It was ironic and well fitting that just as my first time overseas was to visit the Pearl of Africa (Uganda), my first stop in Asia was to the Pearl of the Orient. Hong Kong certainly did not disappoint! We had an amazing first day in Hong Kong, exploring Lantau Island and seeing the Symphony of Lights show. Day two though turned it out to be one of our favorite days on our 19 day trip to Asia! 2 days in Hong Kong weren’t nearly enough, but it was a good start and we visited some well known sites, as well as some lesser known ones.
Going to The Peak
We caught the MRT to Central Station on Hong Kong Island and experienced our first taste of the business area that Hong Kong is so famous for. It was exciting to be up close and identify buildings that we had seen light up the night before during the Symphony of Lights show.
We found our way to the Peak Tram where we met an Argentinian couple in line. They didn’t have any Hong Kong Dollars to purchase their tickets so we were able to exchange some money with them and we ended up spending the rest of the day with them!
The Peak Tram is easily the steepest furnicular railway we have been on. The max gradient is only 27 degrees but it feels like a much sharper incline. The ride to the top is quick; it was less than 10 minutes. We arrived to The Peak Tower just before they opened at 10 A.M. and we were actually the first visitors to set foot on the The Sky Terrace 428 to get that iconic skyline shot. To get to the terrace you have to walk through what is basically a mall. I’m not sure who goes to The Peak to buy face creams and lotions but there are plenty for sale there! There are multiple restaurants, but skip these unless you want to pay for overpriced food.
Hong Kong Park
We were trying to find the MTR and ended up wandering through Hong Kong Park rather accidentally! What a peaceful place! There were some people doing tai chi, people in business clothes going for a stroll and we even saw a wedding taking place. The park was well maintained and, like the rest of Hong Kong, was immaculate.
Edward Youde Aviary
Confession: I am not a fan of birds. At all. Around birds I am tense and afraid of being attacked and/or pooped on. As soon as stepped into the Edward Youde Aviary though I just felt incredibly relaxed. It was like we were transported into the jungle. For housing over 600 birds the Aviary is surprisingly clean; the walkways are frequently sanitized throughout the day. The aviary is the largest in Southeast Asia and has 80 different species of birds indigenous to the area.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
Our next stop was in Sha Tin to view the Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery. We hadn’t realized how long the MTR journey would be from the Admirality Station on Hong Kong Island. We ended up switching MTR lines twice and spent at least an hour on the journey. We could feel a difference though when we switched to the East Line. The stations and trains were older, the surroundings more residential and we didn’t notice any other travelers. This felt like a less urban, more traditional version of Hong Kong.
The walkway up to the monastery is lined with over 500 large Arhan statues, each one looking different. The 400+ steps were fairly steep and the air humid, so plan on bringing a water bottle with you if you go.
This main temple was completed in 1957 and, despite the name, actually has 12,800 different Buddha statues. There is a vegetarian restaurant by the Main Temple at the top of the hill, we didn’t try any food there though only got some bottled water. You aren’t suppose to take any pictures inside the Main Temple but there was a little store in there where you could buy some overpriced trinkets which seemed a little strange to me.
We walked a little further up the hill though to reach the top and were rewarded with a beautiful view. We also saw at least fifty turtles which were entertaining to watch.
Trying Authentic Dim Sum
This was the #1 food I wanted to try in Hong Kong. I wanted an authentic experience though so we took the MTR to the Jordan area and walked around until we found a Dim Sum restaurant. The restaurant was so authentic that nobody spoke English. Hong Kong people are so incredibly kind though and other patrons were able to tell us how to order. They gave you a form and you circled the soup, dumplings and drink that you wanted. We ordered fried and steamed pork dumplings to share and I got a creamy corn chowder and bubble tea. The food was incredible and very affordable; for only $80 HKD (about $10 USD) we had more food than we could we eat.
Temple Street Night Market
We wandered around for a good 20 minutes and came across a night market that was only selling clothes. We were disappointed when we thought that was the Temple Street Market but thankfully we found the real one! The first 10 minutes into the market it’s exiting and you can see beautiful and unique purses, toys, wallets, etc. Then you walk a little deeper into the market…and see the exact same things. Nothing is unique. All prices are negotiable though so do not buy the first thing you like. Negotiate a price then walk away, at which point you will hear them shout out an even lower price than what they said was their final price. Feel free to walk around and get other prices, you can always find your way back to the first shop if needed (it’s just one long isle so you can’t really get lost). I bought a purse with a map print on it, something that I had never seen before and I thought was unique. I saw that same purse in at least half a dozen other stalls after I purchased it. Be weary of buying electronics in Hong Kong markets, I heard from multiple sources that they aren’t the best quality.
Things to Know:
- The Peak Tram: Adult round trip tickets with Sky Terrace 428 access are $83 HKD (~$11 USD) and about half the price for just the tram ticket
- Visit as early as possible; the line at the tram was at least an hour wait when we came back down around 11:30 AM.
- Free admission to Edward Youde Aviary
- If you get lost trying to find the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery entrance ask for directions at the help desk in the mall/Ikea near the MTR terminal
- The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is not an active monastery and therefore does not have monks. If you see a monk here they are a fake and trying to scam you
If you haven’t read how we spent our first day in Hong Kong you can see it HERE
Or you can view our 3 Nights in Hong Kong video HERE