Or…if you’ve got even less than 24 hours!
Hong Kong is often a quick stopover for travelers in and out of mainland China. Due to its miniscule size, most people don’t plan on staying in HK for more than a few days unless they’re in town for business. Nonetheless, there’s still A TON to do on this fascinating island. But if you’re on crunch time or have less than 24 hours, here’s what you should do to mix a little of sightseeing, luxury, and local tastes.
1. EAT: Dim sum for breakfast.
If there’s one thing you HAVE to dive your nose right into is local dim sum, and guess what?! Hong Kongers eat them for breakfast or lunch! DREAM! If braised chicken feet isn’t really up your alley at 9 a.m., then why not try rice noodle rolls, prawn/shrimp dumplings. Don’t miss out on the global favorite: char siu bao, aka: BBQ pork buns. My favorite kind of places to get dim sum are literally right next to my hotel ANYWHERE on the street. Wake up in the morning, walk around in your neighborhood, and there will be at least one local restaurant featuring stacks of heartwarming bamboo steamers.
2. SEE: The Peak
This major tourist attraction is one of those things you hate that you have to do. First, it’s a drag because the lines for the tram to go up is exceedingly long. Unless you’re enthusiastic about standing in line and looking like a tourist, it isn’t a fun experience. The alternative is to take the taxi up to see The Peak, then come down via the tram. DO NOT use the taxi drivers by The Peak because you’ll 100% be scammed to pay double the price. Try getting a taxi from your hotel or near Central Station instead.
In case you have no idea what The Peak is all about, it’s the highest hill on Hong Kong Island. In this spot, you can capture the breathtaking views of Central, Victoria Harbour, Lamma Island, and other islands surrounding HK.
3. SEE: Big Buddha.
Or, Tian Tan Buddha, a giant bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni. The landmark was completed in 1993, and is situated in Lantau Island – close to the airport. The massive statue symbolizes harmony between man and nature, and faith and people.
Plan at least a few hours for this site since it takes 20 minutes by car to reach Lantau Island from either Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. The lines to take the Nyong Ping Cable Car will be VERY long, so try to go there on a weekday during lunch hour to avoid tourists. Tip! Buy tickets online so you can save time from waiting in line.
4. DO: Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula, then walk over to Harbour City.
There is simply nothing more iconic to do in Hong Kong than to have afternoon tea at The Peninsula Hotel, a brand started by the Kadoorie family who were Mizrahi Jews from Baghdad. They wanted to build “the finest hotel in the east of Suez,” hence The Peninsula Hong Kong was born in December 1928. Situated in Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui, the afternoon tea is the hotel’s signature experience with live orchestra in the background, paired with busy footsteps in the lobby. This is one fine afternoon you need to treat yourself!
After tea, you can walk over to Harbour City to capture the legendary view of the famous Victoria Harbour. Magnifique!
5. DO: Tai Kwun
Tai Kwun, an old prison turned into an arts and cultural center, is a fantastic spot near Central to walk around and learn about HK’s history as a British colony. The entire space is made up of 3 areas: a restored Central Police Station, Central Magistracy, and Victoria Prison. Renovated by The Hong Kong Jockey Club, Tai Kwun is now also one of the coolest spots to be in the city with cocktail bars and posh restaurants. After a self-guided tour around the entire compound, why not sit down for a drink or indulge in a light dinner to discuss the complexities of Hong Kong’s past and future.