I wrote the last travel post almost around two years ago! And in these two years, I have travelled the most in my entire life. However, I was too busy to document them because my life was running at a pace I couldn’t believe was humanly possible.
But now that I have the complete stillness that I had always craved. I am so going to utilize this time to catch up with all the writing.
Hong Kong happened entirely by chance. I was to travel to the US. Direct flights are 18-20 hours long and trust me, and I don’t have that much patience. So, I took a layover in Hong Kong – for five days. That’s an enjoyable layover. My flight to the US was reduced to 12 hours, but it was still dull.
Presently, Hong Kong is in the news for all the wrong reasons. That is just sad how people here are now fighting for their freedom. I can only hope and pray that things get better from here.
Before I proceed, here are the usually helpful travel tips:
- The visa process is straightforward. You have to fill just one form online and take a print out of the completed form on an A4 size sheet. You have to follow the guidelines of the form completely covering the A4 size sheet else it’s not accepted. You need to fill this pre-arrival form online and produce it to the check-in counter and the immigration officer. Make sure you have filled your hotel details and dates correctly in the form. It was because of the ease of the visa that I chose Hong Kong as my layover country and not the UK or any other Schengen country.
- People here abide by the rules stringently. People here are polite and very helpful too.
- The MTR or the metro trains here are the best way to move around in the city. The red taxis are the local metered taxis which you can hire from anywhere, and Uber is also available here.
- It is advisable always to carry an umbrella because it can rain anytime if you are travelling in the summers as I did.
- The best time to visit Hong Kong is March-April and October-November.
- Taking an Octopus Card is a good idea. It is a prepaid card, and various shops and utility service providers accept it. You can use it for the MTR, at the multiple fast food joints and departmental stores. And it makes life simple!
- Don’t forget to take your travel insurance.
Before diving deep into my amazing five days of this not-so-solo-trip, if you are looking for a quick itinerary for Hong Kong, here you go:
I took a late-night flight from Delhi and reached Hong Kong early in the morning, which is a good idea if you can sleep on the plane and are travelling light. This way, you have one whole day to explore this vertically expanding city.
I was mesmerized by the view outside my window once the plane started to descend. It’s the lush green Lantau Islands that welcomes you. The sight is beautiful. Though I have been to places where the airport is near the beach, and the landing is pretty dramatic, but the one at the Hong Kong airport is just serene!
The airport is huge. And I like the airports where you have to take the metro not only to change terminals but also to go to the immigration desk!
The immigration process is smooth. Keep your pre-arrival form ready and fill the arrival form correctly on the spot. The officers ask you some simple questions regarding your stay and travel plans and let give you a token. Keep them all safe with you till you get back home!
From the airport, the best way to travel to the main island is by using the Airport Express. It starts at around six in the morning till midnight, and you can cover your distance in less than 30 minutes. I had a lot of luggage, so I preferred a taxi. My hotel was in Sai Yin Pung which is relatively closer to Central and I am glad I did not take my accommodation anywhere in Central. I will tell you why in a while.
Hotel check-ins are usually at 3 PM. You can either wait at the lobby or dump your luggage in the cloakroom and explore the city if you are fresh enough. I decided to wait for my room to be allotted. I requested for early check-in and got my room by 1.30 PM. After taking a good shower and nap, it was time to explore the city.
As I have mentioned earlier, the MTR is indeed an excellent way to move around in this city. But always be very careful with the exits if you don’t want to walk some extra feet. Hong Kong is a vertically expanding city, so there are multiple exits of the MTR on numerous levels of the city.
The closest station to the Ladies Market is the Mong Kong Station. Taking a walk on the adjacents streets at night is a treat to the eyes. And it is precisely here where you will find excellent street food. All sort of dumplings, grilled meats – you name it, they have it. I did not try because of a few reasons. One, I am not a pork fan, and things here are extensively made using pork. Two, I had a lot of travel scheduled for the next few weeks, and thus, I kept myself away from the street food.
Ladies Market is a place for all the cute things that you can buy. It is a one-kilometre stretch with almost close to 100 stalls – selling clothes, accessories and a lot more. And of course, you should be pro at bargaining because that is how it works here. They will not sell anything at a loss, so make sure to bargain healthily!
Finally, after a lot of browsing and buying some silly li’l things, it was time to call it a day. The second day was for Ocean Park. You can get some very fantastic deal on Klook. I have already suggested this app in many of my previous articles. We got a tremendous deal of buy one, get one ticket for Ocean Park on Klook. The price of one ticket is approximately HKD 500. And for me, it was the best HKD 500 spent on the entire trip. It was not because of the rides or the greenery but the absolute pleasure of watching a panda. I never thought I will ever be watching one because I did not plan on going to China soon.
You can reach Ocean Park via the MTR. Use the MTR maps; it’s the simplest thing. I have travelled on the trains/subways of so many cities. The one in Hong Kong is the most user-friendly.
Ocean Park is a marine life-based theme park with two major attractions, the Summit and the Waterfront, are connected by Cable cars and an underground train called the Ocean Express. I took the Cable car to go from the Waterfront to the Summit and the Ocean express while coming back.
The Waterfront is where you will find the Whiskers Harbour; an old China Town themed park. And here only you can spend the entire day looking at the various animals and birds. The panda, the ancient giant salamander, the otters, the walrus- every animal is taken care of here.
Basically, the whole park is divided into sections. The Asian Animals are found in the Asian Animal Village. The Penguins and the Walrus are found in the Polar Adventure section. So on and so forth.
There are way too many things actually to cover in one day. Grab the map and make sure you know what all you have to do on priority.
The queue for the cable car is usually huge – if you don’t have a lot of things to do, then take the cable car. Else the Ocean Express serves the purpose better.
There are certain rides as well – they are in every section and they have various thrill levels. Again, depending on the season and time of the day you are visiting, the queue for some of the rides is pretty big and you might spend 45 minutes to 1-hour in waiting. The wait is worth for some of the rides though.
I don’t know what happened during my visit there. I decided to do this ride called The Flash. It not just spins you but also whirls you full circle. I loved the upside-down view of the island, though!
I called it a day pretty soon at Ocean Park and came back home. After a good nap, took a stroll down the neighbourhood and had some good food.
The next day turned out to be li’l surprising. The Central was closed. There was a mass protest in the light of the democratic reforms the citizens want. I was there in June, and this was a part of the planned protest. And thus I learned that it is equally important to follow the political news as well, apart from the weather of a place when you plan to visit somewhere.
You might want to know about the protest because it is essential.
When I visited, the protest was for a day. It was peaceful, and no one was harmed. For that one day, I went to Macau. I returned the next day.
I had heard a lot about Victoria Peak and decided to go there after I came back from Macau. I went there by taxi. There is a nature walk, and you can climb up the mount Austin and the Victoria garden. Relax, chill and enjoy the view of the skyline of Hing Kong. It is amazing.
The Madame Tussauds in Honk Kong is here only. Also, you can take the Peak Tram, which creates a fantastic illusion of the buildings and their elevation. Sadly, that was closed for maintenance when I went there.
I had a peaceful time at the peak. From there, I went to Stanley Beach. It is one of the cleanest beaches I had been to in a while. Though it was pretty hot that day, that did not stop us from enjoying the beach. WHat surrounds the Stanley Beach is one of the finest shopping complexes of Hong Kong, called the Stanley market. You can have good food, buy some authentic Chinese artefacts and souvenirs.
There are a lot of party places too here. I tried to venture out on some of the happening streets here. However, I have realized that I have aged. Like fine wine? Nope, like rosé.
And that is how my trip ended here. Also, I have to mention that I love the HK International Airport. It is enormous, as I mentioned, and the number of shops it has – phew! I certainly have some great memories of this place. The good people and their friendliness, the ease of public commutation and some of the amazing places to shop and eat – thank you, Hong Kong!
I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa.