24 hours Hong Kong itinerary for those who want to see it all in a day! Planning on a quick lay-over in Hong Kong? Maybe you have just a few hours or perhaps you’re spending the night? Hong Kong is the perfect stop to break up a long journey and it’s easy to pack in the sights in just a day or two. I stayed at design hotel SLEEEP in Sheung Wan – an eco-conscious, award-winning budget option for fans of the Japanese capsule room concept. Great for those wanting a peaceful, function place to crash for a night or two, not great if you’re scared of confined spaces!
So, if you only have a day or two and want an easy itinerary to get a flavour of this incredible city, here’s my 24 hours in Hong Kong itinerary.
9am : Best Panoramic Views
Beat the crowds by getting up early for the peak tram, the iconic funicular railway leading to dramatic views across the city. Buy your ticket at the bottom before making the steep ascent up 552 metres up to the vertigo-inducing Victoria Peak. It’s worth paying extra for the viewing platform.
At the top you can grab an eggette (the city’s famous waffle cones filled with ice-cream and every topping imaginable) and take panoramic shots of Hong Kong’s iconic skyline. Although the best an be found at Oddies in Sheung Wan where you’ll be exploring next….
11am : Best Hipster Neighbourhood in Hong Kong
Head to the hipster area of Sheung Wan – an ever-changing creative hub where expats fashionistas pose in front of street art, expats sip craft beer from micro brewery bars and foodies queue for the city’s best ‘bao’ atLittle Bao, a modern Chinese diner. Organic health food shops, patisseries stacked with pork puffs and independent clothing shops line Gough Street any beyond. I could spend all day pottering about here but if you’ve only got 24 hours, power walk around the galleries and pick up some kitsch gifts for friends.
12pm : Best For Photographers and Culture Vultures
Photography enthusiasts will be in their element at the awe-inspiring Man Mo temple on Hollywood Road, one of the oldest and most photogenic temples in Hong Kong. Tourists and worshippers are welcome at this Grade 1 listed building and it’s a sight to behold. Find your way through clouds of incense and then gaze up at the ceiling of crimson lanterns, amble through black lacquer archways and admire the ornate traditional craftsmanship throughout. You can even participate yourself in the worshipping – there are signs in English to explain the customs of lighting incense sticks and leaving gifts.
1pm : Best Dim Sum in Hong Kong
Have lunch at Dim Sum Square on the intersection between Hillier Street and Jervois Street. You’ll queue with businessmen and get hurried, typically abrupt service but it’s part of the experience and worth it for a steaming basket of deliciousness. The custard buns are particularly famous as are the char siu bao (sticky pork barbecue buns) but you can’t go wrong with the menu here. Cultural tip: you have to provide your own napkins in restaurants and take your own toilet roll too.
If you’ve been in HK a while and are craving Western food, check out Grassroots pantry for a health food fix of quinoa salad and vegan brunch options. Next door is hipster coffee shop, Classified, which will satisfy even the fussiest coffee snob.
2.30pm : Best place to satisfy your sweet tooth
After lunch, continue your stroll up Hollywood road (great for buying Chinese antiques and bric-a-brac) and queue (again… but worth it, I promise) for the most famous egg custard tart in the city, Tai Cheong Bakery. It’s easily recognisable for it’s Tiffany-blue coloured exterior. Less than £1 will buy you the sweetest, warmest, gooiest custard tarts you’ve ever tasted. If you’ve time, amble around Gough Street for unique jewellry and gifts – or just to take some quirky street shots of the graffiti and cool cafes.
My other favourite dessert spot was the Instagram-worth Oddies on Gough Street, a hole-in-the-wall gelato bar and creator of Hong Kong’s famous eggette parfait ice-cream sundaes. Imaginative flavours change daily but the famous ‘night wolf’ eggette is a regular fixture (chocolate ice cream with passion fruit parfait and all manner of other scrumptious toppings).
4pm : Best views of Hong Kong harbour
Hop on the famous Star Ferry (top deck if you can) across to Tsim Sha Tsui, located on the southernmost tip of Kowloon Peninsula in Hong Kong. It takes about 7 minutes to get across but if you want to save time, hop on the metro back.
Your 24 hours hong kong itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a wander around the palm-tree lined waterfront and the avenue of the stars. Window shop at the enormous flagship stores of the world’s top designers along Kowloon Park Drive or head to one of the fancy hotels for lunch on the water.
These itineraries are always a bit ambitious so this may be all you have time for but if you’ve sped through these sites, squeeze in a visit to Causeway Bay for some retail therapy or to see the botanical gardens or the city’s resident pandas at the zoo.
7pm : Best spot in HK for foodies and cocktail lovers
If you’ve got an evening to kill too – head to Windham Street, the Soho of Hong Kong. Shing Wong street has some great places to eat like Japanese joints, Little Boa or further up there’s expat favourite, Yardbird.
Got one more day?
Have an amazing brunch at Why 50 and check out PMQ, situated in the formed Police Married Quarters for married junior police officers. You can do a cookery class here, buy jewellery made in front of you or buy a piece of art to take home. For another top lunch recommendation, get a boat to West Kowloon and queue for a table at legendary dim sum restaurant, Tim Ho Wan in Sham Shui Po. Famously billed as the ‘world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant’, Tim Ho Wan is run by an ex-Four Seasons chef.