It’s not much, but it’s enough to get a taste and a glimpse of this surprising country. Each of the three main islands, Hong Kong, Kowloon and Lantau, have their own distinct character and charm. A day on each is plenty, it’s a small country after all. But you don’t want to rush around or miss any of the numerous highlights on this short trip, so follow my guide for the best eats, sights and treats.
First some hot tips
STAY on Kowloon Island near Tsim Sha Tsui station to be within easy reach of good food, other districts and a vast range of accomodation options.
FROM THE AIRPORT Buy the airport express ticket and take the free shuttle bus from Kowloon Station to your hotel or a bus stop near your hotel.
BUY an On Loan Octopus Card when you arrive to use on MTR (underground, metro) It’s cheaper than the tourist pass which is only worth it if you do more than 6 journeys in one day.
Day 1: Hong Kong Island
Eat: Kau Kee on 21 Gough Street, a real local joint in the midst of some very fashionable and alluring boutiques. Order the beef brisket or tendon curry noodle soup. Alternatively go for Lang Fong Yuen on 2 Gage Street for delicious BBQ duck or pork. Or if you’re like me, you’ll have both!
Explore: Head to CAUSEWAY BAY for your first Mall experience in Times Square Mall
Walk or take the MTR to Admiralty or Central to walk around the centre of town including Hollywood Street for antiques (pop into antiques and curios shop), more air conditioned and delightfully diverse shopping malls and the very fashionable Soho.
Evening: at around 5-6pm head up to THE PEAK to see a great view over Hong Kong during the day, stay up there for a drink at one of the bars with a view to see the sunset and night time view.
Return back down to Central for drinks with a western atmosphere on Lan Kwai Fong Street or at Soi 7 for a more relaxed vibe.
DINNER and drinks at Tim Ho Wan in the IFC mall, Michelin star dim sum.
Day 2: Kowloon Island
Eat: for Dim Sum head to One Dim Sum on Tung Choi Street, you’ll have to queue but it’s so worth it! The closest MTR is Prince Edward. For wanton noodle soup it has to be Lung Kee Wanton on Hart Avenue near Tsim Sha Tsui. Authentic and delicious with prawns inside the wantons that are the size of my fist, what more could you want?
Explore: the gorgeous Nan Lian gardens are modelled on the Tang Dynasty’s style of Chinese classical gardens. They’re truly unique and a joy to walk around. The closest MTR is Diamond Hill. You can pair it with a visit to the Wong Tai Sin temple at the next MTR station.
Evening: Walk around the markets and street food stalls and soak in the atmosphere of Mong Kok in the early evening. Have happy hour drinks between 5-8pm at the Rosedale Hotel Kowloon. Head down to the waterfront at Tsim Sha Tsui for great views of Honk Kong Island and the light show at 8pm. The views are far more impressive than the light show so don’t bend over backwards to get there in time for it. Keep room for dessert at the mango themed Hui Lau Shan on Hau Fook Street or any other stores you see, for this is one of Hong Kong’s most loved chains. The mango is so sweet and delicious, it’s easy to see how they got so popular.
Day 3: Lantau Island
Eat: before you go to Lantau Island at one of the spots you missed, or if you’re feeling adventurous wait until you get to Tai O village and eat some street food like lobster with melted cheese, take a picnic from one of the bakeries near your hotel or eat at one of the many places in Tai O Village.
Explore: Lantau Island is far less developed than Hong Kong and Kowloon, think rolling green mountains and wild beaches. Tai O Village is a great place to head to, it’s a traditional fishing village that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. If you take the bus there (MTR to Tung Chung station at bus 11 from the terminal there) You can stop off on the way to do a trek, or you can take the Ngong Ping cable car instead of the bus for some fabulous views. Note you will have to get the 21 bus after the cable car to Tai O. To get back to Tung Chung you can take a ferry which is a nice alternative. To get there takes about 1.5 hours to leave plenty of time and soak in the gorgeous views on your journey.
Evening: you’ll probably be tired from the day out in Lantau but still hungry! Go for somewhere near your hotel or try Hau Fook Street, it’s known as the place to go for good food and it has plenty of options. Head to a busy one!
Enjoy your time in Hong Kong and don’t be too regimented, there’s plenty of hidden treasures in this city that can only be discovered if you really look around you and follow your nose, please do write any of your own recommendations below, I’d love to hear them!