Hong Kong is an Instagrammer’s dream. From bustling, neon-lit streets and towering world-renowned landmarks to epic natural landscapes scattered with mountains, beaches, and colourful wildlife, we really do have it all on our doorstep. But all this choice can leave us feeling a bit overwhelmed, so we turned to our favourite Igers to find the best places to snap around the city and up our Instagram game.
The Bank of China Tower
For 30-year-old world traveler and blogger Diego Guzman @diegovista_ nothing beats this epic landmark. “I love this place in particular because I am a huge fan of it’s linear design”, the talented Texan tells Localiiz. “When captured properly, it makes for an iconic photo, not just Instagram-worthy, but something you can frame at home.”
Diego first discovered this spot when he missed the last MTR home while out late at night chasing rooftop photo ops. Walking back home from Causeway Bay, he passed right in front of the Bank of China building and instantly fell in love with it. But what makes it so special?
“Photos from this location are less common on Instagram because they’re not too easy to capture,” he tells us. “There are quite a few buildings near the tower which presents a challenge for both amateur and sometimes professional photographers. This particular spot is definitely a challenge to capture.”
Top tip for this spot: Don’t settle for any photo, make sure you walk around the area, find all your best options, and shoot from all of them. It takes time to find the perfect angle, but once you do, you’re guaranteed to stand out above the rest. Also, while you can get great shots of the building at any time of the day, the best are really those taken at night in front of the tower.
Top IG tip: Take advantage of Hong Kong’s architecture, use the leading lines to make your subject stand out and capture the beautiful symmetry. Always remember to use location tags on your posts, respond to as many comments as possible, and research popular local hashtags. I recommend #Localiiz as it’s one of my favorites 😉
Check out more of Diego’s amazing shots on Instagram.
The Streets of Sheung Wan
For mobile addict, writer, and urbanscape shooter Jason Wincuinas @torridtext, neighborhoods are where you find a real city, and Sheung Wan is where’s it’s at.
“I love any city’s canyon like streets, where the urban world becomes domineering”, he tells Localiiz. “Coming originally from a rural background, cityscapes like that feel like the future to me; and the future is where I’ve always wanted to live. Hong Kong’s glass skyline is perfect in that way. But if you go behind it and get down to street level (I’m no rooftopper), you’ll find a past (and sometimes a derailed future) that is photogenically personal, genuine, and gritty.
“As soon as you pass the Grand Millennium Plaza on Wing Lok Street, the shops of dried seafood and Chinese Medicines compel you into Sheung Wan’s maze of tradition and history. With all the goods on display, you’ll see why some people say Hong Kong is more Chinese than China. Traditions squashed on the mainland thrive here. At the same time you can find Possession Point, where the British formally took control of the Island. That convergence is quintessential Hong Kong.”
Top tip for this spot: Mornings are great for shooting here as shops start to open and dried seafood deliveries wait on the side walks. Lunch hour is also spectacular for street shooting because of the variety of faces — bankers to shirtless laborers, all flocking to cheap noodle shops and experimental eateries.
Top IG tip: Try every angle, and use more than one app. I fell in love with photography in another century, when every shot cost time and money (film, photo paper, chemicals etc). With digital and mobile photography, those restrictions are gone. Take a thousand shots. Play with all the angles. Depending on how you look at it, anything can be beautiful, foreboding, or funny.
Check out Jason’s incredible profile … and watch out for his upcoming future novels!
Minneapolis-born street photographer Michael Kistler @mdkistler has been exploring Hong Kong and capturing incredible shots with his camera ever since he arrived from Tokyo a few years ago. His absolute favourite spot to capture though is the Chungking Mansions area in Tsim Sha Tsui. “Day or night, this area never disappoints”, he tells Localiiz. “It’s got a bit of everything: neon lights; movement and motion; gritty back alleys; and of course a diverse cast of characters!”
Michael loves exploring the city and hosting street photography workshops to help budding photographers nurture their talents. He had previously heard (rather infamously) about Chung King Mansions and wanted to check it out right away. “Even now when mentioning it, people tend to associate it with its storied past,” he says.
So what sets it apart? “Really, just the atmosphere of the area; TST is just a short hop from Central, but feels like worlds away. Photographically, I love the bold colours, the grit and grime, and the frenetic pace. There is a distinctively cinematic quality to shooting there and a definite edge as well.”
Top tip for this spot: I am happy to shoot there any time, but I particularly enjoy it by night as the aforementioned qualities really lend themselves well to the more abstract night work I do. Oh, and shooting it in the rain to take advantage of neon-soaked wet pavement is a lot of fun too!
Top IG tip: Shoot — a lot! And carve out a unique style for yourself without worrying about what other people on Instagram are doing. I have seen too many instagrammers just copying what others do instead of developing their own identity and body of work. Don’t be afraid to do your own things and create your own style.
Shek Kip Mei and Sham Shui Po
The public housing estates of Shek Kip Mei and Sham Shui Po are the go-to spots for Kay Kulkarni @kulkimoose. “The area is absolutely packed with history and culture,” he tell us. “A lot of people, locals included, are unaware that a huge fire on Christmas Eve in 1953 left over 50,000 without any shelter. To re-house the homeless the Government erected a 29-block housing estate, many of which stands to date.”
Born in India, but growing up in Kowloon, Kay was always aware of the vicinity but his visits were far and few — something that immediately changed once he began pursuing photography as a hobby.
“The great thing about Shek Kip Mei and Sham Shui Po is the sheer number of places you can explore. You can visit one of the (many) public housing estates for a glimpse of real Hong Kong life, head to the Jockey Club Creatives Art Centre to browse the local talent, or even check out the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden. Not to mention, some of the best “dai pai dongs” can be found in the neighbourhood if you get a little peckish.”
Top tip for this spot: In the morning you can witness the locals performing tai chi here. The afternoon will give you an opportunity to capture kids returning home from school, and in the evening you can take a short hike up the nearby hill for a stunning sunset. Whatever time you go, be respectful of people’s privacy. In recent years, public housing estates have become extremely popular with an influx of new and old photographers visiting them. The majority of residents will have no issue with you being there, so long as you’re there to capture the architecture and not invade their personal space.
Top IG tip: Candid images can be very appealing, but try to ask for permission if you aim to capture a subject’s face.
Check out @kulkimoose on Instagram.
On Board the Aqua Luna
At sea is the place to be for epic shots, according to explorer and foodie Harshil Bhasin @eatravelovegram. Born and raised in the melting pot of cultures that is Hong Kong, he loves to view his home city from the various perspectives the iconic junk provides.
“As you board the Aqua Luna at the TST Ferry Pier you get to see the chaos that is the city. As you sail away you witness the same chaos from afar, which really allows you to see the beauty that is Hong Kong and its different personalities.”
Harshil always loved taking ferry rides across the harbour and after 22 years of living in Hong Kong, he decided to take the Aqua Luna cruise for an early evening pre-dinner date and ended up being fascinated with the numerous views of the city that were available to shoot.
“You get to witness a traditional Kowloon side view by the clock tower, before heading over to Central Ferry Pier where you see a cosmopolitan view of Hong Kong Island with the ifc, Bank of China, HSBC building, observation wheel, and rest of the illuminated concrete jungle. The boat then escapes to the middle of Victoria Harbour, where views of both sides of Hong Kong can be enjoyed.”
Top tip for this spot: The best time to shoot here is at sunset (around 6pm onwards) when you get hues of blue and pink. Then moving on to the late evening, the building lights decorate the city all around.
Top IG tip: When you see a moment just shoot it. Not all captions have to be detailed, sometimes an emoji or two will do. Keep your profile visually consistent with an attractive overall appeal.
Explore more of Hong Kong with Harshil.
Des Voeux Road and Jubilee Road
According to Australian-born photographer and stylist Tricia Darling @triciadarlingphotography, the corner of Des Voeux Road and Jubilee Road in Central is a hub of activity and a prime spot for capturing the energy of Hong Kong.
“I always find great moments down here. The mash up of people, trams, crosswalks, natural light, and building reflections create endless possibilities,” she tells us. “I walk a lot, and chase the light as it peeps through the buildings, causing shadows and reflections. I also take time to identify interesting spots from pedestrian walkways when I’m riding on buses and trams.”
Tricia has lived in Hong Kong for seven years and draws her creative inspiration from the ever changing urban environment. “Hong Kong is the most dynamic, effervescent city I have lived in and I’m extremely grateful and enamoured every time I shoot”, she explains. “With this particular spot, there are so many possibilities and moments, lines, and juxtapositions. When the light shines down Jubilee Street it lights up the whole intersection in a really unique and beautiful way.”
Top tip for this spot: Each time of the day gives a different result here. Different weather conditions also produce great results. Add in rain or puddles and it’s a beautiful reflective scene, accentuated by umbrellas.
Top IG tip: The most important thing is to shoot constantly and keep trying new approaches. Read photography books, support fellow photographers, and meet up in person to explore and shoot together.
Follow Tricia’s adventures on Instagram.
Braemer Hill Lookout
Hong Kong’s landscapes and stunning architecture are the inspiration for Musheer Ahmed @theeyeofthepanda_hk and his impressive Instagram feed. His top spot for capturing the city in all its glory is a lookout spot on Braemer Hill looking towards Jardine’s lookout.
“I discovered it through a friend who had hiked there”, he tells us. “It’s close to the Chinese International School, and you need to take a flight of stairs, and then walk on the trail for about twenty minutes before you reach the spot, which is hidden behind a couple of bushes. It’s fairly accessible and the hill isn’t too tough to hike (level 2-3/5). It’s definitely worth the trek.”
Musheer is so awestruck by the view that he’s hiked there a few times to enjoy the scenery and capture the National Day fireworks display while perched on a rock with his tripod. “The view from here is simply stunning. It looks down westward on Victoria Harbour with the Hong Kong Island and Kowloon skyline on each side.”
Top tip for this spot: This particular spot is great for capturing sunsets and the night skyline, so get there an hour or so before sunset and stay for an hour after. It’s also a prime spot for enjoying the fireworks over the harbour.
Top IG tip: Show the world your view of what is around you. The best grammers I know have a unique perspective on normal things, such as angles at which the photograph is shot and framed, and a theme for the page, such as black and white portraits or shoes! Above all, photography is about patience, it pays off in the end.
Check out more of Musheer’s shots on Instagram.
Are you ready to up your Instagram game? What are your favourite spots to snap around the city? Show us in the comments below or tag us on Instagram with #localiiz and we’ll feature our favourites in our feed @localiiz. You never know, you could be our next Snap of the Week winner!