Photo by Lucas Vallecillos
Hong Kong has long been known as an international city; one where east meets west and cultures collide with an energy that never lets up. Whether visiting for a day or a week, there’s so many things to do and see in Hong Kong.
For the first-timer Hong Kong can be a little confusing: as with any big city there are a few traps for the traveler that will soon see you spending lots of money or getting ripped off and ending up taking home a ‘Guggi’ handbag and thinking you got a bargain.
So, to beat the tourist traps and make the most of your time in the city, here’s 5 travel hacks to make the best of your stay in Hong Kong.
1. A mansion is not a mansion in the literal sense
Hong Kong accommodation can be expensive. If you're looking to book somewhere cheaper you'll find lots of cheap little hotels, guesthouses and hostels located in “mansions”.
Built in the 1960s to house Hong Kong’s middle class city workers, the mansions don't resemble anything you're imagining when you read the word.
An authentic part of city life but of varying quality, the mansions are an excellent budget option but check out reviews before booking.
These days Hong Kong has some great hostels too. Check out Hesou Hostel and Urban Pack.
2. Google maps is not your friend in Hong Kong
At first I thought it was just me, but after being told by a number of people it was happening to them too, I realized that Google Maps has limited use amongst the sky scrapers in Hong Kong.
Make sure you take a paper map, just in case, or Google may let you down.
3. Search out the parks
For a city with so many high-rise buildings, Hong Kong has a surprising number of green spaces.
For a wonderful (and free) experience, check out the parks and escape the madness of the streets. Hong Kong’s Botanical Gardens provide a backdrop to the city skyline and a peaceful refuge for the weary wanderer.
Kowloon Park in Tsim Sha Tsui and the Kowloon Walled City Park are similarly beautiful (and peaceful) spots.
4. Public transport is king
Buy an Octopus Card at the airport ($150 HKD with $100 HKD credit) and take the Airport Bus (A) downtown for a third of the price of the Express Train.
Hong Kong’s MTR, buses and ferry services all use the Octopus and are a cheap and easy way to get around the city.
5. Get out and about early
Not only is it nice to watch the city wake up but getting out and about early will ensure you get to the tourist sites before the crowds.
Hint: if you're planning to see the Tian Tan Buddha (aka 'The Big Buddha), get up early and catch the MTR to Lantau Island.
You can catch the local bus up to the Buddha before the first of the Cable Car riders arrives.
The Big Buddha opens at 10am and the first cable car doesn’t leave until then: so you've got 30 minutes to spend all but alone, before the crowds arrive.
Learn more about Hong Kong: read TRVL's Hong Kong city and neighbourhood guide.
Want more from Julie? Check out her website, A Not So Young Woman Abroad.