Seven days is hardly enough time to spend in Hong Kong – there’s so much to see and do. But if that’s all the time you have, here’s how to spend it so you have an authentic ‘HK’ experience.
Day one: Hong Kong Island
Take the bus and make your way to Old Town Central – a neighbourhood where history, arts, food, and culture flourish in an archetypal mixture of East meets West. Here you can try one of five self-guided walks and discover heritage, food, culture and cuisine. Then head on over to one of world’s coolest commutes – the Midlevels – an 800m covered escalator system rising some 135m and connecting you to Hong Kong’s hippest cafés, shops, restaurants and bars. Enjoy pre-dinner drinks before eating at one of the many tantalising restaurants in the area.
Day two: Victoria Harbour
Board the Star Ferry and take the scenic route across Victoria Harbour’s tranquil waters, where you’ll have plenty of fantastic photo opportunities of the iconic skyline and skyscrapers.
Walk the lush green Morning Trail up to Victoria Peak, the highest point on the island where you can take in awe-inspiring panoramic views whilst you wander around on the Peak Circle Walk (it’s also a top spot to take in the sunset). From here, hitch a ride on the century-old Peak Tram and make your way back to Victoria Harbour, and get a glimpse of the city from a glass gondola on the Observation Wheel. Enjoy dinner at one of the many street stalls or authentic restaurants – there is something to satisfy every tastebud. Or take an evening cruise on a traditional junk boat and watch the year-round multimedia laser lightshow, A Symphony of Lights.
Day three: Kowloon
Across from Hong Kong Island is Kowloon, which offers unique experiences including learning your fortune at the Wong Tai Sin Temple, home to icons of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Whilst there make sure you visit Nan Lian Garden, a nine-acre public park packed with peaceful pathways, lotus ponds and perfectly manicured Tang Dynasty-styled Chinese Gardens. Or start the day meeting macaque monkeys at Kam Shan Country Park, a stone’s throw from the city and easily accessible via the MTR. Then make a foray to the Flower Market, on your way stop for lunch in Mong Kok, Hong Kong’s street food haven. Afterwards, get a dose of culture and history in one of the region’s many museums. Then end the day with some sophisticated dining at one of the three-star Michelin restaurants located in the area, followed by a lap of the night-time markets and stores along Temple Street, or a show at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.
Day four: Big Buddha
Need some serenity? Head to the hills and join one of the many pilgrims from all over Asia who climb the 268 steps to fall at the feet of the Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha), a 34-metre-high bronze Buddha overlooking mainland China. After being blessed by this monolithic marvel, enjoy a vegetarian lunch at one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sites, the Po Lin Monastery. Or take a stroll along the Bodhi Path through the Pai Lau ornamental archway at the Ngong Ping Piazza, before heading off to wander the Wisdom Path, where you can witness the 38 Heart Sutra monuments and take in soothing scenes of the South China Sea.
Day five: Stanley
Known as the Bandit’s Post, from its early days as home base for the infamous former resident pirate, Cheung Po Tsai, Stanley is now a popular destination on the south side of Hong Kong Island, for those seeking colourful history.
Stanley offers great shopping, so if you are still looking for a few gifts to take home, head to Stanley Market or Stanley Plaza. Then, enjoy a tipple and tasty nibble at a Stanley Main Street waterfront bar before consuming culture at one of HK’s oldest temples, the Tin Hau Temple (Temple of the Queen of Heaven). For a quick inner-city escape, stroll through Ma Hang Park or strip down and take a dip in the cool waters of Stanley Main Beach on the East of the peninsula or St Stephen’s on the West.
Day six: Island hopping
Admittedly, with more than 260 outlying islands you could easily spend days exploring Hong Kong’s great outdoors. However, if we had to choose one, we’d say head to Peng Chau Island. It’s quaint, quiet, overlooked by tourists and the perfect place to take some time out. Trek the Peng Chau Heritage Trail and check out the abandoned (but eminently wonderful) matchstick factory and lime kiln, and the old cinema. Or head to the northern coastline, walking along the Peng Yu Path, make your way up Finger Hill, and stop to take in the temples and shrines, plus the rugged beaches and breathtaking bay views along the way, before heading to Hong Kong style cafés for shrimp toast and a red bean ice drink.
Of course, there are many other favourite islands you could visit, including Lamma Island; Cheung Chau; and Lantau all of which deserve a day (if you can spare them).
Day seven: A gourmet day
Enjoy an entire day of gastronomic delight, sampling the finest food and authentic dishes Hong Kong has to offer. Must-try dishes include a dim sum breakfast; wonton noodles at Mak An Kee; Cantonese BBQ, with dishes such as roast goose, char su (marinated pork loin), and selected charcuterie-style meats; Sing Kee seafood; Under Bridge spicy crab; Kwan Kee bamboo noodles and fare from traditional Hong Kong-style diners such as Mido Café and reclaimed typhoon shelters that serve all manner of local cuisine.
Maybe mastering the art of dumpling making is on your menu? Spend the morning learning to make dim sum, noodles and other traditional Hong Kong cuisine at one of the many cookery classes on offer. Led by culinary stars and top chefs, there’s bound to be a class that tickles your food fancy.
Inspired? For more information and further inspiration, head to www.discoverhongkong.com/au
Have you been to Hong Kong? How did you spend your time there? How would you recommend our members spend seven days there?