Eclectic, modern and chaotic – that’s Hong Kong in three words. Towering skyscrapers, luxurious shops and busy streets are intersected with lush and serene parks. Not to mention the food. Hong Kong is a synonym for amazing street food and some of the best fine dining. One day in Hong Kong may not be enough to see everything, but thanks to its super efficient transportation, you’ll manage to see quite a bit.
What’s the best time to visit Hong Kong?
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The best time to visit Hong Kong is either October-December or late February-March. Those are the periods of nice temperatures and less humidity. It’s also good to mention that the room prices, which sometimes go insanely high, are quite reasonable at that time of the year. If possible, skip summer due to high temperatures, high humidity, frequent heavy rains and a chance for typhoons.
a Few facts about Hong Kong
After the First Opium War, Hong Kong became a British colony and remained so for 156 years. Since 1997, it’s has been a special administrative region with a high degree of autonomy. Today, Hong Kong is one of the world’s most influential financial centers and one of the biggest transportation hubs in Asia. With a population of more than 7 million on such a tiny area, it’s the world’s fourth most densely populated territory. The city is a symbol of multiculturalism and dynamism.
One Day in Hong Kong Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Hong Kong.
Start your day at the Hong Kong Island
The fastest and most convenient way to reach the Hong Kong Island would be by using a MTR. Get down at the Central station and wander the busy streets of Hong Kong’s business district. Contemporary skyscrapers, luxurious hotels and shops and brand new cars make this district one of the fanciest in the world. Make sure to catch one of the doubledeck trams called Ding Ding. Sit in the very front on the upper floor and have a great tour through Hong Kong Island with the best view for only a few dollars.
See Hong Kong from above
You have probably seen all those amazing Hong Kong photos from above. Now it’s your turn to capture one. Catch the Peak Tram at the Peak Terminus and enjoy the 552m-high, super steep ride that will take you all the way to Victoria Peak. You should know that there are huge lines for a Peak Tram, especially in the afternoon and during weekends, so it would be great to go there as early as possible. If the lines are too long, catch a bus. However, if you purchase your return ticket online, you’ll get a free entry to the sky bar at the top!
Get a Dim Sum for Lunch
You cannot leave Hong Kong without trying Dim Sum. Dim Sum is a style of Chinese cuisine which stands for the small portions of food served in steamer baskets or small plates. You can get them on street food stalls around the city, but there are also many famous restaurants and restaurant chains that serve mostly Dim Sums. DimDimSum chain has a few restaurants around the city – visit either the one in Wan Chai or the one in Jordan.
Tsim Sha Tsui
Once you’re done with the Hong Kong Island, take a Star Ferry to the Kowloon Island. Make sure to sit on the upper deck for a better view.
When you reach Kowloon Island, you’ll get off at the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. It’s a nice promenade for a relaxing walk and beautiful views of the Hong Kong skyline. Check out the Clock Tower, a remnant of the Kowloon Railway station where the goods from inland China were transported to the rest of the world. Also, don’t miss the Avenue of the Stars – the walk of fame that pays tribute to celebrities of the Hong Kong film industry. If museums are your thing, check out the Hong Kong Museum of Art or Hong Kong Space Museum.
Nathan Road and Kowloon Park
It’s time to relax and move away from Hong Kong’s chaotic traffic, at least for a bit. Walk the busy Nathan Road, the main thoroughfare lined with mega malls, shops and restaurants until you reach Kowloon Park, a huge lush park and oasis of calm. The park is pretty huge, filled with many attractions, so it would be great to check out the Park Map on the entrance. There are many Asian trees inside the park, so it can be very interesting for first time visitors to Asia. Also, close to a hundred different wild bird species can be found in the Park area. If you find it hard to spot them, check out the birds aviary and make sure not to miss the flamingo pond. In case you’re more into shopping, stick to Nathan Road and one of the many shopping malls along it.
A Symphony of Lights
A Symphony of Lights is the world’s largest permanent light and sound show displayed every night (with good weather) at 8 pm in the Victoria Harbour. This laser light and LED screen show is accompanied with the soundtrack performed by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. The light show is displayed on the Hong Kong Island, so the best place to watch it is actually on the Kowloon Island, next to the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Make sure to arrive a bit earlier, since the harbor area is crowded at that time and you surely want to grab some great spot.
Temple Street Night Market
Hong Kong has plenty of night markets, and they are pretty exciting places to visit at night. This particular market stretches for several blocks on Temple street and continues to some side streets as well. It’s the best place to purchase some cheap souvenirs, electronics, suitcases, bags and all kinds of accessories. Of course you always need to haggle and walk away from the stall, and they will easily split the price in half. There are many fortune tellers around the area, some with a really long queue in front. The street market is also a great place to have something for dinner – whether from the food stalls or at any of the many restaurants in the area.
Visit Happy Valley Racecourse
Forget about conventional drinking-in-a-bar night out. Drinking while watching a horse race is much more fun. It’s pretty much a party atmosphere, and even if you’re not into betting it’s still super fun to watch the race. The entry fee for the public enclosure area is 10 HKD (you can pay with the octopus card), and the drinks are pretty affordable, as well. Just make sure to be there early so you can get a nice spot next to the table, otherwise you’ll be standing with drinks in your hands. It’s also possible to book a terrace view with a buffet and drinks included.
Where to stay in Hong Kong?
1 Chi Wo Street, Yau Tsim Mong District, Hong Kong
Hotel Stage is a brand new, boutique hotel only a 5-minute walk from Temple Street Night Market. It offers an artistic environment and clean, urban interiors. The hotel features a free fitness centre and meeting rooms, which makes it a great choice for both business and leisure guests. The bright rooms provide modern-style design, plenty of light and some stunning city views.
The OTTO Hotel
8 Cameron Road Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Yau Tsim Mong District
The OTTO Hotel is a fully designed hotel located in the very heart of the city in the Tsim Sha Tsui district, one of the best-rated locations in Hong Kong. It is a perfect choice for those who want modern, stylish yet super comfortable stay. The hotel features a sun terrace. The rooms are decorated in cool tones and modern furnishings, while some boast stunning city views.
YHA Mei Ho House Youth Hostel
Block 41, 70 Berwick Street, Shek Kip Mei Estate, Sham Shui Po
YHA Mei Ho House Youth Hostel is the best rated youth hostel within the city area. The hostel is set in a public resettlement block built in 1954, now fully renovated into a youth hostel with 129 rooms and dormitories. The hostel combines art facilities with a unique cultural and heritage flavour of Hong Kong. It features The Hub, a recreational function area, an open-air terrace, café and a vintage-style mini store.
day trips from hong kong
Due to its unique geo-political position, Hong Kong is a vibrant metropolis with loads of very special sights. However, its surroundings are worthy of a trip, too. The surrounding part of China indeed has a lot to offer.
You get easily to Lantau Island via a ferry from Hong Kong, and then you have a whole day to explore this quaint little place. The main attraction is the bronze statue of Giant Buddha which is more than 100 feet (30 meters) tall. It is located next to the Po Lin Monastery where you can grab lunch, but keep in mind that this is a vegetarian place. If you want meat, you can eat in the nearby Tai O village.
To get to Macau, you can take a ferry from Hong Kong or travel via the impressive Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. If you can choose, the latter is a truly unforgettable option. Once you get to Macau, there will be plenty to see, from A-Ma Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the Macau Tower, one of the tallest buildings on Earth. Be it history or modern attractions you’re craving, Macau really has it all!
Shenzhen is a city in the province of Guangzhou, and its Safari park is something all animal lovers must see. Not only does it have pandas, but it also houses elephants and Siberian tigers! There is plenty more to enjoy in this city apart from that, though, because this is another Chinese sprawling metropolis. Modern and traditional architecture in combination with beautiful and large parks create a fascinating whole. In every sense of the word, this is a modern city and a Chinese success story.
If you want a day trip from Hong Kong that will help you get away from it all, head to the island of Cheung Chau. Its beaches are a great place to relax and unwind. The town has loads of excellent seafood restaurants, plus there is a famous attraction here called “Mini Great Wall” which is a hiking trail and a great way to explore the island. So, you can chill on the beach, you can taste some great food or you can opt for a more active day full of hiking. Either way, you won’t regret coming here.
Just like the previous destination, Sai Kung is also a day trip from Hong Kong for those of you who want sun, beaches and water-sports. The picturesque town will reveal a more traditional face of China, the seafood market is absolutely brilliant, and the bay in which the town is located i absolutely beautiful. You can’t miss.
Extra tips for visiting Hong Kong
– Both English and Chinese are official languages, however most of the locals speak Cantonese, which is a Chinese dialect.
– Getting a rechargeable Octopus Card can save you a lot of time, which can be a great thing if you only have one day in Hong Kong. You can use it on buses, trains and plenty more attractions without waiting in lines for tickets.
– MTR is in most cases the fastest and the cheapest way of transportation. Just make sure to download the MTR map on your phone so you always know where’s your closest MTR station.
– Most of the restaurants have a 10% service charge included on the bill, so you don’t need to leave any additional tip.
– Welcome is the best way to get used to the hectic surrounding you’ll encounter when you get to Hong Kong. These people will prepare everything for you in advance, provide some great tips and generally be there for you no matter what you need.
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Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).