks and buses busily driving around. If you enjoy long exposure photography as much as I do, Central is the perfect place to capture some awesome light trails. I found the hours of 8-11pm to be ideal – the traffic is less congested, but there are still enough vehicles on the roads. The main road which runs between the Sheung Wan MTR and Ferry Terminal has a number of pedestrian overpasses which offer great vantage points. There are also countless opportunities in front of and around the HSBC building. For an illustration of Hong Kong at night, check out my Hong Kong at night gallery.
Statue Square Getting there: head to Statue Square, opposite the HSBC building, which is a good place to start from (Central MTR, exit K or the HSBC Ding Ding stop). From here branch out and explore.
8. The Apple Store Junction
If you are already in Central, chasing down those night time shots, check out the Apple Store junction. The store is suspended above two intersecting roads and the illuminated logo offers a great centre point to any photo.
Apple Store Junction Getting there: head east from Hong Kong MTR / IFC1 mall, following the raised walkway which joins the mall and the ferry terminal.
Photography can be thirsty work. Thankfully, one of Hong Kong’s coolest bars is smack bang in the middle of Central. Once you’ve exhausted your long exposure shots, head up to Sevva to enjoy a wonderful cocktail. The views aren’t too shabby either…
Sevva Getting there: Sevva overlooks Statue Square and is a very short walk from Central MTR (exit K) and the HSBC Ding Ding stop).
Well, there you have it, my Hong Kong Instagram guide (Hong Kong Island edition). My guide to Kowloon can be found here. Which is your favourite location? Are there any other spots that you would recommend checking out?