36 Hours in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a perfect city for short term business trip or vacation. Its multiple neighborhoods and islands offer different culture experience – some more trendy and some more traditional. You can sample this city out in bits and parts over multiple trips. Here is our recommendation based on our leisurely experience during a short stay in Central district.
7:00 a.m.: HKG doesn’t require a visa for citizens of most countries. So hop out of the airport in a snap. If needed, you can leave your baggage at the airport located at the far right of the arrival terminal. Don’t forget to pick up some free maps and guides from one of the several tourism kiosks. Take the airport express to your destination.
8:00 a.m.: Check into your hotel. Although regular checkin hours are 2:00 p.m., your hotel will let you in if the room is ready. At Lan Kwai Fong Hotel at the intersection of Aberdeen and Wellington, the rooms are clean, tastefully decorated and well appointed. Although in this day and age, they charge extra for internet access!
9:00 a.m.: Get breakfast congee at Sang Kee Congee Shop. Located on Burd street between Hilier and Mercer street in Sheung Wan, this tiny shop is difficult to find. Open between 6:30 am – 9pm, it is easy walk from Lan Kwai Fong hotel or can be accessed by MTR – at Sheung Wan Station, take exit A2, turn right and walk about 5 min. Average cost HKG $50. They are famous for congee with pork balls, beef, air bladder, snakehead fillets (made in limited quantities). Also recommended is congee with tender grass carp (w/ pork liver, intestine, tripe).
10:00 a.m.: Walk through the small lanes and bylanes of Central between Wellington and Hollywood Road. Enjoy the produce and seafood markets, the spice shops and small eateries. This part of the city, due to its mix of the old and the new, is likely to remind people of their respective hometowns – it reminded my husband of Karol Bagh in Delhi and it reminded me of the Chowronghee Lane in Calcutta.
1:00 p.m.: Eat a leisurely meal at a traditional tea house such as Luk Yu Tea House. Located at 24 Stanley street, it is open 7am to 10 pm and is an easy walk from Lan Kwai Fong Hotel. Otherwise it can be accessed by MTR – exit Central station and take exit D2, walk up D’Aguilar street and turn to Stanley. The ambiance here is gentle (almost scholarly like in a library or temple) and the fried rice is fresh.
4:00 p.m.: Take the star ferry to Kowloon. This southern tip of Kowloon is also known as Tsim Sha Tsui and natives tend to call it the “tourist ghetto.” You can either walk the promenade or check out the shopping malls. If the fog is not too bad you can enjoy the lit skyline of Central district – one of the most photographed skylines in the world.
After sundown, the temple street night market comes alive with street food, vendors and performance artists. This popular night market in located in Yau Ma Tei district of Kowloon – take MTR to Jordan station and take Exit A, turn right into Jordan road and walk three blocks to temple street. I would not recommend serious shopping unless you are an old hand at negotiation.
An alternate option for those who are seriously jetlagged is to watch Aqua Luna, the boat with the three red sails from the piers, eat at one of the multiple excellent eateries in Central and tuck in early. Maks noodles on Wellington street famous for its fresh noodles, Sung King Kee Noodle on Gage street famous for fish balls, Yi Jiang Nan on Staunton Street in the heart of SoHo come well recommended from multiple online sources. You can even pick up a bottle of sparkling wine from one of the hundreds of 7-Elevens and watch a Hong Kong Kung Fu movie on cable TV.
8:30 a.m.: Get breakfast congee at Lau Fu Kee Noodle Shop. Located at 140 Des Voeux Road in Central, it is an easy walk from Lan Kwai Fong Hotel. Otherwise it can be accessed using MTR – get off at Sheung walng station and take exit E2. The master chef starts the daily preparation at 3:00 a.m. to turns out bowls of tasty soft-textured congee. Specially recommended is congee with preserved eggs and lean meat.
10:00 a.m.: Walk to the old Man Mo temple – one of Hong Kong’s oldest temples. Somber on the outside, the temple glitters in colors of gold and red on the inside. An array of exhaust fans are not sufficient to take away all the fragrant smoke created by the slowly and constantly burning incense that hang like chandeliers from the ceiling.
11:00 a.m.: Walk back via Gough street, there are some modern and traditional restaurants that are popular among the locals. If all this walking has built up an appetite, take note that Kau Kee is well known for its beef briskets – crunchy beef brisket in broth costs HKG $70 and curried beef brisket and tendons cost HKG $46 only. Yum! Also, find side by side fancy home design shops and old printing shops.
Check out of your hotel. Your hotel will hold your luggage safely while you enjoy the city for a few more hours.
12:00 p.m.: Take the mid-level escalator to the very top. Stop at SoHo for a lunch. Walk the triangle of streets – Staunton, Elgin and Shelley – for upmarket international restaurants and bars. You can hang around in this fashionable district drinking a Mojito or walk to the Peak Tram station at 33 Garden street (a 15 minute walk) and queue up like hundred others to do the top most touristy thing to do in Hong Kong.
5:00 p.m. : Collect your luggage and head back to IFC mall for Airport express back to the airport. If time permits, you can have a Michelin starred meal at Lei Gardens at the IFC mall. Otherwise, eat dinner at Maxim’s outpost at the airport.
Also check out NYT recommendation for a weekend in Hong Kong.