We’ve all been there: on a business trip, not much down time, in a sophisticated beautiful city that we long to go explore. What to do with only two hours to spare? We always ask our local work colleagues what we should do if we have a precious couple of hours to sneak out and experience at least a taste of what their city has to offer. Now we’re sharing those ideas with you – so that even if you have only 120 minutes, you can still have a meaningful immersion in the life of a great city. In this edition of Two Hours in . . . we address the question: What to do with two free hours in Hong Kong? These are the best spots for a quick visit if you have only two hours in Hong Kong. We promise, you’ll be back for your next meeting on time.
Two Hours in . . .
In our Power Up series, Two Hours in . . . we give you up to a dozen ideas for quick cultural jaunts and unique local experiences that will leave you feeling inspired, informed and refreshed. And we guarantee that you’ll be back in the office in time for your next meeting.
Our criteria for a listing on the perfect “snackable” menu of outings in any given city is a short list, but each element is crucial: it has to be an authentic experience that’s unique (no chain stores or restaurants, unless they were invented here); achievable in 2 hours or less (including travel time); and really fun (or inspiring, or memorable, or Instagrammable).
If that sounds good, then come along, dear reader. We started our series with London. Then we went to Seattle. Continuing the journey west, next up is Hong Kong, one of the most electric and gorgeous urban centers on earth.
Two Hours in Hong Kong
The autonomous territory of Hong Kong is a major port and global financial hub with a skyscraper-studded skyline, so you’re reasonably likely to make a business trip here at least once during your career.
It is said to rank first in the world for number of skyscrapers (current count, 317). Central (the business district) features architectural landmarks like I.M. Pei’s Bank of China Tower, and the dramatic setting is ringed by towering hills, including the fabled Dragon’s Back. It’s incredibly beautiful.
the best spots for a quick visit in Hong Kong
Here are 8 places we think are worth a fly-by visit on your next business trip to Hong Kong. And if you have more time, by all means, linger. These are even better stops when you’re at leisure.
1. Victoria Peak
The Peak Tram is the city’s oldest mode of public transportation. Riding it is considered to be very touristy, but you won’t mind the eye-rolls from your sophisticated local friends once you see the picture-postcard views of the Hong Kong high-rises in Central and Kowloon across the Harbour.
Taking the Peak Tram one-way is sufficient (no need to take it round trip). Preferably, you’ll take a taxi or car service to the top, and ride the tram going down. If you do that, stop for tea or a drink at The Murray Hotel, right at the foot of the Tram Terminus. The Murray is the buzziest new hotel in Hong Kong, just opened earlier this year. It sits at the site of a 1960’s office building, re-designed by architect Sir Norman Foster of Foster + Partners.
2. Hollywood Road
Just above Central is Hollywood Road, which has historically been the center of Hong Kong’s antiques shops. New to the area is Tai Kwun, an arts and cultural center established in what was formerly the Central Police Station (the structure was built 170 years ago).
Now owned by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and refurbished by Herzog & de Meuron, Tai Kwun features a contemporary art center/museum, retail shops, and high end restaurants. It’s worth visiting just for the architecture tour.
3. The Star Ferry
This iconic ferry has taken passengers across Hong Kong Harbour for decades. It’s a great way to see Hong Kong and Kowloon from the water, providing a dramatically different perspective of the skyline for just $2.60 HKD each way. You’ll be able to capture some amazing views (and photos) of the Harbour and the skyline.
4. Contemporary Art
Hong Kong has recently emerged as the Asian center for global contemporary art, with two major gathering points in Central.
The Pedder Building on Pedder Street houses a number of world-class galleries including Hanart TZ, Ben Brown, and Pearl Lam.
And the new H Queen’s on Queen’s Road houses David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, and Pace.
5. The Hong Kong Heritage Museum
Hong Kong Heritage Museum. Located in Shatin (in the suburbs of Kowloon), this museum provides a detailed history of Hong Kong. It’s close to an MTR (Hong Kong’s subway system) station, and that’s definitely the fastest way to get there.
If you have limited time, be sure to visit the extensive exhibit on Bruce Lee (a local Hong Kong hero), and the section of the museum which gives an overview of Chinese Opera.
6. Bowen Road
Walk, jog or run this path in the early morning, and you’ll feel utterly transformed. Bowen Road is the signature run in Hong Kong. Carved into the side of a hill, this relatively flat, paved path runs about 4k one-way, providing great views of Central and Wanchai just below.
Largely traffic free, it runs from Magazine Gap Road in the west to the Stubbs Road/Wong Nai Chung Gap/Tai Hang Road intersection at the east end. Transportation is readily available at both ends (if you take a cab, just ask for “Bowen Road.”).
The path is shaded by trees, and in the early morning you’ll be surrounded by mist, birdsong, fellow runners and groups of elderly practitioners of Tai Chi. It’s a little slice of heaven and the best possible way to start a busy work day in Hong Kong.
7. The China Club
Chances are that if you’re in Hong Kong on a business trip, someone you know is a member of the tony China Club, a retro private club and restaurant. Get them to take you there for dinner. It’s a fascinating slice of old Hong Kong life, complete with spectacular art, cozy wood-paneled rooms, and a chef creating hand-tossed noodles in the dining room. The food is good, and the atmosphere is fantastic.
8. Harbor Light Show
The spectacular “Symphony of Lights” laser light show across the water is one of the most memorable experiences we had on our first trip to Hong Kong. It’s absolutely free, and doesn’t take much time. Every night at 8:00P, iconic buildings on both sides of the harbor are illuminated by a myriad of searchlights, lasers, LED screens and other lights, with a soundtrack performed by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
You can sit the lobby of your hotel, or peer out of your office window, or view it from your table at a business dinner. Doesn’t matter, as long as you have a seat with a view. It’s magical and exuberant, and it never gets old. If you can, head to Sevva, a rooftop bar in the heart of Central, or to the lobby bar at the Intercontinental Hotel (you can stay for dinner at Nobu afterward) – both are sophisticated and chic settings from which to see the show.
That’s it. Our top picks for the best spots for a quick visit in Hong Kong.
You’re sure to be dazzled by your time in Hong Kong, even if all you do is look up from your phone while you’re in the car on the way from the airport to your hotel.
We hope you’ll be able to do a bit more than that, though. It’s a spectacular city that deserves to be explored.
In the meantime, wherever you’re headed next, have a great trip.
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