Hong Kong is the first place abroad that I have traveled to; but in that particular trip, what I mainly did was just eating and shopping as I accompanied a friend of mine back in university. So when I was able to finally come back again this year to do a more proper ‘tour’ of the city, I did my best to cover as many activities and attractions possible! And today, I am sharing with you my 5-day itinerary to Hong Kong (which includes a day trip to the nearby city of Macau; it also includes an array of other must-dos that you can consider doing if in case you have more days to spare or if you have a different travel style).
But before I go on, I think it’s best that I give you a bit of some background about the geographical area of Hong Kong because a lot of people actually have this misconception that there’s not much to do there, or that there’s not much green at all — two things that are absolutely NOT true.
First things first, there’s more to the well-known urbanised center because 2/3 of the country is actually made up of the countryside which is full of countless small mountains and several islands.
To illustrate, Hong Kong is made up of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, and over 200 offshore or outlying islands (the largest of which is Lantau Island).
The area that which most tourists tend to only explore is that of the center: Kowloon Peninsula, and the northern edge of Hong Kong Island.
Rest assured, everything is well-connected by bus and train (MTR – Mass Transit Railway), so going from point A to point B wouldn’t be a big problem at all. If in case you get lost or you get confused about public transportation, Google Maps‘ directions feature is your best friend — this nifty piece of technology has helped me numerous times whenever I’m traveling to foreign countries.
…Now, with all that said and done, let me present to you the things to do in Hong Kong when you’re traveling there for 5 days (or even more!)
DIY: 5 Days Itinerary in Hong Kong
» PRE-TRAVEL GUIDE
Now before I begin with the itinerary guide, if in case you’re more of a visual person, you can already watch my video below to get a ‘peek’ into the adventures that I did during my recent trip to Hong Kong!
» DAY #1 «
During my stay, I got a hotel at Hong Kong Island (but you can also opt to get your accommodation in Kowloon as it is more in the ‘middle’ of everything).
That being said, you might find it odd that I explored Kowloon area during my first day instead of Hong Kong Island itself… well, the thing is, I wanted to see the harbour during the day as well, so it made more sense to sail to Kowloon and explore it and then sail back at night to see the evening cityscape too. To add, it was a Wednesday when I arrived, and it was timely that the Symphony of Lights had English narration for that day — so, *thumbs up*.
Explore Tsim Sha Tsui area in Kowloon
• Go through Victoria Harbour via Star Ferry towards Kowloon Island (Tsim Sha Tsui area)
HKD $2.20 – From Hong Kong Island, you can ride the Star Ferry from either Wan Chai pier or Central pier and it only takes about 10 minutes to reach Tsim Sha Tsui pier. Tickets can be bought on the spot and the ferries leave every 10 minutes.
• Walk around Kowloon Park
This is a large public park smacked in the middle of the bustling area of Tsim Sha Tsui but it offers tranquility for its guests what with its Chinese garden, lotus ponds, aviaries, and more. If you come here on a Sunday around 2PM to 5PM, you can even witness a kung fu and lion dance performance. (Nearest MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui Station)
• // Lunch // Eat at One Dim Sum Chinese Restaurant
Around HKD $25~ per meal – If you want to taste a One-Michelin star dim sum restaurant that wouldn’t burn your wallet, then this is the right place for you! During peak hours though, be prepared to wait for about 30 minutes until you get seated; otherwise, it’s best to visit during low peak hours from 3PM to 5PM and 9PM to midnight. (Nearest MTR: Prince Edward Station)
• Head to Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
If you’ve got time, the promenade is a charming place to stroll in. Around this area you can find the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Hong Kong Space Museum, the Clock Tower, and the Avenue of Stars (where you can see exhibits dedicated to film stars like Bruce Lee, etc.; regrettably though, this area is under improvement until 2018).
• // Night time // Watch the Symphony of Lights from Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
This is a free nightly multimedia show involving (what else but) lights, lasers, and buildings. The best spot to watch it would be by the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade waterfront so that you can see the picturesque Hong Kong Island and Victoria Peak on the other side. Live narration in English is available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (the rest of the days are in Mandarin and Cantonese) — it starts at 8PM daily and lasts for about 13 minutes.
TRIVIA: The Guinness World Records named this as the world’s largest permanent light and sound show.
• // Night time // Shop till you drop at Mong Kok (Nearest MRT: Mong Kok Station)
Temple Street Night Market – this is basically a flea market bazaar where you can find tons of affordable trinkets, souvenirs, electronics, jade, antiques, etc. Officially, it is open from 2PM until midnight each day between Jordan Road and Kansu street; but most stalls usually open at 4PM and its lively atmosphere starts at about 9PM.
Ladies Market – as the name goes, this is a haven for the ladies what with all the cheap clothing and accessories that adorn this place. There are also branded stores speckled across the area that are relatively inexpensive. (MTR: board the train going to Tsuen Wan and get off at Mongkok Station, exiting at Bank Centre signed E ad then E2.)
Mongkok Computer Centre – for all the techies, this is where you must head off for all your computer-related needs — it houses more than 70 computer shops!
• // Dinner // Dine at any of the food stalls lined along Temple Street
Starts at HKD $30 per dish – To really be with the locals, this is a must-do! Try out the fresh seafood dishes or look for a stall that offers claypot rice — a Hong Kong classic! (Nearest MRT: Jordan Station)
• Go back to Hong Kong Island via Star Ferry
HKD $2.20 – I suggest taking the Tsim Sha Tsui to Central route since it has a more picturesque view of the harbor with the beautiful Victoria Peak in view. If you want, Star Ferry also offers a harbour cruise that is timed together with the Symphony of Lights (see here).
• Visit the Hong Kong Museum of History
Come here if you want to learn more of Hong Kong’s historical and cultural heritage. There are audio guides for HKD $10 and you can get in for free if you come on a Wednesday (a majority of Hong Kong’s museums have FREE admittance on Wednesdays actually).
• Go up the Sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck
HKD $151 if you buy online – This is located on the 100th floor of Hong Kong’s tallest building, the International Commerce Centre (ICC). In here, you can have a fantastic 360-degree panoramic view of Victoria Harbour! (Nearest MRT: Kowloon Station)
» DAY #2 «
Given that my trip to Hong Kong was sponsored by a local company, my 2nd day actually involved meetings, exploring their properties, hotels, etc. Now of course, it wouldn’t make sense for you to do the same; so instead, I would suggest that you go off and explore the areas of the New Territories and/or Lantau Island for this day!
It helps to note that NOT everything listed below for both can be done in a day. Therefore, what I suggest is that you do half a day per area as you pick just one or a few activities for each (or just explore one area that you like best for the whole day).
Explore the New Territories
• Go through a heritage trail
There are two of these that you can choose from. The Ping Shan Heritage Trail links up a number of traditional Chinese buildings that are within walking distance to one another as it gives you the chance to learn more of the traditional life in the New Territories. Meanwhile, Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail will take you through the history of the Tang clan, one of the 5 largest clans in the New Territories.
• Go hiking
Hiking is slowly becoming a favorite past time of the people in Hong Kong and with the vast green terrain that surround the country, there are surely various hiking trails that you can choose from. This website perfectly sums up all of those places and they’re even labeled accordingly with difficulty, time, etc.
• Visit some temples
The most notable ones are:
Chi Lin Nunnery – a large temple complex that has been established as a retreat for Buddhisht nuns. You can find here statues of the Sakyamuni Buddha, Guanyin and other bodhisattvas made from gold, clay, wood, and stone. (Nearest MTR: Diamond Hill Station)
Che Kung Temple – this honors Che Kung, a military commander of the Southern Song dynasty. Naturally, you will find a giant statue of Che Kung at the main worship hall’s altar. (Nearest MTR: Tai Wai Station)
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery – there are actually no resident monks in this Buddhist temple as it is now managed by laypersons. However, the beauty of this place’s temples, pavilions and pagodas are not to be missed; plus, the journey up to this monastery is an attraction itself due to the golden Buddhas that line up the path. (Nearest MTR: Sha Tin Station)
Explore Lantau Island
• Ride 360 Ngong Ping
HKD $255 for Standard roundtrip and HKD $325 for Crystal Cabin roundtrip – This 25-minute cable car ride is the best way to explore Lantau island. It starts from Tung Chung (MTR) and if you have some HKD to spare from your travel budget, I suggest that you try the Crystal Cabin — it has a glass bottom so that you can see everything around and below you in clear view.
• See the Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha)
Po Lin Monastery is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist places and has been called as the ‘Buddhist World in the South’. Opposite to this is the famous brnze Big Buddha statue that sits at 34 metres high and facing north to look towards Mainland China (it is open from 10AM to 5:30PM).
• Go around Ngong Ping Village
This is a 1.5-hectare place where you can find an array of shops and eateries. If you have HKD $40 to spare, you can also watch the multimedia show ‘Walking with Buddha’
• Head out to Tai O
A lot of photographer’s find this as an interesting spot to picture: a community of fishermen who have their houses built on traditional stilts — a common feature of old Chinese fishing villages. You could also explore the local fish market that the locals flock into. (This is a short bus or taxi ride away, approximately 15 minutes from the Big Buddha).
» DAY #3 «
Perfect for families, or simply for those who are kids-at-heart…
HKD $539 for adults (you can get HKD $20 discount if you purchase from CTS/China Travel Service at the airport) – Since I already visited OceanPark before, I opted to put Disneyland on my 5-day itinerary to Hong Kong and it was fun!
Naturally, there are various attractions and themed areas here for you to choose from — furthermore, there are even parades and stage shows that happen daily. My favorites are the ‘Festival of the Lion King‘ at Adventureland and ‘Mickey and the Wondrous Book‘ at Fantasyland. (Go to this link for an accurate schedule of activities during your day of visit). Be sure not to miss out the 4D attraction that they have, as well as the 8PM fireworks display!
(MRT: Disneyland Resort Station)
• …or go to OceanPark
HKD $385 for adults – Disneyland is best explored if you just want some ‘calm fun’; hence, if you want crazier rides, I suggest going to OceanPark instead! …And of course, they have varied attractions that lets you take a closer look into marine life.
(Transportation: Ride the Citybus’s Ocean Park Express bus service Route 629 located just outside the Star Ferry Terminal on Hong Kong Island side or from Admiralty West Bus Terminal outside Admiralty MTR station)
» DAY #4 «
Explore Hong Kong Island
• // Breakfast // Have breakfast at Kam Kee
HKD $35~ Have a taste of a typical Hong Kong breakfast right here! (One of their branches is located near Exit A of Causeway Bay MTR Station)
• Take the Hong Kong Tramway (Dingding)
As low as HKD $2.30, payable with Octopus Card – this 1920s-style tram is the best way to discover Hong Kong Island. Just head over to this site to decipher the route you want to take and to map out your stops. If you rather want a planned route prepared for you, well then for only HKD $95, you can already be a part of their signature 1-hour TramOramic tour.
• // Lunch // Try the famous Din Tai Fung Restaurant (Yee Wo Branch)
HKD $70~ – This is yet another affordable Michelin-star-awarded franchise restaurant and it rather specializes in xiao long bao — a type of steamed soup dumpling that I guarantee you will love! (Nearest MTR: Causeway Bay Station)
• Go up via the Peak Tram to reach the Sky Terrace and see Victoria Peak (and then have some fun at Madame Tussauds)
All of these are packaged at just a price of HKD $305 (yes, including roundtrip fare for Peak Tram) – I loved this package that I availed via the wax museum: Madame Tussauds website, because not only is it reasonably-prized but it also helped me steer clear of the long line at the ticket counter for the Peak Tram. So basically, Peak Tram will take you up to Victoria Peak via the Sky Terrace, the place where you get to see with your own eyes that iconic view of the Hong Kong skyline — an absolutely breathtaking sight! (NOTE: Madame Tussauds is located in the same building). (Nearest MTR: Central Station)
• // Dinner // Dine and drink at Lan Kwai Fong
This small square street is one of Hong Kong’s most popular nightlife hot spots with over a hundred of restaurants and bars. Certainly, if you’re up for partying afterwards, you’ll have no shortage of options here. (Nearest MTR: Central Station)
• Ride a sampan or ‘junk boat’
Those flashy red wooden boats that you see on Victoria Harbour are no other than the traditional sampans or junk boats that were typically used in the olden times. There are not a lot of providers available today, but you can take your pick among 3, which you can find here. (Fare starts at about HKD $120 per person)
• Shop around Causeway Bay
If you’re up for a high-end shopping spree, go to the big shopping malls like Time Square, IFC, and Landmark among others. For gadgets and computers, there’s the Wan Chai Computer Centre. (Nearest MTR: Causeway Bay Station)
» DAY #5 «
Macau is just a 1-hour boat ride away, so why not take this opportunity to come and visit? Besides, your main expenses here will only be for food and the boat tickets (unless you want to go shopping here too and do some casino playing). I say this because once you’re inside the city, you wouldn’t need to pay for transportation at all due to the number of FREE casino shuttle buses that go all over (and it can be used by literally anyone; you really don’t have to be a casino’s guest to use it).
CURRENCY: Macau has its own called as Macanese Patacas (MOP). But don’t worry about exchanging your HKD to MOP because HKD is already widely accepted in Macau.
• (8AM) Take the TurboJET ferry to get to Macau (Outer Harbour) ferry terminal
HKD $165 – Ride the TurboJet ferry from Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal which is located at Shun Tak Centre in Sheung Wan (MTR Sheung Wan Station). Make sure that you buy a roundtrip ticket that lands in Macau Outer Harbour and NOT Macau Taipa.
• Get on the FREE shuttle bus at the terminal that leads to Grand Lisboa, and then explore the nearby attractions in the historic center…
Senado Square – this is a paved town center of Macau and part of the UNESCO Historic Centre of the Macau World Heritage Site. As per history, this used to be a meeting place for the Chinese and Portuguese people. Many large events were also hosted here and it still continues up to today.
St. Dominic’s Church – located near Leal Senado Building, this Baroque-style church is noted for its mixture of European and Macanese design features.
Ruins of St. Paul’s – this was originally St. Paul’s College and the Church of St. Paul; today however, what remains of it after a fire back in 1835 is only that of the southern stone facade and some other parts of the ruins that are now turned into a museum.
Monte Forte (Fortaleza do Monte) – this is the historical military centre of Macau, located just beside the Ruins of St. Paul’s. Originally, this was built to protect the properties of Jesuits from pirates, but later on seized by the governor for defending the city.
• Visit Macau Tower
HKD $2.5 – From Senado Square, walk over to Praca Jorge Alvares and take Bus 32. At 338 meters, this tower is inspired out of Auckland’s Sky Tower. Today, it holds the highest commercial skyjump (bungee jump) activity in the world at 233 meters. (You can try this out for yourself at HKD $2,800~)
• Have a look at the famous casinos of Macau in Taipa island
A FREE shuttle bus that stops at City of Dreams can be taken at the lobby of Macau Tower. Once you get off, you’re pretty much at the center of Taipa, and every casino nearby can be easily reached by walking or by riding the free shuttle buses.
Now of course, unless you’re here for gambling, I suggest that you simply visit a select few of the casinos (like the ones I’m listing below); besides, you can see ALL the casinos later on at night with an activity that I’ll be suggesting at the latter part of this section.
City of Dreams – Bring your kids here to Kids’ City, or party at Club Cubic — better yet, come witness the world’s largest breathtaking water show: the House of Dancing Water! (Ticket starts at HKD $580 for adults).
Galaxy Macau – smacked right in the main lobby of Galaxy Macau is the Fortune Diamond which is a huge 3-meter gem that serves as a backdrop for a waterfall. You can also watch a movie here in their big 10-screen 3D cineplex or just shop at The Promenade.
Venetian – Apart from the luxury shopping experience, a sight to be seen here is their Venice-inspired interiors. You will see here an actual network of canals and you can rent a gondala too in order to be serenaded by a gondolier. One of Lord Stow’s Bakery’s food stalls can also be found here, so make sure you buy yourself some of those famous egg tarts!
• Walk over to Taipa Village
Old Taipa Houses – this complex contains 5 houses that depict the old colonial residences that used to be owned by well-off Portuguese families in Macau.
Rua do Cunha – this is a narrow but well-lit street in Vila di Taipa that’s known for its restaurants and shops. Some of the well-known stores here where you can buy great Chinese fares to take back home and give away as gifts (or eat for yourself, of course) are Choi Heong Yuen and Koi Kei.
• // Night time // Ride a shuttle bus and ogle at the casinos’ colorful facades
Macau becomes even more of a beauty at night and if you’re pressed on time but still want to see the rest of the casinos in Taipa that you can’t easily reach by foot, just ride any of the free shuttle buses that passes by the casinos that you want to see, and then stay there until it reaches its starting point again. (Personally, I love the ostentatious buildings of Studio City, Galaxy, and the Parisian.)
• Catch a ferry of TurboJet back to Hong Kong
HKD $190 – The free shuttle buses go directly back to Macau ferry terminal (I took the shuttle bus at the Venetian that was marked ‘Macau Ferry’). Again, just make sure that you pick a bus that goes to the Macau ferry terminal at the Outer Harbour or in the Macau Peninsula (not the one in Taipa).
***TIP: When booking this roundtrip ticket with TurboJet, it’s best to pick the last boat that leaves for Hong Kong (typically before midnight). Even if you don’t intend to leave that late, you wouldn’t want to feel rushed to catch an 8PM ferry, for example, if in case you ended up spending too much time at a certain place. Rest assured, you can use your ticket at any time as long as it’s before the intended departure time.
• Wynn Casino
If you’ve got some time, pass by Wynn casino to watch their spectacular water show. It happens every 15 minutes and runs until midnight.
• Mandarin’s House
This residential complex depicts the typical characteristics of traditional residences and also used to be the home of late Qing theoretician, Zheng Guanying.
• Guia Fortress
This is a military fort, chapel and lighthouse complex that is also part of the historic centre of Macau.
• A-Ma Temple (Ma Kok Miu)
One of the oldest Taoist temples in the country and it is said that the name ‘Macau’ was derived from the name of this temple when natives replied to Portuguese sailors with “A-Ma-Gau” (when asked what the name of the place was).
Hong Kong may be a small destination, but it has more than enough activities and attractions to keep you occupied.
I tried my very best to be as detailed as I could with this guide, so that you won’t be missing any of Hong Kong’s (and Macau’s) highlights! That being said, feel free to tweak this itinerary as well as my suggestions to make your trip shorter or longer and better fitting for your travel style. Enjoy and do let me know how your trip goes!
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I am Aileen Adalid. At 21, I quit my corporate job in the Philippines to travel the world. Today, I am a digital nomad (entrepreneur & travel writer) living a sustainable travel lifestyle.
My mission? To show you how it is absolutely possible to create a life of travel, and I will help you achieve that through my detailed travel guides, resources, and tips!
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