Hong Kong had been on my bucket list for a long time. I was so excited when I finally got the chance to explore this intriguing city in Asia. Here’s my guide for experiencing the buzzing and glittering Hong Kong with a tight schedule.
-Parts of this article were made possible through collaborations-
Must-do sights in Hong Kong
The most important sight to see in Hong Kong is The Peak which has an amazing view over the city. But I will give you a pro tip: if you don’t see the mountain from the ground due to the fog you won’t see the buildings from the mountain either.
When it is super foggy I would spare my money and not take the tram up to the Peak since you won’t see anything anyway. On a nice weather it should be worth it. Instead of the Peak Tram you can take a local bus number 15 to the top. The bus starts from the ferry pier and I highly recommend taking the bus latest on Admiralty MTR Station because the bus gets crowded and might pass the other stops without letting anyone in.
The views from the bus are great even on a foggy weather so I really recommend it! The positive side is that it’s A LOT cheaper than the Peak Tram which is HK$52 with a return ticket and the bus about HK$10 one way. One taxi gave me the price of HK$400, don’t know was that because of my blond hair but I thought it’s way too expensive haha.
The most Instagrammable place in Hong Kong must be the Montane Mansion which is a really cool neighbourhood with a block of flats. You can take the MTR to Quarry Bay and walk a bit or you can take a tram, depends on your location.
At 8 pm you can go to Victoria Harbour to see A Symphony of Lights which is basically a laser show above the skyscrapers. I recommend going to Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade to watch the show because then you can see all the bright lights of Hong Kong Island. I wouldn’t say it’s spectacular but it’s a cool thing to see while you’re there. And it’s always great to see the Hong Kong skyscrapers in the dark!
FOOD: Mouthwatering dim sum and other delicacies
Oh Hong Kong and dim sum, that is the way to my heart! I absolutely love dumplings, siao mais and other dim sum dishes! They were so delicious that I could go back just for the sake of getting some more. I also really enjoy wonton soup which I recommend you all to try while you are in Hong Kong.
Finding food can be hard in some areas of Hong Kong, especially on the shopping streets and the main roads. My advice is to go one or two blocks away from the crowd and you will have many restaurants to choose from. I also noticed that it’s a lot easier to dine in the tourist areas because there they have either photos of the food or English menus. In the more local areas the menus are most likely only in Chinese and the staff might also only speak Chinese which makes food ordering slightly challenging.
One more tip is to avoid eating around noon because that’s when all the locals seem to go for lunch and all the restaurants become crowded. At least that’s how I felt! By 2 pm the restaurants seemed to be emptier again and you can find a whole table for you.
The best of the best in shopping
Hong Kong is the perfect city for shopping! But what I do disagree with is that people always say shopping is super cheap in Hong Kong. I think the luxury items might be cheaper than for example in Europe but the regular shops have pretty standard prices too.
The best shopping malls for luxury brands are Times Square in Causeway Bay and The Landmark in Central. These are huge shopping malls full of expensive brands such as Armani, Burberry and Chanel. All the luxury brands you need can be found in Hong Kong – at least as far as I know.
If you are looking for more affordable clothing, you can head still head to Causeway Bay or Mong Kok on the mainland. There are shops for all budgets like Forever 21 and Bershka as well as some local designer shops. For me these were the best areas for shopping.
When you read the Hong Kong guides they all say that go to Ladies’s Market since it’s a long street of stalls and full of things to buy. I thought the streets were a bit too crowded and way too narrow for the amount of people and the stalls were selling basically the same things. The reason why you should go there is to experience the atmosphere but don’t raise your expectations too high.
Stay by the MTR
When looking for accommodation you should first make the decision whether you want to stay in Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. I preferred Hong Kong Island but moving around is easy so either one will do.
I stayed in Kew Green Hotel Wanchai which is a four-star hotel in Wan Chai area in Hong Kong Island. The location is very convenient because it’s close to the MTR station and it’s a short journey to almost everywhere. There are also many restaurants around the area so you don’t have to go far to look for food.
The hotel lobby is pretty cool in design! The check-in counters are made of old suitcases and by the main doors there are two British guard mannequins. The ceiling is dark and made to look like waves which gives a really nice atmosphere to the whole lobby.
The rooms are very spacious especially when you’re in Hong Kong where the apartments are super tiny as well as some other hotel rooms. What I always appreciate is a good bed and blanket and they really didn’t let me down. I slept like a baby during the whole night.
I wonder if I’ve ever told you my secret passion. I absolutely love baths! I know it’s not very ecological but if I use it couple of times a year I think it won’t be too harmful. I was so excited when I saw that I have a bath in my hotel room. So in the evening after 12 hours of walking I dipped myself into the bath and let my feet relax which they needed because the pain I felt was beyond this world.
What’s really good is that the hotel has a cellphone that you can take with you when you go out and it has internet that you can use as well as free calls and city guides. There are all the basic things you need for a city break!
I stayed twice in Hong Kong two weeks apart and the first one was just a super short layover. Then I stayed in Chunking Mansion in Kowloon in a tiny seven square meter room where I had just enough room to turn. It was such a weird place all in all. Downstairs they had a floor full of Indians keeping their shops and restaurants and you had to pass all these in order to get to your hotel. Cheap accommodation but not sure whether I would ever recommend staying there.
Getting around in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is quite easy to get around and the distances are not too long. Many times you can actually walk from one place to another so I wouldn’t even buy the day pass for the public transport. I would buy the Octopus card and put some money in there. This of course depends on what you plan to do during your stay. You can also use the Octopus card to buy things so if you end up with extra balance before flying home, just get some snacks in a 7-Eleven!
In Hong Kong there are many options for public transportation, but I would recommend MTR and tram. The easiest way to get from the airport to Hong Kong Island is the airport train. But if you do live in Kowloon you can also take a bus which is super easy and a lot cheaper.
I highly recommend walking around Hong Kong! There is so much to see especially in the more local neighbourhoods. I especially like the architecture and the super narrow buildings that Hong Kong has. So don’t get stuck to the tourist trail, explore also the more unknown areas!
Last but not least try the Star Ferry if you happen to get good weather! I was in Hong Kong in February and I didn’t get the best weather. It was cloudy, it drizzled at times and the temperature was around 20 degrees Celsius. I hope you will have better luck with the weather and you can explore the ferry with the amazing Hong Kong skyline views.
I wish you will have a great trip in Hong Kong and that you found my tips helpful! What’s your favorite dim sum dish?
Going somewhere else? Read also my 11 tips for a traveler in Thailand!