On a recent vacation to Bali, I incorporated a "long layover" in Hong Kong. I figure that if I have to stop somewhere, I might as well stay long enough to check it out. Of course, Hong Kong deserves much more than a weekend. But if you've only got a weekend, you're in for a treat. Here's how to layover (yes, it's a verb now) in Hong Kong.
Check in at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental. Hop on the ferry over to Kowloon for dinner at Hutong, a Northern Chinese restaurant with dim lighting and floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing breathtaking views of Victoria Harbor. If jet lag is keeping you up, get drinks (and more views) at the Peninsula's famous bar, Felix, and then do like the locals and grab a karaoke room at CEO Noway (also on the Kowloon side). If you're looking for a more low-key night after your trip around the world, there is a Michelin-star French restaurant in your hotel that is delicious and just an elevator-ride away from your bed.
Get an early start by taking the tram up to The Peak, Hong Kong's most iconic view-spot. Stroll through the paths winding down the mountain from the peak (or take the tram down) and find yourself at the Hong Kong Gardens. After exploring the gardens, stop into the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware and grab tea and a light snack at the Lockcha Tea House.
Hop into a taxi and head to Sheung Wan, Hong Kong's art district. You'll find gorgeous ceramics, traditional art and antiques and contemporary galleries. While you're in the neighborhood, step into the Man Mo Temple before grabbing a well-deserved dim sum lunch at Luk Yu Teahouse.
After lunch, grab a cab over to Kowloon to check out the Nan Lian Garden and the Chi Lin Nunnery (about a three minute walk from one another). Head back to the mainland and get a fancy dim sum dinner at Man Wah, a Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant and arguably Hong Kong's most beautiful dining space. Grab cocktails after dinner at Lily & Bloom, and head out to the bars of Lan Kwai Fong (known as "LKF") for more revelry.
Get another early start today because you'll be visiting the Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha, otherwise known as the Big Buddha, on Lantau Island. Take the MTR Tung Chung Station Exit B, then ride the Ngong Ping Cable Car over the hills for about a 25-minute ride, watching closely for an early glimpse of the Buddha. After making your way through the cartoonish town (think: a Chinese Disneyland), ascend the stairs up to the Buddha. Note: The Big Buddha is near the airport, so if you're taking off in the afternoon, you should bring your luggage with you in the morning, leave it in a locker in the airport, and then head to the Buddha by taxi.
I didn't love the food offerings at the Monastery, and would suggest heading back to the mainland for lunch at the local favorite, Butao Ramen, followed by reflexology around the corner at Happy Foot. Get sunset cocktails at the highest bar in the world, Ozone Bar, and then head to dinner at dinner at Lung King Heen, a three-Michelin-star Cantonese establishment in the Four Seasons Hotel. If you are heading back to New York in the morning, head to Dusk Till Dawn and get a head start on kicking your jet lag by dancing all night to the live band.