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City slickers

48 hours in Hong Kong

Clive Wedderburn September 30, 2016

Hong Kong – city of neon laser lights and traditional red lanterns, offering fascinating experiences at every turn and where past customs collide within a spectacular futurist city-scape. If the world is your oyster, the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ is its hidden gem. For those planning a stopover in this sparkling metropolis, start the clock; your 48 hours in Hong Kong begins here.

Day one:

Where to stay in Hong Kong

After an extensive long haul flight, what better welcome could you wish for than the opportunity to stay at either of Hong Kong's two finest hotels? The Mira Hong Kong has the WOW factor; a combination of chic and stylish décor in the heart of the shopping and entertainment district of Tsimshatsui, yet simultaneously overlooking serene Kowloon Park.

Alternatively, head to Mong Kok to find the luxurious sanctuary of calm that is Cordis Hong Kong at Langham Place. There’s a stunning rooftop pool where you can watch the sunset as you relax after your evening swim, followed by a signature wellbeing treatment at the Chuan Spa.  

Wherever you stay there is a small chance you won’t actually want to leave these havens of calm – but leave you will. Outside the hotel lobby doors awaits one of the most magical city destinations in the world. 

Victoria Peak (morning excursion)

Get your bearings. Hong Kong at street level can be a dizzying spectacle of bustling streets. It’s time to gain the advantage of height. Prime your camera and set on panorama mode before ascending the Peak Tram funicular (top tip: sit on the right hand side for better views) of Kowloon’s myriad skyscrapers, Victoria Harbour and surrounding islands. Breathe that fresh morning air (which tends to be less cloudy than in the afternoon) as you stroll around the Peak Circuit. 13,000 camera clicks later, drag yourself away from one of the world’s greatest vantage points – more excitement awaits.

Stanley – street food – shopping

Hungry? I thought so. Head out of the city to Stanley, a quaint village that’s the perfect place to wander through, with shops and markets selling all your Hong Kong souvenir needs; from knick-knacks and jewellery to silks and sportswear. The area is certainly a popular tourist destination with a distinct European feel and a pretty beachfront to stroll along, but we love it because it’s also where locals go to chow down on exquisite food. There’s a petite eatery to tempt every foodie, with both international and Chinese cuisine.

SoHo – to see and be seen

Hong Kong has its fair share of trendsetting bars and café hang-outs. A visit to SoHo’s upmarket bars for a chilled drink or two will be very much appreciated – particularly on a hot day. Located in Central and bordering Sheung Wan, SoHo usually comes into its own when the sun goes down and is the perfect place to settle within its narrow streets for a spot of people watching. The name SoHo (an abbreviation derived from its location, south of Hollywood) has many independent cafes and art galleries, chic restaurants and boutique design stores.  Still feeling peckish? Head to Yardbird on Bridges Street for drinks and finger food including yakitori and tempura style light bites. 

Sunset Night ferry across Victoria Harbour

After a refreshing break back at the Mira Hong Kong boutique hotel we have a nice surprise in store. You’ll have seen the harbour from several vantage points already, but now it’s time to get up close and personal with Hong Kong’s greatest asset, on a sunset cruise of Hong Kong Harbour. For this you’ll need to ensure your camera has plenty of space on the SD card, but the good news is your wallet is not going to take a hit. A simple trip on a Star Ferry will cost pennies, and yet the city’s most dramatic vista will be illuminated as the sun goes down. If you do one thing on your city tour, this is it. Time your trip to see the Symphony of Lights, the world’s largest permanent lightshow (see Guinness Book of Records) whose neon display changes with the seasons.

Ozone Ritz Carlton – for a nightcap in the world's highest bar

Catch your breath? No, I’m afraid not. You only live once, and chances are you may only visit Hong Kong once in your life (hey, we want to make sure you come back). Prepare to go up in the world when you visit the world’s highest bar at the Ozone Ritz Carlton for a cocktail or two above the clouds, to relax and reflect on your Hong Kong adventure so far. Luxurious surroundings and a view from the clouds, as day one ends on your sublime city break.  

Day two:

Lantau Island

At the mouth of the Pearl River is mountainous Lantau Island, your next destination. Get ready for another thrilling ride – this time on the Ngong Ping 360; upgrade, if you dare, to the glass bottom cable car that offers breathtaking views. Lantau Island is home a vast array of attractions, including Hong Kong Disneyland, to the world renowned Po Lin Monastery and Big Buddha. Observe this 34 metre high bronze giant perched serenely on a hill. Whatever you choose to do, whether having lunch with monks, or channelling your inner child at Disneyland, you’ll leave Lantau Island with many memorable and unique experiences.

Hong Kong Walled City – for culture and a glimpse of past

For a rare insight into Chinese culture we travel now to visit Kowloon Walled City for a fascinating snapshot into the lives of past residents. Once thought to be the most densely populated region on Earth where 50,000 citizens lived in a maze of interconnected buildings, this is a particularly poignant experience. The city, whose origins can be traced back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279), was eventually evacuated and residents reallocated in 1992 and yet, still preserved it remains a potent reminder into the lives of ordinary Hong Kong locals. Today this humbling site is transformed into Kowloon Walled City Park; a place of serenity, peace and reflection.

Mong Kok – ‘crazy’ markets and street food

Having paid homage to Hong Kong’s past we now turn our attention to the present. Mong Kok is a bustling shopping district of neon-lit winding streets where entire sections are dedicated to just one product, be that goldfish, tropical birds or jewellery or kitchenware. If you like to haggle and pick up a bargain, then you’ll navigate through this warren of markets and shops with ease – whatever you desire, you’ll find it here in Mong Kok. But as we all know, shopping is hungry business for shopaholics. For a fabulous dining experience of the highest order we recommend Ming Court, offering Michelin-starred Cantonese gastronomy. Or simply pop into Lou Dim Dim Sum for an innovative menu of east-meets-west and bamboo pots filled with culinary treasure.

Cordis Hong Kong at Langham Place

You’ve done it. 48 hours have flown by in one of the world’s greatest cities. You deserve a drink, so retreat to the swankiest rooftop bar in Hong Kong at the Cordis Hong Kong at Langham Place for cocktails under the stars at the Garage Bar. Congratulate yourself – but remember, this is just the beginning of your adventure. Hong Kong will prove to be an enchanting stopover and we haven’t even scratched the surface - yet.

 

Tempted? Visit our Hong Kong pages to see what else lies in store in Asia’s World City.