The following is a guest post by Kristen Youngs, who co-operates two online businesses while traveling the world full-time. Her website, One Bag Nomad, teaches other people how to travel long term while working remotely.
If I had to describe it in one word, I’d say Hong Kong is dense. The endless people, buildings, cars, metro system, cultures, and sights are all crammed into a space that, given the bulk of what it holds, isn’t all that big. There’s a ton to see, do, and eat in Hong Kong, and fortunately, because of how dense the city is, you can pack a lot into a 3-day Hong Kong itinerary.
I’ve outlined a basic itinerary for 3 days in Hong Kong with guidance on what makes sense to do each day, however, feel free to mix it up depending on when you arrive and leave the city and just use this as your guide for the number of things you can do in Hong Kong in 3 days!
Hong Kong Itinerary: What to do in Hong Kong on Day 1
Get Your Craft Coffee Fix
There’s no doubt the craft coffee scene is quickly growing all around the world, and that couldn’t hold more true for Hong Kong. Keep up with the pace of this city (and enjoy the quality coffee it’s producing), start your day with some caffeine.
If you’re staying on Hong Kong Island, NOC Coffee Co Graham Street is the spot to go. It’s tucked away into a little alley you’ll easily miss if you aren’t looking, so keep your eyes peeled. When you see a steep, downhill street overflowing with fresh fruit and vegetable stalls, you’ll know you’re in the right place.
On the other hand, if you’re calling Kowloon your “home base” during your stay in Hong Kong, stop by the Colour Brown, easily accessible by metro. This shop is another you’ll miss if you aren’t looking, especially if you’re there on a weekend morning (it’ll likely be the only place open on the entire street). The baristas here know their stuff, though, so it’s worth a visit.
Try the Barbeque Pork
If you’re not a foodie, don’t worry — this Hong Kong itinerary isn’t all about where to eat and drink. For a real taste of Hong Kong, though, you can’t miss the opportunity to try some local BBQ pork, a staple dish all over the city.
Yuen Kee Restaurant, near the Jordan metro stop in Kowloon, is the place to go. If you’re not comfortable sitting with strangers, take a pass, because this restaurant is so popular, there usually aren’t enough seats to go around. The waiters will inevitably just sit you in whichever empty booth or chair they can find.
Fortunately, this place is packed with locals, which means when you do get seated next to one, they can help you out with the sizeable menu. Definitely order the BBQ Pork, but make sure you add on some extra sides, too.
Pro tip: When you’re ready to order, raise your hand to flag a waiter down. They won’t come over otherwise.
Head down to the waterfront after lunch, and make sure to cut through Kowloon Park on the way — one of the city’s biggest green spaces. Thrown in amongst the towering skyscrapers, this park will feel like a hidden oasis where you can catch a momentary glimpse of what a slower pace in Hong Kong feels like.
You can easily spend a couple hours wandering through the park. People watching is a main sport here, where you can catch groups doing their daily Tai Chi lessons. If you’re feeling adventurous, join in.
Walk ten minutes farther from Kowloon Park, and you’ll be swept up in the chaos of the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, which is an easy gateway to access Hong Kong Island right across the harbor.
As you head toward the water, you’ll start to see signs for the Star Ferry. You can buy a token on your way in from a machine that accepts coins. A one way trip on the lower level of the ferry costs less than $4 HK per person. Once you’re on board, the trip across the harbor will take about 10 minutes. Make sure to have your camera ready.
Mid Level Escalators
Once you’re off the ferry, head to Queens Road, where you can catch the Mid Level Escalators.
Because of how dense and hilly the city is, this series of outdoor, covered escalators were built to help morning commuters travel down from their neighborhoods to other public transportation options. The escalators only go one-way, but their direction changes depending on the time of day. In the mornings, they run down, so people can get to work. The rest of the day, they run up, so people can go home.
The coolest thing about these escalators is they cut through dozens of different Hong Kong neighborhoods you’d likely never see otherwise. Since the escalators are broken into a series, you can get on and off at each neighborhood you pass through. It’s not hard to spend an hour or two just wandering around the streets and alleyways that catch your eye on the way up.
Once you get all the way to the top, follow signs pointing to the Zoological Park and Botanical Gardens. Walking through these giant (and free) parks will lead you straight to the next stop on your Hong Kong itinerary.
Victoria Peak Tram
Victoria Peak Tram is one of the most touristy things you can do in Hong Kong, but it’s packed with visitors for a reason — the view of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak is amazing.
The Victoria Peak Tram takes you to the top of the mountain, and while there are other ways to get up there, riding the near-vertical tram is half the fun. Round trip tickets are HK $37 per person. Try timing your visit so you’re at the peak for sunset, where you’ll see the entire Hong Kong skyline lit up in colorful hues.
Pro Tip: Unless you have time to wait in line for tram tickets, try using a company like Klook, where you can buy “skip the line” tickets. When I went on my first evening there — expecting to buy a ticket on arrival — I had to leave and come back the next day because the line was too long.
Hong Kong Itinerary: What to do in Hong Kong on Day 2
For a late breakfast or brunch, head to DimDimSum Dim Sum Specialty Store near the Jordan metro stop in Kowloon. The name is like a tongue twister, but the food is incomparable, especially because of its affordability in such an expensive city.
You’ll get a long sheet of paper and pen to order here, where you can mark down how many of each dim sum plate you want. You really can’t go wrong with your order, but make sure to add a plate of Piggy Buns, which are this restaurant’s cheek-in-tongue dish of pig-themed pork buns (complete with decorative nose and ears).
One of the sights Hong Kong is famous for is its Big Buddha, located on Lantau Island. This golden Buddha at the top of a hill is worth a trip out via metro and cable car. Not only will you get to experience one of the city’s most well-known pieces of history, you’ll also have great views of the city.
To get there by metro, take the Tung Chung line to the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, where you can make the seemingly-precarious journey over the green mountainsides to the Buddha.
Temple Night Market
After taking the metro back to Kowloon, spend the rest of the evening at the Temple Night Market, where you can get lost in the maze of shops and streetside restaurants. You’ll find both locals and tourists here (the locals will be hanging out where the food is) — it’s hard not to be drawn in by the chaotic lights, alleyways, and signs overflowing even the airspace above the market. Come here for that true “Hong Kong” feeling you’ve imagined.
There are tons of restaurant options for dinner at the market, but make sure you finish off the night with an egg waffle, one of Hong Kong’s most popular desserts. Instead of the regular square-shaped waffle, you’ll get one with “egg-shaped” pockets. If you’re feeling indulgent, add ice cream and other fillings to your order.
Hong Kong Itinerary: What to do in Hong Kong on Day 3
Avenue of Stars
On your last day in Hong Kong, start your morning with a stroll around the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, where you’ll find the city’s famous Avenue of Stars. Think of it as a smaller, Hong Kong-version of the famous Hollywood Avenue of Stars in Los Angeles.
Pro tip: Planned construction has the walkway temporarily closed, but many of the statues (including one of the famous Bruce Lee) are being kept in the neighboring Garden of Stars.
Ding Ding Trams
Hop on the Star Ferry or metro to head back over to Hong Kong Island and catch one of the city’s historical trams, called the Ding Ding. You’ll recognize these classic cable cars by their height and width — they look like tall, thin, double-decker buses. If you remember the Knight Bus from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, this is your chance to live out that scene in real life — the trams look exactly like the bus from the movie.
You can take the tram all the way from one far-end to the other, catching glimpses of all the different Hong Kong neighborhoods along the way. A single ride is $2.60 HK per adult.
Symphony of Lights Boat Cruise
If you’ve done any reading up on Hong Kong, you’ve heard of the city’s famous Symphony of Lights, where each night at 8 PM, a light show and music plays all around the harbor on the massive buildings.
You can watch the show from the shore, but an even better option is to buy a ticket to watch the show from one of the few remaining “junks,” which are Hong Kong’s old fishing boats. Most are completely out of commission, but a few have been refurbished for tourism purposes.
There are two main companies you can go with, but I chose to ride the Dukling, which costs $280 HK per person for a 45-minute tour of the harbor, plus one complimentary drink.
Pro tip: During my trip, the Dukling picked up passengers from Kowloon first, and then Hong Kong island. Try to board from Kowloon so you can grab the best seats before the boat fills up.
Getting There and Around
You’ll most likely be arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport. Because it’s such a huge airline hub, you’ll likely be able to find a cheap flight in. While the airport might seem overwhelming due to its size, there’s clear signage throughout.
The easiest way to get into the city is with the Airport Express, a train line that runs from the airport, all the way into Kowloon and Hong Kong.
After walking through the arrivals area of the airport, you’ll see a ticket desk. Buy a round trip to save money, and be sure to grab a map from the counter. The train takes about 45 minutes to reach the city, and from there, you can take one of multiple free shuttle buses, which all run different routes around the city, stopping at the main hotels to drop-off and pick-up passengers along the way.
If the hotel you’re staying at isn’t one of the drop-off points, just use Google Maps to find the nearest one. You likely won’t be more than a 5 or 10-minute walk, as there are dozens of shuttle stops around the city.
If you’re planning on using the metro while there (it’s the easiest way to get around), consider getting an Oyster card on loan. You can buy one from any help desk at both the airport and metro stations. Getting a card on loan means you pay a fee for the card itself, then load it with money. At the end of your trip, you can return the card back to a help desk and get a refund on any remaining money. Using an Oyster card also gives you slight discounts on trip fares.
Another option is to get a 1-day tourist metro pass, which you can use to get anywhere on the metro for 24 hours. The total cost is $55 HK per person. Depending on how much you want to rely on the metro, and whether or not you want to deal with returning a card at the end of your stay (and subsequently exchanging your leftover Hong Kong dollars afterward), the 1-day tourist pass could be a better option.
Where to Stay in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is divided into two main areas — Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
Because this itinerary covers sights and things to do in both places, you can conveniently stay in either location.
If you’re staying in Kowloon, look for hotels near the Jordan or Tsim Sha Tsui metro stations for an easy-to-access base. On the other hand, if you want some amazing nightly views, you can also splurge on a harbour-front hotel, where you can get a skyline view of the Symphony of Lights from your room every evening.
If you’re staying on Hong Kong Island, look for hotels near the Central metro stop, where you’ll have quick and easy access to the rest of Hong Kong.
Day Trips from Hong Kong
Hong Kong Disneyland
If you’re looking for a family-friendly option, you can also spend a day at Hong Kong Disneyland, which is just a 45-minute metro ride outside the city. If you’ve avoided other theme parks or Disneylands in the past because of their high prices, this is a great opportunity to visit the park at a cheaper cost. Hong Kong Disneyland is a bit smaller than most of the other parks, and fortunately, the tickets cost significantly less compared to locations in the US.
Despite Hong Kong being known as a city of skyscrapers, there is actually some amazing hiking trails close to the city without a tall building in sight! Plan a day trip and take in parts of the four main trails: the Hong Kong Trail, the Maclehose Trail, the Lantau Trail, and the Wilson Trail.
One of the most popular day trips from Hong Kong is to Macau, which is often compared to Las Vegas, Nevada, but without the desert.
Macau has gigantic casinos and attractions; even if you’re not a gambler, it’s impossible not to appreciate the mind-blowing hotels and resorts. In the older part of town, you’ll also discover the Portuguese influence on Macau, with egg custard tarts available on the streets and architecture more reminiscent of Lisbon than Asia.
There are a couple ferries operating the trip from Hong Kong to Macau, with the trip lasting about an hour one-way. Once you land in Macau, you’ll have a variety of free hotel shuttle buses to choose from. The casinos pick up passengers for free and take them back to their respective bases. Whether you choose to stay at a shuttle’s casino or not is up to you.
If you’re not up for a day trip outside Hong Kong, though, there’s more than enough to see within the city itself. Because of its sheer size and density, you could spend an entire trip just wandering the streets and alleyways.
Hong Kong is a city with an overwhelming amount to see and do, so use this Hong Kong 3 day itinerary to make the most out of your stay, and experience all this popular city is famous for.
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