We landed on a Tuesday around 8.00pm in Hong Kong from Bali. So by the time we arrived at our hotel (Ovolo Central) on Hong Kong island following our taxi driver getting lost(!) and checked in it was almost 11.00pm – far too late to go out for drinks and dinner, right? Wrong! Our first and lasting impression of Hong Kong is that it is a party town where money talks and expats love. We left our hotel to forage for food to be greeted by hoards of drunken people still suited and booted following a day in the office. Working in an office myself the thought of going out and getting hammered then having to drag my sorry backside into work the next day is something I cannot comprehend. However, and this may be a generalisation, but it seemed the norm here! Take away food found, we headed home. Needless to say I was genuinely worried about our time in Hong Kong. Mr ESLT and I can drink with the best of them however I hadn’t travelled 12 hours from the UK just to get drunk, I wanted to see some culture and history too.
So the next morning, we eagerly hurried out into the streets, that only a few hours had been littered with drunk people. The only thing littering the streets now were the empty boxes that had previously held bottles of champagne which were piled neatly waiting for the bin wagons. We hit the streets and headed towards down to Queens Road which is one of the busiest, high-end, shopping streets on Hong Kong Island passing a number of street markets on the way. We had tickets for the Big Bus Tour hop on, hop off bus and according to the map on their website there is a stop near the mid level escalators on Queens Road. Although even after walking up and down the long road what felt like a hundred time in the October humidity we still couldn’t find it and instead simply had to flag it down when it passed.
We felt that the hop on, hop off bus was the best option for us as we wanted to explore as much of Hong Kong as we could in the 3 days we were in the city. So armed with our 48 hour ticket and route map we formulated a plan on how to maximise our time.
Day 1: we hopped off at the Star Ferry terminal 7 and caught the ferry from Hong Kong island to Kowloon. Just crossing Victoria Harbour was an experience in itself. With skyscrapers on both sides of the harbour the views from the ferry are magnificent. Once in Kowloon, we jumped back on the bus which took us down Nathan Road which is a popular shopping street as it is home to a number of shopping centres. We jumped off at the Sky100 which is the tallest observation deck in Hong Kong standing at 393 metres above sea level. Here we had afternoon tea which I had pre booked via viator before our visit. We spent a good 90 minutes here enjoying our lunch and looking out over Hong Kong below us. Our next stop was back near the Star Ferry Pier and had a quick look around the Harbour City which is Hong Kong’s largest shopping mail. We had our eyes open for bargains but to be honest the prices are near enough the same as in England. We took the ferry back across Victoria Harbour, hopped back on the bus and sat and listened to the very informative commentary as we were driven through the streets of Hong Kong island at rush hour. It was then we realised that there was actually a bus stop right behind our hotel.
Day 2: Today we jumped on the bus and headed straight for Victoria Peak which is a mountain on the west side of Hong Kong island. When we arrived the queue was already a couple of hundred people long! We had just joined the back of it when a Big Bus rep came over to us and explained that our ticket allowed us to queue jump. Who were we to disagree. We therefore took the tram to the top and spent a couple of hours up there admiring the view, snapping pictures and enjoying lunch. After we took the tram down we jumped back on the bus and headed to Stanley. Here you can relax on the beach or check out the market. This area is a lot more chilled out then the water side area of Hong Kong island and Kowloon. we then hopped off to take a pleasurable sampan (small wooden chinese boat) ride from Aberdeen Harbour around people’s house boats and the giant floating restaurant. Our last stop of the day was back at the Star Ferry Terminal where we had a wander round the Hong Kong Maritime Museum which is right next door. That evening we then took the evening bus tour which picked us up from Star Ferry Terminal and took us under Victoria Harbour and through the busy, neon lit streets of Kowloon.
Day 3: Our last full day in the city, we decided that we wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle. So we headed down to Hong Kong Station and jumped on the train to Tung Sung. We then got the cable car from Tung Sung to Ngong Ping, Lantau Island. I advise buying your cable car tickets in advance as we spent over 2 hours here queuing to get ours. Once on Lantau we enjoyed a nice lunch of chicken and noodles at one of the many restaurants. The main attraction of Lantau Island is the Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha) which you can see as soon as you get close enough to the island. I would also advise climbing the 268 steps up to the buddha before lunch!
Our time in Hong Kong was short but very sweet. From above it reminded me of New York and from the ground it has similarities to London. It is evident that it was a British colony (followed by 100 year lease). Even as we left the airport it felt like we were driving on a motorway in England. All the signs appear to be the same and they are written in both English and Chinese. Although everything english was of course juxtaposed with Chinese culture including street markets and restaurants. It truly felt like a place where East meets West. If it hadn’t been for the hot weather there were times I genuinely felt like I was walking through a British city.
Our Big Bus Tour included:-
– See Stanley, Kowloon and Hong Kong Island
– Ticket is valid on all routes
– Recorded commentary in a choice of 10 languages
– Free Peak Tram Sky Pass or Sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck entry
– Free Star Ferry
– Free Sampan Ride
– Free admission to Hong Kong Maritime Museum
– Free rewards booklet
– Free phone app