Hong Kong has never been on my bucket list, but my husband expressed his eagerness and fueled on by slogans such as ‘Asia’s World City’ I agreed on a two week trip to Hong Kong.
What we did not realize until we were in the thick of it was that what we call Chuseok Holiday in Korea (Korean Thanksgiving), falls smack bang in the middle of the Asian Golden Week. For those of you who do not know what Golden Week is, this is a mandatory leave period for people from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, and Singapore. Needless to say, we were surrounded by thousands of tourists for the first week in Hong Kong. It settled down during the second week, but it was still busy since it is a major tourism hotspot.
That being said, it was still an amazing experience and I would go back to
Hong Kong in a heartbeat.
Where to stay:
Hong Kong is not a budget travel destination. The cheapest options for staying in Hong Kong will be either at a backpackers/hostel situation or Couchsurfing. We opted for a hostel setup, with a private room. You can easily find something in your budget on bookings.com or Airbnb . Beware of anything located in Chungking Mansions, Kowloon. It is really only for the serious budget travelers and people who are not in any way, shape or form put off by dirt, smells, sounds, and an onslaught of salespeople trying to sell you sim cards, fake bags and watches or drugs.
We, unfortunately, fell into this trap and ended up staying in Chungking for the whole two weeks. We had no extra money to get new accommodation, and it wasn’t refundable since it’s considered budget accommodation.
I recommend: Anywhere in Nathan Road, Kowloon.
Why: Closest to public transport hotspots like the ferry pier, subways, and bus stops. Easy access to all main markets. Fantastic restaurants. Many tourists attractions found in the area.
What to do:
Okay, so Korea is great if you want to buy skincare products. The things that I found in Hong Kong that was great to buy are the typical tourist knickknacks, and also designer items and shoes. Since a vast majority of people in Hong Kong speak English, and because of the British influence, it’s very easy to find English books, CDs etc. I also recommend stocking up on your favorite ‘Western snacks’ such as salt and vinegar chips, and chocolate bars such as Cadbury’s Crunchy. I also loved all the known medicines that I could buy at Watsons and 7/11 to bring back to Korea with me. Do stock up on items such as your favorite deodorant and toothpaste.
Hong Kong has no shortage of sights. My recommendation is to grab a few flyers at the Airport and to plan an itinerary based on your likes and interests. Temples, museums, and galleries are found throughout Hong Kong, so with a little research, you’ll be able to tailor-make an itinerary that suits your needs.
- Eating and Drinking
Hong Kong has some amazing food! You can have Dim Sum every day at a different Michelin Star Restaurant, and you’ll struggle to choose your favorite. Do not skip food courts in shopping centers, I had some amazing spiced beef noodles from a little stall in a food court. At night markets you’ll have loads of sit down options, as well as delicious street food. Start your day with freshly baked goods and coffee, or even buy sushi in the subway station. I’ve not had one disappointing meal in Hong Kong, but my favorites included bbq pork buns (from the subway station), Peanut Noodles, and the most amazing pork and white truffle dumplings from a Michelin Star restaurant in Kowloon. Do not forget cocktails! Classic Bloody Mary and Gin and Tonics are staples on most menus. Imported beer and wine are well priced compared to Korea, so don’t skip the wine list.
What we did:
- Disneyland (Halloween Special)
- Sunset cruise
- Victoria Peak Tram
- Victoria Park
- Madam Tussauds
- Eating loads of Dim Sum (and going to a Michelin Star restaurant)
- Hong Kong Heritage Museum and Bruce Lee exhibit
- Art Galleries
- Ngong Ping Temple and 360 Cable Car
- Visiting various markets in Kowloon (Ladies market, Sneaker Street, Jade Market)
- Watch a Hong Kong movie in a Hong Kong cinema
- Have your photo taken against the Hong Kong Skyline
- Watch the Hong Kong light show from the Kowloon Pier
How to get around?
The easiest and cheapest option is buying an Oyster card at 7/11 on the Airport, and then using that for the subway and ferry. This card can be refunded once you are done, and you can easily reload it anywhere in Hong Kong or Kowloon. Pay taxis with cash and avoid day trip deals, since you rarely get enough time to do everything that the day trip includes. Do look out for transport trips etc Disneyland by Ferry or Package deals e.g. Madam Tussauds plus Victoria Tram instead of buying two separate tickets.
Be prepared for:
Scammers (taxi drivers, hawkers, and even monks) will try to take advantage of you. We got swindled by a Monk! A freaking Monk!! Just smile, say no thank you and avoid eye contact with the hundreds of people trying to force things off on you. Do not fit anything that you don’t intend to buy at a marker or street vendor.
We stayed in a terrible ‘hotel’, I was sick for three days and we overspent a lot. That being said, I will not change one thing about this trip, and will always look back on Hong Kong with fond memories. I hope to visit again soon.