Two days isn’t much, but it’s enough time to experience Hong Kong’s special mix of local culture and cosmopolitan luxury. Here’s how to spend 48 hours eating, sightseeing and collecting views in this city, which — with its steep green backdrop, astounding skyline and busy harbor — is one of the world’s most spectacular.
Morning on the Peak
No Hong Kong vacation would be complete without visiting Victoria Peak. The most scenic way up is via the Tram, a steep funicular railway that’s been in operation for more than 120 years. At the top, enjoy 360-degree views from the Peak Tower, or walk the leafy green loop along Lugard and Harlech roads.
Don’t eat on the Peak. Instead, descend to Central for dim sum with a side of atmosphere at Lin Heung, a bustling, old-school tea house that has miraculously defied the forces of the real estate market to remain in operation since 1928. That’s a lot of lo mai gai.
Afternoon in Sheung Wan
Follow the smell of incense to Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road, an elaborate 1847 structure flanked by art and antique dealers. North of Hollywood is a warren of streets lined with shops selling dried seafood, ginseng, tea and rice. Nearby Cat Street is known for trinkets and kitsch, and south, along Tai Ping Shan Street, are some of HK’s hippest galleries, indie boutiques and cafés. Stop at adorable Teakha for a glass of caramelized lemon iced tea and a piece of osmanthus chiffon cake.
Drinks and Dinner
Go for cocktails at Sevva, the swanky rooftop lounge in the Prince’s building with great vistas. Or, go straight to dinner at Lung King Heen, the award-winning Cantonese table in Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, which also looks out over the harbor.
If you’re looking for a party, head to the clubs of Lan Kwai Fong. For a more relaxing end to the day, consider a reflexology massage. Happy Foot, one of the most popular reflexology spas, is open late and has a few branches right in Central.
Morning on the Quiet Side
Stanley, on the south side of Hong Kong Island, has a charming boardwalk facing a quiet bay where large yachts share the water with colorful wooden fishing boats. Stroll on the beach, visit the market, or take a seat in one of the waterfront cafés.
Stay for lunch in Stanley, or head back to Central for a cheap and cheerful meal at one of the noodle shops or dai pai dong — outdoor food stalls — on Wellington Street. Otherwise, turn your two days into a dim sum bender with a visit to the classic Maxim’s Palace City Hall, housed in a capacious banquet hall with a harbor view.
A Kowloon Afternoon
There’s no shortage of luxury shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui, on the tip of the Kowloon peninsula, but for a decidedly more local experience, head to Yau Ma Tei to visit the Jade Market and Temple Street Market, or to Prince Edward to see the Goldfish Market and hunt for bargains at the Ladies’ Market. And speaking of ladies, why not pause for afternoon tea back in TST at The Peninsula Hong Kong, the grande dame of Hong Kong hotels.
Drinks and Dinner
Your ears will pop on the way up to Ozone, at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, which sits on the 118th floor of the ICC tower and is the world’s highest bar. For another meal with a view, go for the fine Cantonese fare at One Harbour Road, in Grand Hyatt Hong Kong.
At 8 p.m., the Hong Kong Island skyline puts on a flashy laser light show called Symphony of Lights. If you want to hear the accompanying music, watch from the TST waterfront promenade.
Light shows, luxury dining and libations aside, the very best way to see the Fragrant Harbor might also be the cheapest: Whichever side you stay on, be sure to take at least one commute across the channel on the lumbering, iconic Star Ferry.
Photos Courtesy of iStock/Oksanaphoto, iStockCYung, SEVVA