Wherever possible I like to have a stopover of a few days en route to a long haul destination. Aside from breaking up a lengthy flight, it’s a perfect opportunity to explore a new place that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to (or want to) spend a chunk of annual leave going solely to.
We decided on a 5 night stopover in Hong Kong to break up our onward journey to Indonesia. From the UK it takes around 20 hours to fly to Bali with a changeover in Asia and so we jumped at the chance to explore more of this part of the world.
Here are some of the things we enjoyed during our time there.
Afternoon tea at the Peninsula hotel
Who doesn’t love the English tradition and decadence of afternoon tea?! A friend recommended that we go to the Peninsula Hotel to experience high tea and I was certainly keen to do this as I’m quite parcel to a treat of this nature every now and then. Reservations can’t be made in advance; the hotel operates a first come, first served arrangement for afternoon tea daily between 2-6pm.
The setting, within the hotel’s lobby, is much grander than it sounds but simultaneously down to earth with friendly staff and a welcoming atmosphere. There was a string quartet playing which was a nice touch and given our visit was in November, many of the cakes and biscuits had a Christmas twist. The portions were very generous and we even got to take home a goody bag with our leftovers to savour later on. In terms of dress code, most diners had gone for smart casual but we decided to dress up a little and make the most of the occasion.
Top tip #1: Get there early to try and ensure you’re near the front of the queue to be seated in the first batch! Otherwise you’re likely to be in for a long wait!
Observation deck, Bank of China
This building is easily recognisable in Hong Kong’s skyline due to its prism light detail along the length of the tower. Tourists are able to gain access to the 43rd floor of the 70 storey building which offers great views of the city and harbour. This attraction is completely free so it’s well worth spending 30-45 minutes here.
A trip on the Star Ferry
This infamous ferry journey is a must do whilst in the city! It’s only a short trip, perhaps 15-20 minutes, which goes between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, providing a different perspective of the harbour and the buildings around it. Tickets are very easy to buy and cost next to nothing; just make sure you avoid rush hour!
Light show at Victoria Harbour
Every evening there’s a spectacular light show that projects across the Harbour’s skyline. There’s no end of different designs and colours lighting up the buildings and the harbour so it’s definitely worth timing a visit here to coincide with the show.
Top tip #2: Arrive with time to spare before the show kicks off at 8pm to secure a good spot!
Avenue of Stars
Hong Kong’s version of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame has recently undergone a revamp (January 2019) with changes including an additional 10 actors’ handprints being added. Admittedly, I didn’t recognise the names of the majority of the actors (my husband knew a few more) but it’s worth passing through this free attraction to see Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan’s imprints if nothing else!
Top tip #3: The Avenue of Stars is located in the same vicinity as the viewing area for the light show so you can combine the two and visit the stars before or after the show.
Sampling Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan
The standout place for our dim sum fix was recommended by our hotel and didn’t disappoint. Aside from the food being delicious – although somewhat unpredictable given there wasn’t an English menu (and Cantonese isn’t exactly easy to decipher!) or English speaking staff – it was as much about experiencing the local culture. Being the only Westerners in the restaurant we had unknowingly stepped outside our comfort zone but it was worth the risk. Be sure to sample the delicious pork buns which are their speciality!
Our meal came to the bargain price of less than £20 for copious amounts of food. We visited the Mongkok branch of this chain of restaurants which was close to where we stayed. It was a bit tricky to find but worth persevering!
Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware
This is a rather sweet, small museum regarding all things tea! It’s located in a pretty colonial building within the grounds of Hong Kong Park and well worth a look to learn an interesting fact or two.
Temple Street Night Market
This is an open air market located on a very long street selling just about everything and anything, from bags to electronics and all manner of souvenirs. It’s not going to be the highlight of your trip but it’s worth wandering along and having a look to see if anything takes your fancy. Be sure to test out your haggling skills if you do want to purchase something!
The Peak / Victoria Peak
This is an absolute must for its stunning views from the highest point of Hong Kong island. The energetic amongst you may enjoy hiking to the top. We took the easy way out and made use of the tram to get up and down! This in itself was good fun (read: very steep!). The views over Hong Kong harbour are immense, providing endless photo opportunities. The challenge is trying to get pictures without hordes of other tourists and locals!
Top tip #4: Be mindful of trying to go on a clear day for the best views, avoiding the weekend crowd if possible.
Top tip #5: Allow ample time for your visit. We had to wait around 45 minutes to get the tram back down, albeit that was on a Sunday.