Hong Kong: Your Essential 24-hour Itinerary

Hong Kong: Your Essential 24-hour Itinerary

Hong Kong 1-day Itinerary

If you’re flying anywhere in Asia, you’ll likely have the option to extend your layover in Hong Kong. Take that opportunity.

While you could spend weeks exploring this small country, you can get a good taste for it with just a 24-hour layover.

Here’s how to make that time worth it.

What to pack

Hong Kong has a pretty temperate climate with lows in January/February in the high 50s and highs in the summer months reaching about 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Other than those extremes, you’ve got pretty smooth sailing so pack t-shirts, a sweater, a rain jacket (just in case), and some stylish walking shoes.

The 40 L NOMATIC travel bag has enough space to handle packing for your trip as well as your Hong Kong stopover.

Getting into Hong Kong

When you arrive at Hong Kong International airport, follow the signs for the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) station.

The signs will lead you past a desk where you can buy tickets. The agents there can help you plan your route including which free shuttle will drop you off closest to your destination. Pay attention: Google doesn’t factor in the free shuttles and without them, your journey is going to be a lot longer.

It will cost you around $10 USD per person (you can calculate your exact fare here) and you can pay with a credit card.

Alternately you can get into Hong Kong via taxi or hotel shuttle.

Here’s what to do once you get there:

Eat Dim Sum


If you’re like me, your first thought after getting off an airplane is “food.” And what should you eat in Hong Kong? Dim Sum.

Here are a few Hong Kong restaurants to check out:

Din Tai Fung

This place was rated by the New York Times as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world, so that’s something. Plus, it’s a chain so it shouldn’t be hard to find a location near you.

Yum Cha

Yum Cha is definitely your most Instagram-worthy option. With gold painted rolls and molten custard buns that look like emoji faces, you’ll definitely have something to write home about.

Dragon King

This is a favorite of locals and has a great mix of traditional and more inventive dim sum. Definitely worth trying.

Sun Hing

With no menu, this is a great place to sample what you’d like. Simply walk up to the communal table brimming with bamboo baskets and take what you want to try.

Take the Star Ferry

Public transit or delightful boat experience? Your call. The Star Ferry takes passengers across the harbor between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island for only 40 cents. Not only is it a great way to get from place to place, you get to take in great views of the city

Simply head to the nearest pier (directions here) and use a machine to purchase your ticket for about HK $3 (cash only). For more information, visit their website.

Head up Victoria’s Peak

The best place to get excellent views of the city is at the top of Victoria’s Peak. If you’re down for a major hike, go ahead and walk up the mountain. However, most people choose to take the cable car and it’s an experience in itself to take the old trolly up the steep grades.

The tram does get crowded, so expect to stand in line to buy your ticket and then again to board the tram.

When you reach the top, you can:

  • shop the mall
  • check out Madame Tussauds
  • eat at restaurants
  • visit the Sky Terrace

If you want to skip the long line to take the tram back down, just walk down Findley Path a bit (it’s a lovely walk) until you see a tram station. Press the button to request the stop, show your ticket to the engineer and take your ride. There won’t be any sitting room at this point, but honestly, the ride is more fun watching the descent through the front window.

Harbor Lights

Ajith Kumar/flickr

Every night at 20:00, the city puts on a free light show from the skyscrapers.

The best places to view are:

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

Golden Bauhinia Square

Pro tip: If you want to watch away from the crowds but still want the music accompaniment (and you do want the music), make sure to download the appwhen you have wifi so you’re ready to go for the show.

Shop the night markets

There are a bunch of markets throughout Hong Kong to find souvenirs. Here are a few good ones to check out:

Temple Street Market – Kowloon

This is the largest Hong Kong Market with vast array of wares. It’s definitely the most “touristy” market but is a great spot to find whatever you’re looking for.

Ladies Market – Kowloon

This is the go-to spot for fashion and accessories. However, despite the name, there are plenty of finds for men and children as well.

Jade Market – Kowloon

If you’re looking for jewelry, Jade Market is your place. You can find inexpensive bangles as well as some semi-precious options.

Cat Street Market – Sheung Wan

This market is full of unique items focusing mainly on art and housewares.

Tai Yuen Street Market – Wan Chai

If toys are what you’re looking for, this market if your place. You’ll find everything from LEGOs to board games as well as other more traditional souvenirs.

Eat bread

People often neglect to sample Hong Kong’s delicious traditional breads. Filled with both sweet and savory fillings, these breads are a popular local breakfast. Check out a bakery and fill a pan with as many breads as your heart desires.

Exercise in Kowloon Park

With small living conditions and big city streets, the park becomes a popular place for locals to get their morning sweat on. Join the community in aerobics, tai chi or a morning stroll.

If you have more time:

Tian Tan Buddah

If you want to see the “Big Buddah,” it’s best to catch it on your way to or from the airport since it’s not nearby Hong Kong’s other main attractions.

Once at Tian Tan Buddah, you have the choice to either climb the 268 steps to the top or take the cable car. At the top, you can eat at the restaurant, explore the nearby monastery and take in the views.

Directions to get there and more information on their website.

Cruise Victoria Harbor in a junk boat

If you want to spend a little time on the water, it can be fun to take a ride in a traditional junk boat.

You’ll need to book your cruise before-hand. The most popular companies are Duk Ling and Aqua Luna.