We find any excuse for a stopover in Hong Kong – the energy of the city is unparalleled by any other we have come across in our travels.
I still remember being overwhelmed the first time I arrived – the scale of the city – both in height and density - and the bustle of people gives Hong Kong an incredible buzz and it is impossible not to get swept up in it.
This itinerary is my ideal five days in Hong Kong – my favourite things to do, see and eat. I would recommend it to first time visitors, but I wouldn’t hesitate to return to these things myself when I go back.
We have stayed at hotels in a range of budgets - for a splash out I love the Langham Place hotel - super modern digs with a great shopping centre attached, located in the traditional, bustling area of Mongkok.
For a less extravagant stay - small but functional rooms at Bishop Lei International House are great on a budget and located in the interesting Mid Levels district.
Day 1 - Kowloon Day 2 - Hong Kong Island Day 3 - Lantau Island Day 4 - Stanley Market and Diamond Hill Day 5 - Macau
It is hard to imagine anyone being underwhelmed by this incredible city - you will find something to enjoy in Hong Kong whether you are a foodie, night owl, shopper, nature lover, culture/art buff or all of the above.
A number of things mentioned in the itinerary are perfect for families with kids. - Disneyland is one of the smaller ones around the world and, apart from Space Mountain, teenagers might find it all a little tame, but it is pitched about right for younger children, who will really enjoy the gentler rides. - The cable car ride to the Big Buddha is also a great family attraction. - Dim Sum is also good fun. At Serenade, some specialties come in the form of little animals and you order by ticking what you would like to try on a menu on a card – as dishes are inexpensive, kids can get involved and try lots of different things if they are even slightly adventurous eaters!
Planning a successful Hong Kong stay
Hong Kong Island vs Kowloon Although some people profess a preference for HK Island or Kowloon – in our experience it really doesn’t matter which side you stay on as transport by MTR (subway) is so quick and good that you can hop between HK Island and Kowloon very easily. Both sides have good shopping, eating, pockets of interest and great views from various points.
The important thing is to get familiar with the public transport system as quickly as you can, and you will find Hong Kong pretty easy to navigate. Which leads us onto…
Transport The magical Octopus Card. You need one.
Hong Kong is served by a very good public transport network – MTR, buses ferries and the most fabulous airport link imaginable. All of which are accessible to you if you have the Octopus Card. You can procure one at the airport with credit and a return journey to the airport, and then you are sorted. Credit top ups are available at machines at MTR stations. You can even ‘sell back’ your card at the same airport booth when you are leaving. A very handy system which will pretty much cover you for anywhere you need to go in the city – if not, taxis are plentiful, metered and good value.
A word on ferries – these are fun and a nice way to get out onto the Harbour and check out the city – but for getting around quickly the MTR is the thing to use.
If you see a queue for food or a restaurant... Don't be shy...get amongst it...or take note and come back later. Hong Kongers aren't afraid to queue for ages to get the good stuff - and if it ain't busy, it probably isn't worth your time. So if you don't fancy a long wait - but see a queue for somewhere that takes your fancy - you are probably on a winner...just come back at a slightly less fashionable time to eat - around opening time is a good bet. We have found some amazing sushi restaurants this way.