Whenever I start telling someone about my SEA trip, I always start with a recommendation of stopping in Hong Kong. It's a city for everyone because of its diverse layout and landscape. It's also a major international flight destination, and you can find some cheap tickets if you're like me and heading east from the US. We ended up saving over $300 a ticket just by flying into Hong Kong instead of directly into Vietnam or Thailand!
Hong Kong has something for everyone and I will continue to recommend it to everyone who asks me about exploring Asia! The main island of Hong Kong and its counterpart, the Kowloon side, feel very similar to New York City. On one hand, like NYC, it's older, crowded, a little dirty, and just exploding with skyscrapers, market, neon signs, and dazzling nightlife.
However, it's also very different from New York City because many of the islands that make up greater Hong Kong are covered in uninhabited forests and surrounded by breathtaking beaches. This wilderness makes you feel like you're thousands of miles in the middle of nowhere, not in a city with 7.5 million people nearby. And it's all connected by a 20 minute railcar ride!
Hong Kong is also a great starting place for Westerners to immerse themselves into the culture of China, without actually having to visit China itself, since Hong Kong is an autonomous territory. This just means you don't need a visa to visit HK in the same way you would need one mainland China! Score!
So here's my top recommendations for spending two days exploring this fabulous and diverse city!
Hong Kong: Major Zones
If you didn't already do your research on HK, what you need to know is that the city is split into several major zones and many smaller neighborhoods, but that most of the city is centered around, and split between, the Kowloon Bay. This means the central hub of the city is separated into two areas: the Kowloon side and Hong Kong Island with the bay in the middle. Most of the residential areas of the city are located on the Kowloon side, and the business and trendy areas are located on Hong Kong Island. Lantau Island is further away but still worth mentioning. This means the two-day traveler will end up visiting three main regions: Kowloon (mainland), Hong Kong Island, and Lantau Island.
Where to Stay
There are many lodging options on both sides of the bay, and which side you stay on can be determined by where you think you will spend most of your time while in HK. I settled on us staying on the Kowloon side for two reasons: (1) price and (2) accessibility.
Hong Kong Island is just that, an island, and therefore limited in space. So the prices of hotels on the island tend to be more expensive, and rooms tend to be smaller. Staying on the Kowloon side means rooms are a little cheaper and a little bigger, but not by much!
The second reason we opted to stay on the Kowloon side is because it is more centrally located and most of the things we wanted to see, aside from Victoria Peak, were here. Which side you stay on can depend on what sights you plan on seeing while there. Below is my itinerary and schedule for two days in HK. It may not seem like it, but you can do a lot in two days. I would recommend at least 3-4 days, but if you're a budget traveler like me, then sometimes you just have to work with the days that are cheapest!
Emily & Jet: Our travel is modest, but packed with adventure. Cheap, but not hostel-cheap. Romantic, but exciting and memorable. We take little, but grand, adventures together to grow in love and life experience.