Travel Edit | 24 Hours in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Harbour

It’s the city that truly never sleeps, which is just as well given Hong Kong is often a short business trip or layover destination. That said, 24 hours is enough time to get a taste of this sleepless city.

This guided walk will take you through some of the city’s more popular attractions – the things you absolutely mustn’t miss if it’s a first, or quick, trip. Of course, you can take whatever snippets you wish for your own experience, or check out some alternatives (more of this, later).

9:00am: Our journey starts on Hong Kong’s Kowloon peninsula at the very Northern end of Nathan Road. No day of exploring Hong Kong properly starts without dim sum and this area is home to one branch of Tim Ho Wan – the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. Arrive early to beat the (inevitable) queue. For a classic taste of Hong Kong, make sure to order the prawn dumpling (har gau), pork dumpling (siu mai) and prawn “rice noodle roll” (har cheung). You won’t regret it.

10:00am: After breakfast, take a short stroll over to Flower Market Road where you’ll find bustling rows of florists starting trade for the day. Everything from the humble carnation to the tropical orchid can be purchased here.

11:00am: A ten minute walk South from the flower market takes you to Mong Kok, widely believed to be the world’s most densely populated area. Check out “Sneaker Street” (Fa Yuen Street) for all your trainer needs before heading to Ladies Market (Tung Choi Street) when it opens at midday. Everything from novelty phone covers to tea sets and more can be found here, but be prepared to haggle. This is also the place to try Hong Kong’s street food, including curry fish balls (ga lei yu daan), Taiwanese milk bubble tea and sweet egg waffles (gai daan jai). 

12:00pm: From Mong Kok MTR station, make your way south on the Tsuen Wan line to Tsim Sha Tsui. For a peek into Hong Kong’s colonial past, drop by the Peninsula Hotel on Salisbury Road and stay for a traditional high tea among the hotel lobby’s palms . No reservations, just turn up.

14:00pm: Tsim Sha Tsui is the place to view Hong Kong’s famous Victoria Harbour, and looks across to the instantly recognisable Hong Kong skyline. Plenty of photo opportunities present themselves from the Avenue of Stars, and its also home to the harbour’s listed clock tower. You may just catch a glimpse of the Aqua Luna junk boat touring the harbour – one of last remaining still in use.

14:30pm: Head over to the Star Ferry terminal and take a leisurely ride across Victoria Harbour to Central. With its roots dating back to the 1880’s, the Star Ferry is a true Hong Kong establishment and still the best way to get between Hong Kong island and Kowloon.

15:00pm: From Central, you can take the tram (affectionately known by locals as the “ding ding”) eastwards. It’s worth checking out in advance the Hong Kong Jockey Club‘s schedule if you want to catch any of the races in Happy Valley. Otherwise, further east is Causeway Bay where you’ll find a huge shopping district centred around Times Square. Lane Crawford, Hong Kong’s high end department store lives here, as does Sogo department store. For more ‘local’ shopping, definitely hit up Island Beverly Center. This mini mall is packed with independent retailers selling everything from bespoke shoes and dresses to accessories, jewellery, clothing and more. If you’re feeling peckish, drop by Chee Kei on Percival Street for a bowl of shrimp wonton noodle soup – regarded as one of Hong Kong’s best.

18:00pm: As the sun starts its descent, now is the time to head up to Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak. Hop back on the tram westwards or jump in a taxi to the entrance of the peak tram (Garden Road). The journey will take you on a picturesque route to the Peak’s viewing platform where you can watch daytime turn to night, and see the whole of Hong Kong at its most dazzling. There is a branch of the Tai Cheong Bakery at the Peak Galleria so make sure to pick up one of its famous egg custard tarts. Delish.

20:00pm: To make your way back down into Central, hail a taxi and ask to be dropped by the entrance of the mid-levels escalators. This extensive route of high-rise walkways and travelators – the longest in the world – will take you through the heart of Hong Kong’s ex-pat community, running alongside residential buildings, bars, restaurants, nail salons – you name it! At the bottom, take a walk down through Hong Kong’s most famous watering hole district, Lan Kwai Fong (“LKF”).

21:00pm: For dinner with a view, check out Sevva (inside the Princes Building, Chater Road) and dine among the city’s high rise buildings. There is a dress code, so keep in mind (gents) if you’ll be in shorts during the day! Sevva’s rooftop terrace is the perfect way to wind down from a day of exploring, cocktails a plenty.

What not to miss:

If you have a little more time in Hong Kong, other must-sees include:

A drink in the highest rooftop bar in the world
The Ritz-Carlton is home to the Ozone bar, where you can drink at 118 floors up.

Beach day at Repulse Bay
An escape from the city centre, Repulse Bay offers a more relaxed, sandy beach getaway. Beware weekends, which can get really busy!

Day trip to Stanley
Reachable by bus from Hong Kong’s peak, Stanley is a bustling waterfront market village. The feel here is not too dissimilar to London’s Covent Garden.

Big Buddha
Hop over to Lantau Island and take a ride on a cable car to visit the largest sitting outdoor Buddha in the world. Book the 360 glass bottom cable car in advance to jump the queue.

Temple Street Night Market
Open late, Temple Street stocks similar wares to Ladies Market. It’s more famously home to Hong Kong’s remaining dai pai dong casual outdoor eateries where you can sample cheap and authentic street foods.

Dragon’s Back hike
If walking is your thing, the Dragon’s Back trail will take you to the sandy beach at Shek O via some pretty spectacular views.

Junk Boat hire
Grab your bikini and try Jaspas for the best all-day parties aboard a junk.

Day trip to Macau
Where Vegas meets the Orient. It’s Portuguese colonial heritage means you’ll find some food here with both Chinese and Portuguese influence. Plenty of casinos if you fancy a little flutter.

Hong Kong Harbour

For more on Hong Kong, see Travel Edit | Hong Kong.

© All photography and views expressed in this blog are my own. For more information, and for details of my editorial policy, please see my blog disclaimer.


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