Our Hong Kong Itinerary
A hill station, a capital, a financial hub, a seaport, an island and a great tourist spot, Hong Kong is all of these rolled in one. It is a part of China but in so many ways, it’s a mini Europe even its legal currency, the Hong Kong dollar, is different from that of the rest of China. Making Hong Kong the destination for your next tour will give you a chance to enjoy beaches, western-style luxuries, traditional Chinese art, architecture and culture. Here is how you can get the maximum out of this city within 5 days.
Where to Stay?
Hong Kong is divided into four major divisions – Kowloon peninsula, Hong Kong island, new territories and 200 outlying islands. But if you are looking for a place to stay, then you need to head to Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong island, the latter being where the best of the hotels are located. If budget is a major consideration, you can still find some inexpensive hotels in outlying islands but the hotels in the Hong Kong island will get you closer to key tourist attractions. If your budget will stretch to it, we think that the Hyatt Regency in Sha Tin is the way to go.
So why the Hyatt Regency Sha Tin? The rooms are clean, comfortable and spacious, even the bathrooms are big! And besides luxurious rooms, the hotel offers facilities such as a spa, gym and swimming pools. It’s also located within a 5-minute drive from Science Park and Sha Tin racecourse. An added bonus is that you can save on bus fares as the hotel provides you with a free shuttle bus service to Sha Tin, Hong Kong Science Park and Tsim Sha Tsui. They also have bikes to rent out as well.
The food is also among the best. At Café, a bite of their Pecking Duck will leave your mouth watering for more. And we found the the staff be really helpful without being over facing.
We can’t deny that this is not the cheapest hotel in Honk Kong but it really does give great value for every penny spent.
Downsides, well it might be a bit far from Kowloon but we think that the beautiful view of the magnificent mountains more than compensates for that.
Day 1 – Victoria Park and Wan Chai
We suggest that you start your 5 days by taking the famous star ferry ride. Whilst the ferry ride is primarily there to take you from A-B, it’s much more than that. The breeze from the sea refreshes you as you ease yourself into a seat in the front section. And with ferries leaving every few minutes it’s not going to be difficult to bag a great spot. The spacious and comfortable nature of the ferry makes it an escape in itself with great views of Hong Kong’s urban architecture as well as the mountains in the background.
Next was Victoria Park which is the largest park on Hong Kong island. From here we headed to the Peak which has an elevation of 552m making it the highest mountain on Hong Kong island. Take the Peak Tram for any easy ride to the top. Opened in 1888 for the exclusive use of the British governor and the Peak’s residents, it can now be enjoyed by everyone as the steepest funicular railway in the world. It takes just seven minutes to get to the top and once there we suggest heading for the Sky Terrace 428. This is the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong offering an amazing view from every angle.
Just a five minute taxi ride or a 20 minute walk way is the Trick Eye Museum. As the name suggests, it’s all about optical illusions but these are ones which you can interact with as your brain tries to translate what your eyes are seeing!
We ended our day doing some window shopping in Wan Chai. Interestingly each street seemed to focus on a particular type of store, so Tai Yuen Street for toy stores and Queen’s Road East for antiques. There were loads of casual places and we found the noodle shops great for a reasonably priced filling meal before we headed back to the hotel.
Day 2 – Kowloon and Mangkok
We spent day two seeing the sites in Kowloon itself, starting at Wong Tai Sin Temple. It’s one of the newest temples in Hong Kong and was built to honour the Taoist god Wong Tai Sin. Wong Tai Sin is regarded by locals as the bringer of good luck in horse-racing and a healer of illnesses. The temple complex has several buildings, including the Good Wish Garden, Hall of Three Saints, and a hall dedicated to Confucius and his 72 disciples. The architectural beauty here is simply mesmerising.
Mangkok was next on our itinerary for today. Here the enormity of humanity hits you in all your senses, crowds, strong lights, the smell of delicious food, loud music, they all hit you at once. There is so much to do here, you might want to check out the ladies’ market, the goldfish market or sneakers street (yep, really). We had our lunch at Fa Yuen street market which is famous for its exotic foods and fresh veggies.
As the sun sets, we headed to The Temple Street Night Market which is the last night market in Hong Kong. The shops here sell everything – food, electronics, clothes, traditional Chinese crafts etc. Have some fun with fortune tellers or hear traditional Cantonese opera sung being sung outside the Tin Hua Temple. The street food here was just the perfect dinner before we returned to the hotel.
Day 3 – Lantau
Day three we visited Lantau, the largest of Hong Kong islands. Starting off early we took the ferry and depending on how much times you have, there is a slow ferry which takes around an hour and a fast ferry which wizzes across in thirty minutes. If budget conscious, go for the slow ferry and enjoy the ride, it’s half the price of the fast one!
From the ferry pier it was just a ten minute walk to get to the Ngong Ping 360. This 25 minute cable car ride is 5.7km in length but don’t turn up too early on a week day as the first car doesn’t leave until 10am. We’d also suggest buying a ticket in advance from the official website, to avoid the queues. At the far end you arrive at Ngong Pin and from there we decided to head to The Big Buddha, also known as Tian Tan Buddha, a 250 tonne bronze statue which is over 34m tall so you’re not going to miss it! If you in Hong Kong on the 1st or 15th of the month you can also take a cable car ride after sunset when the Big buddy is lit up and papers even more imposing.
After climbing up and down the steps to the Big Budda, our bellies were asking for food so, we followed it up with a visit to Po Lin Monastery restaurant. This is situated opposite the statue and offers traditional vegetarian temple food for lunch. It’s open 11.30 – 4.30 each day. If you’re short of time there’s also a snack bar, don’t miss the mango filled dumplings!
Replenished and ready to go again, we took a taxi for the 15 minutes car trip to Tai O, a traditional fishing village. You can also catch bus 21 to Tai O terminus and then its a five minute walk to the ferry bridge and waterfront. The wooden houses of Tai O are all elevated above the water on stilted platforms to be above the tidal flats. I’m not sure where the time went but it was easy to lose a few hours wandering around and finding yourself lost in the scenes playing out infront of us. We were running out of time but with a few more hours there were plenty of boat trips on offer which might’ve given us the chance to see the rare pink dolphins which have been seen in the area.
Day 4 – Ocean Park Theme Park and Sky100
Hong Kong is famous for two major theme parks, Ocean Park and Disneyland. We only had time to visit one and ended up choosing Ocean Park. This is the large of the two but also has a marine national park and a zoo. If you have children with you then this might be the pay off for admiring the architecture of temple yesterday! Ocean Park boasts of the largest aquarium dome in the world which spans 5.5 meters in diameter. For us, the Reef Tunnel was amazing, surrounded by thousands of fish from over 400 species.
We love the big roller coasters and Ocean Park didn’t disappoint. The Hair Raiser was the days favourite. Reaching 4G and suspending you high above the sea it certainly got the adrenalin rushing. Before you make any promises to the kids, be aware that this one has a minimum height requirement of 140cm which is around 4ft 7″. The queues weren’t too bad when we visited but I think in prime season, the FastTrack tickets giving priority access would be a must have.
The park is open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m and it does need a whole day to experience all it has to offer.
On the way back we stopped at the sky100 360 degree observation deck. Located on the 100th floor of the international commerce centre, it offers a beautiful view of Kowloon sunset and the night sky. If you feel like splashing out, Cafe 100 by Ritz Carlton is on the west side of the deck. It only seats 40 people so if this a must visit for you, we strongly recommend booking one of the packages along with the entry ticket.
Day 5 – Central District
We started off early today and headed to the Central district and the Victoria Central Business area. This is rammed full of skyscrapers including the Bank of China, which is one of the largest skyscrapers in the world. Besides being part of what makes Hong Kong one of the biggest financial hubs of the world, the district also has huge contrasts with having botanical gardens covering over 5.5 hectares
Man Mo Temple was next on our list in which is one of the largest and the oldest Chinese temples on Hong Kong Island. The temple pays tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo). I’d been looking forward to visiting but I have to say it was very busy and so difficult to get a real sense of the temple when it was difficult to just stand and take it all in.
Keen to get one more view of the amazing Hong Kong skyline, we finished our five days with a ride on the Observation Wheel which is down near the Maritime Museum on the harbour. The fifteen minute ride is in a gondola with up to eight people sharing and your scheduled ‘flight’ time is printed on the ticket which you can buy in advance or take your chances and purchase on site. Don’t take any food or drink with you as it’s not permitted either in the gondola or on the platform the you wait to board from. It was a perfect way to finish our time in Hong Kong and at just HK$20 for an adult it didn’t break the bank either!