Hong Kong: a city so huge, bustling and diverse that you’d need weeks to experience everything it has to offer. With only 48 hours in Hong Kong, Jeff Samaniego and his wife were in for a challenge, trying to squeeze in as much activity as possible so as to still get a sense of the history and a taste of the culture.
Here, Jeff shares his itinerary for a jam-packed, fun-filled two days in one of the most dynamic cities of the world.
On our first morning in Hong Kong, my wife and I strolled around the Wan Chai market. We wandered between the meat and produce vendors, remarking at how fresh everything looked and smelled. We were excited to see that most stalls allowed you to request the specific cut of meat or type of fish you wanted to purchase, as the best wet markets do. There was a variety of dried goods for sale as well, many of which we hadn’t seen in our local grocery store in Singapore: fish maw, squid, abalone, and scallops; different types of mushrooms, nuts and preserved meats.
We stopped by the Michelin-starred Fook Lam Moon restaurant to indulge in some dim sum: steamed dumplings, chicken feet, pork bao, and salted custard buns. Fook Lam Moon is currently rated as one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and has been catering to Hong Kong’s rich and famous since 1948. Unlike the pushcart-style dim sum restaurants, Fook Lam Moon offers an a-la-carte menu with a variety of traditional dishes made with the highest quality ingredients.
From Wan Chai, we headed to the iconic Victoria’s Peak to get an overhead view of the city. The air felt so fresh on the top of the mountain; it was a nice break from the heat and smog of the city. We enjoyed a 3.5km Peak Circle Walk winding around the highest point of Hong Kong Island; it allowed for a peaceful stroll through nature with opportunities to catch breathtaking panoramic views of Victoria Harbour below. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can follow the 7km path down to the Pok Fu Lam reservoir to see heritage buildings from the 1860s.
As the sun started to set, we took the Silver Star ferry to Kowloon to see the Hong Kong’s “Symphony of Lights”. The city holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest nightly light and sound show. Buildings along both sides of Victoria Harbour light up in unison and the addition of music and laser beams create a vivid, unique view of the city’s skyline.
Our second day had us heading out to Ngong Ping to check out the Tian Tan Buddha, one of Hong Kong’s most popular sights, and Po Lin Monastery, a major point of pilgrimage for Buddhists dating back to 1906.
We took the MTR to Tung Chung where we boarded the scenic Ngong Ping Cable Car. The ride takes you over the mountainous terrain of Lantau Island; you get a sweeping view of the harbor and the city on your way up. Once you reach the top, there are guided paths pointing you toward the giant 34 meter-tall Tian Tan Buddha.
Completed in 1993 after 10 years of construction, the Tian Tan Buddha represents China’s religious history and relationship with nature. The Buddha faces north, symbolically looking over the Chinese population; its right hand is raised so as to remove affliction and misfortune and its left hand is rested on his lap, representing contentment. The Buddha is considered to be the world’s largest seated outdoor bronze representation of Lord Gautama Buddha and rests on a three-story altar modeled after the Earthly Mount of Tian Tan – the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.
Our two days in Hong Kong were a whirlwind, but they did allow us to get a taste of what the city has to offer: stunning landscapes and bright cityscapes; delicious treats; and a rich history defined by religion and culture. We look forward to a return visit where we can delve deeper into different parts of the area.
Have you been to Hong Kong? What are your favorite things to do? Where are the best places to explore? Leave your recommendations in the comments below.