48 Hours in Hong Kong
Featured destinations: Hong Kong
Published 01 December 2016
On my latest visit to Asia with my boyfriend Eamonn, I decided it was time to finally add Hong Kong to my list of places visited. I had long wanted to visit Hong Kong and, with a few free days in my itinerary, we were able to add a quick stopover in this vibrant city.
Night had fallen by the time we had checked into our hotel, but with only 48 hours on the clock, we set out to explore the bustling metropolis right away. Over the next two days we managed to check all the items off our list and get a good feeling of what Hong Kong, the “Jewel of the Orient,” is all about.
Temple Street Market, Hong Kong image: Eamonn Clarke
Temple Street Night Market
Our late arrival into Hong Kong set the perfect mood to explore the Temple Street Night Market, one of the city’s top nighttime attractions. Located in the heart of Kowloon, the area on the mainland just north of Hong Kong Island, Temple Street Night Market is set in a pedestrian street bordered by two temple gates and hosts countless stands selling all sorts of trinkets, antiques, clothing, accessories, and electronics. We joined the mass of tourists and locals as we made our way through the busy stands before stopping at one of the noodle restaurants to grab an overpriced meal and watch the world go by for a little while before calling it a night.
French toast image: Claus Gurumeta
After a good night’s sleep, we headed over to a little diner near our hotel to discover some of Hong Kong’s traditional breakfast foods. We shared a few dishes with a mix of western and oriental influences, including noodle soup with pork, scrambled eggs with ham, pork potstickers, macaroni soup with meat, sweet milk tea, and a Hong Kong French toast: two slices of traditional egg-battered bread with custard in the middle. These unassuming breakfast diners, often lit up in a harsh neon light, provided some of the best meals we had in Hong Kong and were the perfect way to start our busy days.
Star Ferry, Hong Kong image: Claus Gurumeta
Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island
Satisfied after a big breakfast, we walked down to the waterfront to catch the iconic Star Ferry between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. The two sides of Hong Kong have long been connected by the MTR metro system, but the Star Ferry, which has been in operation for almost 130 years, is a much more scenic way to get to the island and is still used by thousands of people each day. Be sure to pay the little bit extra to sit on the upper deck to get the best views of Hong Kong Harbour.
The Peak, Hong Kong image: Claus Gurumeta
Once on Hong Kong Island, we headed up to the city’s number one attraction, the popular Victoria Peak. Hong Kong’s highest point, The Peak offers an incredible view of the city from above with towering skyscrapers rising in every direction, surrounded by the beautiful harbour and lush mountains in the distance. While the views from above are stunning, our trip up to The Peak aboard the historic funicular railway, which is one of the world’s steepest trams, was just as memorable.
The Globe, Hong Kong image: Claus Gurumeta
Central, Hong Kong Island
When we had our fill of beautiful views, we rode the funicular back down to the city and walked around Central, the inner part of Hong Kong that encompasses the city’s main financial, shopping, and entertainment districts. We headed over to Soho, a hilly district full of trendy cafes, wine bars, craft beer spots, and international restaurants. In Soho, we spent most of the afternoon trying different Hong Kong-brewed craft beers at The Globe, a fun little pub with a high expat clientele, before grabbing a bowl of fried rice from a hole in the wall hidden down an alley.Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong image: Claus Gurumeta
Symphony of Lights
As night fell, we returned to Kowloon and headed over to Tsim Sha Tsui, a scenic harbourside promenade, to see the world-famous Symphony of Lights show. The show, which happens every single night at 8pm, is a multimedia display of lights, music and video displayed on over 40 buildings on both sides of the harbour. While the lights and video were beautiful, I personally found the music to be over the top, but all in all it’s definitely worth checking out, especially as it is one of the city’s free attractions! If you can’t make it for the nightly show, I still recommend a visit to Tsim Sha Tsui for one of the best views of the Hong Kong Island skyline.
Claus and Eamonn at the Tian Tan Buddha image: Eamonn Clarke
Tian Tan Buddha
The next morning we woke up early to make a trip out to see the Tian Tan Buddha in Lantau Island, just outside of the city’s limits. While you can travel to Lantau Island aboard the Ngong Ping 360 gondola, due to our schedule we opted for a bus ride that took a scenic – although extremely wavy – route out to see the Buddha. In Lantau Island, we spent half a day exploring the area, visiting not only the Buddha (which is well worth the visit on its own), but also the Po Lin Monastery next door, with beautiful carved wood features and an on-site Buddhist café selling delicious vegan pastries that made for a tasty lunch.
Dinner at a Michelin-Stared Restaurant
A big foodie destination, Hong Kong proudly has over 270 Michelin-stared restaurants. While most of these are luxurious, expensive locales, the local Tim Ho Wan dim sum joint is famous for being the least expensive Michelin-stared restaurant in the world. To celebrate the end of our stay in the Hong Kong, we visited Tim Ho Wan, hoping to indulge in life-changing dim sum; sadly, the food turned out to be below average, which left us disappointed. My advice – If you want great dim sum, skip the Michelin Star hype and grab traditional dim sum at one of the many diners found all over Hong Kong, most of which aren’t only delicious, but also less expensive and queue-less!
48 hours might not have been enough to see everything Hong Kong has to offer, but as a stopover, I feel satisfied with our whirlwind visit and look forward to the next time I have a chance to drop by.
Chat to your Expert about adding in Hong Kong as a stopover on your way to Australia or New Zealand, or check out our China’s Cities & Cruise Journey which spends three nights in this vibrant city.