Categories > Guides and Tips

The Ultimate Guide to the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong

The Ultimate Guide to the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong 

Hong Kong’s unique culture and rich traditions bring together locals and visitors alike. A great example of this is seen during one of the most awaited annual events, the Dragon Boat Festival. 

During this time, people get to watch exciting dragon boat races that keep them on the edge of their seats! And it’s more than just a sporting event – it’s also filled with cultural significance. 

Want to learn why? Well, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a true-blue Hong Konger, this article will delve into everything you need to know about the Dragon Boat Festival, from its history to its modern celebrations.

What is the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong? 

The Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong is when numerous athletes from different parts of the globe all come together to participate in thrilling dragon boat races. It happens every fifth day of the fifth month of each year in the Chinese calendar.

Both locals and visitors love it for its touching display of sportsmanship, exhilarating game, and vibrant dragon-related displays. 

What are dragon boats?

As you can tell from the name, dragon boats are designed to look like a dragon and are typically made from wood. They are long and wide to fit the 20 paddlers, 1 drummer, and 1 steersperson.   

In a traditional sense, dragon boats are used to pacify the rain gods. 

When is the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong?

The Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong is celebrated during the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese calendar. In 2023, this is on June 24 to 25. 

How does Hong Kong celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival? 

Hong Kong celebrates the Dragon Boat Festival in various ways. Aside from dragon boat racing, Hong Kongers also partake in a customary practice of eating rice dumplings or zongzi. 

These Chinese sticky dumplings come in two flavors – sweet and savory. The sweet rice dumplings are usually made out of red bean paste or lotus paste. These are often paired with sugar. 

Meanwhile, the savory rice dumplings are often filled with either salted egg yolks, pork belly, or conpoy. 

Nowadays, you can also purchase different variations of these dumplings from restaurants. If you find yourself in Hong Kong, be sure to try both sweet and savory because both flavors couldn’t be any more different from each other. 

Where can I buy Chinese rice dumplings during the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong? 

During the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong, you can buy Chinese rice dumplings from restaurants, hotels, and bakeries. 

However, there are so many options that it can be overwhelming to choose which one to buy your dumplings from. With that in mind, we put together 3 of our top places for buying rice dumplings! 

1. Yat Tung Heen


Address: 380號, 香港逸東酒店B2樓層 Level B2, Eaton HK 九龍, 380 Nathan Rd, Jordan, Hong Kong

Contact details: +852 2710 1093

Operating hours:

  • Monday to Friday – 11 AM to 4 PM, 6 PM to 10:30 PM 
  • Saturday & Sunday – 10 AM to 4 PM, 6 PM to 10:30 PM 

Yat Tung Heen first earned their Michelin star in 2017. Ever since then, they were able to uphold this status until 2022. 

They’re quite well known for their whole abalone rice dumpling, which is made out of salted egg yolk, dried scallops, roasted duck and mushrooms, and of course, abalone. 

They also have their own concoction like the omni pork vegetarian rice dumpling. Aside from omni pork, it also has Japanese mushrooms, red kidney beans, chestnuts, lotus seeds, peanuts, and more. 

Pro tip:

If you’re ordering from Yat Tung Heen in advance during the Dragon Boat Festival, you can avail their early bird discount of 15%! 

2. Spring Moon


Address: 1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Contact details: +852 2696 6760

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Saturday – 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM, 6 PM to 10 PM 
  • Sunday – 11 AM to 2:30 PM, 6 PM to 10 PM 

The Spring Moon restaurant is located inside one of the most luxurious hotels in Hong Kong – The Peninsula. It has one Michelin star. 

Anyway, to experience gourmet rice dumplings, Spring Moon is usually one of our recommendations. The flavors they offer include lotus seed paste dumpling, red date paste and lychee dumpling, premium glutinous rice dumpling and chili sauce, and more. 

You can purchase their rice dumplings individually or as a set. 

Pro tip:

Their rice dumplings are only available during the Dragon Boat Festival season so make sure to get them while you can!

3. Kee Wah Bakery


Address: Hong Kong, Connaught Rd Central, 200號HK 香港島 3/F of Shun Tak Centre, 313

Contact details:  +852 2559 6738

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 8:30 AM to 7 PM 

Kee Wah Bakery is one of the most famous Hong Kong bakery chains. In fact, if you’ve been to other places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Taiwan, you’ve probably seen their branches around. 

They’re famous for their delicious Chinese pastries including the Chinese rice dumplings. Moreover, they offer pretty affordable prices, so their products are quite easily accessible for everyone. 

Their savory rice dumpling flavors include Chinese ham and salty pork rice dumpling and Chinese ham and supreme dried scallop. We love these!

Pro tip:

You can also purchase these dumplings as a set! An assorted rice dumpling gift set would cost you HK $278. 

Where can I watch the dragon boat races in Hong Kong? 

You can watch the main event of the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong, the dragon boat races, at the Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade. In 2023, you can watch on Saturday, June 24 from 8 AM to 6:30 PM. Meanwhile, on Sunday, you can catch the races from 8 AM to 4:45 PM. 

How can I best enjoy dragon boat racing in Hong Kong?

To best enjoy the dragon boat racing in Hong Kong, it’s recommended to watch from the start of the line. Nothing beats the energy from the crowd’s excitement as soon as the race starts! 

How much does it cost to watch dragon boat races during the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong?

It costs nothing to watch dragon boat races during the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong. 

How do I get to the Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade in Hong Kong? 

To get to the Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade in Hong Kong, the first thing you need to do is to make your way to the MTR East Tsim Sha Tsui. Once you’re there, you can either take the J2 exit or the P1 Exit. 

Additionally, you can also refer to Google Maps to make sure you don’t get lost. 

What other dragon boat events are there in Hong Kong? 

If you want to avoid crowds at the dragon boat race at the Tsim Sha Tsui, you can always go to other places in Hong Kong. To know where you can catch other Dragon Boat Festival-related events or try other activities, refer to our list below.  

1. Taking photos at the pop-culture-and-dragon-boat-themed photo spots

In collaboration with LINE friends, you’ll be able to pose with Brown, Choco, Cony, and Sally at the Avenue of Stars. You can catch them from June 19 to July 2 in their own cute dragon boat athlete costumes. 

Aside from being able to take photos with them, you can also purchase limited edition merchandise you can only get in Hong Kong at the LINE friends pop-up store.  

2. Having a closer look at the dragon boats at the Lamma Fisherfolk’s Village

During the Dragon Boat Festival, you can also go to the Lamma Fisherfolk’s Village for a unique experience of knowing more about the culture behind dragon boating. 

You can ride one of the two authentic dragon boats they have available for free! Moreover, you can even opt to be the drummer or the paddler. 

3. Watching the Tai O Dragon Boat Water Parade

Tai O’s Dragon Boat Water Parade has been around for centuries. Organized by Tai O’s fishermen associations, this is the time when the villagers at Tai O show appreciation for the gods and pray to them for good health and peace. 

During the festival, association members visit different temples by dragon boats to get deity statues. They bring it with them to a hall where they can worship these deities. 

You can’t watch this kind of water parade anywhere, so you shouldn’t miss it! 

What is the history behind the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong? 

There are a lot of stories as to how the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong came to be. One of the most famous ones is the story of villagers starting the festival to show appreciation for Qu Yuan. He is a recognized Chinese poet who sacrificed his life for his country during the third century BCE. 

When villagers in the area learned about his death, in attempts to safeguard his body from evil spirits, they rode boats while beating their drums and tossing rice dumplings. That’s why you see Chinese people celebrate dragon boat racing while eating rice dumplings.  

Is the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong a public holiday? 

Yes, the Dragon Boat Festival is considered a public holiday in Hong Kong, which is why most establishments are closed during this time. 

Related topics