Jetsetting off to Hong Kong – or Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei or Beijing – for a long weekend might not be at the top of your list of relaxing getaways, but consider moving it up a few notches: It’s foreign, fascinating, fun and – with these five tips – immensely feasible.
1. Get to Know a Neighborhood Hong Kong is not huge but it has far too many things to do in a single weekend. We focused our time on the neighborhood of Wanchai, just east of the central business district on Hong Kong Island. Long known for its bawdy clubs and rollicking pubs, Wanchai has spruced up its image while retaining some of its old days feel of Hong Kong. In just an afternoon you can cover Wanchai’s shopping streets, temple, parks and start to feel like a local. At night, countless restaurants and clubs of all stripes open up with patrons spilling out onto the streets on many blocks.
2. Pick a Hotel with a Local Feel It will be tempting to stay in one of the high-rise business hotels that make up the majority of Hong Kong’s lodging and that of most northeast Asian capitals. Don’t do it. You may as well be in New York, Atlanta or Dallas. There are many smaller boutique hotels popping up which offer better service, stylish rooms and a uniquely local feel. We absolutely loved the Mira Moon, right in the center of Wanchai. You will never forget you are in Hong Kong. The property’s lobby and common areas are as chic-ly designed as any modern Manhattan boutique hotel, juxtaposing expanses of European mosaic tile work with massive Chinese lanterns and Eastern design motifs.
The Mira Moon’s upper floors offer a classic Hong Kong view: a jumble of old and new buildings of varying heights, great neon, the harbor and glimpses of Tsim Tsa Tsui’s towers. Each room even comes with free usage of a smart phone that comes pre-loaded with tourist information. We even tried to be cool and hang out with the cool people at the hotel bar with cool draft beers and a cool living wall.
3. Sleep on the Plane Obvious? Yes, but it is always tempting to stay up and enjoy a bit of the international flight service. Given the short trip, however, we knew we couldn’t do it. Like most flights from California to east Asia, our 14-hour United flight was scheduled perfectly: leave SFO at 1am Thursday, land in HK at 7am local time Friday. Here’s what worked for us:
- Board the plane at 1am.
- Put in earplugs.
- Forget the in-flight movies/food/drinks.
- Consider an Ambien. (I don’t mean to advocate the usage of pharmaceuticals but wow, we actually slept!)
- Wake up 8-10 hours later.
- Land in Hong Kong at daybreak.
- Take the train to Central.
- Eat dim sum, hit the Bird Market or partake in another early morning activity.
- NO NAPPING!!!
- Repeat on return flight.
4. Max-Out Your Days The bummer of a long weekend in Asia is that you know you’ll never really adjust timewise. We didn’t find it a problem until we tried to go out late. We made it to 10 or 11pm but that was it! Not one stop on my list of bars/clubs to check out was crossed off. The upside was we had a couple great evenings courtesy of our friend’s birthday and we had several great days of wandering around the city without too much fatigue.
5. Don’t Do it All Again, no duh, but it is hard to resist so many interesting things to do! Don’t do what we did and walk 17 miles trying to see too much on the last day. In Hong Kong, our three days divided nicely between 1 day on Hong Kong Island, 1 day in Tsim Tsa Tsui and 1 day for Lantau Island or the New Territories. Because if your trip was as fun as ours was, you can be sure there’ll be another long weekend in Asia in your future.
by Maryann Jones Thompson, January 2017
© ROAM Family Travel 2017 – All rights reserved
Keywords: family vacation, family travel, travel with kids, hong kong weekend, hong kong layover, asia weekend