I decided to take a slightly different approach when planning my recent Hong Kong get away. This trip I tried to not pack it so tight and to focus on one thing in the morning, afternoon and evening. Hopefully this would keep us from continually rushing. And because we would have more time, I spent a lot more time researching food prior to the trip and even making several reservations in advance.
Day 1 (mid-afternoon arrival)
Travel from the airport into the city center was easy on the Airport Express. After checking into our hotel we headed out to watch the locals practice Tai Chi at 5:30 in Blake Garden. We then headed out to Times Square to see the lights and have dinner at Mad for Garlic. I don’t think I would go back to Mad for Garlic but I did like Times Square with the lights, people and chaos. While we were at Times Square there was a special Mickey Mouse exhibit which was fun!
Travel tip: Buy an Octopus card as soon as you arrive to use the MTR and the express train into the city. The initial ride will cost 110 HK $.
We started the day off with a visit to Tian Tan Lantau Big Buddha. It will take about an hour to get here from the city. You then have a long gondola ride up the mountain. Walking is also an option but this is ambitious and would use a lot of valuable time if only in Hong Kong for a short time. Although I would like to go back and do this one day. In order to avoid the crowds, I highly recommend you get there when it opens (or before 10 am) and buy your tickets in advance through a company like Klook in order to save time and a few dollars.
We then spent the afternoon in Kowloon at the Museum of Hong Kong History. If pressed for time (or interest) speed through the first floor which is mostly natural history and ecological formation of the islands and go right to the second floor which does an outstanding job of explaining the geo-political history of Hong Kong since the 1600s and Opium Wars.
We then headed to the pier for an evening Junk Boat tour of Victoria Harbor. All of the boats were booked so I am glad we had advance tickets through Klook. The boat was touristy and you didn’t see anything you couldn’t see from dry land. That said, I enjoyed it and would do it again.
We then headed for our dinner reservations to get some of the best Peking Duck at Spring Moon. I think this cost more than I have ever spent on a meal for one in my life…but was worth every penny!
We then took the Star Ferry back across the harbor to our hotel. You have to do the Star Ferry at least once. It has been a primary form of transportation since 1888.
Victoria Peak via the tram is iconic to Hong Kong. Similar to Lantau, I recommend getting an early start, be there when it opens and beat the crowds. We walked right on to the tram but by 1000 there was probably a 45-60 minute line. The views are great and I would recommend splurging the extra couple of bucks for the “360”.
We had some time before our lunch reservation and wandered through the zoo and the Former Central Magistracy. There is also a teaware museum in the park that looked interesting that I didn’t make it to. I would not go out of your way for any of these stops but they were all worth it if in the area and you have time.
Lunch at Bombay Dreams was fantastic! I don’t even particularly like Indian food and haven’t had it in years. But especially if there on a weekend, it is worth a reservation to try their brunch buffet.
Because I wanted to make sure we hit all of the major areas of Hong Kong, we headed out to the New Territories to see the 10,000 Buddha’s. In case you are wondering, yes, there are 10,000 of them. Or there are at least enough that you lose count and are willing to believe it! But be prepared for a steep climb to get to the top! This was one of my favorite stops in Hong Kong!
On the way back to the city, we also stopped at the Kowloon Walled City. There is not much to see now outside of the beautiful park, but it has a fascinating history and was once the most densely populated spot on earth. We then took the bus to the Ladies Market which frankly looks like every other outdoor market in the world (or at least Asia).
Because we wanted to compare, we then headed to the Mandarin Oriental for second most expensive meal of my life to have Peking Duck at Mah Wah. Our group was split between which we preferred better. To be frank, if I could combine the duck and tea at Spring Moon, with the spinach marsala at Bombay Dreams and the green beans at Mah Wah – I think it would be the perfect meal!!
We then walked off the meal by visiting the central mid-level escalators. These are essentially kilometers of moving walk ways that are used for daily commuters. It was pretty awesome and another favorite stop of our group.
After brunch at the famous Tim Ho Want in Hong Kong Station, we took the ferry to Macau for a day trip. I’ll cover this in a separate blog.
I had an afternoon flight and a few hours in the morning so I paid a visit to Man Mo temple and the Dr. Sun museum. Dr. Sun is considered the father of modern China and was extremely interesting. It opened my eyes to a whole period of history I had very little knowledge of.
Things I didn’t get to do but might be on my list if I had more time: Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware. I would like to do some hiking. Hong Kong is beautiful with the green hills and water at every turn. I would like to visit some of the smaller islands. See the pink dolphins. Maybe go to Disney.