What to do in Hong Kong - a 3 day hybrid itinerary for active travelers
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Whether you are in Hong Kong for active travel, leisure travel or business travel, you are in for a somewhat frenetic, yet amazing experience in this cosmopolitan city. With its spectacular skyline, a surplus of tall buildings and bustling with tourists and business travelers, the city can feel a bit chaotic at times. So in order to seek balance, we opted for a combination of city-touring mixed with a visit to the quieter side of Hong Kong island, an area many travelers do not take the time to experience. For our short three day stay, we based out of the Kowloon mainland district with its fabulous Hong Kong island views and convenient location to Victoria Harbor. And although we are quite comfortable using public transportation in foreign countries, we decided to use a local guide and driver for this trip, in order to maximize our limited time. It turned out to be one of the best travel decisions we have ever made, as our guide offered insight and access to areas we would not have had on our own.
There is an endless amount of things to do in Hong Kong and we could have easily kept busy for 7 to 10 days. Being a hybrid traveler, I am always looking for ways to get out of the main city and be active. But I also search for upscale restaurants and cool lounges with spectacular city views to round out our experience. And this city has a lot to offer in both categories. From high-end shopping malls, over 50 Michelin-star rated restaurants and a multitude of high-rise cocktail lounges, its obvious why Hong Kong earned its title as Asia’s 'World City’. But when you manage to break free from the accelerated tempo of this energetic city, you can get a still get a glimpse of the Old World in its suburban temples, gardens and quieter seaside villages.
You won't be able to do everything in one weekend. So don’t even try. But we can get you started, so read on. Whether this metropolis is part of a business trip or a starting point for a longer journey throughout this diverse area, here are Paradox Travel’s suggestions on how to spend three fabulous days in Hong Kong.
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Where to Stay
There is something for every style and taste in this fabulous city. Business travelers may prefer staying downtown on Hong Kong Island at the JW Marriott Hotel, conveniently located and close to ferries and subway stations. A few solid mid-range and centrally located choices in Kowloon include Hotel Icon, Residence G and Butterfly on Pratt. The Peninsula Hotel, known as the ‘Grand Dame of the Far East' offers old world classic luxury and sophistication, including it’s famous afternoon High Tea on weekends. And for those looking for upscale 5-star service with stunning views of the Hong Kong skyline will find both at Shangri-la Kowloon as well as the infamous Hong Kong Ritz Carlton.
Day 1 - The Waterfront, a Night Market and Street Food
Activity suggestion - Once you are arrived from the airport and settled into your hotel, it’s time to stretch your legs on the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade and check out the Avenue of the Stars. Starting at the colonial-era Clock Tower and stretching past the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Space Museum, this walkway has a front row view of Hong Kong islands iconic cityscape and offers tribute to famous local movie stars. Early morning before the crowds gather, this is also an excellent place to get in a quick run. Go here to read about our Tips for Managing Jetlag.
Evening suggestion - As the sun goes down, why not wander down to Eye Bar for a high rise view of the nightly waterfront light show and then spend a few hours with the local merchants and fortune tellers at the Temple Street Night market?
Dinner: If you are at the Night Market, this is a perfect opportunity to try some classic street food items such as Stinky Tofu, Cheung Fun and Curry Fish Balls.
Day 2 - Culture, Nature and a Hi-Rise Lounge
This is a good day to get out of the city and either experience some Hong Kong history or get out into nature.
Cultural option: Chi Lin Nunnery – established in 1934, this large temple with its elegant wood architecture, is surrounded by beautiful lotus ponds and artifacts from the Tang Dynasty. The Nan Lian Gardens also offer a beautiful and tranquil break from the bustling city.
Nature option - a visit to see the Big Buddha on Lantau Island via the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, will provide spectacular views of the mountains as well as the coast. Once up top, you can hike the Lantau Trail for even more incredible views. But bring good shoes and plenty of water, as this trail is a bit challenging and can take 2-3 hours.
Evening/dinner suggestion - Once back in Kowloon, How about a luxury treat at the Ritz Carlton Lounge? There is no better place to watch the nightly Symphony of Lights show, than from 102 floors up. Continue your evening two floors higher at Ozone Lounge. With magical blue-hued lighting, this celebrated rooftop skybar is infamous for its inventive cocktails, Asian tapas and weekend DJS.
Day 3 - Victoria Peak, Stanley and a Sunset Cruise
Activity suggestion - Today is when using a driver/tour guide can be quite valuable. Instead of waiting in line for hours to ride the cable car to the top of Victoria Peak, simple drive there! The experience is really about the view at the top, which is fantastic! On the return, consider the long way around Hong Kong island, including a stop to hike Dragons Back trail, walk the street markets in Stanley or spend some time on the beautiful beach of Repulse Bay. If your timing is right, catch the Aqualuna Red Junk ferry cruise back to Kowloon at sunset and watch the cityscape light show while lounging on deck and sipping cocktails.