What to Do in Hong Kong If You Only Have a Day

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Dim Sum, ‘gram-worthy street art, and unparalleled energy make Hong Kong one of the world’s most exciting cities to spend 24 hours.

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Hong Kong pulses with energy round the clock. By day, international business people, tourists, and locals flood the streets, and by nightfall, the city is no less crowded when colorful neon signs begin to reflect on the waters of Victoria Harbor, lighting up that unmistakable skyline. Whether you’re in Hong Kong for business and have a free day to explore, or you’re passing through en route to another city, we’re sure that you will leave hungry for more.


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And speaking of hunger, Hong Kong’s restaurant scene alone is worth planning a trip around. With over 50 Michelin-starred restaurants scattered across the city, foodies are spoiled for choice. In fact, you can even get Michelin star fast food (and you will—more on that below). Master chefs flock to this island city from all over the globe, making it a veritable melting pot for international cuisine. And with the award-winning restaurants comes a high demand for reservations, so if you plan to eat at one of the top-rated properties, be sure to book ahead.

Related: 24 Hours in Bangkok

Over the course of 24 hours, we’ll give you a taste of Hong Kong’s delicious and varied cuisine, as well as a chance to see the heart and soul of the city through a historical and cultural walking tour. You’ll also stay at one of the most storied hotels in Asia. Pack some good walking shoes and consider fasting for a day before you set out for 24 hours in Hong Kong. Our editor-curated itinerary, below. 

9 a.m. Grab a quick coffee and a Danish pastry at Bakehouse, Hong Kong’s best artisan bakery where the treats are baked in-house. 


Courtesy Bakehouse

10 a.m. Book a street art tour (opt for Colouring the City) with Hong Kong Street Art Tours. Your guide, Alex, will take you on a three and a half hour walking tour around Central and Sheung Wan, talking extensively about the fascinating street art culture in Hong Kong, while going over the city’s rich history—she is truly a wealth of knowledge. Pack good walking shoes and bring a camera!


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2 p.m. Have a perfunctory but absolutely delicious lunch of Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan, the best Michelin-star fast food joint in the world. Located under Hong Kong Station (Podium Level 1 of the IFC Mall), the lines are long but they move quickly and the food comes out faster than you can say Baked Barbeque Pork Bun (speaking of which, order several of these). 


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3:30 p.m. Hong Kong is home to countless street markets where you can do some serious bargain shopping, and also discover incredible local arts, crafts, clothing, and antiques. If you’re interested in gems, pearls and jade, head to Yau Ma Tei Jade Market. Or if you’re interested in snapping more colorful photos, check out the stunning Mong Kok Flower Market, where dozens of florists spill into the street, selling all types of flowers and plants. 


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5:30 p.m. Head to the Central Pier where you’ll depart for a 45-minute evening boat ride on a red sail junk boat with Aqua Luna. Sip a glass of bubbly while you watch the sun go down below Victoria Harbor, and watch as the skyline begins to sparkle. 


Courtesy Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

6:30 p.m. At Amber, the menu is all about pure and progressive flavors. Helmed by chef Richard Ekkebus, you’ll feast on gourmet dishes in a chic dining room of soft cream colors and rich wood accents. Ekkebus puts an emphasis on clean, dairy-free ingredients, yielding an unforgettable, globally-inspired menu. 

9 p.m. Grab a nightcap at Captain’s Bar, a global institution. You may have to be patient to score a seat at the bar, or in a coveted armchair, but the cocktail menu—and the live jazz—make the wait worth it. 


Courtesy Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

Alternatively, you can check out iconic The Old Man bar, a world-renowned cocktail joint in SoHo dedicated to Hemingway, as seen through the inventive drink menu and a sophisticated atmosphere. 


Courtesy Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

10 p.m. There’s no better place to end your day in this city than the legendary Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property. As the very first Mandarin Oriental and the brand’s flagship, you’ll discover that the hotel is a treasure trove of history, in addition to being a five-star luxury sanctuary away from the city’s hustle and bustle. With a sleek exterior and spacious, modern rooms and common spaces that feature beautiful Chinese antiques, you’ll have a hard time pulling yourself out of your plush king-sized bed. Pro tip: book the Macau Suite for top floor views of the city, a stunning marble bathroom, and your very own butler.