Hong Kong is very beautiful! It is the world’s fourth-most densely populated region, has many parks spread throughout, a spectacular waterfront along Victoria Harbour, a cruise port, Disneyland, and hosts the largest number of skyscrapers in the world. It is definitely a sight to behold. In this post, we will discuss our post-cruise two-day itinerary in the Hong Kong regions of Kowloon, Lantau Island, and Hong Kong Island.
Mini History Lesson
Hong Kong is located on the eastern side of the Pearl River in southern China. It is not technically its own country but rather a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKSAR). Hong Kong was a colony of the British Empire from 1842 until 1997, when the territory was returned to China as a SAR. Hong Kong maintains a separate government and economic system from mainland China. They welcome a whopping 60+ million tourists annually.
We arrived in Hong Kong via cruise ship. Click here if you are interested in reading our Royal Caribbean Cruise Through Asia post. What a beautiful port!! Pulling in was so picturesque. You have a view of this futuristic customs building with a green roof, the city behind it, and mountains behind that. Total “WOW, welcome to Hong Kong” moment as we pulled into port. We departed the boat early at 7:00am because we wanted to maximize our short time in Hong Kong. Since there is no train right at the cruise terminal, we took a bus to the train station. From there, we took a train towards the area where our hotel was located. We walked a few minutes to the hotel. The block we walked down seemed like nearly every store was selling bathroom fixtures (sinks and toilets).
The Novotel Century Hotel (238 Jaffe Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong), located on Hong Kong Island, was worth the hour and a half public transit commute. We knew that we were arriving well before check-in, so we packed bathing suits, cover-ups, and flip flops in our carry-ons. The hotel stored our bags, and we went to the rooftop pool to cool down (it was sooo HOT outside) and lounge around. Not much of a view, but the pool was very nice and relaxing. There were only a few other people there with us. The reception desk ended up calling us to check in early. Our room was very spacious with a really nice bathroom. We only had two days in Hong Kong, so we knew that we would not be spending too much time in the room, but it was nice to have space to open our bags, hang clothes, and unpack a bit.
After we quickly settled in, we changed and headed out for our first day. First thing on the itinerary was to visit the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (11 Man Kwong St, Central, Hong Kong) located on Hong Kong Island right on Victoria Harbour. Entry was 30 HKD or $3.83 USD. This was the best maritime museum we had ever been to. They showcased a diverse set of artifacts ranging from art, ship models, diver gear, geographic renderings, and maps. They also had a large exhibit for children that explained where drinking water comes from and how water is cleaned after it is soiled. The museum has a cafe on the top floor if you had wanted to enjoy breakfast or lunch with a view over the water. For the price, this is a must-see!
After the museum, we strolled along the waterfront past The Hong Kong Observation Wheel and AIA Vitality Park (33 Man Kwong St, Central, Hong Kong). It was an incredibly hot day, so we stopped to get ice cream and did not end up riding the Ferris wheel. It did look awesome though. From the top, you probably have an incredible view during day or night. The wheel is covered in neon lights at night. Even if you don’t ride, it is still a great photo opportunity.
We walked to the bus stand near the piers with the intention of going to our next destination. Little did we know, you had to have exact change to ride the bus. We only had large bills from the bank. A really nice local could tell we were confused tourists. She offered to pay for our ride and even made sure we got off where we were supposed to.
We got off the bus at The Peak Tram Lower Terminus. Total price for the tram ride up the mountain to Victoria Peak and back down with 360° view from highest elevation was 99 HKD or $12.62 USD. The queue to buy tickets and get on a tram was really long. When we finally got on the tram, we were lucky enough to claim seats. It was a long ride up the mountain, and with the steep incline it would have been uncomfortable to stand. The optical illusion of tilted skyscrapers was really awesome. Buildings look like they are leaning a gradient of between 4 to 27 degrees. Total mind trip.
When we got to the top, there were many shops and restaurants. We didn’t eat at Burger King, but they have a balcony overlooking the skyline, so we went outside just to take daytime pictures of the skyline view.
Next, we went back inside and found an activity that was totally free: It was many wall murals with twisted perspectives. When you stand next to or on it, it makes it look like you are a part of that scene. We had so much fun in this area.
Next, we had a tasty sunset sushi dinner overlooking the Harbour. We felt the prices were high at every restaurant at the Peak. Obviously, it’s a bit of a tourist trap, but being that you have to pay just to get up there, we didn’t mind spending a little more on food to extend our time. A quick note on sushi in Asia: Sometimes when you order shrimp, they are served totally raw. We don’t find that much in America, so we were a little “shell” shocked (pun intended).
After we finished dinner, we headed up to the Sky Terrace 428, the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong with 360° views of the city. Due to the time of day we picked for this activity, we were able to see the final transition from daytime to nighttime while up here. I think that was the best because we captured daytime and nighttime photos. At night, the city comes to life with every skyscraper lighting up. There is even a light show on several of the buildings. My tip is to pre-download the app so you can listen to the music while you watch. We hadn’t known there was music or an app. At the top of the Peak, cellphone signal was slow so we couldn’t download it. We still thoroughly enjoyed the show even without the music. We stayed upstairs to watch it twice! For the first show, we were a few rows back from the railing. Then, when people left, we took their spots in the front row. For the second show, we had a way better view. It is seriously crowded in the Sky Terrace, so if crowds aren’t your thing, then maybe visit earlier in the day. The nighttime show is the busiest time of day at the Peak.
After the show we waited in a very long queue to get back on the tram down the mountain. By that point, we were fed and got the photos we had wanted for the day, so we didn’t mind waiting in lines, but it was really long. If you can’t stand for long periods of time, then either wear comfortable shoes, or avoid the tram and ride a bus instead. It was really dark going down the mountain, and the view was not as good as during the day, so if you were to ride the tram only one way, then ride it up the Peak and during the daytime.
When we got off, we walked to the train and headed back to our hotel. That was a wrap on a jam-packed Day One!
We started our day early because we were headed to Disneyland Hong Kong!! It is on my bucket list to visit every Disney theme park, so of course I couldn’t be in Hong Kong and miss this attraction.
Travel to the park was easy and enjoyable but lengthy. In total, the commute was about an hour from our hotel. We took the orange Tung Chung Line northwest till we arrived at Sunny Bay Station (before the Hong Kong Airport). Some of this trip was below and above ground, so the changing views helped time pass faster. From this stop, we transferred to the pink Disneyland Resort Line that took us directly to the Disney property. The Disneyland Resort Line train is not like the other MTR trains. This train was clearly paid for by Disney and branded adorably. The windows and hand supports are shaped like Mickey Mouse heads, there are bronze Disney character figurines displayed in each car, and the seating is comfortable and plush.
Hong Kong Disneyland is one park that includes seven themed lands: Adventureland, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, and Main Street USA. The iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle is the park’s centerpiece. If you have been to other “Disneyland” parks in the world, or Orlando’s Disney World, then you will note that this park has a similar vibe of lands surrounding a castle. The public areas in this park occupy 68 acres. There are 12 Disney Parks in the world, and Hong Kong Disneyland is ranked second- smallest just above Walt Disney Studios Paris.
Tickets were about 650 HKD, which was approximately $82 USD. We arrived at the Park just as gates were opening. It was a Thursday and didn’t seem as crowded as other Disney Parks we have visited. We didn’t ever wait more than 20 minutes in line for a ride, which was awesome. It was April, so the park was all dressed up for Easter with character eggs all over the park. In comparison to other Disney Parks we’d already visited around the world, Hong Kong Disneyland was very similar. I think the coolest rides for us were Mystic Manor (similar to Haunted Mansion but less scary and no ghosts), Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Car (similar to Thunder Mountain), It’s a Small World (see if you can spot the hidden Disney characters among the regular Small World characters), and the Toy Story RC Racer. Hubby also really liked the Iron Man Experience ride.
We stopped into the City Hall guest services building off of Main Street USA and asked if they gave away free celebratory pins (like they do in Orlando). We were on our honeymoon and brought our “Just Married” pins from Orlando. We figured we could show them just in case they hadn’t known what we were talking about, or if they didn’t give away pins we could wear the ones we already owned. Lucky for us, they did have pins! So the first souvenir we got from that park was totally free. The parks usually have a pin or sticker you can get for free to show staff you are celebrating something: first visit, birthday, anniversary, or wedding. All you have to do is go to guest services and ask.
One silly thing we noticed in every gift shop were character-branded nail clippers. Not sure what the infatuation with nail clippers is all about, but they had walls full, and not just in Disney—they were all over Hong Kong. They were even sold in family packs. How many nail clippers does one family need? haha
There was some construction throughout the park due to an upcoming expansion with additions of Frozen, Moana, and Marvel lands. Disney is also totally overhauling the central castle. It will no longer be the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle, but instead a larger newly-envisioned castle that features elements from many different Disney Princesses. The full expansion is set to be completed by 2023, although some elements will come online sooner than others. I may have to book my next Hong Kong trip for after the expansion is complete!☺
Due to the castle being under construction, there was no nightly fireworks display. We had arrived when gates opened, hardly waited in lines, and completed all the rides, so we decided to leave the park early just after lunchtime. We missed the Lion King show, because the next show was a three-hour wait away. We didn’t want to wait around for hours just to see one show. In hindsight, we should have planned out our timing better and known the show times so we didn’t miss it. I’ve read online that it’s spectacular.
We took the Disneyland Resort Line train back to the MTR Sunny Bay Station, then transferred to the MTR and headed back to the heart of Hong Kong. Since we still had half a day left, we went straight to the Hong Kong Space Museum. The museum was educational, included interactive activities, had several great photo ops, was fully indoors and air conditioned, but it was on the smaller side in comparison to other space museums we’ve been to. We didn’t add on the special exhibit, because there were many school groups in attendance that Thursday and we felt that portion of the museum would be too crowded. We probably spent over an hour in the museum.
After the museum, we took a stroll along the Victoria Harbour waterfront to Harbour City Shopping Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. There was a wide array of stores, and most were high-end. We ate dinner nearby in McDonald’s. We love to eat McDonald’s once in every country we travel to so we can compare to American McD’s. We almost always feel the quality overseas is better. We also enjoyed McDonald’s in Asia in general, because they had really different menu options compared to North America and Europe.
When we left the mall, it was raining. We stumbled upon the Golden Harvest Grand Ocean Cinema which was close by the mall. The Avengers Infinity War movie had just come out while we were on vacation, and the theater was showing it in English, so we decided to spend the remainder of the evening watching that movie.
After the movie, we walked back to the train and went back to our hotel.
Our flight to Chiang Mai, Thailand, was at 12:15pm the next day. Due to the international flight, we wanted to be at the airport by 9:00am, so we woke up early, packed, checked out, and kissed Hong Kong goodbye.
If you have one extra day in Hong Kong, I would recommend booking a junk boat tour. Royal Caribbean offered this activity as one of their Hong Kong excursions, and we didn’t have the time to fit it into our crazy schedule. It looked nice though.
Overall, we had a short but incredible time in Hong Kong! We were able to fit so many activities into two short days because none of the activities lasted more than half a day. We also didn’t mind waking up early and going to bed late in order to add one more activity to each day. So… is it possible to see Hong Kong in two days? You bet it is!
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