Make the Most Out of Your 48 Hours in Hong Kong
Hong Kong. It's busy, fast-paced, and efficient. It's not a place for leisurely vacations or quiet contemplation. It's where you go when you want an itinerary bursting at the seams, nonstop activity, with rest reserved only when you're about to sleep. You've probably been to Disneyland and Ocean Park and all the usual, but have you really stepped into Hong Kong and absorbed its culture? Here's how to do in in 48 hours.
2:00 p.m. Start hip
Take a train to Central and look for PMQ, one of the most popular hangouts for HK millennials (and the young at heart). From being a dormitory for Chinese police officers (PMQ stands for Police Married Quarters), it has become a creative commercial space packed with design offices, art shops, exhibits, booths for antiques, and food stalls. Everything trendy in HK you'll most likely find here.
4 p.m. Walk the line
Nathan Road is one of the longest streets in Hong Kong, stretching from Tsim Sha Tsui to Sham Shui Po. A walking tour through this thoroughfare is the perfect way to see what Hong Kong can offer in terms of shopping. Play a little game with yourself and count the number of Chow Tai Fook and Chow Sang Sang jewelry stores.
6 p.m. Go for a must-try
Make sure to book in advance because Yardbird is one of the hippest restaurants in Hong Kong right now. This izakaya will wow your taste buds with its fun interpretation of Japanese food. Think liver mousse, crispy Korean fried cauliflowers, chicken served in almost every iteration. Service tends to be fast (like most Hong Kong restaurants), but the drinks are A-plus, so if you can, stay as long as you want.
9 a.m. Noodle Up
Most holes-in-the-wall in Hong Kong are already up and running by 8 or 9 in the morning. Make a beeline for Kai Kee Noodle just a few steps away from the Tsim She Tsui station. It’ll give you the boost you need for a day of adventuring: try the beef brisket noodle soup and pair it with a bowl of the “head of fish ball” which are freshly fried and thankfully taste more like fish than flour. Fan of fish skin? They have them here, too: crunchy with a mild flavor that will make you order more.
10 a.m. Not your usual mall
Hong Kong is known as a shopping destination, but if you’re sick of the usual H&M, Bossini, and Giordano, K-11 Art Mall offers something a little more unusual. It’s both a mall and an art museum, highlighting Hong Kong artists and other talents in small exhibits around the venue. Apart from the shops (mostly selling funny kitsches), there are also booths from local purveyors.
11 a.m. Cool off
You’ll find one of the most popular Korean soft-serve ice cream shops on the ground floor of K-11: Baekmidang. And no, it’s not too early for ice cream. Baekmidang opens whenever they’re ready (so that can be any time between 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.) so it’s best to be prepared because by the afternoon, the lines will be snaking from the counter to the entrance—of the mall! Besides, the coffee’s great too.
You can also drop by Smile, a yogurt place just a few steps outside.
11:30 a.m. Find Jackie Chan
Build up an appetite as you course through Avenue of the Stars. The long walkway with imprints of celebrities is a bit touristy, yes, but it offers a breathtaking view of the harbor and Hong Kong skyline. Challenge yourself to find the imprints of Hong Kong star Jackie Chang.
An alternative would be to go to the nearby Sky100 Hong Kong Observatory where you can get just as spectacular a sight.
1 p.m. Late lunch
With your appetite sufficiently back to empty, it’s time to partake in one of Hong Kong’s most popular dishes—and restaurants. The 20-something-year-old Spring Deer is famous for their family-style Chinese dishes headlined by their delicious Peking duck. Everyone knows that Hong Kong restaurant service can be a slightly on the offhand side, but most of the servers are actually pretty hospitable.
Ask your hotel to call in advance for a reservation.
3 p.m. Sail away
Head back to Central for more adventures. From junk boats to ferries, there are many options to tour Hong Kong by sea. (Tip: if you have more than 48 hours, you can probably spend a few days in one of their beaches). Genting even has a boat that cruises around the region overnight and docks in the morning—a nice hotel alternative.
For a shorter trip, try visiting the Cheung Po Tsui Pirate Cave. To go, you have to take a 30-minute ferry from Central and walk for 2 kilometers along Sai Wan Road.
Cheung Po supposedly led a fleet of 600 ships and an army of 20,000. Adventurers can trace his footsteps into the cave where he supposedly hid his treasure.
6 p.m. Little Bao
The home base of Asia’s Best Female Chef 2017, Little Bao serves edgy Asian food. Little Chinese buns are given new relevance with fillings like sweet braised pork belly, shiso leek salad, and hoisin ketchup; chicken with black vinegar, Szechuan mayo, and slaw; fresh fried dish, tamarind palm sugar glazed, lemongrass and fennel salad—all quite familiar yet still very different.
One of their most popular items is the LB Ice Cream Sandwich, a simple but mindblowing combo of green tea ice cream between fried buns.
8 p.m. Little LAB
How to end an out-of-the-box meal from Little Bao? With out-of-the-box cocktails from Little LAB. Little LAB plays up nostalgia in their cocktails, using drinks like milk tea and egg cream for inspiration. They even have a cocktail called "Newborn" that's based on a pork-based broth that mothers drink after giving birth. It's pork free, but there's a quail egg instead of the usual olive floating on top of the beer-rum mix.
8 a.m. Quick breakfast
Hong Kong is famous for their street food, so now that you've got your fill of the "fancier" restaurants, make sure to pass by some of the hawkers. Try some jerky from Bee Cheng Hiang or even something light like the egg waffles. Even corner noodle shops rarely disappoint.
9 a.m. Scour for antiques
Head over to Cat Street or Antique Street for some fun old things. It's a great place to find quirky souvenirs. Most of the peddlers don't sell real antiques (if you're lucky and you have a good eye, you might be able to score a few good finds), you're likely to find knickknacks and secondhand items.
10 a.m. Get a book
Hysan Place at Causeway Bay opens pretty early as far as malls go. The place has a giant Apple store, but if you're tired of tech, look for Eslite, a three-storey bookstore that's ironically hidden thanks to the mall's labyrinthine layout. It not only sells books, it also has a section for food, fragrance, and stationery.
11:30 a.m. Finish with another hole in the wall
Have lunch at Wing Kee, a no-nonsense mom-and-pop shop in Causeway Bay. It's so tiny that you'll most likely be seated next to the makeshift dishwashing area (two large pails where they toss the leftovers and dirty dishes), but flavors are just as straightforward. Apart from noodles and stews, you can find braised octopus and beef balls. If you have time, you can even stroll through Times Square.
1 p.m. Visit the outlets
En route to the airport, make enough time for Citygate, which is home to many outlets including Nike, Burberry, Kate Spade, Armani, Adidas, Coach, Club Monaco, Dr. Martens, and more.