Location: Hong Kong
Date: April 2016
Give me 30 seconds:
- Buy an Octopus at any of the MTR stations. Its a reusable subway card that you tap when entering and exiting the subway and it will deduct the funds based on distance traveled. Its way easier than buying single ride subway tickets each time you ride the subway. The Hong Kong MTR is excellent and trains come every 1-2 minutes so its well worth taking this versus a cab. Plus its super clean!
- Navigating the subway is pretty simple. Signs are in Chinese as well as English and the signage is pretty clear and understandable.
- You can also use the Octopus to pay for various other things in the city like at the 7-11 and other grocery stores and small shops.
- Check with your hotel, they may offer guests a complementary 3G phone to use during your stay. Again my friends, Google Maps will be very handy. If your hotel does not offer a complementary phone, get a Hong Kong SIM card for your own phone, which you can get at any phone kiosk or at the airport currency exchange counter.
- Primary language is Cantonese, but plenty of people speak English as well. I got away with my Mandarin, but Cantonese is preferred.
- There are over 60 Michelin rated restaurants in Hong Kong so pick and choose wisely.
- You will do A LOT of walking. Make sure you bring/ wear comfortable shoes. I tracked my walking and walked an average of 10-11 miles a day. Plus if you have the time, there are some wonderful hiking trails. Highly suggested: Dragons Back Trail.
- Hong Kong can be very humid, so pack lightweight clothing for the day and bring a sweater for chillier evenings.
- If you plan on shopping in HK at any of the night markets, street markets, basically anywhere not in a mall, make sure to have cash. Easier to negotiate on pricing.
- Electronic Super Center, SIM City in Kowloon is highly recommended. Floor after floor or camera lenses, phone accessories, and plenty of vendors to try out items with.
- Tipping is not expected as service, for the mot part, is automatically added to your bill. However, if you have exceptional service, feel free to round up. At hotels, a little sometime like HK $10-20 for the service staff is appreciated.
- The nightclub scene is hot in Hong Kong and Lan Kwai Fong is where many of the hot spots for both restaurants and clubs are located.
- For great sights of the city: Star Ferry, Victoria Peak, M Bar (Mandarin Oriental), The Sky Garden (Shangri-la HK), Ozone Bar (Ritz Carlton).
- Hello Kitty lovers rejoice. Hong Kong is home to the first Hello Kitty Dim Sum Restaurant, Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine. Instagram central.
- At some restaurants, pre meal, they will bring out a tea pot and a large bowl. This tea is to rinse off your chopsticks, spoon, tea cup before use. No harm if you drink it but I learned this the hard way drinking the "cleaning tea" while everyone was cleaning their utensils.
- Day trip to Lantau Island to see the Tian Tan Buddha and and the Po Lin Monastery. Even on a foggy day, its such an incredible place. Take the Ngong 360 up; well worth the money versus taking the bus up. * It was one of the most incredible cabe car rides I have ever been on in my life!
- Hong Kong loves its afternoon tea. Suggestions: The Upper House, Above and Beyond, Woo Bar.
- Currency is HKD, Hong Kong Dollar.
Hong Kong, the city of incredible shopping, swanky nightclubs, fabulous dim sum restaurants and plenty of walking. Sounds so much like my home, New York! I forget what it is like to constantly be walking around, lost, searching, trying to absorb every little detail. It reminded me so much of when I first moved to New York City and the feeling of being consistently overwhelmed, but in an adventurous way.
Highly suggest using the MTR to get around. Mostly everything is off of a MTR stop and its pretty easy to use. The trains arrive about every 1-2 minutes and there is extreme organization with getting on and off the trains. Taxis are great as well, fairly inexpensive, but of course there is usually always traffic. Expect to walk a ton, so remember to bring/ wear comfortable shoes if you plan to sightsee and walk around to go shopping. Your feet will thank you.
The Star Ferry is a wonderful thing to do in the evening and see nighttime skyline views of Hong Kong. The ride is about 15 minutes long and costs around $2.50USD. Its a great way to get between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island as well as an excellent iconic Hong Kong photo op. To avoid smoking fumes, head upstairs in the ferry. There is another option to take a ride around the entire harbor which lasts about an hour. You can pay for the Star Ferry with your Octopus card.
Ride the Peak tram up to Victoria Peak for epic views of Hong Kong. I went early, around 8am, and there were maybe 5 people in line and only a short wait for the tram. When I came down around 10am, the line had formed to around 100 people and over a two hour wait for the tram. GO EARLY. Even though the tram leaves every 15 minutes, the lines can get pretty out of control. I bought the Peak Tram Sky Pass which includes roundtrip tram tickets and sky deck observation access which is $83HKD, about $11USD. Going up on the tram, sit on the right hand side for city views. The views are so pretty, I decided to go up twice, once for day views and another time for evening views. Both really special. Personal decision, but whichever you pick, I promise will be beautiful.
Lantau Island (Day Trip)
A must do and you can read all about my day trip here.
If you came to Hong Kong to shop, you came to the right place. Hong Kong is a shoppers paradise with a guide all to itself. Find out more about how to navigate the Hong Kong Shopping scene here.
Chi Lin Nunnery and Garden
Located in Kowloon off the Diamond Hill MTR station, this special nunnery and scenic garden is meticulously landscaped and spans over 3.5 acres. Every single rock, body of water, plant, structure and flower has been placed specifically according to specific rules and methods. In the hustle of the city, this garden is a tranquil way to spend a few hours. There is no admission cost.
Hiking Dragon Back Trail
Most people probably don't think about hiking when the travel to Hong Kong, but you would be wildly surprised with the various scenic hiking trails offered in this metropolis. Dragon Back Trail's initial hike is uphill, traveling along the "dragon's back" with breathtaking panoramic views of the China Sea and the coastal buildings of southern Hong Kong Island. There are a lot of uneven stairs here, so watch your step. Continuing on the hike, you begin to descend to Sheko Beach aka "Big Wave Beach" in which the hike becomes a lot easier and ending in the sandy beach surrounded by charming little cafes, showers and even changing rooms! Make sure to bring our own water, as there are no vendors on this hike. You will need it!
Ozone Bar, Ritz Carlton
Pricy drinks are expected here given the stunning unobstructed views of Hong Kong's skyline. At 118 stories high in the sky, Ozone boasts the title of the highest bar in the world. Pretty awesome! Only issue is Hong Kong's weather, if you go up on a night when its foggy, you will more than likely see pretty much nothing. There is an indoor and outdoor section so if the weather is up for it, spend a little time outside. Ambiance and decor are pretty posh and even the views from the bathroom are incredible!
So folks, Hong Kong isn't all shopping, Hello Kitty and fabulous dim sum restaurants; there is so much to do, for every type of traveler and explorer! Don't worry, I have a separate post entirely dedicated to Hong Kong eats.
As always, go JETSETAWAY!