Ok, where to start… To be honest I expected from Hong Kong something, else. Everyone always seems to be so in love with this city but in reality it didn’t impress me the way I thought it would. Don’t get me wrong, it's quite amazing, but it was just such a big and busy city that it was overwhelming.
It’s not just another big city, it’s completely different. Imagine being surrounded by skyscrapers, luxurious shops, five-star hotels and locals rushing everywhere. The pollution and dirty atmosphere of the city is unpleasant and contaminating, especially if compared to the largest cities in the world.
The entire trip I was telling my friend that this city has to have something that everyone falls in love, there were many parts that I liked but nothing that really made a deep impression on me. Maybe my expectations were too high or that I simply didn’t have enough time to see everything. I really hope to return someday and find what makes everyone fall in love with the city. Give it a try maybe you´ll have a better experience than I had.
Hong Kong makes for the perfect layover. Good thing, because sooner or later all travelers to Asia will find themselves here. You have only 1 day in Hong Kong? No problem, with our itinerary you can discover most of the best sights in Hong Kong just in 24 hours.
We arrived at Hong Kong in the afternoon, we took the double decker bus (which was a lot cheaper than a taxi or train) that allows you to give a great and quick view of the city, but it will take 1 hour to get to Kowloon. We stayed at the Silka Seaview Hotel in Kowloon, they have a complimentary in-town shuttle bus service that was really useful.
First shopping, since it was so close to our hotel we went to explore the markets. All of them are easily accessible and almost lead directly into one another, which makes exploring them perfect as a walking tour.
Start up at the Bird Market and make your way down through the Flower Market, the Goldfish Market, Ladies’ Market, and the Jade Market, until you reach the Temple Street Market. Any of these markets are the perfect place to experience local Hong Kong life, as well as pick up a souvenir or two.
After we headed back to the hotel to take the shuttle and go to Tsim Sha Tsui. Here you’ll find world-class shopping, as well as the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade. Walk along the harbor here to experience the breath-taking views of Hong Kong’s skyline or spend some time at Hong Kong’s own Avenue of Stars.
Stick around Tsim Sha Tsui long enough to enjoy the “Symphony of Lights” show – which was named the “World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show” by Guinness World Records. Buildings on Hong Kong Island participate by flashing lights all set to music. The show takes place every night at 8:00 pm, when the weather permits it, and lasts about 13 minutes. The night we were there, it was a bit smoggy and raining so it was difficult to really see all the lights as they blinked and flashed.
Sleep in! The city doesn’t wake until around 10:00am, so you can shake off the jet lag before a busy day ahead – you won’t finish until late!
Go back in the morning to Tsim Sha Tsui to ride the famous Star Ferry across the harbor to Hong Kong Island. Some days it’s free, just like the day I went, but don’t worry because it is very cheap and you´ll enjoy the view as you approach either side; if for some reason the Ferry isn’t working or you don’t want to use it you can always take the MTR.
First stop in Hong Kong Island is Victoria Peak – also known as ´The Peak´. Standing at 428 meters above sea level, Sky Terrace is the highest viewing terrace in Hong Kong offering stunning 360-degree panoramic views across Hong Kong. Whether you visit in the morning, afternoon or night-time, Sky Terrace is a scenic spot not to be missed. If you feel fancy, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is also located here.
You can either take the Peak Tram, or if you’re feeling adventurous, take a bus. Although they’re a cheap alternative, buses are notorious for not following speed limits and daring driving. Hold on for a wild ride and have a giggle or two as you race down the mountain roads at top speeds.
Enjoy the rest of the day wandering all around Hong Kong Island: Causeway Bay, Times Square, Soho, Admiralty, Wan Chai and Central District.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
- Tian Tan Buddha -- Known as the Big Buddha, it is one of the biggest bronze statues of Buddha’s in the world and is located in Lantau Island and while you´re there you can also visit Po Lin Monastery.
- Lantau Island – While you are here you can visit Tai O Fishing Village and Hong Kong Disneyland.
- Mid-Level Escalators - This system of escalators is the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system with 20 escalators and 3 inclined moving walkings. The escalators travel a distance of 800 metres, rising 125 meters. Depending on the time, the escalators run in different directions, moving people efficiently. Downhill in the morning from 6am – 10am and uphill after from 10:30 to midnight.
- Take a walk in Kowloon Park.
- If you want to experience Hong Kong nightlife go to Lan Kwai Fong.
- Visit the Hong Kong Space Museum and Art Gallery.
- Visit temples and monasteries - Throughout the city, there are so many temples and monasteries worth visiting. Most of them are open to the public to wander through. Check out the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens in Diamond Hill, Kowloon. Wander through the famous Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple and 10,000 Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin.
THINGS TO KNOW
- The buses just accept the exact charge so always have the coins ready before. (Believe me, they will not give you change)
- Book a room in advance. (Even if it’s just one night)
- It is okay to take taxis; they will all use their meter and charge fairly.
- Always have cash with you.
- A number of museums are free on Wednesdays.
- Pick up an Octopus Card to use for public transport throughout the city.
- Although Hong Kong is not perceived as a budget-friendly city you can find free things to do, but be ready to pay for something’s more than normal compared with the rest of Asia.
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Have you been to Hong Kong or are you planning to go? What would you recommend? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.