Hong Kong and Macao

Here is a vibrant city with skyscrapers at its skyline and streets which is always buzzing with people. My first impression was everything seems so busy, so loud and so colourful. Getting pushed and shoved in main attraction was a little overwhelming initially.  But now I can safely say it was a memorable trip, one I am glad we did. It turned out to be a trip where we became kids again, who doesn’t like that kind of holiday?

TIME TO VISIT HONG KONG

After reading a lot about the weather we decided we will visit when the weather is good. October to December is said to be the best time for its pleasant weather. We planned our holidays based on this and visited in October. But it was also the peak season hence experienced every place to be crowded. 

Autumn (between December to February) is the best time if you want to enjoy the festive seasons. Should I plan to visit again I would recommend this time, mainly because it will be less crowded. This is also the low seasons so flights and hotels will also be cheaper. 

TRAVELING AROUND HONG KONG

To get to Hong Kong we had chosen the flight option. We didn’t have any issues with the visas as we had done one from home. Everything went smoothly in the airport for us. From the airport we had taken the airport express which roughly takes 24 mins to Hong Kong Island. From here we used the MTR to reach our hotel. 

During our stay we had chosen a combination of bus and MTR to move around. For the MTR there are ten lines to choose from which were easy to follow. The buses were comfortable and air conditioned, loved sitting on the double decker buses in Hong Kong.

There is the famous octopus card which are said to be cheaper than single fare tickets. The card is used on most of the transport system. There is also the benefit of receiving 50% discount on same day return journey to the airport. You can use the Octopus machine to check and top up your balance. For tourists I would recommend the On-Loan Octopus card, as the name suggests after use your will be given back your deposit and remaining balance. Should you not want to purchase the card then there is single journey ticket, tourist day pass, tourist cross-boundary travel pass and monthly pass extra. We had chosen the On-Loan Octopus card during our stay.

Although taxis are easily available we never really used them. This can be a comfortable ride for those who want to avoid the Hong Kong humidity. 

Hong Kong’s iconic tram services is a must do. Personally loved seeing the tram system which have been operational since 1904.

We also used the ferries when we wanted to visit Macao. This truly was a fun way to hop on between islands. There were standard and little expensive ferries, we choose the standard one and it was very comfortable. 

WHERE WE STAYED IN HONG KONG

We had booked at Hotel Dorset Mongkok for 5 nights. The room was small but clean with large windows. The staff were attentive and even provided us with early check in with no extra cost. The hotel is very close to two MTR station, which was our main reason for choosing it. We never got a good breakfast option hence we didn’t choose one. 

We had also visited Macao and chosen The Venetian for one night. It’s is designed the same as The Venetian Las Vegas and has the second largest casino in the world. The hotel is themed around Venice with a shopping area inside. The place is huge and there is plenty to do while you are there- it’s a mini city of its own.

The rooms were huge, luxurious, comfortable and clean. Here we decided to splurge ourselves and were confused if to stay inside or roam around.  The design was well thought out and the staff were also friendly. 

THINGS TO DO IN HONG KONG

VICTORIA PEAK

The highest hill in Hong Kong at an elevation is 1,811 ft. If you want spectacular views of Hong Kong then this is the place to be. It offers panoramic view of Hong Kong Harbour making the skyscrapers look smaller. The circular path along the way makes you walk along lush greenery. I would highly recommend visiting this place. 

THE PEAK TRAM

A funicular railway takes you to the upper level of Hong Kong Island. The tram has been in operation since 1888 and has been going through many changes since then. Since the tram is used by both locals and tourists it’s always crowded. The best way to see the views Hong Kong and experience something in operation since so long.

I would really recommend doing this, besides the crowd you actually do get to see some scenic views. The experience is also memorable giving a sense of thrill in some of the inclines. 

MADAME TUSSAUDS

Located in the Peak tower on Hong King Island and being the first in Asia opened since 2006. It was again very crowded during out visit but we had fun posing in front of our favourite wax statues. There is a mix of mainstream personalities and famous world known figures.  This was also our first wax museum experience so we did make the most of it.

THE PEAK TOWER/ SKY TERRACE

The interesting wok-shaped structure with an observation deck along with various shops and restaurants is a popular tourist attraction. It provides a huge platform but the place is always crowded which is little disappointing. You can enjoy 360 degree view of the island. Personally I don’t feel it’s worth paying the extra money, especially when the views are there for free. 

TIAN TAN BUDDHA

The 112 ft. tall bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni is seen near the Po Lin Monastery. The Buddha itself is said to denote harmony between people and faith. An impressive statue which is beautiful from very different angles. Although the climb up may seem tiring, the sight of the big Buddha makes you want to do it. 

The place does get crowded so would recommend visiting early morning. Walk around the place as there is plenty to see. The stunning architecture and vibrant colours around makes the place all the more magical. 

NGONG PING 360

A gondola ride to enjoy the beauty of Lantau Island. There is Ngong Ping 360 skyrail and Ngong Pin village which can be enjoyed. This is also a nice way to visit the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. The crystal cable car with glass floor does give you a memorable and thrilling experience. There is the 360 degree views of the mountains, seas and islands. It was so serene and peaceful!

The place does get crowded, we went early morning so didn’t get the crowd but on our way back we did see a long line. 

OLYMPIAN CITY

A shopping and resentful complex which was walking distance from our hotel and also close to Olympic station. It’s just another shopping centre, nothing extraordinary. Should you need to do shopping or want to kill time then this could be a good option, if not it can be easily avoided. 

OCEAN PARK

If you need to spend a whole day being a kid or have kids then this would be one of the places to visit. It’s a theme park with roller coaster rides, water rides, has marine parks with animals and also has a cable car. 

There are also fun carnival games and street foods to indulge on. The park is huge so be mindful of the time and wear comfortable shoes. The cable car ride has breath taking views of the bay. We didn’t have to wait much in line since we were there early. During the day we did see the place get crowded. 

VICTORIA HARBOUR

A harbour which separates the Hong Kong Island from the south with Kowloon Peninsula to the north. It’s a nice way to explore Hong Kong on foot and enjoy the ships with the city’s skyline at its backdrop. There are many ferry rides around another way to enjoy it. We visited the place during the day, if you visit it at night you can see the famous light show at 8.00 pm.  Many projects are coming along which is a shame as it might ruin the beauty of the place.

AVENUE OF STARS

It’s designed around Hollywood Walk of Fame and is seen along Victoria Harbour. As you walk along you will come across many of celebrities from the Hong Kong film industry. Unfortunately the only one I recognised was Bruce Lee but still had fun posing in front of the others.

Aside from the figures you can always enjoy the views across the water which gives a wonderful skyline.

TUNG CHOI STREET- LADIES MARKET

We visited the ladies market to enjoy a different side of Hong Kong.  A very popular market which sells low priced products. Personally you need to do a lot of bargaining, which I didn’t like. The quality of the products are also not that great. I would recommend it for a unique experience where you get to interact with the locals. 

HONG KONG DISNEYLAND

The largest theme park in Hong Kong which is in Penny’s Ba, Lantau Island. Right from the start the Disneyland themed train ride makes you feel like you are around your childhood cartoon characters. 

There is plenty to do and easily enjoy a whole day here. Throughout the time we completely forgot our age and loved being kids again. There was never a dull moment, lots to do from the rides to the parades. If not compared to the Disneyland’s around the world then this can also be fun place to spend some time. 

MACAO

We spent a day in Macao to see the craze for casinos which the locals have. Since we had booked in The Venetian we decided to walk around in the neighbourhood. Inside the hotel there is plenty of shopping, gondola ride, restaurants and casinos. There is more to do around Macao if you have time. Should you wish to venture out then there is Our Lady of Carmel Church (1.2km), Taipa House (1.4km), The Parisian Macao (1.9km) and Taipa Old Village (1.9km).

OUR ITINERARY IN HONG KONG

Day 1

  • Took the Airport express to Tsing Yi Station. From here took the Tung Chung Line to Olympic Station. Walked 500 m to reach Dorset Mongkok Hotel. 
  • From our hotel we walked to Olympic station. Took the Tung Chung Line and got off at Hong Kong Station. Walked 120 m and took bus No. 8 or 9  to Hong Kong Park. Walked 200 m to The Peak Tram.
  • In the Peak Tram we got off at the Peak Tower Station and walked 110 m to see Madame Tussauds Hong Kong.
  • After that we walked 110 m to see The Peak Tower, Sky Terrace.
  • We decided to walk to Victoria Peak which is roughly 1.2 km. 
  • Took the Peak tram ride to Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre. From there took bus no. 9 to MTR Hong Kong Station. Took the Tung Chung Line to Olympic Station and walked to our hotel. 

Day 2

  • From our hotel we walked to Olympic station. Took the Tung Chung Line and got off at Tung Chung station. From here walked to Yu Tung court. Took the Ngong Ping and got off at Ngong Ping Village and took a ride on 360 Ngong Ping. 
  • Walked 650 m to Tian Tan Buddha.
  • We took the gondola back to Tung Chung Station. Took the Tung Chung Line and got off at Olympic station. Walked 250m to Olympian City. 
  • From Olympian City we walked 700 m to our hotel. 

Day 3

  • From our hotel we walked 950m to Mong Kok Station. Took the Tsuen Wan Line and got off at Admiralty Station. We took the South Isdlan Line and got off at Ocean Park Station. We walked 800 m to reach Ocean Park. Enjoyed the full day here and returned to the hotel. 


Day 4

  • From our hotel we walked to Mong Kok Station. Took the Tsuen Wan Line  and got off at Tsim Sha Tsui Station. Walked 950 m and reached Avenue of Stars.
  • From here we walked back to Tsim Sha Tsui Station. Took Bus no. 215 X (other options 271, 281A, 296 D, 6C, 77M) and got off at China Hong Kong City. Walked to Victoria Harbour (less than 1 min).
  • From Victoria Harbour we walked to Tsim Sha Tsui Station (750m). Took the Tsuen Wan Line and got off at Mong Kok Station. Walked 300m and reached Ladies Market.
  • Our hotel was 1.3km so we decided to walk back. There are also many bus options like Bus no.3 and Bus no. 12S.

Day 5

  • From our hotel we walked to Olympic station. Took the Tung Chung Line and got off at Sunny Bay Station. From here we took the Disneyland Resort Line and got off at Disneyland Resort Station. Then we walked 700 m and reached Hong Kong Disneyland. We spent the whole day here. 

Day 6

  • From our hotel we walked to Olympic station. Took the Tung Chung Line and got off at Hong Kong Station. Walked (400m) to Central Station. Took The Island Line and got off at Sheung Wan Station. Walked 6 mins to Hong Kong Macau Ferry. Took the Ferry to Macau Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal. From Border gate we took the Venetian Hotel’s shuttle bus service. 
  • Checked in hotel spend the whole day exploring the hotel and walked around the hotel’s vicinity. 

Day 7

  • Checked out and took the shuttle to Macao Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal. Took the Sky pier to Hong Kong International Airport. 

THINGS TO NOTE IN HONG KONG

  • Politics is a sensitive topic, many locals don’t like being confused with Chinese. Be polite and avoid discussions. 
  • Hong Kong is massive, busy and crowded. Be prepared for this. 
  • Be mindful of your spending. Hong Kong can surprise you with how expensive it really can get. Plan everything.
  • I would recommend investing in the octopus card. It does work out cheaper should you use the public transport.
  • It’s hard to find coffee at 7 a.m. Most of the coffee shops only open after 8 a.m. Plan ahead.
  • Hong Kong local language is Cantonese, many do speak English (or basic). We didn’t struggle communicating. 
  • Hong Kong locals are not really unfriendly, they struggle to communicate hence shy away from conversations. 
  • Feel free to walk around with a glass of wine or beer, it has lax open container law. 
  • In your bowl of rice don’t keep the chopstick vertically as it’s associated with funeral. 
  • Don’t walk slow or block way, locals are fast walkers and you might end up irritating them. 
  • Enjoy street shopping but remember to bargain. Avoid shopping on weekends as it gets very crowded. 
  • There is heavy fine on smoking in restricted areas. Be aware of the rules.
  • Try out the street food, it make not seem appealing at first but Hong Kong is known for it.
  • Weather can get humid, wear light weight clothes and carry an umbrella 
  • Do check the Peak tram website before visiting. There is constant upgrade programmes scheduled and hence closed sometimes. 
  • There are also many offers usually available, so do keep checking either on the websites or speak to your hotel staff. 
  • Should you plan to stay in The Venetian Macao like we did then check their website for shuttle services. They have complimentary pick up from the Macao Ferry.