Hong Kong – You could spend weeks, days or even hours and get hooked to this incredible city. A destination that was on my bucket list and one I finally managed to tick off earlier this year. Our plan, to spend 5 days discovering the various islands, a fun day at Disneyland and a quick ride to the Vegas of the East,Macau.
Flights used – Hong Kong Airlines the flag carrier for the country. Very efficient and great service at the prices. I would highly recommend if you are in this part of the world and have access to this airline.
Hong Kong International Airport is a well connected airport from most parts of the world and all major airlines have a flight into this hub. The airport is the world’s busiest cargo gateway and one of the world’s busiest passenger airports. It is also home to one of the world’s largest passenger terminal buildings.
While the Airport Express is a quick way to reach the city, it is far from the cheapest. If you are travelling as a family or a group the taxi works out better and to your door step. We took the good old traditional taxi and they are all metered, relatively cheap, air-conditioned and clean. The three types of taxis identified by colour: Red for Urban Taxis, Green for New Territories and Blue for the ones on Lantau Island.
Day 1. Hong Kong – Half hour drive (traffic permitting) and we were in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Kowloon.
Hong Kong is a busy city with around 8 million inhabitants and the fourth most densely populated region in the world. It can be overwhelming for many visitors, especially those are not used to crowded places. The city has so much to do that one can scratch ones head wondering where to start in order get the most out of your trip.
Check into our hotel,in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui and yes we chose this area to experience the real Hong Kong. Tsim Sha Tsui is a major tourist hub in metropolitan Hong Kong, with many high-end shops and restaurants that cater to tourists. Many of Hong Kong’s museums and tourist attractions are located in this area.
First stop the famous Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront and the symphony of lights. We walked through the busy streets and finally reached the harbour where hundreds of tourists come every evening to enjoy this spectacle of lights. Must say its OK and not a great show as I was expecting after hearing so much about it , but the views are definitely spectacular and one which leaves you with memories of a life time.
Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront – Stroll along the waterfront and take in the breathtaking skyline view of Hong Kong Island. Make sure to visit the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame,where you can see the stars of Chinese and Western films. There are shops, restaurants, and at night, a large outdoor market serving traditional Cantonese food alongside knock-offs and souvenirs.
Finished the day with a well deserved dinner over looking the harbour at one of the many restaurants this city has to offer.
Top Tip – Getting around in HK – Octopus Card a prepaid contactless debit card that can be used to pay for all kinds of public transport (except taxis and some red minibuses) and to pay at convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants, museums, and more). Hong Kong is best explored by train (MTR) as it is the fastest mode of transportation but if you are in a group the text can be a cheaper option.
Day 2. Disneyland – We started our day with breakfast at the The Charlie Brown Cafe. I would highly recommend it if you were around this are or travelling with kids.
If you are on a family trip like we were, you cant miss out on this, so suggest you add the famous Disneyland for a fun filled day. Embark on an enchanted and magical journey that starts with the themed train with Mickey Mouse shape windows and continue your trip with thrilling attractions and rides.
Hang out with Mickey Mouse and shake hands with Tinker Bell. Just a train ride away this is an excellent day out with the kids. You can book tickets in advance online or buy at the gate. The difference was minuscule and as we were not sure of the exact day we went with the door price.
After a fun filled day the evening was spent sampling one of the many street markets Hong Kong has to offer. Ladies Market as the name goes, seems to be a haven for the ladies, with all the cheap clothing and accessories that this market has to offer. There are some branded and toys shops as well which make it a destination for all ages.
Day 3. Macau and Happy Valley.
Macau is Asia’s gambling capital and just an hours boat ride away from Hong Kong. You can explore it in a day if you have an early start. It is the new gambling resort capital of the world with 5 of the world’s largest casino resorts here. You’ll need your passport to travel between these two regions. However being foreign tourists to Hong Kong you generally have no problem entering Macau with a free short term stamp on your passport.
You can book tickets in advance or at the Ferry Terminal. There are plenty of people selling tickets around the counter and even though we approached the counter first ,no luck as they were sold out.
Free casino buses line up at both terminals, and pretty women representing their hotels and casinos stand and hand out coupons and information. Just get on a bus with the branding of the resort you want to visit and have a fun day for free. You don’t have to spend a fortune to experience the casinos, as long as you don’t hit the slot machines, play cards and roll the dice. Some of the top resorts – Venetian Lagoon, the Ruins of Saint Paul, the Eiffel Tower of the Parisian.You can easily get lost in the biggest casinos eating, shopping, and seeing the shows. You could spend the whole day in just one casino so keep track of time.
There are also some old Portuguese sites to see in the old city. UNESCO World Heritage sites San Ma Lo and Guia Fortress are popular with tourists.
A late lunch at the food court of the Venetian and we head back Hong Kong.
Happy Valley Race Course – Another tick of my on my bucket list. Happy Valley is a world-class state-of-the-art racing course. It has certainly evolved through the years with the city built around the race course, and surrounded by skyscrapers and looks beautiful at night when the city is illuminated. Whether or not you are a horse racing enthusiast this is an experience not to be missed.The beautiful horses, the skillful jockeys ,the crowds going wild, they all add up to an exciting, fun-filled, thrilling atmosphere in a world-class venue.
Horse-Racing Season at Happy Valley is from September to June and races are normally on Wednesday Nights, first race starts at 7:15 p.m. Entrance to general stand is a mare $2.
What an evening and one I will recommend if you are in Hong Kong even if you are not a gambler. (Kids are not allowed here).
Followed this with a family dinner at Times Square and yes it does hustle and bustle quite late into the night like the original NYC one.
Finally on our way back to the hotel after a long day on the iconic tram better known as Ding Ding.
Day 4. Hong Kong – An early start and today we were going to sample the delights of the city starting with the famous Tian Tan Buddha, or also called as Giant Buddha.
This is still a sacred site and visited by hundreds of devoted Buddhists every day. Erected in 1993, this magnificent 34-meter bronze statue has a jaw-dropping splendour that literally helped put the Po Lin Monastery and Lantau Island into the global limelight.The Po Lin Monastery also offers worthwhile views of Hong Kong and its surrounding islands.
You can use the famous Ngong Ping cable car to get here but unfortunately this was closed for repair when we went so we used the train and a taxi to get here.This cable car runs a little over 3.5 miles, from Tung Chung across the bay toward the airport and then onward to Lantau Island, where you can visit the Po Lin Monastery.
The cable car gives you a panoramic view of the whole airport, harbour, and city before it travels through the surrounding mountains. The ride lasts about 25 minutes.
Next stop the iconic Victoria Peak & The Peak Tram
This tram takes you to the top of the Peak, Hong Kong Island’s largest mountain at 1,700 feet. You ride a funicular to the top where you enjoy spectacular 180-degree views of the skyscrapers of Victoria Harbour, Kowloon, and the surrounding hills.
It’s the best view of the city and a must for every visitor. There are large queue’s for the tram depending on the time of the day or the season so plan accordingly and book tickets online. After your extraordinary ride, look for a great spot in Victoria Peak, and enjoy sweeping views of Hong Kong.
Lunch at one of my favourite food spots Bubba Gump and yes you have a choice of restaurants on the peak so treat yourself and enjoy the views.
Next stop- a walk through Kowloon Park. This gigantic park features a swimming pool, a fitness centre, little ponds where you can watch ducks and other swimming birds, a Chinese garden and plenty of rest areas where you can relax and escape the oppressive Hong Kong heat. It’s one of the best places to sit and watch people of this fantastic city.
Finished the day with a walk along the harbour and a ride on the Junk.
The Junk are those classic boats with the large sail you see in any movie about Hong Kong – a fun way to sail around the harbour and finish of our day.
Day 5. Hong Kong – As we had a late evening flight, we started our last day early and visited the remaining must do’s in HK. The Star Ferry – The best way to get across the harbour from Kowloon Island to Hong Kong Island is via the Star Ferry. This is an experience in itself ,sailing across the river on one of these historic ferries showcases a fantastic view of the city skyline for only HKD $2.20.Tickets can be bought on the spot and the ferries leave every 10 minutes.
Next stop- An escalated joyride on the never ending Central – Mid Levels Escalator.
Don’t forget to take a ride up the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator, the longest covered escalator system in the world. This is a mesmerizing ride as you glide above the small shops and little streets seeing the day to day life of the locals.
Lunch and a walk around central Hong Kong and it was tIme to head back and check out.What an experience it has been. Hong Kong surely is one of the liveliest places I have ever visited . Fun filled and always in a rush, yet some kind of tranquility prevails in the many small parks that pop out of nowhere in the middle of this vertical concrete jungle.
One final ride on the Hong Kong taxi and we take off from one of the most busiest airports in the world to another unique destination Thailand.
Must Do and See in Hong Kong
- Head to Tsim Sha Tsui promenade and experience the Hong Kong Space Museum, the Clock Tower, and the Avenue of Stars.
- Sail to the many islands of Hong Kong aboard the Star Ferry.
- Shop till you drop at Mong Kok, Temple Street Night Market and the Ladies Market.
- Have breakfast at Kam Kee a taste of a typical Hong Kong breakfast.
- Lunch at the famous Din Tai Fung Restaurant (Yee Wo Branch)
- Dine and drink at Lan Kwai Fong, a small square in one of Hong Kong’s most popular night-life hot spots.
- Try the delicious Egg Tarts a local delicacy.
- One Dim Sum – taste the worlds most pocket friendly One-Michelin star restaurant.
- Swing by the Hong Kong Museum of History.
- Enjoy spectacular panoramas of Hong Kong from Kowloon Park.
- Visit the largest shopping mall in Hong Kong The Harbour Mall.
- Watch the Symphony of Lights from Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront.
- A magical rope way journey to Lantau Island.
- Pay homage to the Giant Buddha.
- Take the Peak Tram.
- An escalated joyride up the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator.
- Buy traditional Chinese items at Sheung Wan.
- Experience the electrifying nightlife of Lan Kwai Fong. Travel in time with the Hong Kong Tramway (Dingding) and Junk.