4 days of the best of Hong Kong with hidden gems, great food, and a hike.
AsiaHong Kong4 days / January - February - March - October - November - December 2020
Highs & Lows
Explore Hong Kong's many hiking trails skipped by many first timers!
Travelling outside of Nov-March can be fairly hot
Hong Kong is a diverse city that can take more than 4 days to explore. From the bustling city center, colonial history to country parks and stunning mountain vista, even as a local I often still find new things to do. I would recommend spending a week here if possible, but if 4 days is all the time you have, here is what to do in Hong Kong in 4 days:
An arguably touristy stop, the Peak is absolutely worth a visit especially if you are into stunning views. It is the classic viewpoint of Hong Kong and the best time to visit it is in the morning. There are numerous ways to get up:
- The bus
- The tram – if you do, I recommend buying online to save time (and even get a discount)
The Peak Tram has been in operation for over 120 years now, and its sleek red body and white roof design is an attraction in itself. Built in the late 19th century as a means to connect Murray barracks to Victoria Gap, it replaces the sedan chair method and stretches over 1,350 metres. It has witnessed the change from coal to electric power as well as the Second World War. Eventually, transportation caught up and it became what it is today: a way to get up to the Peak and down in style.
- By taxi.
If you are in a group of three and above, I highly recommend getting the taxi up from either Admiralty or Central instead of the bus as it’s faster and not too different in price.
I’d skip the Sky Terrace and instead take in the view at the Lion Rock Pavillion and a short hike along the Lugard Road and back.
The longest outdoor covered escalator in the world (it probably isn’t the longest if you take away the outdoor and or covered), the escalator spans over 800 meters and up 135 meters of elevation. It was a projected proposed in 1987 to make the life of residence around the region easier. It was finally constructed by a French company in 1993and although it ran over its budget as well as failing its aim to ease congestions, it has become a popular tourist attraction. It also passes by the Old Central Police Station as well as the SoHo district. It’s due to be refurbished in 2017 (that’s next year!), so see it before it’s changed.
Also called the Former Central Police Station Compound, this beautiful building along Hollywood road has been there since the 19th century. It was originally a barracks and with WWII and the quick development of the city, it expands to become the Police Station, Victoria Prison and Central Magistracy as well in the 1920s. The redbrick building is the headquarter in late Victorian style, the Magistracy is the white, classic Greek revival style.
It has reopened in the summer of 2018 as Tai Kwun – its informally name in Chinese, as a heritage building, museum, and part-shops.
Named after the first Governor of Hong Kong, Pottinger Street is better known as the Stone Slab Street. With a steep, almost 45 degrees inclined and cute stone steps, it’s an absolute must-visit when in Central. To the locals, it’s more well known for selling props and knick-knacks along the street. The street extends all the way along the Mid-Levels Escalator from Queen’s Central Road to Hollywood Road.
Sheung Wan is the hip sister of Central where the new meets the old in an almost too artistic way. Rainbow stairs, geometric graffiti, and gorgeous cafes are just around the corner from hidden temples and local cha chaan teng. Best of all is that you have a little less crowd than Central but cheaper dining options!
It is secretly one of my favourite districts since I had worked in the area for six months and eaten everywhere I could, and here’s my guide on what to do, see, and eat.
Man Mo Temple
Arguably one of the must-visit temples in Hong Kong, the Man Mo Temple is the oldest in the area, built-in 1847 and dedicated to the God of literature and martial arts respectively. The one-storey temple has a distinctive green-tiled roof and white walls and still hosts the annual Autumn Festival to pray for good fortune for Hong Kong. Be sure to turn off flash photography inside the temple and take the time to admire the traditional architecture and spiral incense hanging in the main temple.
Western Market Sheung Wan
An architectural gem and a historic building, the Western Market’s distinctive red brick exterior is courtesy of the Edwardian, Queen Anne Revival Style. It was built in 1906 with red brick and granite as the north block of the old western market, which was once a food market but the south block was demolished in 1981.
It also used to be a harbour office and the oldest market building in HK. Renovated in 1991, it has an axial, symmetrical design. Nowadays, you’ll find restaurants and small shops on the ground floor inside, fabric sellers on the second floor, and an arcade on the third floor.
Upper Lascar Road
Nicknamed Cat Street, Upper Lascar Road is known for selling antiques with 100 years of history. The name Lascar came from Indian in British military who worked there in early colonial days, as it is still close to the police headquarters. By the 20s the neighborhood bazaar evolved into a market. Since it also sold stolen goods, known as rats’ goods in Chinese, the nickname cat street was given.
It’s an interesting place for a stroll with vendors selling knick-knacks of all sorts. For serious antique shoppers, go uphill to the parallel street where there are many shops.
Tsim Sha Tsui
At the very tip of the Kowloon Peninsula, Tsim Sha Tsui is a bustling part of the city with shopping malls, ethnic enclaves, and many restaurants and bars. If you take the ferry over, here’s a quick route to help you sight-see:
The Tsim Sha Tsui promenade and the Avenue of Star
The promenade is to the right of the ferry pier with an elevated platform for people to admire the view of Hong Kong Island and Victoria Harbour. It is connected to the newly reopened Avenue of Star, where you can learn more about the city’s movie history. Both are great places to watch the sky turns dark and admire the night view.
The area is also great for walking and shopping with various malls and historic monuments, such as the Peninsula Hotel.
Known as the Indian and Nepalese hub of Hong Kong, it’s a great place to find good Indian food and get your money exchanged. It’s also home to some of the cheapest accommodations in Hong Kong!
The biggest mosque in Hong Kong, the Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Centre stands on Nathan Road and a testimony to the multi-ethnic community in Hong Kong.
Nathan Road extends from the end of Tsim Sha Tsui all the way to Prince Edward, with many shops and malls either side. You can wander up to the Kowloon Park and back, or walk all the way up.
One of the busiest areas in Hong Kong, Mong Kok – aka busy corner – is where the best shopping and eating happens. Mong Kok also has some of the best markets in Hong Kong.
On an aptly named street called Flower Market Street, this was originally a wholesale market in the 70s. During the 90s, it became popular with the average consumers and now sells to both. It’s lovely to stroll along the beautiful flowers and potted plants, and one of my favourite café/dessert places inlocated here as well! It’s right next to the Birds Market, so it’s really two birds with one stone to visit the two together!
Birds Garden Hong Kong
Also known as the Yuen Po Birds Market, this is a place dedicated to the Chinese song bird tradition. It is a bit of a dying hobby, popular only among the older generation.
Ladies market Mongkok
Probably the most famous market on the list, Ladies market is the first government-sanctioned hawker market in Hong Kong. Established in 1975 for vendors, it now boasts over 100 stores selling all kind of knick-knacks. The name, however, originated from the fact that I sold chiefly ladies’ clothes in the beginning.
Unlike your average boutiques, the majority of these tiny stalls don’t have a shop name, nor would most people try to find it. It’s akin to the cross between the stalls you find in other Southeast Asia markets and your average shop. As mentioned above, a lot of the shops sell the same stuff, so if you spot something you like, make sure you look all around the three stories before you buy. It is also a great place to find street food - get some egg waffle from Modos!
Lion Rock hike is a popular urban trail in Kowloon that overlooks the whole of the Kowloon Peninsula, Victoria Harbour, and most of Hong Kong Island north. A roundtrip takes 3-4 hours from Wong Tai Sin Station, where a temple of the same name is.
It’s a perfect combination and you can take the rest of the day easy, or even pop over to Nan Lian Garden and Choi Hung Estate.
Lantau Island is the largest island in Hong Kong but its mountainous landscape means that a large part of it remains untouched. With the new airport built there in the 21st century as well as better roads, Lantau is easier to visit than ever with charming fishing villages, iconic Big Buddha Statues as well as the Ngong Ping 260 cable car. Here is your guide to things to do in Lantau Island.
The fishing village Tai O is a picturesque little town and the perfect first stop for a day exploring Lantau island. Known as the Venice of East, Tai O is on the southwestern tip of Lantau Island and once an important fishing port. It is located at the delta of the only river on Lantau Island, and you can see the airport and the Hong Kong-Macau-China Bridge.
The Big Buddha, aka Tian Tan Buddha, is the most iconic landmark on Lantau Island and a must visit for many tourists who come to Hong Kong. It was built in 1993, sitting at 34m tall (including the lotus throne) and took 12 years to complete.
The statue faces north towards China and also symbolises that it’s overlooking the Chinese people. It is the largest Buddha statue of Shakyamuni, the Gautama Buddha in the position in which he achieved enlightenment. You can reach the base of the Big Buddha by climbing all 268 steps – free of charge.
A footpath near the trail starts for Phoenix Hill about 20-30 minutes from Po Lin Monastery with 38 wooden steles in the infinity symbol. The words written on are prayers and sayings by Confucians, Buddhists, and Taoists. It is a great leisurely walk if you have time to spare. The path is well signposted from the monastery, and relatively flat.
Lantau Cable Car: Ngong Ping 360
Built in the 21st century, the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car is 5.7km long and connects the Ngong Ping Plateau to Tung Chung. The ride lasts about half an hour and is the fastest way to travel between the two. It offers an amazing view of the Big Buddha, the Hong Kong-Macau-China Bridge, Lantau Mountains, Lantau Bay, the airport, and finally Tung Chung.
Q & A
What would you have changed?
As a local - I'd say stay longer and squeeze in more hikes!
Anything go wrong during the trip?
Never underestimate the queues in Hong Kong and avoid the peak lunch and dinner hours (12:30 - 1:30 pm and 7:30 - 9pm)
Save your stomach some space for street food in Argyle Center!
Tips you would give a friend?
Hong Kong is a cash based city, so make sure you hit the ATM before you start the day.
Hong Kong tends to be quite hot but the air conditioning inside malls and restaurants are strong. So bring a cardigan or a wrap when you are out.
Get an Octopus Card which can be used for all forms of transport in Hong Kong, and you can also use it to buy food and things.
Hiking in Hong Kong is always a pleasant surprise and should not be missed!