After visiting Bali (more about that destination in the future!) we were able to make a stopover in Hong Kong on our return home. This is a fantastic way to add another city to your travel itinerary. Check when you book flights to your final destination to see if this is possible at a place where your connection is. Hong Kong is a bustling, crowded, vibrant city with so much to offer that I found it hard to decide what to do next. Luckily we had a list of must-sees.
We stayed 5 nights, which gave us lots of time to explore Hong Kong as well as some sites outside of the city. We arrived late at the airport and had prebooked a bus to our hotel. First piece of advice…if there is more than two people a taxi is worth the cost! We had to wait for the bus and then of course it made multiple stops so getting to our hotel took quite awhile. Our hotel was in the Mong Kok area of Kowloon which is close to lots of markets and is also convenient to MTR stations.
Our first morning we got our Octopus pass from the MTR station close to where we were staying and made our way to the Star Ferry ticket counter to get our 48 Hour Hop-On Hop-Off Bus tickets. Second piece of advice…Hong Kong is big and there are lots of different neighbourhoods to check out. Luckily Hong Kong has an amazing transportation system and the Octopus Card is the perfect thing to use for travel on the MTR, the ferries, and the buses, as well as travelling on the Star Ferry and going up the Victoria Peak tram. We got the On-Loan card and when you leave you are refunded any unused portion. This first day we decided to check out Ocean Park so we rode the Star Ferry across to Hong Kong Island and then got on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus to get us there.
If you plan to travel to Ocean Park get there early and avoid the long line ups that happen later in the day. We didn’t spend a lot of time there as the weather turned ugly on us, but we saw the pandas (Yay!) and rode the tram.
We then got back on the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus and rode around Repulse Bay, Stanley, and Aberdeen before stopping for a ride up Victoria Peak. Again be prepared for line ups. The views at the top are fantastic, but again because of the clouds we didn’t get the pictures we would have liked.
We took the bus down to the Star Ferry and then after taking the ferry back across to Kowloon we walked along the waterfront of Victoria Harbour and saw the evening light show that happens. Looking back across at Hong Kong Island with the buildings all lit up with different colours and designs was one of the highlights of the trip here.
Our second day we wanted to explore a bit more of Hong Kong Island so we got the MTR there and then rode the mid-level escalators which was so much fun! We got off at Hollywood Road and walked to Man Mo Temple. This temple is one of the oldest temples in Hong Kong and is a feast for the senses. The smell of incense, the red candles, the dim lighting and the silence, all create a feeling of calm in the middle of this busy city.
After some lunch we headed back to the Mong Kok area and wandered around the markets there. Later that evening we took the night tour that was included in the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus ticket and then walked along the Avenue of the Stars.
Our third day we actually got out of Hong Kong and went to Macau. You can buy tickets at the China Ferry Terminal and we opted for the TurboJet which cost a bit more but was super comfortable! It takes about an hour and you go by lots of little islands to get there. I love being on the water and enjoy seeing an area from this different perspective. In Macau we took a bus to the downtown area and then found our way to the Ruins of St. Paul.
Third piece of advice…study your map very carefully in Macau…English is not widely spoken here and the two languages of Portuguese and Mandarin are mainly used. We found ourselves getting turned around a number of times and unsure of which way we needed to go to get back to the ferry terminal by bus. The ruins are pretty impressive and it was nice to get out of the city for the day. Don’t forget to eat an egg tart!! (or two).
For our fourth and final day in Hong Kong we had booked the Ngong Ping cable car to take us to Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island. We had prebooked the crystal car one way with the standard car return. I would highly recommend prebooking, and taking the crystal car with its glass bottom was a lot of fun! Once again we used the MTR to get us out to Tung Chung Station where the Ngong Ping cable car station is. The ride to Lantau Island is amazing…you travel over the water and then above the treed areas on the hill. There are great views of the airport and the surrounding area.
I was really looking forward to seeing the “Big Buddha” and it did not disappoint!! First things first though….dim sum! We actually hadn’t had dim sum yet on our trip to Hong Kong and now was the perfect opportunity…barbeque port bun, taro spring rolls, coconut bun, mango pudding…soooo yummy!
Now we were ready to walk up the stairs to the top. What a beautiful site this is! The size of Tian Tan is immense and I felt humbled just being so close to it. I would say don’t miss this sidetrip if you can find the time to travel out here!
After our journey to Lantau Island it was time to head back to the Mong Kok area and check out Langham Place Mall and do some last minute shopping at the Ladies Market. Now to pack it all in our bags for our flight back home to Canada. It had been quite the adventure!