Hong Kong in 5 Days - A Solo Travel Itinerary
What should you do when you’re in Hong Kong for 5 days? Below is my suggested itinerary based on my own experiences. And if you have more time… lucky you! I’ll throw in a few additional suggestions at the end.
Welcome to Hong Kong! Take the Airport Express train to either Kowloon or Hong Kong island. It’s cheaper and faster than a taxi. From the stations, you can Uber, metro, or walk to where you’re staying. Hong Kong is a bit of a maze, so find your bearings by taking a walking tour (suggestions for free or cheap) that will give you the lay of the land and potentially take you out for some food. If food isn’t on the tour, ask your guide for some recommendations. Check out Soho for fantastic restaurants and bars - Soho Fama was one of my favorites. Since you’re in Soho, before (or after) you eat, visit Man Mo temple. Founded in 1847, the temple is one of the more popular and well-known in the city. The constant-flowing incense, left as offerings along with fruit, make for beautiful photos, though be warned it can be a lot for sensitive respiratory tracts. I was told that around Chinese New Year it can be difficult to breath inside!
Get in line for early lunch at Michelin-starred dim sum or roast goose. After a filling meal, take a ferry across to Kowloon, and enjoy the view from the water. Star Ferries leave every 1-15 minutes, and take about 10 minutes to cross the harbor. The cost is $2.50 weekday and $3.40 weekend HKD. Walk along the shore at Tsai Shim Tsui to find the statue of Bruce Lee, and do some wandering of the markets - Ladies Market for knockoff purses, Jade Market for aggressive vendors hawking jewelry, or Temple Street Night Market for a little of everything. Make sure to haggle and don’t be afraid to walk away. Once you’ve negotiated the best prices for your souvenirs, head back to the waterfront at night to see the views of the city lights on Hong Kong Island. Don’t worry if you need to cross back, the ferries run until 11:30pm.
Venture out of the main city and take the MTR to Lantau Island. Buy tickets in advance to the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, which takes you to the Big Buddha as well as numerous walking and hiking trails. Take the bus down to Tai O fishing village for a late lunch before returning to the city. I go through this in more step-by-step detail in this post - link
If that doesn’t interest you, how about a day trip to the southern Lamma Island for a different way of life?
See another side of Hong Kong by venturing to the southern part of the Island. Hike the Dragon’s Back Trail, or just take a bus or taxi to Stanley and Repulse Bay to enjoy the more serene and picturesque South Hong Kong Island. Stanley has both a crowded (and touristy) market, as well as a Mediterranean-feeling waterfront.
Get to the Victoria Peak Tram main station by 10am in order to miss most of the line - it can stretch for hours later in the day. This old tram (originally founded in 1888) takes you 1300 feet up to Victoria Peak, where you can see over the city, the bay, and on a clear day all the way into China. Use your Octopus card to buy a ticket (52 HKD round-trip) to skip more of the line. The Peak is also beautiful at sunset, but the lines can get mind-bogglingly long. Another option is to hike to the top of the peak - an excellent way to work off that extra dim sum! Check in advance that it’s going to be clear for the next couple hours before you head up - nothing worse than getting to the top and only seeing fog!
When you’re let off at the top, you’ll snake your way through a mall (so many malls in Hong Kong). You’ll have the option to either head outside to see the views from nearby Lugard Road, or head to the top and pay for the Sky Terrace, an area lets you enjoy the view from a tourist-trap rooftop. The Sky Terrace is 52 HKD. I… it’s up to you if it’s worth it. It has a lot of interesting informational displays, but the views from the side of the mall and down Lugard Road next to the mall are almost the same.
When you get down from the tram, make your way to nearby Hong Kong Park. Enjoy the gardens, the many fountains, and make sure to stop by the free Aviary. You’ll have to climb uphill to get to the entrance, and make your way down, enjoying the variety of birds.
If you’re hungry, there’s a couple of places to eat within the park that serve reliably decent food. If you want to splurge a little, nearby Lock Cha tea shop serves vegetarian dim sum and a huge selection of teas in a beautiful setting. Attached to the shop is a museum featuring tea sets and videos showing proper tea ceremonies.
If you haven’t done so yet, get a sunset drink at a rooftop bar (assuming it’s not raining!) to raise one last glass to Hong Kong.
Suggestions if you have more time:
A Day Trip to Macau
Take the fast speedboat 1 hour over to the former Portuguese colony of Macau. Its now well-known as one of the premiere casino destinations in southeast Asia. Beyond gambling, however, you can walk around amongst the Portuguese parts of the city, enjoy some shopping, and enjoy some Macanese food, traditionally Chinese with Portuguese influences. If you’re into gambling, the Grand Lisboa Macau is one of the original casinos, though there’s a lot of options.
Head to Lamma Island
Quieter, more relaxed Lamma Island is a 30-40 minute ferry ride south, leaving from the Central Pier. From the pier at Lamma Island, you can hike, relax on the beach, eat, and check out the curious historical site of the kamikaze caves, built by Japanese soldiers and left over from World War II. This site has a fairly detailed itinerary to follow.