Hong Kong is known to many as the "Pearl of the Orient", an international financial center, and a popular layover or cruise ship location. For me, Hong Kong is a photography mecca. I decided to make a dedicated trip to film this unique location. I was blown away by what I found. Nearly every corner of this city is a potential photo shoot location. When I ventured outside of the city center, I was surprised by how the landscape changed to green mountains and undiscovered islands. The city is filled with unique history, larger than life buildings, and drastic contrasts in landscapes.
Here are the top 5 places to photograph:
1. Victoria Peak
Let's get the most obvious location out of the way first. If you are limited in time in Hong Kong, this should be the first thing you see. Victoria Peak is the highest peak on Hong Kong island and offers jaw-dropping views of the city. The city seems to go on forever, and the amount of skyscrapers is mind boggling.
2. Tian Tan Buddha
Take the scenic Ngong Ping 360 cable car to the Buddha statue "Tian Tan Buddha", which is situated on a lush mountain on the island on Lantau. The ride to the Buddha is worth the journey for the beautiful photos you can get from the air. As you soar over to Lantau, you will be able to see the mountainside and the harbor. For an even more scenic ride, opt for the crystal cable car, which has a glass floor.
Purchase your tickets here: Ngong Ping 360
3. IFC Building
The International Finance Centre building is the second tallest building in Hong Kong and has a free observation deck provided by the Monetary Authority. The Monetary Authority provides an interactive museum that explains Hong Kong's currency and journey to becoming a top global financial center. The museum is interesting, but view alone is spectacular and worth the visit. The observation deck has views of financial center of Hong Kong all the way to Victoria Harbor.
4. Mong Kok
Across the harbor from Hong Kong Island is Kowloon, known for shopping, entertainment and urban density. In fact, the Mong Kok neighborhood has the highest urban density in the world. Simply walk around with your camera and you are bound to find interesting apartment building and street life.
5. Innovation Tower
The Innovation Tower is a space-age, futuristic building designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Zaha Hadid is known for her avant-garde, unique style. The building houses the Design School, which hosts an open house every July featuring student's final exam projects on display. Be sure to visit the interior of the building for excellent views and futuristic interior design.
What are your favorite places to photograph in Hong Kong?
After spending 6 days in Bali, I learned that the island is deceivingly larger than you might think. I stayed in Seminyak which is very central, but it is still about two hours away from many excursions. Bali has over 4 million people (that's 3x the amount of Hawaii's entire population) on an island half the size of Hawaii's Big Island. Translation - there is a lot of traffic. But don't let that stop you.
Here is how to make the most of your trip:
For reference, here is a map of Bali. You will land in Denpasar (in red below), and the closest places to stay near the airport are Kuta and Seminyak (in blue below).
Stay a few days in each of these spots:
1. Seminyak - Central, quieter than Kuta, nice blend of relaxation and activity.
2. Uluwatu - Beaches, spas, temples with beach views. As mentioned in my previous post, Seminyak and Kuta beaches have high surf and the beaches are gritty (stray dogs, litter, glass, etc). If you want a beautiful relaxing/swimming beach, check these out:
3. Ubud - Famous for Balinese cultural sights, rice terraces, relaxation, and yoga.
Where are your favorite places to stay in Bali? Comment Below!
I have been feeling Bali withdraws since coming back from this trip. Never before have I experienced such a unique culture. So what makes it so interesting and unique? Maybe it's the artisan crafts, the traditions, the temples, the mesmerizing dances, the tantalizing Luwak coffee, or the friendly people who make you feel like you belong. The vibes and the culture of this island hit you as soon as you land.
Here are the top places where you can experience the uniqueness of Bali.
1 . Kecak dance - Uluwatu
Balinese dance and musical drama developed in 1930s, where the men perform in a circle and permissively chant "cak" and move their arms and hands. It tells the Hindu story and Rama and Sita (who you will hear a lot about if you delve into Balinese/Hindu culture). This is a Romeo and Juliet-style story, only with a happy ending. It is an ancient Indian poem that narrated the struggle of Prince Rama to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana.
The performance was originally a trance ritual. In the 1930s, a German man became interested in it while living in Bali and adapted it as a drama based on the story of Rama and Sita. He intended the dance for Western tourist audiences. The dance ends with a raging fire. The costumes, the story, and the music make it a must see.
2. Legong Dance
The Legong dance originated in 19th century as royal entertainment where two maidens dance to gamelan music. The women wear majestic headdresses and move their eyes and hands in very precise contortions, all in sync with one another. This dance was mesmerizing and unique.
3. Ubud market
There are markets all around Bali, but the Ubud market is known for being a place of arts, crafts and food catering to both locals and tourists. Bali is known for it's stone crafts, wood carvings, intricate jewelry, and exquisite craftsmanship - all of which are made by hand. you can even watch the artisans make these pieces in the studios.
Disclaimer: Be sure to bargain your prices in Bali and research the average prices before purchasing.
4. Ubud Temple
Pura Taman Saraswati is located near rice paddies and water gardens. Many temples looks the same, but this one had beautiful grounds and statues as well as a large entrance gate.
5. Luwak Coffee Tasting - Most Expensive Coffee in the World
Luwak coffee is the most expensive and coveted coffee in the world. It's also delicious, if you can get past the thought of how it is produced.
The civet cats, a native weasel-like animal in Indonesia eat the coffee beans which do not get digested. The beans undergo a unique fermentation while in digestion, giving the coffee its flavor. The locals pick up the cat pellets and wash and dry the whole beans. Then it gets roasted and made into Kopi Luwak Coffee. There is a special coffee machine and grinder developed just for this kind of coffee. The finished product tastes like delicious espresso.
If you want to try it, check out these links on Amazon to purchase:
6. Bali Beaches
The best beaches in Bali are found in Uluwatu in Southern Bali, or the Gilli Islands - which are pristine islands off the coast and require additional travel.
Many resort beaches in Bali, like Kuta and Seminyak, are based around beach clubs. You enter the beach through a beach club which serves food in a lounge-like atmosphere. In fact, many restaurants double as lounges later in the day and serve delicious food at the same time. It's a great way to eat, socialize and enjoy the beautiful beach at the same time.
Beach Disclaimer: Bali beaches feature excellent surf. In fact the waves can be quite strong. If you are a surfer, you have come to the right place. If you are a casual swimmer, these beaches can be dangerous as many do not have lifeguards. Some beaches can be gritty - including glass bottles and stray dogs. In conclusion, if you are looking for serious beach activity - try Gilli Islands or Uluwatu.
We hope this helped you get a glimpse into Balinese culture. If you have any other tips, please comment below.
Welcome to Run The Atlas. Here, you will get ideas on places to photograph, travel guides, and tips.
Top Viewed Blog Posts: