Day One: Heady heights & sandy shores
Morning: Beat the crowds by heading out at 7am for an early morning ride on the Peak Tram to the top of Victoria Peak. Hong Kong Island’s highest point offers panoramic views of the city’s soaring sky scrapers and the harbour itself, criss-crossed by ferries and traditional junk boats.
The tram has done the hard work so now you can walk back down. Take the Peak Circle trail in reverse and enjoy the city views and the peace and greenery of bamboo groves as you wind down to Central. This takes about 90 minutes so by 11am you should be able to arrive at Tai Kwun, Hong Kong’s Centre of Heritage and Arts located in the former Central Police Station.
Here you can visit the cells and learn more about the history of Hong Kong’s penal system through interactive exhibits. But it’s more than a tiptoe back in time, the venue hosts an eclectic mix of visual arts, music and theatre performances, film screenings and educational programmes, including lunchtime concerts, evening openings and some great places to eat and drink (like The Dispensary, pictured).
Afternoon: After lunch head to Repulse Bay (main picture), one of the most beautiful beaches in Hong Kong. This upmarket neighbourhood boasts boutique shops and award-winning restaurants that hug the outline of this soft and sandy beach. At the southern end of the bay is the Kwun Yam Shrine, dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy who comforts and listens to the sick and the frightened. Nearby, visitors can cross Longevity Bridge, which is purported to prolong your life by three days each time you step across it.
Evening: Have a cocktail before dinner in one of Hong Kong’s rooftop bars, like Sevva, which is located in the iconic Prince’s building and has a 360-degree balcony offering stunning views of the Central, the harbour and across to Kowloon.
Enjoy dinner at local favourite, Happy Paradise from Celebrity Chef May Chow which is a mash-up of two of her other ventures – one neon-lit and offering neo-Chinese cuisine and cocktails, the other offering modern takes on Chinese comfort food classics. Finish the night off at one of Hong Kong’s most beautiful bars, like Room 309 In The Pottinger hotel. This windowless, candle-lit bar is richly decorated like a Victorian-era alchemist’s den.
Day Two: Enjoy quiet times & lasers in Kowloon
Morning: After a lazy morning, jump on the Star Ferry from Central and head across to Kowloon. From there, catch the MTR to Sha Tin to visit one of the city’s quieter neighbourhoods. Here you can wander around Tsang Tai Uk (pictured), a historical walled village where the Tsang clan have lived for hundreds of years. This still inhabited village has original features from the days of pirate attacks and you can explore the courtyard and ancestral hall.
On the edge of Sha Tin is the Carbon Brews Brewery where you take a tour and taste some of its unusual beers, many with tropical notes.
Active types can enjoy the nature trails of the surrounding Ma On Shan Country Park. For more locally-made products, stop in at the Wing Wo Bee Farm which is tucked in the hills beneath the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. It sells complex-flavoured honey made by bees which collect local nectar from lychee, longan and other native flowers.
Afternoon: Jump back on the MTR and head to Kowloon station. From here, visit the Sky100 Observation Deck for more stunning views across Victoria Harbour and over Hong Kong Island, from the opposite side.
Evening: Stroll down the Avenue of Stars, a tribute to Hong Kong’s cinema stars, and see if you can spot your favourites. The star of the Avenue of Stars is a two metre bronze statue of martial arts icon Bruce Lee. Be ready for 8pm and get into a good position to watch A Symphony of Lights – a 10-minute spectacular laser light show that plays out across Victoria Harbour.
Head for dinner at Dockyard, in the Kerry Hotel, which has a waterfront food hall bringing together 10 different vendors offering Vietnamese, Thai, Korean and Japanese cuisines, along with local favourites like beef brisket noodles.
Day Three: Take it easy on Lantau Island
Morning: Head to Tung Chung on Lantau Island and catch the Ngong Ping 360 cable car to the Tian Tan Buddha (also known as the Big Buddha). The cable car climbs past the tranquil Ngong Ping Village and offers stunning views of the Lantau landscape, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Big Buddha itself.
Stroll another 10 minutes from the foot of the Big Buddha steps and you’ll find yourself at Wisdom Path, which traces a series of 38 wooden steles (upright monuments) containing verses from the centuries-old Heart Sutra – prayers revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists alike.
Opposite the statue, Po Lin Monastery is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sanctums and has been dubbed ‘the Buddhist World in the South’. Home to many devout monks, it’s rich with colourful iconography and its pleasant garden is alive with birdsong and flowery scents. The monastery is also home to one of the city’s best vegetarian restaurants, a great place to grab lunch.
Afternoon: Jump in a taxi to Tai O village, home to the Tanka people, who have built their stilt house village over the tidal flats of Lantau Island. Tai O offers visitors a glimpse into Hong Kong’s rural past but it’s also home to the swanky Tai O Heritage Hotel, a former police station that was built in 1902 to combat pirates but now provides guests stunning views of the fishing village, especially from the glass-roofed cafe at the top.
Take a walk around the local specialty market to photograph the salted fish swinging in the breeze and then escape the fishy smells to breathe in the fresh air of the Yim Tin Mangrove Forest (pictured).
At about 4pm, take a taxi to Discovery Bay for a stroll along Tai Pack beach before finishing the day with cocktails and maybe dinner at D Deck, Hong Kong’s largest ocean-front dining destination.