Hong Kong will forever have a special place in my heart as its the first trip I worked hard for, the first trip with friends and it involved Disney Land!
I spent around AED4500 inclusive of stay + flight. So now you would be wondering how on earth is that possible? since HKG is such a expensive place too!
Flight tickets: I put myself to an Emirates airlines buddy list!(If you have friends in EK, ask them to add you!) I traveled to HKG for AED1650 return. The buddy list advantage got me a very very cheap ticket deal!
Hotel stay: Hours of scrolling through booking,com and TripAdvisor, we got our hotel stay at Royal View Hotel in Tsuen Wan for a really good deal. I paid AED920/- in their Mountain View room (2 single beds) for 7 days with the best view! There’s a common notion that the hotel rooms in HKG are small and steeply priced. But thank God the rooms here were clean, beautiful and not cramped. We had complimentary breakfast everyday. I would recommend this hotel!
Sim card: The first thing I did in the airport was getting myself a local sim card. I got the 3HK 7-day data+ free local minutes offer for HKD88.
City travel: To get around the city its best to use the Octopus card (NOL card of HKG). You get access to Metros and buses! And when leaving HKG you even get a refund of HKD50 and the balance amount.
KLOOK: This website had literally the best money saving deals! I got all my attraction tickets from KLOOK for way cheaper than the actual ticket price. In HKG, KLOOK is promoted well too! In attractions like Ngong ping 360 and Victoria peak, they had a special counter for KLOOK ticket buyers!
Architecture: Hong Kong architecture is beautifully monotonous. You will also find some really cool tall buildings with modern designs. Some of the iconic buildings in Hong Kong are Bank of China, Jardine house, Jockey club etc.
Food, unfortunately for vegetarians/ vegans HKG is not really appealing! Buttt, there is a 7eleven in almost all the metro stations and you could pick up some fruits or veggies. Even for a meat eater like me, seeing pork blood as an ingredient in ramen bowl gave me sick gags! Buutt, the place is heaven for egg waffles, tarts, and pork buns! Beer is cheaper than water and sodas in HKG. LOL! There is a McDonald’s in almost every street so if you feel like HKG local food is too much or not of your taste you can always go to McD’s.
Listing down some of the must trys in HKG :
Must try street food :
Egg waffles: Not kidding, but this snack is super addictive. The crusty edges and the soft bubble waffle is very simple and tasty!
Ramen: Do i even need to mention this? The ramen in HKG range from ones with pigs blood (eeks) to ones with beef and eggs! Priced on an average of 80-100HKD, the bowls are pretty big and filling!
Dim sums: Hong Kong is known for its steamy and delicious dim sums. Maxims Palace at City Hall is best for dim sum lunch and requires prior reservation.
Egg tarts: Using a shortcrust crust, the pastry is crumbly and has smooth custard in the centre. Definitely a treat.
Pineapple bun: Found out that the name is because of its looks and not because it has any pineapple in it. Pillow soft bun with crunchy sugary top.
Fish balls: A non-veg snack, you’ll find this in almost every small eatery! There are 2 versions – fried and curry! I had the curry one, but the fried one is better as a snack on the go.
Moon Cakes: Every metros, every street and bakeries in HKG advertise about their special mooncakes. Mooncakes are typically eaten during the mid-autumn festival for good luck! You get different flavors like egg, coffee, matcha, green tea, with icing, without icing! Let me tell you its not priced cheap either. A box with 5 mooncakes costed about 250HKD and that is very expensive looking at its size. Thankfully I found a bakery selling single mooncakes and I got them! The oozy centre is surely a treat.
There are way too many iconic and tourist spots in HKG. I’m listing down the ones I went to and highly recommend :
Victoria Peak – The Peak Tram: If you want to capture the whole of HKG in all its glory, you have to visit the Victoria peak. The most scenic way to reach the peak is through the peak tram. The slow olden wooden tram going up the slope, suddenly the building are all slanting, its a fun optical illusion while going up the peak! I suggest going during the sunset time, the view is too beautiful! There is a light breeze which makes the moment perfect. Once the sun sets, you can see the beauty of HKG in the night. Beautiful lit buildings all vertically stacked.
Lantau Island Tian Tan Buddha: We took the Ngong Ping 360 crystal cable cars to reach the beautiful Lantau island where the Big Budhha sat. The cable car ride was absolutely beautiful as we were going above a blue waters as well as lush green forests. I’d highly suggest to take the crystal cable rather than the standard cable atleast one way to enjoy the journey! Once you reach, you climb up 268 steps to reach the Big Buddha and see it in all its glory. From the top you can also see nearby monasteries. The cable car costed HKD149 round trip booked from KLOOK.
Ocean Park: Please keep aside a whole day for Ocean park. Craziest theme park I’ve been to till date. The rides are extremely exciting and gets your adrenaline rush. They also have specific zones dedicated to dolphins,live seal shows and even pandas. Must try insane rides – Hair raiser, Flash, Rev Booster and the VR coaster. I had a complete ‘final destination’ moment while waiting to get in ‘flash’. The ride had a technical malfunction, we were told to get down and then they did a test run. Then we got on the ride and said our final prayers (LOL). The ride takes you complete 360degree. The tickets costed HKD403 from KLOOK. For Indian nationality (and a few other) you get drinks + onion rings/fries complimentary with your tickets.
Disney Land: One word – MAGICAL! Disney Land was such a surreal experience! The Disney music, the Disney characters come to life, the different parks, the rides..it was probably the best day ever! The indoor rides were amazing with special sound and laser effects. The ‘Mystic Manor’ and ‘Its a small world’ are such great indoor train rides! There is this particular roller coaster in ‘Grizzly Bear’ area which was super fun, its not so scary but its got unexpected twists which almost makes you wonder how its put in a children’s park (LOL, we had kids crying). The food courts also has a variety of dishes catering people of all nationalities.I got the cutest piggy pork buns and mickey waffles for lunch. The marvel 4D rides are extremely fun too! Unfortunately, due to unexpected rains the parades and fireworks were cancelled! *sigh* . I got the entry tickets from KLOOK for HKD537 (AED256)
Lamma Island: We took the ferry to reach this beautiful island. The ferry entrance is with your octopus cards. The island is known for its seafood, greenery and beginner level hiking. The island has two beautiful beaches and has a vegetarian cafe(a rarity in HKG). The south Sok Kwu Wan is filled with seafood local restaurants. Hiking towards the north, you’ll find more of global cuisines and so you find more foreigners in the North. Indulge in the sweet tofu dessert.
Yick Cheong Buildings: Take the metro to Tai Koo station, get out and walk for 5mins (Bonus : there’s a McDonald’s on the way, treat yourself to a mango ice cream) and you reach a very instagramable stunning building complex, you feel like you’re stuck inside a concrete jungle. Four sides surrounded by buildings. It’s one of the iconic photo spots in HKG and you’ll already find people there giving their best Instagram poses.
Macau: Well, this place is outside of HKG, so you will have to take a ferry to Macau. Since its inside Chinese boundary, you will have to go through immigration and passport check. PLEASE carry your PAR application while going to Macau. We ended up cancelling our Macau plans because of this. Macau is known for its casinos and cheese tarts. Take a hop on – hop off bus to explore Macau.
Shopping and Local eateries :
Ladies Market – Mong Kok: Famous shopping street in HKG. Buy all your souvenirs from this market. From magnets, key chains to chopsticks and pretty tea sets. You can find everything in the Ladies market. Having good bargaining skills is an added advantage. You also find good eateries giving egg waffles, french toasts etc.
Temple street market – Near Kowloon: Another market like ladies market. I would prefer shopping here less as the shopkeepers are not very open to bargaining.
Kowloon: All the big brands and small bargain deals in one place. You find H&M, Forever 21 and also shops that sell everything for HKD50, so I’m talking dresses and jumpsuits for AED25 (whaaattt). Kowloon corniche is also a very beautiful place to hang out.
Nathan Road: Famous for its eateries (even Indian food) and shopping centers. I would always suggest to try eating alone atleast one meal in a local eatery. That gives you a complete feel of being a local in the city. It was sort of hard since English is not widely spoken. So with my hand gestures and pointing at the menu I ordered food (LOL). It was a different experience. I asked a server in the food-stall to take the below picture –
Nightlife in Central station: During weekends Central is bustling with neon lights, wild music and party animals! Tourists and locals take the party to the streets too!
I interacted with a few youngsters in Hong Kong, they were really cool and easy-going. They are very helpful and gives us some local tips too! At this restaurant, we ordered for shrimps & oyster cheese rice and we weren’t sure if it was shrimp itself ( we couldn’t risk it for pork since I was with my Muslim friend). One of the staff, aged 19 told us politely that he was not very well versed with English, he proceeded to translate Chinese on his phone. The way the language is written is very interesting, hard and intricate. Such interactions added value to my travel experience.