Whether you want to go squid fishing after midnight or join in-the-know locals for a morning bowl of congee, Hong Kong has plenty to keep you going around the clock.
6am: Pretend to be Bruce Lee with sunrise Tai Chi
Limber up for the day ahead by pretending you know how to do martial arts in the city that gave the world Bruce Lee. Each morning the city’s practitioners gather in Victoria Park before sun rise to run through their Tai Chi stretches. Ask nicely and they will usually show you a few of their favorite moves.
7am: Pick up a bouquet at the flower market
There are a dozen early morning markets to choose from in Hong Kong but few can match the bright colours of the flower market. Join early morning jilted lovers looking to pick up an apology bouquet on this street filled with rows of roses and blossoming kumquat trees.
8am: Try congee and get insulted at Sang Kee Congee shop
Hong Kong’s hard working morning workers are powered by congee. Sang Kee Congee shop is a bit of a local legend, where you can expect to be welcomed with a scowl and grunted at while you order. Don’t let the cold war style service put you off; this workers café does some of the best congee in the city.
9am: Tick off the skyscrapers from Victoria Peak
Beat the crowds and the humidity with an early morning visit to the Peak. This mountain on Hong Kong Island affords the best views onto the jungle of skyscrapers below. And at this time of the morning it’s still cool enough to conquer the Peak on foot and enjoy the greenhouse like greenery and wildlife on the way up.
10am: Take the express tour on a tram ride
Hong Kong has spent the last thirty years knocking everything with historical value down. Largely they have been successful, but the 100-year old tram survives. Grab a top deck seat on these double deckers to trace a route through the very heart of the city and see the few colonial buildings that have managed to dodge the bulldozers.
11am: Explore Ping On Shan Heritage Trail
Hong Kong might be famous as a city destination, but there is plenty here beyond the sidewalks of downtown. Head out to the New Territories and you’ll find walled villages, ancestral halls, and Chinese rice wine. Combine all three with a trip along the Ping Shan Heritage Trail, which winds through three traditional villages.
Noon: Search for spirits in a ghost village
Hong Kong has a number of villages that have been abandoned because residents headed for the bright lights of the city. On Yim Tin Tsai you can wander around crumbling houses still stocked with furniture and half full bookshelves. Head here at the weekend to see inside the former school, which has been turned into a small museum.
1pm: Dig into Dim Sum at the world’s cheapest Michelin Star
Hong Kong’s Tim Ho Wan is small, noisy and chaotic. It also serves some of the best Dim Sum in the world for just a few dollars. Try the Har Gau shrimp dumplings while trying not to p ut your elbow in someone else's soup
2pm: Go from business suit to swim suit in under an hour
That Dim Sum will be taking its toll by now. Take a break on one of Hong Kong’s fantastic beaches. Repulse Bay and Stanley offer golden sands less than an hour from the city, while the more adventurous should head for Lamma Island or Lantau to find hidden coves and far flung bays.
3pm: Take afternoon tea at the Peninsula
The Peninsula hotel has been the party destination for the city’s governors and generals for a century. Today, you can still play Downtown Abbey with an appointment for afternoon tea. Enjoy jam covered scones and cucumber sandwiches on silver service plates while listening to the strains of Elgar from the in house string orchestra. Union Jack flag waving is optional.
4pm: Meet conmen and crowds on Nathan Road
Of all the city’s grand thoroughfares nowhere captures the chaotic commercialism that is Hong Kong like Nathan Road. From the conmen and dodgy street salesmen trying to hawk fakes, copies and cheap suits to the clutter of neon signs in the air, there really is nowhere better to a) see Hong Kong at its fast paced best b) lose all your money buying a Rolox watch.
5pm: Sip sugar cane cocktails during happy hour
Having a cocktail or two in Hong Kong will give your bank manager a heart attack. Save a bit of cash by indulging in the city’s famous Happy Hour, when stressed office workers use both hands to make the most of 2 for 1 offer on drinks. Head to Lan Kwai Fong to try sugar cane laced, rocket fuelled drinks with umbrellas.
6pm: Try world class seafood at economy class prices
Cantonese food has an obsession with freshness, which means you’ll find seafood hooked from the sea in the morning served up on your plate in the afternoon. Head for the seafood restaurants on Lamma to enjoy fantastic razor clams and garlic shrimp served up in unfussy surroundings and plastic garden furniture.
7pm: Make your fortune at the Happy Valley races
You don’t need to know anything about horseracing to enjoy Happy Valley. Half the entertainment is watching the hyped up crowd waving their newspapers in the air and tearing them up in frustration as they urge their favourite horse across the finish line. Races run every Wednesday in season.
8pm: See the world’s biggest light and laser show
Lasers shooting from skyscrapers. What’s not to like? Each evening the city’s biggest skyscrapers are the back drop for the world’s largest light and laser show. Head to the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront for the best blockbuster view.
9pm: Double your fortune at a Macau casino
If you didn’t lose all your money at the races earlier, take the hour long ferry ride across to Macau. There are more square metres of gambling space here than in Las Vegas and in the Venetian Macau you can try your hand at blackjack or slowly feed the slot machines while being fed free food and drink.
10pm: Snap up a bargain at Temple Street Night Market
It’s shopping time all the time in Hong Kong. From midnight malls to late night markets the city has plenty of shopping opportunities after dark. Temple Street Night Market is at its busiest around 10pm, when you’ll be able to grab a bargain on everything from chess sets to cheongsams.
11pm: Get your fortune told at the Tin Hau Temple
If you’re having a late night worry about where your life is going or just want to know what the lottery numbers are for this week, head for one of the fortune tellers outside the Tin Hau Temple in Jordan.
Midnight: Go Squid fishing
Late night hankering for some squid? Go catch your own. You’ll find dozens of fishermen parked off the Sai Kung waterfront offering to take groups out to catch squid (which are attracted by torchlight) and have a few beers. A cult Hong Kong experience.
1am: Get a post midnight pedicure
It’s never too late to get your toes scrubbed down. Aimed at the last night shopping crowd who want to give their well-worn feet a bit of a rub down, Happy Feet offer 30minute pedicures and hour long foot massage and pedicure packages.
2am: Sing bad Elvis songs at a karaoke bar
Hong Kongers can’t sing, but they like to try. The city is filled with karaoke bars where middle managers are doing their very best to bang out Blue Suede Shoes after too many bottles of Blue Girl. Head to Neway in Causeway Bay for the best menu of English language songs in the city and the chance to completely embarrass yourself until 5:45am.
3am: Dance till dawn in Wan Chai
If you haven’t surrendered all your pride at the karaoke bar, head to Carnegies in Wan Chai and hand over what’s left. Why is this the best place in town to show off your dance moves? Because they let you dance on the bar. On.The.Bar.
4am: Pick yourself up with a full English at the Flying Pan
If you’ve indulged in the shots menu at Carnegies, you’ll need more than congee to right everything that has gone wrong with your body. The Flying Pan serves up a full English breakfast of bacon, sausages and beans 24 hours a day.
5am: Time for bed in a love hotel
Most hotels won’t let you check in at 5 in the morning, but Hong Kong’s love hotels rent rooms by the hour for couples who can’t get any privacy at home. We’ll be honest, not all of Hong Kong’s love hotels are the sort of place you’d want to stay (or touch the bedding), but Mingle Place in Central is both respectable and clean.