A perfect day in Hong Kong

Sampling dim sum, exploring traditional markets, touring relaxing gardens… Some of the best things to do in Hong Kong are a far cry from the city’s hustle and bustle
Traditional chinese-style tourist Aqua Luna junk sailing in Hong Kong harbor. Photo: Shutterstock
Traditional chinese-style tourist Aqua Luna junk sailing in Hong Kong harbor. Photo: Shutterstock

How to spend your first 24 hours in the city

9.30am: Browse the city's 'wet' markets

Start your day on Queen’s Road, walking through Central’s Gage Street and Graham Street outdoor food markets. Also known as 'wet' markets – due to the frequent floor washing required – you'll find the freshest selection of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and seafood in town. Dating back to the 1840s, these markets host a real insight into Hong Kong life. If food isn’t your thing, but shopping is, Central’s shops start opening from 10.00am. Shop until you drop on Day 3 of Insight Guides' Hong Kong Deluxe holiday

10.45am: Dine on dim sum

Head to City Hall to join the locals for dim sum at Maxim’s restaurant, which has harbour views and a busy, hectic atmosphere. Stop any trolley and choose from the bamboo steamers. Favourites include the white ha gow (shrimp) or yellow siu mai (pork and shrimp). This place is reservation free so arrive in good time or be prepared to queue.

11.30am: Head to Kowloon for history and culture

Catch an MTR to TST East to visit the Museum of History in Chatham Road. It tells The Hong Kong Story in eight galleries, using a variety of media to cover the natural environment, prehistoric finds and folk culture, as well as Hong Kong’s development as a metropolis over the last 170-plus years. Painful episodes such as the Opium Wars and the Japanese occupation are covered, as is the back story to Hong Kong’s remarkable economic success. 

2.00pm: Relax in Hong Kong’s prettiest gardens

Go to Diamond Hill to visit one of the best Chinese-style gardens in Hong Kong at Nian Lin, before exploring the wooden Tang-style buildings at nearby Chi Lin nunnery. The garden features classic ornamental rocks, pavilions, and water features plus a collection of beautifully shaped rare trees. For afternoon tea or late lunch options, Chi Lin Vegetarian restaurant has a convenient location behind the waterfall and offers a unique venue for Chinese Buddhist fare. Don't miss this on your holiday to Hong Kong: add a stop here to any of Insight Guides' ready-made itineraries.

The Golden pavilion in Nan Lian Garden, Chi Lin Nunnery.The Golden pavilion in Nan Lian Garden, Chi Lin Nunnery. Photo: Fotolia

5.00pm: Treat yourself to a little pampering

Relax and enjoy the views of Kowloon from Langham Place, Mong Kok’s 41st floor Chuan Spa, which specialises in treatments based on traditional Chinese medicine. Everyone can attempt to realign their meridians and balance their ying and yang here, with the help of a massage.

7.00pm: Take a trip across the harbour

The harbour must be seen by night, so it’s back down to the TST waterfront, where you can either hop on the Star Ferry for a trip across the harbour or take the red-sailed Aqua Luna junk to the Clock Tower for a 45-minute cruise to Central. Experience this for yourself on Insight Guides' Hong Kong in a Nutshell holiday

8.00pm: Gaze over the city’s bright lights

Stop at the Central Ferry Pier for al fresco drinks at the eponymous Pier 7, one of the best-located bars in the city. Walk along the Central waterfront to Pier 3 and take in the lights of Two IFC and other Central buildings before taking a taxi or Central-Mid-Levels escalator up to SoHo.

8.30pm: Feast on whatever takes your fancy

Dinner in the SoHo area means dozens of restaurants and cuisines to choose from. There’s something for everyone at the Peak Café (9–13 Shelley Street), which serves an eclectic international menu; La Pampa (32 Staunton Street) has some of the best steaks in town; and Enoteca (47 Elgin Street) has great Mediterranean-style platters packed with flavour.

10.00pm: Experience Hong Kong’s wilder side

It’s easy to wander around SoHo, or along Wyndham Street and down through Lan Kwai Fong to find an open-fronted bar and join the crowds. The bar on the Fringe Club rooftop has plenty of space and a laidback vibe, or for live music, try the Peel Fresco Music Lounge (49 Peel Street), which hosts Blues, Rock, Jazz and Latin bands.

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