By The Non Fiction Author
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So you have decided to go to Hong Kong! Has it been a place you have been dreaming to travel or one more recently and spontaneously decided? It does not matter, you have made a good choice. Get ready to have your world rocked, and in more than one way. Hong Kong is the epicenter of all things of some of our world’s most ancient past, temples and beautiful heritage, cuisine, shopping and much more. It is a city to open your eyes, ears, palate and soul in many directions, new and maybe even some revisited.
Outside of mainland China, the Hong Kong culture is one all of its own. It is where the East has met the West and signs of this are found in every neighborhood and almost on every street. Do not fret, there are still plenty of places where it has not been touched by Western culture and you can step into the past, far far, into the past.
Many come here to shop until they drop and if that is your goal then bring your best credit cards, because they are sure to get some use. Hong Kong is big on fashion and home to some of the top fashion houses and up-and-coming designers in the world. This city has everything for you types and history buffs.
You will not be able to get enough of Hong Kong and it is even so vast, that it might be impossible to experience all of it. This guide will help you get as much as you can. Just flip, read and peruse the following pages so that you can see all that is offered and what you can experience!
You have made it to Hong Kong, or at least you are on your way and you have already purchased your tickets. So why do a travel guide on just Hong Kong? Well, because it is that much of an attraction of large proportions in every way and it deserves to stand alone in a guide all of its own. If you have ever been to Asia, you know that it is unlike any culture or perhaps ‘world’ you have ever been. Its culture, language and history is unlike any of us know in the Western world and it draws millions upon millions of travelers each year. Hong Kong is not short of this either. If you are looking for a quiet, secluded vacation, then Hong Kong might not be your first choice, though you can still find your fair share of beach and island life within the city’s limits. If you come to Hong Kong, be prepared to have all of your senses awakened. There is no choice in the matter. It is busy, bustling, it is delicious and it is an urban adventure waiting for you!
You have arrived in China, but Hong Kong is a world apart. It has been titled as the World’s City of Asia. You cannot arrive here without a visit to Victoria Harbor. Head up the Empire State Building of Hong Kong at sky100 observation deck, the tallest building in the city and the International Commerce Center. An elevator will take you up 100 floors in sixty seconds flat where you can catch a 360 view of the harbor and city below. If you are heading to Kowloon or Hong Kong Island, then you have to take the Star Ferry.
There are endless sights, cultural centers and things to do that will make your Hong Kong vacation rank among the top of all your vacations, but if you come here, be sure to bring your appetite and sense of gastronomic adventure. From neighborhood to neighborhood, you will be offered some of the most amazing traditional foods from the street to the fanciest, upscale restaurant. The food itself should be given a chapter of its own, in fact, that is not a bad idea. Consider it done.
If you are looking for a place to forget all your cares in endless city lights, another culture, bars and nightclubs then this is your place. Hong Kong Central District has all the latest hot clubs and discos when you want to drink and dance the night away until the wee hours of the morning. If more low key nights are your thing, then lounge with your favorite cocktail and friends on any of the rooftop bars. In fact, just spending one evening on a rooftop bar should make your list. There are dives, there are pubs. Hong Kong has it all.
Iconic Hong Kong
Every country and certainly every major world city has its iconic pieces, neighborhoods and cultural aspects they are known by the world over. Hong Kong is not short of a few. Visit the Chuk Lam Monastery at the foot of the highest mountain in Hong Kong. Visit the New Territories where you can hike or bus up to the top of Tai Mo Shan in the of the Tai Mo Shan Country Park famous for its tea gardens were ‘cloud’ or ‘mist’ tea is cultivated. From here, you can experience the sweeping views of the New Territories below. Visit the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees where locals come to burn incense and hope their wishes might come true. Make your own wish here. Also in the New Territories, visit the 17th century Shui Tau Tsuen village where you visit the buildings which were constructed in 1685 in honor of Chou Yu-te and Wang Lai-jen whom plead with the Emperor ending the evacuation of the coastal areas so that the fight of the anti-Qing movement by the Ming Dynasty.
When you have been touring about all morning a lunch of proper Dim Sum offered in many of the neighborhoods will only do, where you can pick and choose and try a number of delectable Chinese bites. After lunch visit Peng Chau and take a step back in time when Hong Kong was a mere rural area. Visit the abandoned buildings of what were once workshops, theaters and temples.
If you love high fashion, you are in one of the mightiest couture capitals in the world where high fashion has reached pinnacle wealth and luxury. Bring a little extra money to treat yourself with a new bag, dress or beautiful shoes. Souvenir shopping does not always have to pertain to traditional trinkets.
For some people who travel to Hong Kong, some of the most unique experiences might be what you eat throughout the day. There is plenty of variety to go on the adventurous side each day you are there. However, Hong Kong offers a bit more offbeat things to do and venture into than the average hot tourist spots. As cuisine reigns supreme in this part of the world, you can actually have a visit to some places where it all comes from. Go visit the organic Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens. It is a perfect spot for all ages, especially if you are travelling with the kiddos to have delicious, fresh bites fresh right off the farm and visit their animal preserve. Visit a bee farm just ten minutes on the railway outside of downtown. Add to your adventures of hand-picking your food and go clamming at Shui Hau and get a mud treatment for your feet as you walk around in it digging for your dinner. Hike on the Olympic trail from Tung Chung to Mui Wo on Lantau Island and go through the various beautiful terrains from the sea to the mountains and visit ancient Chinese tombs, animals and more. If you want an inexpensive getaway with friends or the family, charter a boat and head to the beach areas and go island hopping from Sai Kung for more outdoor sites away from the urban chaos. There is much more as you might imagine, but those are just some ideas. In the chapters that follow you can expect to have much more information about many excursions and things you can do, just inside the realm of Hong Kong!
How to Use This Guide
You are invited to utilize this travel guide as both a reference in planning your trip to Hong Kong and one to have at hand throughout your travels. In the following chapters you will be informed on details from the very beginning stages of travel planning and further on with tips on where to eat, how to find a place to stay and even some travel itineraries specific on the length of your stay and for budgets of all kinds. This guide will give you a general idea of what you can expect in Hong Kong every aspect from activities, attractions and more. You can also utilize it as a sort of guide so that you might be able to make a ‘To Do/To See List’ and maybe a little extra ‘Wish List’
Chapter 2 which follows will start you out by helping you organize your travel before you travel. There are details on travel requirements, getting there and around. It will inform you about public transportation and how to get around efficiently and safely. The chapter continues with information about accommodations for the backpacker or luxury traveler and everything in between. Here is also where you will find examples of travel itineraries and another section with themed activities to guide you in planning your vacation from start to finish. It will also give you a brief description of Hong Kong and its regions and more.
Chapter 3 is the second half of Chapter 2 in order to assist you in planning your trip. Hong Kong is a large urban world and expenses come with traveling there. This section will help you in budgeting and organizing your money and give you information on what to expect in regards to local costs and ways you can save money.
The following chapters go into detail about the whole of Hong Kong. Each one is dedicated to one region of Hong Kong, as it is divided into four parts. These chapters will tell you the best way to reach them and then how to travel around once you get there. Some of these regions have interesting neighborhoods to see and visit, all of which will be talked about as well; their attractions, the best activities and where to stay and eat.
The very last chapter, Chapter 9 is not something you might see in every travel guide, but as you are going to be in Hong Kong, one of the top culinary capitals of the world, we only saw it suiting to dedicate an entire chapter to the food. It talks about street food from the traditional to the exotic, upscale dining and the best Chinese comfort food places to stop into. More so, this chapter will delve into a little of the history of Hong Kong’s food stuffs and talk about many dishes. We hope to excite your appetite for your travel as well! Do read on and enjoy.
Basic Travel Requirements
Before you purchase your ticket anywhere, there is always a small checklist of things to cover. If you are traveling abroad, some aspects that can almost take the fun out of planning your travel is the paperwork. Nonetheless, it needs to be accomplished. If you are traveling to Hong Kong, the first thing to check is if you need a visa. United States citizens need a visa to enter China. You can find further information and answers to common questions on this website, www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/faq/. For citizens of the UK, if you are only flying into Hong Kong and have a ticket leaving from Hong Kong, you will not need a visa, however to travel into mainland China, you will need to apply for a visa. Here is a website you can visit if you are from the UK and need visa information, .
Chances are, no matter where you are from in the Western world, you will need a visa to enter China. There are some exceptions if you are traveling to specifically Hong Kong and only within Hong Kong on group tours for up to 72 hours. There are also different and less strict requirements if you are only transiting through Hong Kong as a stop on your way to another destination. Many visitors who want to visit Hong Kong can only do so over one day or a couple days. If that is your case, then there is plenty of information online and easy access to applications for transit visas. All you need to prove is your flight in and out and the visa fees are minimal.
When planning a trip to Hong Kong, do check with your doctor to see if they might recommend any vaccines for your trip. The two main vaccines are recommended are Hepatitis A and typhoid. You can contract the two via food or water which have been contaminated. It is a good idea to have both, especially if you are an adventurous eater. It is best if you can have the vaccines administered a minimum of 6 weeks before your travel.
Getting to Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a destination put on many travelers’ bucket list and places to see. No matter where you are coming from in the world, it is very accessible and in more than one way.
The airport in Hong Kong (HKG), is a huge aviation hub serviced by over a hundred airlines that have connections to and from here from all around. The 24-hour airport is ranked one of the best in the world. There will be many options and times for you to travel to Hong Kong at your ideal price and ideal service. Getting to and from the airport of Hong Kong is some of the most convenient in the world. As soon as you arrive and get your luggage, you have direct access to buses, trains, taxis and hotel transportation. There are also shuttle buses that take you to access the high-speed ferries to get you to the mainland.
[***Easy Tip!*] When you are returning to the airport to leave Hong Kong, the city has an amazing service so you do not need to haul your luggage all the way to the airport with you. Of course, if you are traveling by car to return to the airport, then you will not need this. However, travel via car is often expensive and there is always a chance of getting caught in traffic. Traveling to the airport via train is often crowded as well and having bulky luggage even if you are a light packer is not easy.
To avoid all of this, there is an ‘in-town check in”. The MTR subway system has a separate line for airport travel only. You can check your luggage in town and carry on to the airport without the weight of your luggage. You can also check your bags earlier if you want to spend a few last hours in the city after you have checked out of your hotel and not have to schlep your bags around with you. Just take the 10am shuttle to one of the Airport Express stations (there are 2) and you can check your bags and get your boarding pass. You do not even need to get your bags when you arrive to the Hong Kong airport to check in to your flight. They will be sent to your gate and get on your plane and you will see them when you land. They are checked through and to your final destination! www.mtr.com.hk/en
If you have been visiting other parts of mainland China and you want to visit Hong Kong, you can even access the city via ferry from the airport, Macau, Zhongshan, the Pearl River Delta and Zhuhai. There are around three companies that have transport to Hong Kong via ferry: TurboJet, Chu Kong Passenger Transport (CKS) and Cotal Water Jet. You can book your ferry tickets easily online with each company. If it is your first time to Hong Kong, this is a nice way to enter the city and get a lovely view of this famous harbor.
Additionally, if you are travelling to Hong Kong from the mainland, there are trains to and from Shenzhen via the Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu checkpoints. You will need to pass through Hong Kong Immigration upon entry. There are also trains from other major cities in China from Beijing and Shanghai and the Guangdong province. You will get the ‘through-train’ at MTR Hung Hom Station in the Kowloon harbor area where you will need to pass through Hong Kong Immigration before continuing on into Hong Kong.
Getting Around Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a massive city center with over 7 million people. It is needless to say, that getting around on the roads and getting around in general might present a challenge. But if you are looking for an urban adventure, this is all part of it. Lucky for locals and tourists alike, there are plenty of options to get from here to there that are both efficient and affordable.
If you are pressed for time or you only have a few days to see Hong Kong, then the best and most efficient way to get about town and from district to district is via the MTR (There are also stops at the boundary with Mainland China at Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu stations). The only downside might just be the seeing the city as you travel as you would on the bus or tram.
There are 10 lines; West Rail, East Rail, Island, Tung Chung, Tseung Kwan o, Tsuen Wan, Kwun Tong, Ma On Shan, for Disneyland Resort and the Airport Express. There are also lines in the New Territories from Tuen Mun and Yuen Long and another service running to other major cities in China to the Mainland. www.hong-kong-travel.org/MTR
Tourist passes are available for one day for around $US7 for adults and under $US3 for children. This is a great pass to save money and is for unlimited travel (24-hours marked from the recorded entry time of the first journey) and is good for one month following the date of issue.
Throughout Hong Kong, minus a few more remote locations, there are plenty of taxis. You get one from the street, though there are some areas where this is restricted. It is best to have your hotel or accommodations call one for you or get in a taxi queue or taxi stand. All of them are air-conditioned, metered, clean and affordable. They are all strictly regulated and they are required to display an identity card on the dashboard. All passengers are required by law to wear a seatbelt if it is available. It is recommended to ask for a receipt. If the driver prints one out for you and the print is bad or the printer is not functioning, they are required to give you a handwritten one. If you suspect you are being overcharged or have other issues, get a receipt and copy down the name of the driver and the plate number. You can later contact someone to file a complaint.
There are various types of taxis and colors according to their region and there are even taxis specifically designed for passengers with special needs. Diamond Cab and SynCab are available for travellers with wheelchairs.
Buses & Minibuses
If you are on a more relaxed schedule and wish to see more of the city, the buses, especially the double-deckers are the best way to tour around and get to where you need to go. There are more than enough throughout the entire city that offer great views from the top deck. There are routes that cover almost all of the city including all the districts and on the islands The final stops are displayed in both Chinese and English on the front. The fares vary depending on the distance you travel and you will need exact change if you pay in cash. However, there is a more convenient option, the Octopus Card, which is explained very shortly that will make paying your fares much simpler.
The minibuses are smaller buses that have room for sixteen passengers. There are Red minibuses that do not operate on fixed routes and the passengers can get on and off when they like. You pay in cash to use the red minibuses and if you do not have exact change they usually get you change easily for smaller bills. If they are full, they will not pick up anyone else until someone gets off. Green minibuses are a little more organized and travel on a specific route. The prices are fixed and you will need exact change, however they accept Octopus cards as well. If a seatbelt is available, the passengers are required to use it by law.
As Hong Kong is a coastal city there are regular ferry boats that operate around the clock to transport locals and tourists to and from the outer islands, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. One of the iconic ferry companies is Star Ferry. It has been in operation since 1888. It is not just for practical transportation, but is popular among tourists who wish to get a seaside view of the harbour. The Star Ferry crossing has been put on the top ‘50 places of a lifetime’ to experience.
For information on other ferry services to travel from district to district about Hong Kong, here are the websites where you can view information and book your tickets.
New World First Ferry Services Ltd.
The Hong Kong & Kowloon Ferry Ltd.
Discovery Bay Transportation Services Ltd.
Park Island Transport Company Ltd.
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The Hong Kong Traveler's Guide to Make The Most Out of Your Trip. So you have decided to go to Hong Kong! Has it been a place you have been dreaming to travel or one more recently and spontaneously decided? It does not matter, you have made a good choice. Get ready to have your world rocked, and in more than one way. Hong Kong is the epicenter of all things of some of our world’s most ancient past, temples and beautiful heritage, cuisine, shopping and much more. It is a city to open your eyes, ears, palate and soul in many directions, new and maybe even some revisited. Outside of mainland China, the Hong Kong culture is one all of its own. It is where the East has met the West and signs of this are found in every neighborhood and almost on every street. Do not fret, there are still plenty of places where it has not been touched by Western culture and you can step into the past, far far, into the past.