After a whirlwind book tour in Europe and a week of stuffing myself with pastries in Paris, I made my way back towards Australia via Hong Kong, one of the most logical stopovers when journeying from Australia to Europe (along with Singapore).
With just 48 hours in the city and jet lag weighing my down, I was surprised to see how much I could fit in to such a short visit! If you also find yourself in Hong Kong for such a short space of time, here’s a complete itinerary to match (with some options, depending on how many times you have visited!)
Check In: Hong Kong Island VS. Kowloon
There are two main options when you arrive in Hong Kong: to stay “on the island” or to stay in Kowloon (the huge landmass on the other side of the water, connected to mainland China). To be completely honest with you, I love both and each for different reasons.
Hong Kong Island has the benefit of centrality, being within walking distance of many of the cities’ main attractions. Much of the island does have more of a financial vibe, with much of the business for Hong Kong operating out of Central. On the other hand you have Kowloon, offering a more authentic stay just minutes to the local markets and right “in the thick of it”.
On this trip I checked in to the Kerry Hotel, a new hotel located away from the hustle and bustle, with a view of the entire harbour. Other hotels I have really enjoyed are the Landmark Mandarin Oriental (a fashion bloggers’ dream), the Four Seasons Hotel (one of the best views of Kowloon from the Island), The Ritz Carlton (one of the highest hotels in the world – you literally wake up in the clouds) and a handful of 3-4 star hotels on Nathan Road from my days before blogging (all which were fantastic but none of which I remember the name).
Get your Bearings: Take the Peak Tram!
You can’t come to Hong Kong and not visit Victoria Peak, the iconic mountain overlooking Hong Kong Island below and with uninterrupted views of Kowloon Harbour. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for mountain mansions as you journey up the peak, where house prices fetch the multi-millions (some of the most expensive real estate in the entire world!)
Grab Some Lunch at Cat Street
Bang in the expat-heavy part of town is Cat Street, which has nonetheless retained its authenticity offering local handicrafts, souvenirs, and plenty of great food to sink in to. The food is not quite as local as the neighbourhood has maintained itself, largely due to the expat population and a logical sense to offer more Western foods in the area (but thankfully most of these are Asian-Western fusions and usually really clever and original in their approach).
Catch the Star Ferry to Kowloon
No matter how many times I have visited Hong Kong and will continue to visit in to the future, I could never tire of the views and serenity when cruising from the island to Kowloon for a very reasonable price of less than $1 return.
Walk along the Kowloon Harbour
The Avenue of Stars is as tacky and kitsch as it sounds, but it does still offer one of the best views of the city skyline! I would recommend arriving in time for sunset and watching the city evolve from day to night. Bring along a picnic if you wish and watch the light show unfold at 8:00pm every evening.
Night Markets in Mong Kok
After the peace and serenity of the harbour, switch things up a gear and make your way by MTR to Mong Kok, home to Hong Kong’s famous night markets. Over the years I have admittedly fallen out of love with the products (mostly cheap copies of brand items, phone cases and souvenir t-shirts, but the experience itself is still as fun as ever.
The most famous night markets are Temple Street Night Market and Ladies Market, but during the day check out Fa Yuen Street, the Fish Market and the Flower Market for something a little different.
Day 2: Visit an Outlying Island
Experiencing Hong Kong is as much about escaping it as it is visiting the city itself, if only for a day or an afternoon! Much of the beauty of Hong Kong lies outside of the city centre, with oodles of hikes, beaches and natural beauty to discover. If this is your first trip to Hong Kong you should make Lantau Island your first stop, as it is here where you will see the famous Bronze Buddha up close and experience more of Hong Kong’s ancient cultures and traditions.
If you have already visited Lantau, the options are endless! Lamma Island is another great half day trip for a more relaxed escape from the city and beautiful beaches that will make you forget the hustle and bustle in no time at all.
Dinner at Ho Lee Fook
On this most recent trip I found a new favourite dinner place in Central, thanks to my friend Morgan who has been living in Hong Kong the past year and has discovered the best that the city has to offer right now (it is always changing so so quickly).
This was hands down one of my favourite dining experiences in Hong Kong, and believe me when I say there are a lot to compare to! The food was exceptional – lots of Asian flavours, a quirky cocktail menu and low-key environment in a dimly lit basement.
The options to keep one entertained in Hong Kong are quite literally limitless and impossible to list in full detail. Here are some of my other favourite things to do that might take your fancy, depending on what you want from your time in Hong Kong!
Disneyland – Great for the young ones (or young at heart!) Very easy to reach by train.
Ocean Park – Hong Kong’s famous water theme park (with temperamental ride opening days – beware!)
Stanley Market – A really nice day trip out of town but the market itself is pretty kitsch, albeit slightly less so than the Mong Kok offerings.
Causeway Bay – A really nice neighbourhood to explore with great small cafes and cheaper accommodation offerings.
Macau – One of my favourite day trips just a 45 minute ferry away. Regarded as the “Las Vegas of the East” (but a much cleaner version).
Central – One of my favourite neighbourhoods to wander with so many cool up-and-coming cafes and quirky eateries.
I visited Hong Kong as a stopover on my way from Europe back to Australia with Finnair. The flight time from Helsinki to Hong Kong is around 10 hours, followed by the 8 hour journey back to Melbourne. If you’re looking to switch your body clock back before returning home, Hong Kong is just two hours behind Australia, making for the perfect stopover city between Oz and Europe.