Hong Kong epitomizes the words lively, bustling, colourful, fun-filled, quintessentially “East meets West,” look it up and there’s a vast array of things to see and do. Though it seems like it never stops and you could certainly pack a multitude of experiences into a few days or a layover, it’s a city I found even more wonderful when I stepped back and took it at my own slightly slower pace.
How to get around in Hong Kong
From the airport there are a range of different ways to get into the city, the Airport Hotelink Shuttle bus brings you right to the door of many of the major hotels, the Airport Express links you to Central and Kowloon stations where most hotels offer a free shuttle bus from, or grab a taxi, Uber or limousine transfer. Whichever option you choose the information at the airport is well sign posted and airport staff are plentiful and extremely helpful.
Within the city the MTR (subway) is the cheapest and easiest way to get around, invest in an Octopus card, a contactless ‘smart card’ which allows you access to most public transport, with discount, as well as being able to purchase items in convenience stores around the city. Buy at the airport and you can top up as needs be in MTR stations and 7-Eleven stores.
Where to stay in Hong Kong
Be warned when picking accommodation, Hong Kong is an incredibly densely packed city and as such hotel rooms are usually much smaller. If you’re thinking hostel be prepared for a room that could be slightly reminiscent of Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs, fitting a bunk bed and not much else.
Our recommendation would be to stay in the heart of Kowloon, in New World Millenium Hotel. This luxurious hotel provides a wonderful sense of space, offering spectacular views over the harbour, close to the Tsim Sha Tsui metro station which gains you easy access to pretty much anywhere you will visit in Hong Kong. Kowloon is a fantastic mix of luxury shopping and street markets, museums, parks and a brilliant night life.
What to eat in Hong Kong
Dim sum, dim sum and more dim sum. Traditionally eaten for breakfast and lunch but available throughout the day from the top rated hotels to the small, crowded restaurants where you share your table with the locals and hope beyond hope that the menu has pictures. Tao Li in New World Millenium Hotel really does put on a spread. With an all you can eat dim sum menu, they have pretty much every kind of dim sum you could wish for whether you are a meat eater or vegetarian and also have a few wonderful delicacies for those of you with a sweet tooth.
For a great foodie experience and one to ease you into how the authentic Hong Kong cafes and restaurants run book onto a Hong Kong Foodie Tasting Tour. The guides show you around the local area, sharing great tips on what to do and how to order in the restaurants. Not only do you get to try a range of foods in some of the oldest family run restaurants, you will be shown how some of these foods are made. After this tour I was much more confident in walking into a local restaurant and squeezing myself into any available seat and made it my mission to hunt down freshly baked Pineapple buns for breakfast everyday.
For a special dinner that offers views that will rival any dinner view you’ve had, head to the Felix Restaurant in The Peninsula Hotel. With spectacular views overlooking the harbour, come here for a pre dinner cocktail but make sure you’re still there for the Light Show as this place gives you the best seat in the house. With attentive service and a tasting menu with perfect wine pairings give yourself time to enjoy these exquisitely presented dishes which taste just as good as they look.
Where to Stay in Hong Kong
You’re spoiled for choice in Hong Kong, but if you only have 5 days in Hong Kong then I would suggest basing yourself somewhere amazing.
Stay here if you want to be in the centre of a vibrant, bustling, dynamic area but be able to disengage in a spacious, airy, relaxing accommodation overlooking the iconic skyline of Victoria Harbour.
Situated right in the center of things when you go to a new city, but sometimes, especially if you’ve been on the go for a while, it’s nice to find somewhere that you feel you can still be part of everything but also take a step back from all the hustle and bustle- one of the best reasons why this is where you should stay in Hong
What to do in Hong Kong
Walk as much as you can, wander around the massive shopping malls and up Nathan Road, one of the main shopping streets. Don’t be afraid to venture off onto the side streets where you will see much more of the ‘real Hong Kong.’ We recommend walking up to Mong Kok for the best choices in ice-creams, bakeries, street food and bubble tea and on your way take in the dazzling mixture of skyscrapers, parks and temples that await you.
Take in the jaw dropping view over the top of Hong Kong from the Sky Terrace at Victoria Peak, be prepared for queues to take the journey up on The Peak Tram but these are well worth the wait. If possible try to pick a fairly non-cloudy day and hit the Peak just before sunset to enjoy the experience of seeing this view in the daylight and then as the colours of Hong Kong at night come to life.
Speaking of Hong Kong colours at night one of the must-sees is the Symphony of lights Show seen from the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront where the buildings of Hong Kong Island are lit up in synchronisation with music every night at 8pm. To kill two birds with one stone take the Star Ferry (another must do in my book) across the bay from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island to take in this dazzling display from the water.
Grab a bargain as you meander through one of the many markets, Ladies Market and Temple Street market are perfect for an evening stroll as they come alive at night, or during the day head to Stanley Market. There is the usual array of souvenirs and fake brands, but some beautiful artwork and unique goods that will have you breaking out your bartering skills.
To enjoy the night life head to Lan Kwai Fong, this bustling area offers any nightlife experience you could want from chic dining and wine bars to friendly pubs and clubs. Many places offer happy hours so it’s best to head down around 6pm when everyone is getting off work. Enjoy the laid back atmosphere, people watch and dance the night away as this district stays alive until early morning.
There are a plethora of other activities, excursions and attractions in Hong Kong such as Disney land, Ocean Park, day trips to the New Territories, swimming in rooftop pools or cocktails at the 2nd highest bar in the world.
Depending on your time limit and what you want to cram in, make a list of your must sees and eats but take the time to look around and just enjoy how wonderfully diverse and fantastically different Hong Kong really is, preferably with a handful of freshly baked custard tarts and a Bubble tea smoothie.