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3 Days in Hong Kong: Asia’s Culture and Foodie Haven

3 Days in Hong Kong: Asia’s Culture and Foodie Haven

As one of the most well-traveled and commercially favored hubs in Asia, the glitzy, cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong is an incredibly exciting place to spend the weekend. Particularly if you’ve never been.

Densely packed with glittering skyscrapers, neon lights, and flashy rooftop bars, the unmistakable skyline is a city lover’s dream, and the many gems nestled within promise some of the best culture, cuisine, and entertainment in the world.

Over the course of your 3 days in Hong Kong, you can fit in a bunch of activities that’ll give you a wonderfully varied feel for the city and the surrounding islands that make up the archipelago. From boat tours (in our opinion, the easiest way to get around) to temple visits and the chance to shop till you drop – you’re sure to be in for a busy few days.

Let’s have a look at our Hong Kong itinerary to give you an idea of where to start.

Day 1 – Hong Kong Island

Though it’s surrounded by hundreds of small islands and inlets filled with tranquil beaches and sleepy fishing villages, the main spit of land known as Hong Kong Island is all action. The extensively developed city is classic Hong Kong and a perfect place to start getting a feel for the island metropolis.

Make sure to read our Hong Kong travel tips article before heading off exploring.

The star ferry looking at the Kowloon side of Hong Kong

You can kick off your 3 days in Hong Kong by getting your bearings with a breathtaking ferry ride across the glittering Victoria Harbor with Star Ferry. The Star Ferry has been a popular way to cross since the 1920s. The Star Ferry is only $2.50HK, which is one of the cheapest things to do in Hong Kong.

The harbor tour will ferry you past colonial buildings that sit side-by-side with modern skyscrapers backdropped by green mountains, all of which you can soak in from your unique waterside perspective. See how the city has developed over the decades and get a sense of how locals traveled this route almost a century ago, from the deck of the recreated 1920’s-style cruiser.

Hong Kong Skyline as seen from Victoria Peak on HK island

Next, it’s time to take in the gorgeous skyline from a completely different perspective that’s high above sea level. The beautiful viewpoint known as Victoria’s Peak can be reached by tram, which you can board at the Murray Building. From here, you’ll be whisked up to The Peak in under half an hour. We suggest you book your tram tickets in advance as lines can be long, book Victora Peak tram tickets online here.

This is one of the must-do activities in your Hong Kong itinerary, not only because of the jaw-droppingly stunning views of the city but because the park area itself is an absolute pleasure to wander around. It offers a welcome respite from the heaving urban sprawl below, and you can easily spend an hour or two strolling among the verdant greenery.

If you don’t have time for the tram, you can take a taxi to The Peak Galleria. It only takes 15 minutes and is super affordable.

Baskets of dim sum at Tim Ho Wan in Kowloon - Where to eat in Kowloon

If there’s just one activity that you’d be doing yourself a favor by not skipping, it’s the chance to sample authentic Cantonese dim sum in Hong Kong. The steamed, bite-sized parcels are a globally loved export and are synonymous with Chinese foodie culture. But to try them when actually in Hong Kong is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Though it can be an exhilarating albeit confusing ordeal to strike out on your own in search of your gastronomic Holy Grail, it’s a smart move for first-timers to join a guided dim sum tour, usually operated by a knowledgeable local. With just about everything on offer, from wandering around the obscure and delicious restaurants in Kowloon to dining on a sightseeing bus ride, you’re sure to find something to your taste!

Chinese Lions guard the Sik Sik Temple in Kowloon on of the best sights to see

Though you’ll have ample time in your Hong Kong itinerary to visit gorgeous temples, if there is one temple in Hong Kong that you should make it your priority to explore, it’s the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple.

The temple’s dedication to not just Buddhism but Taoism and Confucianism makes it a popular religious destination, as well as an incredibly beautiful cultural attraction. The instantly recognizable building is made up of colorful pillars and traditional Chinese latticed roofs and is as popular with locals as it is with tourists.

Possibly one of the most quintessentially Hong Kong ways to experience the waterfront glitz of the vibrant city is by embarking on a light show cruise. Once the sun goes down and the lights switch on, almost everywhere in town is impressive, but the Symphony of Lights cruise is truly mind-blowing. Departing from Star Ferry Pier, the cruise involves a nighttime ride around Victoria Harbor.

The best seats in the house for a stunning light and multimedia performance are projected from the rooves of the various majestic skyscrapers lining the waterfront. This nightly show never gets old – if you’re a first-timer, you really are in for something special.

It’s the perfect way to end the first day of your 3 days in Hong Kong and amp you up for the next two! Tickets sell out, buy online here.

Day 2 – Kowloon

Just across the glittering Victoria Harbor lies the urban area of Kowloon, renowned for its grittier atmosphere compared to the glitz of the more well-traveled Hong Kong Island. However, here, the intrepid traveler will find themselves in their element.

The neon lights, bustling street markets, and endless streets of clamoring food vendors are enough to send a shiver of excitement down any adventurous tourist’s spine. Here are some of the best things to do and see in Kowloon while spending 3 days in Hong Kong.

Best views in Hong Kong from the top of Lion rock hike in Hong Kong

Much like Victoria’s Peak on Hong Kong Island, Lion’s Rock in Kowloon offers, without a doubt, the best views in the area. The vast, sweeping, panoramic viewpoint is only a short hike from the base of the small mountain and can be easily reached in a matter of hours.

From here, you can enjoy unimpeded views of the entire city, Victoria Harbor, and, on a clear day, the gorgeous backdrop of lush, forested mountain faces. If you want to soak up the 360-degree beauty in relative privacy, try and head up to Lion’s Rock on a weekday when the crowds aren’t as relentless. Here, you can experience the peaceful magic of the seemingly still city below.

The ladies market in the heart of Kowloon is at highlight of any trip to Kowloon

One of the most colorful markets in China, the Ladies Market found on Tung Choi Street is a thrill for the senses, with excitement, sights, and sounds to keep you entertained for hours. The Ladies Market takes its name from the abundance of goods for women of all ages, which includes everything you could think of – from stockings to handbags.

With so much being sold, you don’t just have to be in the market for these in particular and can be sure to find bargains on just about everything else, from souvenirs and watches to furniture. Though it’s not strictly a night market, the road is closed to traffic after 4 pm, and most of the action happens from then onwards.

fish sits in a bag at the Kowloon goldfish market

While you’re in the market mode, make sure you take the time to head a little to the north up to Tong Choi Street North, where you’ll find the shimmering Goldfish Market. Only a few minutes from the Ladies Market, it’s more than worth squeezing this into a Hong Kong itinerary.

If only to experience the novelty – don’t feel obliged to buy yourself a scaly companion! The sincerity with which the vendors and customers conduct their business gives you an idea of the importance that fish have in the home in Chinese culture. The popular pet trade is based on the belief that colorful fish bring good luck, so you may want to buy one after all!

Just be ready to haggle and maybe steer clear of the rarer tropical fish on your first time around due to their astronomically high price tags.

The Kowloon Nunnery in Hong kong with beautiful gardens to explore

As the sun starts to go down, make it your priority to pay a visit to the Chi Lin Nunnery at Twilight, where you’ll be greeted with one of the most tranquil and beautiful temple complexes in town. Built in the Tang Dynasty style, the complex comprises red and gold structures housed among soothing lotus ponds and ornate bridges that are the epitome of gorgeous Chinese temple architecture.

Apart from wandering around the beautiful grounds, you’ll also find numerous fascinating statues of divinities like the Shakyamuni Buddha housed within.

If you’re after a more open-air experience, make the short journey down to Nan Lian Garden, which snakes its way through Diamond Hill. It offers a wonderful respite from the sprawl of high-rise apartments surrounding it. The beautiful decorative stones, plants, and even placements of water have been meticulously planned, and all contribute to the overall ambiance of the exquisitely tranquil gardens.

Without a doubt, the most famous of the highly reputable dim sum outlets in Hong Kong, Tim Ho Wan, is actually a Michelin-starred restaurant – and one of the cheapest Michelin star restaurants in the world. This is one of the main attractions for hungry locals and visitors who are so fond of Tim Ho Wan’s fare.

Although the stunning quality of the food is, of course, a huge factor. Though the restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside, you can rest assured that the dishes are worth every second of the sometimes hours-long wait in the queue to get in.

If you don’t have time to stop by, don’t worry; there are a range of other Tim Ho Wan’s around the world, but the chance to eat at the one in Hong Kong doesn’t come around every day!

Temple street market at night - things to do in Kowloon

If you’re spending 3 days in Hong Kong, make sure that one of your nights is spent exploring the wonders of Temple Street Night Market. Aside from being an incredibly unique experience, it’s also a fascinating insight into the local street vending traditions in Kowloon – you’ll notice far more locals than tourists.

Starting at 6 pm, the undiscerning street morphs into a thriving hustle and bustle, with just about anything imaginable on sale. If you’ve worked up enough of an appetite from the day’s wandering, then rest assured that you’ll find some good eats hidden among the side streets and intersections of Temple Street.

Day 3 in Hong Kong

If you’ve had enough of the sometimes relentless boxed-in feeling of being in a busy metropolis, then choose today to head out further afield and add some of the jaw-dropping natural beauty in the surrounding area to your Hong Kong itinerary.

Starkly different from the city and one of the most gorgeous attractions close to Hong Kong, the Dragon’s Back mountain range offers pristine views of the ocean—including Big Wave Bay and Shek O. The hike isn’t too taxing, and the paths to the viewpoints are punctuated only by birdsong and a light breeze.

You’ll feel as if you’ve hopped a border and ended up in a different place altogether – but remember to check the weather first so as not to get caught in the rain! It’s best to go with a guide as they know the trails and you won’t waste time, Dragon’s Back hiking tours are as cheap.

The outlying island of Lantau is a popular day trip that’ll take a few hours but is more than worth the effort. Here, you’ll find endless calm beaches, gently rolling, lush, green mountains, and charming fishing villages. As well as appreciating the island’s natural beauty, be sure not to miss the fascinating and humbling cultural attractions. Among the most popular of these are the Wisdom Path and the majestic Tian Tian Buddha.

In the area, you’ll also find Ngong Ping Village, a highly accessible collection of restaurants and shops built in traditional style to accommodate the high numbers of visitors to the Buddha. After climbing the 300 or so steps to the top, you’ll be thankful for the refreshment!

A drink on the ledge of the tallest bar in the world in Kowloon is a must do thing

End your 3 days in Hong Kong in glitzy fashion, with drinks at the highest rooftop bar in the city. In fact, the Ozone Bar at the Ritz Carlton Hotel is among the highest rooftop bars in the world. Sipping a world-class cocktail while looking out over Victoria Bay from the Kowloon side is a special feeling, easily one of the most fitting conclusions to your Hong Kong itinerary.

Weather permitting, a venture out onto the rooftop terrace only adds to the experience; as in most places in culinary Hong Kong, never fear, the food at Ozone is out of this world.

The Easiest Way From Hong Kong Airport To The City

Getting into the city from Hong Kong airport is super fast, easy, and cheap. You can get from the airport to the city in less than 24 minutes. The airport express runs right from the airport after you clear customs & immigration.

There are ticket counters at the airport but there is always a long line. The best thing to do and the tickets are 30% cheaper is to get your tickets online at Klook, it’ll save you time and money. We have friends who live in Hong Kong who told us this Hong Kong local’s secret.

If you’d rather take a car from the airport, you can get a private shuttle, but you have to book online in advance, car prices at the airport are much higher. If you are traveling alone consider joining a shared Hong Kong airport shuttle.

We would suggest the car route if your hotel in Hong Kong isn’t close to the MRT because you’ll have to take a taxi from where you get off the Hong Kong Express, and it might cost more after you factor in the train cost.

Where to Stay in Hong Kong

Decide if you want to spend more time on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon. We stayed on both sides, we prefer Hong Kong Island or right at the tip of Kowloon at The Luxe Manor. We recommend the following Hong Kong hotels as we stayed in each of them:

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Tuesday 11th of September 2018

Hong Kong is such an amazing place, I remembered a 6 hour layover that I had there. I so wish I could have had more time to explore the city and eat some of the local cuisine. This is a great guide for when I go back with more time to explore

Amanda |

Wednesday 22nd of August 2018

Hong Kong is such an amazing destination, love your itinerary! Hiking Dragons Back and visiting Shek O was one of our favourite things to do in Hong Kong. You're so right, it feels like you've gone to another country, it's so different but so beautiful. That's why I love Hong Kong, so much variety :)

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Monday 3rd of September 2018

There are so many great hikes in Hong Kong that we had no idea about. Hong Kong is so much more than the skyscrapers and shopping! We love Hong Kong too.