Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong
Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Hop on the Star Ferry for Stunning Harbor Views
No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a ride on the iconic Star Ferry, which has been carrying passengers across Victoria Harbour since 1888. This affordable ferry service provides one of the best vantage points to take in the majestic skylines of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
As soon as you step onto the busy pier, you’ll be transported back in time. The green and white ferries look almost exactly the same as they did decades ago. Once onboard, head straight for the upper outdoor deck to soak up those Instagram-worthy panoramic views. Watch in awe as the futuristic skyscrapers come into full view, towering over the bustling port below. The short 5-10 minute journey zips by as you gaze at the postcard-perfect vistas surrounding you.
One of the best times to ride the Star Ferry is right before sunset, when the buildings become illuminated and the harbor starts to sparkle. As the sun dips below the horizon, Hong Kong's skyline transforms into a sea of glittering lights. It's an incredible sight. Alternately, schedule your crossing first thing in the morning to watch the city wake up, with the warm rays of the rising sun bathing the skyscrapers in a beautiful glow.
The views are obviously the main highlight, but having a chance to mingle with locals commuting home or to work is part of the experience. fishermen heading out for an evening catch. You’ll see people from all walks of life mingling on the ferry, from teenagers in school uniforms to professionals in suits to fishermen heading out for an evening catch. It provides a fascinating glimpse into everyday life in Hong Kong.
The Star Ferry has multiple routes, but the most popular is between Central on Hong Kong Island and Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. The fare is incredibly cheap, only a couple dollars each way. You can pay using an Octopus Card, Hong Kong's rechargeable transport card, or old-fashioned cash.
What else is in this post?
- Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Hop on the Star Ferry for Stunning Harbor Views
- Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Ride the Historic Peak Tram up to Victoria Peak
- Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Wander Through Colorful Temple Street Night Market
- Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Take in Panoramic City Views from Sky100 Observation Deck
- Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Explore the Futuristic Architecture of Hong Kong Island
- Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Indulge in Michelin-Starred Dim Sum in Central District
- Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Escape the City on a Hike in Ma On Shan Country Park
- Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - End the Night at Ozone, the Highest 360° Rooftop Bar
Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Ride the Historic Peak Tram up to Victoria Peak
No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a ride on the Peak Tram, the funicular railway that has been transporting travelers up to Victoria Peak since 1888. This historic tram provides one of the most unique ways to take in panoramic views of Hong Kong and its dazzling skyline.
As you line up to board the tram, you’ll notice it looks more like a cable car than a train. With wooden benches lining the sides and large open windows, it’s designed to maximize sightseeing opportunities. Once you start ascending at a 27-degree angle up the mountainside, those views come into full focus. Gaze down on the skyscrapers as they shrink beneath you, eventually replaced by lush greenery as you near the top. At 1,300 feet up, Victoria Peak offers stunning 360 degree vistas across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and beyond. On a clear day you can see for miles.
The actual tram ride takes about 8 minutes as you travel just over a mile up the peak. But it’s the history of this mode of transport that makes it such an iconic Hong Kong experience. The Peak Tram was the first cable funicular in Asia when it opened. Many design elements remain unchanged since its 19th century origins, like the wooden seats and hand-turned control levers. It’s been modernized just enough to keep up with demand without losing its old-world charm. Riding this vintage tram feels like journeying back in time.
Once at the top, soak up more incredible views from the outdoor Sky Terrace. The panoramas from up here are nothing short of spectacular. On one side, look out over the dense skyscrapers of the Central District and Victoria Harbour. Turn the other way and take in sprawling green hillsides dotted with homes. You can even spot your tram winding its way down the mountainside. The contrast between the tall modern towers and lush natural scenery is stunning from this vantage point.
Victoria Peak draws big crowds, especially at sunset when everyone wants that iconic shot overlooking Hong Kong’s sparkling skyline. Beat the masses by visiting mid-morning, early afternoon or late at night. Not only are the lines shorter, but the daytime haze clears allowing for even better views. You’ll also encounter fewer selfie-stick wielding tourists. Cap off your visit by wandering through the Peak Circle Walk, a paved loop trail encircling the upper portion of the peak. The easy hiking path provides more jaw-dropping vistas around each corner.
Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Wander Through Colorful Temple Street Night Market
After sunset, make your way over to the lively Temple Street Night Market for a quintessential Hong Kong nighttime experience. Located in the busy Jordan neighborhood of Kowloon, this bustling open-air bazaar stretches for nearly a mile along Temple Street. It's one of the best places to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, smells and energy that make Hong Kong so exhilarating after dark.
As you stroll down the crowded market lane, you'll be bombarded by the enthusiastic shouts of hawkers selling everything from bootleg DVDs to smartphone cases to pashminas. Vibrant red lanterns hung overhead bathe the action below in a warm festive glow. Stop to browse the vibrantly colored stalls overflowing with knock-off designer bags, glittering jewelry, decorative chopsticks and cheongsam dresses. Don't be afraid to haggle - it's all part of the experience.
Wander down tight alleys filled with bustling wet markets and steaming street food carts. Watch as locals go about their evening shopping, snacking on fish balls, curry fish cakes and egg waffles. The aromas of frying oil and spices will make your mouth water. One defining scent is the pungent odor from stinky tofu, a fermented delicacy that's an acquired taste. But nothing says Temple Street quite like the smell of stinky tofu wafting through the humid night air.
For the best people watching, grab a beer from a convenience store then post up on a plastic stool at a makeshift pavement bar. Here you can soak up the electric energy while watching chaotic scenes unfold before your eyes. It's not uncommon to see street performers, impromptu karaoke sessions, and fortune tellers practicing their trade. Let the chaotic scenes entertain you for hours.
As you explore the market, keep an eye out for historic Tin Hau Temple which the area is named after. Dating back to the 19th century, this colorful Buddhist temple dedicated to the sea goddess provides a tranquil escape from the market crowds. The smoky interior is filled with devotees lighting incense and praying beneath swirling dragon carvings. Don't miss the intricate tile work, painted columns and ceramic figurines found throughout the interior. It's a fascinating look at Hong Kong's enduring Chinese heritage.
Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Take in Panoramic City Views from Sky100 Observation Deck
Soaring 1,482 feet above the bustling streets, Sky100 offers visitors a birds-eye perspective of Hong Kong unlike any other. Located on the 100th floor of the ICC Tower in West Kowloon, this sleek observation deck provides jaw-dropping 360° views across Hong Kong Island, Victoria Harbour, and beyond. With floor-to-ceiling glass walls and an outdoor deck, it's one of the best spots in the city to fully appreciate Hong Kong's towering skyline and natural landscapes.
As soon as you step off the high-speed elevators, floor-to-ceiling windows offer nonstop views that will leave you awe-struck. Gaze out across the sprawling metropolitan jungle, picking out the city’s most iconic landmarks. Identify all the top sites - Victoria Peak, Bank of China Tower, IFC, and the unmistakable ICC building you’re standing in. Watch as the Star Ferries crisscross the harbor far below you. Everything looks impressively miniature from up here. The vistas stretch as far as Lantau Island to the west and all the way across Kowloon to the hills of Sai Kung in the far east. Even on a hazy day, you’ll be floored by the sheer scale of one of the most vertical cities on earth.
For the most immersive experience, head out to the open-air observation deck. Feel the wind whipping across your face as you survey the panoramas from this precipice. Nothing but glass separates you from the abyss below. Capture that perfect selfie with Hong Kong’s iconic skyline as your backdrop. Gaze out across Victoria Harbour as ferries and pleasure boats pass by, dwarfed beneath your feet. Watching the sunset from up here, as the city transitions from day to night, is simply spectacular.
In addition to eye-popping views, Sky100 offers fascinating ways to enrich your visual experience. Interactive tablets allow you to identify landmarks by simply pointing your device out toward the horizon. Augmented reality binoculars superimpose labels over the top of buildings, so you can pinpoint Hong Kong's top sites. Exhibitions on Feng Shui give insight into the city's unique architecture. And at night, the dazzling Symphony of Lights laser show lights up the skyline, with audio commentary explaining the origins of the display. Whether day or night, indoor or outdoor, you'll gain a new appreciation for this vibrant metropolis from Sky100's breathtaking vantage point.
Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Explore the Futuristic Architecture of Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong is a city renowned for its audacious and futuristic architecture. Exploring the ultramodern towers across Hong Kong Island provides a fascinating glimpse into the city's bold building designs and structural creativity. From geometric high-rises to an upside-down truncated cone, the island's modern buildings showcase the limitless architectural possibilities of steel, glass, and concrete.
One of Hong Kong's most iconic contemporary structures is the HSBC Building in Central. Designed by British architect Norman Foster and completed in 1985, this 52-story tower was a pioneer of sustainable architecture. The innovative triangular supports allowed for more open floor plans and maximum natural light within. Towering above the streets, the gleaming metal and glass exterior is meant to represent HSBC's solidity and interconnectedness. Ride up to the Sky Lobby on the 3rd floor to experience the grand atrium with its soaring atrium and delicate suspended staircase. Gaze up at the cathedral-like space enclosed by triangular glass walls.
Just across the street lies IFC Mall and the 88-story Two International Finance Center. Completed in 2003, IFC towers over the skyline with its gleaming all-glass facade. The building's smooth curved surfaces and tapering shape give it an organic, futuristic quality. Head up to Hong Kong's tallest bar, Ozone on the 118th floor, to take in dizzying views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Gaze out at sprawling cityscapes reflecting off the shiny building exterior.
The ICC Tower soars above West Kowloon, boasting Hong Kong's highest observation deck. This 484-meter-tall skyscraper captures attention with its unique shape - nine cylindrical sections stacked vertically with gaps in between. The voids allow wind to pass through to reduce structural stress. Originally devised using bamboo scaffolding, this distinctive design has been compared to a bar code or a piece of paper ready to be folded. The ICC Tower exhibits innovation not just in appearance, but also sustainability, incorporating wind turbines, solar panels, and rainwater harvesting.
Not all contemporary architecture here aims for sleek sky-high towers. The new 11 SKIES mega mall in West Kowloon incorporates a binary system of two inverted truncated cones. One cone dips into the ground while the other rises toward the sky, connected by a glass atrium in between. The futuristic bronze structure has drawn comparisons to a giant robot or two torpedoes clashing together. The unusual shape maximizes natural overhead lighting throughout the interior.
Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Indulge in Michelin-Starred Dim Sum in Central District
Take a break from sightseeing and indulge in Hong Kong's most beloved dining experience - yum cha. This Cantonese tradition, also known as dim sum, involves going for tea and snacks any time before dinnertime. While you can find casual dim sum eateries all over Hong Kong, the Michelin starred restaurants in Central take the experience to the next level.
For the ultimate luxury yum cha, book a table at Lung King Heen, Hong Kong's very first Chinese restaurant to receive 3 Michelin stars. Tucked away on the fourth floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, everything about Lung King Heen exudes elegance and sophistication. Velvet upholstered chairs surround perfectly set tables adorned with orchids. Attentive staff in tailored uniforms cater to your every need in this tranquil oasis, a stark contrast to the chaotic energy of Central's streets below.
Once seated, simply relax and let the dim sum begin flowing freely from the bustling kitchen. Towering bamboo steamers filled with delectable bites are rolled tableside for your selection. The crystal shrimp dumplings practically melt in your mouth, encasing plump juicy shrimp in delicate rice-flour skins. The signature baked barbecue pork buns strike the perfect balance of fluffy and savory. Fragrant shrimp rice noodle rolls leave you craving more. And the crispy taro puff pastries are the ideal fusion of crunchy exterior and smooth sweet center. With over 30 specialty dim sum available, the possibilities are endless.
While the impeccable execution of each Cantonese delicacy delights your taste buds, it's the refined ambiance that truly sets Lung King Heen apart. Dining here feels more like an upscale social event than a casual meal. Attendants politely replace your teacups after every sip and replenish dishes swiftly and quietly. The bustling kitchen is a reminder that there is meticulous preparation happening behind the scenes. Savor every bite knowing it has been crafted to absolute perfection. Expect to spend at least a couple relaxing hours to fully immerse in the refined yum cha experience.
Of course, dining in such luxury comes at a price - expect to spend at least $75 USD per person. But for those special occasions when cost is no concern, Lung King Heen offers an unforgettable Michelin-starred food and service worth splurging on. As Hong Kong resident Edith Y. raved on TripAdvisor, "Every dish was sublime. The service was impeccable. And the view - wow!"
For those seeking a similarly upscale but more affordable dim sum option, try Duddell's in Central. This 2 Michelin star contemporary Cantonese restaurant sources the freshest local ingredients for their creative spin on yum cha classics. Their signature har gau dumplings with premium prawns and black truffle siu mai are not to be missed. While Duddell’s comes at a fraction of the price, the quality and sophistication rival Hong Kong's top tier restaurants.
Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - Escape the City on a Hike in Ma On Shan Country Park
After spending hours wandering the bustling streets of Hong Kong, you’ll be itching for an opportunity to reconnect with nature. Look no further than Ma On Shan Country Park, a lush oasis just 30 minutes from the urban jungle of Kowloon. Spread across 146 hectares, this easily accessible park transports you to a world of wooded hills, trickling streams, and rocky outcrops. It’s the perfect place to clear your mind with fresh air and sweeping vistas.
The seven kilometers of hiking trails accommodate all levels, from paved paths ideal for families to rocky ridges offering more challenging terrain. For panoramic views, take on the moderate Uphill Nature Trail loop, which winds past dense vegetation and rocky landscapes to the summit of Ma On Shan. At the 702-meter peak, sightlines open up to the sprawling metropolis and distant islands. You’ll gain a new appreciation for Hong Kong’s contrasting landscapes.
“It was incredibly freeing to make it to the top and take in views of the nonstop city below, then turn around to complete serenity and rolling hills behind me,” shared Celia K., an avid hiker visiting from the UK. She found it hard to believe such pristine nature existed so close to the towers.
For a more leisurely wilderness experience, opt for the shady Wu Kau Tang Country Trail, which follows a peaceful stream passing a series of small waterfalls. The flat paved path is lined with native plants like orchids, birds of paradise, and Chinese tallow trees. Keep your eyes peeled for colorful butterflies and dragonflies fluttering about. You're likely to have the tranquil route mostly to yourself - perfect for a contemplative stroll far from the crowds.
Pack comfortable shoes, insect repellent, and plenty of drinking water before venturing out. The park’s exposed hills can get quite hot and humid during summer. Visit early or late in the day to avoid the midday sun. A hat and sun protection are essential. After working up a sweat on the trails, cool off with a refreshing swim at Crystal Beach near the park entrance. This scenic stretch of sand provides the ideal spot to relax and recharge before heading back to the city.
Eat, Shop, Hike: How to Spend an Epic 36 Hours in Vibrant Hong Kong - End the Night at Ozone, the Highest 360° Rooftop Bar
After an action-packed day exploring Hong Kong's urban jungle, make your way to Ozone for an unforgettable evening soaking up dazzling nighttime views. Perched 1,481 feet up on floor 118 of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, this sleek rooftop lounge offers a one-of-a-kind perspective on the city's world-famous skyline. With floor-to-ceiling windows providing 360° vistas, Ozone lets you sit back and soak it all in over creative cocktails and tasty bites.
As the sun begins its descent, make your way to the top of the tallest building in Hong Kong. Step off the elevators straight into the stylish bar overlooking sprawling views of Victoria Harbour and beyond. Grab a window table or comfy booth and simply gaze out, mesmerized, as dusk's golden glow lights up the skyscrapers. "Watching the sunset from Ozone was an incredible experience," shared Remi L., who visited while backpacking across Asia. "Seeing the city transition from day to night as the skyline began glittering was unforgettable."
When hunger strikes, you can order from a menu of international tapas like Wagyu beef sliders, lobster rolls, and truffle fries. But according to regulars, you absolutely must try Ozone's signature chicken satay lollipops, which combine Japanese chicken skewers with Malaysian satay sauce. "It was easily one of the most innovative and tasty dishes I tried in Hong Kong," raved foodie traveler Samantha R. in a Tripadvisor review.
As the sky shifts to black, Hong Kong's electrifying energy takes over, with neon signs illuminating and lasers dancing across skyscrapers during the dazzling nightly Symphony of Lights show. Watch it all unfold from your bird's-eye vantage point. "The views from Ozone at night were simply stunning," shared Paul S. in a Google review. "A front-row seat to the Symphony of Lights show with a drink in hand - what more could you want?"
What really sets Ozone apart is the fact you're enjoying the panoramas from the highest bar in Hong Kong. At such an elevation, the streets directly below you fade into the landscape, letting the natural terrain and sparkling towers take center stage. "It was incredible to see Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and Victoria Harbour all connect before my eyes," said Ella L. "No other rooftop lounge in Hong Kong offers this kind of complete 360° perspective."