Hong Kong is a wonderful, mixed-up town where you've got great food and adventure. ~ Anthony Bourdain
Hong Kong comes across as a modern and efficient city with excellent infrastructure and facilities.
Recently, my son and I had gone on a short trip to Hong Kong for five days and four nights. I found Hong Kong to be a people-friendly place with an interesting fusion of eastern and western cultures.
Here I am sharing a detailed account of my trip. Hopefully, this will help you to plan your own itinerary, while preparing for a trip to Hong Kong.
Taking the Airport Express
We landed at the Hong Kong International Airport on a Sunday morning. After leaving the immigration and collecting our baggage, we walked into the Greeting Hall to board a city-bound Airport Express. The Hong Kong Airport Express links the urban areas of Hong Kong with the Hong Kong International Airport.
We had purchased an Octopus Card, a smart card used for travel by the Airport Express and commute in the city by the MTR ( Mass Transit Railway). The fares on the Airport Express are substantially higher than the mainline fares. However, being an elderly person (above 65 years of age) I was given a fare discount of 50%. The children could enjoy free-ride in the Airport Express.
The Airport Express crossed over the Tsing Yi Bridge to the Kowloon Peninsula and then crossed under the Harbour by Western Harbour Tunnel and reached Hong Kong Station in less than 25 minutes. People spoke English and all display boards and notices were in both Chinese and English languages.
We went by Airport Express Shuttle Bus from Hong Kong Station and reached the Holiday Inn Express Hotel in Sheung Wan, located in the north-west of Hong Kong Island.
This was the view from the hotel room.
We had a sumptuous breakfast at a nearby restaurant. With the highest density of restaurants in the world, Hong Kong is a paradise for food lovers, where one can find Cantonese, Chinese, European, Thai, Japanese, Korean as well as Mediterranean cuisines. I liked the Chinese steamed buns, rice noodle rolls and baked beans for breakfast. I was surprised to see that hot water is served for drinking at the restaurant and cafes.
Victoria Peak - The Highest Point in Hong Kong
After we had adequate rest in our room, we ventured out for sightseeing in the afternoon as the weather was pleasant. Taking an MTR from Sheung Wan station near our Hotel, we went to the Central Station. From there we walked to the Peak Tram Lower Terminus. There was a big Sunday rush of people to go to the Victoria Peak by the Peak Tram Car and people lined up in long queues for the tram ride to the Peak. However, there was no chaos and people were quite disciplined.
At 428 metres above the sea level, Victoria Peak is the top of Hong Kong. The tram car climbed up the hill at a very steep slope. We saw the hills fully covered by forests on our way to the peak. The tram stopped after reaching the Upper Tram Terminus.
From there we went up to the Roof Top of Peak Tram Sky Terrace, which offers a 360 Degrees panoramic view of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the other Islands of Hong Kong in the South China Sea. We remained for a long time on the terrace to enjoy the views.
On the way back, the tram car was required to move slowly and with great caution. The lady who drove the tram skilfully navigated the car down the steep slope of the hill. We landed at the Peak Tram Lower Terminus.
In front of the Peak Tram Lower Terminus was the Hong Kong Park. It is a beautiful park designed to blend with the surrounding natural landscape. The Park is situated on the site of the British Army's former Victoria Barracks. We went around the Park on the slopes of hills and spent some time sitting in the Park before heading back to our hotel.
Tian Tan Buddha - The iconic attraction of Hong Kong
On the second day of our trip, we decided to see Tian Tan Buddha (The Big Buddha).
From the local MTR Station Sheung Wan, we took the train to Central Station. From Central Station, we took the Tung Chung train. From Tung Chung Station we went to Tung Chung Cable Car Terminal, which is the starting point for 5.7 km cable car journey. We were treated with panoramic views of Tung Chung Bay, the Hong Kong International Airport, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the Ngong Ping Plateau.
We reached Ngong Ping Cable Car Terminal after a 25- minute cable car journey. Ngong Ping Village of Lantau Island a traditional cultural themed village spread over 1.5 hectares is conveniently located right next to the Ngong Ping Cable Car Terminal. We walked through the village to the place where the steps started for going up to the site of the Statue of Tian Tan Buddha. We climbed 268 steps to reach the site of Tian Tan Buddha, from where we had sweeping views of the mountains and the sea.
The Statue of Tian Tan Buddha, with a height of 34 metres (112 feet), is one of the largest seated Buddha Statues in the world. Seated 26.4 metres atop a lotus throne on the peak of Mountain Muk Yue facing north toward Mainland China. Tian Tan Buddha symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith. The eyes, lips, the incline of the head and the right hand raised to deliver a blessing to all combined to bring a humbling depth of character and dignity to the massive Tian Tan Buddha.
We spent a long time at the peak and then came down the steps to the base.
Situated near the base of Tian Tan site is the Po Lin Monastery. The Monastery is sited opposite the Tian Tan Buddha in such a manner that the devout monks could pray facing Tian Tan Buddha. Po Lin Monastery is one of the most important Buddhist Sanctuaries of Hong Kong and is representative of the Buddhist World in the South.
This Monastery is rich with colourful manifestations of Buddhist iconography. We visited Po Lin Monastery's New Grand Hall of 10000. After our visit to the Monastery, we sat in the garden of the Monastery, listening to the song of birds and smelling the scent of flowers.
We concluded our visit by a trip to Tai O Fishing Village. We went by a Shuttle Bus to the traditional Chinese Fishing Village with characteristic houses of the Fishermen and Chinese Temples and a Tai O Boat Excursion in the sea.
We returned to the Ngong Ping Cable Car Terminal and had the thrilling return journey by the Cable Car.
Hong Kong to Macao Day Trip
On the third day, we decided to go to Macao, a former Portuguese territory and now a Special Administrative Region of China.
Macau is 64 km from Hong Kong over the sea. We boarded a Ferry, which took about an hour to reach Macao. The Ferry Terminal (Terminal Maritimo De Passengeros Da Taipa) was on the Taipa Island. The Macao peninsula and the adjoining islands of Taipa and Coloane form the Macao Special Administrative Region.
After completing the immigration check, we went to the bus stop at the Taipa Ferry Terminal. The buses are very regular and stop at many places so that tourists can hop on hop off to see the different places. The flat fare of a single Macao bus trip was 6 MOP (Macao Patacas). We had to pay the exact amount as there was no system to return the balance amount. One could also pay by using a pre-paid travel card.
It was a long route bus going as far as Guandong Province of Mainland China. I looked out of the window to catch a view of the enchanting Macao City from the bus. As the bus came to each stop, there was an automated announcement in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Portuguese and English. The stops had display boards in Chinese and Portuguese. We had no difficulty to understand the names of places in Portuguese.
We got down at Senado Square (Largo do Senado), which forms an integral part of the 'Historic Centre of Macao.'. For centuries, Senado Square was the most popular venue for public events and is now inscribed as a World Heritage Site. We saw the sites around Senado Square.
Ruins of St.Paul (Ruinas de St.Paulo), also known as the 'Acropolis' (The Citadel rising high above the city) of Macao draw huge crowds.
After seeing the heritage sites we came to Senado Square and took a bus to go back to Taipa Ferry Terminal. Crossing the Macao-Taipa Bridge (Ponte Governador Nobre de Carvalho) and reached the Taipa Island. Taipa City is famous for Hotels ranging from 2 Stars to 5 Stars (Deluxe) and Casinos. Its Shopping Malls are treasure troves of souvenir shops, snacks, traditional cakes and exquisite furnishings.
Coloane is Macao's countryside with green hills and valleys, traditional villages and bays with sandy beaches. As it was not possible to go to Coloane in a one-day visit, we left it from our itinerary. We reached Taipa Ferry Terminal and after immigration check went for the Hong Kong Ferry and reached Hong Kong in the evening.
Trip to Stanley - A seaside village on the Hong Kong Island
On the fourth day, we went to the picturesque Stanley village on the southern tip of Hong Kong. There's no MTR Railway Line to Stanley, so we took a bus from the Exchange Square Bus Terminus of Hong Kong Station.
We went to the upper deck to have a good view of the places around. Passing through the Hong Kong City from west to east, the bus turned south towards the hills where Hong Kong was very green. We crossed the long Aberdeen Tunnel. Now the road had green wooded hills on one side and sunny bay on the other side. We saw the Repulse Bay on the way. It was a 40-minute Bus journey from Hong Kong Bus Terminus to Stanley Bus Station.
We walked to the Stanley Bay through the Stanley local market where the shops traded clothes, ornaments and souvenirs. Cafes and eateries were lined up in the promenade of the Stanley Bay. From the promenade, we had a magnificent view of the blue sea.
Stanley, named after Lord Stanley the British Colonial Secretary, was the temporary headquarter after the annexation of Hong Kong by Britain in 1842. Stanley Fort was built to provide a place for the British troops. The British and Canadian troops took the last stand at Stanley Fort in the Battle of Hong Kong. Following the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China in 1997, Stanley Fort has accommodated the Hong Kong garrison of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).
We walked along the waterfront towards Stanley Plaza a large Supermarket. From Stanley Plaza, we walked towards Blake Pier. The Blake Pier, named after Sir Henry Arthur Blake the 12th Governor of Hong Kong is now a public pier.
On the way to the Blake Pier, we saw the Murray House, a 160-year old restored Victorian-era three-storey building with imposing columns and classical design. H & M Swedish Clothing Powerhouse has found a home in the iconic Murray House, There were fine eateries in Murray House where diners sat in the wide verandah with fans fixed on high ceilings with an excellent view of the sea.
Walking past the Murray House, we reached the Blake Pier. We walked to the end of the Pier from where we had the view of the sea all around. Stanley on the slope of the hills overlooking the bay had fine apartments. There were bus stops at several points of Stanley. We saw children's schools meant for the children of the quiet neighbourhood. Stanley was very green.
We spent the day at the Stanley Bay. We sat in the cool places in front of Stanley Plaza and enjoyed the lovely breeze of the sea. It was a perfect day out for us. We came back fully refreshed.
Ride on the Hong Kong Observation Wheel
The fourth night was our last night in Hong Kong, so we wanted to have a night view of the city.
Taking the MTR train we went to the Central Station. We walked from Central Station to Central Piers on the Waterfront overlooking the Victoria Harbour. It was a fascinating place with wide open spaces. It was heartening to see the people of all age groups coming there for an evening walk, jogging and physical exercise to keep fit.
The Hong Kong Observation Wheel a 60 -metre tall Ferris Wheel is a recent addition to the City. It is located between Central Piers 9 and 10 in the Central and Wan Chai Reclamation overlooking Victoria Harbour. The Hong Kong Observation Wheel offers spectacular day and night views of Hong Kong Skyline.
We purchased tickets and had an unforgettable ride in the Hong Kong Observation Wheel getting an incredible view of the Hong Kong in the night with all the buildings illuminated.
After our Hong Kong Observation Wheel ride, we went to the Central Piers and saw the Victoria Harbour and Kowloon across the Harbour. We saw the busy Ferries crossing the Harbour up and down between Hong and Kowloon. We returned to the hotel via Central Station.
A stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
On the day of our departure, we planned to see the Victoria Harbour.
We checked out early and taking the Airport Express Shuttle Bus, we went to Hong Kong Station. At the Airport Express In-Town Check-In, we booked our luggage and got the boarding tickets for our night flight. As we had sufficient time in hand, we went by MTR train from Hong Kong Station to Tsim Sha Tsui Station on Hong-Kong-Tsuen Wan Line across the harbour for a visit to the Victoria Harbour.
Victoria Harbour is a natural harbour between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. We had a Junk Boat trip. Then we spent time in Tsim Sha Tsui promenade offering views of gorgeous Victoria Harbour and vibrant Hong Kong's iconic skyline. In the evening we went to Hong Kong Station and took the Airport Express to catch our night flight back home.
I conclude this post, with this quote that perfectly sums up the essence of Hong Kong.
"Life in Hong Kong transcends cultural and culinary borders, such that nothing is truly foreign and nothing doesn't belong." - Peter Jon Lindberg
Take the Airport Express to travel to the Hong Kong main island from the airport and back. Buy an Octopus Card for travel. The smart card works on the Airport Express, MTR, buses, taxis and in many shops as well. Book a hotel with a close access to an MTR station. Carry a comfortable pair of walking shoes to move fast on escalator, subways and streets. Carry an umbrella, cap, sunscreen and water while travelling. If you are travelling with children, make it a point to visit Disneyland and Ocean Park. On the day of your departure, if you have ample time on hand (more than 6 hours), check in your luggage at HongKong Station and get your boarding pass for the flight. Then you are free to move around the city, go sightseeing or shopping and from there you can head straight to the airport.
Travel Tips for first-time travellers to Hong Kong
www.thepeak.com.hk www.discoverhongkong.com www.topchinatravel.com This article is contributed by Bhudeb Chakrabarti. DY IG (Retd) CRPF.
Hey! Say what you want to. Please Like, Share and/or drop a Comment below!