Skip to Content

Why You Should Stopover in Hong Kong in 2024

Aerial View of Hong Kong

Some of the products we mention in this article are from our partners who compensate us. This does not influence our articles, which are the opinion of the author, and are intended to showcase the best offers available to our readers at the time of writing, for information and editorial purposes only.

In 2023, I have passed through Hong Kong three times. It is an extraordinary city, with plenty to do, great shopping, fantastic food and incredible nature and sights. Additionally, Hong Kong International Airport is an absolutely marvellous airport, with great airport lounges, food options (including fantastic dim sum at Duddell’s) and bars with scenic airport apron views. 

In addition, as a key connection hub serving around 120 airlines, Hong Kong International Airport is a key layover and stopover destination for passengers connecting from east to west, and vice versa. But Hong Kong shouldn’t just be a quick airport-only layover. Below, I will cover why you should consider a stopover for at least 2 nights through incredible Hong Kong on your next trip passing through.

Hong Kong International Airport

Do I need a Visa to visit Hong Kong?

When visiting Hong Kong for tourist purposes, the great news is that you do not need a visa if you hold a passport from one of 170 countries, including the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to name a few. On arrival, Hong Kong will grant you a visa to spend up to 90 days there, but the length does depend on the country of your passport. You can simply turn up and pass through immigration. It’s as easy as that.

Some countries have 7 days, 14 days or 30 days visa free instead of 90 days, and certain countries do indeed require a visa or pre-registration, so make sure you check your relevant country immigration website for more information. Luckily the list of these countries with reduced visa free periods or requiring visas or pre-registration is very minimal.

Hong Kong Airport Express

Airport Express Hong Kong Airport and the Octopus Card

The Airport Express is the easiest and quickest way to get to and from Hong Kong Airport into Hong Kong Central / Hong Kong Station, Kowloon or Tsing Yi.

Upon arrival at Hong Kong Airport, in the arrivals hall, look for the MTR Ticket and Octopus counter to buy your Octopus Card, or buy in advance through Klook. There is also an “Octopus for Tourists” app available to create and top up a digital Octopus Card if you prefer a digital wallet card instead. However, I would be personally worried if my phone died while I was on the MTR or another form of transport. Buying a physical reloadable Octopus Card from the MTR Ticket and Octopus counter or through Klook in advance (to save time once you arrive) is your best bet for a Hong Kong stopover.

The Octopus card is the ultimate Hong Kong payment card, for all transport in Hong Kong, including ferries, the Airport Express, MTR trains, buses and trolley buses. Additionally, you can also use your Octopus Card in shops and restaurants around Hong Kong to pay for anything and everything. It truly is one card to pay for everything. You can top up with cash from any MTR station in Hong Kong, as well as many convenience stores and food outlets around Hong Kong.

Once you have your Octopus Card topped up, head straight ahead onto the Airport Express. You will only need to tag off when you get to your final Airport Express station.

Hong Kong International Airport

2 Night Stopover in Hong Kong

The reason I recommend a minimum of 2 nights for a stopover in Hong Kong is because you will have a full day / 24 hours (after arriving the previous day) to explore everything this incredible city has to offer, from dawn to dusk.

It is enough time to catch up on sleep on the first day after your inbound flight, explore Hong Kong on the second day of your stopover, and be ready for your outbound flight from Hong Kong International Airport on the third day. You could alternatively do this Hong Kong itinerary in one day if you arrived early in the morning and left late at night (12 hours plus layover) or early the next day (24 hours stopover), but I think it would feel rushed.

In the chaos that is Hong Kong, there is something charming about not rushing, taking your time to explore side alleys off-the-beaten-track, or following the smell of a street vendor down a busy market street.

Hong Kong

Where to stay on your Hong Kong Stopover

To maximise your stopover in Hong Kong, I do recommend staying central to maximize sightseeing with less walking. However, Hong Kong is a very small place, with fantastic, swift and frequent public transport. My last visit I did walk over 20,000 steps each day I was there and I was staying in Tsim Sha Tsui (which is very, very central). This would have been more if I was staying further north, on the other side of Hong Kong Island or on one of the New Territories Islands.

I recommend finding accommodation in the following neighbourhoods:

  • Tsim Sha Tsui (also known as TST)
  • Hong Kong Central
  • Admiralty
  • Mid-Levels
  • Causeway Bay
  • Kowloon
  • Ocean Park

Accommodation in Hong Kong is especially pricey, compared to many other places in Asia. 

I recommend taking a look at for accommodations options for your stopover in Hong Kong, especially if you hold Genius status as they can often work out cheaper than booking direct with the hotel or hostel.

Hong Kong

What to do in Hong Kong on a 2 Night Stopover

Hong Kong has one of the best food scenes, in my opinion, anywhere in the world. So my recommendation is to eat. Everything, anything and everywhere. At all times of day.

Day 0

Assuming, after arriving into Hong Kong off a long-haul flight and getting to your hotel, you are exhausted and take a well-needed nap, just find something local nearby for dinner. Do note that a lot of restaurants in Hong Kong tend to close early (by 8pm or 9pm) so do try make it out of the hotel to have a look around your local area and have some food. There will be a few late-night spots around. I did manage to find a great late-night potsticker joint last time in Hong Kong, so work with Google Maps and their opening hours filter to see what is available. 

Day 1 – Full Day Hong Kong Itinerary

Wake up nice and early, and catch the MTR (or ferry or trolleybus) to the Hong Kong Central Station from wherever you are staying in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong

Central Mid-Level Escalators

Head to the Central Mid-Level Escalators, the largest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, and meander up all 20 escalators and 3 inclined moving walkways, watching the world go by and the locals waking up and getting ready for the day.

For me, the Central Mid-Level Escalators are a microcosm of Hong Kong life, perfect for people watching of people from all wealth levels and all walks of life. Make sure to stop by Bakehouse to grab a coffee and pastry for breakfast or a mid-morning snack, about half way up the Mid-Levels. The smell of fresh bread, pastries and coffee is memorising.

Once at the very top, you can walk down the same route via stairs underneath, giving you a chance to explore the variety of shops, cafes, markets, restaurants and other businesses adjacent to the escalator system. Note the Central Mid-Level Escalators go downwards from 6-10am, then upwards the rest of the day, so aim to get there after 10am from your accommodation.

Also make sure to tap your Octopus Card on the MTR Fare Saver half way up the escalators, to save HKD$2 on your next MTR fare, same day. You must depart from Central, Hong Kong or Sheung Wan MTR station to be eligible for the fare discount.

Black Truffle Siu Mai
LockCha’s Vegan Black Truffle Siu Mai

Cantonese Dim Sum for Lunch

It wouldn’t be Hong Kong without sampling an array of famous cantonese dim sum dishes for lunch. Siu mai, potstickers, bao, roast BBQ pork…the mouthwatering list goes on.

Find a spot for lunch near the Central Mid-Level Escalators, on your way down.

For an affordable dim sum spot, head to One Dim Sum and pick up a selection of dim sum goodies to takeaway for lunch. Theres only 10 seats in this small restaurant, so do snag a seat if you can, otherwise takeaway and find a spot to sit down, enjoy and watch the world go by.

For a vegetarian dim sum spot, head to LockCha Central. It’s located in the Tai Kwan building, opening out onto the courtyard. There is a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan versions available of classic Cantonese dim sum specialties, and a happy hour in the late afternoon. It was definitely a little pricey, but this is some of the best vegetarian and vegan dim sum you will find anywhere in the world.

For an upmarket dim sum lunch spot, right across the courtyard at Tai Kwan is Madame Fù. It’s decadent and special, with a price tag to match. But perfect for a special trip to Hong Kong. Plenty of great Cantonese dim sum specialities, including Char Siu bao, Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings), mushroom and black truffle dumplings, as well as many other types of dumplings and roasted meats.

The Peak, Hong Kong

The Peak

If it’s a great sunny day, definitely make sure you head up The Peak. 

From the Central Mid-Levels, either catch a taxi or head down to the trolley bus stop on Jubilee Street and get the trolley bus to Murray Road. I prefer the trolley bus option rather than a taxi, as it is a great chance to hop aboard these Hong Kong landmarks. From Murray Road trolleybus stop, it is a roughly 9 minute uphill walk to The Peak Tram station. Buy your ticket at the base station and head on up The Peak for absolutely incredible views over Hong Kong, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon.

I recommend splurging on the Sky Terrace 428 combo ticket, as you will have unobstructed panoramic views over Hong Kong from the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong.

There is also a shopping mall located at the top station with a rooftop terrace, which is worth checking out for views over the Islands District, including Lamma Island. Lots of stunning beaches and lush green vegetation stretching into the distance.

Hong Kong Star Ferry

Star Ferry

After heading down the Peak, use Google Maps to figure the best bus to take to the Central Star Ferry Pier. There will be a few bus options with different journey lengths and departure times, so do take a look. You can also get a taxi down to the Pier also, or else it is about a 25 minute walk.

Once at the Star Ferry Pier, tap on with your Octopus Card and find a seat. The Pier is split levels and the ferries are two stories with no stairs. For the best views, I would recommend sitting on the top deck. Note that to sit on the top deck does cost slightly more than the bottom deck, but it is still really cheap, so just do it. The service is super frequent, operating from both Tsim Sha Tsui and Central Pier every 6-12 minutes from 6:30am to 11:30pm. The views of Hong Kong are great both during the day and at night.

Kowloon Park
The Flamingos in Kowloon Park

Kowloon Park (Optional)

From the Pier at Tsim Sha Tsui, make your way to Kowloon Park. It is only about a 10 minute walk to the South Gate from the Star Ferry Pier. Kowloon Park is an optional stop as it will depend on how tired you are from the walking so far today, how late in the day it is and your mobility.

Once there, have a walk around this incredibly green oasis in the middle of concrete jungle Hong Kong. There is so much diverse wildlife flourishing around this 33 acre park, including flamingos, a variety of birds, turtles, fish and many other types of flora and fauna. A great spot to relax on a park bench for a rest after all the walking.

Temple Street Night Market

Temple Street Night Market

After Kowloon Park (or catch a bus from the Star Ferry), head to the infamous Temple Street Night Market, which starts bustling from 4pm onto about 10 – 11pm. Here you will find market stalls with all kinds of trinkets, souvenirs, and fantastic local Cantonese food from street vendors, small hole-in-the-wall restaurants and more formal restaurants. Have dinner here whilst exploring the endless alleyways of market stalls, restaurants and shops. After dark, the market gets busy with locals and foreigners, all in search of dinner.

K11 Mall, Hong Kong

K11 Mall (Optional)

After dinner at Temple Street Night Market, take a bus to the K11 Mall on the waterfront. K11 Mall is optional, if you still have time to pass before 7pm. I would skip the K11 Mall if the time is currently between 7 and 8pm, and head to the Avenue of Stars in front for the lightshow instead (below). 

This absolutely incredible mall has a range of stores from budget to luxury. But the most incredible thing is the building itself. The interiors are incredible, and must be seen to be believed. There are amazing roof terraces, and a maze of shops and restaurants underground too. Truly worth having a look around for the architecture alone, even if you are not in a shopping mood (or have an overstuffed bag).

Hong Kong Night Skyline

Symphony of Lights Hong Kong Lightshow

This is a must on your visit to Hong Kong. The Symphony of Lights lightshow starts at 8pm sharp every night, and is best viewed from the Avenue of Stars, in front of the K11 mall. In front of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, there is an elevated viewing platform (with seating if you get there early) which is also a great spot to watch the light show. The light show is short, only about 10 minutes long. But for me, the light show was my highlight of my recent trip to Hong Kong.

As the light show starts at 8pm, adjust the activities above to fit around this time. K11 Mall is also open late until 10pm, so if you are running short on time, you could always go after the light show has finished (as it is also located on the waterfront).

Late Night Flight?

If you are flying out that night and your luggage is checked already, simply catch a bus or taxi to Kowloon Station to catch the Airport Express train to Hong Kong International Airport. I found Kowloon Station super confusing and difficult to figure out where to go, so allow extra time to navigate the maze of signs to the Airport Express in the basement.

Staying a 2nd Night in Hong Kong? How to get back to your Hotel

K11 Mall and the Avenue of Stars is located near the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station, on the Tsuen Wan line. From here, it is super easy to get back to your accommodation on the MTR, whether you are staying north of Tsim Sha Tsui, on Hong Kong Island or close to Central. There are also a plethora of hotels located around Tsim Sha Tsui, which are all within walking distance of K11 Mall and the Avenue of Stars. Tomorrow, catch the Airport Express back to Hong Kong International Airport to catch your flight.

Make sure to get your Octopus Card refunded before you leave Hong Kong at the MTR & Octopus Card Counter in the Arrivals Hall at the airport (Level 5, downstairs from the check in desks).

Cathay Pacific Airplanes at Hong Kong International Airport


I love Hong Kong. It’s such a vibrant city with a buzzling culinary scene, incredible natural beauty and memorising vistas. From the nature and wildlife, to the tallest skyscrapers, the contrasting mix of old and new and the natural and built environment is truly a marvel to see. Hong Kong is the perfect city for a 2 night stopover.

This is my ideal one full day / 24 hours / 2 nights (preferrable) itinerary to uncover the top highlights of this city, making you want to come back before you’ve even left.