Hong Kong will always be special to me as my husband and I spent our first wedding anniversary here. Moreover, having spent a vast amount of time in India, Singapore and surrounding countries has instilled an affinity with Asia within me and Hong Kong is no different. It was everything I imagined it to be and so so much more!
Hong Kong. The name itself inspires vision of soaring skyscrapers, expansive skyline, a shopper’s paradise and heavenly food! The chaos and bustle of the city is addictive and this vibe of constant change packed with an amplitude of things to see and do is something that will keep me coming back to Hong Kong year after year!
Unfortunately, not everyone (including us!) has the luxury of time and opportunity to explore all of Hong Kong’s highlights into one trip. Time permitting, you could easily fill weeks exploring the different islands, restaurants, nightlife and vast array of markets. However, with recommendations from local friends and travel experts we made the best of our 4 day getaway and hopefully this itinerary can help you blissfully experience Hong Kong in the same way!
Hong Kong at a Glance
Hong Kong is clearly divided into different districts, the three that you are most likely to visit are Kowloon, Hong Kong Island & Lantau Island. It is easy to get to all from the airport via local taxis (only cash, HK$ accepted), coach transfer from the airport directly to your hotel or the airport express.
Kowloon: This place is perfect for a budget traveller as it is filled with low budget hotels and hostels around Tsim Tsa Shui & Mong Kok areas. It is also a great tourist spot as it’s centrally located making commute easier and is filled with local restaurants, night markets and the infamous Mong Kok Ladies Market! If you have a higher price point, then some of the bigger hotel chains such as Park Hotel, The Shangri-La, Intercontinental & Ramada are all within the vicinity of Tsim Sha Shui (TST). We stayed a little further away from the tourist district, at Crowne Plaza in Kowloon East. Although it was a great hotel, we sort of missed being centrally located and would recommend anyone travelling for a few days to stay put near the tourist hubs to experience the most out of your holiday.
Hong Kong Island: This is where most of the skyscrapers, high end stores, banks and posh restaurants are situated. Many tourists visit here for the panoramic views of Victoria Peak and shopping at Causeway Bay which is a large stretch of high end stores, restaurants and parks. It is also relatively easy to get to Kowloon and Lantau Island from here making it viable, albeit expensive as a tourist hub. Some of the finer hotels such as JW Marriott, Mandarin Oriental and smaller boutique hotels can all be found in Hong Kong Island.
Lantau Island: It is uncommon to find tourists staying in Lantau Island, however it holds many attractions such as Disneyland, Ngong Pong Village and the airport making it one of the top attractions to visit in Hong Kong.
Day 1: Hong Kong Island
Morning: Start the day bright and early by taking a taxi or metro from Kowloon towards Central Island. If taking the metro then the Island Line or Tseun Wan Line will get you to Central station. From here walk a few minutes along Chater Garden towards Peak Tram Station. You can buy the tickets online or on arrival. The waiting is usually quite long as it is an extremely popular site however the journey on the tram is quite exciting and the fabulous views of the Victoria Peak from the Sky Terrace are well worth the wait!
Lunch: After heading down from the viewing deck, grab a quick late lunch at Pure Veggie House– just a few minutes walk from the Peak Tram station. Pure Veggie House is Buddhist restaurant serving a huge range of mock-meat dishes and yummy dim-sums. The place is not fancy looking and the only downside was that the servers struggled to understand English but the meal was inexpensive and the food tasted natural, fresh and house-made which we really enjoyed!
Evening: We spent the rest of the day browsing malls and walking through Causeway Bay, Des Voux & Queens Central. This is a great area if you’re looking to shop luxury brands and get a feel of the lavish Hong Kong lifestyle. I personally looked through many quirky and fun home decor stores in the area around Times Square and Causeway Bay. You can check my detailed post on Home Decor in Hong Kong here!
Nightlife: If you’re not weighed down by jetlag or the days events and if you happen to be in Hong Kong on a Friday or Saturday then heading to Lan Kwai Fong (LFK)-one of the most popular nightlife hubs in Hong Kong, is ABSOLUTELY recommended! We were lucky to be here on a Friday night and it was so exciting! LFK is a L-shaped narrow street situated between Wyndham Street & D’Aguilar consisting of over hundred restaurants and bar clubs in the Central district. On first glance, the crowd can be slightly overwhelming, however the large number of bars ensured that no bar felt crowded inside. Moreover, the groovy music and vibe of the place is enough to guarantee a great night!
Day 2: Lantau Island & Ngong Ping Village
Morning: After a busy first day in Central Hong Kong, we were looking forward to a scenic day away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We took the metro to Tung Chung station as this is the quickest and most economical way to get to Lantau Island. On arrival, we took the Tung Chung cable car to Ngong Ping village. The cable car ride is a 25-minute scenic ride where you can feast your eyes with the panoramic vistas of Lantau Island. If you have the luxury of time then Tung Chung station is also located in an outlet shopping mall where you can kill some time shopping or grabbing a quick bite from famous food chains such as Pizza Hut, Subway, Pret A Manger etc.
Ngong Ping Village- is a world away from the busy Hong Kong city life. The quaint and quiet town almost reflects a traditional Chinese countryside. The highlight of the village is the large bronze Tian Tan Buddha. The beauty and aura that you can experience around the Buddha is almost indescribable and makes the long commute and hike up to the Buddha statue totally worth it! Ngong Ping village is also famous for the Po Lin Buddhist monastery. We spent the entire day in the village and would recommend anyone; locals and tourists looking for a an escape from city life to enjoy a peaceful day amidst the rolling hills, tree and monks in Ngong Ping village!
Dinner: After heading back from Ngong Ping village, we took the metro to Central Hong Kong and stopped at Chilli Fagara for dinner. This is an extremely popular Sichuan restaurant in Hong Kong which is unsurprising as the restaurant boasts of a Michelin star year after year. Online reservation is highly recommended if you want to dine here as the waiting can go on for hours. We made our reservation two days in advance as we were given gloating reviews from local friends and this was one of our top places to dine at in Hong Kong. In terms of locating the restaurant, it is quite tricky to find as its situated in a random backstreet in Soho. The best way to get here is to take a local taxi from Central Station and ask the driver to drive you to the restaurant. (PS: All taxis are metered in Hong Kong, so you never have to worry about getting duped!)
Day 3: Kowloon & Mong Kok
Afternoon: After a beautiful visit to Ngong Ping village, we were refreshed and relaxed and took an easy day on our third day in Hong Kong. We stayed in bed till late and headed out at noon to the infamous Mong Kok Ladies Market in Kowloon. Mong Kok in Cantonese means a busy corner and this area is just that! It is one of the most densely populated areas in Hong Kong and venturing out here is recommended to get a slice of the ‘real’ Hong Kong. The noise, smell, atmosphere and the ample number of shops make the Ladies Market look almost like a carnival! You can literally find anything here from cheap clothing, traditional Chinese ceramic crockery to handbags, toys and gift items, all at great prices as bargaining is expected!
The easiest way to get here is by taking a taxi since it is a huge market and taking the metro and walking to the market from the station can be extremely confusing, however, if on a budget- there are plenty of stations from different metro lines that can get you to the Ladies Market in the quickest way if you follow the signs carefully! Also, if arriving from the Central Kong side then you can take the star ferry which is a great means of transportation but it also gives beautiful views of older heritage buildings and sites.
Night: Later in the evening we headed to another famous market, the Temple Street Night Market. This is one of the liveliest night markets in Hong Kong which sell similar products from Ladies Market but also hold fortune tellers, herbalists and free Cantonese opera performers. This market is also popular for the large number of street food stalls that serve anything from a simple bowl of noodles to a full meal. Being a vegetarian, we found limited options here but for anyone eating meat and seafood- there is no dearth of options!
Day 4: Tsim Tsa Shui
Afternoon: On our last day in Hong Kong, we took it easy to prep ourselves for a long flight to San Francisco ahead. We headed to lunch at Mask of Sichuan & Beijing in Tsim Sha Shui. Our lunch was excellent with a full vegetarian and jain menu to choose from. The elegant ambience, quantity of dishes and the additional level of spice in the food just heightened the overall experience. It was the perfect, most satisfying Asian meal for our last day in Hong Kong! Getting here is extremely easy by metro as it is only a few minutes walk away from Tsim Sha Shui East Station. We spent the rest of the day catching up with friends in Hong Kong, but alternatively you could spend the day shopping at Harbour City Mall, visiting the K11 Art Museum or taking a stroll through The Avenue of Stars to get some great pictures of the Hong Kong Skyline!
Night: On our last night we headed to the world famous Ritz Carlton Ozone rooftop bar. We were with friends and this was the perfect way to end our wonderful holiday. The views from the sky bar were mesmerizing and the cocktails were inventive and flavorful, although highly priced at about 35US$ per drink. This is a great place if you go on a weekday to lounge and soak in the city views. On weekends, it can get pretty crowded as the bar turns into a nightclub hosting some of the most famous dance parties and the most well known DJs. As for us, we went on a quiet night through which we could reminisce on our wonderful holiday and dream of when we could visit again!
Itinerary- The Short Version:
Area- Central Hong Kong, Times Square & Lan Kwai Fong
Things To Do- Victoria Peak, Shopping & Lan Kwai Fong bar hopping
Food- Pure Veggie House
Area- Lantau Island
Things To Do: Ngong Ping Village
Food- Chili Fagara
Area- Kowloon & Mong Kok
Things To Do- Ladies Night Market & Temple Street Night Market
Food- Street Food
Area- Tsim Sha Shui
Things To Do- Star Ferry Pier, Harbour City Mall, Avenue of Stars, K11 Art Museum
Food- Mask of Sichuan & Beijing
Night- Ritz Carlton Ozone Sky Bar