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. Here are top things to do in Hong Kong in 24 hours.
If you’re staying in Kowloon (many tourists do) then begin your day with a walk along the harbour front, followed by a Chinese jet-lag treatment at the InterContinental Hotel’s I-Spa (opens at 8am).
If you’re staying at the InterContinental, you can join Tai Chi Master William Ng who will put you through your paces to the backdrop of Hong Kong’s best view. Stop by the hotel’s concierge desk for a quick chat with friendly chief concierge to brush up on the city’s latest.
InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon. Tel: +852 2721-1211.
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 for a treasure trove of oriental pieces.
Honeychurch Antiques, 29 Hollywood Road, Central. Tel: +852 2543-2433.
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 Tsui Wah Restaurant. The food at this local haunt is fresh, tasty and cheap (around $10 per person). The service is super quick and meals are enormous. Try their mixture of tea and coffee, prepared in local style (it’s not on the English menu).
Tsui Wah Restaurant, 15-19 Wellington Street, Central. Tel: +852 2525-6338.
For the cheapest eyewear in town, phone New Fei Optical. 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.
New Fei Optical, 1-7 Bute Street, Kowloon. Tel: +852 2398-2088.
Ask to be dropped off at the Jade Market; this 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 Yau Ma Tei MTR station and take the underground to Sham Shui Po. There’s a flea market with 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, 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.
Shia Wong Hip, 170 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po. Tel: +852 2386-9064.
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 8pm).
Aqualuna, tel: +852 2116 8821.
Top things to do in Hong Kong after dark
Head for dinner at BO Innovations. Experimental chef Alvin Leung sports a punk hairstyle and wears cool shades while preparing an innovative contemporary Chinese feast.
Bo Innovations, 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai. Tel: + 852 2850 8371.
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 pretty buzzy and constantly evolving.
Discover Hong Kong
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There are plenty of top places to eat in Hong Kong but if you have a few days up your sleeve you’ll enjoy Macau’s casinos, restaurants and historical sites. Here is a useful article comparing Hong Kong and Macau.