Itinerary: 5 nights in Hong Kong (business trip)
How much sightseeing can you squeeze into a business trip in Hong Kong when your only free time is before and after work? The answer, A LOT!
Business or pleasure? Why not both!
I’ve always been fascinated with China. In an interview once I was asked why I hadn’t done a gap year and if I could have where I would have gone. My answer? I’d have taken the Trans-Siberian Railway through Russia and into China. Apparently that was the wrong answer and I should have said Thailand like everyone else…
One of my previous jobs almost saw me spend 6 months living in China and I even studied Mandarin so that I’d be able to speak the lingo when I arrived. I never made it over to work and live but in 2016 I visited a friend who was living in Beijing. The second we landed in Shanghai I knew it wouldn’t be my last time visiting China. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when work asked me if I would spend a week in our Hong Kong office I jumped at the chance! As much as I was excited about the business part of the trip (I really was), I was also keen to make sure I did some sightseeing while I was there.
I landed on the Sunday evening leaving little time to do anything but get dinner and then carefully planned my time before work, during lunch and after work to make sure I saw as much as I possibly could.
Now I’m presuming if you’re also visiting Hong Kong on a business trip you are going to be based in Central, that’s where my offices were but my hotel was in Causeway Bay. The good thing about Hong Kong is that the public transport is incredibly accessible and so I’d recommend the first thing you do is to get anOctopus Card (like the Oyster Card in London but also allows you to pay for food and drinks at certain stores). All of the attractions I mention below can be reached using bus, tram or MTR using your Octopus card.
What to wear
You’ll know better than I about what the dress code is for your office so I will leave that up to you. Do bear in mind though that Hong Kong is very humid so although you will probably want a suit jacket for when you’re in a nice air-conditioned skyscraper, you’re definitely not going to want it when you’re walking around Hong Kong. December – February are the coldest months with lows of 14-15C and highs of 18-20C but if you’re visiting in summer you can expect lows of 26-27C and highs of 30-31C.
When I visited in March it hovered in the low to mid twenties but the humidity made it feel a lot warmer. Most days I wandered around in the day and night time with just trousers and a blouse. I carried knitwear just in case it was colder at night but didn’t really use it.
Day 1 (evening only) – dinner at Din Tai Fung.
Day 2 (full day) – Man Mo Temple, Hollywood Road and Soho before work. Grab a custard tart from Tai Cheong Bakery for a mid-morning snack. On lunch head down to the waterfront to see the HK Observation Wheel. Grab dinner on Hollywood Road or in Soho. Visit Lan Kwai Fong for a post-work drink.
Day 3 (full day) – dough sticks for breakfast. Lunch at the IFC Mall/Exchange Square. After work walk to the Golden Bauhinia Square and take the ferry across Victoria Bay to see the Avenue of Stars and the light display.
Day 4 (full day) – Hong Kong Park at lunch. Grab a snack from Queen Sophie’s. Take the tram up to The Peak for sunset.
Day 5 (full day) – take a food tour with “Humid With A Chance Of Fishballs”.
Day 6 (morning only) – visit Victoria Park and Tin Hau Temple Garden.
Day 1 (night only):
Start as you mean to go on by treating yourself to some of the best dim sum in Hong Kong at Din Tai Fung. There are 3 branches in Hong Kong but I ate in the Yee Wo branch in Causeway Bay as it was just a short walk from my hotel. Just make sure you leave some room for the peach steamed buns which are filled with red bean paste. They are not only adorable but delicious too!
Day 2 (full day):
If you’ve flown from west to east, the likelihood is that you’re feeling pretty jetlagged and have woken up way too early for work (if you’ve slept at all). This can be a good thing if you’re trying to squeeze in some extra sightseeing. Before work take a trip to Man Mo Temple then stroll down Hollywood Road and through Soho before heading into the office.
Fun fact for all you video gamers out there – Man Mo Temple features in Shenmue II. Jon immediately recognised it in my photos!
Why not also treat yourself to a custard tart from Tai Cheong Bakery (supposedly one of the best in Hong Kong) with your morning coffee.
We all know that sunlight is good for jet lag (it gets your circadian rhythm back in sync) so, on lunch wander down to central pier where you will find the HK Observation Wheel. From here you can see across Victoria Bay. At night time there’s a fantastic light show, but we’ll leave that for another day.
After work, head back to Hollywood Road and Soho to see how the area transforms at night. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from but my highlights have to be Ho Lee Fook and Grassroots Pantry (serving up some awesome vegetarian/vegan/Buddhist food right next to Man Mo Temple). If you’re after a drink or two to help with the jet lag wander into Lan Kwai Fong which has a reputation as a bit of a party street!
Day 3 (full day):
Before work – go in search of dough sticks (youtiao). If you’re in the Causesay Bay area head to Unit C, 10 Canal Road East, where you will find dough sticks being fried in a huge wok of oil. You can’t beat fresh youtiao! From here you can also easily take a peak at Times Square. It’s literally just round the corner.
On lunch take a stroll to Exchange Square. There are some beautiful statues here including two bulls. (Very appropriate for outside the Hong Kong Exchange). You can grab a bite to eat from somewhere inside the IFC mall. There’s lots of choice including the likes of Pret a Manger if you’re missing food from home.
After work, head back down to central pier but this time keep walking past the HK Observation Wheel and keep going along the Central-Western District Promenade down to Golden Bauhinia Square to the Reunification Statue. The square was the location of the ceremonies for the handover of Hong Kong and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region back in 1997. The sculpture of a gold bauhinia flower attracts quite big crowds of tourists from mainland China.
From there you can hop on the Ferry from Wan Chai Pier and catch the Star Ferry across to Tsim Sha Tsui. Sure you could have got the ferry from the central pier but it is more expensive, quicker (so you don’t get as long to appreciate the view) AND you get a better angle of the skyline on the Wan Chai ferry (see I’ve thought of everything!) Also, hopefully by now the sun has set and the Hong Kong skyline is all lit up. Take in the lights as the ferry sails across the bay. At 8:15pm every night there is a light show which hundreds of people turn out to watch along the waterfront.
If you’re a little early for the display, walk all the way along the Avenue of Stars until you reach the statue of Bruce Lee to take an obligatory selfie! If you’re really lucky someone will offer to take a picture of you pretend fighting him. Go on, you know you want to…everyone else is…
Before you head back to the ferry make sure you’ve had a screwdriver in the bar at the The Penninsula. You can find out more about the link between the screwdriver cocktail and The Penninsula here along with my recipe for the cocktail! For dinner, you’ve got a second opportunity to eat at Din Tai Fung as you will find not one, but two branches this side of the bay. For fellow veggies I’d recommend Kung Tak Lam Shanghai which is just a short walk from the pier.
If you’re in search of an authentic pudding after dinner I recommend Yee Shun Milk Company for a bowl of steamed milk. It can be a little daunting at first as they aren’t set up for Western tourists but you won’t be dissapointed. Grab a seat with the locals if you are brave enough or choose to take away. My favourite is the hot ginger pudding though on a really hot and humid day it’s nice to opt for cold.
Day 4 (full day):
Hopefully by now the jetlag has subsided so treat yourself to a full night’s sleep, no early morning start, and just head straight into work.
On lunch head over to Hong Kong Park. When most people think of Hong Kong they just think of the towering sky scrapers but there is some green space to be found if you know where to look. The park is full of fountains, lily-ponds, waterfalls and streams as well as a mini-rainforest. It must be a beautiful on a sunny day. Sadly for me it was grey and wet.
Last night you saw the Hong Kong skyline from across the bay, tonight we’re going to see it from a height! Head to The Peak tram. Sky looking a little overcast? Don’t worry the bright lights of Hong Kong shine brightly meaning even on the dreariest of days you’re going to get a good view. I didn’t both paying to go to Sky Terrace 428. You can get a really good view from any one of the free vantage points. Now I will be honest, I prefer the view from Victoria Bay because you’re looking at the back of the buildings in Central and out towards Tsim Sha Tsui. Personally I think the view is better when looking back towards Central. That being said, this is still a trip worth taking. Even though it was a miserable day when I visited it was still quite busy after work. I hear the queues are crazy when it’s a nice day so I’d probably still opt to go on a cloudy day if I visited again. Not sure I could cope with a tram that goes almost vertical while squished up against other tourists! Though perhaps that is all part of the fun…
I did buy myself a sneaky treat before I headed to the tram stop just in case their were queues. I had a cream cheese tart from Queen Sophie’s. It didn’t disappoint!
Day 5 (full day):
On lunch make a stop off at the IFC mall. Shopping centres in HK are bigger and better than any I’ve ever seen before anywhere else in the world. As well as lots of designer fashion stores and brands you will recognise from home there are a couple of options for buying food and drink to take back home. City’super is a great place to go for food and drink souvenirs as well as your lunch (it’s essentially a supermarket). I’d also recommend paying a visit to Kee Wah Bakery for lots of tasty treats to take back home.
Now…I’ve saved the best until last! Tonight book yourself on to a street food tour with “humid with a chance of fish balls” – which by the way totally sums HK up! If you’re new to the cuisine I’d suggest going for the Best of Hong Kong tour in Sham Shui Po. Because I’d already eaten most of the food stuffs on the Best of Hong tour, and because I wanted to explore somewhere new, I went for the Off the Eaten Path tour in Whampoa. Victoria was an amazing guide full of fun facts and information about the area as well as the culture and food. We tried all sorts of different delicacies including fishballs of course! I don’t want to spoil it too much but I will say it does fall on the more adventurous side of things. The wet markets aren’t for the squeamish and vegetarians may want to discuss with Victoria what they are happy seeing before they go. I would also recommend skipping lunch. You’re going to be heading home absolutely STUFFED. If there is only one thing you do in HK make sure it’s this. When you’ve got so little time to see the city this is one of the best ways. Plus you don’t have to worry about finding a table for 1 for dinner!
The next time I’m in Hong Kong (that’s right I will definitely be going back) I’m going to book on to theKowloon City Night Food tour for sure! Craft beer lovers might also want to check out the Local Craft Beer Brewery tour.
Day 6 (morning only):
Before you head off to the airport go and find some of Hong Kong’s green space. If you didn’t make it to Hong Kong park on lunch then make sure you head there. If, like me, you’re staying in Causeway Bay then take a stroll through Victoria Park to Tin Hau Temple Garden for some peace and quiet before the madness of the airport.
No work all play…
…makes Emma a dull woman. It may have been a little strange sightseeing by myself but I had a fantastic time and was so pleased with how much I managed to squeeze in. Of course this isn’t the be-all and end-all of what Hong Kong has to offer and no doubt I will be back in the future to explore even deeper into this incredibly vibrant and friendly city.