It’s been described as the gateway to China, a melting pot of cultures where east meets west, or perhaps less gracefully, ‘stopover city’.
Hong Kong is after all a regular feature on long-haul flyers’ itineraries. And its status as the ideal stop-over is helped by the Airport Express train which whizzes you from the airport to the city centre in just 24 minutes.
So if that’s you, in Hong Kong for just a layover between flights, or on a business trip with an afternoon spare, we’ve got some tips on how to make the most of your time.
We put a shout-out on our our Facebook page to see what our followers would do with four hours in Hong Kong. Cyril Rowlands’ answer may have baffled anyone who doesn’t know Hong Kong well:
Aberdeen is actually a town on the South of Hong Kong Island. It’s perhaps most famous for Jumbo Kingdom, said to be the world’s largest floating restaurant, which customers can reach using free transport from the pier on Aberdeen Promenade.
The Star Ferry is a cheap way to travel between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, providing an opportunity to take in the Hong Kong skyline and Victoria Harbour.
It’s a short ride and best done at night. If you’re around at 8pm you can catch the daily Symphony of Lights laser show.
See the city by tram
One of the most popular ways to see Hong Kong is to hop on one of its double-decker trams, known locally as ‘Ding Dings’. They run from East to West across Hong Kong Island, stopping frequently, so you don’t need to worry if you miss your stop. Pay with an Octopus Card, which you can get at any MTR subway station in Hong Kong.
You could also try the famous Peak Tram, which will take you up to Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island.
Nan Lian Garden
For all its charms, even on a short stay Hong Kong can seem frenetic – it has been described as ‘New York City on steroids’ – and you may crave some peace and quiet.
If you find that’s the case, head to Kowloon’s Nan Lian Garden for 35,000 sq metres of serenity. Built in the classical style of the Tang Dynasty, it’s open daily and it’s free.
While you’re there, you could visit the tranquil Chi Lin Nunnery temple complex.
Whether you head to one of the swanky high-rise restaurants or to a food market at street level, you shouldn’t have to search too hard to get your fix of Hong Kong’s most famous cuisine, dim sum.
If it’s the former you’re after, try Man Wah on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental. For something a little less wallet-sapping, try One Dim Sum in Prince Edward.
While it’s only a short hop from the airport to the heart of Hong Kong, perhaps you can’t be bothered with the hassle. In which case fear not, as the airport is almost a destination in itself. It wasn’t named the World’s Best Airport for Transit Passengers 2018 for nothing.
It’s home to the largest IMAX giant screen in Hong Kong, the Aviation Discovery Centre, where you can learn about the history of aviation in Hong Kong and try out flight simulation, an indoor golf club that offers golf simulation games, a spa, and much more.
So much more
We’ve just scratched the surface with these tips. If you know of a better way to spend a few hours in the city, we’d love to see your suggestions.