5 Days in Hong Kong: An Expat’s Complete Guide and Itinerary

June 26, 2024


A dynamic and vibrant place unlike any other in the world, Hong Kong, and its many contrasts, are fascinating to explore. Despite its small size, you can experience both the chaotic energy of a densely-populated city, but can also get away from all of that in its country parks to enjoy incredible natural beauty. Living in Hong Kong for 6.5 years, I've played tour guide to lots of friends and family. Now, I'm sharing this 5-day Hong Kong itinerary and complete guide to help you fall in love with this amazing city. 

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A Bit about Hong Kong

Once a sparsely-populated area consisting of tiny fishing villages and farms, Hong Kong is now one of the world's most important financial centers and commercial ports. Its territory is comprised of several main areas - Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, New Territories, and the outlying islands.

Hong Kong skyline and Victoria Harbour homepage

Fun Fact: Did you know that Hong Kong is made up of over 250 islands? Many of these islands are small and uninhabited. The largest island is Lantau Island, followed by Hong Kong island.

A Brief History

In 1841-1842, Hong Kong was established as a colony of the British Empire after the Qing Dynasty of China lost the First Opium War. In 1860, the colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula, then was further expanded in 1898 when the United Kingdom obtained a 99-year lease for the New Territories.

In 1997, the United Kingdom handed over Hong Kong to China with the agreement that Hong Kong would maintain separate governing and economic systems from the mainland for 50 years under "one country, two systems".  Current events suggest this may not go to plan, but I won't get into that.

Today, Hong Kong is known as Hong Kong, S.A.R. as it is a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China. 

Contrasts of Hong Kong

In my opinion, Hong Kong is a city full of contrasts. These contradictions make it a fascinating puzzle to piece together in order to appreciate the full picture that is Hong Kong. 

Old vs. Modern

Walking around the city, the contrast between historic temples and British colonial architecture vs the soaring, modern skyscrapers is a visual delight.

Man Mo temple Hong Kong

Man Mo Temple, Central Hong Kong

As you wander Hong Kong's various neighborhoods, however, you'll spot other contrasts. You'll constantly find yourself in very well-airconditioned shopping malls as you leave the MTR. But as you explore, you'll find local markets and small shops - key makers, garages, shoe repair shops - that have withstood the test of time.

It's a fun mix and represents the contrast of Hong Kong life and the people who live here more generally.  

Withdrawing Cash is a MUST in this Financial Hub

Despite Hong Kong being a leading financial center in the world, cash is still widely used in the city. Many small restaurants and shops do not accept credit card payment. Taxis also do not accept credit card. 

When I lived in the U.S., I rarely had cash on me, but in Hong Kong, I'm never without it. Many travelers are surprised that they'll need to use cash so often while visiting a city that seems so advanced, but it's just another quirk of Hong Kong.

Urban vs. Greenery

Hong Kong is one of the world's most densely-populated places with 7.5 million residents in 1,104 sq km (426 sq mi) of space. Not only that, but out of that area, about 75% of that land is not developed, being used for country parks, wetlands, reservoirs, etc. 

View of Middle Dog Teeth and Shek Pik Reservoir

Hiking on Lantau Island in Hong Kong

What this translates into is that Hong Kong's urban spaces are very dense and chaotic with a real city vibe. But then, it's also easy to get outside of those areas and experience a natural beauty and wilderness in Hong Kong that might shock you.

Local Cuisine vs. International Restaurants

Yet another contrast you'll find in Hong Kong involves the cost of dining. Hong Kong is home to some of Asia's best restaurants and bars that have received Michelin stars and other accolades. These places usually require reservations (sometimes months in advance) and are often super expensive.

However, eating local cuisine in Hong Kong is actually pretty affordable. Choosing to eat at local places is not only an excellent way to appreciate the culture, but will also save you money on your trip. 

Soak in the Contrasts

In order to really appreciate and understand Hong Kong, I think you need to experience the many sides of this unique place. After living here for years, I still love that I can wake up in my high-rise apartment, go out to a remote country park for a hike or to enjoy a beach. Then, be back to the hustle and bustle at night for a good meal and a cocktail. It's all right at my fingertips in Hong Kong.

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple close up

When to Visit Hong Kong

Although every year is different, generally the best time of year to visit Hong Kong is in autumn from late October to December. These are the months when the skies are relatively clear, humidity is lower, and temperatures are pleasant. 

Winters (January - early March) in Hong Kong are fairly mild, so can also be a good time of year to visit. However, they can also be grey and smoggy as pollution from the north tends to blow in and coat the city. Spring (late March - May) is usually rainy and starts getting muggier, though is still not as hot as summer.

Summers (June - early October) in Hong Kong are sweltering and very humid. It's typically the most beautiful time of year to visit because it's sunny and unpolluted, but it's so freaking hot that you won't want to walk far outside. Also, August - early October is prime typhoon season, which can throw a wrench into your plans. Typically, autumn is a toned-down version of summer, which is why it's the best time.

How Many Days to Spend in Hong Kong?

Even though this post includes a 5-day itinerary in Hong Kong, I realize many people will not have that long to spend in Hong Kong. Given its compact size and the ease of public transportation, you can hit most of the big tourist highlights in 2-3 days. In my 5-day itinerary, the first days include the top tourist destinations in Hong Kong. So, you could still use the itinerary to plan a 2-day or 3-day trip to Hong Kong. 

Alternatively, you could spend even longer than 5 days in Hong Kong, especially if you visit during a cooler season and like to hike. Or, if you want to tour the city at a more relaxed pace and visit some off-the-beaten path sights. 

Traveling to Hong Kong

As a major hub in Asia, it's quite easy to get to Hong Kong from anywhere in the world. Most visitors would fly to Hong Kong, although it is possible to take a train in from mainland China.

Flying to Hong Kong

The Hong Kong International Airport (abbreviation: HKIA, airport code: HKG) is a major international airport located on a small island in western Hong Kong, just next to Lantau Island. The airport is a quick 30-minute ride on the Airport Express Train to central Hong Kong and is quite convenient. 

Be sure to check out a couple of articles that I've written to help with a smooth arrival to Hong Kong:

High-Speed Train to Hong Kong from Mainland

If you're coming from mainland China, you could consider taking the high-speed rail to get to Hong Kong. The Guangzhou-Hong Kong High Speed Rail connects passengers from Hong Kong (West Kowloon station) to the national high-speed rail in China. You can find ticketing information on the Hong Kong MTR's website

Although I haven't taken the high-speed rail yet, I'd say it's probably best to book these tickets in advance. These days, there's high cross-border traffic in both directions, especially on weekends and holidays.

Getting Around Hong Kong

One of the reasons why Hong Kong is a great city to visit is because it's easy and cheap to get around once you're here. Hong Kong has an extensive public transportation system, including an expansive metro rail system (MTR), double-decker buses, minibuses, and ferries. On these, you can reach almost anywhere in the city. Even if you don't feel like taking public transportation, taxis are everywhere and are cheaper in Hong Kong than in the U.S.

If you haven't already, I recommend reading my Guide to Using Public Transportation in Hong Kong for more information on the various forms of transportation available.

Octopus Card

If you've read my airport and transportation guides, you'll know that the most important thing you should get when arriving in Hong Kong is the Octopus card. The primary use for this card is riding public transportation. However, it can also be used in many shops to pay for things, even when credit cards aren't accepted. 

Where to Stay in Hong Kong

Given how compact Hong Kong is, you can stay pretty much anywhere and have a great experience. However, being close to an MTR stop will make transportation a lot more convenient. If you want to be in the center of the action, I'd recommend picking one of central Hong Kong Island's neighborhoods (Sheung Wan, Central, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai) or Kowloon's bustling districts (Mong Kok, Jordan, TST). 

Budgeting Tip: Typically, neighborhoods in Kowloon or on the south side of Hong Kong Island are more affordable. Basically, the further away from Central you go, the friendlier the prices look.

Hong Kong Accommodations Map

Use the map below to give you an idea of what you can expect to budget in Hong Kong for accommodations. Prices vary depending on the season, so enter your travel dates to get an accurate picture of the costs.

Hong Kong Hotel Recommendations

Since Hong Kong has a ton of hotels and it's hard to know what to choose, I've put together a list to help you get started. You can find everything from ultra-luxury to cheap youth hostels in this city, so don't be cowed by the prices in Central. 

*Most of the luxury hotels in Hong Kong are also great for families. Not only are the rooms spacious, but of the 5-star hotels above have play rooms, activities for kids, or offer babysitting services for additional cost.  

5-Day Hong Kong Itinerary

In this five-day Hong Kong itinerary, I cover a lot of ground at a rigorous pace so you can see what the possibilities are. If you'd like a relaxed pace, you may find you need to cut out some activities or rearrange to fit your schedule.

Also, expect to find a lot of walking tours and information on how to get to places on public transportation. Walking is generally how I explore a city and Hong Kong is best seen on foot. If you have mobility issues, you may need to adjust, skip certain things, or take taxis to places. Many MTR stations involve a fair amount of walking and/or stairs.

Finally, each day of this itinerary is (mostly) dedicated to exploring a specific region of Hong Kong. There is a bit of overlap though. Since I live on HK Island, I mostly have you returning there each day, but you'll have to adjust if you're staying somewhere else.  

Scheduling Tip: When planning your day, keep in mind that Hong Kong does not rise as early as some places. If you're looking for specialty coffee before around 8:00 am, you may be out of luck. For the most part, only local diners, congee shops, and such are open earlier than 8:00 am. Given how late I wake up, I've only seen Hong Kong in this light when I have a dog-walking gig or am traveling to the airport! 

Hong Kong Itinerary Day 1 - Central Hong Kong

The first day of this Hong Kong itinerary fully explores the Central and Western Districts of Hong Kong Island as well as the iconic Victoria Peak. Since I live in this area, I spend a lot of time walking these streets. So, I've put together a couple of walking tours which showcase its historic landmarks as well as some fun modern additions. 

Walking Tour SYP to Sheung Wan

CLICK TO OPEN MAP IN GOOGLE MAPS

Sai Ying Pun

ArtLane

Start off the day by taking the MTR to Sai Ying Pun and take exit B3. You'll come out in a pedestrian area, which also happens to be a street lover's paradise nicknamed ArtLane. Wander around Ki Ling Lane and Chung Ching Street to admire the colorful murals adorning the walls and stairways. 

colorful mural of Bruce Lee in Hong Kong
Tall Mural of girl watering plants in Hong Kong
Dried Seafood Markets

Next, head out onto Des Voeux Road (turn right) towards the trading center of Sai Ying Pun. This neighborhood is famous for its dried seafood shops, which you'll begin to smell as you walk towards them. Most of them are clustered along Des Voeux Road West between Centre Street and Queen Street.

Although I gawked at all the seafood the first time, now I go to look for shop cats. Most of the stores have at least a kitty or two to help with rodent control. If you're lucky, you'll spot them hanging out or lounging on the merchandise. 

Shop cat in Sai Ying Pun
Shop Cat in Sai Ying Pun market
Herbal Medicine Street and Ginseng and Bird's Nest Street

Other streets of note in Sai Ying Pun are Ko Shing Street, also known as Herbal Medicine Street, and Bonham Strand West and Wing Lok Street, which are collectively known as Ginseng and Bird's Nest Street.

While you're in Sai Ying Pun, I recommend walking down all of these streets, taking in the potent smells and trying not to get run over by push carts. The area is especially active in morning to early afternoon and most of the shops close by 4:00 pm or so. 

Western Market

Leaving the Sai Ying Pun neighborhood and entering Sheung Wan, you'll find Western Market, the oldest surviving market building in Hong Kong. This red-brick Edwardian-style market was completed in 1906 and was a produce market until 1988. Renovated in 1991, it now houses a collection cafes, shops, and fabric merchants. 

Western Market in Hong Kong

Pro Tip: To get a better view of Western Market, climb the pedestrian overpass next to the building, which leads over to the Macau Ferry Terminal. From the overpass, you can get much better photos. 

Break for Dim Sum in Sheung Wan

After all that walking, perhaps you're feeling hungry? If so, stop for some traditional dim sum at Dim Sum Square (on Jervois St). I recommend their crispy BBQ pork buns and har gau (shrimp dumplings). It opens at 10:00 am, so don't arrive too early. 

dim sum with rice rolls, bun, dumplings and cake in hong kong

Pro Tip: Most small restaurants are CASH ONLY in Hong Kong, although sometimes you can also pay with your Octopus card. As a result, be sure to always have cash on you for local meals (and taxis) while traveling in Hong Kong.

Hop on Tram / Ding Ding

Once you've filled up on dim sum, take Hillier Street out to Des Voeux Road. Then, board the iconic Hong Kong Tram heading east at the Hillier Street stop.

Tram in Hong Kong Public Transportation

Nicknamed the ding ding for the sound the bell makes, HK Tramways has been transporting passengers along the Hong Kong Island coast since 1904. Running from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan, the tram is a cheap way to get around. Plus, it's a great way to see this part of the city without having to walk or worry about running into people on the sidewalks while you're gawking. 

Statue Square

Ride the tram until you reach the Bank Street stop, right in front of Statue Square (left side). Take a few minutes in Statue Square to admire the Old Supreme Court Building, now the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong.

This historic building is a Declared Monument and offers a glimpse of Hong Kong’s architecture during early British rule. I enjoy the contrast between it and the modern buildings surrounding it, including the HSBC, Bank of China and The Henderson.

Statue Square Hong Kong Highlights

A statue of Sir Thomas Jackson, the chief manager of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, is the only statue to remain in the square. The rest were displaced during the Japanese occupation during WWII. 

St. John's Cathedral

To continue, cross Des Voeux Road and walk underneath the HSBC building. Then, cross Queen's Road Central and use either the stairs or the escalator to climb the green hill, following signs to St. John's Cathedral.

St. Johns Church Hong Kong

Another Declared Monument of Hong Kong, St. John’s Cathedral, or the Cathedral Church of John the Evangelist, was completed in 1849. It is one of the oldest surviving Western ecclesiastical buildings in Hong Kong. 

Fun Fact: The plot of land on which St. John's Cathedral sits is the last piece of British land in Hong Kong. This plot holds the only freehold lease in Hong Kong and is owned by a non-government entity - the Church of England.

Victoria Peak Tram

Leaving the cathedral, head up the hill to the first traffic light. Cross Garden Road to reach the lower Peak Tram terminus. Riding the Peak Tram, a funicular railway which climbs 396 m (~1,300 ft) in roughly 10 minutes, is a quintessential Hong Kong experience.

Peak Tram Hong Kong
Peak Tram interior glass roof Hong Kong

Iterations of the Peak Tram have been carrying passengers up Victoria Peak since 1888. The latest upgrade occurred  during the COVID years (2021-2022). A new and improved Peak Tram opened in April 2022, increasing the capacity of each tramcar from 120 to 210 passengers. The cars themselves are also much brighter, with larger windows and a glass roof, which make the journey even better.  

Pro Tip: Use your Octopus card to pay for your ride instead of buying a separate ticket. This should allow you to skip the line to buy a ticket and go right through the gates. 

Explore Victoria Peak

Once you arrive at the upper Peak terminus, make your way through the gift shop and up one floor to exit the building. Head left on Findlay Road to Lions Pavilion for the iconic shots of Hong Kong's skyline from above. 

View from Victoria Peak Hong Kong Highlight

For a different view, head into the Peak Galleria shopping mall and go up to the roof. There, you not only find views of Central, but also the southern side of the island. 

Victoria Peak view south side

If you're up for a bit of a walk and want to explore Hong Kong's more peaceful, natural side, you'll find a couple options at the Peak.

Victoria Peak Garden

Despite being at the upper terminus for the tram, you're not yet at the top of Victoria Peak. To reach the peak, walk up the steep Mount Austin Road (120 m / 394 ft elevation gain over 1.3 km / 0.8 mi). At the peak, you'll find Victoria Peak Garden, a peaceful oasis, as well as another lookout point.  

Victoria Peak Garden
Lugard Road Loop

For an easier, flat walk, you can take the 3.4-km (~2-mile) loop on Lugard Road. It's flat, yet peaceful and sometimes you'll even spot a wild boar. They're not usually aggressive, just use common sense - give them a wide berth and do NOT feed them.

Lunch at Men Wah Bing Teng

By now, you're probably getting hungry again. If so, grab a bite at Men Wah Bing Teng in the Peak Galleria. This local diner has many locations around Hong Kong and their char siu pork is quite delicious. It's also a pretty affordable meal.

Men Wah Bing Teng rice bowl

Bus to Central

Once you're ready, head back to Central. You could take the Peak Tram back down the mountain - it's discounted for the return journey. However, if you'd like to see some different views of Hong Kong, taking a double-decker bus (number 15) is a better option. You'll go past several neighborhoods in the mountains as well as through Wan Chai and Admiralty on the way back to Central. 

The bus terminus is located underneath the Peak Galleria. Try to get the front seats on the second floor of the double-decker bus. Disembark at Pedder Street and head west on Des Voeux Street towards Central Market. 

Note: I haven't included a map for this walking tour because Google Maps didn't want to follow my walking route directions. However, these landmarks are on Google Map and you can use the pink informational signs to help you as well. I also recommend wandering up and down the various streets in Soho and Mid-Levels to check out street art, shops, and restaurants.

Central Market 

Hong Kong's Central Market is a lively retail and food center in the heart of the bustling Central district. When I first moved to Hong Kong in 2017, this was a vacant, run-down building which was part of the overhead walkway leading from the IFC building to the travelator. It's come a long way since then!

Central Market Hong Kong

Head up to the top floor and follow signs to the Mid-Levels Escalator. If you're still hungry, stop for an egg waffle at Mammy's Pancake. I highly recommend a banana chocolate egg waffle - it's my favorite!

Mid-Levels Escalators

Next, head up the Mid-Levels Escalators - the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system. Since many people live up in the Soho / Mid-Levels neighborhoods, just above the Central Business District, the escalators make the commute easier and far less sweaty. 

Mid-Levels Escalators Central Hong Kong

Escalator Tip: Be sure to stand to the right when you're on the escalators / travelators. This pretty much goes for all escalators in Hong Kong, especially on public transportation. No matter what those announcements in the MTR say about "standing firm on both sides of the escalator", commuters want to walk past on the left and will get irritated at you if you're standing there. 🙂

Tai Kwun 

After riding up three travelators, you'll reach a ramp leading to Tai Kwun - Centre for Heritage and Arts, situated in the restored Central Police Station compound.

Opened to the public in summer 2018 after a 10-year revitalization project, the original structures of the compound date back to the mid-1800s. The site includes three Declared Monuments – the former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy, and Victoria Prison.

Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts Hong Kong

Admire the historical buildings around the Parade Ground, then head up the stairs to the jail cells. Be sure to check out the jail cell exhibition which gives a brief overview of prisoner life at the compound.

Then head up to the prison yard where contemporary buildings and artwork are juxtaposed with the historical compound.

Pottinger Street

When you exit Tai Kwun, head back down to the level where you entered and take the ramp on the right side of the Parade Ground towards Hollywood Road. Just across Hollywood Road, you'll spot Pottinger Street, or “Stone Slab Street”.

Pottinger Street Central Hong Kong

Walking up towards Tai Kwun on Pottinger Street

This historic street was paved with stone slab steps to make it "easier" to walk on and has drains on the sides to allow rainwater to flow down. Personally, I find it more difficult to walk on this road than others.

Hollywood Road

After checking out Pottinger Street, head west on Hollywood Road, following signs to Man Mo Temple. Along the way, you'll pass several antique shops, galleries, and other fun shops.

Be sure to look down the side streets as you walk around this area. Mid-Levels is a full of incredible murals and many are hidden down alleyways.

Mural in Central Hong Kong

Murals are constantly changing in Central - this one was in progress a few months ago.

Man Mo Temple

After several blocks, you'll reach Man Mo Temple, one of the oldest temples in Hong Kong and another Declared Monument.

The temple was built in the mid-1800s and dedicated to the Civil God “Man” and the Martial God “Mo”. People still visit the Man Mo Temple to pray or seek blessings from these and other gods worshipped in the temple.

Man Mo Temple Interior Hong Kong

The incense in this temple can be overpowering, so if strong scents bother you, you might need to be quick about your visit. The temple closes at 6:00 pm so be sure to arrive before then if you wish to go inside.

Upper Lascar Row (Cat Street)

If you’re looking for souvenirs, head down the stairs across from Man Mo Temple to Upper Lascar Row, nicknamed the Cat Street market. Here you'll find a variety of decorative items from antiques to cheaper trinkets, like jade bracelets and ornaments.

Cat Street Central Hong Kong Highlights

Most of the antique shops start closing by late afternoon so keep that in mind as you plan your day. At the end of the street, grab a beer at Blue Supreme and soak in the vibes of the neighborhood.

Dinner at Kwan Kee Claypot Rice

For dinner, head back to Sai Ying Pun to Kwan Kee Claypot Rice (263 Queen's Rd W) to try a delicious local dish - claypot rice, or bao zai faan in Cantonese.

Cooked over a flame in a claypot, the rice develops a smoky flavor and a crispy bottom. It's topped with a variety of ingredients - preserved sausage, chicken, pork, etc. that enhance the flavor. Once it arrives at your table, pour the soy sauce over the top and mix it up.

Kwan Kee Claypot Rice

Pro Tip: Since it's a popular spot, expect to queue for at least 30-45 minutes outside at Kwan Kee. Once you order, the claypot rice takes ~25 minutes to cook. Get a couple of non-claypot dishes as well to take the edge off your hunger since they are ready and come out faster. 

Fancy a Cocktail?

If you're looking for a spot to end the night, you might want to check out Ping Pong 129 or Ping Pong Gintonería. This spacious and chic bar specializes in gin-based cocktails and has an excellent vibe. 

Interested in Hong Kong Walking Tours?

Hong Kong Itinerary Day 2 - Kowloon

On the second day of this Hong Kong itinerary, head across Victoria Harbour to the Kowloon peninsula. The sights I'm including in Kowloon are fairly spread out so this day will involve a lot of different public transportation.

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

Begin the day at the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple in northeastern Kowloon (MTR station: Wong Tai Sin). This beautiful shrine is a Taoist temple dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, or the Great Immortal Wong. 

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

Many visitors flock to this temple in to seek spiritual guidance through a practice called kau chim, which is a kind of fortune-telling. During Lunar New Year, crowds are especially high as worshippers believe the earlier they offer incense, the better their luck for the coming year will be.

In this temple complex, you'll find a variety of buildings and pavilions, plus a peaceful garden behind it. Several buildings represent elements of the Chinese Fengshui culture: the Bronze Pavilion: “Metal”, Scripture Hall: “Wood”, Yuk Yik Fountain: “Water”, Yue Heung Pavilion: “Fire” and the Earth Wall: “Earth”. (That last one seems a bit obvious, no?)

Chi Lin Nunnery & Nan Lian Garden

Next, jump back on the MTR and take it one stop to Diamond Hill to reach the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden. When you arrive in Diamond Hill, head towards the Nan Lian Garden. This garden is designed in the style of the Tang Dynasty. Start to follow the loop path around the garden to the left, stopping in the architecture gallery along the way. 

Chi Lin Nunnery

Shortly after you enter the garden, you'll see a set of stairs leading up to a bridge which you should use to reach the Chi Lin Nunnery. Established in 1934 as a retreat for Buddhist nuns, the Chi Lin Nunnery was rebuilt in the 1990s in the Tang Dynasty style. It is made completely of wood with no nails used in its construction (as shown in the architecture gallery).

Chi Lin Nunnery Hong Kong
Nan Lian Garden

Once you've toured the nunnery, head back across the bridge and continue the loop around the Nan Lian Garden. Stop in the Rockery if you enjoy giant, nicely polished boulders. In the center of the garden, the Pavilion of Absolute Perfection is the star. With a name like that, how could it not be?

As you walk, stop to admire the pond and watch the koi. The garden is home to a restaurant (behind the waterfall) but it is open limited hours and usually has a wait so it's best to arrive early if you'd like to eat here. 

golden pagoda and orange bridge in garden with skyscraper in background in Hong Kong

Explore Mong Kok

Moving away from a peaceful atmosphere, the next stop is straight into chaos. Mong Kok is a bustling shopping and residential district in Kowloon and one of the most densely-populated areas in the world. One of the best ways to fully appreciate this area is to walk through its market streets. 

As you walk, grab a pineapple bun or egg tart from a local bakery, or perhaps a bubble tea. Just don't spoil your appetite for afternoon tea (if you plan to do it). 

To get there from Diamond Hill, get back on the MTR (direction of Whampoa). Get off at Prince Edward Station, exit B2 for the Flower Market. Below is a Google map to help you navigate. Though, if you have the energy for it, I also recommend wandering up and down the various side streets in this neighborhood.

Mong Kok Walking Tour

CLICK TO OPEN MAP IN GOOGLE MAPS

Flower Market

First stop is the Flower Market, a collection of flower shops selling all kinds of flowers and plants to make your home beautiful. This market is geared towards locals, but if you like flowers, it's fun to check out.

Pro Tip: Many smaller vendors do not allow photos, especially if you're not buying anything. Take note of the signs or ask if you're unsure before taking photos.

Flower Market Mong Kok Hong Kong
Yuen Po Street Bird Garden

At the end of the Flower Market, you'll find the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden which is basically a street market / pet store selling birds and bird supplies. I find birds in cages a bit sad so have not wandered in there myself.

Goldfish Market

In that same theme, the next market is called the Goldfish Market, but is actually a street of all kinds of pet stores. Many sell goldfish, turtles, etc. but you'll also find ones selling expensive dog and cat breeds. Although the animals are super adorable, if you live in Hong Kong, please do your research before supporting a pet shop.*

*The sad reality is that many dogs are bred in puppy mills and the conditions for the animals are quite cruel. One of the first dogs I walked in Hong Kong was a rescued puppy mill female who'd been bred multiple times and had her vocal cords removed so she couldn't bark. Learn more on the SPCA website about the puppy trade in Hong Kong.

Ladies Market

Continuing southward on Tung Choi Street, you'll reach the Ladies Market. Loads of vendors set up each afternoon into evening to sell a variety of cheap goods, such as paintings, keychains, massage tools, stereos, etc. This is also one of the best places to buy some counterfeit luxury handbags. It's fun to see if you can spot the difference between the authentic ones and the knock-offs.

Ladies Market Mong Kok Hong Kong

On the map, I've also listed a turnoff for Sneaker Street. In this area, you'll find a ton of sneakers stores selling a variety of brands and you can find some good deals. 

Once finished at the markets, get on the MTR at Yau Ma Tei station and ride two stops to Tsim Sha Tsui (TST).

Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula

One iconic and luxurious experience in Hong Kong is having afternoon tea at The Peninsula, which opened in 1928 and is one of Hong Kong's top luxury hotels. Afternoon tea is served in its elegant lobby from 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm on a first-come, first-served basis. If you go during a weekday, it's usually not a problem to get seated.

Since it's one of Hong Kong's classic experiences, afternoon tea at The Peninsula is expensive. If you enjoy this type of experience and it is in your budget, I believe it's worth it. Often, a musical ensemble performs during the tea which gives it that extra fancy vibe.

Tea at The Peninsula Hong Kong

The dress code is smart casual and you can check on The Peninsula's website for more information on what attire is not allowed.

What is included in Afternoon Tea?

The tea set comes on a three-tiered platter - the first level includes scones with clotted cream and jam, the second is a savory platter, and the third is dessert. Each person gets a personal pot of TWG tea and they re-fill the water throughout the tea.

Generally, I substitute afternoon tea in place of lunch when I take visitors as the portion is quite filling. The menu changes seasonally which means I've gotten to try new things every time I've gone.

Wander around TST

After finishing your afternoon tea, walk it off as you stroll around TST and check out some of its landmarks or do a bit of shopping, if you like.

Chungking Mansions

Located behind The Peninsula on Nathan Road, Chungking Mansions opened in 1961 and at the time was the tallest building in TST. By the 1970s, Chungking Mansions gained a notorious reputation but was also a hub for new migrants to Hong Kong, in particular people from Africa, India and Pakistan, to gather. 

Today, it still retains that energetic and multicultural vibe and is one of the best places to find authentic South Asian cuisine and halal food. You can also find cheap accommodation here as many hostels occupy its upper floors, but don't expect much in terms of the rooms.

1881 Heritage 

Combining historic buildings and modern purpose, 1881 Heritage is now an open-air shopping complex built in the former headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police. My favorite part of this complex is the beautiful 19th-century building, which has been transformed into a heritage boutique hotel (FWD HOUSE 1881). Surrounding the hotel, the grounds are a peaceful oasis and you can visit other preserved artifacts, such as the Time Ball Tower.

1881 Heritage TST Hong Kong
TST Promenade / Kowloon Public Pier

Once you're finished at 1881 Heritage, head towards the waterfront to admire Victoria Harbour and the beautiful Hong Kong Island skyline. This is the most iconic view in the city.

Hong Kong Skyline with Star Ferry

Admire the Clock Tower, which was erected in 1915 as part of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Station, and stands at 44 m tall. The railway station is long gone, but the clock tower is a nice piece of history.

Clock Tower Tsim Sha Tsui TST Hong Kong

Behind it, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre is a distinctive modern landmark which houses a large concert hall, a 3-tiered theatre, as well as various exhibition halls and rehearsal studios. 

As you continue along the promenade, you'll see the Hong Kong Museum of Art, as well as the Hong Kong Space Museum. I haven't been to either, but if you're looking for more things to do in Hong Kong, you may want to check them out.

Avenue of Stars

Wander east along the waterfront promenade and you'll reach Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong's version of Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Along the promenade, you'll see handprints from Hong Kong's famous entertainment stars. Unless you watch any Hong Kong movies, you probably won't recognize any of them.

Avenue of Stars Hong Kong

Towards the end of the Avenue of Stars (next to the Starbucks), you'll find the iconic Bruce Lee statue. That name might be one you recognize!

Bruce Lee statue Hong Kong
K11 MUSEA

Admittedly, I usually pop into the K11 MUSEA shopping mall to use the bathroom. However, it's honestly worth going in just to check out the architecture because it's one of the most interesting malls I've ever visited. Looking upwards, it reminds me of being under water in the Little Mermaid's treasure room. 

K11 Musea TST

Grab Dinner in TST

If you're starting to get hungry, grab a bite to eat in TST. For something a little different, head up to Kimberley Road, which is also known as Little Korea. You'll find a ton of Korean BBQ restaurants as well as some hot pot and other local places. I personally love the bulgogi at SSAL BORI SSAL, though there's usually a long wait to get in.

If you're not hungry, maybe grab a drink instead at the Kowloon Taproom on Ashley Road. They have a great selection of beers on tap.

Symphony of Lights

Head back to the TST Promenade by 8:00 pm to catch Hong Kong's Symphony of Lights - a light and music show on Victoria Harbour. Even if you miss the light show, it's still worth checking out the Hong Kong skyline at night. 

Symphony of Lights Hong Kong

Star Ferry to Central

If you're staying in Central, now is a great time to take the Star Ferry to get back to your hotel. If you're not, then just be sure that at some point, you enjoy a ride on the iconic Star Ferry.

Star Ferry Hong Kong skyline sunset

Operating since the late 1800s, the Star Ferry is a cheap and scenic way of crossing Victoria Harbour between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon and takes approximately 10 minutes. Use your Octopus card to pay for the ticket. 

Hong Kong Itinerary Day 3 - Lantau Island

On day three of this Hong Kong itinerary, venture over to Lantau Island. This is the island closest to the airport and Hong Kong's largest island. On Lantau, you'll take a cable car up over the soaring peaks to reach a giant Buddha statue and historic monastery. Then, ride a bus down to a charming fishing village with an opportunity to spot dolphins.

Pro Tip: Avoid weekends and holidays for this day of the itinerary. For the cable car, lines are shorter on weekdays and they tend not to fill the cars, which makes the journey more pleasant. Also, the fishing village will be less crowded and more charming than on weekends.

Getting to Lantau Island

To begin this journey, take the MTR to Tung Chung Station. If you don't feel comfortable navigating the public transportation on Lantau Island yourself, you might consider booking this Private 5-Hour Driving Tour of Lantau. However, then you would miss the cable car ride and that would be a shame!

Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car

One of my favorite things about visiting the Big Buddha is riding the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car to get there. From the Tung Chung MTR station, follow signs to reach the entrance. 

These large cars fit 10 passengers (though more like 8 adults comfortably) and climb up over the green peaks on the ~25-minute journey. They have 3 car options - the Standard cabin, Crystal cabin (glass floor), and a new Crystal + cabin (glass floor and sides). Since several hiking trails climb these peaks too, it's fun to get the Crystal cabin to watch the hikers below climb and regret their life choices (being glad it isn't me for once!).  

cable car over green mountains with setting sun in background

Pro Tips: To save time waiting in the ticket line, purchase your tickets in advance on the website. You'll still have to queue to board the cable car but your overall wait time will be much shorter. 

Which Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car Ticket to Buy?

Purchase a one-way ticket on the cable car (Standard: HK $195, Crystal: HK $235)* if you plan to follow this itinerary and visit Tai O fishing village after the Buddha. If you're going to skip the village, then a round-trip ticket would be best (Standard: HK $270, Crystal: HK $350, Crystal +: HK $395).* 

Although I love the cable car, it is one of the more expensive attractions. If it's not in your budget, or if you're afraid of heights, take the number 23 bus from the Tung Chung MTR station to Nong Ping village instead (HK $19.60 on weekdays + Saturdays / HK $33.90 on Sundays + public holidays).

*Ticket costs listed are based on prices at time of writing this article (June 2024) and may change in the future. Check the website for up-to-date costs.

Tian Tan Buddha

Tian Tan Buddha, or Big Buddha, is a relatively new but iconic Hong Kong landmark located on Lantau Island. Sitting atop the peak of Mount Muk Yue, this Buddha is the second largest outdoor bronze seated Buddha (34 m / 112 ft tall).

Tian Tan Buddha Ngong Ping

Climb ~300 steps to reach the base of the Buddha and you'll have beautiful views of the South China Sea and green mountains. Underneath the Buddha, the exhibition hall contains a relic of the Buddha.

Tian Tan Buddha with stairs Hong Kong

Pro Tip: The mountains are usually a bit cooler than the urban areas in Hong Kong. If you're visiting in winter, be sure to bring a jacket for the top.

View of Ngong Ping and Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin Monastery

Whereas the Big Buddha was only completed in 1993, the Po Lin Monastery, which sits across from it, has been around since 1906. Initially called Tai Mao Pung or "The Big Hut", it was renamed to Po Lin Monastery in 1924. In 1918, Chi Chuk Lam nunnery joined the monastery in Ngong Ping.

Po Lin Monastery Ngong Ping Hong Kong

The main temple is home to three bronze statues of the Buddha which represent his past, present, and future lives. 

Exploring Ngong Ping

After you've visited the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, you could explore some of the easy hiking trails in the area, such as the Ngong Ping Fun Walk or the Wisdom Path.

Check out this map from Hong Kong's Leisure and Cultural Services Dept for more info on trails.

Lunchtime Decisions

By this time, you're probably also feeling hungry. I recommend the kebabs at Ebeneezer's Kebabs & Pizzeria. Maybe that doesn't scream "Hong Kong cuisine" but their kebabs are delicious. Most of the other restaurants we've tried up at Ngong Ping are mediocre and disappointing. 

Alternatively, you could wait until you get to Tai O for lunch, but I wasn't thrilled with the place where we ate there either, so cannot make any good recommendations.

Bus or Taxi to Tai O 

Once you're ready, head to the bus station or taxi stand. If you're taking public transportation, you'll ride the number 21 bus to Tai O. On weekdays and Saturdays, the bus only runs once per hour so be sure to check the schedule.

If they're available, it's quicker to take a taxi to Tai O and not too expensive. Though sometimes taxis are sparse on Lantau.

Tai O Fishing Village

Known for its idyllic setting, pink dolphins, and stilted houses, Tai O fishing village offers a look back in time to how many villages in Hong Kong used to be. 

Home to the Tanaka people, a community of fishermen and fisherwomen who have built their homes on stilts, Tai O is a tight-knit community and is still today a working fishing village above all else. This means, you can expect to find fishermen bringing in their catches and fresh fish at the market. In addition, Tai O is well-known for its shrimp paste industry and salty fish, and dried seafood. And of course, the smell of fish is in the air!

Tai O fishing village street

That being said, Tai O has also become a popular tourist destination and does get quite crowded on weekends. During the week, it's very calm so I highly recommend visiting on a weekday. If you'd like to stay overnight, the beautiful Tai O Heritage Hotel is a great place for a getaway.

Wander the Streets

Tai O is located both on Lantau Island and across the Tai O River on a small islet. Wander down both streets to get a feel for the village and check out the shops selling seafood, admire the colorful murals, and spot the street cats - some friendlier than others.

Mural in Tai O Hong Kong
Check out the Mangroves on the Tai O Promenade

When you first arrive, you'll see a waterfront promenade in front of the bus stop. Walk down the promenade to see the mangroves and admire the beautiful scenery.

Tai O Promenade Hong Kong
Take a Boat Tour

As you walk through the village, you'll be bombarded with offers to take a boat trip around the island and also to see pink dolphins. The boat ride cost HK $50 (cash), so we decided, why not?

Spoiler: we didn't see any dolphins. However, we did see the stilted houses from the water. Then, we bobbed around at sea for a while trying to spot dolphins, which meant we also got to admire views of the Tai O islet and the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge in the distance. 

Tai O fishing Village Hong Kong

From the boat, we also had a great view of Tseung Kwan Shek, or the General's Rock.

Sea View with bridge and General's Rock near Tai O
Check out the Neighborhood Temples

As you walk around, you'll spot several small neighborhood temples. The Tai O Kwan Tai Temple is Tai O's oldest temple, which was built in the 15th century and is dedicated to Kwan Tai, the God of War.

Temple in Tai O Hong Kong

You'll find the Kwan Tai Temple right in the heart of town near the market, next to a tiny Tin Hau Temple. Other temples require a bit more of a walk to get to them. 

Hike around the Islet

If you'd like to stretch your legs, take a loop hike around the Tai O islet. The 2.5-km / 1.5-mile walk is mostly flat with slight elevation gain up to a scenic viewpoint. 

Return to Hong Kong Island

Once you've finished exploring Tai O, return to Tung Chung on the number 11 bus. Then, hop on the MTR and head to Causeway Bay for the evening. If you need a break or stayed longer on Lantau, feel free to skip the evening activities!

Dinner in Causeway Bay

Back on Hong Kong Island, head to Causeway Bay, a buzzy shopping district with high-end shopping malls, department stores, and boutique stores. In addition, this neighborhood has a ton of places to eat.

For a classic wonton noodle dish, head to Mak's Noodles at 37 Leighton Rd. Started as a noodle stall in Central in 1968, Mak's now has branches all over Hong Kong. 

beef brisket and noodles in soup

Beef Brisket Noodle Soup

wonton noodle soup with spoon

Wonton Noodle Soup

Horse Racing in Happy Valley (Wednesday evenings only)

If you happen to be visiting on a Wednesday, head over to the Happy Valley Racecourse to watch the horse races. Use your Octopus card to enter the racetrack (for a small fee) at the racecourse entrance on Wong Nai Chung Road. Once inside, soak in the festive atmosphere, grab a snack, a beer, place your bets, and enjoy! 

Pro Tip: Check the schedule to see if races are being held during your travel dates and also that the stadium is the Happy Valley (HV) Racecourse. Races are also held in Sha Tin (ST), usually on the weekends, but sometimes they switch it up on Wednesdays as well. 

Discover Local Eats on a Hong Kong Food Tour

Hong Kong Itinerary Day 4 - Lamma Island

On the fourth day in Hong Kong, it's time to hop on a ferry to discover the peaceful vibes and tranquility of Lamma Island. Hong Kong's third largest island, Lamma Island is 13 sq km (5 sq. mi.) with a population of approximately 8,000 people, including a sizeable expat population.

Its lack of vehicular traffic and small village life makes it a fun day trip to see a quieter side of Hong Kong, eat delicious seafood, and hike a few easy trails.

Ferry from Central to Sok Kwu Wan

First step of the day is to get to Central Ferry Pier 4 for the ferries to Lamma Island. Ferries run to two villages on the island - Sok Kwu Wan and Yung Shue Wan.

Sok Kwu Wan is a quiet fishing village on the southern side of the island with several good seafood restaurants. On the northwest side, Yung Shue Wan is the largest village on Lamma with a wide range of restaurants and shops.

Sok Kwu Wan boats

Fishing boats in Sok Kwu Wan

To follow this itinerary, plan to take the ferry to Sok Kwu Wan around noon after enjoying a leisurely morning. 

Itinerary Note: If you're an early riser or prefer to avoid hiking in the afternoon heat (a good idea during summer), you could switch up the order of this itinerary. Instead, take an early ferry to Sok Kwu Wan and hike the Family Walk first. Then, stop for the seafood lunch and continue on to Yung Shue Wan after lunch. You could spend the afternoon at the beach or head back to finish off some of the previous days' activities you may not have completed.

Exploring Sok Kwu Wan

Once you arrive in Sok Kwu Wan, stroll through the main "street" lined with seafood restaurants and small shops. At the end of the shops, you'll spot a Tin Hau Temple, originally constructed in the early 19th century, but reconstructed after a fire in 2004.

Sok Kwu Wan Tin Hau Temple Lamma Island
Seafood Lunch

At the Seafood restaurants in the village typically serve similar items, but we like to eat at Fu Kee Seafood Restaurant.

The staff are very friendly and I like that have set menus for all group sizes. Not only does the set menu take the stress out of deciding what to order, but it's allowed me to try things I might not have otherwise. Most importantly, everything we've eaten there was delicious.

Lamma Island seafood meal

Probably the most well-known seafood restaurant in Sok Kwu Wan is the massive Lamma Rainbow, formerly Rainbow Seafood Restaurant. They even have their own ferry to and from the restaurant which you can take if you eat there. The food is a bit more expensive than the others so I've never tried it.

Hiking on Lamma Island

Once you've filled up on seafood, exploring Lamma Island's various hiking trails is a good way to work off the meal. The trails on Lamma Island are paved (like sidewalks) and are at an easy to moderate level. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to take plenty of water with you and wear sneakers for the hike. Even though trails are paved, there are some steep hills that may be difficult in sandals (though you'll see plenty of people wearing them).

Below are a couple of walks on Lamma Island that I recommend if you'd like to explore the natural side of Hong Kong.

Lamma Island Family Walk - Loop Trail

After lunch, the Sok Kwu Wan loop trail on the Lamma Island Family Walk is a great way to stretch your legs and explore the more remote areas of Lamma Island. Follow the map in my Day Trip to Lamma Island guide for more details about this hike.

On this trail, you'll find quiet beaches, old village ruins, and gorgeous viewpoints before returning to Sok Kwu Wan. 

Mo Tat Wan Beach on Lamma Island

Most of the trail is flat(ish) with a few small ups and downs. Towards the end, you will have a steeper ~100-m (~330-ft) climb over the hills to return to Sok Kwu Wan. 

Tung O Beach Lamma Island

Tung O Beach on Lamma Island - practically deserted!

Ling Kok Shan Loop Hike (More challenging)

For a more challenging hike, I recommend the climb up to Ling Kok Shan. This peak sits at 250 m in elevation (820 ft) and involves a climb of over 1,000 steps. But the views, especially on a clear day, are absolutely incredible! 

view from top of Ling Kok Shan Hike

To get to that trail, you'll start off on the Lamma Island Family Walk, then take the fork for the Ling Kok Shan Trail after you reach Mo Tat Wan village. For a detailed guide and map to follow, check out my Ling Kok Shan Hiking Guide.

Sok Kwu Wan to Yung Shue Wan Hike

Finally, after you've spent time exploring the southern, more remote side of Lamma Island, head north to Yung Shue Wan. The northern end of Lamma is more populated and has many small villages as you get closer to Yung Shue Wan. Along the way, you'll pass a few beaches and have beautiful viewpoints. 

Lamma Island hike

Hills with an evening glow coming down the final descent towards Yung Shue Wan on Lamma Island

Lamma Island Power Station

Lamma Power Station - not the most attractive feature of Lamma Island, but sort of pretty in the sunset...?

A guide for how to hike this trail is included in the second half of my Day Trip to Lamma Island post.

Exploring Yung Shue Wan

Yung Shue Wan is where most of Lamma's population resides and is a bustling little village with a wide range of eateries, shops, and bars. It's fun to stroll down the streets and check out what new places have opened since the last time we visited.

Yung Shue Wan shopfronts Lamma Island
Drink at Yardley Brothers

One of our favorite spots on Lamma Island is the Yardley Brothers Beer Shack, a Hong Kong craft brewery initially started on Lamma Island. When we moved to Hong Kong in 2017, the beer shack was indeed just a shack along the Family Trail. Now, it's a proper bar with 8 taps and a delicious beef brisket mac n cheese which hits the spot after a day of hiking.

Yardley Brothers on Lamma Island brisket mac n cheese and beer

Ferry to Central

Once you've enjoyed the evening in Lamma Island, catch the ferry back to Central at the Yung Shue Wan Ferry Pier at the northern end of the village.

Hong Kong Itinerary Day 5 - New Territories or Macau Day Trip

Although you might be thinking, five days is a lot of time to spend in Hong Kong. Is there even enough to do? And yes, yes there is! In fact, I had a difficult time deciding what to choose for the fifth day of this itinerary, so I'm giving you options. Sort of like a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' day.

And if you're staying in Hong Kong longer than five days, why not try them all?

  • Option 1: Big Adventure with Challenging Hike (10,000 Buddhas Monastery, Ma On Shan Hike, Evening in Sai Kung)
  • Option 2: Day Trip to Macau (Explore Historic Areas of Macau)
  • Option 3: Sai Kung Day Trip (Hiking + Hong Kong's Most Beautiful Beaches) 

Since there are three options, I will not be going into nitty-gritty detail on each of these adventures. Instead, I'll give a basic overview and link to my more detailed posts where you can find in-depth information depending on which one you pick. 

Hiking Adventures

For my readers who are avid outdoor enthusiasts and enjoy my Hong Kong hiking articles, options 1 & 3 are for you. Many tourists don't make it up as far as New Territories, but if you love hiking, this area is the best place to be. Option 1 includes a difficult hike whereas option 3 includes a few easy to moderate level hikes from which to choose. 

Hong Kong Itinerary Day 5 Option 1 - Big Adventure

The first option for the fifth day in Hong Kong is a bit of a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' in itself. There's a lot crammed into it to show you different options, and to do it all, you need an early start. The day begins with a cultural visit to 10,000 Buddhas Monastery. Then, a challenging hike takes you up over a mountain ridge to a relaxed fishing town where you can spend the late afternoon/evening.

10,000 Buddhas Monastery

Begin the day by heading north on the MTR to Sha Tin Station in New Territories to visit the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, a beautiful, hillside temple complex founded in 1951. Home to over 13,000 Buddha statues and a lovely red pagoda, this temple complex has beautiful mountain views and you might even spot a monkey!

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin, Hong Kong
Red Pagoda at Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong

For more details on how to reach the temple, check out my post Exploring the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery and Sha Tin.

Itinerary Notes: 
If you're not sure you want to do the big hike in this option, you could still visit the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery and visit some of the other sights I mentioned in Sha Tin. Then, take the 299X bus from Sha Tin to Sai Kung, a beautiful seaside town with waterfront eateries, charming cafes, and gorgeous street art.

Alternatively, you may want to skip the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery and Sha Tin if you plan to do the Ma On Shan Hike since the hike will take ~5 hours to complete.

Getting to the Ma On Shan Hike

If you'd like to try the hike up Ma On Shan, hop on the East Rail Line back one station to Tai Wai Station to transfer to the Tuen Ma Line. Ride to the Heng On Station, where you'll begin the hike.

The climb to Ma On Shan is a difficult hike and requires a higher level of fitness and the gear to navigate rough terrain and hiking trails. Also, I would not attempt it during the summer months. Enjoy this trail from November - March when temperatures are cooler. 

Ma On Shan Hike to Sai Kung

The Ma On Shan Hike that I've included in this itinerary climbs up to Ma On Shan Peak, sometimes called Saddle Peak for the shape of the ridgeline. It's tied for the 10th highest peak in Hong Kong at 702 m / 2,303 ft. Along the way, you'll also scale Hunch Backs, Hong Kong's 12th tallest peak at 677 m / 2,221 ft.

Ridge leading to Ma On Shan Peak 2

The route is ~12-km / 7.5-mi long, gains over 700 m / 2,300 ft in elevation, and takes approximately 5 hours to complete. Follow this Ma On Shan Hiking Guide to complete this epic hike.

As I mentioned, this is a tough hike. The terrain is quite rocky and slippery and requires good hiking footwear. Much of the trail requires you to scramble up steep rocky cliffs and can be quite dangerous if you don't have the right equipment.

Rocky Trail to Ma On Shan
Rocky climb in Ma On Shan Country Park

Personally, I love this kind of challenging hike. But it's important to know what you're getting yourself into in case this kind of trail isn't for you. Option 3's trails are just as beautiful and much easier to tackle.

Hunch Backs overlooking Three Fathoms Cove

The views along the way are stunning - rugged mountains and beautiful turquoise waters will make you wonder if you're still in Hong Kong.

Explore Sai Kung Town

At the end of the hike, you'll reach Sai Kung town. This charming seaside town has a great variety of restaurants, bars, and shops. As you wander through the alleyways, you'll also spot beautiful murals and street art. Stop in one of the many cafes or bars for a drink and soak in the vibes of the town.

3-Day Itinerary for Sai Kung Hong Kong

Looking back at the Ma On Shan ridge behind Sai Kung

Along the waterfront, fishermen sell their day's catches against the backdrop of beautiful green islands. 

Hong Kong Itinerary Day 5 Option 2 - Macau Day Trip

My second option for the fifth day of a Hong Kong itinerary - a day trip to neighboring Macau - means you'll actually leave Hong Kong completely. Only about an hour from Hong Kong by ferry, Macau (also spelled Macao) is another special administrative region (SAR) of China but has a different feel due to its colonial Portuguese influences. 

Important Reminder: When traveling to Macau, remember to bring your passport! You'll go through immigration to leave Hong Kong and enter Macau just as you would with a new country. And then do it again on the return journey.

Complete Macau Day Trip Itinerary

If you plan to visit Macau, use my post How to See Historic Macau on a Day Trip from Hong Kong to see how to get to Macau, tips for visiting, plus a full itinerary. Since I already have a detailed post on what to do in Macau, I won't go into that here. Instead, I'll give you a brief rundown of why you might want to visit Macau.

Why Visit Macau?

Similar to Hong Kong, Macau was once a collection of fishing villages and settlements before the Portuguese arrived in the 15th century. First leased from China by Portugal in 1557, Macau was a Portuguese colonial settlement (and official colony from the early 17th century) until 1999 when it was handed back to China.

Guia Lighthouse and Chapel

Due to its long colonial history, Macau has many Portuguese influences. Patterned cobblestone streets (calçada portuguesa) and old colonial buildings decorate the city.

Cobblestone sidewalks in Macau
Macau pedestrian street

Another reason to visit Macau is for the food, obviously. Macanese cuisine, the world's first "fusion" cuisine is a mix of local Cantonese cooking influenced by Portuguese cuisine over the centuries. 

Portuguese Duck Rice in Macau

Despite all of its rich history, Macau is most well-known internationally for being the "Las Vegas of the East". Home to many giant casinos, you could probably spend a day checking them out and gambling, if that's something that interests you. In summer months, casinos are great places to cool off in the air-conditioning.  

Reception at The Parisian Macao
Eiffel Tower at The Parisian Macao

Hong Kong Itinerary Day 5 Option 3 - Sai Kung Day Trip

Finally, the last option for day five of this Hong Kong itinerary is to head directly to the beautiful Sai Kung District and spend the day there. This option focuses on easier hikes and spending time relaxing at remote beaches. Perhaps the perfect way to wrap up your trip to Hong Kong?

Getting to Sai Kung

Sai Kung is located in eastern Hong Kong and is not on the MTR line, so it's a bit more difficult to get there. However, plenty of buses run there regularly from various neighborhoods in Hong Kong. Below are just a few of the routes you can take to get there. Expect it to take ~1.5 hours if you're coming from Central.

  • MTR to Choi Hung Station >> Number 1 Green Minibus to Sai Kung
  • MTR to Hang Hau Station >> Number 101M Green Minibus to Sai Kung
  • MTR to Diamond Hill Station >> Number 92 Bus (double-decker) to Sai Kung
Explore Sai Kung Town

Ride the bus to the end of the line and you'll arrive in Sai Kung town. This charming seaside town has a great variety of restaurants, bars, and shops. Wander through the pedestrian alleyways to explore the shops and spot murals and street art. Then, gawk at the giant fish in the tanks of the waterfront seafood restaurants. 

Flower Mural in Sai Kung Hong Kong

Be sure to make your way to the Sai Kung Tin Hau Temple Complex, just off Po Tung Road. Dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, it still has its original early 20th-century facade and is a beautiful temple.

Grab a coffee, and/or lunch, at one of the cafes to fuel up for the afternoon while soaking in the vibes of the town. I recommend Little Cove Espresso or hushush in Hoi Pong Square.

Breakfast at Little Cove Espresso

Check out my 3-day Sai Kung itinerary (from a 2021 staycation) for ideas on what to do in Sai Kung, including a shorter hike closer to town to Trio Beach.

Sai Kung Hiking

Although Sai Kung town is a fun place to explore, the main draw to visit this region of Hong Kong is the stunning natural beauty of the Sai Kung Country Parks, which are further east from town.

Ham Tin Beach with green hills, white sandy beach and deep aqua waters

White sandy beaches in Sai Kung

To really appreciate this area, I recommend hiking one of the trails below, then relaxing on a remote beach for a couple of hours. 

High Island Reservoir with teal water and green mountains

As you will see in the posts, to get to the trailheads, you'll have to take a taxi. Buses run out to the parks, but you may have to wait a while. On the way back from hikes 1 & 2, we usually take a speedboat from Ham Tin Beach or Sai Wan Beach. If you don't enjoy hiking, you could take the speedboat both ways. For the third hike, you can catch a minibus back to town from Hoi Ha village.

Dinner in Sai Kung

Once you return to Sai Kung after a day out in nature, have a drink, grab dinner, then make the journey back to your hotel.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, Hong Kong is chock-full of things to do and incredible places to see. From its unique cityscapes to pristine natural beauty, you're bound to find something to delight you no matter what type of traveler you are. I hope I've shown you the possibilities for a five-day trip to Hong Kong (or longer) and that you fall in love with the city while you're here.

Hong Kong Articles You Might Enjoy 

If you're planning a trip to Hong Kong, you might also enjoy the following articles:

Happy travels!


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5 Days in Hong Kong An Expat
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