This one day itinerary of Hong Kong will give you an insight of everything from laidback, rural life in the outlying islands to the bustling metropolis.
The total costs for the day are around HK$250, not including breakfast, lunch and dinner (slightly more on holidays and weekends). If you take the taxi to go to Central (see below), you should add no more than $25.
Get off to an early start with the 8:30am ferry from Central to Mui Wo on Lantau Island (New World First Ferry; $14.50 (ordinary single); 50 min journey; departures from Pier Number 6, ). Try a local style breakfast at a tsa tsan teng (茶餐廳; literally 'tea restaurant') in Mui Wo, a typical seaside town that has a small expat population, like most outlying island settlements. The breakfast menu is a melange of Western and Chinese culinary influences. You can get a filling cooked breakfast including tea or coffee for under $30 per person. For the drink, try a 'yeen yeung' (half tea and half coffee) - be aware that Hong Kongers have their tea and coffee very strong (and sweet)! Breakfast ranges from macaroni in a chicken soup broth with strips of ham (火腿通粉) to instant noodles with spicy satay beef (沙爹牛肉公仔麵). Be adventurous!
Catch the 10:30am bus number 2 from Mui Wo to Ngong Ping (New Lantao Bus; $27 (ordinary single); 40 min journey; departures from the main bus terminus; accepts Octopus, no change give on cash sales ). In Ngong Ping, visit the giant Tian Tan Buddha statue at Po Lin monastery (open daily 10am-5:45pm; free admission). Five minutes away is the Ngong Ping village, a themed reconstruction of traditional Chinese architecture where you can find some shops and cafes.
For the slightly adventurous, you could make a short trip to Lantau peak, the highest point on Lantau island. The trail to the peak starts from behind the monastery (follow directions to the Wisdom Path, till you find signs for Lantau trail). It takes about an hour to make it to the peak and the views along the way are well worth it. Make sure you carry enough water and a jacket (it can get windy).
Take the Ngong Ping 360 cable car from Ngong Ping to Tung Chung ($94 (ordinary single); ), followed by the MTR from Tung Chung to Jordan (Kowloon) via Lai King ($16 (ordinary single); 40 min journey; ). Leave Jordan MTR station from exit D.
There is a wide selection of restaurants around Jordan MTR station. For lunch, try some Cantonese 'dim sum' or Shanghainese food. Many restaurants offer discounts for customers who enter and order after 2:30pm (which is considered to be the start of the 'afternoon tea' (下午茶) session rather than the lunch session).
Spend the afternoon visiting the Hong Kong Museum of History ($10 (standard); $5 (students, children, elderly); free on Wednesdays; open 10am-6pm Mon-Sat and 10am-7pm Sun but closed on Tuesdays; ) which is a 10 minute walk from Jordan MTR station down Austin Road. This museum will interest everyone, even if you are not the museum-type! Don't be put off by the start of the exhibition which is about prehistoric rock formations - the exhibitions which follow get better and better. Give yourself around 2-3 hours to enjoy the 'Hong Kong Story' exhibition. As an alternative, right next to the Star Ferry pier you can visit Hong Kong Museum of Art ($20 standard; $10 students, children, elderly; half-price on Wednesday; open 10am-8pm Mon-Sun; closed on Thursdays).
20 minutes' walk away from the Museum of History is the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui (alternatively it is 5 minutes away by taxi and shouldn't cost more than $25 for the ride for up to 4 people). Take the ferry across Victoria Harbour to Central on the upper deck ($2.50 (ordinary single); ). This short journey will give you amazing views of the CBD of Hong Kong.
Back in Central, take bus 15C (New World First Bus; $4.20 (standard); 10 min journey; departures from just outside the Star Ferry pier; ) to the Peak Tram station. The Peak Tram ($63 (ordinary one-way single SkyPass ticket, including entry to Sky Terrace 428); ) is one of the steepest funiculars in the world and will take you through some of the most expensive residential areas of Hong Kong (and indeed the world!) to the Peak.
Once on the Peak, go to the top of the Peak Tower (Sky Tower 428; entry included in the single journey SkyPass) and watch the sun set over Hong Kong.
Take minibus number 1 from the Peak back down to Central ($8 (ordinary single); departures every 10-15 minutes). Taking the minibus is a must if you want to have a taste of the most popular form of public transport for the locals! Get off at the stop on Peddar Street next to the Central MTR station entrance.
Take the MTR to Mong Kok ($11 (ordinary single); 10 min journey; ), the part of Hong Kong where the city never rests. Here you can find plenty of cheap local eateries for supper. The streets in Mong Kok in the evenings are very crowded - no visit to Hong Kong can be complete without a personal experience of being in the midst of crowds of people on narrow streets! There are many shops selling trainers, clothing and computer products at cheap prices - you can find them if you take Exit E from the MTR station.
If you still have energy left, visit the area around Temple Street in Yau Ma Tei where there are many hawker stalls to be found in the evening. This is a 15 minute walk from Mong Kok, or one stop down the Tsuen Wan Line on the MTR from Mong Kok.