When you arrive into Hong Kong, the first thing you should do is buy an Octopus Card. Vending machines by the entrance to the Airport Express train sell these for HK$250 which includes a refundable $50 deposit. This is enough credit for the trip into Central. Jump on the train – it’s nice and air conditioned which is always welcome – and zoom into town.
Getting around is always easy with the Octopus card, and cheap too. The MTR is very efficient and seems to be constant lot growing. Be prepared for massive walks underground in the maze of connections between station platforms.
Where to stay?
There is something for every budget, but I love the InterContinental Hong Kong for its amazing views and impeccable service.
Where to eat?
The thing about Hong Kong is that there is an obsession with shopping centres. Like, everywhere. And oftentimes you are directed through the shopping centre to get to wherever you’re going. Don’t be surprised if the place you looked up is in one, and it shouldn’t put you off as the quality will be good.
If you’re on the Island, the Peak Cafe is a stalwart – a lovely bar with a decent set lunch.
I was last in Hong Kong 11 years ago and a lot has changed since then. The Parade Ground of the old police station has been turned into a bar complex with outside seating and a lively atmosphere.
What to do?
First of all, get on the Star Ferry. It is an institution in itself as well as being a great way to travel between the island and the mainland. The boats are over 50 years old and their unique selling point is the fact that they are double sided so never have to turn around.
It is worth getting out of the main part of the territory to see what a contrast it it! Take a boat from Central to Lamma Island, a small former hippy colony where there are no cars. An easy walk across to the other side gives some nice views (if you ignore the power station) and then have lunch at the Bookworm Cafe, a small vegetarian place that fits with the vibe.
Having chilled with the still, switch it up for some of the most densely populated areas on earth. Head to Mong Kok where you can visit Sneaker Street and marvel at the cellophane-wrapped shoes and classy ‘by-the-hour’ hotels.
When you’re done, head back to the airport. If there are 2 or more of you, a taxi is about $250 – roughly the same as the cost of 2 AirPort express tickets. It’s interesting to see another part of the territory as you whizz by.
If you’ve got a late flight and your hotel won’t give you an extended check out, you can take your bags to Central and use the In Town Checkin facility. Imagine you’re in an airport, you drop your bags and get your boarding passes but instead of going through security, you leave the building. That’s what it’s like, so you can have a bag-free day in town and head to the airport at your convenience to head straight to security.
I enjoyed my time in Hong Kong and there is definitely a lot more to see if you had longer, but 72hrs is the perfect amount of time for a stopover.