Travel: Hong Kong bound, City strolling and exploring in 3 days

When in Hong Kong

From Island hopping in the Philippines to City strolling in Hong Kong, who knew we would end up here. Hong Kong wasn’t really on our list, but the tickets were cheap. So, we thought ‘YOLO’ (you only live once).

How to get to Hong Kong center

A flight from Manila to Hong Kong was about 2 hours. Getting to the City with public transportation is quite easy, and there are two options.
Fun fact: did you know that the ‘Hong Kong international airport’ also known as Check Lap Kok, is built on an artificial island?

Option 1: Airport express

The airport express is the fastest and the most comfortable way to travel between the airport and Central (city center) in just 24 minutes. This is correct because we timed it!
You can get your smart ticket or Octopus card at the airport right before you get on the train. We took an Octopus card, as we wanted to get around with the MTR later on.

Option 2: Public buses

Public bus routes serve Hong Kong international airport well. They are quite comfortable and cheaper too. The primary downside is that it will take a while to get to the center. For instance, getting to the same stop as the airport express ‘central’ will take about 45 – 50 minutes.

Getting around in Hong Kong

It took us only a few minutes to decide how to get around in Hong Kong.  MTR works the same way as any tube we’ve known before.
I must admit that I thought it was easy, and I’m the clumsy one. You can purchase an Octopus card at the airport or any other place in a Metro station with customer service. You’ll have to pay HK$50 as a deposit. Topping up your card can be done at any station, as this is done with an automatic machine. You can get a map about everywhere or download an app on your phone.

Tip: when you leave Hong Kong, you can return your card to the customer service center at the airport or any other customer service at any MTR. With this, you can get a refundable deposit of HK$50 and the remaining value.

skyscrapers of Hong Kong

Starting point at Wan Chai

We stayed three nights at the lovely Kew Green Hotel Wanchai, located in Wan Chai district. This was a great starting point for all the things we wanted to do.
Wan Chai is a ‘party’ district, and we observed this the first evening while strolling around. However, we saw more tourists and expats than locals. So, it didn’t interest us to find out more.

As told by a local, the Tram Ding Ding is one of the cheapest and eco-friendly public transportation in Hong Kong city. The trails covers 30km of Hong Kong Island, and due to its Iconic look, it has become a really popular tourist attraction, and locals love it as well. I would recommend riding at least 1 or 2 stops.

Hong Kong Ding Ding

Things to Do in Hong Kong

Because we’re only staying for three nights, decisions have to be made. We carried out our research, and these were the things that made our list.

  • Tian Tan Buddha/ Ngong Ping / Po-Lin monastery
  • Man mo temple
  • Victoria harbor
  • Wong Tai Sin temple
  • Kowloon walled city
  • Bird Garden & flower Market
  • Dundas street/ Ladies market
  • Sky 100 hong kong observation deck
  • Victoria peak /sky terrace

Ngong Ping Village, Tian Tan Buddha and Tian Tan Temple

These three things can be found on the same location.
Ngong Ping Village is created on top of the Ngong Ping Plateau, and it’s relatively new. It was built around Tian tan Buddha and Tian tan Temple so that tourists can come for a drink and relax while visiting the Buddha and the temple. It ought to be built in the old traditional style, but it’s by no means an ‘old village.’  You may find this disappointing If you thought you would see something genuine and less commercialized. Nevertheless, having the village spread out the people and having a meeting point was quite easy.

 

Tian Tan Buddha ( Big Buddha)

Big Buddha is one of Hong Kong’s main attractions and symbols.  Tian Tan Buddha is a large Bronze statue of 34 meters high and is surprisingly opened to the public in 1993. Although the statue isn’t that old, it attracts many religious pilgrims from all over Asia every year.

Tian Tan Buddha

Twelve Divine Generals

As you leave the village to the Big Buddha, you’ll see the path of the Twelve Divine Generals.
Each statue symbolizes an animal of the Chinese Zodiac and represents two different hours of the day. In addition, there are cows along the way, and there is a clear sign in several languages not to touch or to feed them. Please keep in mind that they are still animals and have a mind of their own

You’ll need to climb 269 steps to get to the Buddha where you’ll have a beautiful view of Lantau Island, amazing mountains and if the weather is ok, you’ll see the skyscrapers from Hong Kong. The Buddha is facing the north, which makes it often to be seen as a keeper and protector. If you want to get inside the Buddha, ensure that you don’t have food with you and you also need to pay a small fee. How impressive the Buddha is! After 10 min, you’ve seen it all.

Ngong Ping Village cows

Po-Lin (precious Lotus) Monastery

What was once a remote and unknown place is now a popular attraction for tourists.  Thanks to the coming of the Big Buddha, it’s also a popular place for worshippers too. Po-Lin Monastery complex was built by three monks. It has three Bigger Buddha statues that represent the past, present, and future. You’ll find loads of worshippers lighting up incense around the Monastery. We liked the Monastery more than the Big Buddha, it’s much quieter here and interesting.

precious Lotus

Po-Lin (precious Lotus) Monastery

How to get to Ngong Ping village

There are several ways to get to the village. Take the MTR to Tung Chung Station EXIT B. Then you can choose to take the Cable Car or to take the bus.
For the bus, take New Lantao Bus 23 from Tung Chung Town Centre. It takes 45min then you’ll need to walk for 10min. This costs about 5 euro return. The cable cars take about 25 min and the prices vary depending on the cable car.

How to get to Ngong Ping village

Pro tip! Search online for your tickets or ask for your accommodation if they have an extra discount rate. It saves more time and money!

There’s a difference in price if you take a standard or Chrystal cable car. The Chrystal car allows you to see everything underneath you while going up the plateau.

Another rare alternative is to take a ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Who then take New Lantao Bus 2. This takes about 40 min.

Christal cable car

christal cable car view

Man Mo temple

After a morning of excitement and a good lunch, we took the MTR to go to Man Mo Temple. We got off at Sheung wan station exit A2 and went straight to Hiller street until we got to Queen’s road central then turned right. As you walk halfway Queen’s road, you’ll find ladder street. You’ll recognize it by the many steps going up (hence ladder street) and once you get to the top of the ladder, you’ll see the Man Mo temple.
Man Mo Temple is one of the oldest Temple in Hong Kong built in 1847. The temple is dedicated to the Taoist God of Literature and god of war. Skyscrapers, shops, and cafes surround it and this makes it a unique historical building. The entry is free. So, don’t be afraid to take a peek inside. You’ll find a moody atmosphere due to all the burning incents.

Man Mo temple

Tsm Sha Tsui/ Victoria Harbour

If there is one thing everyone keeps saying, it is to see the sunset at Victoria Harbour!. And we can’t argue with that.
Victoria bay is long famous for its epic panoramic view, It is the third-largest harbor in the world. Don’t worry about it being too busy as the promenade is pretty long. So, there is plenty of space to share the view.
Walking down the Promenade, you’ll come across Avenue of stars. You’ll find a Bruce Lee statue and plaques of handprints of famous Hong Kong film stars.

Bruce Lee

We had a lot to take in on our first day, but we loved every second of it.
There was a big basketball event going on in Hong Kong, but I must say that the tourist flock in the city was okay and not too busy.

Tsm Sha Tsui/ Victoria Harbour view Hong Kong

Wong tai sin temple / Good wish Garden

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple is Hong Kong’s most popular Taoist Chinese temple.
The temple is known for its fortune-telling and each fortune teller has its booth. Before entering the temple, you’ll find life-like statues of the Chinese zodiac. All twelve of them are facing the temple.
Usually, people come to light up worship sticks (incense), kneel before the altar and make a wish for good fortune. According to the legend, a monk once achieved enlightenment and became immortal. Since then, people called him Wong Tai sin, and this gave rise to the name of the temple. Other worshippers shake a bamboo cylinder filled with fortune sticks ( joss sticks) to the ground until wrapped around a stick with a number. With that number, you can exchange that for a piece of paper containing the same number, and the fortune-teller then interprets the fortune on the paper for the worshiper.

Wong tai sin temple

Good wish Garden

Behind the temple, you’ll find the ‘Goodwish Garden’. Beautiful pavilions bridge streams, rocks, and ponds is a replica of the summer palace in Beijing. In all honesty, we didn’t enjoy it because it was way too crowded and takes away the atmosphere. If you see the pictures, you’ll be thinking of a nice quiet walk in the Garden, but it’s the opposite. It is a genuinely beautiful garden, but it was too crowded. We went before midday right after breakfast. We arrived around 10 am, but buses with tourists were flocking in already.

Good wish garden flock

Good wish Garden

How to get Wong Tai sin temple / Good wish Garden

Take the MTR to  Wong tai sin station, Exit B2.
You’ll see a typical Chinese pillar, and that is it.

Kowloon walled city park Hong Kong

The park has a long history, but in the 80s, Kowloon walled city was regarded as the center of crime. It’s a no go area, where everything from drug to prostitution took place. It has a dark alleyway. You didn’t want to walk alone here! In the 90s, the Chinese government intervened, took over and destroyed the walled city. A beautiful Chinese style park replaced the ‘ghetto city’. This is a quiet place now; you can hardly tell what went going on 30years ago. Now people come and relax in the park or do some tai chi (what we saw). Kids were also playing and learning about history. I liked the tranquility of the place and I had a nice walk after a chaotic morning.

Kowloon walled city park Kowloon walled city park in Hong Kong

How to get to Kowloon walled city park

MTR Lok fu station, exit B.
I think there should be a bus going there, but we never thought about that, and i don’t know why.
We just followed google maps and walked 15minutes to get to the park.

Bird Garden & flower Market

The flower market is solely dedicated to Flora. It’s shop after shop and stall after stall with all kinds of flowers with bright colors and lovely smells.
We quickly passed it, but we just wanted to see what the deal was as this is highly recommended.

The Bird garden is a place where they sell all kinds of birds. We are animal lovers, and it breaks my heart to see beautiful parrots in small cages. We felt a bit uncomfortable as they looked at us suspiciously due to our filming and taking pictures.

How to get to Bird garden en Flower market

MTR to Prince Edward Exit B1.
You’ll have to cross a busy street but, you can see the market from you a distance.

Dundas street

Foodies will love this place!
The street is full of tiny stalls serving Hong Kong street food snacks as well as other kinds of food across Asia. It’s a feast for your eyes and your tummy. Go inside the buildings and discover small restaurants. You can see the adverts on the elevators.

How to get to Dunas street

MTR Mong Kok Exit E2.
Go straight ahead and follow your nose or google maps.

Temple street/ Night Market

It is recommended to visit Temple Street at night due to the typical neon lights for pictures you see across the worldwide web. If you like strolling around markets, then this is the place to be! You’ll find awesome vintage stuff, fortune-tellers and you can grab a snack and a drink.
But as I said earlier, we’re not fans of markets.

Pro tip! The Icon picture (which we don’t have because we went during day time) was taken from a parking lot across the street! Watch your stuff as this place is known for the high rate of pickpockets.

Temple street/ Night market

Sky 100 Hong Kong observation deck

After dinner, we wanted to end our last evening with a memorable view.
So, we set out to get to the Sky 100 Hong Kong observation deck. It’s Hong Kong’s tallest building and it’s located on the 100th floor in the international commerce center, two floors BELOW the Rits-Carlton.
It’s an excellent place to go for high-end shopping. The elevator takes you up in 60 seconds. There’s a timer if you don’t believe me. You’ll have a 360-degree view of the whole cityscape and it’s beautiful!
We accidentally went 45minutes before closing time, so there weren’t too many people at that time.

Tip! We booked our tickets in advance because loads of sites and our accommodation offered a discount. It will also save your time because you can skip the line.

Sky 100 hong kong observation deck

How to get to Sky 100

MTR Kowloon station, exit C1.
You’ll find yourself in the commerce center and here is where you have to pay attention because we missed the sign and got lost. Hence, we got there so close to closing time.

Sky 100 hong kong

Follow the MTR map

Figuring out today wasn’t so hard, we did a little research on the MTR map and followed the Greenline  from Wong tai sin station down back to Tsim Sha Tsui.
You could do it all on foot if you have the time.

MTR in hong kong

 

Victoria peak /Sky terrace

Our flight was in the evening, so we took advantage of the opportunity to visit the Victoria peak and sky terrace. Once we got there, there was a massive waiting line but we’re lucky because we booked tickets in advance as we envisaged the massive waiting line. But then, so did others. After waiting for 1 hour in the heat, we could finally enjoy the peak tram. They changed the queue line and moved it under the bridge due to the burning sun.
The peak tram is an attraction on its own. It looks like a European railway heading out to the mountain.

Tip: We thought there was only one way to get there, but you can take the bus to the top and endeavor to go as early as you can. 

Victoria peak train

You can get combo tickets for Madame tuseau. I know right, she’s everywhere. Due to lack of time, we immediately wanted to get up the Sky terrace, but again, there was a large queue. So, we didn’t get the chance to see it. But what we saw from viewpoints is amazing. Too bad it’s so crowded here and so commercialized as this changed our mood.

How to get to The peak

MTR Central Station Exit J2.
In the metro you’ll see signs for how to get to the peak

Nutshell Hong Kong

Hong Kong has been amazing! I had the idea of seeing all the beautiful places in Hong Kong on a weekend city trip, but I was so wrong! You’ll need a week to see and experience everything. We felt like we only saw 1/3 of Hong Kong. I can honestly say we liked Hong Kong more than we did Singapore. Hong Kong may not be the cheapest, but we knew that going here is still okay if you can take the effort to look for discounts and don’t mind eating at markets. We hope we can visit Hong kong soon again.

XOXO

Deborah

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