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Chloe’s Travel Guide to Exploring Hong Kong in 24 Hours

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Exploring Hong Kong in 24 hours is a monumental task. I created these 24 hour guides because some travellers’ really only have a day to spend in a city, but 24 hours in Hong Kong is a feat to accomplish. There’s absolutely too much to see, to do, and eat. However! I’ve tried to pick out a couple of good places to dine, shop at, and see for this one day itinerary, but definitely check out my Ultimate Travel Guide to Hong Kong when you decide to return. Because, dear traveller, you must return to the treasure island that is Hong Kong. 

This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase after clicking on one of the affiliate links. I only recommend products I’ve personally used and liked. All opinions are my own. 

Essentials 

Language: Locals mainly speak Cantonese Chinese, but Mandarin Chinese is common too. Most businesses are also comfortable speaking in English. 

Currency: the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD). 

Voltage: 220 volts. Hong Kong uses the 3-pronged UK-style plugs. See my post on Essential Items to Pack in your Carry-on for tips on what plug adapters to buy.

Major Train Station: MTR is the main subway for getting around Hong Kong. To get to mainland China, head to either the Hung Hom or West Kowloon high speed train stations which are all accessible by the MRT subway. See MTR System Map for more info. 

Major Airport: Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) 

Best time to visit: During the colder months of November to February or April. It gets really hot and humid starting in April, so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. 

Getting There 

There are plenty of direct flights to Hong Kong International Airport (HKG). It takes about 14 hours from Toronto, so bring some comfy clothes and watch plenty of movies on the plane!

The airport express from HKG is super convenient for getting across Hong Kong. It’s located on the MTR subway line (Hong Kong’s major subway company) and the MTR should get you to anywhere you need to go. Ask the customer service counter for which ticket you need to buy to hop on the airport express. Make sure to get an octopus card! These tap on/tap off cards make the city run. Get one, add some money to it, and simply reload when you run out of credit. It makes travelling around the city ultra convenient.

There’s always the option of taking a taxi or Uber which’ll cost you around 350 HKD to get to the Kowloon side. 

Where to Stay 

Hong Kong is composed of several islands, but the two main parts are Kowloon (attached to mainland China) and the island of Hong Kong (you’ll see this simply referred to as Hong Kong on road signs). The infamous Victoria Harbour separates the two landmasses and you can get across easily either by the Star Ferry or the MTR underground subway. 

Hong Kong island is newer and more modern since it’s the main business district. However, both sides are filled with lots of shopping, dining, and tourist sights, and it’s easy to get around in the MTR. I say take into account the distance to tourist locations, and price of accommodations, to help you decide which parts of Hong Kong you want to stay at. 

Avoid staying in ChungKing Mansion on Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s in a prime location but, unfortunately, it’s a building of ill-repute and unsafe for visitors. You’ll see some tourist websites touting it as a cool place to go for far-flung cuisine, but I recommend to avoid it in general for safety reasons. 

What to See and Do 

With only 24 hours to spare, I recommend seeing a few major landmarks that are easy to get to.

Also check out my Viator Shop for a list of curated tours. Taking a guided tour saves you time from the hassle of commuting and you’ll discover plenty of hidden gems with a local guide!

Lantau Island for the Big Buddha 

A giant bronze buddha meditating on a lotus.
The giant bronze Buddha meditating on a lotus. Hike up the stairs to get up close and personal.

Lantau Island is home to the giant bronze Buddha. You might even be able to spot this Buddha on top of the mountain if you’re ever riding on a bus towards Lantau Island.

Take the Ngong Ping 360 cable car up over water and mountains to land at the historical village leading to the Big Buddha. During your cable car ride (it takes about 15 minutes for the entire trip), watch out for the airport island and you can see planes taking off. You’ll also be able to see the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge. A 55 km bridge leading from Hong Kong SAR to Macau SAR. Once at the top, climb up several stairs to reach the Buddha and spot the lovely monastery in the distance. 

View of the sunset from the cable cars.
The Ngong Ping 360 cable car taking passengers up Lantau Island to see the Buddha. There are fully clear, glass cable cars if you’re interested.

Victoria Harbour at Tsim Sha Tsui and the Avenue of Stars 

A boardwalk right along the harbour of Tsim Sha Tsui with the most famous view of Victoria Harbour. Best part: it’s free to walk! Definitely come in the evening to catch a view of the skyscrapers. They’re all lit up at night and they flash advertising and play funky animations, making it a great chance to get some night time photos. Walk down further to the Avenue of Stars to view some celebrity handprints and the great statue of Bruce Lee. 

View of Victoria Harbour with a boat in front.
View of Victoria Harbour from the Kowloon side.

1881 Heritage Site 

A lovely little hidden but not-so-hidden gem in the heart of downtown Kowloon. Located almost right next to the Peninsula hotel, the 1881 Heritage site was a former marine lookout where they’d warn sailors of imminent typhoons. It’s a really beautiful place with artificial waterfalls and art sculptures.

The 1881 Heritage Site, a former marine headquarters. Now it’s a giant shopping arcade and there’s a huge restaurant right on top.

Where to Eat 

You’ll probably be able to fit in 3 meals if you’re exploring Hong Kong in 24 hours. Next time you’re back, you’ll have to try all the street food and have second dinners. That’s how amazing the Hong Kong dining scene is. 

Halfway Cafe for Breakfast 

Get your morning caffeine fix here. Then order the beautiful breakfast options of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on sourdough toast with arugula salad on top. There’s also a wonderful avocado toast as well. 

Lei Gardens (Mong Kok) for Lunch

We usually head to this location when we’re in Hong Kong but, since it’s a chain, you should be able to find one closer to wherever you’re staying. Some classics I recommend include har gow (shrimp dumplings), siu mai (shrimp and pork dumplings), spring rolls, and fried turnip patties. There is also gingko soup and even roast quail which is absolutely worth trying if you’d like to eat a bit more for lunch. 

Dinner at Yardbird 

Come here for the best yakitori chicken skewers ever! And be prepared to fall in love with all the side dishes as well (especially the roasted daikon and mushroom salad). This is where the sides are just as impressive as the mains. Book reservations early or be prepared to wait in line for a few hours. 

Hong Kong is impressive. Exploring Hong Kong in 24 hours can be mind boggling. I suggest taking it slow and seeing a few good things rather than trying to cram too many activities in one day. You must book a future trip and promise yourself you’ll return for a longer time. 

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