When I first visited, it was only meant as a Hong Kong stopover on my way to Australia. I had never been to Asia before and it turns out that Hong Kong is the perfect gateway: An exciting blend between Western and Eastern cultures. Everyone speaks English, there are plenty of bilingual signs and it is exceptionally easy to get around. Plus, there is so much diversity on the many little and bigger islands that make up the island state. In short, there are plenty of Hong Kong attractions you can see and if you have 3 days in Hong Kong, you will get a decent overview.
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Hong Kong Day 1: Lantau Island
You will most likely be arriving at Hong Kong International Airport and get into town via Tung Chung. How about you do things a little differently on your Hong Kong tour than most tourists? Why not stay on Lantau Island, which is directly connected to Chek Lap Kok island, where the airport is situated. Lantau boasts tropical forests, steep mountains, tranquil fishing towns and you can see the biggest Buddha statue. Are you sold yet?
Once you have dropped off your bags and it is early in the morning, why not stroll around Po Lin monastery to begin your Hong Kong sightseeing? In the morning you might catch heavy fogs in summer especially, but it makes for a very special mood. Plus, tourists pile in later in the day. A lot of them. Walk up to the Big Buddha and admire the 1000 Buddha statues of the monastery. Afterwards, get onto the Ngong Ping 360 experience and let yourself be transported down to Tung Chung.
From there, take the bus in front of the MRT station to Tai O. This is a little fishing village which begs exploration. Just get lost in the small streets, pop into local shops and watch the women dry sheets of seaweed. I also recommend doing a boat tour around the coastline and into Little Venice, the part of Tai O that has been built on stilts. On my tour, we even caught up to white dolphins (who actually glistened pink) and playfully followed us along.
Disney fans will know that Disneyland Hong Kong is also located on Lantau island, namely in Penny’s Bay. If you go, spend at least an entire day here and skip the other Lantau attractions. Time will fly by!
Where to Stay on Lantau Island
If you want to trough it, why not stay in the middle of the jungle on top of a misty mountain? I opted for the YHA and while it wasn’t in the least bit glamorous, it certainly made for a great experience. The staff were super nice as well. Should you prefer staying close to the city, why not rest your head in Tung Chung? Here, you have easy access to the bus terminal and MRT. Plus, there are restaurants and supermarkets close by. One option is Novotel Citygate Hong Kong. It offers free airport shuttles and is close to AsiaWorld-Expo and Cathay Pacific City, which business travellers will appreciate.
Address: Novotel Citygate, 51 Man Tung Road, Tung Chung, Hong Kong
To maximise your time and immersive fun at Disneyland, you can stay right inside the Disneyland Resort area. There are three hotel options for you to choose from, which are Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, Disney Explorers Lodge and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel.
Address: Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Lantau Island, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Where to Eat on Lantau Island
Vegetarians are in luck! Po Lin monastery has a few options that are geared towards them! A great start is Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant and Zen Noodle Cafe. Dim sum can be had at Ngong Ping garden. For freshly brewed tea to kickstart the day or refresh your spirits during the day, enjoy yourself at Linong Tea.
Address: Ngong Ping Village, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Place your order at Handi Indian Restaurant for Tung Chung stays or Triple Lanterns Cafe when in Tai O. With the former, you are pressed for choice. Have a go at Lamb Rogan Josh and the naan bread as well as the homemade hot sauce – if you dare. Triple Lanterns is a little hidden cafe in the Venice of Hong Kong and serves great cheesecake. Or pizza, if you want more hearty food.
Address: Triple Lanterns Cafe, Tai O Tai Ping Street, Hong Kong, China
Address: Handi Indian Restaurant, G/Fl, No. 8 Ha Ling Pei Tsuen, Tung Chung Road, Hong Kong
How to Get Around Lantau Island
The main mode of transportation are local buses. Bus services go regularly between Tai O, Tung Chung and Po Lin. Taxis are affordable as well but unless you are a super confident driver with nerves of steel and experience on the smallest of roads, I recommend not driving by yourself.
Make sure you don’t stay out too late as most shops close early and taxi drivers quit for the day as well. During my visit, I met two backpackers who were stranded in Tai O after 10pm because of this and a local volunteered to give them a lift back up the mountain. Seriously, strangers can be so nice but better not to rely on that alone.
To and from Ngong ping village, you can take the cable car for 25 minutes, but it comes at a tourist price.
Hong Kong Day 2: What to Do in Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong City is an eclectic hub of sky high buildings, quiet streets and traditional temples mixed with oases of beautiful green parks. In short, there is a myriad of Hong Kong points of interest, in fact more than a dozen Hong Kong tourist spots that you cannot miss but if you only have one day to spare in your 3 day Hong Kong itinerary, don’t attempt to see them all! Start off with a walk on the Avenue of Stars on the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade to spot the likes of Bruce Lee and admire the wonderful skyline along Victoria Harbour. From there take the MTR over to Mong Kok and explore the various Mongkok Markets, including Ladies Market.
If there is only one temple you can see while on your three days in Hong Kong, make it Wong Tai Sin. Sure, by now it is THE tourist hotspot but it is well worth it. Not only does it claim to fulfill every wish upon request, but it is exceptionally stunning. It is home to three religions, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism and its garden is a perfect oasis of tranquillity.
At the end of the day, take the Peak Tram up Victoria to catch the sunset over the city. This is also one of the best spots for witnessing the daily light show, known as Symphony of Light, over Victoria Harbour. Once you have had enough of the beauty of this view over the places of interest in Hong Kong you have covered (or want to see in the future), head up North to the Temple Street Night Market for some bar hopping. Not surprisingly, this as well as Lan Kwai Fong in Soho are some of the best places to visit in Hong Kong at night.
Getting Around Hong Kong
The most convenient way to get around Hong Kong is the MTR (Mass Transit Railway), which is easy to use, safe, affordable and squeaky clean. Trains are coming super often and run between 6am and 1am. Try to avoid rush hour to not be run over. Just kidding, Hong Kong’s citizens are very civilized. But really, it gets crowded fast. MTRs usually have their own shopping centres (or the other way round), so you could technically spend an entire day just underground or in air conditioned malls if the day is unbearably hot.
To use the MTR with a 5% discount (as opposed to taking individual tickets), you can get a rechargeable Octopus Card from convenience stores and supermarkets or at the airport. With it, you can use all major forms of transport in Hong Kong, including the Airport Express. A MTR Tourist Day Pass is valid for 24h and costs HK$65.
A tourist favourite, albeit extremely slow, are the local trams. They are historical double deckers and have been in use for over a century! Riding them will get you all the way from Causeway Bay to Wan Chai and for little money. They run only during the day.
The Peak Tram seems super touristy and overpriced – and it is. But I can personally tell you that it is absolutely worth it. I mean, you could hike up Victoria Peak but in hot and humid weather that is super strenuous and the tram ride is quite a fun experience in itself.
For a typical touristy thing, take the Star Ferry through Victoria Harbour between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. It often ranks among the 10 best things to do in Hong Kong. If you are pressed for time, you most likely will not travel more than that by ferry. These are more suited for day trips to Peng Chau, Cheung Chau, Lamma Island or even Macau. You can also get to Lantau this way if you prefer ferry over MTR. Depending on what boat you take a ticket for, the ride can be slow or faster.
In case public transport really isn’t your thing, it is good to know that Hong Kong’s taxis are affordable as well and there are plenty abound everywhere. When hailing a cab, stay away from yellow lines on the streets that indicate no halting zones. The colour of the taxi will tell you the areas they are servicing. Red is for Hong Kong island, green for New Territories (up North) and blue for Lantau Island.
Where to Eat in Hong Kong
When you explore Hong Kong, you cannot not have Dim Sum. For authentic dishes, visit the DimDimSum Dim Sum Specialty Store (Wan Chai) or, for a traditional outlet, the Lin Heung Tea House is a must. While you’re at it, don’t forget to order Hong Kong-style milk tea.
Another classic dish is roasted goose, which you can dine on at one star Michelin restaurant Yat Lok or Yung Kee. Basically any roasted meat is a staple, including roasted pork and roasted chicken. A slighty different version is roasted or soy sauce braised pigeon. You can sample it at Kwan Yu Roast Meat.
For your sweet tooth, one dessert that is dearly loved by Hong Kongers are egg tarts. They are bright yellow and you can basically find them everywhere. If you don’t know where to start looking, stop by Lyndhurst Terrace in Central or Tai Cheong bakery. Other desserts to taste are the black sesame paste from Tsui Yuen or egg puff waffles from Lee Keung Kee North Point Egg Waffles. For pudding cake on a stick, put Put Chai Kod on your foodie list.
Best area to Stay in Hong Kong
To stay a little bit outside of the main busy areas and touristy Hong Kong destinations and close to shopping temples, Causeway Bay is a great location to look into. Butterfly on Victoria Boutique Hotel, for instance, is a sleek skyscraper hotel, located near Victoria Park and the MTR.
Address: Butterfly on Victoria Boutique Hotel, 33 King’s Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Small but stylish, that is Hotel 108 in exciting Mongkok. The rooms might be small but with its minimalist design, you will feel just as comfortable. Plus, the location is excellent and through the floor-to-ceiling windows, the views will amaze you.
Address: Hotel 108, 108 Soy Street, Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Fans of weird and wonderful decor will delight in hotel attitude on Granville, right in the middle of Tsim Sha Tsui. Some rooms feature wall art of Bruce Lee, corridors are lined with one arm bandit screens and old phones make for fabulous decor in the common areas. Malls are only a few minutes away.
Address: attitude on granville, 20 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Hong Kong Day 3: Stanley Beach
Locals love Stanley Beach for trips from Hong Kong not only for the white sand and soft waves but also because this is the perfect place for fashionistas and foodies. And the hustle and bustle of the big city seems super far away. Check out Stanley Market for cheap souvenirs, well known clothing brands, jewellery and home decor. They even stock sizes for foreigners, which can sometimes get tricky in Asian shops. If you cannot get enough, turn the street corner and continue your shopping spree at Stanley Market Space Hawker Bazaar. On weekends, Stanley Plaza often hosts various events, such as the Stanley Chic Bazaar.
After your shopping spree, splurge on a soft ice cream cone and stroll along Stanley Promenade. Sit inside one of the many restaurants, or peruse the many quaint shops along the shore. Make your way up to the colonial Murray House. With its age of over 160 years, it is one of Hong Kong’s oldest surviving buildings and was actually dismantled from its city central spot and moved over to Stanley. From there, it’s only a stone’s throw away from Blake Pier. Both are great off-the-beaten path HK attractions.
Where to Eat in Stanley Beach
Stanley Beach is a local foodie mecca. The most popular Hong Kong dining spot might Murray House. It houses several dining spots. One of which is King Ludwig Beerhall. Who would have expected a traditional German beer hall in Hong Kong? For Spanish flavours, hit up Mijas in Murray House. The ribs seem to be especially delicious and the tapas are well worth it. The buffet isn’t all that great, so better stick to dishes from the menu.
Address: Murray House, Stanley Plaza, Hong Kong
Another Hong Kong restaurant located in a historical building is the three-floor Boathouse. You cannot miss it. It is right at the beginning of the promenade and painted in bright blue. A crowd pleaser is the Greek salad and the big seafood bucket.
Address: The Boathouse, G/F, 88 Stanley Main Street, Stanley, Hong Kong
To get your seaside fish and chips dish in one of the most popular eateries on Stanley Beach, take a seat at Pickled Pelican. With its waterfront views and yummy battered fish, you cannot go wrong.
Address: Pickled Pelican, 90 Stanley Main Street, Hong Kong, China
Alternatively, ditch the ocean view and dine in a cellar! At Stanley Cave you can do just and take a big bite out of a great piece of pizza at the same time. Opt for the freshly prepared sandwiches, goats cheese focaccia and pastries. This is certainly one of the more unique dining places in Hong Kong.
Address: Stanley Cave, Underground, 25 Stanley Market Road | Stanley, Hong Kong, China
For more European-style cuisine, try Italien-themed Angeletti Restaurant for its rustic charm and seafood risotto. It is located right in front of the bus stop and on the weekend you can take advantage of the special meal deals.
Address: Angeletti, Shop C&D, 126 Stanley Main Street, Stanley, Hong Kong
Last but not least, you need to satisfy your tastebuds with authentic Hong Kong flavours. This is where Si Yik Cha Chan Teng comes in. It is more a hole-in-the-wall (behind the fruit stall) than a restaurant but don’t be discouraged by that. You GOTTA try the noodles and French toast and milk tea.
Address: Si Yik Cha Chan Teng, No.2 Stanley Market St, Stanley, Hong Kong 852, China
How to Get to Stanley Beach
To get to Stanley Beach from Hong Kong city, you need to take a public bus, which takes around 40 minutes. Get Bus 6, 6A, 6X, 66 or 260 from the Exchange Square bus terminus. You can reach it via the MTR Hong Kong Station, Exit D. Your second option is the minibus 40 from Jardine’s Bazaar at MTR Causeway Bay Station, Exit F1. Option three is bus 973 on Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui outside Silvercord Centre.
Where to Stay in Stanley Beach
Stanley Beach is an easy day trip from Hong Kong city but not exceptionally exciting for more than one day. However, if you want to stay overnight, book yourself into Stanley Oriental Hotel. It boasts grand views over the promenade and ocean.
Address: Stanley Oriental Hotel, 2/F-9/F, 90B Stanley Main Street, Southern District, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
The Best Time to Visit Hong Kong
To avoid the monsoon and heat, plan your Hong Kong trip between October and early December. Winters are a good idea as well due to their milder weather. Avoid summers if you can because you will spend most of your time melting in the hot and humid air.