Towering skyscrapers, lush greenery, magnificent mountains and dazzling harbours best describes Hong Kong. This whirlwind trip thus chronicles our adventures into the Far East, to the city that never sleeps. Hong Kong is exactly how one imagines it to be…..busy, colourful with extremely good looking people and a language that you can barely make head or tail of. Hong kong truly has a perfect blend of nature and urbanism, where concrete jungle meets the real jungle. A city for everyone.
Etihad and Emirates have direct flights to Hong Kong, though the prices are on the higher side. In case you are looking at cheaper options, Skyscanner to the rescue as always.
Where to Stay
We set base at the Best Western in Walter street. Bus A12 takes you directly from the airport to the hotel in roughly 30 minutes. The hotel is well located close to the MTR ( Mass Transit Railway) as well as tram station. There are quite a few eateries as well as convenience stores like 7/11 and a circle K close by to the hotel.
Hong kong has a very well developed public transportation system and can get you pretty much everywhere. The most commonly used transportations are the Tram, MTR, buses and trains. We used a combination of MTR & buses frequently and found it the most convenient. Having said that, nothing can beat exploring the city by foot. A comfy pair of shoes and a functional set of feet is all that you need. And what do you do when your legs feel tired? Well, you just follow the feet shaped neon signs and get a relaxing foot reflexology massage in one of the million outlets spread all over the city and your feet is as good as new.
Hong Kong is known for its surprise showers so do have an umbrella handy at all times. If you intend to stay longer and use public transportation frequently, its best to get the Octopus Card . Taxi’s are expensive with the meter clicking faster than a heartbeat.
If you do end up using the MTR like us, do look out for the “lady in red”. Popular legend has it that she jumped in front of an approaching train but her body was never found and she haunts the Yau Ma Tei station. On that creepy note, let’s move on…!
HK offers tourist sim cards which are usable even in Macau and Mainland china. They have different packages. The popular being the 5 & 8 day pass at $11 and $15 respectively. There are more than 15000 hotspots spread throughout city and these sims can help you connect. In case you do not purchase a sim, 7/11 offers free wifi for 30 minutes and these shops are spread all over the city. Yea, that’s right. Stay with me and I shall hook you up on a lot of freebies!
Hong Kong is a foodie paradise. You might find many dishes which might look or smell funny. Pork is the national meat here and is found in anything and everything. In case you do not eat pork, ensure you ask exactly what the ingredient’s are before buying. Finding vegetarian options can be quite challenging here. Our personal favourite was a family run restaurant called Kam Chueng Pork Noodle, near Best Western on Walter street. Contrary to what the name suggests, they serve chicken and other meats too 🙂
Hong Kong Style French Toast- Hint: Condensed milk is one of the ingredients. French toast will never be the same.
Steamed Milk Pudding at Yee Shun Milk Company
Chicken curry rice combo at Kam Chueng Pork Noodle
Egg Waffle with Ice Cream (Hong Kong Speciality)
Sea Food at Sai Kung
Exploring Hong Kong in 4 days
Hong Kong is roughly divided into Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Our first stop for the evening was Kowloon. Best thing to do is get down at Kowloon MTR station and just walk. The city is extremely pedestrian friendly and walking seemed to be a favourite sport among the locals.The walk from Kowloon MTR will take you past the ever famous neon signs that the city is known for, parks in the middle of the city with people meditating, the elderly practising Tai Chi and the young practising martial arts. Our walk ended at the glorious Victoria harbour, which is considered to have the best vantage points of the glorious skyline.
Drink with a view- Enjoy a drink by the sky high bars in Tsim Sha Tsui
Shop till you drop at the busiest shopping districts of Mong Kok. This neon bathed shopping district sells pretty much everything you can imagine and more. Be prepared to get lost in throngs of people here.
Cheung Sha Wan road is your wholesale fashion heaven. ‘Enuff said
Head to Sham Shui Po to experience the street eateries, complete with live crabs clicking at your feet.
Yeh Shun Milk company for its milk based desserts
One evening, 15 km’s later we dragged our feet back to the hotel for some well deserved rest
Lantau Island, Victoria Peak & Hong Kong Central
An important tip while planning your trip to Hong Kong, is to check if it coincides with any public holidays in mainland China. If so, CHANGE YOUR TRAVEL DATES period
How did we learn is invaluable lesson? Our trip to Lantau Island unfolded into a nightmare, that too even before the trip began. The queue to buy tickets to the island made the immigration lines at the world’s busiest airport look like a joke. So roughly 2.5 hours of waiting and we finally rest our behinds in a cable car for the 20 minute ride up to Lantau Island. The island is home to Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the big buddha and the Po Lin Monastery.
Something about Buddha invokes a sense of spirituality in you and the 268 steps up the main monument, closer & closer to Buddha or was it nirvana? Once we circled the monument and gotten up, close and spiritual with Buddha and we make our way to Po lin Monastery. Home to many devout monks, the monastery is spectacular. The diety’s bathed in golden hue reverberated so much positivity and divinity that it leaves you stunned and speechless. After spending half a day in Lantau, it was time to bid adieu and skip to the next on our itinerary, Hong Kong Central.
Tian Tan Buddha
Po Lin Monastery
Pink Dolphin Watch cruise
Hong Kong Central is the commercial hub of the city, home to the hip SoHo, Hollywood street, Man Mo Temple, Lan Kwai Fong, all famous for its great restaurants and buzzing nightlife. It does give you a glimpse of the daily life here.
One of the major tourist attractions and the highest point in Hong Kong, be prepared for long queue’s for tickets and to take the tram up to the peak. It is certainly advisable to book tickets online or come early in the morning, before 9 AM and reserve your slot. Another important aspect to be kept in mind is the visibility factor. Do plan this for a clear and sunny day to enjoy the best views.
A 10 minute incline tram ride takes you up to the peak and the views are just fantastic.The material and immaterial jungle blends in so naturally that it leaves you mesmerised. If you want a higher view, go up the peak tower and enjoy Hong Kong skyline in all its glory.
You can never go to Hong Kong and not visit the Vegas of Asia. This party town sure need to go on your wish list for two reasons. One is to spill your guts by bungee jumping from the highest in the world and then drag your wobbly legs to a casino and part with some hard earned cash or if you are immensely lucky, take home a fortune.
Huge themed casino’s dominate the skyline of this city with each outdoing the other in its massiveness and bling factor that leaved you in a dazed state. There are frequent ferry’s to Macau and a 45 minute ferry ride later, you are in party central. Home to the world’s highest Bungee Jump, AJ Hackett is a must for the fearless. A serious case of shaky leg syndrome stopped me from taking the plunge while my other half was pretty much galloping towards the plank, that I was unsure if he even waited until the harnesses were secured in place. After watching my beloved plummet to safety(!), it was time to gamble away. The obvious choice being The Venetian. What do you know, I do have lucky hand which lasted three games, after which luck pretty much deserted me and joined forces with the old Chinese dude seated beside me. Long story short, the Chinese dude goes Cha-Chinggg$$$ by the end of the game!
Casino hopping took us to the newly opened Parsian which is again a spectacular hotel with The Eiffel tower resurrected at its entrance. By midnight, we took our lighter pockets back to Hong Kong where our money is safe again!
You ask any native on the must visit places and Sai Kung will surely top their list. Home to the 4 consecutive pools and falls, known for its amazing hiking trails, cliff jumping ,awesome sea food, water sports and beaches, this is definitely a must visit. Getting there can be a bit tricky, with us changing three trains and then hopping onto a mini bus to reach this beauty. Well worth all that as the views and food are totally gratifying.
While in Sai Kung, the best thing to do is hike up to the many remote, untouched & pristine beaches. There are many hiking options, ranging from the easy ones lasting close to an hour to the difficult ones that an stretch to 4-5 hours. After the hike, reward yourself with some scrumptious seafood dinner , the best Hong Kong can offer.
If you plan to hike, ensure you reach Sai Kung by at least by 10 AM and spend the day here , returning to the city after a scrumptious dinner.
Though we had read up many fellow travellers complaining on the rude nature of the natives, we honestly found them quite friendly and helpful. Though the weather predicted thunderstorms, we were lucky enough to have escaped them. It felt like we had brought the desert sun with us, a mellow one that stayed with us until the very last day.
Xie Xie Hong Kong for hosting us for those wonderful four days and the constant smiles you threw our way.