If You Only Have Three Days in Hong Kong

There are a few experiences signature to Hong Kong, and if you only have three days there, you’ll want to do them all. Start by riding the Star Ferry, then take the tram up to Victoria Peak for unparalleled views over the city. You can also take a short boat ride over to neighboring islands, or visit Buddhist landmarks like the Big Buddha and Man Mo Temple. Three days in Hong Kong will fly by when you check out these must-see landmarks.

22 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Built in 1928 by Asia’s oldest hotel brand, the Peninsula Hong Kong is one of the most historic properties on the Kowloon Peninsula, just across Victoria Harbour from Hong Kong Island. Designed originally as an upscale accommodation for passengers riding the adjacent Kowloon-Canton railway, the Peninsula has been a fixture of Hong Kong society throughout the region’s history. It was a magnet for Hollywood stars and dignitaries, the site of Hong Kong’s surrender to Japanese forces at the start of World War II, and temporary housing for residents following the war.

In 1994, a 30-story tower was added to house 135 additional rooms and suites as well as shops, a spa, a fitness center, twin rooftop helipads, and Felix—the hotel’s 28th-floor fine-dining restaurant, designed by Philippe Starck. The entire property was renovated in 2013 to update rooms with creamy colors, polished wood, and stitched leather and introduce high-tech extras that include a bedside control panel allowing guests to adjust the room’s light, sound, and temperature without getting out from under the covers. Today, the hotel is sleek and modern, but historic relics evoke the glory days that established the Peninsula as the “Grande Dame of the Far East.”
Man Mo Temple, 124-126 Hollywood Rd, Tai Ping Shan, Hong Kong
Man Mo Temple was built by wealthy Chinese merchants between 1847 and 1862 as a tribute to the God of Literature (man) and the God of War (mo). Both deities were worshiped by ambitious students eager to succeed in the rigorous civil examinations of imperial China; good grades paved the way for a prestigious career in government administration. Today, tucked in the shadows of hulking apartment towers on busy Hollywood Road, it’s Hong Kong Island’s oldest temple and probably its most well known. The dimly lit Man Mo, with its carved wooden panels, ornate ceramic figurines, plaster moldings, murals, and giant incense coils hanging from the ceiling, feels wonderfully ethereal. A visit to Man Mo is a step off the grid in frenetic Hong Kong.
Stanley Market Rd, Stanley, Hong Kong
Stanley Market is the first place local people think of for shopping. For out-of-towners, a Stanley shopping trip kills two birds with one stone—sightseeing and bargain hunting. The 45-minute bus or taxi drive from Central to the little seaside town of Stanley skirts along the bays of Hong Kong Island’s hilly southern coastline and, if the weather is good, offers excellent views. Once at the market, explore the narrow lanes chockablock with Chinese and Southeast Asian knickknacks, cheap clothes, watches, kids’ costumes, luggage, backpacks, handbags, and much more. You’ll likely have to buy a cheap suitcase, too, to lug home all your great finds.
Nan Lian Garden, 60號 Fung Tak Rd, Diamond Hill, Hong Kong
A serene respite from the towering urban sprawl nearby, this traditional Tang Dynasty–style landscaped garden is based on the design of the famous Jiangshouju Garden in Shanxi Province. Winding paths lead visitors past pines, cypress, and fragrant flowering trees. Set on Diamond Hill in Kowloon with the vast northern mountain range as the backdrop, the lovely park has been designed with artificial hillocks, ornamental rocks, waterfalls, and koi ponds to encourage quiet walks and reflection. Think of it as an outdoor museum for the soul and a place representing Chinese cultural ideals. A striking gilded pagoda and a pair of arched red wooden bridges are the focal points of a lotus pond and a favorite photo subject. To linger longer, enjoy a meal at the vegetarian café on-site.
162 Wellington St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
The Lin Heung Tea House on Wellington Street has remained authentic in terms of both décor and recipes since opening in 1920. As the name “dim sum” implies, a table full of food shared in good company will “touch the heart.” This Cantonese specialty is served in bite-sized pieces so you can try many dishes in one sitting, including piping-hot bamboo steamers full of “har gow” shrimp dumplings, “siu mai” pork dumplings, and even chicken’s feet. The speedy patron turnover here means you’ll need to rinse your own utensils at table table with the hot water that’s provided, but that’s just part of the whole memorable experience of dining at this Hong Kong institution.
129 Second St, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
If you think of gin and tonic as a nothing-special default cocktail, Ping Pong 129 Gintonería, across from exit B2 of the Sai Ying Pun station, just might change your mind. In a cavernous subterranean ex−ping-pong training center that’s been given an artsy but raw makeover, you can deep dive into an impressive array of small-batch gins and, yes, tonics from around the world. By Janice Leung Hayes. This appeared in the May/June 2016 issue.
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