Last year, my friends and I visited this small island nation called Hong Kong.
A vibrant and diverse region in the southern part of China, Hong Kong is one of the favorite vacation getaways of tourists from all over the globe. Hong Kong literally means “fragrant harbor”. It is well-known for its beautiful skyline and contrast of Eastern and Western influences. Despite being a British colony for a long time, it’s quite surprising that English is not widely- spoken. It’s really admirable how it preserve its tradition and culture.
Unlike other neighboring Asian countries, Hong Kong can be considered as one of the most expensive places to travel. But with proper planning, it’s still possible to enjoy Hong Kong on a shoestring budget.
Filipinos can travel to Hong Kong without visa for 14 days.
Here is a list of amazing things to do in Hong Kong:
A place that brings out the child in every person, Hong Kong Disneyland is located in Lantau Island. It is easily accessible through MTR stations. Ever since it opened in 2005, it has been attracting millions of visitors every year.
With lots of rides and attractions to choose from, everyone will surely have fun.
Be delighted by the boat ride to the fancy “It’s a Small World” castle while being serenaded by dolls from around the world. Embark on a guided adventure to the Jungle River Cruise and be greeted by playful elephants, hippos, king cobras and giant spiders. For more thrilling rides check out RC Racer, Toy Soldier Parachute Drop, Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars and Space Mountain.
Do not miss its day and night parades. The “Flights of Fantasy Parade” showcases our favorite Disney characters in their colorful floats and costumes. In “Paint the Night Parade”, be dazzled by the glowing lights and luminous costumes of Mickey and friends.
What better way to conclude Disneyland trip than to watch the 12-minute fireworks display above Sleeping Beauty Castle while listening to the classic medley of Disney songs.
It is no doubt the “happiest place on Earth”.
2. Star Ferry
Star Ferry is one of the oldest modes of transportation in Hong Kong which can be traced back in 1800. It is an affordable way to travel across Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. It is also a perfect setting to look at Hong Kong Skyline from a different perspective.
3. The Peak
You have never been to Hong Kong if you’ve never been to the Peak. The Victoria Peak offers a spectacular view of harbor and the city. Going up the winding road with a panoramic scene below is such a wonderful experience. There are different ways to go to the Peak. Riding the tram is the most common way for tourist, but the long queue could be a hassle. But don’t worry, there are also bus and taxis that could take you to the Peak and it is also more affordable. Two shopping centers, namely the Peak Tower and the Peak Galleria, are situated on the area to suit the visitor’s needs.
4. Victoria Harbor
Whether you go here during the day or night, Victoria Harbor will surely amaze you.
The Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui is a long promenade that pays tribute to the famous personalities of Hong Kong film industry. Here you will see handprints of well-known celebrities like Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Another famous spot for tourist is the statue of martial arts legend Bruce Lee. (THE AVENUE OF STARS IS CLOSED FOR REDEVELOPMENT FROM 8th OCTOBER 2015 AND IS EXPECTED TO REOPEN AT THE END OF 2018.)
The famous Symphony of Lights can be observed along the harbor. It is a light and sound show in Hong Kong wherein its skyscrapers illuminates to the tune of music and synchronize to a narration in three languages: English, Mandarin and Cantonese. According to Guinness World Records, it is the ‘World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show’. It starts at 8 pm daily and lasts for 13 minutes. The show is free so better come here early to find a great spot as it becomes very crowded during the display.
Another post card worthy scenery along the harbor is the Duk Ling which means “clever duck”. It is a traditional Chinese junk ship that serves tourist who wants to cruise along the harbor. This icon is used by Hong Kong tourism as its symbol. It has also been featured in several films, movies and novels.
5. The Big Buddha & Po Lin Monastery
The Statue of Big Buddha, most commonly known as Tian Tian Buddha, is a large bronze statue of Buddha located in the flourishing mountains of Lantau Island. Opposite the statue is the Po Lin Monastery. It attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors. Riding the cable car is a fun way to reach the place.
6. 10,000 Buddhas Monastery
Located in Sha Tin District, the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery is another must see attraction in Hong Kong. Hiking up the concrete pavements with thousands of life-sized, golden statue of Buddha to greet you every step of the way is an unusual experience. It can even give you goosebumps as the place is so quiet, serene and is surrounded by bamboo trees. Be on your most comfortable outfit, as it requires lots of hiking. It is open from 10am to 5pm daily and admission is free.
7. Savour the Local Cuisine
Just like any other place in the world, trying the local cuisine is a must for every visitor.
Hong Kong cuisine is mainly influenced by Cantonese but being a British colony, it has been also greatly influenced by western culture therefore a fusion of Eastern and Western cuisine. Dining out in Hong Kong is such an enjoyable experience. From stalls to high-end restaurants, Hong Kong offers a wide variety of cuisine that will fit your budget.
For breakfast, congee and dim sum is a perfect match. Canton’s Dim Sum Expert in Tsim Sha Tsui is highly recommended for delicious yet reasonably priced meals. Just add a little few dollars for a bottom-less hot tea.
Roasted goose cooked in special ingredients, cut into small pieces is another mouth-watering dish. Sticky rice with chicken, mushroom and sausage wrapped in lotus leaf is also a must try delectable meal. There are also a wide variety of noodle dishes to discover. For some sweet treats, try the famous egg tart and see for yourself why locals and tourists can’t get enough of it!
Hong Kong street food is also not to be missed like egg waffles, siu mai and many more. Another must try is the delicious milk tea which is a personal favorite.
8. Explore Temple Street Night Market
The hustle and bustle of night market is the best place to be if you’re looking to buy souvenirs for your loved ones back home. The price of goods here can be a little bit pricey, so do not be shy to bargain in order to get a great deal. Aside from souvenirs, gadgets, bags and clothes, there are also different food stalls and restaurants that offer affordable and delicious food.
9. Public Beaches
Public beaches are common hang-outs of both Hong Kongers and expats. There are lots of public beaches to choose from within Hong Kong. Just bring your picnic mat and find a shady spot, then you’re free to enjoy the beach. Just be mindful of your belongings. We visited Deep Water Bay in the morning. Aside from being clean and secured with life guards, it is also complete with amenities like showers and toilets. From here, you can see the view of Ocean Park.
Hong Kong is a safe place for tourist. With its efficient mass transport system, it is easy to explore this beautiful country. Having an Octopus card is of great help to access its public transport.
For accommodation, there are lots of affordable hostels along Tsim Sha Tsui area. We stayed in USA Hostel along Nathan Road. The room was just small but we had a pleasant stay on this hostel and it is accessible to all types of transportation, malls and restaurants.
Since English is not widely-spoken, it can be a little difficult to communicate with the locals. But with the help of my dear friend Yvonne, who had been living and working in Hong Kong who acted as our guide, our tour ran smoothly.
It was indeed a wonderful one week of our lives until the time of our departure. Hong Kong Airport is huge and complicated. I highly suggest be at the airport at least 2 hours before your scheduled flight so that you will still have enough time to find your boarding gate or else be like us who got left behind by our plane. Their immigration staffs are also very strict so be sure to abide by the rules like putting liquids in your check-in baggage, etc. It was such an unforgettable trip. We had to sleep on the benches on the food court upstairs while waiting for the next available flight to the Philippines since we are on a tight budget. But thanks to their fast and free wifi, we were able to inform our loved ones back home about our misfortune in Hong Kong and inform them that we are fine, we will just be late.