Hong Kong is a vibrant and exciting city where the East blends with the West, where a wealth of cultural and historical attractions are all at arms’ length.
No matter if you’re taking your first trip or your 100th trip, there will never be a shortage of new things to discover in this bustling metropolis.
I’ve been to Hong Kong a handful of times, with my latest visit with my parents lasting over two weeks! I had an awesome time galavanting around the city in my parent’s hometown, going hiking in the countryside parks, and exploring the area on a much deeper level than most people do.
If you’re planning a trip to Hong Kong and only have two days to explore, here’s a suggested itinerary to help you make the most of your time there.
While this itinerary can be used by anyone traveling to Hong Kong, it’s especially good for first-timers.
In this post, I’ll start by showing you all the ways to get around Hong Kong during your trip, then we’ll get into the good stuff–what to see, do, and eat in HK!
Get excited for an epic 48 hours in Hong Kong.
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How To Get From HKG Airport To Hong Kong Island
Once you land at the HKG airport, getting to the city of Hong Kong is quite straightforward!
Getting around Hong Kong once you’re in the city? Even easier!
There are a few different ways to get from Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) to the Central District of Hong Kong:
- Airport Express: The Airport Express is a high-speed train that runs from HKG to the Central District. The journey takes about 33 minutes and costs HKD 110 one-way. The Airport Express stops at a few different stations including Hong Kong Station, which is located in the heart of the Central District. From there, you can walk to your accommodation. There are also regular shuttle buses that run from Hong Kong Station to various hotels in the area.
- Bus: There are a number of public buses that run from the airport to the different neighborhoods of Hong Kong. These usually start with the letter ‘A’. For example, the bus that runs from the airport bus terminal to Central is A11. The journey takes about 45 minutes and costs around HKD 25. The buses can be a bit slower than the other options, but they’re a really great choice if you’re on a budget!
- Taxi: Taxis are readily available outside the airport terminal, and they offer a convenient way to get to the Central District. The journey takes about 30-40 minutes and costs around HKD 250-300, depending on traffic. This will be your most expensive but most convenient option.
Overall, the Airport Express is the most convenient and fastest way to get from HKG to the Central District, but the other options are also available if you prefer a different mode of transport.
You can get your Hong Kong Airport Express train tickets in advance for a discounted price on Klook. This is a good way to save a couple bucks on transportation, especially if you’re traveling with a larger group!
Personally, I enjoy taking airport buses to my final destination in Hong Kong because they’re pretty affordable and very reliable. If your hotel/accommodation is located in an area that is served by an airport bus, you could save a few bucks by opting for the bus over the train or taxi option.
The double-decker airport buses are air-conditioned and have a large section of shelving to store luggage for the duration of your ride.
How To Get Around Hong Kong
Hong Kong has an efficient and convenient public transportation system that makes it easy to get around the city without a car. You can pretty much do just about anything and get just about anywhere by MTR and bus.
In fact, that’s how a huge percentage of the population gets around! Let’s quickly cover your options for getting around Hong Kong.
The MTR is Hong Kong’s subway system, and it’s the most convenient and efficient way to get around the city. The MTR has multiple lines that cover most of the city, and trains run frequently (as in every 2-3 minutes during most times of the day), so you won’t have to wait long for a ride at all!
Fares are based on the distance traveled, and you can pay with cash to get a single ticket or pay with ease with an Octopus card (more on that below).
Hong Kong also has an extensive network of public buses that serve most parts of the city that the MTR doesn’t.
Buses are a good option if you’re traveling to a destination that’s not served by the MTR, and they’re generally less crowded than the subway.
There are big buses (the double-decker ones) as well as small local buses. For the sake of ease, I’d recommend sticking with the larger buses. The small buses require you to call out where you’d like to hop off, which can be confusing for tourists who aren’t familiar with the area or don’t speak Chinese.
Similar to the MTR, you can pay with cash or an Octopus card. If you decide to pay with cash, just know that the bus drivers don’t carry change.
One of the most iconic ways to get around this city is by taking the ding-ding tram. This historic mode of transportation has been in operation since the early 1900s and provides visitors with an inexpensive way to explore the city.
The ding-dings, aptly named for the sound they make, are basically double decker trams that operate over 50 routes throughout Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Taking a ride on these trams is like stepping back in time, as they remain largely unchanged from when they first began running more than 100 years ago.
The fare for a single journey is incredibly cheap at just HK$2.60 (about $0.30 USD) – which makes it an easy way for travelers on a budget to get around town! You can pay with coins or by Octopus card.
Taxis are readily available in Hong Kong and are a convenient way to get around the city. Fares are metered, and you can flag a taxi down on the street or book one in advance through an app like HKTaxi.
Uber is available in Hong Kong and is a convenient way to get around the city. Prices are generally lower than regular taxis, and you can book and pay for your ride through the app.
Get An Octopus Card To Make Your Life Easier
If you plan on using public transportation while you’re in Hong Kong, it’s a good idea to purchase an Octopus card. This reusable smart card can be used on MTR (subways), buses, ferries, and even some taxis. Honestly, it makes it SO easy to pay for your rides without having to fumble with cash.
But that’s not the only thing an Octopus card can do. There are so many stores, restaurants, coffee shops, local vendors, and other establishments that take Octopus cards as payment. You could literally go a whole day without using any credit cards or cash–relying solely on your Octopus card to get around and pay for things!
You can purchase an Octopus card at any MTR station or at a number of convenience stores around the city.
Overall, there are a number of options for getting around Hong Kong, and the best choice for you will depend on your budget, destination, and personal preferences. But no matter how you choose to get around, an Octopus card is a convenient and hassle-free way to pay for your rides, your food, your drinks, your shopping, and more!
Day 1 in Hong Kong
Start your first day in Hong Kong with a visit to Victoria Peak, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks!
You can take the historic Peak Tram to the top, or opt for a more strenuous hike up the mountain if you’re feeling adventurous. Either way, the views from the summit are absolutely breathtaking, with panoramic vistas of the city and harbor below.
Here are a few things to see and do around The Peak once you get there:
- Take the Peak Tram: The Peak Tram is a historic funicular railway that takes you to the summit of The Peak. Most recently, it’s been completely renovated! The journey takes about seven minutes, and the views from the tram are breathtaking.
- Visit the Sky Terrace: The Sky Terrace is a viewing platform located at the summit of The Peak, and it offers 360-degree views of the city. You can walk around the terrace and take in the sights, or relax in the shade and enjoy a drink from the café.
- Explore the Peak Tower: After enjoying your views, go and peruse the offerings within Peak Tower, a shopping and entertainment complex located at the base of The Peak. It’s home to a number of shops, restaurants, and cafes, as well as a number of attractions like the Madame Tussauds (wax museum), Amazing Moment Selfie Studio, Madness 3D Adventure, and more!
A roundtrip fare for adults costs HK$148, children and seniors cost HK$74.
You can buy your tram tickets online here.
Note: If you’d rather see the light-up buildings against the setting sun or the night sky, simply move this one down towards the end of the day.
Explore Central District
After you’ve taken in the sights from Victoria Peak, make your way down to explore the Central district of Hong Kong Island, the financial and business hub of Hong Kong.
Despite how boring ‘financial’ and ‘business hub’ might sound, there’s actually a lot to see and do in Central! This bustling district is home to some of the city’s most iconic skyscrapers, as well as a plethora of high-end shops, restaurants, and bars.
Here are a few of my favorite things to check out while in Central:
Central Market: This historic market is located in the heart of Central and is a great place to shop for souvenirs and gifts. You’ll find a wide range of independent stalls selling everything from traditional Chinese handicrafts and edible souvenirs to modern gadgets and handmade accessories.
Central Market is one of my favorite places to explore while enjoying a coffee! All the items sold in there are so unique–it’s the perfect place to pick up cute souvenirs and support local businesses at the same time.
Upper Lascar Row: Also known as “Ladder Street,” this narrow lane is home to a number of antique stores and indie designer shops. It’s a great place to browse for unique treasures while enjoying the quietness of the neighborhood (which is rare in Hong Kong).
Cat Street Market: Located in the Sheung Wan neighborhood, Cat Street Market is a popular destination for vintage and antique shopping. You’ll find a wide range of stalls selling everything from old Chinese coins to vintage clothing.
Everything there is super affordable! And even if you’re not interested in buying homeware or decor, it’s still a lot of fun to peruse. Whenever I visit, there’s always a new variation of items on display.
Shopping on Hollywood Road: Hollywood Road, one of the first paved roads in Hong Kong during the start of British colonial rule, is a great place to visit if you are looking for art galleries, high-end boutiques, and designer shops. One really unique and hip gift shop to check out here is G.O.D. 住好啲 Goods Of Desire.
Get Egg Tarts At Tai Cheong Bakery
Did you really go to Hong Kong if you didn’t at least have two or three egg tarts during your stay?
Within Central, there’s one spot that I found to be particularly amazing at making egg tarts–Tai Cheong Bakery. This spot has been a staple of the city for over 60 years, founded by Lao Tai Cheong in 1954, and has become an iconic part of the city’s culture ever since.
With its classic egg tart pastries, warm custard buns, and other fluffy and fresh treats, people flock to this establishment for its delicious creations.
You can order whatever pastries catch your attention (roll cakes, Chinese donuts, coconut tarts, etc.), as they’re all crafted with meticulous attention to detail using traditional ingredients like butter, flour and eggs. I have only ever gotten the egg tarts which are always light and warm, and always hitting the spot.
After enjoying a one or two of these flaky, eggy, custardy delights, you can pop in next door at Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe to experience a retro British confectionary (candy store). It’s adorable!
Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts
For a quick dose of arts and culture, next up is Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts. Located at the heart of Central, this former police station, now turned cultural and shopping center, offers visitors a unique experience that combines heritage and contemporary art.
Spanning over 7 hectares of land, Tai Kwun boasts 17 historic buildings from the 19th century with traditional Chinese architecture and three dedicated museums that are home to a plethora of artifacts from Hong Kong’s past.
Visitors can get lost in the richness of history as they explore Tai Kwun’s many galleries, which include permanent exhibitions covering everything from traditional Cantonese opera to colonial-era police cells. There are also various rotating exhibitions featuring both local and international artwork.
I’d highly recommend taking the free 45-min guided tour if you have time, as it helps you understand and appreciate the significance of the site a lot better.
If you work up an appetite, you can enjoy the various restaurants on the property, too.
Shopping In Causeway Bay
In the afternoon, head to Causeway Bay, one of Hong Kong’s most popular shopping districts.
From designer brands to local markets and stationery stores to wellness shops, Causeway Bay has some type of store to fit any style and budget.
If you’re looking for luxury shopping among international brands, head to the Times Square shopping mall or the iconic Sogo Department Store.
International brands not your thing? No worries, head to Island Beverly or Laforet for hip, adorable, and unique shopping opportunities! This is where I love walking around, even if I’m not in the mood to spend money.
Explore Wan Chai
After you’ve finished shopping, make your way to Wan Chai. While it was once run-down, this neighborhood is coming up as one of the most interesting and diverse districts in the city.
As one of the earliest British settlements in Hong Kong, Wan Chai’s atmosphere is quite unique. You’ll get to see the Colonial era influence through its architecture and the presence of many pubs, while still finding a large amount of traditional Chinese buildings, shops and restaurants.
Start by exploring the Wan Chai Market, a wet market where you’ll be able to experience how locals live and shop in their daily life. You’ll find all kinds of randomness here, including fresh hanging meats, fruits and vegetables, hot pastries, clothing stores, gadget shops, and more.
From there, head to Starstreet Precinct, where you can explore the shops and restaurants on Sun, Moon, and Star Streets!
Grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants in the area, or head to a rooftop bar for a drink with a view.
Nightlife in LKF
Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) neighborhood is the hub of nightlife in the city. Set between Central and Soho, it offers a multitude of bars, pubs, and clubs to explore.
Within this district, you can find anything that tickles your fancy, whether it be local watering holes, high-end cocktail lounges, late-night karaoke bars, or exclusive rooftop terraces. Night owls love this area!
As one of Hong Kong’s most popular destinations for nightlife and socializing, LKF features some of the best bars and nightclubs in town.
Day 1: Places To Eat
Here are a few casual restaurants on the HK Island side you can consider dining at for breakfast, lunch, or dinner that won’t be too out of the way from where you are:
- Ding Dim 1968 – casual dim sum, good for breakfast/lunch
- Cafe De Coral – one of the most popular local chain restaurants serving up quick counter-service meals for cheap; good for all times of the day!
- Yat Lok Restaurant – probably one of the best places to try roast goose in Hong Kong!
- Kau Kee Food Cafe – a popular local spot for all kinds of noodle soups, but their most popular is the beef brisket noodles.
WAN CHAI / CAUSEWAY BAY
- Bakehouse – a wildly popular western-style bakery started up by Chef Grégoire Michaud, there is always a line!
- Kam’s Roast Goose – another Chinese deli restaurant drawing in crowds for its signature roast goose
- Under Bridge Spicy Crab – the spicy crab is their signature dish but you can find a lot of other great seafood dishes here too.
- Tung Po Kitchen – yummy dai pai dong-style restaurant serving up seafood-centric dishes. Get here before 6:30pm to avoid a wait!
There are lots of Michelin-type restaurants in the area as well, so if that’s more your vibe, do your research ahead of time and find one that suits your taste!
Day 2 in Hong Kong
Eat A Dim Sum Breakfast
On your second day in Hong Kong, kick things off with a traditional Cantonese breakfast: dim sum. Dim sum is a type of Chinese dumpling that’s served in small steamer baskets, and it’s a staple of Hong Kong cuisine.
You’ll find dim sum restaurants all over the city, but some of the best (and cheapest) can be found in the more local neighborhoods like Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok.
My family’s little secret? Carnival Restaurant, way up in Kowloon by Lai King Station. If you can manage to get there, you’re in for good dim sum at unbeatable prices! Just be sure to have someone who can read Chinese there with you, or download Google Translate to translate the Chinese-only menu.
Lucky for you, if you stick to this itinerary, you’ll need to head to Tung Chung after dim sum anyway to get to Lantau Island. The route to Tung Chung actually passes by Lai King Station!
After you’ve fueled up on dim sum, it’s time to head out of the city and explore some of the nearby islands. Lantau Island is by far the most popular choice, as it’s home to some of Hong Kong’s most beautiful natural landscapes.
You can either catch Hong Kong’s most iconic cable cars up to the Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha) or take a ferry to the island to reach Tai O Fishing Village first.
To help you take advantage of your time on Lantau Island, here’s a quick list of some things not to miss:
- Start off by taking a cable car ride up Ngong Ping 360 Skyrail. The 25-minute journey offers stunning views over Tung Chung Bay and South China Sea.
- After getting your first glimpse of the island from an aerial perspective, head to Po Lin Monastery where you can admire its detailed architecture.
- From there, climb up to the Tian Tan Buddha statue, one of Hong Kong’s most recognizable landmarks.
- If you still have time and energy, take a quick bus ride over to Tai O to experience a slower pace of life in Hong Kong.
Be sure to read my separate Lantau Island guide here on how to have one epic day on Lantau Island!
Dinner Back On Hong Kong Island
In the evening, make your way back to the city and end your trip with a farewell dinner at one of Hong Kong’s many excellent restaurants.
From Michelin-starred fine dining to dai pai dongs to classic street food stalls, Hong Kong has a culinary scene that’s second to none. Pick whatever you’re in the mood for!
If you’re heading back to the city via MTR, you’ll pass through Tsim Sha Tsui on the southern tip of Kowloon. This is your chance to explore yet another bustling district known for incredible shopping and eating, so you can consider grabbing dinner here as well.
With just two days in Hong Kong, it’s impossible to see and do everything, but this itinerary should give you a good taste of what this amazing city has to offer. From towering peaks to bustling streets, Hong Kong is a place that’s full of great surprises.
Other Things To Do In Hong Kong
Feel free to adjust your 2-day Hong Kong itinerary to your liking! If something in the itinerary above sounds lame or is just not your style, here’s a list of other things to swap in:
- Take a stroll through the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui and soak up the atmosphere
- Visit the Hong Kong Heritage Museum to learn about the city’s rich history
- Spend a day at Hong Kong Disneyland
- Take a Victoria Harbour sunset cruise in a traditional red-sail junk boat
- Take a dinner cruise during the “Symphony of Lights” show – featuring a seafood and HK barbeque dinner buffet!
- Explore Aberdeen Harbour with a houseboat tour with sampan ride
- Go hiking in the country parks that surround the city (like Tai Lam Country Park)
- See the monkeys at Kam Shan Country Park
- Sample the local cuisine, including dim sum, roast goose, and wonton noodles
- Visit the Hong Kong Space Museum and learn about the cosmos
- Take a boat ride to the charming fishing village on Cheung Chau Island
- Go to Ocean Park for roller coasters and animals, such as pandas and marine life
- Go to the beach at Repulse Bay or Shek O
- Hike the Dragon’s Back Hike near Shek O
- Hike to the Reservoir Islands Viewpoint
- Visit the Hong Kong Museum of Art and see a wide range of exhibits, from ancient Chinese art to modern works
- Explore the markets and street stalls in Mong Kok and Temple Street
- Take a walk along the Avenue of Stars and see the handprints of Hong Kong’s movie stars (and the Bruce Lee statue!)
- Visit the Hong Kong Zoo and see a wide range of animals, including pandas, chimpanzees, and giraffes
- Go to the Hong Kong Science Museum and learn about science and technology
- Shop for traditional Chinese herbs and remedies at the Chinese Medicine Street market
- Visit a massive cat cafe, such as the one in Tseun Wan (Cats Tea Room Tsuen Wan)
- Take a boat ride to Lamma Island and explore the charming village of Sok Kwu Wan
- Go to the Hong Kong Wetland Park and see a wide range of flora and fauna
- Take a trip to Macau and explore the city’s Portuguese heritage
- Visit the Hong Kong Observatory and learn about the city’s weather
Overall, Hong Kong is a city that’s full of things to see and do, and these are just a few of the many attractions that the city has to offer. Whether you’re interested in culture, history, shopping, or outdoor adventure, you’ll find something to suit your interests in Hong Kong.
Where To Stay In Hong Kong
If you’re planning a trip to Hong Kong that’s only two days long, it’s best to stay in a central neighborhood that’s convenient to the city’s main attractions.
You should aim to stay in Central, Wan Chai, or TST.
While I’d normally recommend staying in TST, for a trip this short, it may make more sense to stay on the Hong Kong Island side (Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay). That way, you’re closer to a lot of the major tourist attractions.
Located on the north shore of Hong Kong Island, Central is the city’s financial and business hub. It’s home to many of the city’s most iconic skyscrapers, as well as a wide range of shops, restaurants, and bars. This is a great neighborhood to stay in if you’re interested in exploring the city’s modern side, and it’s convenient to many of the city’s top attractions.
Luxury Hotels In Central
Four Seasons – like with all Four Seasons, this one offers an impeccable list of services and amenities ranging from Michelin-starred dining, a 24-hour fitness center, a vitality lounge at the spa, and two outdoor pools. Expect world-class service!
The Mandarin Oriental – a really popular choice for travelers looking for a luxurious hotel experience! The hotel features stylish rooms, a fitness center, and an outdoor pool with panoramic views of the city.
The Upper House – another amazingly highly-rated hotel in the area, offering modern rooms and excellent facilities, including a fitness center and a spa. It directly links to Admiralty MTR station and provides free yoga classes during the weekend.
Budget-Friendly Hotels In Central
Butterfly on LKF Boutique Hotel Central – this boutique hotel has less than 50 rooms but is in a great location for a great price.
Located on the north shore of Hong Kong Island right next to Central, Wan Chai is a lively and energetic neighborhood that’s known for its unique mix of Eastern and Western influences. It’s hip, modern, and traditional all at the same time. This is a great neighborhood to stay in if you’re looking for a more laid-back and casual atmosphere.
Luxury Hotels In Wan Chai
Mira Moon – This is the first boutique hotel under the Mira Hotel Collection and the well-awarded Boutique Hotel in Hong Kong!
The Fleming Hong Kong – Renovated in October 2017, The Fleming Hong Kong features classy rooms and luxurious bathrooms inspired by Hong Kong’s iconic cross-harbor ferries.
Budget-Friendly Hotels In Wan Chai
Wharney Hotel – Conveniently located in Wan Chai, Wharney Hotel is a super-affordable option just a 3-minute walk from Wan Chai MTR Station.
Tsim Sha Tsui
Located on the southern tip of the Kowloon side, Tsim Sha Tsui is a bustling and vibrant neighborhood that’s popular with tourists. It’s home to a number of amazing hotels, as well as a wide range of shopping malls, restaurants, and museums (boy are there a lot of museums on this side of town).
This is a great neighborhood to stay in if you’re interested in exploring the city’s more traditional side, while still being super conveniently located to many of the city’s top cultural attractions!
Luxury Hotels in Tsim Sha Tsui
The Peninsula – The grand-daddy of all hotels in TST! Known as the ‘Grande Dame of the Far East’, this 5-star hotel prides itself on being Hong Kong’s oldest hotel with nearly a century of excellence. Even if you don’t stay here, you should try to experience their afternoon tea (one of the most popular things to do while in HK)!
Kowloon Shangri-La – Another popular hotel in the area that offers stunning views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong Island skyline, 7 dining options, an indoor pool, and elegantly decorated rooms.
Budget-Friendly Hotels In Tsim Sha Tsui
Page148, Page Hotels – a hip and modern hotel that’s pretty darn affordable for this part of town! This was my second choice when doing research on where to stay for my own trip.
Hong Kong Travel Insurance
This is a no-brainer. When traveling internationally, be sure to get yourself some travel insurance.
I’ve heard of too many unfortunate experiences where friends and family have had baggage lost/stolen, hotels canceled, or have had unexpected medical emergencies while traveling where they’ve had to cut their trips short.
True story alert — in 2022, my partner even had his shoulder completely dislocated while surfing in Mexico, resulting in a $950 USD emergency room bill that we had to pay out of pocket for! Not fun and not cheap.
Without travel insurance, you would have to pay out of pocket for these mishaps. This is why I get travel insurance for all my international trips now!
One of the best budget-friendly travel insurances for those traveling outside their home country is SafetyWing.
SafetyWing Insurance provides coverage for unexpected illness or injury, including eligible expenses for hospital, doctor or prescription drugs. This means that if you get ill or injured, they will cover the medical expenses.
In addition, it provides emergency travel-related benefits such as emergency medical evacuation (much needed if you like to go hiking / trekking in the wild), travel delay, and lost checked luggage.
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