24 Hours in Hong Kong
Written by Jaillan Yehia
Recently I was asked if it was possible to see Hong Kong in a single day. The answer is yes – and here’s what I managed to cram into my 24 hours in Hong Kong.
I had exactly 24 hours in Hong Kong due to an unexpected stopover when British Airways messed up my return flight from Cambodia.
Part of me was beyond excited to have Hong Kong dropped onto my lap like that – it had lived in my imagination for so long, and so vividly, that I’d actually bought the guidebook just to drool over its exotic place names, like Kowloon, Wan Chai and the mysterious-sounding New Territories.
Another part of me was mightily irritated that BA had managed to mess up just enough to get me to Hong Kong for a day, but not for three days. It was like a kind of travel torture.
But, not one to give up, I zoomed around Hong Kong for that full day and evening, seeing as many sides to it as I could, trying to keep the right balance between checking its mythical sights off my mental list, and actually taking it in, ‘being present in the moment’ as someone a bit more Zen than me might phrase it.
So, without my trusty Time Out Guide, which had been sitting on my bookshelf for four years and has been cruelly denied its chance to shine, I grabbed Time Out magazine and set about drinking in as much of Hong Kong as I could digest in a day. I binge drank Hong Kong. At the end of that day I was shattered, I flopped onto a plane, still chewing over (mixing the metaphor a bit now!) the last bites of my Honk Kong feast, a buzz of neon still flashing in front of my eyes. But boy was I happy.
Here are the top 7 highlights from my own 24 Hours in Hong Kong:
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1 Victoria Peak
If you’re going to do one thing in a new place, especially a fast-moving city, it’s to find the seminal viewpoint, and get up there and take a good look. Victoria Peak combines that literally breathtaking view, with a history lesson, a shopping opportunity, and a trip on a legendary form of transport, the old Peak Tram to see the whole of Hong Kong laid out before you, imposing, important, and yet hushed.
2 The Star Ferry
Another form of transport that is a living breathing character that brings the city to life – and again you get a lot of bang for your buck here (literally, the cost of the ride is about 20 pence). You get to see Hong Kong’s dock area where land is being reclaimed from the water, such is the need for more square footage. You experience Hong Kong Island from Kowloon side, another must see view, and when you are on Kowloon, you can visit one of the museums and markets.
3. The Peninsula Hotel
This might just be me but I had to meet another of Hong Kong’s famous cast of landmarks: The Peninsula hotel, with its green Rolls Royces. I even can’t think the words without hearing Britt Ekland’s Swedish accent berating James Bond for not knowing about The Peninsula’s fleet of cars in The Man with the Golden Gun. In my mind’s eye, Hong Kong is irretrievably linked to Monsieur Scaramanga, and all the better for it!
4. Hong Kong Space Museum
Ok, this one was more for the boyfriend, but it was great fun. They have weightlessness simulators and lots of interactive displays. And it was nice to do something different to the norm.
5. Temple Street night market
The quintessential Hong Kong market, and the perfect way to get the most out of your only evening in Hong Kong, as it’s open until midnight. You can pick up everything from food and fake goods to tourist T shirts and electronics, but again its the atmosphere that’s the real attraction.
6. Tsim Sha Tsui
More neon than you can shake a stick at, this is what I mean when I talk about soaking it all up and taking it all in. You don’t come to Hong Kong and not want to see crowds of people in a futuristic and frenetic setting, all lit up like a Christmas tree. There’s so much light that in the photos you can barely tell the difference between day and night. Yes it’s a touristy area but walking around places like Mong Kok is the best bit of a Hong Kong experience!
More transport I know, but I also hopped on and off the MTR all day – it was brilliant for the people watching, the novelty of mobile usage and the uber cleanliness; you haven’t ‘done’ a city until you’ve taken their version of the tube!
7 Things I didn’t do on my 24 hours in Hong Kong but you might like to try…
- The viewing deck on the 43rd floor of the Bank of China (a totally free option)
- Hong Kong Park
- Ocean Park
- Happy Valley
- Lantau Island: the giant golden Buddha
- See a different side of Hong Kong at Cheung Chau island: you’ll get peace and quiet, pedestrianised streets, and great seafood.
- Rounding the evening off with some karaoke – at Neway Karaoke in the Century Hotel
I was pleasantly surprised at what a perfect one day stopover Hong Kong made. For me it was less about actual must-see attractions and more about soaking in the atmosphere in general, making it the ideal stopover, as you don’t leave kicking yourself too much for not having had longer in this great East-Meets-West metropolis.
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