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A one-day sightseeing tour of Hong Kong can deliver a good flavor of this bustling metropolis.
Begin with a morning tram ride up to Victoria Peak, where on a clear day you can see Hong Kong and Kowloon stretching for miles before you. Take a picture with that sweeping scene behind you; it's a requisite tourist activity, but you'll be glad to have that photos when your vacation has ended.
Head back down to Central and get ready to shop Hollywood Road and Soho as soon as stores open at 11 a.m. Mosey around the Mid-Levels Escalator, the largest covered outdoor escalator system in the world. You'll quickly realize that this unique transportation system is actually comprised of several short escalators, leaving you with plenty of opportunities to step off and explore a trendy boutique or hip bistro.
Once you've had your fill of Soho, take the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbor to Tsim Sha Tsui, just in time for high tea at The Peninsula Hong Kong, a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel. Tea is served from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. — if you're hoping to get in and out in a hurry, plan to arrive early as reservations are not accepted. Of course, there's nothing wrong with taking your time for this beloved Hong Kong tradition.
After tea, while away the time with a reflexology session at one of the many parlors on Nathan Road or book a soothing massage at one of the best spas in Hong Kong. Regardless of where you choose to relax, make sure you're back on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront promenade at 8 p.m. for the world-famous Symphony of Lights, a dazzling display that has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the "Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show" in the world.
Wrap up the day with dinner at one of Hong Kong's finest restaurants before heading back to your hotel for a well-deserved night of peaceful slumber after your whirlwind day.
Only in town for a day? Here’s what I would do:
Get up early and go for congee, or HK-style French toast and a cup of silky sweet milk tea.
Take the Peak Tram up to Victoria Peak for panoramic views over the harbor, Kowloon, and the outlying islands.
Make dim sum your midday meal. In Central, visit Lin Heung tea house for a trip back in time, or head to Maxim’s Palace City Hall, where the pork buns come with a harbor view.
After lunch, take the MTR into Kowloon. Head to Mongkok for a slice of street life. Visit the extraordinary Goldfish Market, look for trinkets at the Jade Market.
Work your way back toward the harbor: Visit the flamingos in Kowloon park, indulge in a little retail therapy in many malls of Tsim Sha Tsui, and consider going for tea at the Peninsula. Aim to take the famous Star Ferry back to the HK side around 8 p.m., when the skyline puts on an over-the-top light show.
Go for some of the city’s best Cantonese food at Lung King Heen, in the Four Seasons, or Fu Sing in Wan Chai. Have a nightcap at Sevva, a rooftop bar nestled among some of HK’s most iconic buildings.
Hong Kong is surprisingly easy to get a taste of in a single day. Start on the island, where you can enjoy a delicious brunch at Oolaa on Bridges Street, or one of the many other good restaurants in SoHo. By the time you’ve brunched, stores will have opened, so you can walk through SoHo and the adorably chic PoHo district, leisurely making your way towards the Central Ferry piers.
If you’re a shopping buff, stop into IFC and hit up Lane Crawford. It’s also a good place to great place to get lunch, housing favorites like Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao, St. Betty’s, or SimplyLife Bread & Wine.
Weather permitting, grab a beer or cider at the Beer Bay near Central Piers, then hop on the Star Ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui. Explore the area, then walk or take the MTR to Prince Edward, where you can explore the bird market, goldfish market and flower market. If you want even more, head to Temple Street for souvenirs and al fresco dinner; if you’re tired, choose one of TST’s gourmet restaurants instead, such as Felix, Above & Beyond, or Aqua, overlooking Victoria Harbour.
Finally, head back to Central for a night of drinks, at top cocktail bars Origin, Wyndham the Fourth, or Honi Honi (perfect for gin, whiskey or rum, respectively), and dancing, in raucous Lan Kwai Fong or cool-kid club, Fly. Then off to bed, and goodnight Hong Kong! Until next time.