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24 Hours in Hong Kong

24 Hours in HK2

People often think of Hong Kong as a city, but in reality, it’s a sprawling archipelago. Hong Kong is a cluster of islands packed with Lego-like high rise buildings, a thriving expat community, some serious summer humidity and a surprising amount of adventure.

Here’s how to make the most of Honkers, Kathmandu-style, in just 24 hours. Blood, sweat and chicken feet included:


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Greeting the sun from the top of Lion Rock, HK

Some people swear that a good sleep followed by a strong coffee is the best cure for jet lag, but I reckon it’s a couple of hundred stairs and a sunrise view of Hong Kong. And where better to find that than Lion Rock? Standing 495 magnificent metres high, Lion Rock is a towering block of granite, home to one of the city’s most famous hikes. 45 minutes and a few litres of sweat later and we’re rewarded with an incredible panoramic vista of sea, sand and skyscrapers. Néih hóu (hello) world! Néih hóu Hong Kong! Néih hóu elderly enthusiasts practicing tai chi!


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A late breakfast at Lin Heung Teahouse

Post-hike, and with har gow (prawn dumpling) and cheong fun (rice noodle roll) on our minds, we set out for Lin Heung Teahouse. As one of the oldest and most famous yum cha spots in Honkers, Lin Heung is a chaotic, brightly lit, super noisy slice of old Kowloon with a decor straight outta 1962. Making no concessions for non-Cantonese speakers, we mime our way through double orders of pork buns and make several valiant attempts at telling the wait staff to ‘hold the chicken feet’. But alas, along they come with a side of soy.


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Kate talks yum cha in a taxi en route to Shek O

Nursing serious dumpling belly, we brave the mid-day humidity, flag down a red cab and point the driver in the direction of Shek O beach. Just a 35 minute taxi from Kowloon side, Shek O is a paradisiacal gem during the week and a beach-goer hotspot at the weekend. Whether you swim out to the pontoon, hike a portion of Dragon’s Back or just eat BBQ pork in the breezy shade, Shek O is guaranteed to deliver the goods. Personally, I enjoyed watching the parade of locals carve up the beach in their budgie smugglers.

5:30PM: I’M ON A BOAT...

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Sam enjoying the sunshine on a boat ride across the harbour.
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A spectacular view of Hong Kong Harbour at nightfall

Ahoy mi hearties! Next up, we go back to 1800s Hong Kong glory aboard a traditional, red-sailed junk boat. These beautiful behemoths cruise Victoria Harbour, offering an almost impossible-to-beat view of the city at golden hour. Honestly, the contrast, or dichotomy (look at me write, mum) of ye olde ships against the ultra-modern high rise horizon is breathtaking. For the Kathmandu crew, it was an opportunity to see the place as it must have appeared to generations of fishermen, and to deliver our best Captain Jack Sparrow impersonations. Zac, Larry and Jules, I cannot say for certain that yours won’t end up on the internet. Sorry.


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The Dai Pai Dong chefs at work
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Dan, Tayla and Kate enjoying a well-deserved Dai Pai Dong dinner

So it turns out that pirating works up an appetite. Shonkily supported by our sea legs, we make quick tracks to the nearest dai pai dong. A dai pai dong is a traditional, open-air Cantonese food stall known for its ‘wok hei’ cooking method. Which loosely translates to, “crazy performance wok art performed by two scantily dressed men over intense heat”. It’s both a wonder to behold, and a wonder to consume. I particularly love our waiter, who is bare chested beneath his apron, knows little English outside of “more beer?” and comes bearing stir fried beef, pork rib and peppered squid.


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Sam and Dan check out the local produce

For all your glitchy, kitschy, chopstick and kimono desires, head straight to the Temple Street Night Market just off Man Ning Lane and Nanking Street. It’s a neon wonder, trust me. Thriving from 7pm till 10pm, this is the liveliest market anywhere in Honkers. Walk through the rabbit warren of market stalls, buy a roomful of propaganda posters, or do as I did and pretend that no you don’t want that antique Chinese tea set, then go back ten minutes later and haggle your heart out! A power market barter move, if there ever was one.


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A Karaoke bar on Hong Kong Island

Invented by the Filipinos, beloved by the Japanese but mastered by the Hong Kongese, Karaoke is a late night ritual taken very serious on the island. Believe me, those street side Karaoke tent owners don’t mess around. Choose anything from Drake or Dolly Parton, to the latest Cantonese jam and grab that microphone. You’re only in Hong Kong once, after all.

Dumplings. Mountains. Boats. More dumplings. Discover what Hong Kong has to offer with travel writer Tayla Gentle and the Kathmandu crew.