What to do in Hong Kong -in 36 hours

“Two tickets to Stewart Road , Wan Chai” , I said to the sturdy woman behind the ticket counter. The bus terminal was just outside Hong Kong International Airport. The sign facing me said 40 (HKD) Hong Kong Dollars to Stewart Road. I gave her 100 HKD.  The woman glared at me and shoved the tickets at me. I waited for my change. It was not forthcoming. I asked her for it. “You say two adults, one child- no change”, she replied in broken English. I realized that she had given me 2-and-a-half tickets. “No, I said Wan Chai, not one child” as I returned the half ticket to her. After much going back and forth, she gave me my change but she was certainly not happy about it. That was my introduction to Hong Kong.

What to do in Hong Kong

Bruce Lee

The next day we took the Star Ferry to Kowloon and walked along the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Bruce Lee’s statue was understandably very popular as hordes of tourists queued to take photographs with him. We looked at the other handprints but not recognising any of the names, we stopped looking at them and went into Starbucks for a Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino instead. Later, we learnt that we had missed Jackie Chan’s handprints. (sigh)

Avenue of Stars - What to do in Hong Kong

Avenue of Stars

But Hong Kong had many other faces.  Our time constraints permitted us only 36 hours there. The hop-on, hop-off Big Bus Tour appeared to be the best way to see as much as possible in such a short space of time.  The three routes it offered covered the Hong Kong Island tour, the Kowloon tour, and the Southern side of Hong Kong Island.  After exploring Kowloon’s busy streets and running into other South Africans from our neighbourhood there, we explored the colourful Little India area where one would be forgiven for thinking that one was actually in India.

What to do in Hong Kong - Kowloon

Busy Streets

Later, we found ourselves back on Hong Kong Island, passing stunning views of Hong Kong’s coastline and lush countryside on the winding road towards Stanley…as it rained on us.

What to do in Hong Kong Stanley Beach

Stanley Beach

Wearing our yellow Big Bus “raincoats” aka huge plastic bags, we proceeded to Aberdeen, a floating fishing village, where modern skyscrapers now tower over the traditional harbour.

Aberdeen - What to do in Hong Kong

Aberdeen

We went on a 30-minute ride around the harbour on a sampan – a flat-bottomed, traditional, Chinese fishing boat. It is partly covered for shelter.

What to do in Hong Kong Sampan

Sampan

We got to experience a bit of the old Hong Kong on this ride as our sampan took us past boathouses, fishermen, yachts and one of Hong Kong’s most famous icons – the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.

When night fell, we made our way to Victoria Harbour and the Golden Bauhinia Square where we were dazzled by the Hong Kong Symphony of Lights, the biggest permanent sound and light show in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

What to do in Hong Kong Golden Bauhinia

Golden Bauhinia

The show takes place every night and includes more than 40 buildings on both sides of the harbour. The main stars are the dancing lights and laser beams, carefully synchronised with the accompanying soundtrack and an English commentary. It was a great way to see Hong Kong by night.

Hong Kong Sound and light show

Sound and light show

With the kids not being with us on this trip, we gave Disneyland and Ocean Park a deliberate skip. But something which we did not deliberately miss was the tram ride up to The Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island which has great views of Hong Kong. The popular attraction was closed due to the weather. There was a lot more to see in Hong Kong and I’d love to go back some day and spend more time there but it was time for us to move on to China.

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13 comments
Steph

I haven’t been to Hong Kong yet but I really like this article because the odds of having a layover there at some point are pretty good! The ride on the sampan looks really neat, and a great way to see more of the city! I also think the Hong Kong Symphony of Lights looks amazing 🙂 What a great experience!

Reply
Helen

Interesting post, looks like you managed to do a lot in a short period of time! I’d love to go to Hong Kong, that skyline is amazing.

Reply
JoAnnah

I’m so in love with Hong Kong. And I’ve never been! Your post makes me want to go asap. But in due time. Thanks for sharing. I’ve repined this 🙂

Reply
Brooklyn

I really want to go to HK!!
I would be so disappointed about missing Jackie Chan’s hand prints, but I’m glad you got to experience so much in such a short amount of time!

Reply
Alice Chen

I love HK so much! I’m sad I missed the red bean green tea frap from Starbucks! Who knew such a thing existed? How was it?

Reply
    Sara

    It was delicious Alice – like nothing I’d ever tasted before 🙂 Hong Kong’s amazing .

    Reply
Allison Wong

Hong Kong is such an amazing place 36 hours are just not enough!

Reply
    Sara

    I agree Allison. I need to go back again soon 🙂

    Reply
Loren

I love Hong Kong! I have been lucky enough to go there on holiday with my mom and dad while they were there on business a few times and each time was more exciting than the previous trip. It’s like New York but with Chinese people 😉 I love how when a robot goes green a swarm of a million people cross the road hehe! I enjoyed reading this and I event sent the link to my mom for her to read it (shes obsessed with Hong Kong too 🙂

Reply
    Sara

    Thanks Loren. I only spent 36 hours there but I feel that I saw so much in that time. I’d love to go back again though. It’s such a vibrant city!

    Reply
Ammaara

I am glad to see those beautiful pictures of Hongkong. I’ve been there twice and I really enjoyed it though I was there on winter and it was cold [smile].

I especially enjoyed eating the dim sum [halal] at Wan Chai, going to the Peak by tram….

Since Hongkong is rather small, four to five days are enough to visit the most beautiful places [according to me].

Ammaara

Reply
    Sara

    I enjoyed Hong Kong but my stay was too short. I missed the dim sum in Wan Chai because it was only served at certain hour and I couldn’t make it there on time. I guess I’ll have to go back again 🙂

    Reply
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