Hong Kong is a city I always come back to—and that always manages to be exactly what I need, no matter where I am in my life. One particularly memorable trip was in late 2019, when I came over for a long weekend from Taipei, where I was living at the time.
Having seen the city as a tourist on more occasions than I could could, by that point, I instead rented an Airbnb and decided to “live” in Hong Kong for a few days. This ended up being the reset I didn’t know I needed—and a vaccination against the despair that was to come months later when the world shut down as covid-19 spread around the globe.
My point in saying this, of course, is not to do a deep dive into my personal life, but to hammer home that your first trip to Hong Kong probably won’t be your list. Still, it’s a good idea to be mindful of how many days in Hong Kong you plan to spend, if at all possible.
TIP: Traveling in Hong Kong is significantly less stressful if you’ve configured the local Octopus transit card to work on your mobile device. Read about how to do that here.
Where to Stay in Hong Kong
Irrespective of your decision about how long to spend in Hong Kong, finding a happy “home” is essential. For shorter Hong Kong trips—say, a weekend or three days in Hong Kong—I prefer to stay in hotels. Some travelers prefer a base in raucous Kowloon, with its neon lights and crowded crosswalks, while others find themselves more at home in chic, convenient Hong Kong Island.
For longer stays, you’ll get more bang for your buck when you rent an apartment, whether via Airbnb or one of the many “condo hotel” properties on Airbnb. I won’t recommend specific properties here—availability can be scattered, and I don’t want to leave you disappointed—but any apartment near MTR stations like Central, Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun and Wan Chai (on Hong Kong Island) and Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan, Austin and Mong Kok (in Kowloon) should be more than up to par.
- Hotels in the Kowloon lobe of Hong Kong tend to offer the best bang for your buck. Properties like the Perkin Hotel and the Stanford Hillview Hotel feature large rooms at fair rates, and are only a short walk from the Hong Kong MTR.
- If you prefer to stay on Hong Kong Island, meanwhile, your best bet is probably an Airbnb, assuming you don’t want to break. Within this being said, both Butterfly Boutique Hotel and The Wharney Hotel are pretty affordable, even if they offer minimal space.
- For luxury travelers with no set budget, opulent hotels such as The Peninsula (in Tsim Sha Tsui) and The Landmark Mandarin Oriental (in Central) are among some of the finest luxury accommodations in the world, with views and cuisine as satisfying as the plush guest rooms.
- If you simply need a cheap and centrally-located place to stay, Chunking Mansions on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui will do, no matter how many days for Hong Kong you decide.
My Favorite Hong Kong Itineraries
A weekend in Hong Kong
I’ve written an entire post about how to spend a weekend in Hong Kong, but if you don’t read it, I’ll summarize it here. Essentially, you’ll evenly divide your time between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. You might spend Saturday chilling at Chi Lin Nunnery and eating your way through Mong Kok Night Market, before riding the Star Ferry over Victoria Harbor on Sunday, and exploring Hong Kong Island landmarks such as Man Mo Temple and the Victoria Peak viewpoint before dinner and drinks along lively Hollywood Road.
3 days in Hong Kong
For most people, the answer to the question of how many days Hong Kong they should spend is simple—and round. To be sure, three days in Hong Kong is almost a perfect trip length. This gives you a day each in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, and a third either to take day trips (such as to the Big Buddha or Po Lin Monastery on Lantau island), or to treasures within or not far outside the city limits. In particular, I love visiting 10,000 Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin, which is just a few stops from Tsim Sha Tsui but feels much farther away.
5 days in Hong Kong
Five days, when it comes to how long to stay in Hong Kong anyway, is sort of a “Goldilocks” trip. This affords you plentiful time to explore central areas of the city broadly and deeply, as well as to spend as much time as you want outside the city, be at exploring nature like Shek O Beach, or on a more civilized excursion to Hong Kong Disneyland. Staying in Hong Kong for five days also allows you to spread your culinary wings, juxtaposing local meals of roast duck with fancy, rooftop drinks at one of the many sky bars in Soho.
A week in Hong Kong
If you’re really into on exploring Hong Kong broadly and/or deeply, a week is definitely not too long, even if it isn’t an extremely common answer when it comes to how many days in Hong Kong you should spend. Some people, with a week at their disposal, will dive deep, whether that’s becoming a restaurant connoisseur in Sai Ying Pun, or scaling all the many hills near Jordan station. Others will want to explore broadly, whether that’s with day trips to cultural attractions to Tai O fisherman’s village, or to natural wonders such as the Lion’s Head hiking trail.
“Living” in Hong Kong
This is especially easy if you choose to rent a Hong Kong apartment, but is possible even if you stay in a hotel (assuming money is no issue for you). However, part of the reason I think an apartment suits this better is that “living” in Hong Kong (at least up to the validity of your visa) is all about immersion. How can you practice your Cantonese with staff at the local dim sum shop or discover hidden gems in forlorn alleys if you’re not living among it all? Note that if you’ve spent time in central Hong Kong on previous trips, this might be a great opportunity to discover the vast New Territories.
Is Hong Kong Worth Visiting?
The popular narrative is that Hong Kong has changed too much since 1997 (and certainly, since the protests of 2019—let’s not even covid-19) for it to still be worth visiting. But I’ve found exactly the opposite. Whether in pockets of Central and around Man Mo Temple, or even at moments when walking along Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, I’ve found time and time again that Hong Kong “feels” that same as it always has to me.
With this being said, part of what you have to consider when you decide how many days to spend in Hong Kong is that it’s a city—although it’s autonomous from China and should remain so, it’s not really its own country. I’d say the closest comparison, in terms of things to do and culture to experience, is Singapore. Even then, however, Hong Kong is basically Chinese; Singapore also has rich Tamil Indian and Malay culture to buttress the experience of traveling there, no matter your answer for how many days to visit Hong Kong.
Other FAQ About Visiting Hong Kong
Is 3 days enough in Hong Kong?
For your trip to Hong Kong, how many days you spend is essential to whether you will enjoy it or not. With 3 days in Hong Kong, you can explore the night markets and street eateries of Kowloon, enjoy the luxury shopping and panoramic viewpoints of Hong Kong island, and take a day trip within the territory, such as to the famous “Big Buddha” of Lantau Island. 3 days is definitely enough to fully enjoy Hong Kong!
Is it OK to visit Hong Kong right now?
It’s absolutely OK to visit Hong Kong right now. While there’s always—sadly—the slight chance of a flare up to tensions with mainland China, the worst excesses of covid-19 hysteria are gone; there are no restrictions left at all. In fact, if you’re reading this in 2023, I’d almost say that this is the best time to visit, i.e. before everyone else gets back.
Is Hong Kong expensive for tourists?
Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities in the world, whether you’re a tourist or a resident. At a bare minimum, you can expect to spend 150 USD per person per day; most travelers from within Asia will need a minimum of 1,000 USD for a long weekend, including economy-class return airfare.
The Bottom Line
How many days in Hong Kong you decide to spend is ultimately less important than how you spend them. This is true whether you want to savor the city longer, or if you come for a long weekend and want to see a lot in just a few days. Hong Kong is at once a manageable and relatively small destination, and a hidden behemoth whose delightful unruliness belies its miniature size. Want a leg up planning your trip to Hong Kong? I encourage you to consider hiring me as your Travel Coach—I’ll sweat the details of your journey (including the question of how long in Hong Kong) while you sweat from scaling Victoria Peak!