Seeing Hong Kong in two days is a challenge, but don’t despair. It’s so compact and its transportation system so efficient, you can pack quite a lot into just a day or two. This itinerary takes you to Hong Kong’s most iconic experiences and must-sees, with suggestions for shopping, dining and winding down thrown in for good measure. Keep in mind, however, that the weather will play a role in your travel plans, since The Peak, Hong Kong’s top attraction, is often enveloped in fog or smog (more on that below). Of course, you’ll also want to tailor your trip to your own interests, including, perhaps, Ocean Park if you have children, or eschewing inebriated revelers in Lan Kwai Fong for a visit to the race track instead.
There’s nothing better than starting your day with that quintessential Hong Kong breakfast—dim sum, which can range from spring rolls to barbecue pork buns and other savory snacks. Serenade Chinese Restaurant offers the added benefit of being on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront promenade, home to a Clock Tower from a bygone era and offering great views of Hong Kong Island across Victoria Harbour. Look above the skyscrapers for The Peak—if you can see it from here, you’ll have great views from The Peak (your best bet for clear vistas are in the morning and outside the spring rainy season; if it’s foggy, postpone your trip to the top to tomorrow or in the evening). It’s also from here that you should board Hong Kong’s most celebrated mode of transport, the historic Star Ferry for its cheap and memorable 5-minute trip across the harbor to Central.
Upon landing at the Central Ferry Piers, look for bus 15C (some of these are double-decker with an open top) to the Peak Tram, another iconic and historic transport that began operations in 1888. The tram delivers passengers to The Peak, where you’ll find Peak Tower with its shops and restaurants and the Sky Terrace 428 with panoramic views of the fabled harbor and beyond. There are good options for dining here, including The Peak Lookout, with many more options in Peak Tower and Peak Galleria.
Next on the itinerary is the Hong Kong Museum of History in East Tsim Sha Tsui, the best place in town to learn about the region’s early inhabitants, its years as a British colony and much more. Afterwards, take a much-deserved rest over afternoon tea in the palatial lobby of The Peninsula, where you’ll be treated to classical music and delicacies. For beverages stronger than tea, head to aqua spirit, Eyebar or OZONE, all with great views over Hong Kong and of the nightly Symphony of Lights laser and light show at 8pm (the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront promenade and the top deck of nearby mall Harbour City are also popular viewing spots). Afterwards, take a stroll through the Temple Street Night Market, held daily until midnight.
Today you’ll concentrate on Hong Kong Island. If The Peak wasn’t viable yesterday, maybe you’ll be in luck today and can start the morning there, afterwards taking a taxi to Stanley. Otherwise, the double-decker bus from Central’s Exchange Square is a hair-raising 30-minute ride to Stanley Market, with great views of Hong Kong Island and the South China Sea along the way. After shopping for clothing and souvenirs, head over to Aberdeen for a sampan tour of the famous harbor or a dim sum lunch at the Jumbo Kingdom floating restaurant. Next it’s onward to Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong’s oldest temple, which sits at the intersection of Ladder Street and Hollywood Road, the latter home to many antique shops and Goods of Desire with novelty items sporting a Hong Kong theme.
Hollywood Road also intersects with the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator, the world’s longest covered escalator system. Many tourists come just to ride it, though it serves mainly as pedestrian transportation for residents living in the Mid-Levels. Flanking the escalators is SoHo, with many ethnic and inexpensive restaurants and bars, while farther along, past Wyndham Street, is Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s premier nightlife district.