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72 hours in Hong Kong

The vast majority of tourists who come to Hong Kong experience areas such as Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island, and Kowloon, and I always find it frustrating that some people think that Hong Kong only begins and ends with Central or Tsim Sha Tsui — there’s a lot more.

The vast majority of tourists who come to Hong Kong experience areas such as Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island, and Kowloon, and I always find it frustrating that some people think that Hong Kong only begins and ends with Central or Tsim Sha Tsui — there’s a lot more.

In a colorful city that is full of life 24-hour a day, there are undiscovered attractions neatly placed in the eastern district.

Day 1 Island delights


Start your day with a traditional Cantonese breakfast that includes congee (rice porridge) and yau cha kwai (oil-fried bread sticks) at the popular On Lee Fishball Noodles at Shau Kei Wan Main Street E.

Hong Kong is famous for many things but food has to be at the top of the list. Go fully authentic and try their ridiculously delicious butter and condensed milk melted on top of toast. It may not be a frequent option if you’re minding your calories, nevertheless, you are in Hong Kong, and it’s got to be done.


After breakfast stroll down to the nearby elaborate Tin Hau Temple at 53 Shau Kei Wan Main St E., which is auspicious because this beautiful temple survived Hong Kong’s worst typhoon in recorded history in 1874. Locals believe the Goddess of the Sea, known as Tin Hau in Cantonese, protected them. There are more than 150 Tin Hau temples in Hong Kong, and this is one of the most notable.


Hong Kong is proud of its rich maritime history — the city once was a fishing port. A 20-minute walk from Tin Hau Temple takes you to the Museum of Coastal Defense (hk.coastaldefence.museum), a marvelous fort that provides fascinating insights into elaborate operations going back to colonial days. Attractions include a British Comet Mark 1 tank, and all things maritime dating from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) through the People’s Republic of China and the People’s Liberation Army Garrison. The garrison has handled Hong Kong’s defense since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997. It opens to public on certain days, usually on Labor’s Day (May 1) or National Day (October 1), depends on circumstances every year. A limited number of free tickets will be issued before hand for public visit.


A five-minute taxi ride to the waterfront takes you to fabulous Soho East (www.sohoeast.com.hk) in Sai Wan. Lined with fashionable restaurants and wine bars, this trendy promenade provides a different view of Hong Kong’s famed peninsula, with clear views of Kowloon. Just a couple of minutes’ stroll from Soho East on 50 Lei King Road is the famous Hong Kong Film Archive (www.filmarchive.gov.hk), where you can take in the city’s grand cinematic history and watch a film. It opens from 10am to 8pm daily.


For lunch, make your way to the Cityplaza (www.cityplaza.com), Island East’s largest shopping mall. It showcases both domestic and international brands as well as a spacious food court offering Asian gastronomic delights. You can also take in the Ice Palace, one of the city’s largest indoor ice-skating rinks.

For traditional Cantonese delights — dim sum is a must — head to the respected House of Canton on the 5th floor (www.houseofcanton.com). If you wish to try one of the best contemporary cuisines this side of town, head to the first floor for the innovative simplylife (www.simplylife.com.hk).


After lunch, get back on the MTR and head to Causeway Bay Station. For the sights, sounds and smells of grassroots Hong Kong, take Exit A for the Times Square shopping mall or Exit D3 for the SOGO Department Store. Around both areas, there are numerous narrow streets buzzing with life. See the famous open-air street wet market that sells everything you can imagine (and things you would rather not). From Times Square, take Sharp Street East (and then West) to Bowrington Road for one of the best markets.


Take a 15-minute taxi ride to Lan Fong Yuen, Shop 2 on Gage Street in Central — it serves one of the city’s best milk teas. Originating from the British tradition of adding milk to black tea, the Hong Kong tea is strained at least eight times for a creamy and silky texture. It will set you up for an energetic afternoon.


Slowly make your way to the impossibly beautiful Taoist Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road. Built in 1848, it’s a national treasure. Admire the splendid architecture amid the concrete jungle on the hills. Get your fortune read bin is the ancient tradition of Kau Chim. Close your eyes and vigorously shake a box of numbered sticks until one falls out — it will reveal your fortune.

Whatever fate has in store for you, carry on to explore the myriad antiques shops and galleries on Hollywood Road, featuring both traditional and contemporary art.

Central is home to Shelley Street, where the world’s longest escalator, running an astonishing 800 meters. It runs up the middle of the street that has market stalls selling all kinds of souvenirs and bric-a-brac. Haggling is expected.


Weather and stamina permitting, you can walk up the 1,286-foot hill to the Peak, Hong Kong’s tallest hill offering a spectacular view. Or take the Peak Tram. To get the best views on the tram, sit below on the right side and purchase a Tram & Sky Terrace combo ticket. Do catch the nightly laser and light show over the skyline at 8pm. After taking in the sights, head to the elegant Peak Lookout Restaurant (www.peaklookout.com.hk) for dinner. It offers the finest seafood, magnificent views and live music from 8pm nightly (121 Peak Rd, 00-852-2849-1000).


After dinner descend from the Peak and walk down Lower Albert Road leading to Wyndham Street and Hotel LKF. Nothing beats the nightlife in Lan Kwai Fong area. As well as food, there are amazing rooftop bars. For fantastic cocktails and a gorgeous view, head to the Azure (www.azure.hk), an award-winning venue. Try the signature cocktail, Liqueur Gold, a lovely blend of mango juice and rum, with a fresh orange slice.

Day 2 Kowloon


Start the day with traditional dim sum at Man Mo Cafe at 40 Upper Lascar Row in Sheung Wan. The area is filled with locals, so you know the food is good. Try not only various dumplings but also the crisp pork buns and the celebrated lai huang bao, a steamed bun filled with sweetened egg yolk.


Hop onto a trademark double-decker tram heading towards Central. Ridiculously narrow, with open windows and smart liveries, Hong Kong’s trams are prized antiques and a reminder of the rich colonial past.

From Central, walk down to the Star Ferry pier for one of the city’s simplest and most exciting rides. Sit on the distinctive green and white roof deck for the 10-minute trip providing spectacular views of Victoria Harbour. The route has operated since 1888, linking Central (and Wanchai), to Tsim Sha Tsui (www.starferry.com.hk).


From Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station on Nathan Road, take a 10-minute metro ride to Diamond Hill. Take Exit C1 and cross the road to the Chi Lin Nunnery and the Nan Lian Garden, a hidden gem in the concrete forest. The gardens replicate a Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) temple and grounds. The place is constructed entirely of wood — almost 230,000 pieces of timber and not a single nail was used in the perfect carpentry. If there’s time, head to the equally stunning Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, one MTR stop away (Wong Tai Sin).


There are few places better for shopping than Hong Kong since it caters for all tastes and budgets — and there’s no tax. You can shop till you drop.

The Mongkok, Jordan and Kowloon central areas, especially Canton Road, Nathan Road and the huge Harbour City Mall, are close together and are great places for luxury brands — from flagship designer goods to whatever tickles your fancy. In the evening, there’s a nearby night market on Temple Street.


At some point during your shopping, head to the superb Tim Ho Wan at 8 Kwong Wa Street. It’s officially the world’s most affordable one Michelin-starred restaurant. But no reservations are accepted — still, it’s worth the wait for specialties such as the cha siu bao (pork buns) that sell like hot cakes.

Spend the rest of the afternoon shopping around Harbour City and Nathan Road.


The heyday of The Peninsula Hong Kong came after it was opened in 1928 by the Kadoorie family. Passengers from luxury cruise liners at Kowloon quay and the famous trans-Siberian rail link from China would go straight to the hotel for classic afternoon tea. This is the place to be and to be seen — no trip to Hong Kong would be complete without tea at The Peninsula (hongkong.peninsula.com/en/fine-dining/the-lobby-afternoon-tea).


Spend the rest of the afternoon before dinner exploring the promenade across the street from The Peninsula. Attractions include the egg-shaped Hong Kong Space Museum that is fun for children and the family. It’s open daily except Tuesdays until 9pm.

Next to it is the Hong Kong Museum of Art filled with everything from Hong Kong contemporary art to exhibitions by renowned international artists. Next to the historic 120-foot Clock Tower is the sail-shaped Hong Kong Cultural Centre (www.lcsd.gov.hk/hkcc), which hosts many concerts by world acclaimed artists.

Take a pleasant walk on the promenade along the Avenue of Stars  showcasing hand-prints and portraits of renowned Hong Kong artists. Look over the harbor for marvelous views.


The Ozone Bar on the 118th floor of The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is officially the world’s highest watering hole in the world’s tallest hotel. Looking over the city, you realize how tiny yet vibrant Hong Kong really is. The chic bar with the panoramic view is also very elegant, as is the menu.

Day 3 Lantau Island and the Best of Hong Kong Island


After breakfast, catch a ferry from Central Pier to Mui Wo on Lantau Island. Take Lantau Bus No. 2 to The Po Lin Monastery and the 90-foot-high Tian Tan Buddha, the second most popular tourist attraction. The trip takes 90 minutes. Spend the morning exploring what is known in Hong Kong as the Big Buddha.


There are a number of outer islands with clear waters and tranquil ambience. Mui Wo is one of them, offering many open-air restaurants with great food at reasonable prices.


Head back to Central on the ferry and check out the luxurious IFC Mall, heaven for shopaholics. You can slowly make your way window-shopping from the IFC Mall, through the upmarket Landmark, and over to Pacific Place in Admiralty.


The Golden Bauhinia Square at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre was where the British handed power back to the Chinese government in 1997. Bauhinia is Hong Kong’s city flower. Stroll around for more stunning harbor views.


A grand finale is dinner at the acclaimed Yung Kee Restaurant (www.yungkee.com.hk) in Lan Kwai Fong. It’s the perfect place to savor both Cantonese cuisine and reflect on your 72 hours in Hong Kong. Call 00-852-2522-1624 for reservations or e-mail to info@yungkee.com.hk.

How to get there:

China Eastern Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Dragon Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways travel between Shanghai and Hong Kong daily. A single trip takes about one and a half hours. Hong Kong International Airport is about a 40-minute drive from Central and 25 minutes by the Airport Express.

Hong Kong has nine MTR lines that makes getting around convenient. Trams operate between 6am and midnight at a cost of HK$2.3 (30 US cents) for adults, HK$1.2 for children, and HK$1.1 for seniors. Ferries depart regularly to outer islands such as Lantau and Lamma at Central Pier.

Where to stay:

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

Address: 1 Austin Rd W.

Tel: 852-2263-2263

Website: www.ritzcarlton.com

Hotel Pennington

Address: 13 Pennington St

Tel: 852-3550-0620

Website: www.hotelpennington.com.hk

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

Address: 1 Harbour Rd

Tel: 852-25881234

Website: hongkong.grand.hyatt.com

Hotel Panorama

Address: 8A Hart Ave

Tel: 852-3550-0333

Website: www.hotelpanorama.com.hk

Hotel JIA Hong Kong

Address: 1-5 Irving St

Tel: 852-3196-9000

Website: www.jplushongkong.com

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164