If you just have one day to spend and this is your first trip to Hong Kong, this article is tailor-made for you to experience the flair of urban Hong Kong. Time is short and Hong Kong has a lot to offer. Here we list all the essential parts of Hong Kong that you shouldn’t miss. If you plan time wisely, you can manage to see most of them. So make sure to wear some comfortable walking shoes and to take your camera along.
The perfect Start in the day – A Dim Sum Breakfast
For a perfect start in the day, I would always recommend you to try a traditional Cantonese breakfast: “Dim Sum“. No matter where you stay in Hong Kong (Hong Kong Island, Kowloon side or New Territories), you easily can find a Dim Sum place or restaurant nearby (just ask your concierge or take our recommendations below). This traditional breakfast offers for everybody’s taste something – sweet, sour, salty, hot or cold, steamed or deep-fried dishes.
Popular Dim Sums include spring rolls, Cha Shao Bao (sweet BBQ pork buns), Shumai or steamed rice rolls. No matter what kind of breakfast habit you prefer: This breakfast can be as rushed or leisurely as you might want it to be. It is not unusual to spend a whole morning there. You will see many locals reading newspaper, enjoying different foods and tea or meeting with family and friends.
After the breakfast it is time to do some sightseeing. Depending on which side of Hong Kong you reside you have the following great options:
Star Ferry or Ding Ding Tram
Both Star Ferry and Ding Ding are the must-try among all the attractions. If you live on the Kowloon side (Tsim Sha Tsui (TST)), Hong Hum or even Mongkok, I recommend you take the Star Ferry to cross Victoria Harbour. This is one of Hong Kong’s most iconic and historical attractions that is listed by National Geographic the top 50 things you should do in your life. The best thing is the fare is just HK$ 2.5/weekdays (HK$ 3.4/weekends).
The TST Star Ferry Pier is just next to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Traveling time to Hong Kong Island is roughly 8-10 minutes. Make sure to take the upper deck and enjoy the nice breeze and great views and you will have the opportunity to take a look at one of the most impressive skylines and most diverse samples of architecture in the world such as Bank of China (designed by I.M.Pei), HSBC Building or IFC Two Tower.
If you live on Hong Kong Island, I recommend you to take another iconic means of transportation: the tram or as locals refer to it – the DingDing (highly recommended). The tram is one of the cheapest forms to get around on Hong Kong Island and it’s just HK$ 2.3 per ride – no matter how many stations you take.
The tram will take you through some of Hong Kong’s most popular districts such as Wan Chai, Admiralty and Central and you will be able to enjoy some the above mentioned interesting pieces of architecture out of a different perspective.
Insider Tips: The entrance of the tram is at the back. Please prepare the exact change of HK$ 2.3 or Octopus Card and pay at the driver when exiting from the front door. There will be no change giving by the driver.
Victoria Peak or usually called The Peak is one of the most famous locations for enjoying the skyline of Hong Kong. Peak Tram will take you up to the heights of Victoria Peak. For more information about the Peak, fares, Madame Tussauds wax museum and what else you can do, just check out “The Peak” article.
The tram ride just takes about 7 minutes. Don’t forget to take the seat on the right side when you are going uphill. You can see the beautiful Hong Kong’s skyscraper and Victoria Harbor unfold. Once on top, Sky Terrace 428 (not for free) and Lion Pavilion are the best options to enjoy the magnificent views. Just behind the Peak Tower is a shopping mall Peak Galleria with restaurants. From the corner of top floor of Peak Galleria you also can enjoy partial view of Victoria Harbour for free.
If you had enough of the views you might want to take a short break there to relax and refresh yourself. Be aware that not only the prices for souvenirs but also for food and restaurant are higher than in the rest of Hong Kong.
When you have had enough of the pretty skyline, you can take the peak tram down again and catch Bus 15C back to the Star Ferry Terminal. If you are in the mood for shopping or haven’t have lunch yet, you might want to have a look at the IFC shopping mall just opposite the Bus and Star Ferry Terminal.
Avenue of Stars
Avenue of Stars is not only a place where you will have a chance to see over 100 different plagues of local actors and movie stars, but also a place where you can walk along Victoria Harbour and enjoy the Hong Kong Skyline.
Symphony of Lights
If you are already in TST and you are not too exhausted from the trip yet, you may consider to do shopping in the nearby shopping mall Harbour City (it’s just a 2 minute walk from the Star Ferry Terminal and hosts 100+ shops and restaurants). Or you might want to take a look at the Hong Kong Art Museum or Hong Kong Space Museum nearby. Or walk along the promenade and take a look at the Clock Tower. But don’t forget the time and miss the [A Symphony of Lights] Show which starts every night at 8:00pm. Besides the spectacular night view of Hong Kong’s skyline, you can also enjoy 15-min the world’s largest light and music show.
One Night in Hong Kong
For all who enjoy the nightlife, bars and good food: there are plenty of choices to choose. If you want to stay on the Kowloon side, you might want to take a look at the famous “Felix Bar in the Peninsula Hotel” (Insider Tip: for the guys…check out the bathroom…the view is fantastic!) or the world’s highest bar “Ozone Bar in the Ritz Carlton Hotel” (on the 118th floor).
If you would like to experience the local night life, you can consider to visit the Temple Night Street Market where is packed with shopping stands, fortune tellers as well as local restaurants. The market opens everyday around 6:00pm till midnight.
For other nearby dinner options :
Roasted Peking Duck (Beijing Duck)
Hungry already? Here are two recommended restaurants nearby. If you are interested in roasted Peking duck you might want to try the Peking Garden Restaurant located on the 3 floor of the StarHouse. It’s not really original Hong Kong gourmet, but it’s a great chance to experience one of the most famous Chinese dishes. Because they have spectacular skyline from the window and they serve delicious dishes, you may need to wait if you don’t have a reservation.
Maybe you are luckily and see the chef prepare fresh Chinese noodles or slice the roasted duck just in front of your eyes and table.
Best Rooftop Bars and Restaurants in Nearby Areas:
If you like special themed restaurants and surroundings have a look at the Hutong on the 28 floor on One Peking Road (here is the location of the restaurant). There is also Aqua Spirit Bar (rooftop bar) in One Peking Road. Be aware that the prices for dinner is upscale, but the atmosphere and settings of this restaurant is one of a kind.
Other options include the Skylounge from the Sheraton Hotel (just between the YMCA and the Peninsula Hotel on Salisbury Road).
If your hotel is on Hong Kong Island, you might want to consider to go to Lan Kwai Fong, Wan Chai or Causeway Bay depending on your preferences. There are plenty of bars, pubs, restaurant and shopping opportunities.
If the Peak is too crowed and you would love to overlook the great view of Hong Kong, you may consider another Hong Kong landmark – Hong Kong International Commerce Center (ICC). The highest indoor observation deck of Sky 100 Hong Kong Observation Deck (on the 100th floor) and Ozone Bar (the 118th floor) are inside. No matter you go there in daytime or at night, views from there are both breathtaking. But we recommend you to make this choice only when the weather is pleasant and the visibility is high.
Next to Sky100 is the new shopping mall “Elements” where has the collections of many luxury brands and restaurants.
Headache with All the Arrangements?
We offer customized Private Walking Tour around your preferences. Let our true Hong Kong experts show you a real Hong Kong, the fascinating parts of Hong Kong that people ignore, a city with not only popular attractions but also her own stories and secrets.
Why not forget the troubles of time management and planning and see the best of Hong Kong with your limited time.
Here’s the short list for one day tour arrangement for your reference:
[Dim Sum Breakfast] ——— [Go to Central by MTR or Star Ferry] ——— [Take the Peak Tram up to the Peak] ——— [Go up to Peak Tower] ——— [Go back to Central by Peak Tram] ——— [Option 1: Having Lunch in IFC tower / Option 2: Take Ding Ding tour around Hong Kong Island] ——— [Take either MTR or Star Ferry back to TST] ——— [Walk along Avenue of Stars / TST Clock Tower] ——— [Shopping in Harbour City] ——— [Watch “A Symphony of Light”] ——— [Having Dinner] ——— [Option: Visit Lan Kwai Fong in Central / Temple Night Street Market] ——— [You also can consider to take a look in Sky 100 Observation Deck and dine in Ozone Bar in Ritz Carlton Hotel or Elements Shopping Mall]
More About “How To Plan Your Trip” in Hong Kong