Start your day with a traditional Hong Kong breakfast of dim sum – delicious steamed buns with a variety of ingredients – at Maxim’s Palace City Hall. Some of the more popular dim sum choices are char siu bao (bbq pork buns) and siu mai (steamed shrimp dumplings). Be sure to arrive early, as it becomes very popular with locals and tourists alike.
Time to burn off all those delicious carbs with a picturesque hike on Dragon’s Back, one of the most popular hikes in Hong Kong. A mere MTR and bus ride away (or taxi if you’re pressed for time) is where you’ll begin the 2 – 3 hour journey through the thick and thin of Hong Kong’s lush mountainous greenery. You’ll emerge at the top of the mountain and be graced with panoramic views of Shek O Village and Beach, and Big Wave Bay. If the weather is on your side, continue your hike towards Big Wave Bay to cool off in the water, grab a cold drink, and maybe even take a surfing lesson if the mood strikes.
On your way back, after you get off the bus in Shau Kei Wan, head to Master Low-Key Food Shop for some of the best Hong Kong-style waffles you’ll ever have. This waffle shops attracts large crowds, especially on the weekend, so you can expect a queue, but the wait is well worth it. The waffles with condensed milk and peanut butter are a must.
Now that you’ve seen the south of Hong Kong Island, it’s time to explore some sights off the island.. Head all the way to Tung Chung MTR Station on Lantau Island. From there, follow the signs to the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, which will take you all the way up to the Tian Tan Buddha (more commonly known as the Big Buddha). After you climb up the seemingly never-ending stairs to reach the top, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with the Big Buddha himself. Opposite the Buddha is where you’ll find the Po Lin Monastery; one of the most popular Buddhist sanctuaries in Hong Kong. Aside from the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, there are a number of tourist attractions at the top: souvenir shops, food outlets, and a few tourist attractions. Once you’re ready to head back, grab a bus down to the Mui Wo ferry pier to take a scenic ride on the water back to Hong Kong Island.
Happy hour in Hong Kong is the perfect dose of late afternoon fun. There’s far too much choice in the city when it comes to a good happy hour, but a few of our favourites are Stone Nullah Tavern’s “Beat the Clock” happy hour where drinks start at just HKD$1 at 5:00 pm, doubling every 20-minutes thereafter, or Posto Pubblico where HKD$98 gets you two hours of free-flow drinks and charcuterie from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Need we say more? If you’re looking for more variety, check out our full list of Hong Kong’s best happy hour bars.
The Temple Street Night Market, found between Jordan and Yau Ma Tei, comes to life when the sun goes down, and is the perfect place to browse through a variety of different souvenir stalls and grab dinner at a local (though very tourist-friendly) restaurant. You can expect a variety of knock-off handbags, t-shirts galore, locally-inspired paintings, and a variety of trinkets like tea sets and cellphone accessories. Put on your best haggling face and dive right in.
Once you’ve had enough shopping, head to any of the restaurants along the side of the night market; most serve variations of the same thing, so there’s no need to be too particular with which one you choose. Grab a seat at one of the small plastic tables, order a handful of giant Tsingtao beers, and a variety of staple Chinese dishes to share.
Not ready to end your night after dinner? Make your way to Red Bar in the IFC, where you can bring your own drinks and food (there’s a conveniently located City Super in IFC if you need any last-minute supplies), and take advantage of the public outdoor seating. With views of the Hong Kong harbour, a lively atmosphere, and a wallet-friendly way to enjoy the evening, this is the perfect way to end your first day in Hong Kong.
Wake up early to grab breakfast at local Dai Pai Dong Yue Hing on Stanley Street in Central. We promise that the corned beef, scrambled eggs, lettuce, and peanut butter sandwich tastes a lot better than it sounds (and don’t forget to order a milk tea)! Insider tip: Yue Hing is only open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am – 1:45 pm, while quantities last, so go early to avoid a queue as there is only one chef in the kitchen.
After you’re done, hop on one of Hong Kong’s iconic trams and make your way to POHO (just above Sheung Wan) to spend an hour or two wandering around the quaint little buildings, admiring the intricate graffiti on the walls, the various art galleries, boutique shops, cozy cafes, and the outdoor mix of local odds and ends you’ll find on Upper Lascar Road. Finish your morning wanderings by heading to Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road for a quick dose of culture before you head off to brunch.
One thing that Hong Kong knows how to do well is a long weekend boozy brunch. For a brunch that has it all – killer views over the harbour, unique ambiance, entertainment, and, of course, delicious food and drinks – head to Hutong in Tsim Sha Tsui on either Saturday or Sunday from 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm. Enjoy a range of dim sum and Chinese specialties, free-flow champagne, wine, and cocktails, and entertainment throughout your meal, including a Chinese-mask dance performance and a noodle-pulling demonstration.
Since you’ll be close to the TST ferry pier after brunch, hop on the Star Ferry for a quick (and cheap!) ride back to Central.
Make your way to the Peak Tram (located in Central) to go up to The Peak. Prepare to be wowed once you reach the top thanks to the panoramic view of the Hong Kong harbour. If you can get there just before the sun sets, you’ll be able to see two impressive views of Hong Kong; during the day and when the city lights up at night. If you’re looking to get a bit of a workout in, you can always opt to walk up to The Peak via Old Peak Road (about a 30 minute walk) and then take the tram back down.
If you’re looking for a little debauchery on your last night, there’s no better place to go in Hong Kong than Lan Kwai Fong. Home to all creatures of the night (and, at times, day), LKF is teeming with locals, expats, and tourists alike, all looking for a fun time. Depending on the night, you’ll find not only the bars and clubs full, but the party often takes itself out onto the street, making for a lively and relatively inexpensive (thanks to the 7-Eleven’s nearby) night.
Photo Credits: Dim Sum, Kai Chan Vong | Red Tram, Jirka Matousek | The Peak, Matthew Hutchinson | Big Buddha, Michael | Ngong Ping, Ruth Johnston | Temple Street Night Markets, Oleg. | Trams, akwan.architect | Star Ferry, Fabio Achilli
thisgirlabroad is a Canadian expat who found herself packing her life up in the Great White North to move to a city filled with skyscrapers, dim sum, and 7-Eleven’s. She’s been living, loving, and eating her way through Hong Kong for the past four years without any plans to slow down. Between working full time, managing her blog, and freelance writing, you’ll likely find her with a strong cup of coffee in one hand and a jar of crunchy peanut butter in the other.