Hong Kong Itinerary (How to Spend 5 Unforgettable Days)
Hong Kong was not on our bucket list when we started traveling through Asia.
To be honest we were kind of afraid that it is too loud, too busy and too expensive.
Compared to other Southeast Asian cities, it is pretty expensive but you will find out that Hong Kong is absolutely worth every Penny if you continue reading. ;)
We stayed for 5 days soaking up the breathtaking atmosphere of the city and put everything you need to know in our Hong Kong Itinerary.
Ready to be wowed?! ;)
At a glance
- Hong Kong’s History
- When to visit Hong Kong
- Hong Kong Itinerary – 5 unforgettable days
- How to Get Around in Hong Kong
- Where to Stay in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s History
First things first.
While Hong Kong originated from a number of coastal fishing village and salt production sites it’s nowadays known for being one of the international financial centers.
In 1842 Hong Kong Island was surrendered to Britain when China’s Qing Dynasty was defeated in the First Opium War.
Other parts like Kowloon, the New Territories and 235 more outlying islands were leased to Britain in the following 60 years.
As a British colony, Hong Kong served as a military staging point.
During the second world war, Hong Kong was occupied by Japan and an estimated amount of 10.000 Hong Kong civilians were executed during the 3 years and 8 months occupation.
Back in Britain’s hands, Hong Kong was undergoing another transformation.
Many refugees of Mainland China, especially from Shanghai, helped to revive the city’s economy by converting Hong Kong into a manufacturing industry and soon a flagship city for high-quality products.
In 1997 Great Britain handed Hong Kong, and the other territories it had leased, over to the People’s Republic of China,
The agreed upon principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems‘ made Hong Kong a Special Administrative Region which still allows the territory to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, including retaining its capitalist system, independent judiciary and rule of law, as well as free trade and freedom of speech.
When to visit Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s climate can be distinguished in 4 seasons.
- Spring: March-May
- Summer: June-August
- Autumn: September-November
- Winter: December-February
Spring and Autumn are the most popular seasons to visit with pleasant temperatures from 17 – 28 degrees and plenty of sunshine.
While Summer can get super hot with degrees from 26 to over 32 degrees, Winter is the opposite with degrees dropping below 10 degrees in some areas.
Despite the changing temperatures most seasons have one thing in common – the typhoons.
From May to November it’s typhoon season in Hong Kong, which means you should check for typhoon warnings when planning your trip.
They are usually very predictable and warnings are broadcasted on television and radio.
Weather updates for tourist attractions can be found on the Website for Hong Kong Weather Information for Tourists.
All that said let’s head over to our 5-days Hong Kong itinerary.
We visited Hong Kong in July and while it was sometimes pretty hot we were able to escape the heat visiting the parks, strolling along the coast or just get on top of the many hills.
Hong Kong Itinerary – 5 unforgettable days
1. Day – Fall in Love With Sheung Wan
We arrived in Hong Kong in the early afternoon, which left enough time to explore our district a little.
Staying in Sheung Wan is an absolute must if you want the perfect starting point for all your HK tours.
It is where the British first entered in 1842 and started their 150 years of colonial rule.
Today Sheung Wan is one of the most exciting and upcoming neighborhoods.
Traditional Chinese Medicine & Antique Shopping
You can witness traditional Chinese medicine in Ko Shing street, wander through the dried seafood area along Des Voeux Road West and head to Hollywood Road and Cat Street for antique shopping.
The Yue Po Chai Antique Co., which is getting popular on Instagram, thanks to the beautiful entrance, is located on Hollywood Road. ;)
Even though there are plenty of antique stores in the area, make sure to visit this particular shop.
It offers stunning objects and the owners gladly advise you and show you their most amazing goods.
Man Mo Temple
After you have finished all your treasure hunting you can visit the close by Man Mo Temple which is a tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo) and the oldest temple in the city.
It’s open for visitors daily from 8 AM to 6 PM (no entry fee) and a pleasant contrast to the busy streets with the scent of incense in the air.
Old Central Police Station
At the end of Hollywood Road you find the old Central Police Station which is one of Hong Kong’s most impressive colonial buildings and hosts the Centre for Heritage and Arts (Tai Kwun).
The old Central Police Station comprises three important monuments – the former Central Police Station, the Central Magistracy and the Victoria Prison.
The late-Victorian style building is notable for its red brick walls and granite features.
If you want to visit the Center for Heritage & Art check the Tai Kwun website for exhibitions and opening hours.
Where to eat in Sheung Wan
In case you are hungry after visiting all those impressive buildings grab a bite at the Dim Sum Square (even though we learned that Dim Sum is eaten for breakfast or lunch we couldn’t stop ourselves from eating it for dinner). :D
For a more Hong Kongish dining scene check the most popular places for eating like a local in Sheung Wan.
Make sure to leave space for dessert and head to the popular Mammy Pancake after dinner for one of their famous Michelin Guide nominated egg waffles.
2. Day – Explore Hong Kong Island’s Top Sights
Breakfast in Sheung Wan
Our go-to spot for a delicious breakfast was teakha on Tai Ping Shan Street 18.
They offer yummy scones and amazing tea & coffee.
The Granola with caramelized bananas is to die for and you can choose your favorite toppings for your avocado toast.
Depending on how much time you had on your arrival day continue exploring the districts Sheung Wan and Central.
Afterwards, take the two-floor tram to see the other parts of Hong Kong Island.
If you continue your sightseeing from teakha head to the tram station Western Market Terminus – here is the route on Google Maps.
For other stops check the HKtramways interactive map.
Getting to know Central District
As your first stop, we recommend the Jubilee Street where you can ride the world’s longest outdoor escalator.
Stretching over 800-meters through the streets of the steep hillside of Hong Kong Island.
If you need a coffee break, leave the escalator at Caine Road and head over to Elephant Grounds for one of their delicious quality coffees.
After a refreshing drink either take the escalator back to the tram station Jubilee Street or walk down to the station Pedder Street (next to Central) to witness the everyday life of the Central district.
Explore Wan Chai District
The Wan Chai district is increasingly known for hip boutiques and eateries besides its share of good-time joints and exotic nightlife.
Get off the tram at Arsenal Street so you can stroll through this upcoming area.
For some insider tips from locals read more about Wan Chai here.
If you are more into shopping head over to Hong Kong’s most famous shopping area in Causeway Bay.
The best tram station to explore the shopping Meka is Causeway Bay Terminus.
Find further tips for Causeway Bay here.
Make sure you won’t get lost in the shopping malls so you still have enough time to head to Montane Mansion for another famous Hong Kong photo spot. ;)
The often forgotten Eastern District
Montane Mansion is a well-known spot among photographers and it’s getting more and more popular among tourists as well.
The closest tram station is Mount Parker Road.
Specifically known for the architectural symmetry and the stack apartments the building complex is a stunning sight.
However, the most important thing when at Montane Mansion is to remember that this is a residential area and you should respect the people living there.
After all, you are only a guest.
Next destination for today is the Quarry Bay Park where you can enjoy the greenery and stroll along the ocean if there is still time before sunset.
Sunset at The Victoria Peak
Start your journey to Victoria Peak for the most amazing night view of the sparkling city.
The are several transportation options on how to get up to the Peak.
- Peak Tram: The tram is definitely the most scenic way to get to the Peak. Take the metro to MTR Central Station, head to Exit J2, walk upstairs and through the Chater Garden, follow the Garden Road until you reach the Peak Tram Lower Terminus. It takes about 15 minutes from Central to the Tram Terminus by foot and the tram up to the Peak costs HK$ 37 for one direction. For more information on the tram price and packages visit the ThePeak. You can also take the Peak Tram shuttle bus C15 from Central bus station to the Tram Terminus which costs extra HK$ 4,20.
- Public Bus : The route No. 15 drives all the way up to the Peak and costs HK$ 9,80 (leaving from Central Pier 5 crossing the MTR Central station). Intervals are between 11 – 20 minutes and it takes about 1 hour to get up to the Peak.
- Taxi: You can also take a taxi from anywhere in the city. They are super affordable.
Once on top of The Peak, you can either enjoy the view from the free observation deck of The Peak Galleria or walk to one of the Lookouts.
We recommend the Lugard Road Lookout which is on the left side of The Peak Tower and the Tram Station and where we took our pictures.
It takes about 15-20 minutes to reach the lookout.
Tip: If there are too many people just continue a little further until you find your perfect city view. ;)
On the other side, to the right of The Peak Tower and the Tram Station, you find the Lions Point View Pavilion which is nice if you want to see the city from a different angle.
Another option is heading to the Sky Terrace 428 which is the highest viewing platform on top of The Peak Tower.
However, a single ticket costs HK$ 52.
To end your second day in Hong Kong we suggest heading into The Peak Tower for dinner at one of the restaurants.
TIP: If you are thinking about spontaneously taking the Peak Tram downwards, forget it! The line will be way too long! ;(
3. Day – Discover Kowloon’s Vibrant Diversity
Start day number 3 on the opposite side of Hong Kong Island in Kowloon.
This are is famous for delicious food, stunning architecture and breathtaking city views.
You will be visiting the following places:
- Tsim Sha Tsui Area
- Choi Hung Estate
- Lok Wah Estate
- Kowloon Peak / Suicide Cliff
- Temple Street Night Market
- Symphony of Lights
Tsim Sha Tsui Area
The area Tsim Sha Tsui is home to most of Hong Kong’s markets and famous for its dining variety.
It’s the perfect place to do one of the plenty Food Tours in Hong Kong.
Either way, you will experience the real taste of Hong Kong and might even get into an adventurous mood trying things you’ve never heard of before. ;)
If you are the kind of person who likes to know what’s actually on the plate (like Julia) try one of Hong Kong’s best al fresco restaurants.
Apart from all the great food make sure to fit the following sights into your day in Kowloon.
The Colorful Choing Hung Estate
For famous Instagram spots head to Choi Hung Estate which is one of the oldest public housing estates in Hong Kong.
Take the green line (Kwun Tong Line) from Yau Ma Tei to Choi Hung Station.
‘Choi Hung’ means rainbow in Chinese and reflects the buildings different colored facade perfectly.
We learned that the government painted the estate to help lift the spirits of the residents living there.
The basketball courts on the roof of the car park are the most famous part of the complex. ;)
Lok Wah Estate (The Most Popular Car Park in HK)
Continue your journey by bus (2A / 28) to the Lok Wah Estate Community Centre for another iconic car park roof.
This is an amazing spot if you like to play with light and shadow in your pictures.
Just get out of the bus, cross the street to the car park and get on top of it.
TIP: There are actually to “floors” where you can take photos of the iconic shaped architectural spot.
If the lower one is occupied check out the one on the next level (it’s just around the corner).
Kowloon Peak’s Suicide Cliff
If you prefer to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city head to the Lion Rock Country Park or Kowloon Peak for stunning Hong Kong views and an incredible sunset.
During our time in the city, an old friend from school was showing us around and he took us up to Kowloon Peak Viewing Point which one of the unbeaten tracks for amazing city views.
To get up there take a taxi following Fei Ngo Shan Road to the Viewing Point.
Continue by foot to the Meteorological Station further uphill.
If you are a keen hiker you can also hick up to the viewing point and even further to ‘Suicide Cliff‘ – the name itself explains why you need to be a good hiker.
We haven’t been to that cliff but read that it’s absolutely worth the challenging hike.
The Symphony of Lights
When the sun has set and the lights start to sparkle in Hong Kong head back to the city.
At the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, you can see Hong Kong’s iconic multi-media show the Symphony of Lights which is staged every night, since 2004, at 8 PM.
Over 40 buildings of Hong Kong’s skyline are participating in this huge laser show.
From Kowloon, the best viewing point is Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, close by East Tsim Sha Tsui station (West Rail Line) where the music of the Show is broadcast outside the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.
There is also “A Symphony of Lights” mobile app where you can tune in – download the app here.
If you are already exhausted and want to head back to Hong Kong Island take the Star Ferry to witness the Symphony of Lights from the boat. ;)
Click here for the Star Ferry timetables.
Or watch it from Golden Bauhinia Square on Hong Kong Island the music is broadcasted over there as well.
Temple Street Night Market
In case you have not yet enough of the buzzing nightlife make sure to visit the Temple Street Night Market (if not already done so for your Food Tour). ;)
Every night you will find all kinds of traders as well as fortune tellers.
The closest MTR is Jordan Station (Tsuen Wan Line), Exit A.
4. Day – Top 5 Things to Do on Lantau Island
For a great start into day number 4 head to Hollywood Road for breakfast.
Fortunately, there were no seats available at Grassroots Pantry the day we stopped by so we discovered the only a few meters further, super cute Classified Café which is not only cheaper but also much cozier than the Grassroots Pantry, in our opinion.
We both had the hot Spiced Cinnamon Chai, 1 Classified Granola and the Rye Toast with Feta & Avo.
All super delicious and even though I am usually all about Granola I loved the Rye Toast!
Day 4 is all about exploring Lantau Island which is mostly known for the Big Buddha, a major landmark in Hong Kong.
But the island has more to offer besides the Buddha statue – Lantau Island’s top 5 sights:
- Ngong Ping Cable Car
- Big Buddha
- Po Lin Monastery
- Wisdom Path
- Tai O Fisher Village
How to Get to Lantau Island
MTR to Lantau – Tung Chung Line (orange MTR)
There are different options on how to get to Lantau but we absolutely recommend taking the MTR from Central to Tung Chung Station.
On Lantau Island take Exit B and then head to the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car.
The whole way takes around 65 minutes in total.
Keep in mind that the cable car opens at 10 AM – so no need to get up too early. ;)
We took the Standard Cabin to get to up to the Buddha which offers you an amazing view during your 25 minutes cable car ride.
Other cabin options are the Crytal Cabin with a glass floor and you can also book a private one.
There are different ticket packages and tours offered at the Ngong Ping 360 Official Website.
We opted for 2 single tickets because unfortunately it was super hot and we weren’t sure if we would survive a whole day in the heat. :D
Ferry to Lantau
Another option how to get to Lantau island is to catch a ferry from Central Ferry Pier No. 6 to Mui Wo and then the New Lantao Bus 2 to Ngong Ping Village, which takes around 80 minutes altogether.
The ferries run every 30-50 minutes and the ticket costs between HK$ 14,5 and HK$ 41.
For more information on the ferries please check the Lantau Ferry Website.
What to See on Lantau Island
The Tian Tan Buddha
At the Ngong Ping Village, you can already spot the Big Buddha or Tian Tan Buddha.
You can watch the ‘Walking with Buddha’ animated movie about the Life of the Tian Tan Buddha which is shown every half hour and then head straight to the stairs leading to the Big Buddha Statue.
It is positioned on top of Mount Muk Yue and the biggest sitting Buddha statue built outdoors.
The Po Lin Monastery
This bronze Buddha statue was built by the Po Lin Monastery that symbolizes the stability of Hong Kong, the prosperity of China and peace on earth.
After visiting the Big Buddha you can enjoy a vegetarian lunch at the Monastery between 1:30 AM and 4:30 PM.
The reservations can be made at the bottom of the stairs, leading to the Tian Tan Buddha.
You can choose between the Standard or VIP menu.
We took the second for HK$ 128 per person.
The soup from the VIP menu sounded more delicious. :)
The Religious Wisdom Path
After lunch follow the signs to the Wisdom Path which consists of 38 upright wooden monuments containing the Heart Sutra, a centuries-old religious texts.
From above the pattern of the monuments represents infinity besides you can enjoy beautiful views over the South China Sea.
The Traditional Tai O Fisher Village
Another great experience is visiting the Tai O Fishermen Villages on Lantau where you can enjoy the local seafood delicacies at the harbor while watching the daily routines.
On a boat tour, you can get a glimpse of what life looked like in Hong Kong’s pre-colonial years and admire all the picturesque stilt houses.
You might even see the white (or pink) Chinese dolphins if you are lucky, but keep in mind that they are wild animals and chances of sights depend on many natural factors.
If you want to learn more about the Chinese dolphins head to the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society.
5. Day – Become a Millionaire in Macau’s Casinos
Macau is, as well as Hong Kong, an autonomous territory and known for being the ‘Las Vegas of Asia’.
Actually, Macau is the world’s biggest gambling region, even bigger than Vegas, and it has the largest gaming revenue worldwide.
We spent one day in Macau and had fun exploring the city center as well as gambling a little.
I even won our ferry tickets back. :)
As a former colony of the Portuguese, it is also a stunning place for Portuguese architecture and has a beautiful old city center.
The Top 5 Things to Do in Macau (Besides Gambling)
When we first heard about Macau it was all about the great casinos but there is much more to do and see in the city.
Below we list our top 5 things to do in Macau.
Try the Most Popular Egg Tart
At Margaret’s Café e Nata you can taste the most famous egg tarts in Macau.
The Macau egg tart is a mix of the English and Portuguese egg custard tart and an absolute must-try for every tourist.
Stroll Along Senado Square
Senado Square leads along plenty of shops, restaurants and the most historical sights of the city.
Surrounded with beautiful pastel colored buildings the paved square leads directly to the St. Pauls Church Ruins.
Visit the Ruins of St. Pauls Church
The 17th-century Portuguese church is part of the historic center of Macau and absolutely worth a visit.
The church was dedicated to the Apostle Saint Paul and destroyed by a fire during a typhoon in 1835.
As the landmark of the city, it is also the most touristic places in Macau.
TIP: Check out the gargoyles at the facade to see how Asian symbols are mixed with the European elements of the church.
Head to Monte Fort
Right next to the Ruins of St. Paul is the Mount Fortress the historical military center of Macau.
The 52 meters high hill offers great views down to the ruins and over Macau.
Enjoy the view from Guia Hill
For even better views head to Guia Hill, the highest point in Macau.
It houses a military fort, a chapel, and the lighthouse.
You can either hike up the hill or take the cable car.
For orientation find a map of the top 5 sights here.
Macau’s Top 3 Casinos
Big, bigger, the Venetian
The Venetian is the biggest resort in the world and is housing a huge hotel, a shopping mall and the replica of the Venetian canals.
It could easily be confused with an entertainment park rather than a casino complex.
The Classic Grand Lisboa
The Grand Lisboa is a Macau original and it was the most popular casino before all the Las Vegas imports arrived.
The Wynn Palace – the most exclusive one
Not one of the biggest but definitely the most exclusive one in town is the Wynn Palace.
Besides being known as the go-to for high rollers it houses Macau’s largest spa with 48.000 square feet.
Interested in more of Macau’s Casinos check the 2018 Best Casino’s Guide.
How to Get Around in Hong Kong
How to get to Hong Kong from the Airport
There are several options on how to get from the airport to Hong Kong.
Besides buses and taxis, we absolutely recommend taking the Airport Express.
It is the fastest way to get from the airport to the city and includes a free shuttle bus service to the major hotels.
Another big advantage is the complimentary in-town check-in service.
So you don’t need to worry about carrying your luggage all the way back to the airport for check-in. ;)
The Airport Express costs HK$ 250 one-way and HK$ 350 for both directions (including a deposit of HK$ 50).
In our opinion, this was the most convenient way to get to the city and absolutely worth the money.
For a bus you pay HK$ 21-48 and for a taxi HK$ 280-350 (each one direction).
Get yourself an Octopus Card as soon as you set foot on Hong Kong grounds!
This contactless value card can be used for public transport, dining, entertainment, shopping and much more.
We recommend getting it at the airport which will also be where to return it.
You have to pay a deposit for each Octopus card of HK$ 50 and the initial stored value is HK$ 100.
We chipped in an additional amount of HK$ 100 on each of our cards while in the city.
When returning the card at the airport you will get the deposit of HK$ 50 back as well as the remaining amount on your card.
MTR, Bus & Taxi
Getting around was never easier than in Hong Kong.
While we love to walk around in a new city we also used the public transport a lot in Hong Kong.
The city is just too big to explore it only by foot. :D
For orientation make sure to save the MTR system map on your phone. ;)
Apart from the MTR system, there are plenty of buses, trams, taxis and ferries.
Please find information on all Public Transport in Hong Kong here.
Where to Stay in Hong Kong
There is one thing most hotels in Hong Kong have in common they are tiny.
In other words, if you want the luxury of a room with more than 6 square meters you will have to invest in one of the more popular hotels.
We researched different price ranges for you.
We absolutely fell in love with Hong Kong and can’t wait to come back to this amazing city!
Not expecting much we were stunned after day one and even prefer Hong Kong over hyped Singapore.
Let us know what you think about Hong Kong in the comments and any other secret spots we haven’t found yet.
And if you need a guide on Singapore check our Singapore Itinerary – 4 days in the Amazing Lion City. ;)