Hong Kong in 24 Hours: A One-Day Itinerary

Just one day free in Hong Kong? Follow this around-the-clock itinerary for the best experiences and things to do in the city.

From early-morning hikes to late-night karaoke sessions, there’s always something to do or somewhere to go in buzzing Hong Kong. And while it's a city of over 7 million people, it is still possible to see this city in a single day if you follow our very ambitious Hong Kong travel itinerary!  Remember, you can sleep on the plane, so make those 24 hours count.

6-7 am

Go With the Flow: Tai Chi, a low-impact form of Chinese martial arts that emphasizes the flow of “air” (a.k.a. “chi”) through the body, is an invigorating and popular morning activity. Head over to Kowloon Park and be inspired by the crowd of early risers practicing their craft, then give it a go yourself. Kowloon Park, 22 Austin Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui

Avenue of Stars

7-8 am

A Morning Stroll: Start your day with a breezy stroll along the Avenue of Stars by Victoria Harbour. Morning is the perfect time to avoid the crowds and to get the whole path to yourself. Meet Bruce Lee (in statue form) and check out the handprints of local celebrities along the way. Avenue of Stars, Tsim Sha Tsui, MTR Station Exit 

8-9 am

Across the Sea: Get from one side of Victoria Harbour to the other by hopping on the Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central. Grab a seat on the upper deck and gape at Hong Kong’s amazing skyline during the 10-minute ride. Star Ferry pier, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2367-7065

Sing Heung Yuen

9-10 am

Eating Out: A good day begins with a good breakfast at a local mom and pop’s. Sing Heung Yuen in Central is one of the remaining few licensed dai pai dongs (outdoor food stalls) in Hong Kong, complete with rickety round tables and an outdoor kitchen. Try their macaroni with beef in tomato soup for a taste of Hongkongers’ morning staple. 2 Mee Lun St., Central, 2544-8368

10-11 am

Shop Till You Drop: Ready to do some shopping after breakfast? Busy Causeway Bay district is where you can get anything you need, whatever your budget allows. Find high-end fashion and beauty items at Fashion Walk; mid-price to luxury goods at Hysan Place, Sogo Department Store and Times Square; or affordable youth fashion at Island Beverley and Laforet. All of the complexes are connected to the Causeway Bay MTR Station.

The Peak Lookout

11 am-Noon

View From the Top: It’s time for a bird’s-eye view of Hong Kong. Take the Peak Tram on Garden Road in Central straight up to The Peak, where you can see the city laid out before you, including the tops of the tallest skyscrapers. The Peak Tram Lower Terminus, 33 Garden Rd., Central, 2522-0922

Noon-1 pm

Sky-High Retreat: While you’re at The Peak, be sure to check out both The Peak Galleria and Peak Tower for dining and shopping options. Get your fix of Hong Kong souvenirs, Chinese artworks and trendy clothes and jewelry, then stop for lunch at a local restaurant like Mak’s Noodle. For something fancy, The Peak Lookout and Café Deco are both popular options.

Botanical Gardens

1-2 pm

Back to Nature: Had enough of tall buildings? Take the Peak Tram back down to Central, then trek over to the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens nearby. Founded in 1871, this park is home to a large variety of birds and local flora and is a perfect oasis smack in the middle of the urban jungle. Albany Road, Central, 2530-0154

2-3 pm

Drink and Learn: Head to Asia Society’s Hong Kong headquarters in Admiralty to see how a historical site (a former British military compound) has been converted into a beautiful multi-use building. Grab a refreshing cocktail at in-house bar-slash-restaurant, Ammo, then check out the arts exhibitions that are available to the public (the current one features Chinese artist Xu Bing). 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, asiasociety.org/hong-kong

3-4 pm

Time for Tea:Take a break at the prestigious Mandarin Oriental Hotel and indulge in a classic English afternoon tea set—a reminder of Hong Kong’s colonial past. The sandwiches and finger food are served on a three-tiered tray, and come with delicious scones and a fabulous selection of Chinese and English teas. Clipper Lounge, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Rd. Central, 2825-4007

4-5 pm

A Heritage Tour: Support local designers and artists by heading over to PMQ (short for the Police Married Quarters), a former lodging for police officers that has since been converted into a fun and casual commercial complex. Take your pick of everything from organic soaps to delicate cupcakes to handcrafted leather goods. 35 Aberdeen St., Central, 2870-2335, www.pmq.org.hk

5-6 pm

A Place for Contemplation: After soaking up the scene at PMQ, head westward along Hollywood Road until you hit Man Mo Temple, one of the most iconic landmarks in Sheung Wan. 124-126 Hollywood Rd., Sheung Wan, 2540-0350

6-7 pm

Keep Calm and Get Pampered: Are your soles starting to ache from all that walking? Hong Kong is the land of cheap massages, and there’s no better place to experience one than at Happy Foot, a local chain that offers not only foot rubs, but also full body massages as well as manicure and pedicure services. 1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, 2521-0066

7-8 pm

Blast From the Past: It’s time for a proper meal: get a taste of the most authentic Chinese cuisine at Lin Heung Lau, a local fixture that opened in 1918 and is still one of the most popular dining destinations for locals and tourists alike. Red lanterns at the storefront, bird cages above your head and Chinese calligraphy on the wall: all are tell-tale signs of a bygone era. 160-164 Wellington St., Central, 2544-4556

Symphony of Lights

8-9 pm

Let There Be Light: Every night at 8 pm, Victoria Harbour comes to life with “A Symphony of Lights”: a light show that features 46 skyscrapers along the skyline. The Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront has the best vantage point, and if you want to catch the show while sipping on a classy cocktail, hit up popular Aqua Spirit on the 30th floor of One Peking. Travel tip: Another option is to hop on the Aqua Luna boat at the Tsim Sha Tsui pier and watch the whole spectacle on the water. Aqua Spirit, 30/F, One Peking, 1 Peking Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2427-2288. Aqua Luna, Public Pier Number 1, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2116-8821

9-10 pm

The Great Escape: Take a break from the summer heat with some indoor fun. Freeing HK is the city’s first to offer room-escape games, a group-based social activity that’s particularly popular in Asia. Players team up to solve puzzles and try to make their way out of a closed room within 45 minutes. English instructions are available. Various locations, including 3/F, Kundamal House, 4 Prat Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2711-1793; online reservation at www.freeinghk.com

10-11 pm

Read Up: Looking for some late-night intellectual stimulation? HK Reader is one of the best independent bookstores in town. Tucked away on the seventh floor of an old building in Mong Kok, the shop is stocked with Chinese and English titles. Expect a wide selection of books, from classic literature to modern Hong Kong Studies. 7/F, 68 Sai Yeung Choi St. South, Mong Kok, 2395-0031, www.hkreader.com

11 pm-Midnight

Lost in Translation: Mong Kok at night is an iconically Hong Kong scene. The area only gets livelier as the night falls, and you’ll be able to find all sorts of Hong Kong-style snacks, from egg waffles to curry fishballs, along its busy streets. Also be sure to check out the Temple Street Night Market, a collection of outdoor stalls selling everything from clothing to electronic gadgets at bargain prices. You can also get your palms read and your fortune told if you’re feeling adventurous! Temple Street, Mong Kok, www.temple-street-night-market.hk

Temple Street Night Market

Midnight-1 am

It’s Show Time: It’s late, but the night is far from over. Catch a movie at Broadway in Mong Kok, one of a handful of cinemas in Hong Kong that offer midnight screenings. A variety of movies start between 11:40 pm and 1:30 am daily. Tickets cost between HK$60 and HK$100, depending on the popularity of the movie. Choose from Hollywood blockbusters to local favorites. 6–12 Sai Yeung Choi St., Mong Kok, www.cinema.com.hk

1-2 am

Fine Tunes: Book a room at Red MR and sing your heart out to classics as well as the latest tunes. Karaoke is one of the most beloved late-night activities for Hongkongers—things usually get rowdy when you throw a few beers in! 3-4/F, MPM Mall, 240-244 Portland St., Mong Kok, 3125-3125, www.redmr.com

2-3 am

Snack Attack: Feeling peckish? Fu Kee Delicious Food serves up delicious dim sum from 9 pm till 4 am daily, so load up on some har gow (shrimp dumplings) and char siu bao (barbecued pork buns) to keep those energy levels high. Flat D, G/F, 36–40 Temple St., Yau Ma Tei, 3484-3633

3-4 am

Sweet Dreams: While the Temple Street Night Market is for night owls, the Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market is for early risers. The largest fruit wholesale market in Hong Kong has been in the same location for more than a century. Happy choosing!  Waterloo Road and Reclamation Street, Yau Ma Tei

Tsui Wah

4-5 am

Cheap and Cheerful: No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a stopover at the 24-hour Tsui Wah, a local greasy spoon of the best variety. Fill up on sweet crispy buns and an ice-cold cup of milk tea. There are plenty of chains across the city, but if you’re feeling adventurous, head out to the branch in Tsuen Wan in the New Territories. Tsui Wah Restaurant, 27-33 Chung On St., Tsuen Wan, 2419-7738

5-6 am

Before Sunrise: Burn off all those excess calories by climbing up Tai Mo Shan, the highest mountain in Hong Kong, just in time to catch the sunrise. Take bus 51 to the Country Park bus stop from the Tsuen Wan MTR Station. Then take a taxi to the Tai Mo Shan Gateway and head straight up to the top. Congratulations: you’ve made it! Tai Mo Shan, New Territories