I remember it like it was yesterday! We were about to embark on a trip of a lifetime- 4 months not stop travelling and there we were, in the middle of Heathrow Terminal 3 with our cases, our passports and feeling super excited. Hong Kong was our first stop and we were flying with Cathay Pacific who I think are a lovely airline to fly with!
Our flight was slightly delayed and when we were told the reason why, the realisation of where we were going hit us. A very strong typhoon had swept across Hong Kong leaving no flights coming in or out until it had passed. Once the delay was over, we embarked our flight, I fell asleep as I normally do on planes and we were there after a good 9 hours or so. I remember walking through the airport and seeing so many Chinese signs and not having a clue where we we going but I guess that’s part of the suspense!
Airport to Central Hong Kong
We read a few different ways of transportation to Hong Kong itself but on a budget and wanting the easiest way, we followed clear signs to the bus stops just outside the airport. We caught the number 33 city bus to Hung Hom Station and one thing to remember is that you need exact change for the buses as the drivers don’t offer change. The journey was approx 30 minutes and the views were good from the bus also!
Bridal Tea House- Hung Hom-Winslow Street
So we stayed at a very small hotel called Bridal Tea House. There are a few of these hotels parked around Hong Kong however we chose this one as it had good links close by from Hung Hom station. We booked this hotel through STA travel and we knew it would be a question mark hotel (could go either way!) as it had mixed reviews but it fitted in nicely with our budget so we went for it. Upon arrival, we had a few issues conversing with the receptionist as they didn’t speak much English but with a bit of body language, we got there in the end. The rooms were very small for two people as were the beds and the bathroom- we were there for a few nights so it wasn’t too bad.
Things to do!
Light Show: We walked from our hotel down to the Harbour to get a view of the skyline and it was impressive! We were staying on the opposite side to Hong Kong Island, across the river so we used to catch the ferry across the water when needed. We watched the light show which is scheduled at night time where all the lights on the buildings change colour and Hong Kong turns into a rainbow type effect- this was really fun to see but can often get crowded so I’d advise getting there early.
Hop on hop off bus: Before travelling, I always thought these were the cheesiest things however for travelling, they were the best way to see a city! It gave us the best views of Hong Kong from a double decker bus which you wouldn’t be able to see from the ground. It was ideal for us as we mostly jumped on from the bus stop next to the ferry and then got off at different temples etc. Definitely recommend using it even just for 24 hours if you have a short trip like we did. We went with Big Bus Tours who id definitely use again.
The Peak: so there’s a cool tram that goes up the hills at a steep gradient and you get wonderful views of Hong Kong Island plus the river if you’re lucky enough to get a clear day. I’d definitely recommend looking at the weather ought as a foggy day would ruin this for you. There are some restaurants and cafes up at the top if you fancied lunch with a view. Victoria peak is a must for any tourist. You can get there via the bus tour which drops you off outside!
Lantau Island: this was definitely my favourite place to visit in Hong Kong. Lantau island is where Po Lin Monastery and the Big Bhudda which is where you will have seen many a photo taken before. Po Lin Monastery is absolutely beautiful and surrounded by wonderful flowers and if you’re lucky enough you may see some monks in there also. The Big Bhudda is formally known as Tian Tian Bhudda and is situated on top of a hill, accessible by climbing 268 steps. May not sound many but at a steep gradient and in the heat and humidity that Hong Kong is known for- I’d take some water! You can get to Lantau via the Ngong Ping 360 cable car which looked amazing but sadly was out of order on the days we went so we used the replacement buses instead. Either way, you’ll see beautiful scenery on the way there and will then be surrounded by real Hong Kong culture which is an unforgettable experience!
- If you’re on a budget, Kowloon area is absolutely fine and has some cheaper options there however if you can afford the stay on Hong Kong Island then there were some beautiful hotels which I’m sure would provide a more luxurious stay.
- For foodies- there’s lots of Chinese restaurants and market stalls if you’re wanting more local cuisine however for any westerners who love their home comforts, there is a big shopping mall at the end of the promenade on the opposite side to HK island where you’ll find more westernised food and even a Pizza Express!
- Don’t forget- no change on the buses so try and have the exact money where possible.
- If you go in the summer or during typhoon season then be prepared for the insane humidity! My clothes were soaking within the hour so lots of water, a raincoat and comfy shoes are needed!
- There are some great markets you can visit to try local food or pick up local goods also.
- Don’t assume that everyone speaks English, they don’t. Learn some new phrases where possible to help you.
- Take some tissues or wet wipes with you especially on Lantau island- the toilets aren’t what we know as toilets and although a great cultural experience, you still want to keep yourself clean!