One week in Hong Kong - what to do?

Having lived in Hong Kong for nine months, I think I can say that I am a local. Been there, done that. I have done most of the tourist sighs to the local hidden gems. 

I made the joke that I have been experimenting the perfect itinerary in Hong Kong with different test subjects a.k.a. friends and family and have boosting to my friends about my knowledge. Therefore, when my friends came to visit me in March, my goal was to show them all of Hong Kong. And they totally loved it!

So here is my itinerary and tips for what to do in Hong Kong for 1 week. Basically what we did :)

Day 1 - Dive right in 

12:00. (Window) shop and bargain at the Ladies Market in Mong Kok 
I picked my friends up in the morning and brought them to my place to drop the bags. After a simple wonton noodle soup brunch, we went to the super famous Ladies Market in Mong Kok. It is the place to dive right into the atmosphere and culture of Hong Kong. Not only the culture, but you can also get your energy from buying souvenirs, eating street food and purchase (cheap) sneakers in the sneakerstreet in the neighbourhood.

How to get there: Mong Kok MTR Station, exit E2 

14:00. Take selfies at Tsim Sha Tsui Harbour
Done with (window) shopping and the crazy crowds now. Time to go to one of the most iconic places in Hong Kong: Tsim Sha Tsui Harbour. You can see the beautiful skyline of landscapers on the Island. It's a typical spot to make pictures and selfies. And to rest from the long journey. Despite my friends were fighting the jetlag, they insisted to go further and continue exploring.

How to get there: Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station, exit J 

15:30. Get lost in the Aviary, Kowloon Park 
We kept walking North and we decided to go the Kowloon Park to walk around. It is big, very green and there is an aviary which is quite interesting!

17:30. Experience a rooftop bar at Wooloomooloo 
Time to get a welcome drink at a bar. Not just a bar, but the rooftop bar Wooloomooloo in Tsim Sha Tsui. There are many rooftop bars in Hong Kong, but I heard people are raving about the view at this particular bar. Indeed, the view was stunning and the drinks were nice.

19:00. Dondonya 
We were heading back home and after 1 hour (!) of waiting we finally got some Dondonya 丼丼屋, which is Japanese ricebowl.

FYI: in Hong Kong you cannot book a table at every restaurant (especially the cheaper ones or chains) so it's pretty common to wait.

Day 2 - "You have to taste a culture to understand it" - Deborah Cater 

12:00. Do a pre-hike exercise at Ten thousand Buddha Monastery in Shatin  
After breakfast we went to Shatin to visit the Ten thousand Buddha Monastery. A beautiful pathway  of 430 steps that is full of golden Buddha's led us to the tempel that was founded by Yuet Kai. Pay attention while you are climbing up the hill: every Buddha statue is different and unique. If you are in the temple, don't forget to take a brochure that tells the interesting background story of how Yuet Kai built this temple. After exploring the temple, we went to the right and took a few more stairs to discover another part of this beautiful place. We found the grave of the Yuet Kai, a beautiful statue of Guan Yin and really cute turtles and fishes.

I have been there twice and it wasn't very busy. Although this Monastery isn't necessary a hidden local gem (it's well-known), but it is a little off the beaten path due to its location on the hill. If you are lucky, you might spot monkeys (!) when you are taking the steps. 
We took a "Wie is de Mol" photo, which turned out pretty good I must say ;) Guess who is de Mol?! 

How to get there: Sha Tin MTR Station, exit B

14:00. Smell incense at Wong Tai Sin temple in Kowloon 
Compared to the Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery, Wong Tai Sin tourist magnet as well as a very popular shrine to locals. It's home to the three religion: Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Walk further and you will see a beautiful garden with koi fish.

Locals performing "Kau Chim" or Lottery Poetry to seek answers from a sacred oracle lot 

How to get there: Wong Tai Sin MTR Station, exit B 

15:00. Walk around Nan Lian Garden & Chi Lin Nunnery 
If you are in the neighbourhood, I would also recommend going to Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery. They are located next to each other across Diamond Hill MTR Station. In the middle of landscrapers you find a peaceful and green area which is Nan Lian Garden. It is known for its golden house and the perfect placement of every hill, rock and plant etc. 
If you walk further, you will see some stairs and then you will reach the Chi Lin Nunnery. It is another large Buddhistic complex of elegant dark wooden architecture and soul-soothing lotus ponds. 

How to get there: Diamond Hill MTR Station, exit C2 

 20:00. Go to an arcade to have some fun! 
We accidentally found an arcade place in the same shopping mall where we had dinner. It was really cool to see all (Japanese) games and see locals play. We couldn't hold back either and tried some of them!

We went to the arcade in Plaza Hollywood. Directions: Diamond Hill MTR Station, exit C1 or C2 

Day 3 - Time to get on the Dragon's Back 

In the planning stages of this trip my friends have already decided: we want to do the Dragon's Back. Sure let's go! I have done it before to see that the hike was doable even for the less experienced. It's a hike of 4-5 hours if you do the whole route (only getting to the Dragon's Back is an hour). It's pretty nice to get on top of mountains, walk into the woods and end up at the Big Wave Bay Beach in Shek O.  
How to get there: Shau Kei Wan MTR Station and then take bus 9 to To Tei Wan. 

Day 4 - Never stop exploring

We wanted to have a chill day after the hike, however I got so much in store for my friends... 

12:00. Take selfies at The Peak 
We began with the famous Peak, which is a must if you visit Hong Kong and get the most gorgeous view of the city. 

FYI: I recommend going with taxi (or bus) instead of the tram. It's overpriced ($84 HKD per person!) and in high-season it's possible to wait for 2 hours!! And that for a 10 minute tram ride... So we went with 2 taxi's, costing us $50 HKD per car. 
Going up the hill by taxi. 'Josefeam' was very happy to see us. 

15:00. Hong Kong Park + Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Very close by the Peak Tram Terminus, is Hong Kong Park and Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens where we could relax and enjoy the nice green scenery. There so many different species! However, I do feel like it's not 100% okay about locked up animals for human's entertainment.. 

19:00. Experience Hong Kong out of a Ding Ding 
A Ding Ding is a Hong Kong tram that makes the "ding ding" sounds, hence the name. It is such a cool way to see Hong Kong on a whole another level: in a tram! You can take a tram directly towards Happy Valley if you would like. Or you can go all the way from West to East Hong Kong Island to see it in one go. 

FYI: Go stand upstairs (and wait for a seat)  to get the best views!  

20:00. Take a bet in Happy Valley 
If you get the chance, I would recommend to go to the horse races in Happy Valley Wednesdays! It's cool to see a bunch of foreigners outside partying and drinking beer and locals inside to analyse the races. We spent a very short time at Happy Valley, because of the next activity. Obviously you can take your time and have more fun.

21:00 Escape the room
We love games and have played escape rooms in the Netherlands. And instead of only sight seeing, I also planned a 'do activity': an escape room in Hong Kong. We did the Suicide Forest themed game in Causeway Bay, and... we did escape!  

Day 5 - Go out on a limb 

Dragon's Back was a piece of cake (was it?). The next challenge was the Suicide Cliff on the Kowloon Peak. It's my favourite hike in Hong Kong and I must take my friends to it and have them prepared by doing the Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery and Dragon's Back first. If I can rate it, I would rate Dragon's Back 6/10 and Suicide Cliff 8/10. It's a very exciting hike where you literally climb up the mountain, using both your hands and feet. The climb is very challenging, but the view so rewarding and gorgeous! The Suicide Cliff itself is optional, however it is a place where you can make pretty sick photos! 

There are many different routes you can find online and we took the easiest one. 
How to get there: Go to Choi Hung MTR Station and take the bus 91, 91M or 92 to bus stop Good Hope School. From there it is 10 minutes walk. 

Day 6 - Shop till you drop 

We have seen a lot and we have done a lot. Hong Kong is famous for its gadget shopping and that's what we were going to do. This time I wanted to show them one of the more authentic neighbourhoods: Sham Shui Po. 

13:00 Aplui Street, Sham Shui Po 
Aplui Street is a very large market full of various electronic gadgets and vintage items.

 14:00 Figure store, Sham Shui Po
This was heaven for the boys. They like figures, cartoons and anime so when we saw this store, we couldn't just pass by. Apparently, these items are much cheaper in Hong Kong compared online!

15:00 Golden Computer Centre & Dragon Centre
Do you need electronics? Don't need to look further and go to the Golden Computer Centre in Sham Shui Po. It has everything and probably for the lowest price. You can find anything from laptops to computer components, headphones, power banks tripods and games.

Another mall I recommend is Dragon Centre. It's huge and it has a lot of clothing, gadgets, electronics and household appliances. If you look up, there is a built-in rollercoaster. Unfortunately it is permanently closed.

18:00 Local BBQ restaurant, Mei Foo 
How local can you get? On recommendation of my friend, we went to a local BBQ restaurant in Mei Foo. For $168 HKD per person, you can all-you-can-barbeque in a typical Hong Kong style. It was cozy, yummy and super fun!

Day 7 - Last but not least 

11:00. Say your prayers to the Big Buddha 
Last final day! Of course you can't leave Hong Kong without visiting the Big Buddha at Lantau Island. I recommend going up by the cable car as the view is gorgeous!

13:00. Get wiser at the Wisdom Path 
Walk a bit further and follow the signs towards "Wisdom Path". It is a trace of 38 wooden steles containing century old verses from Confucius. If you follow the path, it is arranged in an infinity symbol. 
If you've got more time, I would recommend to take the bus from the Big Buddha to Tai O Village, which is a local fisherman village with stilt houses. 

20:00 Have some drinks in Lan Kwai Fong 
In between we rested a bit at home, had dinner and we went out again for drinks in Lan Kwai Fong! There are so many bars and clubs in LKF, you'll find your way! And if not, people also purchase drinks at the 7-Eleven and just chill outside on the streets. 

This place is hard to find, but this place still holds a vintage Chinese vibe to it. It's rough and grungy, but at the same time a chill place for hipsters and artists to share and enjoy music. 
An empty street and one car in Hong Kong

This was it! 7 full days of exploring and making the best out of Hong Kong. My friends were stoked! They said it was the best combination of culture, nature, city, local and tourist places.