Hong Kong is such a bustling city, alive with all of the sights, sounds, food, and music that one could ask for. While 24 hours is no where near enough time to thoroughly explore Hong Kong, we felt like we got a good overview of what the city had to offer. From stuffing our faces with the most delightful food, to enjoying views for daysssss, and being overwhelmed in the middle of never ending crowds, we enjoyed our stay in this beautiful part of the world. Word to the wise: wear your best walking shoes and venture out into this vibrant city!
PSST: We are happy to create a custom itinerary suited to your tastes and travel schedule. Please contact us for more information on this service!
History of Hong Kong
Brandon read up on the history of Hong Kong prior to visiting, and my goodness is it fascinating! Hong Kong (as it is today) was created in the 1840s, following the first Opium War between Great Britain and China. The ruling Qing dynasty was defeated, and subsequently ceded this land to Britain. Hong Kong was under British rule until the late 1990’s, when power was transferred back to China, in exchange for a Chinese pledge to preserve Hong Kong’s capitalist system (known as “one country, two systems”). Given its location along the Pearl River Delta and the South China Sea, Hong Kong has flourished as a (rich &) thriving metropolitan city. There were soooooooooooooooo many instances where Brandon & I felt like the city was out here in 3018 - speaking to how technologically advanced it was!
Visa & Logistical Information
Visa: Hong Kong is a pretty popular layover destination for flights from the US into other parts in Asia (in fact, we stopped here on our way to India for our wedding!!!) As of the date of this post, if you are a US citizen, you don’t need to apply for a tourist visa to venture into Hong Kong (but you will if you want to go to, say, neighboring Macau). Simply have your outbound flight ticket ready as you go through the customs/immigration line. That being said, I’m not sure when you’ll be reading this, so please always check the State Department’s website for the latest travel information as you plan your trip.
Currency: You can get away with using credit cards in most places in Hong Kong. Being the old school traveler that we are, we love to have cash around to pay for small things (say street food vendors or to tip). We also love to collect at least one piece of currency from everywhere that we travel, so we stopped at an ATM in the airport (near baggage claim), rather than a currency exchange counter because you are more likely to get a better exchange rate according to NerdWallet.
Transportation: You don’t need to rent a car to travel around the city. Take the train from the airport to either Kowloon or Hong Kong City (you can buy a ticket at the airport, just follow the signs!) Use the Star Ferry to travel between the two areas (we started our morning in Hong Kong City, then spent the evening in Kowloon). Then, when you’re ready, simply hop back onto the train to get back to the airport! Also note that within both Hong Kong city and Kowloon, if you don’t feel like walking between the various attractions, Uber is also available.
Luggage Storage: If you brought carry on suitcases with you, and don’t want to drag them along while you take a day-trip to Hong Kong, the Hong Kong airport has baggage storage options available at a small fee per hour. We personally did not use this and so don’t have any tips, but to find out more information, read about it here!
Where to Stay
Because we only visited Hong Kong on a layover, we didn’t have a need for a hotel in the city on our onward journey. That being said, on our journey back, we did book a room at an airport lounge because I was *exhausted* and couldn’t venture out for a second time. If you do decide to stay overnight, I’ve run across the following hotels in my research:
Where to Eat
We started out our trip with pre-breakfast snacks (aka the famed egg custard and sa yung) at Tai Cheong Bakery. We thought the egg custards were just ok, but again we never had one before and can’t tell you how this compares to other egg custards. We walked around the Hollywood Blvd & Man Mo Temple area for a bit, then stopped for some jasmine tea + brunch at Classified in the Sheung Wan location, which we both absolutely loved.
For lunch, Brandon ate pork buns at Tim Ho Wan, which is the regarded as the world's most affordable Michelin Starred Restaurant. We highly recommend getting a to-go order. Your food will be ready within 15 minutes rather than hours waiting for a table! Take it to go and enjoy in one of the many beautiful parks in the city. I ate my lunch at Kala Toast, which is known for its Instagram famous rainbow grilled cheese sandwich. The cheeses are flavored with natural ingredients and while it is one of the most unique things I’ve eaten, I’m not sure that the flavors worked well together and would recommend skipping it.
Prior to heading back to the airport, we absolutely had to eat dim sum + dumplings in Hong Kong! We recommend the trek to Chi Lin Vegetarian or closer to town, stop by Kung Tak Lam Shanghai in Kowloon which has a stunning view of the city’s skyline. If you’re in a pinch, and are at the airport already, definitely get something to eat at the Crystal Jade. As a vegetarian, I was sooooo impressed with the variety of dim sum + dumpling options available, as well as how the dim sum + dumplings tasted so fresh and the veggie ingredients shone through (if you’ve eaten veggie dim sum + dumplings in the US, you know that you can still taste some sort of meat-y flavor as an aftertaste).
Lastly, if there’s only one thing you stuff your face with in Hong Kong, it has to be egg waffles from Mammy Pancake. Just go. You won’t regret it!
What to Do
No matter what piques your interest, it is likely that you will find something to love in Hong Kong. We’ve included some very handy tips to save time & money so that you can take in all that Hong Kong has to offer.
Dine at the plethora of restaurant options and street vendors available in the city!
Sightsee around Hong Kong island and Kowloon. We visited Victoria’s Peak for the famous Hong Kong skyline picture (we highly recommend avoiding major crowds at Victoria Peak's Tram by taking an Uber to the Peak Galleria Mall. You get to the same place with the same views, but save yourself from standing in a VERY long line). While you’re at the mall, be sure to step to the platform out back for beautiful views of the nearby islands. We loved relaxing at Hong Kong Park and visiting cute little turtles that were abundant in the ponds. Contrast the serenity of Hong Kong Park with the liveliness of Kowloon Park, which is bustling with street performers and crowded full of people. Soak in history at the Man Mo Temple (please be respectful as people come to pray here) and the Tian Tan Buddha. The Chi Lin Nunnery is a little-out-of-the way, but is a gorgeous and peaceful Buddhist monastery. Lastly, if you’re missing the good-old-U-S-A, they also have a Disneyland you can spend the day at!
Shop the many jade markets along Hollywood Road, visit the famous Ladies Market for souvenirs, and of course ride along the Star Ferry to make a stop at all of the high end boutiques in Kowloon.
We are also happy to create a custom itinerary suited to your tastes and travel schedule. Please contact us for more information on this service!
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