Seeing Hong Kong in 6 days took some careful planning to make sure we included all the main tourist spots for our first trip to this vibrant city.
We travelled here with our sister and brother-in-law, enticed by a deal that had hit one of our inboxes. If nothing else, the deal got us there, but in hindsight we may have been better selecting a hotel ourselves, one that was closer to the heart of Hong Kong.
We stayed at Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees, and even though it has the word “harbour” in it’s name, it was not really near any place of interest. We seemed to be in the automotive district of the city, with car parts and tyre shops lining the nearby streets, which was kind of interesting in itself. However, the hotel promised a regular bus to a main train station nearby, or Nathan Street shops, and for the most part, it was regular. Waiting around in the heat at the pick up point was not that much fun at the end of a busy sightseeing day though. So we offer this –
HOT TIP: Stay close to Tsim Sha Tsui (“TST”), which gives you easy access to shopping in Nathan Road, the bustling markets, and the ferry crossing Victoria Harbour to the main island. Or stay in Central, from which you can easily visit the main commercial area, Victoria Peak and boats to Macau. Or stay in the upmarket Causeway Bay for a variety of shopping options.
One thing we noticed and loved about Hong Kong right away was the fantastic train system. Fast, punctual, clean and safe was our experience of them. We whizzed along from the airport, having purchased our Octopus Card when we landed.
Another HOT TIP: Get an Octopus Card at the airport. Load it with some money and use it all over Hong Kong – for trains, buses, ferries, tramways, plus many retail outlets like supermarkets, departments stores and fast food outlets. You pay a deposit of HK$50 for the card when you purchase it, and get that refunded when you hand it back in at the airport. With the massive traffic congestion, using the train is the best and fastest option for getting about.
We also loved the orderliness of the Hong Kong people. Public transport was always interesting, and the elderly were always given seats by the younger. On the ferries, and trains there was a strict no-feet-on-seats policy and no eating that was policed.
On the whole we felt very safe in Hong Kong, although the bicycle shop next to Tim Ho Wan (famous for pork buns) openly had guns and ammo on display in unlocked cases, which left us a little uncomfortable.
Hot Tip 3: If you are looking for somewhere for dinner, and your taxi takes you past a long queue, get out! We had to queue at the famous Tim Ho Wan, and happened upon another restaurant queue at a random that turned out to be mouth-wateringly good, AND cheap.
So what were our highlights? Here is our list:
Victoria Peak via the Peak Tram
Tian Tan Buddha via the The Ngong Ping 360 aerial tramway – spectacular and extremely high
A day in Macau (blog post coming soon) via TurboJet
The old Ferry across the harbour from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island
Jump on a BigBus (green route) and you’ll pass by the most expensive suburb in the world, Deepwater Bay, and stop at Repulse Bay for some up-market shopping at Stanley Market. You can wander the European looking bay or lunch at the beach.
Nathan Road. We weren’t there to purchase designer goods, but if we were, this long street is the place to go!
Bird Market. See many older Hong Kong men adoring their pretty birds in traditional cages
Temple Street Night Market – weave through crowded market stalls to bag a bargain or just get lost in the sights, sounds and food stall smells
Hong Kong Disneyland. We spent a day here, playing like kids. Having been to Anaheim Disneyland, we loved this for the lack of crowds and lack of queues.
HOT TIP: Take a ride on the Ding Ding – featured below in our holiday video.
This city was fun, efficient and such a mix between old, new, traditional and skyscrapers.
One more HOT TIP: take your laundry to a local laudromat – they charge on weight (and are super cheap). Your washing will be ready for you to pick up that afternoon or the next day, clean, and neatly folded.
Do you have any things you loved about Hong Kong that we missed? We’d love to hear from you (and we can add it to our next visit!).