The smell of the airport calms my soul and the crazy sound of the plane engine during take off is music to my ears. The clouds remind me of how faithful the Higher Being up there is, in my life.
I took a short birthday trip to Hong Kong a few days back. It was my first out of the country tour, so I was pretty damn excited about it. After booking flights and hotels and activities, I started watching vlogs about Hong Kong.
Of course, who else will I travel with aside from my best frenemy and my boyfriend, right? They both are my favorite people to travel with. This tour made this month a September to remember (aside from the fact that also this month, I saw Lebron James play live, and fan-girled at the Chainsmokers concert).
I can tell you so much story about my stay but that may not be too interesting for you, so instead, let me share tips and tell-tales on how to survive Hong Kong based on my experience and mini reviews of the apps I used to book flights, hotels and activities, plus the attractions themselves, and the people and the food and everything I could share about this beauty called Hong Kong.
* All dollar currency in this post is in HKD.
Pre-flight Tips ✈️
✅ Download travel apps like Traveloka and Klook to score huge discounts on your bookings! We were able to book a hostel room for two for PHP 2,500 – four days three nights stay.
✅ Prepare your travel documents like passport, certificate of employment for the immigration officer, plane tickets and IDs.
✅ Prepare PHP 1620 to pay travel tax at the airport.
✅ Download the Hong Kong MTR map on your phone, it is quite helpful but I think HKG’s MTR system is very easy to understand.
✅ Book your activities via Klook! The prices of attractions and activities are listed below in the review.
✅ BRING A BLACK PEN.
✅ Be at the airport early, people starts to pile up at the immigration counter as early as 3AM.
✅ You’ll need an Octopus Card in HKG and I suggest that you do not get the one in Klook as it is expensive. Instead, have a few peso (enough to buy you a $150 Octopus Card per pax) changed to Hong Kong dollars at the airport. For your pocket money, have them exchanged at Hong Kong already, the exchange rate is higher than when you change them here in the Philippines.
In-Flight Tips ✈️
✅ Flight attendants will distribute arrival cards which you need to fill-out and present to the immigration officers in HKIA.
✅ Write the address of your place to stay as completely as possible.
Arrival Tips ✈️
✅ Always wear a smile. The locals at the airport may seem rude and intimidating but most of them are friendly. Be respectful.
✅ Upon arrival, head straight to the immigration counters (you’re gonna take the train to immigration) and present the arrival card you filled-out and your passport so they can issue you a small paper indicating your arrival and until when are you allowed to stay.
✅ Get an Octopus Card at the information counters / customer service counters for $150. It is preloaded with $100 and a $50 refundable deposit upon departure.
✅ Follow the signs to the A21 bus, the most popular bus ride to the city. In our case, we board the A21 bus to Nathan Road or Middle Road (Stop 13 or 14) for $33. Travel time is around 45 minutes.
Reviews of Hotel & Activities
🚅 Hong Kong’s MTR system
📌 The train system in HKG is very efficient and cheap. You must familiarize yourself with the trains so you don’t get lost. It’s easy.
📌 Be prepared to walk long distances. When I say LONG, I mean LOOOOONG distances to switch from one train to another.
Double Room in Cebu Hostel
🏚 Cebu Hostel
📌 Cebu Hostel is located at the Block E Building of Chung King Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui. It is on the 4th flat of the 3rd floor.
📌 Check-in time is strictly at 1:00 PM but if you arrive on a morning flight, you can leave your stuff with them and go about a half day sight-seeing in Tsim Sha Tsui.
📌 The hostel staff cleans the room everyday, just remind them each time you want your room cleaned. They do not get in your room without your permission. The two misters in the front desk were very much friendly and accommodating about all our requests. Book a room with them here, they have the cheapest rate around, but such a great service. The room is small, but if you will only sleep in the room, it’s perfectly fine.
📌 Chung King Mansion’s ground floor is full of foreign people, mostly Indians and some of them may look creepy and scary and unfriendly but nothing bad happened to us during our stay. You should just also be sensitive of your surroundings, and be respectful at all times. Some of them were friendly enough to teach us directions on where to go if we ask.
👗 What to Wear
✅ During most of the trips, I wore shorts and sleeveless. The weather in hot and humid in September and I was sweating a lot even given that I wore comfy summer clothes. There were occasional rain showers, which only last for around 20-30 minutes and the weather goes back to scorching hot again.
✅ Foreigners and locals may stare at you sometimes but they are compleeeetely harmless.
🍜 Where to Eat
✅ There are alot of food shops around TST, and generally around Hong Kong. From dimsum to street food, to McDonalds or Pizza Hut and even Jollibee. They also have sort of “eateries” we tried.
✅ A meal may cost around $45 to $150 depending on where you are to eat. McDonalds cost around $47 for a super delicious angus beef burger.
✅ Try the EGG WAFFLE and MILKTEA on the streets! Plus, their fresh fruit juice are awesome.
✅ Roast Duck is also a must-try!
✅ There are many 711 around!
✅ The way up to the top may hurt your ears, but the view makes it all worth it.
✅ You can get a 360 view of how modern Hong Kong is with its tall skyscrapers and clean waters surrounding the area.
✅ Go early morning, the clouds wouldn’t annoy you!
✅ If you’re not a huge fan of heights, you can already skip visiting the Peak, because as for me, my knees went jelly-like when we were walking atop the Peak. It was so high I got spikes of anxiety, mostly about people who takes photos with their cameras because it may fall down, and they may FALL down if they were clumsy OMG!
✅ The view was almost same as the Sky100 observation deck, but a little scarier because The Peak is open air.
✅ This place made my HKG trip a trip to remember. Disneyland is beautiful beyond words. It is a testament of my lovely child hood, and the parades plus the fireworks display sends chills down my spine!
✅ Food is costly but worth it. Bring your own water bottle since there are fountain around, the water inside the park costs $38.
✅ Starliner Diner is the cheapest food hall in the park, you can get a seatmeal for around $150 and above.
✅ The ice popsicles were delicious and cute!
✅ Don’t forget to try THE MYSTIC MANOR. It is the best ride in the park, for us!
🌃 Ladies Market
✅ The Ladies Market is where you’ll find cheap goodies, like bags and wallets and of course Hong Kong T-shirts, fridge magnet and keychains!
✅ Bargain with the aunties. They are nice people. For the t-shirts, they will give it at first $100 for 5pcs. We convinced the sellers to give ours at 8pcs for $100. Keychains, can range from $70 to $100 for 5pcs but you can bring that down to $40 for 5pcs.
✅ Be respectful when bargaining and always say thank you! The locals are nice and awesome.
✅ Apart from Disneyland, the cable car to Ngong Ping village is such an enjoyable one. It is my 2nd favorite activity after Disneyland.
✅ You can get an unobstructed view of Hong Kong when you’re inside the cable car. It is scary and exciting at the same time.
✅ Wear comfy clothes, it is hot.
✅ The Big Buddha was literally a big buddha atop a steep slope. If I was asked to come back, I won’t but I’ll ride the cable car over and over and over again.
✅ Call me savage but don’t book this activity unless you want to “experience” it. There were more adults than kids when we came in, and I am not sure if these adults were Chinese or Thai or Koreans or Japanese or whatever, but they were rowdy and rude. They keep pushing people and never says sorry!
✅ The rides were mostly thrill rides but they look old and rusty.
✅ Rides and attractions were positioned too far away from one another. It’s exhausting and tiring.
✅ Their Grand Aquarium is nothing compared to Manila Ocean Park’s Oceanarium which for us looks better.
✅ Complete waste of our money if not for the thin panda we saw there. That poor thing, I don’t like seeing these creatures in a cage.
✅ Spend your money somewhere else unless you really really want to experience this bad theme park.
Pre-Departure & Departure Tips ✈️
✅ Don’t forget to refund your Octopus Card. You’re getting your leftover balance + the deposit of $41 since there is a charge of $9 for card usage.
✅ If your airline offers web check-in, avail of it. You can come to the airport 2-3 hours from your boarding time.
✅ Make sure to estimate your luggage weight. You don’t want to pay extra luggage in the airport, don’t you?
✅ Gates 201-231 and 501 to 50something is located far from the departure hall. Take the train and go up many escalators.
Overall, Hong Kong has been lovely. I would come back if I could, but I’ll have to try other countries for now. Any other questions, drop them in the comments section.