Hong Kong in 5 days

Whether you like shopping, museums, beach going, the outdoors, history, architecture or you are a foodie, Hong Kong has much to offer in a rather compact territory! We have compiled the best of Hong Kong in an eclectic 5-day itinerary taking you from the must-go Victoria Peak to remote fishing villages while experiencing the best dim dums and grasping the challenges that the territory is facing.

Day 1: Hong Kong Island with a twist

Take a walk through Old Town

Walking the historical heart of Hong Kong Island from Possession Street to Central is a good way to take in the vibes of the island and its diverse neighbourhoods while travelling back in time. Possession Street is roughly where the British planted their flag back in 1841, by the water (now far from shore as land was reclaimed multiple times). It is part of the Sheung Wan district where the British relocated the Chinese population shortly after putting an apartheid policy in place as competition for land and quality housing was fierce in the new colony. Today this lively area is full of street art, food stores selling dried seafood and trendy bars.

The Man Mo Temple is not to be missed. Dating back to 1847, the gods of literature and of war have been worshipped here often by students wanting to pass the civil examinations of Imperial China. Today, entering the temple and being wrapped in the incense emanating from the giant hanging coils provides an unexpected serene experience in the heart of the bustling city.

Walk along the antiquarian streets. Pass by the Central-Mid-Levels escalators which take Hongkongers over 135 metres of elevation (and 800 metres in length making them the longest covered escalator and pathway system in the world). Should you try, pay attention to the time of day: in the early morning they run downhill while after 10am they reverse.

As you make your way towards Central, smells change. You are slowly exiting the former Chinese areas to enter the ones that used to be occupied by Europeans. Chinese were prevented from intruding there by the colonial government in the mid to late 1800’s. For more control, in 1895, the Light and Pass Ordinance was passed requiring only the Chinese to carry a lamp and a written pass at night. This segregation here is hardly a distant memory.

Plan for about 1 hour 30.

Take a walking tour

Starting at Admiralty (a short cab ride or just a few MTR stops away from your previous stop), Hong Kong free walking tours provides a very interesting visit of Hong Kong Island. Far from the landmarks, discover the business and political district and learn about the history of the peculiar territory and its current and future challenges revolving around China. In the midst of the 2007 and 2019 protests, it is a great way to try and grasp the extent of the issues and get your own point of view on the turmoils.

Plan for about 2 hours 30 (daily, 10am to 12:30pm).

Check out The Murray

The walking tour ends by The Murray Building, one of the best examples of Conserving Hong Kong, an initiative by the government to combine the fast rate of change of the city with its heritage. The former traffic bureau office building was turned into one of Hong Kong’s best and most luxurious hotels. Push its door and experience serenity in the heart of the hectic city. This is a great option for a stylish lunch or high tea – and an even better option for your stay.

Plan for about 1 hour 30 for lunch.

The Hong Kong Park and its aviary

From the Murray, the Hong Kong Park is just across the street. Take a walk to experience its serenity, and head to its aviary to spot world’s most colorful birds.

From there, you are on your way to hike up the Peak!

Plan for about 1 hour.

Victoria Peak

If you chicken out, you are close to the start of the Peak Tram. If not, follow our map and reach the Morning Trail to the viewpoint by following Conduit Road, and get back down to the Mid-Levels via Old Peak Road. This is the best way to experience a slice of life by the high-rise residential buildings – some of the most expensive real estate of the territory – and to explore the greenery and serenity of the Peak.

For the best planning, make sure you arrive at the viewpoint for sunset and see the lights of the city brightening up in the early night. Magic! Your urban outfit and shoes will do as there is nothing too technical about this hike.

Plan for about 2 hours to hike up, 30 minutes to take it in, and 1 hour down. Read more about the hike in our detailed post about Victoria Peak.

Have THE dim sum dinner [Tim Ho Wan]

From the Mid-Levels, take a cab to Tim Ho Wan in the IFC mall or in North Point – the only two locations on Hong Kong Island. No need to be fancy to enter the cheapest Michelin-star restaurant in the world and you will feel just fine after your hike. Be ready to experience the best dim sums of Hong Kong in an unpretentious decor and service with no frills (it says a lot about how good the food is!). To be accurate, currently only the Sham Shui Po location on Kowloon is rewarded with one star, while North Point gets a Bib Gourmand (the next best thing!). By now, almost 50 branches have opened all over the world and nothing beats experiencing these award-winning dim sums in Hong Kong. The pork buns are to die for – and available at every location. One thing is certain, you will want to be back for some more!

If you are at IFC, make sure to go up to the terrace level to check out the view on Kowloon at night.

Plan for about 1 hour.

Speakeasy in Old Town [The Sea by The Old Man or The Old Man]

Depending on whether you feel low-key or more sophisticated, push the door of The Sea By The Old Man, or The Old Man. Both bars are pretty close to each other and offer a different experience, yet with the most delicious cocktails! The Sea By The Old Man is more of a local’s favourite and may be a better bet after the hike, while the Old Man has been voted Asia’s best bar. Both are a must!

Plan for as long as you wish and check out this article that we dedicated to these bars for more info about what they offer precisely!

Day 2: Kowloon

The Hong Kong Museum of History

This excellent museum sums up the complex history of the former British colony and is simply a must. If the very early history is interesting, we would recommend you to focus on the exhibition one the second floor where the more recent history from when the island was discovered by Europeans is showcased.

Plan for about 2 hours.

Grab a bubble tea and a bite

The museum of history is close to the university and there are plenty of options around for a nice bite. You can also head to Mong Kok directly where options are plenty too!

Take in the reality of Kowloon

It is not all glamour and glitter in Hong Kong and for a completer vision on Hong Kong you may want to explore its shadow sight. Hong Kong free walking tours provides a very interesting point of view on Kowloon. Meet around Mong Kok and learn about life on the peninsula. Far from the high rise of Hong Kong Island, the neighbourhood is home to less fortunate Hongkongers and the housing crisis is not close to being solved…

Plan for 3 hours (daily, 2pm-5pm)

Go shopping

Hong Kong has about 40 Chanel stores, i.e. more than twice as many as in the Middle East… This may give you an idea of the shopping Mecca that is Hong Kong. From luxury items in posh malls to Chinese street stalls, or electronics stores, Hong Kong is a shopping paradise!

Plan for as long as you can take (& as heavy you can carry)!

Have dinner with a view

For the best experience, book a table with a view at Cucina for sunset and have dinner while the city starts lighting up. At 8pm, you will be in the best possible location to enjoy the nightly laser show. In case you doubt it, CNN broadcasts from this very same terrace when there is a piece about Hong Kong. And if having Italian food in Hong Kong sounds awkward, you can be sure you will be enjoying one of the best Italian dinners you can have with top quality ingredients, a burst of flavours in an unforgettable setting.

Plan for about 2 hours.

Temple street night market

After dinner and only a few subway stops away, head to the Temple Street night market if you want to take in some market vibes before it closes at 11pm.

Plan for about 1 hour.

Day 3: Explore Lantau Island

Take the MTR to the foot of Ngong Ping 360. Book a glass-bottom funicular to elevate yourself to the Big Buddha in Ngong Ping village. Start by having a tea at Li-Nong Tea House and admire the handmade blooming tea unfold in your glass, then climb up to the Buddha to admire the view, and check out the Po Lin monastery on your way back.

Take a bus or a blue Lantau taxi to the fishing village of Tai O. Observe life there by the shacks on stilts, where the modern Hong Kong feels like it is a century away. Go for a small hike to try and spot pink dolphins, and come back via the back alleyways of Tai O. Roam the streets guided by the strong smells of the drying and dry fish, octopus, or shrimps…

No trip to Tai O is complete without stopping in an unpretentious local restaurant to taste some of the best and freshest seafood.

Take a bus or taxi back in order to discover the southern coast of Lantau, and stop at Cheung Sha Beach for a swim.

Take the ferry back to Hong Kong from Mui Wo.

Day 4: Hike Dragon’s Back

The outdoors are just a short MTR and bus ride away. With other fantastic hiking opportunities in the New Territories on the Sai Kung peninsula, Dragon’s Back is one of the most accessible ones. On the south side of Hong Kong Island, this popular 8.5-kilometre hiking trail takes you along a ridge-line with great views on the shore, through a beautiful forest with birds and butterflies, before ending at Big Wave Bay Beach by the small village of Tai Long Wan where food and drinks can be bought. The best of Hong Kong packed in one hike!

The terrain is rather flat while the elevation is steep for the first couple of kilometres, making Dragon’s Back easily accessible to most.

Taking your time, plan for about 2 to 3 hours for the hike, plus beach time, plus transport (a short hour one way from Central).

Visiting Lei Yue fishing village on the way back is an option (even though Tai O is preferred) if you are in the mood for very fresh seafood chosen out of the fish tank.

Rooftop bar [Popinjays]

After freshening up, cap off this outdoorsy day by having a cocktail at the award-winning Popinjays, the rooftop bar of The Murray. The stand-alone building provides an unobstructed panoramic view from the Peak to Victoria Harbour with the skyscrapers of Central in the foreground, a rarity in the overbuilt metropolis. The Above the Clouds rum-based cocktail comes highly recommended as well as the Flight of Fancy served in a stylish bird glass.

Note that it is also a smart dinner option.

Day 5: Culture & indie shopping

The University Museum and Art Gallery

Funded and founded by the university of Hong Kong (the city’s first high education venue started in 1911), the University Museum and Art Gallery is the oldest one on the island (1953). As such it has kept its educational commitment and regularly houses international exhibitions as well as workshops and shows to engage the public.

The 1929-historical building hosts collections of Chinese ceramics showcasing the developments of an art traded and admired all over the world, Chinese bronzes dating from the Neolithic period to the Qing dynasty 20th century, and carvings in jade, wood and stone.

Plan for about 1 hour.

Tai Kwun

Like The Murray Building, Tai Kwun is another conservation project on Hong Kong Island. The judicial and executive complex that used to be the Central Police Station (CSP) comprising the prison area with its tiny cells and yard, the police block, the armoury and the courthouse has been repurposed into an art & culture centre. A couple of architecturally interesting newly built buildings complete the historical buildings – with the oldest one dating back to the very early days of the British colony in 1841 – to provide a stage for contemporary & performing arts and an insight into the history of Hong Kong correctional system.

Plan about 2 hours.

PMQ

Also part of “Conserving Central”, the Police Married Quarters (PMQ) was repurposed into a platform for creative industries, a rarity in Hong Kong. With its foundation dating back to 1889 as the Victoria College used to stand here before it got severely damaged during World War II, PMQ is both a historical site and a fun shopping area to discover the new creative talents of Hong Kong. Make sure to visit and bring back some unique and stylish souvenirs.

Plan about 1 hour.

Before it is time to say goodbye to Hong Kong you might want to enjoy some more traditional dim sums at Lin Heung Tea House.

Travel tips:

  • We recommend you to stay at The Murray on Hong Kong Island, a landmark turned into a luxurious 5-star hotel that is the perfect base to explore HK providing tranquillity by the Hong Kong Park, convenience, top service, comfort and amenities.
  • For your walking tours make sure to go with the excellent Hong Kong Free Tours.
  • Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area! Here is a short tutorial to download it.

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