When you’re travelling far away, a stopover is not always inevitable. Waiting around at an airport for your next flight, is probably one of the most annoying things to do during your trip. So why not make it a pleasant experience, by using a stopover to see a whole new city?! Not only do you get to experience a new city and country, it’s also a good way to slowly adapt to the time zone you’re going to be in. When I was traveling to Indonesia, I planned a 48 hour stopover in Hong Kong, the Pearl of the Orient. A perfect opportunity to discover this amazing city.
Hong Kong is an autonomous territory in China that consists of 261 islands and is officially named The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s republic of China. A nickname for the city is The pearl of the Orient and for good reason. Its location is right on the intersection of so many different cultures and that shows in its diversity of modern architecture combined with the traditional temples, busy street markets, beautiful beaches and nature. Even though Hong Kong is densely populated, it has a very lively, welcoming and unique atmosphere.
It’s a large city, divided over several islands and if you want to see more of it, 48 hours will not be enough! But even if you’re only there for a short stopover, there are still plenty of great sightseeing you can fit in! These are the things you really don’t want to miss.
Even if you only have a few hours in Hong Kong, this is a must see! The Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is located on Lantau Island. The statue, solely made out of bronze, is the largest seated Buddha in the world. You can spot the 34 meter high statue from a far distance and even from the plane or from Macau.
To get all the way up to the statue, you have to climb a few stairs, 268 to be exact. Don’t worry, it really is worth it!
The best way to visit the Big Buddha is by cable cart: Ngong Ping 360. This will bring you up to the entrance, while you can enjoy a 30 minute trip through the mountains and enjoy a wonderful view of the surroundings.
There’s an option to book a “Cristal Cabin”, a cart with a glass floor. This way the experience gives you an amazing view on every angle! If you’re afraid of heights, this might not be the best option for you.
Tip: If you have enough time, also visit the Po Lin Monastery, that is situated not far from the Big Buddha.
Also known as Mount Austin or The Peak, is the highest mountain on Hong Kong island. The easiest way to get there is by taking the Peak tram. The Peak tram will take you from Garden road up to Victoria Peak in just a few minutes. While you’re on the tram, you can already enjoy a beautiful view, that will only be a preview of what’s yet to come. Once you’re there, you’ll need a few more escalators to get to the Peak. But I can ensure you, it will all be worth it, as the view from the Peak is breath taking!
You can enjoy the amazing views over the Victoria Harbour, the city, the waterfront and the surrounded islands. There’s more than just a great view up there, you can have your picture taken as a souvenir, have some food or a refreshment in one of the bars or restaurants, shop in one of the many shops inside the building or visit the museum Madame Tussaud.
The Victoria Peak is definitely one of my highlights of Hong Kong. Remember though, that the Peak and its tram are a big tourist attraction and therefor it’s wise to visit it first thing in the morning. This way you avoid the crowd and standing in a line for the Peak tram.
The Star ferry boats transport passengers from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and back. Even though the two sides of the Victoria harbour are connected by roads and rail tunnels, this is still the most beautiful way to cross the water. A single ticket (a token) can be bought at the terminal for as little as €1,- for the lower deck.
Of course there’s the option to get the tourist round tour on one of the other star ferries. This will cost around €10,- which is still cheap, but I would recommend you to just cross the water with the star ferry like all the locals do! It’s a lovely way to see Hong Kong in another way and to enjoy the wonderful panoramic views over the harbour and the many skyscrapers.
The Temple street night market and Ladies market
There are many markets in Hong kong, that really show you a whole other side of this city. My two favourites are the Temple street night market and the Ladies market.
The Night market is a typical Chinese street market, where you can find anything from electronics to antiques, jewellery to fortune tellers and some of the best food to be found in Hong Kong! Many people visit the market for dinner. And even though doesn’t always look like a place where tourist should eat, many tourists do and it usually doesn’t cause any problems. Just make sure you pick a stand where it’s crowded. If it’s good enough for the locals, it must be amazing!
Best time to visit: between 5pm en 10pm
The ladies market is probably the most famous street market in Hong Kong. It’s kind of a Chinese local market that sells many products such as clothing, shoes, bags and electronics.
Even though it’s very busy, there’s a nice buzzing atmosphere.
tip: Best time to visit is between 7pm and midnight.
Symphony of lights
This spectacular sound and lights show projected at 40 skyscrapers at the Victoria Harbour, is definitely one to watch. It’s the world’s largest permanent Laser show according to Guinness World Records. The show is free of charge and starts daily at 8pm.
The best places to watch, is at the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade or at the Golden Bauhinia Square. Many people want to see this spectacle, so make sure you be there in time to get yourself a nice spot to enjoy the show. Also: There a some lovely restaurants in de area around the promenade, a perfect place to have dinner before or after the Light show.
tip: Have a nice stroll down the promenade before the show starts and visit the Avenue of the stars.
If you have more time in Hong Kong, I can recommend you to visit one of the many shopping malls. Such as: The Landmark, Time Square Shopping mall or Ngong Ping Village (which is great to combine with a visit to the Tian Tan Buddha).
Another place to visit if you have an extra day is, Hong Kong Disneyland! I didn’t get a chance to visit it myself this time, but I sure will when I return!
As you can read there are plenty of places to see in this beautiful city. And even if you only have a stopover of less than 48 hours, all of the highlights I mentioned are doable. The metro system, that will take you to all the urban destinations, works really well and even taxis are relatively cheap (just be aware of the Hong Kong traffic during rush hours). Hong Kong might not have been on your bucket list, but I definitely should! It has everything you need for a few days in a city: from big shopping malls, to
typical Chinese street markets, from old traditional temples to futuristic skyscrapers, from high class restaurants, to food stands on the streets. Hong Kong has a perfect combination of two different worlds that came together.
Have you ever been to Hong Kong, or do you wish to go here? Let me know in a comment below what you favorite place is, thank you so much!
Book your next trip and visit Hong Kong, the Pearl of the Orient!