Note: This blog post was written in June 2015 and posted on another site.
A few years ago I went to Hong Kong to visit my family. It wasn’t my first time there but it was definitely the first time I was there as an adult. As many people know, Hong Kong is a very vibrant and busy city. Think New York Times Square, everywhere. The weather was quite mild when I went in October. I wasn’t surprised to see people in long sleeve shirts, coats and turtle necks while I was wearing shorts and a tank. When I arrived, I was greeted with a very nice airport. If you are concerned of being able to meet a friend or call a cab, there are free phones in the baggage claim area. When I got outside, I walked straight to the bus area. The transportation is pretty easy from airport to the city centre. The city’s subway is very efficient. You can get from place to place very quickly. There are buses with WiFi – use it! I didn’t need to have a SIM card when I arrived. This was only because there was WiFi everywhere.
There are two parts of HK you have to see: Hong Kong Island and Kowloon area. You will notice that Hong Kong Island is full of foreigners. A lot of people speak English there, if you are worried that the language barrier is a problem. The Hong Kong Island area is where a place called “Lan Kwai Fong” is. That’s the bar district area. On the Kowloon side, they have amazing food and lots of cheap shopping. One of the rules of my travelling is to try the local dishes. Don’t be scared of bubble tea (tapioca in flavoured black tea) or the smelly tofu (fermented tofu). At least you can say you’ve tried it.
Other than the food, drinking, and shopping you better get on to the touristy stuff. I went to the Avenue of Stars. This is where they list their big celebrities and a whole bunch of filming related statues. This place is so beautiful because it’s essentially a small boardwalk. This is where you can see across the water to the Hong Kong Island. When I was there I found a group of people dressed up as Mickey Mouse and Zombies. They were getting ready for the Halloween parties. People are pretty overworked there, so they work hard and play hard.
The next must see is the 360 deg gondola that brings you all the up to the highest point of Hong Kong. It is at least 15 minutes to get to the top. At the top there are a few attractions to see. An example would be the wax museum. I had met Bruce Lee there. There are a few food places but of course the view is amazing. I was lucky to have caught the picture on the left. At this height as well, you can see everything, even the IFC: the biggest shopping center in Hong Kong. It is 88 storeys high!
Speaking of things at tall heights, make sure you go to the Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha) as well. It is located on the Hong Kong Island. It may seem like it is a million steps up, but it is well worth it. A lot of people remain buddhist in Hong Kong so this place is a sacred place for many to pray. However it has also become a huge tourist spot for people around the world. Some quick facts about this Buddha…1. It is the Sakyamuni Buddha 2. It is made of Bronze 3. It’s huge – precisely 34 meters tall 4. You’ll take 268 steps to get up to him. 5. He represents the harmony between human and nature.
I remember seeing a large fountain as well. I almost had to fight to get a picture with it.
Shopping is a huge must in Hong Kong, but don’t worry it’s pretty cheap if you aren’t looking for real brand name products. Places like Lady’s Market and Fa Yuen Street are pretty good for very cheap things. Be very weary of what you are buying. Make sure it is not broken. It is also good to bargain (ask for a lower price as listed, if they say no, walk away – you will find the same thing at the shop next to it). You won’t be able to bargain at mall – ones that have crazy lighting, air conditioning and more or less look like a North American mall. These people will know you are not from around there, so make sure you don’t let them push you around.
A place that I thoroughly enjoyed eating at is the Peninsula Hotel. This is where I had high tea for the first time with my friends who happened to be there at the same time with me to visit family. The food was amazing and the four of us were so full after that we couldn’t even get dinner in. On another day my cousin brought me to a place that served chicken skewers. Each skewer were marinated and flavoured differently. I think it may be a once in a lifetime experience because it was way too expensive for me to eat there. The place was called Yanbird.
There are a few things that will jump out at you that may be a bit unsettling. The first is the sewage smell, muggy smell, or generally MSG smell on certain streets. Secondly is the service that you will get at a smaller shop. Tip is already included in all bills but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the service will be good. The nicer places generally have better service, I guess it comes with the atmosphere. Also, you may get sick. Because of the humidity outside and the crazy air conditioning inside. Make sure you bring an extra light sweater when you are going to going in and out. On top of that, during the winter seasons (October to February), it may get a bit chilly but no one in Hong Kong has heaters. Again, bring a sweater and make sure you check the weather network before you go there and be prepared.
Hong Kong is a fast paced place to travel to. The food is amazing and the tourist attractions are fun and diverse. I’ve listed only a few places to hit up, but don’t forget Hong Kong also has a man made beach, Disneyland, and a whole bunch of temples. I hope you have fun 🙂