Hong Kong is one of those places that I’ve never particularly thought about going to. This is probably because of how I naively pictured it in my head; crowed, noisy, humid and polluted (although I have probably just described London to you minus the humidity). I was glad however, that I was proved wrong when I arrived at the penultimate destination of my three month travel, to the former British colony.
After doing some research, my boyfriend and I decided to situate ourselves at the Hotel-Icon, which is located in the city centre Tsim Sha Tsui. This is a great location to access the multitude of sites that Hong Kong has to offer. I would highly recommend this hotel; modern and super stylish, great food, the BEST breakfast spread ever, staff that speak fluent english and know what the hell they are doing. That might be something to do with this hotel being the School of Hotel and Tourism Management, where standards are set.
After running into some bad weather, our luck changed when we arrived in Hong Kong as the climate was on point. Gloriously warm and sunny with temperatures in the high 20C (thats around 80F for those of you is the US), but a lot more cooler in the evenings where a lightweight jacket is enough to keep the breeze off of you. Because we only had 4 days in Hong Kong, we had to plan our itinery well to ensure that we got to see as much of it as we could but also have the time to relax and really enjoy our time there.
Being at the Icon, we were lucky enough to have a view of Victoria Harbour as it was literally a stone’s throw away. So rather than just taking the ferry to cross to the other side from Kowloon, we did the hour long tour to see the entire harbour and it’s sites in all of it’s glory. At around £7 per person, this was deal of the century! I think it was at this point where we took the most photos of our trip and who could blame us. The Hong Kong skyline is beautiful and I think we went at the most perfect time of year (early October) as skies were blue, with the waters glistening from the reflection of the sun, and just a gentle breeze in the air.
After we arrived safely back to dry land, we took a leisurely stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade which lead us straight to the Avenue of the Stars. This is the equivalent to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and is set alongside the aforementioned harbour. Now I wasn’t too fussed about doing this as I didn’t recognise 99.9% of the star’s names who appeared engraved into the star paved walkway, however, it is a beautiful walk along the promenade in itself as it’s set against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s skyline. This is great if you want to see the skyline but don’t have a stomach to go onto the waters. Go in the evening if you want to catch the light show, ‘A Symphony of Lights’, where lights and laser beams synchronise to create a nightly performance to music and narration which celebrates the ‘energy, spirit and diversity of Hong Kong’. Don’t go out of your way though, my boyfriend and I were mildly disappointed and was glad that it was just a short walk from our hotel.
The next day we decided to take the ferry across to the other side and explore Victoria Peak. Now if there is one place I underestimated more than Hong Kong itself, it was here. Now, to get to the peak itself required a ‘small’, inexpensive journey via the Peak Tram. I say ‘small’ because it depends whether you have a stomach for heights. However, unlike the cable car journey we embarked in Langkawi, on this particular journey you remain rooted to the tracks (much to the relief of my boyfriend who has a slight fear of heights). This trip promised views across Hong Kong; of habours, skyscrapers and mountains that touched the sky, and boy it failed to disappoint. What I hadn’t expected was, that aside from soaking in the sights from one of the world’s most famous vantage points, there was a hell of a lot of things to do whilst up there. Hell there’s even a mall up there with plenty of shops ’til you drop and restaurants that caters for even the most fickle of tastebuds. If you’re a nature lover, you will be pleased to know that you can explore the more rural parts of the city that Hong Kong has to offer such as the Pok Fu Lam Country Park. Even walking around the winding paths whilst at the top was surprisingly quiet for such a big tourist attraction. I would not waste money on paying to go to the observation point at the very top as it is not much further up from the highest point that you are able to access for free. You can even enjoy the view whilst having a coffee directly beneath the observatory although it is behind a glass wall. We spent a good few hours here as the weather was great and it wasn’t too crowded so we made the most of it, stopping for a coffee in one place and then pizza for lunch at another. Apologies for not remembering the names but I’d give a thumbs up for both places. Oh, and how could I forget the freshly baked, custard tart with a choice of flakey filo or short crust pastry, which I picked up in one of the bakeries inside the mall. It was divine and really cheap!
If you fancy just immersing yourself into the culture, it’s so easy to navigate around the city. During the latter part of our stay, we just walked around the Tsim Sha Tsui area, popping into the odd shop and stopping to enjoy the food. There’s even a few parks dotted around the city and we ended up going to the closest one to us. Situated amongst the busy roads and between the soaring skyscrapers is Kowloon park. There’s a lake with ducks, swans, big, pink flamingos, and apparently around 100 wild bird species if you’re into a bit of casual bird watching. You will also find beautiful gardens homing exotic flora, the Maze Garden, and areas within the park exhibiting statues and sculptures otherwise known as the Sculpture Walk. We only saw a small part of the 33 acre park so it’s very easy to lose yourself for a few hours without even noticing.
There are so many other things to do in Hong Kong such as the Ladie’s Market in the evening if you fancy bagging yourself a bargain, but after a day of walking and site seeing, we had no energy after dinner on most nights to do much at all other than rest our sore legs. We barely scratched the surface with Hong Kong but we did do all the sites we wanted to do within our short stay. I thought it might be worth mentioning that the hotel was really good with helping us to arrange our day out, showing us the best routes to take, and the hotel itself also provides a shuttle bus service right into the centre which is only a short 5-10 minute ride away.
Next stop is our final stop…Japan. Stay tuned.