24 Things To Do In Hong Kong In 24 Hours
Warning: Don’t attempt them all in a day.
6am: Catch the sunrise
Hong Kong is surprisingly mountainous, and the best place to catch the sunrise is in South Lantau, with a hike up Lantau Peak. Top tip: stay in the Ngong Ping Youth Hostel the night before to shorten your hiking time to a fairly vigourous two hours.
7am: Try a traditional Hong Kong breakfast
There are queues around the block for the breakfast at Australia Dairy Company. This no-frills, east-meets-west diner is known for its Hong Kong breakfast foods, namely macaroni and ham soup and scrambled egg sandwiches.
8am: Explore a wet market
Hong Kong’s wet markets are where locals go to shop for the day’s groceries. The best time to visit is in the morning, when people flock to get the best stuff for dinner. There are wet markets in just about every district in Hong Kong, but the outdoor Graham Street Market in Central is the oldest and most atmospheric.
9am: Run (or walk) Bowen Road
It’s literally an urban jungle on Bowen Road, a flat four-kilometre path that takes you from the Mid-Levels to Happy Valley. It’s popular with joggers, strollers and dog-walkers alike thanks to its shady trees, breathtaking views of Hong Kong island and smattering of historical landmarks along the way.
10am: Visit the Blue House
Stumbled upon another Hong Kong icon whilst trying to find something else today, the Blue House really is BLUE!? And it seems to have been saved from demolition by being turned into a community space. Nice to see a bit of the old still standing strong amongst the new. #hongkong #discoverhongkong #wanchai #bluehousehk #hongkonginsider #bluehouse #thetravelleurhk
This bright blue tenement building dates back to the 1920s and is a rare example of a brick-and-wood tong lau. The Wan Chai Livelihood Museum occupies space on the ground floor; otherwise, the tenants and stallholders continue to live as they did eighty years ago in one of the few un-skyscrapered corners of Hong Kong. The surrounding area of Stone Nullah Lane is worth checking out too, with its mix of trendy bars and restaurants, car mechanics and charity shops.
11am: Explore PoHo
Just west of SoHo, the Po Hing Fong, or “PoHo” area is a hotbed of creative industries, cool cafes and hip art galleries. Get pleasantly lost in the area and amble past old tong lau tenement buildings, historical terraces and traditional printing press shops sitting beside independent stores looking to escape Central’s rising rents.
Noon: Tour the harbour on an antique junk
Set sail on the Aqua Luna, a beautifully restored traditional Chinese junk, and take in all the harbour sites. It tours hourly from noon-4pm from Monday to Friday, plus two evening cruises seven days a week.
1pm: Splurge on lunch
With all the business deals going on around town, Hong Kong is home of the power lunch. But you don’t have to be a banker to take advantage of the lunch sets at some of the city’s finest restaurants, where you can sample their signature dishes at a fraction of the dinner price. Try Bo Innovation, a three-Michelin-starred molecular Chinese concept, which has an eight-course chef’s set lunch for HK$730 (about £64). Still too rich for your blood? The three-course set lunch menu is a humbler HK$430 (about £37).
2pm: Afternoon tea, colonial-style
Class up your itinerary and have a posh, British-style afternoon tea in the lobby of the historical Peninsula Hotel. Think finger sandwiches, sweets and scones served on a three-tier stand, set to a live string ensemble. There are queues though, so make sure to go early to secure a spot. Afternoon tea runs from 2pm-6pm.
3pm: Afternoon tea, Hong Kong-style
Hongkongers traditionally go for a sweet pastry and a cup of thick milk tea at about 3:15. Honolulu Coffee Shop is famous for its sweet, flaky egg tarts and other light bites. Try the bor lor yau, a warm pineapple bun with a thick wedge of butter stuffed in the soft pastry. There’s no pineapple in it: the name describes the sweet, crunchy crust.
4pm: Get a tattoo
If you’re looking for a somewhat more permanent memento of the city, there are skilled tattoo artists galore in this town. Try Sze C., particularly if you are hell-bent on getting those damn Chinese characters done: her calligraphy style is really quite lovely.
5pm: Ride the Mid-Levels Escalator
The largest escalator network in the world, the Mid-Levels Escalator connects commuters from the residential Mid-Levels area and funnels them into Central each morning. And then in the evening, it sends them back home again. Hop on and watch the urban topography change the higher you go, and then hop off at various points along the way for a quick mani-pedi, a pint, or a wander along any side-street that takes your fancy.
6pm: Happy Hour with a view
Cocktails overlooking the harbour is an absolute must, but how about heading to the eastern side of Hong Kong island for a different perspective? Sugar rooftop bar at the East Hotel has a large open-air deck and an excellent happy hour deal from 5-7pm.
7pm: European dining from a market stall
To escape Hong Kong’s crazy rents, ABC Kitchen serves up delicious European cuisine from a government-run cooked food centre in the trendy Sheung Wan area. Think crispy suckling pig (their signature), seafood platters, duck conift and pavlova, served on red-checkered tablecloths as the rest of the market hums around you.
8pm: Catch the Symphony of Lights
Yes, it’s touristy and a little silly, but you have to admit that Hong Kong’s nightly light show—which involves 40 buildings flashing on and off in time to music—is kinda impressive. There are lasers as well. LASERS.
9pm: Dive into Chungking Mansions
Hong Kong’s very own den of iniquity, this infamous maze of Indian restaurants, cheap guesthouses, and wheelings and dealings galore is well worth exploring. For movie buffs, it was also the setting of Wong Kar-wai’s 1994 film “Chungking Express”.
10pm: Sip some fancy schmancy cocktails
Hong Kong bars are in the middle of a “posh cockails” arms race, with more foam, caviar pearls and esoteric ingredients than you can shake a swizzle stick at. For a real immersive experience, check out The Woods, a secret garden-esque bar that does a prixe-fixe four-course cocktail menu paired with gourmet bar snacks.
11pm: Break for an alfresco late night snack
Dining in Hong Kong doesn’t have to be expensive Some of the best meals can be had at a humble dai pai dong outdoor restaurant, Operating out of a green tin stall, Leaf Dessert has sat on Elgin Street for more than 100 years and serves wonton, beef brisket or pig knuckle noodles, fast and cheap. For dessert, try the red bean sweet soup or the peanut-dusted glutinous rice balls.
Midnight: Get your feet rubbed
And why the hell not? Tai Pan Reflexologist is open until 2am and has rave reviews on Trip Advisor for its royal rubdowns. Customers lie back on a fully reclining bed, are given a warm wheat pillow and covered with a soft blanket before an expert masseuse gets to work on their toes. Heaven.
1am: Fire up the hotpot
Feeling peckish? Why not try a Sichuan hotpot, in which diners dunk raw slices of marbled beef, dumplings and other delights into a rich, fiery broth. Sichuan restaurant San Xi Lou Imperial Banquet is famous for its hotpot, and is open until 2am for hungry diners.
2am: Sing your heart out in a karaoke bar
Karaoke is the unofficial national pastime of Hong Kong, and just about all the city’s karaoke bars are open round the clock. Neway CEO in Causeway Bay is one of the better-known ones, with an excellent choice of songs in English.
3am: Get late-night dumplings
The famous Sun Hing Restaurant in Kennedy Town opens its doors at 3am and heaves with shift workers, students and insomniacs from all walks of life. It’s particularly well known for its runny egg custard bun.
4am: Go dancing
Still want to party? legendary nightlife spot Dusk Till Dawn in Wan Chai is open 24 hours, with a kick-ass live cover band belting out rock classics all night long.
5am: Get McDonald’s delivered to your door.
Yes, really. Hong Kong McDonalds has a 24-hour delivery hotline: 2338-2338.