We arrived to Hong Kong International around 4 in the afternoon, fresh off a 13+ hour direct flight from Vancouver, B.C. We were pleased immediately with how smoothly everything operated, from the airport to the Mass Transit Railway (MTR). We were able to easily navigate to our hotel in the Tsim Sha Tsui area of Kowloon; just 2 short blocks away from the Victoria Harbor. The sidewalks were quite crowded since it was a Saturday evening. I don’t think I can even count how many times we heard, “You want watch? You need suit?” from vendors on Nathan Street. If I’m honest, it got a little annoying after being asked 20+ times the same question by the same people every time we left our hotel. We spent the rest of the evening exploring Nathan Street and getting adjusted to the new time zone.
I’m not ashamed to admit that we made use of the nearby McDonalds. There may be options, but we had difficulty finding breakfast foods in Asia in general. We were able to pick up some breakfast and yummy latte’s in the morning and usually stopped by again in the afternoon for a $5 HKD (~$0.64 USD) ice cream cone.
We spent the first part of the day on Lantau Island, where we were able to ride the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, climb the 268 steps to reach the Tian Tan Buddha and walk around the Po Lin Monastery. We arrived at the cable car right when they opened and there were about 20 people in line ahead of us. When we arrived back to the start of the cable car the line was at least 300 people long! That was around noon, so definitely plan on arriving early! I have a lot of great photos from Lantau Island to share, so I’m going to write a post specifically about it soon! So stay tuned!
While I rested at the hotel Jake went on a search for some “Foakleys” and “Faybans” (Fake Oakley and Rayban sunglasses). He finally stopped and talked to all the touts who had been trying to sell us suits and purses for the past 24 hours. They all said, “Yes! I have sunglasses!” and then proceeded to lead him down little streets or into the Chungking Mansions to view, surprise, suits and purses! His quest for sunglasses was unsuccessful. The Chungking Mansions is a 17 story building that takes up nearly an entire block. It is filled with budget guesthouses, a variety of ethnic food restaurants (famous especially for their Indian food selections) and numerous retail shops.
Symphony of Lights
We headed down to view the Avenue of Stars; Hong Kong’s equivalent of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. We didn’t recognize most of the actors names, but we did spot Jackie Chan and Jet Le’s names! The Avenue of Stars was crowded and wasn’t especially interesting, but it was nice to view the Hong Kong skyline during the day. I would recommend grabbing an ice cream cone and going for a stroll if you have a little time to kill. After catching some dinner we returned back to view the Symphony of Lights show. The show was a little cheesy, but the fun part was taking pictures of the iconic junk boats before the show started and of the lights during it.
With a population of over 7 million plus the high number of tourists from mainland China, Hong Kong felt overwhelming for me in the beginning. As the days passed though I began to notice and appreciate how clean and efficient the city was. The MTR was the best public transportation we have used. It was crowded, but it was easy to navigate and was always timely. Other than the touts, who could be relentless, the city felt quite safe as well and English was well spoken so communication was easy. Hong Kong was the perfect introduction to Asia. As much fun as we had on our first day, Day Two was even better!
Things to Know
- We paid $220 HKD (approx $28 USD) per person for unlimited access to the MTR for 3 days plus 1 way on the Airport line
- Prices for Ngong Ping 360 tickets are listed Here (opt for a Crystal Cabin if you can- it’s worth it!)
- No Admission Price for Tian Tan Buddha or Po Lin Monastery
- Arrive at least 30-45 minutes early for the Symphony of Lights Show to get a good view
- We stayed at The Imperial Hotel and paid a total of $287 USD for 3 nights in a room with AC and twin beds. We paid extra for in-room WiFi, which was free in public areas
If you haven’t check out our fun travel video about our 3 Nights in Hong Kong you can view it HERE!
Have you been to Hong Kong yet? If so, what did you think?