Okay, as mentioned in my last post, I will document here my past travels. And I’ll start with Hong Kong!
There are already lots of blogs covering travelling tips and recommendations to Hong Kong, so I won’t do that anymore. Heck, I was able to plan this trip properly and as detailed as it can be because of these helpful blogs all over the net (thank you!). So I’ll just list here all the things we were able to do whilst our stay in this wonderful city. I hope you’ll learn a thing or two! 🙂
I went to Hong Kong with my college friends last September 2014. It was my first ever out-of-the-country trip without my family. So it’s very memorable for me, that is why I am blogging this even though this trip was from almost 2 years ago already.
Anyway, without further ado…
1. Walk along the Avenue of Stars
EDIT: In 2015, the Avenue of Stars was temporarily closed. As per their website:
To strive for an even better ambiance and visitors’ contemporary experience, it’s time for rejuvenation – in 2015, Avenue of Stars is temporarily closed for repair and improvement works with a view to presenting a brand-new and more exciting leisure and entertainment destination to the world by 2017/18. For the time-being, please visit Garden of Stars and Starry Gallery for film-related exhibitions.
This is a long stretch of sidewalk on the shore of Victoria Bay. You can see here different statues and handprints of famous Hong Kong people.
We went to Hong Kong in September, which is the city’s summer season. Bring umbrella and bottled water if you plan to go the same month as we did. The walk was a struggle as the heat is no joke!
2. Ride the Peak Tram
The Peak Tram is a tram going up the Victoria Peak. The route to the top is very steep, and it makes the buildings seem like they are tilted horizontally! It is a very nice experience. However, I must warn you that the queue here is long, usually it will take more that one hour before you will be able to ride the tram.
3. Sightseeing from The Peak Tower
Once you are up, go to The Peak Tower, which is an observation deck, to see the city’s skyline.
In one blog that I read, it suggested to go there around 5:30-6pm to see both the view at daytime and nighttime. We were aiming for that, but since the queue in the tram took longer than expected, we were not able to go up before sunset.
But anyway, the view at nighttime was magnificent. From the tower, it is overlooking the Victoria Harbour and Kowloon.
4. View wax figures at Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds in Hong Kong is the first branch in Asia. It houses figures of both local and international personalities.
5. Test your haggling and bargaining skills at night markets!
If you like to buy some souvenirs, a night market is the place to go! In Kowloon, the place where our hotel is located, has abundant offerings of night markets. There are Temple Street Night Market, Jade Market, and Ladies Market.
The prices of stuff in these markets are already cheap, but you can still haggle and bargain with the shop owners especially if you are buying lots of items. Usually, the store owners cannot speak English, so when doing transactions, don’t be surprised if they suddenly take out a calculator and begin to type numbers; it is just their way of telling you the price. Also, if you are haggling with them, they will offer you their calculators — it means that she wants you to name a price, so you need to type in the value you want. Clever, huh?
One tip I can share with you is, when haggling with them, don’t accept the initial price they will give you, because I assure they can still lower it, you can even haggle half the price! If they don’t want your price, do a dramatic scene — say no and leave! If you do that, they will approach you 99.99% of the time, and they will give in to the price you want! That’s what we did (unintentionally)! Haha!
6. Ride the MTR.
The MTR, or the Mass Transit Railway, is Hong Kong’s major public transportation. It connects the 3 major islands of the city, and you can go anywhere in anywhere in Hong Kong riding it. You won’t be able to tour Hong Kong without riding the MTR.
Myself coming from a third-world country with no efficient transportation, MTR is heaven on Earth. LOL. But seriously, commuting is a bliss because of this.
Fare in the MTR is through a stored value card call the Octopus Card. One adult card costs HK$150 with initial value of HK$100. It can be conveniently topped up at MTR stations, or even at 7-11.
Also, there’s a unique line which carries unique train cars in the MTR–the Disneyland Resort Line! This is the line that goes to Disneyland. The train cars are not the usual train cars in other lines because they are decorated with Mickey Mouse stuff inside and out! Remember the ‘Hidden Mickey’ segment in Disney Channel? You can do that in those trains! Haha!
7. Unleash your inner child and visit the happiest place on Earth, Disneyland!
A visit to Hong Kong will not be complete without visiting Disneyland. It is a must to visit this theme park whether you are young or old; whether you like rides or not; or whether you like or not theme parks in general. Who would want to miss seeing Mickey and the gang? 😉
This is my very first Disneyland, and it was so surreal; it’s like a dream I don’t want to wake up from. Okay, maybe I was exaggerating. But I grew up watching Disney films and singing along the OSTs, so it’s overwhelming for me in a good way to finally experience Disney’s magic.
If I may share, there was one funny thing that happened to us in Disneyland. As I have mentioned, it is a summertime when we visited. So in the afternoon, after a couple of hours queueing and riding rides, we all got tired. Damn tired and exhausted. We found a very nice corner near the castle, and we decided to rest there, eat some snacks, and sleep. Yes, sleep. All of us literally fell asleep, oblivious of the time, we forgot about the parade! Haha! But it’s okay, maybe next time.
My most favourite part of the experience is maybe the fireworks display. Goosebumps all over me!
8. Ride the Ngong Ping 360 cable car
The Ngong Ping 360 cable car is a 25-minute cable car ride that will take you to Hong Kong’s Lantau Island.
This is the longest cable car ride I have ridden so far. The views were amazing!
My friends and I got lucky on the ride on the way to Lantau Island because we got the cabin to ourselves. Of course, we took lots of pictures, and comfortably enjoyed the travel and the views.
9. Visit Ngong Ping Village, Tian Tan Buddha, and Po Lin Monastery in Lantau Island
So after the cable car ride, the first place you will see is the Ngong Ping Village. There’s nothing exciting to do here, actually. It is just a short road where you will see different souvenir shops.
After passing through Ngong Ping Village, you can either go to the monastery on the left, or go up to the Big Buddha on the right. In our case, we went up to the Big Buddha first.
There was one interesting fact that I have read before about this Big Buddha: it was intended for the statue to face north towards the Mainland China to look over the Chinese people. Fascinating, isn’t it? Anyways, to be able to see the Big Buddha up close, you need to climb up 268 steps. It was a pretty tiring climb, especially for sedentary people like me. Haha! But of course, in every climb, all will be worth it once you reached the top, because of the view — it is so magnificent, and really worth climbing for.
Once we got down, we went to Po Lin Monastery next. This place was so peaceful, even with lots of tourists. Other than tourists, there were also several locals who were praying and burning incense sticks. Inside of the temples were very grand — the entire place is surrounded with gold decorations, there were lots of golden and porcelain statues, and Buddhist scriptures.
10. And lastly, of course, eat local food!
Okay, when we planned this trip, my friends and I had an agreement that we will not splurge on food. We agreed to spend only an average of HK$8 per meal, as we had everything budgeted.
We usually eat at hole-in-the-wall places, and didn’t eat at fancy restaurants. We actually only ate meals outside for lunch and dinner. Haha! For breakfast, we just ate what we packed from home, or we bought from 7/11. The only expensive place we had been to was in Disneyland, because, well, we got no choice.
In addition, we also agreed to not eat at places like McDonald’s and KFC, because eating is part of the travel. You can also explore the place through eating local food. So, where’s the fun in it if you will just eat at familiar places, right?
So there, this is where I will end this Hong Kong post. I felt so nostalgic while writing this. I’ll make sure I’ll be back to Hong Kong and explore more!
Oh! If I may share, this particular trip to Hong Kong was featured in Cebu Pacific’s Smile Magazine, January 2016 issue. 🙂
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about Hong Kong — the expenses, itinerary, and stuff, let me know and I’ll try my best to help!