Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Travel Tips: Activities, Street Food & More

Hong Kong is, without a doubt, a whirlwind of a place. Just a short ferry ride from Macau, this metropolis is exactly what you imagined, and more. But despite the skyscrapers, traffic, people and the generally high-energy vibe, it’s incredibly easy to navigate this bustling city at a relaxing pace and without spending a fortune. Not sure how to get started? Get some inspiration from these Hong Kong travel tips and guide!

Victoria Peak – Hong Kong’s Finest View

That being said, however, going up to Victoria Peak to check out the amazing view of the city is a must – even though it’s probably the most touristy thing you can do. On the other hand, if you’ve got the time and the stamina, you could also hike up! Not sure if I would recommend that, given how hot and humid it can get, but hey – there’s people for everything, as they say.

Hong Kong from the Peak

As far as the tram ride for the non-faint of heart goes, you should get your tickets at the latest by early afternoon, otherwise it will get too crowded and you will have to wait about 2 hours to get on. We were originally planning on going up at around 3.30 or 4, but we were happy that we decided to go at 2 pm because at later the line was so long it extended across the street and there was a mass of people crammed under the overpass next to the road. (And yes, it’s like this, or worse, every day.)

This wasn't even the busy time of day.
This wasn’t even the busy time of day.

On the other hand, the tram is cheap: 40 HK dollars for a round trip, (so approx. 4 euro per person) and the actual ride is relatively fast. It’s all very well organized, so you will be able to have a seat, which is nice when you’re at a 45-degree incline.

Hong Kong at Night

The city started lighting up as we were walking to the waterfront. Pictures do it little justice, but I tried my best. We took some shots from an elevated sidewalk – which is a great way to avoid having to cross any of the busy HK roads.
Busy Hong Kong street at night

We got some food from street vendors near one of the busy metro stations. All the stands were full and everything was in Chinese, so, in true ignorant tourist fashion, we had to ask in English what each thing was. That didn’t really help much, so we just pointed at something that was not cow stomach lining and went with that.

Hong Kong street food

Nighly Hong Kong Skyline Light Show

Another activity which does not cost a thing (except for the metro fare) is the light show projected onto the skyline of the two main islands. To view it in all its glory, you’ve got to hop on the metro to Kowloon and find yourself a cozy spot at the waterfront.
Hong Kong Island from the convention center

However, if you’re more antisocial you can also stay on the main island and view the lights from the other side, in Kowloon. It’s a lot less spectacular, though.

Hong Kong Island and Kowloon

SoHo and Beyond: Hong Kong Travel Tips on a Budget

Another area to explore in HK is Soho, so we took the (supposedly) longest escalator in the world to get there. I have to say I was rather disappointed by this “escalator” because a) this is actually just a moving sidewalk going uphill, and 2) yes, the hill is long, but the escalator is divided up into sections with exits – so it hardly qualifies as the longest in my book.

In any case, you’ll be flooded with lights, food and drink offers, and fancy expat establishments as soon as you step on the incline travellator. The drinks and dinner prices were rather steep, with expat craft bars advertising beers for the equivalent of 10 euro. No, thanks!

Instead, we opted for a street kitchen off to the side: a set of metal huts with each offering its own menu, while a giant bottle of Tsingtao will set you back a euro fifty. All in all we paid around 5 euro for two dishes and a beer – can’t complain.

A street kitchen in SoHo, where sweaty tourists and dudes in suits dine side by side :D
Where sweaty tourists and dudes in suits dine side by side 😀

Yes, the plastic chairs and tables don’t seem mega comfortable, but we were not here to lounge. At the same time, the food was fresh and tasty, and, judging by the clientele, including 1,000-dollar Armani suit-wearing locals, this place seemed to be somewhat of a hidden gem.

Nan Liam Garden and Nunnery – Pure Tranquility

We also visited the Nan Liam Garden and the Chi Lin Nunnery on the Kowloon side (closest MTR stop is Diamond Hill). Both sites are visually stunning, but unfortunately the garden had a lot of construction going on, so we had to work around that. Neverthless, if you’d like to take some downtime and prefer a more immersive experience of slow travel, I’d recommend visiting this or one of the many other gardens and parks around Hong Kong.

Nice backdrop :P
Nice backdrop 😛

The nunnery is connected to the garden by a bridge. It is a complex of Buddhist temples where you can visit several shrines and learn a bit about the different deities. Taking pictures of the actual Buddha statutes is prohobited, so I stuck to general views of the temples and the courtyard – which is gorgeous!

Buddhist temples at Cin Li Nunnery

Before we headed back to Macau, we had a look at the city Hong Kong Island from the Kowloon side – check out the skyline at night!

Hong Kong Skyline at night

Hong Kong Travel Tips on Getting Around

In general, we enjoyed the time in HK, but it IS a very crowded and hectic city and it DOES NOT STOP. If you have pockets that never end – the shopping here is amazing, and there are a lot of sites to visit. The metro system in HK is brilliant too – the prices range from 2.30 HKD to about 15 HKD (yes, you read that right – 23 cents to 1.50), it is awesomely organized (so you won’t get lost), AND you get to ride a two-story streetcar, which I found fantastic (and it’s actually a great way to see many of the busy HK Island areas). Investing in an Octopus Card is recommended – this will lower your fares and is a lot less cumbersome than fumbling around with a ticket machine. Once you don’t need it, you can return the card and receive all your leftover prepaid fare back.

Double-decker trams!
Double-decker trams!

I’d say a couple of days here is enough, unless you’re looking to blow all your hard-earned cash on that Gucci and Prada. Nevertheless, the city lends itself to both high-octane spending type of travel, as well as to budget travel. It’s all about knowing where to look. I hope you’ve found this Hong Kong travel tips helpful. If not, get in touch in the comment section below if we’ve missed a vital hightlight that should be mentioned!

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