Hong Kong is an enigma, as a ‘special administration zone’ of China it feels like it should have all the same nuances of China but yet retain its own special charm. When we landed there, we were about to find out just how ‘special’ Hong Kong really is.

Arriving around 9am after a 5 hour flight from Delhi was no easy feat – and side note, don’t take the Delhi metro at rush hour with your backpacks, trust me. We headed into arrivals and were quickly granted our visa. Hong Kong is surprisingly westernised for the area, English is widely spoken and navigation is a breeze, easier than most European cities in fact.

Although pricey, the metro for 72 hours (not three days but 72 hours from the time you use it + the end of that day, so technically 94 hours if you’re crafty) cost us $350 HKD each (£35) which is quite good value for money in HK. Plus, if you hand the staff back your card once you’re doneX you will be refunded the deposit of $50 HKD each. The metro system is a breeze. China’s efficiency and one system attitude certainly shines through when it comes to their public services. 

As you escape the metro into central you are greeted by high rise buildings, inundated with adverts, billboards, light and colour. It’s incredibly overwhelming but despite all this, it still feels comfortable, familiar and if I’m honest, slightly like back home. It’s immediately obvious of the western influences that have grasped HK since it gained independence in the mid-80’s. 

Heading to our Hostel at Chan Wai was our next stop and a great location. 2 stops from central and easy access to the picturesque HK markets. We stayed at a place called the ‘Check Inn’ which is a hostel on the Main Street here and while the rooms weren’t huge, they were adequate and well priced which is important in HK because it’s super expensive (basically 10-15% more expensive than London maybe).

We immediately left the Hostel and headed our way to The Peak – Hong Kong’s Sky Terrace, but not before enjoying some staple HK cuisine at a Chinese chain restaurant called Tsui Wan which was great price and great food, it also allowed me and Luke to get much bettter with chopsticks!

We proceeded to Hong Kong park which is a beautiful location just east of the peak tram, which has water features and beautiful flora. Getting the metro from there to the avenue of stars, unfortunately at this moment in time (October 2017) it is still under construction and apparently will be till the end of the year. However not deterred we headed to the garden of the stars which is similar in nature and was nice, but a bit out the way as you have to head to Kowloon to see it, so maybe if you’re in the area head here, otherwise give it a miss. However, you do also get to see a landscape of Hong Kong from across the waters, which is truly breathtaking!
It was now time to make our way to the peak, after heading back on the busy metro we were able to easily walk to the peak through a couple of air conditioned shopping malls and enter the station, it’s a super easy process to get up there costing $45 HKD each (£4.50) which is pretty inexpensive. But it’s worth paying the other $45 to get to the sky terrace too. Heading up there took us around 30 minutes and was very scenic. 

Due to the time we arrived we had a beautiful sunset view of the concrete landscape that has sky scrapers draped over the skyline, only divided by a huge mass of water in front and an incredible scenic view behind. Heading back took longer than we thought as the queue for the tram back down was huge. 

Going down to central was the next step for some food, we went to the food nightlife district of Lang Kwai Fong which had some lovely, but pricey restaurants in some areas, as far as nightlife actually goes in Hong Kong it’s pretty tame, but nice, just don’t expect anything too raucous – which is good as me and Luke only had 3 days to explore, we had no time for hangovers!

The following day we went to Ngong Ping 360 which is a cable car that takes you to the Lantau island near Hong Kong famous for the ‘big Buddha’ and scenic views. It cost us 200 HKD each (£20) and was beautiful. However expect to pay a little more for food and amenities here, being an island means it will drive the price up – two ice creams cost both of us $110 HKD (£11) – so maybe prepare a picnic! The Big Buddha and the cultural themed village was amazing to see too! 

Trying to salvage whatever budget we had left in this beautiful city was to head to Mong Kok for some Dim Sum. Now if you’re not familiar with the dining etiquette of China then do some research beforehand, chopsticks diagonally for finished food, thumbs on bowls for no more and always leaving some food left in the bowl to not disrespect the chef are some small examples of this. We went to ‘One Dim Sum’ which is current #17 on trip advisor for restaurants and it did not disappoint. It’s a strange way to order than we are use to but it’s worth it to go to immerse yourself in their culture – I can only describe it as a Chinese Tapas. 

The fish markets were next where the fish are alive and you choose what you want, it was very surreal to see fish being cut and diced right in front of you. It’s one of the quaint aspects of being in the East, the cuisine is heavily pork and fish based, meaning meal preparation is all with incredibly fresh ingredients right before you.

This market is pretty close to Shanghai sweet which hosts the goldfish market too – don’t worry these aren’t directly for eating, we think. But shops upon shops filled with various types of dish and fish tanks, we’re still not quite sure why they are there. 

That about sums up our experience in Hong Kong, the beautiful, expensive and confusing city. 2 nights was enough and all told we think we were able to fit in the majority of the attractions that are available to tourists. As most cities go there are several tourist traps and it can be difficult to find much substance or soul to cities. But Hong Kong felt familiar, yet in every sense of the word, an enigma to the average westerner.

Tips:

  • Grab the airport express pass, it’s great value and you even get £5 back at the end if you return the pass
  • Research the dining etiquette or you’re gonna look a bit silly – just watch what other people do if in doubt.
  • Dim sum is cheap and easy, if you’re feeling thrifty find one of these in the Wan Chai district, they’re all reasonable.
  • If going on the Ngong Ping 360, but some lunch beforehand to save you a fortune!

About The Author

Wanderlust Lab is a collaboration between Abbie and Luke for the sharing of travelling knowledge to help backpackers and travellers all across the globe. Live Wanderlust.

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