Hong Kong is possibly one of the most crowded city I have ever visited. Densely occupying the island are countless skyscrapers, interesting cultural spots, and miraculously pockets of nature worth exploring. In this guide, we will take it slow and explore both the city and nature Hong Kong has to offer.
Why go to Hong Kong?
Looking from the outside, Hong Kong may seem like a regular densely populated city but there is so much more to this city than you would think. I should know, I made the mistake of not visiting Hong Kong earlier with the same notion.
For one, the technological and architectural marvel of the city is in its own league. Secondly, Hong Kong is a harbor city throughout most of its life and with a combination of the oriental cultural foundation and British influence, Hong Kong is one of the countries that can blend the east and the west into its own identity. Lastly, and surprisingly, the hiking this city has got to offer is something that will surprise even the best of us adventurers.
When To Go
Winter (Nov - Jan) is preferable as the temperature is mild and dry which is perfect for hiking and exploring the extremely dense streets of the city. Summer is very hot and humid which makes exploring tiresome and hiking difficult.
How to Get Here
Hong Kong is a big hub for traveling in East Asia so you will have plenty of option to fly into Hong Kong from where you are. I would recommend browsing through Skyscanner or Momondo before to compare prices so you will get the cheapest flight possible.
How To Get Around
The city is connected via MTR (Mass Transit Railway) which offered a fast but non-scenic way to explore the city. Trams are the most scenic way to see the city but slow and bumpy at times. Buses are also widely connected and can offer the best of both worlds.
Which ever you choose, get an Octopus card, a debit-style card where you can top up and use with almost all mode of transportation (not taxis) and convenience stores like 7-11. You can get the card from the MTR kiosk at the airport when you arrive.
Hong Kong - Rainbow Lodge HK Hostel - 24 USD/Night - Good location, relatively well-priced, clean
Wifi is widely available in HK so SIM card may not be needed for such a short trip but if you are interested in buying one, CSL seems to have the most coverage, with easy top-up online or with vouchers from convenience stores and good 3 days 2GB data package for HK$ 38. For more information, visit this page.
Traveling here is quite expensive and not very budget-friendly but there are options. You can expect to spend around 50 - 70 USD per day per person for food, accommodation and transportation.
Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.
If you are looking for a travel insurance to go along with your trip to Hong Kong, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need a travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.
5 Days Itinerary
Day 1: Learning the History
The first thing you have to do in Hong Kong is to learn the history of the island first hand from the local so that you will understand the dynamic of the city better when you start exploring. How do you do that? Free walking tours of course! My recommended Hong Kong free walking tour is HK Free Walk and if you have a chance, ask for when Michelle is guiding. She was an awesome guide and gave me many tips on what to eat and how to avoid unnecessary cost when going up the Victoria's Peak.
Spend the first day doing the walking tour and at night, around 7PM stop by at the Tsim Sha Tsui clock tower (Tsim Sha Tsui MRT station) and walk towards the harbor to watch the light shows. The show starts at 8PM daily. The skyscrapers in Hong Kong are best seen at night during the light shows.
Day 2: Urban Exploration
Day two will all be about urban exploration, getting to places for the best photo opportunities possible. First stop is the Central Business District where the famous Bank of China skyscraper is. Get off at Admiralty MTR station and you will be right under the shadow of the iconic sword/chainsaw-shaped Bank of China building. Walk around the area for an hour or two to see the architectural wonder of the Hong Kong skyscrapers.
After the business district, get your self to the MTR station and go up to the Peak Tower via the Peak Tram and get a panoramic view of Hong Kong.
Next up, take the MTR to the Tai Koo Station and walked west toward the crowded red building called Yink Fat Building. Walk inside the building and look up!
Last but not least, take the MTR to Choi Hung Station and go into the Choi Hung resident area, go up the parking lot to the basketball court for the best photo spot of the Rainbow buildings.
Photo by Dhilung Kirat
To reward for your hard work, walking around the city all day, treat yourself with amazing food and beers at the Hollywood road where countless of bars and restaurants are located.
Locations of photo spots in Hong Kong are shown below:
Day 3: Hiking
Today will be dedicated for hiking. There are 2 options available here depending on how long you would want to spend hiking. If you want a short easy hike that lasts half a day (2 hours hiking), go for the Dragon's Back trail. The trail will reward you with a panoramic view of the natural surrounding of the city. You simply take the MTR to Chai Wan and start walking up the ridge.
If you want to spend a whole day hiking, go for the Lion Rock trail. This trail gives you a much more rewarding view of the city and the island itself, one of the best view you can get of Hong Kong city. The hike should take around 5 hours round trip. For more detail on the direction, visit this page.
Day 4: Big Buddha Day
Today is all about getting yourself to the Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha statue). Wake up early in the morning and get yourself to Tung Chung MTR station. From there you can take the Ngong Ping Cable Car up the mountain. From the cable car, you can see stunning views of the mountain and the big buddha from afar. Once you got up there, you can walk 10 minutes to the monastery.
After seeing the big buddha, you can continue and hike the Lantau Peak, the second highest peak in Hong Kong. The hike starts right by the Big Buddha and it takes 3 hours round trip. The summit will offer you a another nice view of the entire island.
Day 5: Disneyland or Shopping/Eating
You can spend your last day at Disneyland if you have never experience one before or you can go shopping or eat your way through the shopping areas like Causeway Bay or Sheung Wan. Even if you are not into shopping like me, some electronics like DJI drones are much much cheaper in Hong Kong than anywhere else so you might reconsider when you see the price of the things you have always wanted to buy (like I did haha!).
And that is the 5 days a suggested itinerary from me. It is amazing how many things you can do in such a small country(?) like Hong Kong. I hope this guide covers the most important things to do in Hong Kong. If not, feel free to let me know in the comments below.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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