We recently found a great deal on flights and pulled the trigger on a three night adventure to Hong Kong, spending a grand total of 84 hours in the city. Home to one of the busiest airports in Asia, the city of Hong Kong sees a lot of passengers both visiting and transiting thru on their way to their ultimate destination. So not only is Hong Kong a great place to plan a trip around but it’s also the perfect candidate city to tack onto your next adventure around Asia. Since our trip was on the shorter end we wanted to make sure we could make the most of it. There was no way we would be able to see everything but with some planning we were able to see a lot and really enjoyed our trip. This is how we planned our trip and spent our time in Hong Kong. And if you ever find yourself on a quick trip to Hong Kong consider trying some of these options for your holiday.
1. Pick a Hotel with a Convenient Location
View of Victoria Harbor from the 76th floor WET Deck at the W Hong Kong
One of the biggest details is picking a hotel in a good location. On a shorter trip it’s nice to get to and from the airport easily and make the most of your time on the arrival and departure days. Then its also important to be near a subway stop to make getting around the city quick and easy. For our trip we picked The W Hong Kong since it has direct access to both a subway line and the Airport Express Train. This worked well for us but it certainly isn’t the only option, a quick search online will bring up multiple hotels fitting this criteria.
2. Ride the Star Ferry
Star Ferry pulling into Kowloon as we departed for Hong Kong Island
One of the things you will want to get as soon as possible upon arriving in Hong Kong is the Octopus card. This card can be used for riding the subway, other forms of public transportation, payment at certain convenience stores, and as you’re probably guessing, the Star Ferry. The Star Ferry has been connecting the Kowloon side of the harbor with Hong Kong Island in some form or fashion since the 19th century, well before the MTR subway ran underneath the harbor. Even though the subway connects the two areas now, the Star Ferry still runs every day and makes for a nice way to see the island skyline from the water for what comes out to be around $0.50 USD. It’s like taking a ride on history.
3. Sunset at Ozone, the ‘Highest bar in the World’
View from the corner of Ozone looking towards Hong Kong island
If anyone is in search of an awe-inspiring view, then look no further than the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong. Taking up the top 17 floors of the Intercontinental Commerce Center (ICC) building, every room has a view, and those rooms come at a cost. But fortunately, they saved the best view for everyone when they placed the Ozone bar on the 118th floor. The ICC building is connected to the Elements shopping mall in Kowloon and makes for an excellent place to watch the sunset on another day in Hong Kong. As you would imagine, drinks here are not cheap, but keep in mind you are really paying for the view. As long as it is not foggy, the views from the 118th floor it does not disappoint. I took multiple photos but none of them really did it any justice–the bathrooms even have windows for you to take in the views–but it’s one of those things you just have to experience for yourself.
4. Eat Sushi or Dim Sum
We enjoyed picking our Sushi off the conveyer belt at Sen-ryo
Now, even though I say one “or” the other, there is no reason to limit yourself and only do one. But I would make it a point to do a least one and if you are trying to decide between the two then I would recommend going with the Dim Sum since this is more authentically Hong Kong. Most people who aren’t familiar with Hong Kong don’t realize this, but it is a true foodie city–the options are seemingly endless–and they even have Dim Sum restaurants that have been awarded a Michelin Star. The most famous of which probably has to be One Dim Sum. I am almost positive we had Dim Sum everyday just cause we could, but we also went to Sen-ryo for sushi and that was a really neat experience since they allow you to both order off a menu or pick off the sushi conveyer belt and pay at the end based on the selection. Hong Kong has multiple sushi restaurants set up in this fashion.
5. Take in the view from ‘The Peak’
We made it to ‘The Peak’ on our final morning in Hong Kong to take in the view
If you’re looking for the most expensive homes in Hong Kong then look no further than The Peak. These price tags come with an amazing view, and that is exactly what The Peak offers. The two main ways to reach the top involve using the Peak Tram or taking a bus up the winding road. We opted for The Peak Tram since we could use our Octopus card and it took us right to the top. Once up here you’ll be afforded amazing views along with a mall, multiple viewing platforms, and hiking paths for anyone looking to explore a little more. I highly recommend visiting but if you are looking for the shortest lines then definitely shoot for catching the tram first thing in the morning.
6. Pick from the Plethora of Rooftop Bars
Enjoying a beer with a view at Sugar Bar + Deck + Lounge in Hong Kong
While Ozone is the highest bar you can visit in Hong Kong, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s the only one you should visit. Given its size and abundance of tall buildings, Hong Kong is ripe with rooftop watering holes. We made it a point to check out a new one each night either before or after dinner. Sugar Bar + Deck + Lounge had a super relaxed atmosphere, easy access along the subway line, and provided us with seasoned popcorn to pair with our drinks.
Views from the Wooloomooloo Steak house Wan Chai rooftop bar in Hong Kong
We also went to the rooftop bar at the Wooloomooloo Steakhouse and it was probably our favorite spot for a casual drink on the whole trip. The views were breathtaking and the pictures simply don’t do it justice, which seems to be a common theme in a city of this size. The bar is at the perfect level to the point where it makes you feel like you’re actually in the city, feeling the vibe, and not above it. Highly recommend adding it to the list during a visit.
We ended up enjoying dinner at the Wooloomooloo Steakhouse on our last night
The floor right below the rooftop bar is home to the Wooloomooloo Steakhouse and the dining room here also had spectacular views with floor to ceiling windows. During our visit to the bar we ended up making reservations at the restaurant to come back for our last night in Hong Kong. The food was delicious, the views were great, and we ended up getting to hit the rooftop bar one last time on our trip.
We only made it to a low percentage of the options available and a lot of them offer happy hours that can make the experience a lot more affordable. So do yourself a favor and spend a little time looking up your different options before arriving–including notes on when they offer happy hour–and just keep in mind you’re not simply paying for the drink, but also the view and atmosphere.
7. Go to Lan Kwai Fong
Enjoying a couple beers in the Lan Kwai Fong bar area of Hong Kong
Lan Kwai Fong is a bar area that is frequented by ex-pats who live and work in Hong Kong. They close down the street in the evening so no cars can drive through the area and most bars have open air patios connecting to the street and drinks are also allowed in the street. It’s definitely a younger crowd and picks up the most on the weekends, but its a cool spot and worth checking out if you are into that kind of scene.
8. Ride Ngong Ping 360 to Big Buddha
Riding the cable car up to the Big Buddha on a very foggy day
On a clear day the ride up to see the Ngong Ping Village, Po Lin Monastery, and the Tian Tan Buddha is simply relaxing and affords views for miles. If you are an aviation geek then you’ll enjoy this ride even more since it gives aerial views of the entire airport which is perfect for watching the airplanes take off and land. I would also recommend taking the glass bottom cable car to the top since it lets you see more of the scenery and watch some of the people who decided to take the hiking trail all the way to the top. Once there it’s easy to meander through the village, walk up the steps to see the Buddha up close, and visit the temples. Checkout their website to see everything they offer at the top.
9. Just Spend a Couple Hours Exploring
It was cool to see that they were using bamboo structures to help with construction
Whenever I visit a new city I like to spend some time walking around and simply exploring, rather than running from one site to the next. Hong Kong is a great city for this and while we were walking around we saw them putting up the Christmas tree for their holiday celebrations, rode on the the longest outdoor moving walkway in the world, ran into some outdoor markets we were able to explore, and saw some construction scaffolding using bamboo. We spent a couple hours doing this before making our way to a restaurant we discovered for lunch. Time well spent.
Even though we were only in Hong Kong for three nights and a total of 84 hours, we both had an awesome time and felt like we really accomplished a lot. For the flight over we focused on sleeping as much as possible to try and limit our jet lag with the morning arrival. And we made sure to pick out the things we wanted to do the most and give them top priority. This is how we spent our time while there but it certainly isn’t an all inclusive list. Hopefully this list will help anyone planning a trip to Hong Kong or who finds themselves with an overnight layover looking for a way to kill some time. I would be interested to hear if anyone has been recently and has a favorite spot to hit that wasn’t mentioned and I can add it to my list for next time! Or if anyone has questions I’ll do my best to answer them!