24 hours in Hong Kong - the best day of your life

By Richard Field, a Travel Enthusiast

Read more on Hong Kong.

Overall rating:4.7 out of 5 (based on 3 votes)
Enjoyable
4
4.0
Useful
3.666665
3.7
Inspirational
3.333335
3.3
Recommended for:
Adventure, Beach, Nightlife, Mid-range, Expensive

There's enough to keep you occupied in Hong Kong for 365 days, but if you've got just one day follow these tips for the best mainstream and offbeat experiences the city has to offer.

Morning

Tung Choi Street - also known as Goldfish Street - in the Mong Kok area is where the locals go to buy their goldfish. Both sides of the street are lined with scores of pet shops selling fish, terrapins, rabbits, cats and dogs. There must be millions of goldfish for sale in overcrowded tanks, but they don’t stick around for too long with so many buyers ready to snap them up – Hong Kongers believe the more fish they own, the luckier they will be. A stroll here beats a trip to any zoo.

To get here, take the red line on Hong Kong's underground (Mass Transit Railway or MTR for short) to Prince Edward – single trips cost $5 and station pay machines are in English and simple to use.

Afternoon

Hong Kong is big on wow factor and today you're going to experience the two things that get the biggest wows. First up is the Star Ferry, which crosses Victoria Harbour from Tsim Tsa Shui in Kowloon to Central on Hong Kong Island ($2.50 one way on the top deck/$2 on bottom deck).

The trip lasts seven wobbly minutes as the green and white tubs shuttle you towards the skyscrapers of Hong Kong's financial heart. You will be able to see Hong Kong's highest point, Victoria Peak (known simply as the Peak) which gets the second biggest wow – you'll be seeing more of this later.

The journey is surely the world's best commute and gives you the opportunity to take some great pics of the approaching skyline and other Star Ferries.

Now, are you ready for some adventure?

Hong Kong is made up of hundreds of outlying islands, and Lamma Island is the pick of these for a great half-day trip away from the madness of the city. There are no cars and few people on Lamma, and its hills and tropical vegetation are ideal for a spot of hiking. Ferries leave from Central Pier 4 – the 30-minute trip costs $14.50 each way.

See www.hkkf.com.hk/index.php?op=timetable&page=yungshuewan&view=screen&style=en for timetables.

Lamma is a Y-shaped island - the ferry will drop you at the village of Yung Shue Wan, on the western arm of the Y. A gentle two-hour trek along a clearly sign-posted trail takes you from Yung Shue Wan past beaches, up and down hills and across rickety wooden bridges to the fishing village of Sok Kwu Wan. Hung Shing Ye beach is considered by some to be the best beach in Hong Kong, and 30 minutes into your trek you'll be able to relax here on the white sands – come on a weekday, and you'll have it all to yourself, although the view is somewhat marred by a huge power station around the corner!

After an hour of R&R on the beach, it's time for some more action as you rejoin the path through Lamma's rugged interior. At the highest point there’s a viewing pagoda which makes an excellent stop for some rest, photographs and shelter. Then it’s downhill all the way to Sok Kwu Wan, the harbour at the eastern end of Lamma Island.

As you approach, you'll come across the brilliantly named Kamikaze Grottoes - a series of man-made caves. The Japanese occupied Hong Kong during WWII, and hid speedboats in them ready to ram Allied boats. You'll also be able to hear the barking of tree frogs but I challenge you to spot them. These elusive creatures found here are unique to Hong Kong.

Sok Kwu Wan has a reputation for great seafood restaurants, but I've got something better in store for you, so get yourself on the 5.35pm ferry from here (no need to backtrack to Yung Shue Wan) to Hong Kong Island for a night to remember.

Night

You saw it briefly from afar earlier, but now it’s time to visit the Peak in person. At 552m, it is literally the coolest place in Hong Kong and it’s easy to see why the British settled here when they colonised Hong Kong in 1841.

To get up here, take the Peak Tram (www.thepeak.com.hk) from Garden Road ($28 single/$40 return). There are breathtaking views whatever time of day you come, and whichever way you look, but at night there is surely no better view in the world with the neon-lit skyscrapers of Central below you, the buildings of Kowloon across the harbour and the outlying islands in the distance.

The Peak Lookout (121 Peak Rd; www.thepeaklookout.com.hk; 2849 1000) was once a sedan chair station – sedan chairs were the best way to reach the Peak before the tram was constructed in 1888 – but is now a fantastic pan-Asian restaurant with an envious location.

Book ahead to ensure you get a table in the romantic courtyard with Lamma Island and it’s illuminated power station in the distance, and don’t you dare miss out on the New York cheesecake.

Felix (Salisbury Road; www.peninsula.com/Hong_Kong/en/Dining/Felix/default.aspx) on the 28th floor of Hong Kong's grandest hotel, The Peninsular, is surely the best spot for a night-cap in the world. It faces Victoria Harbour and the neon-lit skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island – grab a window seat, order a glass of champagne ($13) and relax watching the Star Ferry shuttle back and forth below you. There's a distinct whiff of money in Felix, and you'll find the clientele tends to be wealthy western tourists and businessmen - you don't have to be a millionaire to drink here but it helps. You don't have to be a hotel guest to drink here either, although there's a strict dress code – no shorts or sandals.

To get here from Hong Kong Island, take the red MTR line from Central to Tsim Tsa Shui and follow the direction signs.

Where to stay

One hotel I go back to again and again is the Stanford Hillview Hotel – a ten-minute walk to Tsim Tsa Shui MTR station. As with many Hong Kong hotels, it's a high rise so space is limited, but here you get luxury at a realistic price.

Premium rooms on the top floor ($1450 for a double room including buffet breakfast) have huge beds and plasma screens, with bathrooms separated from the rest of the room by an electric blind. There's a rooftop bar and driving range, while the street below the hotel, Knutsford Terrace, is lined with up-market bars and restaurants.

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More information on 24 hours in Hong Kong - the best day of your life:

Author:
Richard Field
Traveller type:
Travel Enthusiast
Guide rating:
4.666665
Average: 4.7 (3 votes)
Total views:
434
First uploaded:
12 April 2011
Last updated:
0 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Adventure, Beach, Nightlife
Budget level:
Mid-range, Expensive
Free tags / Keywords:
hiking, skycrapers

Richard recommends

Hotels

Price from Rating
(out of 5)
1. Stanford Hillview
£55
N/A

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Community comments (4)

Rating:
4
1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

Good info. Just no spark. For the first time visitor to HK this is a lovely day out. For those who are younger/tighter budgets HK can be magic! To me HK is all about food, hustle and bright lights. Seeing the views is great, smelling the smells of the streets is memorable. You can stay in the 100% not glamourous Mirador Mansions on Nathan Road for $20 a night, or less if you plead with the boss lady! It is cramped but what more do you need. A bed.And a key. You can spend more on nightlife and food/drink this way! Get involved at street level, find a dim sum restaurants by asking taxi drivers or hostel workers! Dodge the people selling suits, visit the markets! Then hit the town! Search events on the internet! I found a organic produce fair at the New CYBERPORT, HK island somewhere!! I watched bands on the roof garden until well into the night! Wiz around on the MTR, go to lang Kwai Fong and experience rich, varied nightlife. Then taxi back to the relief of your airconditioned box! Then get up at 5am for tai chi...yeah right!

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1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

Thanks for the comments Colin. HK is my favourite place in the world and there's such variety – shopping, sightseeing, trekking, island-hopping, swimming are all possible in the same day if you've got the energy!

The Stanford Hillview hotel has a massive hot and cold buffet breakfast, but if you want even more, Hong Kong is the home of dim sum – a sort of Chinese tapas served at most places until noon. Think steamed pork buns and crispy chicken's feet – if you don't fancy that there are loads of McDonalds'. There is one place I didn't make it to which is a Michelin starred dim sum restaurant with dishes from around £1! Apparently there's always a queue to get in – it's called Tim Ho Wan, and can be found at 2-8 Kwong Wah Street in the Mong Kok area.

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Rating:
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0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Wow! What an amazing day this would be. You have created a perfect way to spend 24 hours that took me away from the mundane day-to-day slog. If only every day in real life could be that exciting! I particularly like how you have combined city attractions and natural delights in one guide. I had no idea Hong Kong had such natural wonders that are so easily accessible from the city. I always associated it with those big skyscrapers.
Being a food lover I would be interested if there is anywhere you would recommend for breakfast.

Nice photos and a good value hotel recommendation. I will be taking this guide with me if I ever make it to Hong Kong.

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Rating:
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0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Terrible admission, I haven't read the Expert recommendations on Hong Kong, Richard, so don't know how your suggestions compare, but you've certainly put together a lively and interesting day. Not mad about the fishtanks, but the rest sounds pretty much how I'd like to spend 24 hours in HK, and it's told with great enthusiasm.
Is this your trial of Simonseeks "24 hours in..." by any chance? It certainly works.

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