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Got 36 hours in Hong Kong? Here's where to eat, drink, dance, marvel at the views - and sleep

Mirror logo Mirror 21/12/2016 Suchandrika Chakrabarti

Credits: Getty Images © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Images

When you’re exploring Hong Kong in 36 hours, any moment of ­tranquillity is welcome, so if you see a local walking his tortoise through the city you just have to stand and stare.

The pet was ambling around a square in the bustling district of Wan Chai, on the northern shore of Hong Kong island.

From all the attention he was attracting, he was clearly something of a ­neighbourhood celebrity. And he was definitely enjoying life in the slow lane – an option that was not available to us.

After stepping off an overnight flight, we dashed to our hotel – the stylish OZO Wesley on Hennessey Road in Wan Chai – to get ready for dinner, which was followed by a whirlwind after-dark tour.

Honk Kong is a destination that really lends itself to short breaks or stopovers, en route to far flung holiday spots.

The impressively shiny skyline crowded in on us across the water, as we travelled from airport to hotel.

Wan Chai was more of a mish-mash of past meets present. Once a red-light district, featuring power stations and factories, the area has been redeveloped.

The perfect example of this is Lee Tung Avenue, a pretty street lined with Chinese lanterns and featuring concept bars, boutiques and artists’ studios.

They're in ­buildings that were once wedding invitation factories, producing auspiciously-coloured red-and-gold cards, until they were overtaken by internet alternatives.

Our first stop before hitting the bars was San Xi Lou, a Sichuan hot pot restaurant in the Mid-Levels.

In the centre of our table was a metal pot divided in two, simmering with broth. One side was clear and the other spicy.

It was very handy having a guide tell us how long to leave each meat in the pot to cook. Thin strips of steak were held with tongs in your preferred broth for a few minutes.

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Meatballs needed to bob about for a good five minutes and the chicken took more time than anyone expected – or was willing to wait.

To avoid slipping into food lethargy, we headed back to Wan Chai to try out the bars of Lee Tung.

First on the list was the newly-opened Ophelia, a speakeasy accessed through an exotic bird shop. There was low lighting, dancing ladies wearing jade and, beside them, peacocks.

It’s best to book a table, but if you do find yourself in the throng for the bar, you can make the time fly by wondering just how the dancers on chaise longues set into the wall above the bar manage to stay on their perches.

Most likely by avoiding the punchy Jade Cat cocktail (which includes whisky and house-made bitter green tea liqueur).

To make the most of our first night out on the town, we went back into the Central district by metro and headed straight for Lan Kwai Fong, the Leicester Square of Hong Kong.

We found the usual dancefloors, shots and fast food purveyors, but also had a great view from Rula Bula nightclub over a number of dance-offs that kept happening in the street.

The bars and clubs seem to stay open for as long as you can stay upright.

We made it through to the later early hours before calling time on our first night in the city.

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Glossing over the pain of rising early, breakfast in the hotel got us ready for a stroll with Bruce from Wan Chai Walking Tours.

Bruce has led quite the colourful life, with his professions including bone-setter, pilot and martial arts expert, alongside the tour-guiding.

His half-day tour took in not just the celebrated tortoise but also sneaky spots where you can get a bird’s-eye view of the city; stories behind redeveloped streets containing just one or two traditional-looking buildings (blame WW2 shelling); and, of course, land reclamation.

This is where the seafront of Hong Kong has been extended out by the creation of new land, starting back in 1841.

Look out for the tram lines that used to run along the coastline, but are now three or four streets inland.

At the tour’s end, we went for lunch at dim sum restaurant Yixin, on the same street as the hotel.

Jasmine tea and delicious steamed buns went some way towards easing the hangovers round the table, fortifying us for the next important stop: The Peak.

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Victoria Peak is the highest mountain on Hong Kong island at 1,811ft, and is just a short taxi ride from Wan Chai.

There’s a funicular to take you to the top for the definitive view of the harbour.

While you’re up there, it’s worth taking a stroll across the road for a bite at the Peak Lookout, a restaurant in a 19th century building with lovely gardens and great views over the South China Sea.

Views were the theme of our second and last evening in the city, as we took the Star Ferry (26p single fare!) over to Kowloon for dinner and drinks.

After a wonderful duck platter at the Peking Garden restaurant, we went to the waterfront to watch the nightly 8pm light show.

Crowds gather to film and snap the lasers shooting into the sky, as pretty colours wash across the steel and glass facades of the skyscrapers.

Then we moved to the Aqua Bar, where the light display lit up the glass walls. Once we’d taken our photos at the windows, we turned our attention to the cocktail menu full of whimsical drinks, including one served in a glass shaped like a lightbulb.

Another option is the late-night shopping at various markets in Kowloon – the Ladies’ Market on on Tung Choi Street is particularly good for bags, cheongsams and slippers.

Then our 36-hour Hong Kong adventure was over. I can’t wait to return and see more of this continually-surprising city.

And its celebrity tortoises...

Credits: Instagram / Wolfincheapclothing © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Instagram / Wolfincheapclothing

BOOK IT Hayes & Jarvis has three-night breaks to Hong Kong in 2017 starting from £899 per person, staying at the OZO Wesley Hong Kong hotel on a room only basis. This including transfers and flights departing from Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic. hayesandjarvis.co.uk, 01293 762 456

TOP TIP 1 Make sure you get the Star Ferry to take in the gorgeous harbour views of skyscrapers shadowed by hills.

TOP TIP 2 Hong Kong is a city of table service and VIP areas, so it usually pays to book ahead.

EATING OUT A hotpot restaurant is a great way to try new things and share dishes with a group. And make sure you go for dim sum – the incredible variety of dumplings beats anything you’d get at home.

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