Have a very long layover in Hong Kong on your way to another country? Why not extend your layover into a couple of days and take advantage of some of what Hong Kong has to offer.
All year I thought about it – what should I do to celebrate living a quarter of a century? 25 years is not a long time but it is not a short time either! So, I had worked out, in my head, that I would go to Bali and Singapore and perhaps re-visit Thailand. I visited Thailand last year en route to India as a volunteer working with children (more on that at another time).
Once I realized that I would have a long layover in Hong Kong on my way to Bali, I extended my layover so I could spend 3.5 days in Hong Kong as part of my 25th Birthday Trip Extravaganza – Hong Kong, Bali, Singapore, Thailand & New York!
Hong Kong did not disappoint – but, I will let you be the judge of that.
We left Bermuda at 8:35am (ish) to New York. After a five hour layover, we boarded Cathay Pacific for what would be a 16 hour flight arriving in Hong Kong at 6:10pm, the next day.
I would definitely fly this airline again but I do suggest for such a long flight, you should fly at least Premium Economy. The extra legroom and a chair that reclines is definitely worth the extra dollars. However, if you are sitting in Premium Economy, make sure you are not sitting in the last row, by the divider between economy and premium, the chair does not recline as much and you will end up with someone sitting in your lap once they recline fully.
The flight was great and the weather cooperated. For most of the flight I did not even feel that I was in the air. Time went by quickly, great movies to choose from and excellent service. The only downside of being in the air for that long is that you cannot pull-over and buy some food at your favourite fast food spot and neither can you call and have food delivered…I will be working on that “invention” shortly lol.
There is about 5 hours or so between your last meal and when you land and boy the hunger pangs…the growling in my belly, my stomach definitely started speaking to me. If you are like me….1) always hungry and 2) spending most of the flying time watching movies instead of sleeping, you are going to get very hungry.
They do offer snacks such as apples, granola bar and yes, the ‘great ole cup of noodles’…however, I was not happy with the choice of cup of noodles available. After all, they knew that I am vegan – they fed me two vegan meals so why are there no vegetable cup of noodles? My fellow vegans on flight must have suffered like I did until we found the dark chocolate. Vegans – here is a warning – take your own snacks…just in case the airline forget about you when it comes to the cup of noodles!
Kew Green Hotel
After departing the airport and taking in the sights on our way into the city we arrived at our hotel, Kew Green Hotel. The hotel is beautiful and the location is great. The MRT station is a 2 minute walk and Starbucks is about a minute away as well. The area also has loads of restaurants, spas, bars/pubs (there was an English Football game on so every bar/pub was full with locals, expats and visitors alike cheering on their favourite teams.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay while in Hong Kong, I definitely recommend this hotel. Check the website for more information http://www.kewgreenhotelwanchai.com
Transportation – Mass Rapit Transit – “MRT”
This is the by far the easiest way to get around the city. I was a bit skeptical at first but all my fears were quickly dismissed once I realised how easy it was to navigate. The MRT is far cheaper than a cab and I recommend this as your way of travel.
Big Bus Tour
We booked a Big Bus Tour, which included a night tour, Star Ferry Ride and Victoria Peak & Tram. This tour included a lot of things that we wanted to see without the hassle of doing separate tours.
View from the MRT to Big Bus Station
The Peak & Tram
Victoria Peak is easily the most popular attraction in Hong Kong. The peak looks over the city with a 360 degrees view and great photo opportunities. We took the Tram up to the top, which was a fun experience, but there are other ways to get to the peak. There are cafes, jewelry stores, restaurants and a wonderful place for shopping at the top. You will be easily entertained for hours.
Star Ferry Cruise (Sunset)
View of the sunset from our Star Ferry ride
Star Ferry, a famous passenger ferry service operator and tourist attraction, has been carrying passengers across Victoria Harbour, between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsular, since 1888. Although there are now many ways to get across the Harbour, I really loved taking the Ferry and did I mention its only $2 HKD ($0.25, yes it only cost a quarter if you want to do it separate from the Big Bus Tour). The stunning view you will enjoy from the ferry and the ocean breeze is a welcoming change. We took the ferry around 5:15pm which was perfect timing to catch the sunset.
Night Tour Bus
We made it back from the ferry just in time to make the Night Tour Bus. Seeing Hong Kong at night is amazingly beautiful. And, being on the night tour bus was a very nice break from being on our feet all day. We hopped off at Temple Market to do some shopping.
Okay, so I was not very impressed with this market. There were a few good items. I was able to purchase a small back pack to carry around for our day to day travels but other than that, I was not really impressed.
I was expecting a better variety – more like what I found at the street market on Khao San Road in Thailand or at the incomparable markets in India last year. However, if you have never been to an Asian Street Market, I do recommend that you go whenever you have the opportunity, even if just for the experience.
Remember whilst at a market:
- Haggle, haggle, haggle or in other words, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate “hard’!
- Arrive early– in most places, an “early sale/ first sale” is considered lucky and therefore they are more likely to give you a better price.
- Be prepared– cash in hand – I recommend having small bills. Haggling with a big bill suggest that you have enough to pay – is my thought so I always have small bills.
- Shop responsibly– remember that a lot of the stalls will have the exact same thing as the one before, so shop around for the best price – don’t buy the first thing you see, take your time to explore a few stalls before you make your decision.
- Make it fun– have fun, play the game – Haggling prices can be fun and you should approach it that way. The local vendors enjoy the negotiation as well, so take a deep breath and enjoy your market shopping time.
If you have ever been to Asia, then you know what I mean. Massages are available all over the city and are very reasonable – some places very cheap. I challenge you to indulge yourself with some sort of relaxation every day – after all, what are vacations for, if not to eat, tour, and relax?
We were blessed with having a great massage place around the corner from our hotel and the plus was that it was open till midnight. Sometimes they stayed open a little later to accommodate us. So every night after returning from an exhausting but wonderful day of exploring the city/sights, we would make a stop for an hour of reflexology – sometimes one-hour body and a half hour foot massage. Our bodies have never been so pampered – how are we going to maintain caring for our bodies when we get back home was always the conversation while walking to our hotel. Today was a great day and a massage was a wonderful way to say good night to our bodies. It was a wonderful way to end each day!
Big Buhdda – A favorite of those visiting Hong Kong! But first, a long relaxing ride up via a 360 Crystal Cable Car.
Getting to Ngong Ping Village to see the Hong Kong Big Buddha with the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car is in itself an attraction and definitely the recommended way to get to the site of the Big Buddha. I suggest getting one of the all glass cable cars – yes, the one with the glass sides and glass bottom for a breathtaking panoramic view from all 360 degrees.
View from the Cable Car
The view from the cable car, Asia’s longest bi-able ropeway, is spectacular! The cable cars with crystal bottom provide a clear view of the forestry at your feet, the sides 360 degrees allow you to see the spectacular view all around – a treat for your eyes and that of your camera lens – the never ending blue sky and the vast ocean from the crystal 360 cable car was astounding. Imagine the beautiful pictures – a bird’s eye view!
The Big Buddha
Hong Kong Big Buddha – the world renowned outdoor seated bronze Buddha statue is one of the largest seated Buddha statues in the world. At 34 meters high (112 feet), 30 square metres, and weighing 250 tonnes (how did they weigh it…lol) is one of Hong Kong’s most popular sights. Tian Tan, as the Big Buddha is known, is made of bronze and sits on a three-storey pedestal. It is a staple of Hong Kong and one of the “must see” when you go. However, I must warn you – it is at least 260 steps to reach the top.
.Disneyland Hong Kong – Our Hong Kong Finale!
If you know me then you know I love all things Disney, a Disney fanatic some would say!It has always been my dream to travel to every Disney location. So far, I have visited Disney World (multiple times), DisneyLand Paris and now DisneyLand Hong Kong!
Of course it just had to be raining the morning of our DisneyLand excursion but I refused to let a little water stop me. I was determined to make it to Lantau Island. I have to see what DisneyLand would be like in an Asian setting and of course I get to check another DisneyLand off my list.
So we set out…and we made it!
The benefits of visiting in off season paid off. Although there were more people there than I expected, maneuvering through the crowd was not too bad. All rides and shows had a 5-10minute wait which allowed us to do everything we wanted without waiting in long lines.
MUST SEE: Festival of The Lion King
This is one of my favorite shows whenever I visit Animal Kingdom at Disney World (Florida)! It is always an exceptional show and so I had to see how Hong Kong Disney’s rendition compared. The magical special effects and the fire dancers actually light up the set as we joined the crowd in the many sing along and yes, we sang all the Lion King Favorites like the Circle of Life, Can You Feel The Love Tonight and Hakuna Matata! Although a spectacular show, I am putting this at 3rd place on my list of best Lion King Shows. As you may recall, I saw Lion King on Broadway a few weeks ago and it has maintained 2nd position. The show is worth seeing -You will definitely enjoy it – Hakuna Matata Hong Kong style!
Final Tips for your trip
- Visit Victoria Peak
- Take the MRT (Subway)
- Victoria Peak & Tram Ride
- Big Buddha & Crystal Cable Car
- Carry an umbrella
- Taxies are cheap – make sure it’s on the meter
- Take the Star Ferry at Sunset or later at night where you can see the lights from building against the shoreline – you may just catch an awesome sunset.
If you have traveled to Hong Kong before let me know some of your favorites or send your comments. If you have Hong Kong on your “to go list” of places to visit and have any questions, please feel free to email me and I will be happy to provide you with more information.
See you later …(再見)