Travel: Make the most of your time in Hong Kong with this 3-day itinerary

Despite its colonial past, the country has developed a unique identity, blending Eastern and Western influences into a vibrant tapestry of culture and commerce


Somya Mehta

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Published: Thu 9 May 2024, 5:44 PM

Last updated: Sat 11 May 2024, 2:07 PM

With a history as captivating as its skyline, Hong Kong is one of the most sought after destinations in the Far East. Centuries ago, what was a humble fishing village nestled along the southern coast of China has made its way to a glimmering blend of tradition, innovation and modern architecture at its finest.

Its name translates to ‘Fragrant Harbour’, a nod to the aromatic trade goods that once passed through its shores. However, it wasn't until the 19th century that Hong Kong began its journey into the global spotlight. Despite its colonial past, the country has developed a unique identity, blending Eastern and Western influences into a vibrant tapestry of culture and commerce.

Visa requirements

A seven-hour flight away from Dubai, travelling to Hong Kong makes for a tempting choice for the UAE residents courtesy a number of reasons. As far as the visa requirements are concerned, UAE citizens can enter Hong Kong for short visits (typically up to 30 or 90 days) without needing a visa for tourism or business purposes.

Some nationalities that reside in the UAE may be eligible for visa-on-arrival entry to Hong Kong or simple pre-arrival approval, which usually involves submitting an online application and providing supporting documents, such as a passport copy, travel itinerary, and proof of accommodation. However, this depends on the specific passport you hold, so it's crucial to verify your eligibility in advance.

Getting there

There are a number of direct flight options from the UAE to Asia’s World City, including Cathay Pacific, to which Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) serves as a primary hub. The airport’s strategic location provides convenient connections between Asia, Oceania, Europe, Africa, and North America, making it a gateway for travellers transiting through the Asia-Pacific region—an advantage which has fuelled the airport’s rapid expansion.

Renowned for its exceptional service and hospitality, Cathay Pacific’s business class operation ensures that the lengthy seven-hour flight duration passes by swiftly and seamlessly. Opting for the night flight is ideal for ensuring that you arrive in the city in the comfortable morning hours, waking up fresh from a restful night’s sleep courtesy of fully-reclinable seats and cosy night gear provided by the airline.

Without realising how the seven-hours ‘fly’ by, you will arrive in the vibrant city, charged and energised to make the most of your day. If you wish to choose a more economical option, the Premium Economy experience also offers an exceptionally elevated ride with enhanced comfort, amenities, and services, bridging the gap between Economy Class and Business Class—perfectly well-suited for long-haul flights.

Where to stay

The globally-renowned Mandarin Oriental (MO) Hotel in Hong Kong stands as a beacon of luxury and sophistication, commanding a prestigious location in the heart of Central HK since its grand opening in 1963. Over the decades, the homegrown chain has cultivated a reputation for unparalleled hospitality and timeless elegance, attracting travellers from around the globe.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Perched on the waterfront, the hotel offers breathtaking views of Victoria Harbour and the city skyline, providing guests with a stunning backdrop for their stay. With the hotel's history woven into its fabric, evident in its classic yet contemporary design, the property acts as a landmark entry-point into everything Hong Kong stands for—world-class opulence rooted in tradition.

Beyond its luxurious accommodations, MO is also renowned for its exceptional dining experiences, with a collection of award-winning restaurants helmed by world-class chefs. From cosy breakfast in bed, to a Cantonese adventure at Man Wah, to an eccentric Japanese izakaya experience at The Aubrey, guests can indulge their culinary cravings without leaving the hotel.

Around Hong Kong

Today, Hong Kong stands as a global metropolis, renowned for its gleaming skyscrapers, culinary delights, and dynamic energy. From the bustling streets of Mong Kok to the tranquil beaches of Discovery Bay, every corner of the city tells a story.

Often recognised for its dazzling skyline and vibrant urban life, Hong Kong is also a captivating cluster of islands nestled along the southeastern coast of China. While the bustling streets of Kowloon and the towering skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island may dominate the cityscape, it's important to remember that Hong Kong comprises over 200 islands, each with its own unique character and charm.

Star Ferry

With just a short ferry ride, we can experience a quick getaway from the bustling city life to immerse ourselves in the relaxed island atmosphere, surrounded by the warm hues of ocean waters and lush hills and mountains. Amid the classic HK ferry rides is the Star Ferry— an enduring symbol of Hong Kong’s maritime heritage.

Connecting the bustling districts of Central and Tsim Sha Tsui with its iconic fleet of green and white ferries traversing Victoria Harbour, the Star Ferry has provided an essential transportation link for locals and tourists alike, offering a scenic and affordable way to cross between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

As passengers board the ferry, they are treated to panoramic views of the city’s stunning skyline. The short but memorable journey allows passengers to soak in the sights and sounds of Victoria Harbour, providing a glimpse into the cosmopolitan charm that defines Hong Kong.

Laser Light Show

When you cross over to Kowloon from Hong Kong Island, you can catch the mesmerising laser light show, known as the ‘Symphony of Lights’. Make the most of a breezy evening in HK, enjoying a show that illuminates the city’s skyline with a dazzling display of colours, music, and choreographed effects.

Recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest permanent light and sound show, the Symphony of Lights encapsulates Hong Kong’s dynamic spirit.

Art at M+

As the centrepiece of the West Kowloon Cultural District, M+ museum is a vibrant cultural hub and a catalyst for artistic innovation and exchange. Its state-of-the-art facilities, including contemporary art galleries, theatres, and educational spaces, provides visitors with immersive experiences and opportunities to engage with art in new and meaningful ways.

What to eat

A culinary gem nestled in the heart of Hong Kong, Dim Sum Library offers a modern twist on traditional Cantonese dim sum cuisine. The restaurant’s chic and stylish ambiance sets the stage for a culinary journey that celebrates the artistry and craftsmanship of the delicious dim sum. From classic favourites like siu mai to innovative creations such as truffle long bao, dining here is a masterclass into the dim sum culture.

If you’re looking for a more traditional experience, do make your way to a classic teahouse, such as Luk Yu Tea House, to get a taste of authentic Cantonese culture at its finest.

The Peak Tram

The Peak Tram stands as a timeless symbol of Hong Kong’s rich history. Since its inaugural journey in 1888, this historic funicular railway has ferried locals and tourists alike to the summit of Victoria Peak, offering a breathtaking ascent up the island’s steep slopes.

As passengers board the iconic tram cars in Central, they embark on a journey filled with wonder, ascending amidst stunning views of Hong Kong’s towering skyscrapers and bustling harbour below. The experience is a cherished tradition, evoking a sense of old-world charm and adventure. At the summit, visitors are greeted with panoramic views, scenic walking trails, and a variety of attractions, making the Peak Tram a quintessential part of any Hong Kong itinerary.

The Central City Walk

The Central City Walk, part of the MO Experience, offers a captivating journey through the historic Old Town Central area of Hong Kong. Beginning at the revered Man Mo Temple, with its ornate architecture and fragrant incense, visitors are transported back in time to an era of tradition and spirituality.

Continuing along Cat Street, a treasure trove of antiques and curiosities, the walk reveals the rich tapestry of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage. Kwong Wah and Kwun Yum Tong add to the allure, with their bustling markets and vibrant street life, providing a glimpse into the daily rhythms of the city.

Together, these destinations offer a fascinating exploration of Old Town Central, where the past meets the present in a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity.

360 Cable Car

The Cable Car to Ngong Ping offers passengers a breathtaking aerial journey across the scenic landscapes of Lantau Island. As the cable car ascends from Tung Chung, passengers are treated to panoramic views of lush mountains, rolling hills, and the beautiful waters of the South China Sea.

Ngong Ping and Big Buddha

A cultural and spiritual oasis nestled on Lantau Island, Ngong Ping offers a serene escape from the city’s bustling streets. The highlight of Ngong Ping is the renowned Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, a majestic bronze statue standing at 34 metres tall and facing north to overlook the surrounding mountains and seas.

Visitors can ascend the 268 steps to reach the Buddha’s base to not only soak in the serene vibrations surrounding the larger-than-life statue but also admire the panoramic views of the lush landscape below.

Adjacent to the Big Buddha, the Po Lin Monastery invites contemplation and reflection with its ornate architecture, tranquil courtyards, and aromatic incense floating through the air. Whether seeking spiritual enlightenment, cultural immersion, or simply a peaceful retreat, Ngong Ping offers a sanctuary where visitors can reconnect with nature and nourish the soul.


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