Connected to almost 200 destinations, Hong Kong acts as an important midway point for many international flights. The airport is known for its efficiency, so even if you’re only stopping over for a few hours, you can get through customs and immigration easily and still have time to explore the city.
The airport is located on Lantau Island, boasting cultural sights including the Big Buddha, an outlet mall and even the Disneyland theme park. If you want to venture beyond the immediate area, the Airport Express is a quick, 30-minute ride to the city center. It’s also easy to catch a red taxi, which will take you to most parts of town.
Hour 1: Taste of Dim Sum
No visit to Hong Kong—no matter how short—is complete without a dim sum meal. Maxim’s Palace in City Hall is a great place for those new to these small sharing plates. Those looking for a truly traditional experience should head to Lin Heung Tea House in Sheung Wan. Whichever restaurant you select, be sure to order the steamed har gow shrimp dumplings and the shiu mai with pork.
Hour 2: Visit a Temple
Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road was built in the 1800s to honor the gods of literature and combat. Today, this historic monument serves as a reminder not only of ancient ways of worship, but also of traditional Chinese design. Step past the imposing granite columns to find a beautiful hall adorned with gilt fixtures and a dizzying display of lanterns and giant incense coils.
Hour 3: Waterfront Stroll
Take a stroll around the Central Waterfront Promenade with viewing decks and the 60-meter Observation Ferris Wheel. Grab a craft brew from The Beer Bay while you enjoy the view and the harbour breeze. The promenade also includes an events space which plays host to everything from music performances to food festivals.
Hour 4: Museum Hopping
Take the famous Star Ferry over to Tsim Sha Tsui, where several popular museums are located. The Hong Kong Museum of History is great for those who want to dig deeper into the city’s heritage. Families can check out the Hong Kong Science Museum, home wacky yet educational exhibits. Another option is the Space Museum, which hosts regular film screenings in its dome-shaped Omnimax theater.
Hour 5: Shopping Spree
Hong Kong is a great place to splurge since most things are tax-free. If you’re looking for big brands, head to Harbour City, one of the largest shopping malls in town. IFC or Elements—both are connected to the Airport Express line—are popular destinations for luxury shopping. For something more unique to Hong Kong, make a quick trip to the jade market in Yau Ma Tei.
Hour 6: Rooftop Drinking
The city’s iconic skyline is best appreciated from Kowloon. Grab a cocktail at the ultra-swanky Aqua Spirit bar, with its floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the view of Victoria Harbor. Eyebar on the rooftop terrace of iSquare shopping mall is another great venue for drinks with a view. If you aren’t afraid of heights, head all the way up to Ozone on the 118th floor of the ICC building on a clear day. Those with an evening layover can catch the ‘Symphony of Lights’ laser show that happens at 8pm every night.