Hong Kong is one city that has launched itself into the 21st century without losing its unique character. Beneath the slick veneer of gleaming skyscrapers and shopping arcades are hip private clubs, contemporary art galleries, narrow shopping alleys and snake soup restaurants. Discover a world of hidden wonders in vibrant Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Itinerary
Day 1 – Central
Hong Kong may be a fast-paced city but there are plenty of ways to make a healthy start to the day.
If you’re staying in Kowloon, as many tourists choose to do, then begin your day with a walk along the Hong Kong harbourfront, followed by a Chinese jet-lag treatment in one of the many hotel spas.
As I was staying at the InterContinental, I joined Tai Chi Master William Ng for a Tai Chi class on the rooftop. He put you through our paces to the backdrop of Hong Kong’s most amazing view.
A short walk to the Star Ferry terminal will have you on the ferry to Central.
It’s quick and cheap (35cents).
The narrow laneways between Des Voeux Road Central and Queens Road Central are crowded with street stalls that sell souvenirs, clothes and fashion accessories.
Even though prices are reasonable, don’t be afraid to haggle, especially if you’re buying more than one item.
Jump on the world’s longest covered escalator at Queens Road Central, hopping off at Lyndhurst Terrace.
Browse through antiques shops and galleries along Hollywood Road where terracotta and contemporary artworks are the trend.
When buying antiques, it’s best to shop at reliable establishments. Pop into Honeychurch Antiques (29 Hollywood Road, Central Hong Kong) for a treasure trove of oriental pieces.
Head to Man Mo Chinese temple to watch the locals pray before slipping around the corner to Cat Street, where you’ll find affordable collectibles ranging from Chairman Mao figurines to horse-hair brushes and old coins.
Join the lunch-time rush for a noodle lunch at one of the many local restaurants in Hong Kong.
I ate at Tsui Wah Restaurant (15-19 Wellington Street, Central Hong Kong). The food at this local haunt is fresh, tasty and cheap (around $10 per person).
The service was super quick and meals are enormous. Try their mixture of tea and coffee, prepared in local style (it’s not on the English menu).
Ask the driver at New Fei to drop you off at the Jade Market.
The market is where many of Hong Kong’s posh boutiques shop for their accessories.
If you’re buying several items, beat the price down to at least half the asking price.
To close the deal, start to walk away and the shopkeeper will quickly come to the party.
Head for dinner at BO Innovations (60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai).
Experimental chef Alvin Leung sports a punk hairstyle and wears cool shades while preparing an innovative contemporary Chinese feast.
Day 2 – Kowloon
For the cheapest eyewear in town, phone New Fei Optical (1-7 Bute Street, Kowloon). Their van will pick you up and drop you off at their warehouse, which has a huge range of frames starting from as little as $15 all the way up to chic European-designer brands at a fraction of the retail cost.
If you have a prescription (or a pair of your own spectacles) with you, you can walk out with brand new groovy eyewear within 30 minutes.
Ask to be dropped off at Mongkok market, which is a sprawling street market consisting of five market sections – the Fa Yuen Street Market, Flower Market, Bird Market, Goldfish Market and Ladies Market.
You could easily spend at least 30 minutes in each market. Not only is it a fun place to shop for souvenirs, you’ll also get lots of fantastic photographs that typifies Hong Kong’s traditional street life.
Head for Yau Ma Tei MTR station and take the underground to Sham Shui Po.
Wander around the flea market and check out the gadget stalls at Apliu Street.
Fancy a bowl of snake soup? It’ll cost $8 and if you didn’t know any better you’d think it was chicken!
The snake restaurants are noticeable by the snakes displayed in glass cabinets.
At Shia Wong Hip restaurant (170 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po), owner Ka Ling might even be persuaded to produce a handful of writhing snakes (Indiana Jones-style) from her timber floor-to-ceiling snake storage cabinet.
Take the MTR to Tsim Tsa Tsui and drop your bags at the InterContinental (it’s a five-minute walk from the station) then stroll down to the Aqualuna (main photo), a beautifully restored Chinese junk at Pier 4 (sails at 7.30pm).
Sip on a cocktail while you cruise the harbour on the best seat in town while watching the spectacular skyline illuminate during the Symphony of Light show (show at 8 pm).
Hit the clubs around Lan Kwai Fong. Start at Dragon-i, which is often packed with celebrities.
A top hotel concierge can get you into private clubs like the China Club (it has a charming 1930’s atmosphere).
Hong Kong nightlife is pretty buzzy and constantly evolving.
Day 3 – Victoria Peak
Day 4 – Lantau Island
If you’re itching to get away from the skyscrapers and traffic, head to Lantau Island on Hong Kong’s western side.
Relatively undeveloped, Lantau Island is a peaceful backwater destination with lovely sea views, beaches and villages.
There are hiking trails where you can breath fresh air and get those steps up in nature.
Climb the steps to the Tian Tian Buddha statue, explore Ngong Ping Village for Buddhist culture and have fun at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Read our post for more things to do on Lantau Island.