Exploring Lantau Island, Hong Kong: What to See and What to Do

When you are on a trip with high-spirited travel buddies, you feel like time runs so fast. So what you will do is to soak up the remaining vacation vibes and savor every morsel of time. For our last day in Hong Kong, me and my office mates (Team Finance) will visit a traditional village in Ngong Ping area in Lantau Island.  We will immerse ourselves in a relaxing tour where the natural environment, custom and culture of the island are still richly preserved. We will start our exciting trip in riding the crystal cable car. And so here we go!

the imposing Tian Tian Buddha

the imposing Tian Tian Buddha

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Second Day in Hong Kong 2018: Nan Lian Garden, Chi Lin Nunnery, Won Tai Sin Temple

This is the continuation of our relentless foot navigation in Hong Kong. I just can’t sustain the eagerness and happiness in me exploring the beautiful sights in the city. So coming from The Peak, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Hotel, Ten Thousand Buddhas, and Choi Hung Estate, we will now proceed to the last three tourist spots. And the excitement for my second visit to Hong Kong is still soaring high.

Second Day in Hong Kong 2018: The Peak and Disneyland

This is our second day in Hong Kong and the top two tourist attractions that highlighted our trip are The Peak and Hong Kong Disneyland. I was so elated to get back. But as much as I want to frolic on rides and attractions in Disneyland again, I will only bring my office mates here for I will explore other notable places in the city that I did not visit yet. I will spend another worthy escapade with my two friends, Dayleen and Amie who are both working in the city.

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see our happy faces? we are now ready for the exciting ride at The Tram

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Second Day in Hong Kong 2018: Disneyland Hotel, Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery and Choi Hung Estate

While my office mates will take delight in a fantastic adventure in Hong Kong Disneyland, me, Dayleen, and Amie (my friends based in Hong Kong) will bring me to other famous places in the city that I did not visit yet. I felt somewhat guilty because my team will miss this opportunity. But as has been said, Hong Kong is not complete without Disneyland so I want them to fully enjoy the rides and attractions in this theme park. Anyway, we will be visiting Macau on our third day and Lantau Island on our last day.

The elegance and sophistication of this Victorian-style Hotel was captivating

The elegance and sophistication of this Victorian-style Hotel was captivating

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Hong Kong, the Second Time (tips, ideas and travel guide)

The wanderlust in me kicked in again. I will go out of the country (again!) with another set of travel buddies, my Finance team (the Accounts Payable section). For the past few years, we’ve been through a lot of challenges so it’s high time that we pamper ourselves to go out from our four-corner room and explore the world. Hong Kong was chosen by the majority and to make this a worthy trip, we will include a one-day visit to Macau since this is just an hour away by ferry boat. And though I’ve been both in these two city-states in November 2016, I’m so elated to get back!

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Setting foot again in Disneyland which is dubbed as “The Happiest Place on Earth” is another happy travel for a wanderlust like me.

About Hong Kong

Hong Kong is not a country but a city-state, an autonomous territory in southeastern China. It used to be a former British Colony with around seven million people, making it one of the densely populated areas in the world. Aside from its being a major port and global financial hub, Hong Kong is also a major shopping destination.

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the stunning skyline with studded skyscrapers

There is something so intriguing about Hong Kong that I did not object of what my team chose to explore. From its captivating skyline, the convenient public transportation, classical garden, iconic food, Disneyland, temples, the cable car, the bustling city life and a lot more. Never mind the common down side: the communication barrier and some of its people.

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the excited team! see our happy faces as we all passed series of questions asked by the Immigration Officers and we thanked the Lord for this

Since we belong to the same department, we were not allowed to take a long vacation. We will be squeezing a three-day, three-night getaway to which I will guarantee my team a delightful and worthy trip. I was the one who organized this trip, from itinerary, budgeting and booking of air fare, hotel, ferry boat fare and cable car.

Airfare

It would be a lot of saving to book early for a cheap air fare. As early as May 2018 through wee hours, I chanced to book a two-way promo fare of Php4,320/head on the fourth week of November.

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touchdown!

Climate

Hong Kong is a sub-tropical city with four distinct seasons-warm and humid spring, hot and rainy summer, pleasant and sunny autumn, cool and dry winter. Hot and humid months is from May to September and a mild climate from middle of September to end of February. To skip a humid weather, we chose the month of November. There are occasional rain showers during this month but we can still navigate far because the weather was relatively pleasant.

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the windy moment at Sky Terrace 428

Hostel

Hostels in Hong Kong are small, cheap and not for finicky travelers. Fortunately, I found two affordable rooms at Shanghai Hostel in Chungking Mansions at Booking.Com for P15,854.06 only (3-day, 3-night stay). Since we are six, we are divided into two rooms which are air-conditioned with private bathroom, linen, blanket, hair dryer and with free coffee, water and WI-Fi.

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our room at Shanghai Hostel, Chungking Mansions

Tsim Sha Tsui

Tsim Sha Tsui (or simply TST) means “sharp sandspit” in Cantonese. TST is known as a major tourist hub and one of the main shopping areas in Hong Kong. Many fellow Pinoys (including us) tend to stay in this area because of its easy access to MTR and famous tourist spots like the Avenue of Stars, Clock Tower, Victoria Harbour and Star Ferry terminal. It is also near to restaurants and museums too. Indeed, this is one of the busiest and liveliest parts in Hong Kong.

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the busy TST at night

Klook

I booked our Disneyland, ferry boat to Macau and the cable car tickets to Big Buddha in Lantau Island through Klook, a trusted Hong-Kong-based in-destination services booking platform. I had tried Klook in my second visit in Singapore to which I found it much cheaper and hustle free. I bought our Disneyland tickets for Php3,633.29 only which costs Php4,333 in their website.

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one of our tickets booked at Klook

Transportation

Hong Kong has an efficient, safe and highly developed transportation. They have MTR website where I patiently browsed the fares to all our destinations. Just like what I did during my first visit in this country, we will be riding here all the public transport systems (except the usual taxi cab) from MTR, trams, double-decker bus, ferry boat and the Peak Tram.

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the Tram or Ding Ding will bring joyful and touching moments

The Octopus Card

Octopus Card is the stored value electronic card in Hong Kong. This is widely used for most public transport and purchases in convenience stores, supermarkets, vending machines, fast food stores and more. The good thing about the Octopus Card is that is has no expiration. It can be used again for the next trip. It’s good that I kept my previous card and I will use it in this trip.

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I encouraged my office mates to buy Octopus card so we can have an easy and fast access to MTR stations and convenience stores. It costs HK$150, with a refundable deposit of HK$50.

Food

I allotted an average budget on food. I’m sure we will be eating at Café de Coral, McDonalds and KFC for they are visible everywhere in Hong Kong. But we vowed to feast on Hong Kong’s must-eat dishes like their famous roasted goose and pork, dim sum and noodles. We will not leave the country without trying these dishes. We will bring crackers and cookies for light snack to save us from spending much.

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never skip eating yummy noodles which is one of the iconic foods in Hong Kong

The People

Every country has different culture, beliefs and people. I was already familiar of the locals of Hong Kong so I briefed my office mates on how to deal with them especially the elders because some are not frequent in speaking in English and others do not speak this language. Majority of the locals are Chinese and are Cantonese speakers. It is a must to be patient in dealing with them because some tend to get irritated when they do not understand what is being asked to them.

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a rainy day in Hong Kong during the month of November

But on the brighter side, there are many Filipino workers in Hong Kong and it is a common sight to see them almost everywhere. I don’t worry of getting lost for I am sure we can bump fellow kababayan along the way who will show us the right direction. Anyway, getting lost is part of a momentous travel hahaha!

Electrical Outlet

Every country has different plug systems. In Hong Kong, majority of its electrical outlets uses a three-pronged UK-style plug. I bought a universal adapter in Ace Hardware which costs Php175 (brand-Omni Nano). The standard electrical voltage in Hong Kong is 220 volts AC, 50Hz.

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This is it!

With sufficient money in our pockets, enough rest and a fiery motivation prior our trip, everything was set. Just like my previous out of the country trips, I’m sure this is another unforgettable and worthy experience not only to me, but to all of us!

And we are all so excited for this trip!

Our first day as well as our first night

The Crystal Mover

We arrived in Hong Kong Airport at around 9:00 pm. I discovered that passengers of Cebu Pacific will ride a driver less train called “Crystal Mover” in getting to the next hall. From the arrival area we went down to the train tunnel and boarded in this train. It has a screen door along the edge preventing passengers off the track.

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getting ready to ride in the Crystal Mover

We went to the information area to buy an Octopus Card and together with my office mates we all loaded it with HK$200.

MTR Map

We are equipped with printed MTR maps to avoid getting lost while roaming around in Hong Kong. But in Hong Kong airport, tourists can get a copy of this map and other brochures for travel guide in exploring Hong Kong.

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the map I used during the entire trip

Wi-Fi/Internet

There is a free Wi-Fi available in Hong Kong International Airport throughout all terminals. Just connect to the“#HKAirport Free Wi-Fi” network. No need to register.

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Cityflyer A21 Bus

Buses in Hong Kong are the cheapest way to get and from Hong Kong International Airport. Since we will be heading to Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon side, we boarded the most popular among tourists, the Cityflyer double-decker A21 bus. It is air-conditioned with large luggage racks in the lower part.

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in the upper deck of A21 bus

When we hopped in, we tapped our Octopus card and put our luggage to the luggage area. We sat on the upper deck to enjoy the scenery. I did not worry of skipping our destination because there is an announcement system in English and Chinese located on the upper rear part of the bus where everyone can hear and see an upcoming bus stop being announced by the speaker.

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the bus guide upon exiting the Hong Kong International Airport

The buses run from 6:00 am till midnight with a frequency of ten to twenty minutes. The return route will start from 5:30 am to 11:00 pm.

Our travel time to Tsim Sha Tsui was forty five minutes only. We were on 14th Stop which was the Middle Road, Nathan Road.

Shanghai Hostel in Chung King Mansion

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as we were guided by this direction in Nathan Road

I was already told about the crowded situation of the ground floor of Chung King Mansions and I relayed it to my office mates prior my booking. They did not object where to stay for they are sure, we can handle every situation, may it be good or not. Our hostel is located in Block E, 5th Floor in Chung King Mansions. From where the bus stopped, we veered to the left and crossed the street. Chung King Mansions was easy to find.

From the main entrance, we were instructed to turn right and walk few distances to Block E. We boarded a small elevator that fits around six to eight people only. Upon reaching 5th Floor, we searched for Shanghai Hostel but were instructed by a staff to go the reception area on the 3rd Floor for room validation.

Our rooms (2 triple rooms) were both located on the 3rd floor. When everything was settled, we put all our bags in our room and we set out for dinner. Since the elevator was small and always full, we decided to take the exit. We discovered it was a bit scary to go down in an empty passage so we walked fast until we reached the exit.

First dinner

It was already past eleven p.m. and McDonald’s was the only open food chain store and the nearest to Chung King Mansions that will satiate our hunger. 

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and so we were hungry and tired, but then, when you are in a company of cheerful team, everything will be whisked off…

Our dinner was late and we were all famished. Though we were so tired and sleepy, we had a lively dinner while sharing our funny experiences in the airport down to our room. We only had few hours to sleep because we will wake up early for our first day adventure in Hong Kong. We will go to The Peak and Disneyland.

I had been to both attractions but I want to visit The Peak again. I will skip the rides in Disneyland because I will be exploring tourist attractions which I did not visit yet. My friends Dayleen and Amie who were both based in Hong Kong will be my buddies.

We went back to our rooms to rest and sleep for few hours.

And to get ready for our first day tour.

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Singapore’s Pulau Ubin-Part 2: A Memorable Walk at Chek Jawa Wetlands

Chek Jawa Wetlands or Tanjung Chek Jawa is the most popular tourist destination in Pulau Ubin and the highlight of our trip. The 100-hectare cape is located on the eastern tip of the island and is about 3 kilometers away from the public jetty. What makes it unique is that it is home to several ecosystems found in one area-the sandy beach, mangroves, seagrass lagoon, rocky beach, coral rubble and coastal forest. Indeed Chek Jawa Wetlands is unusually rich in biodiversity.

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these are my new found friends and fellow Pinoy I met inside the bus while I’m on my way to Changi Village-Pinky, Mavie and Rachel

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Part 8: Hong Kong and Macau Trip: My Solo Adventure in Disneyland

I’ve often heard from my friends and office mates that Hong Kong Disneyland is the best place to visit in the city especially if you have kids. But I was on a solo vacation and it saddened me to leave my family in Manila for not spending a great holiday like this with them. Anyway, their encouraging words somehow lessen the agony. They wanted me to enjoy every minute of my vacation especially the most anticipated part of my Hong Kong and Macau Trip.

My solitary adventure in Disneyland!  Again, thank you HSBC for my free trip to Hong Kong.

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Part 7: Hong Kong and Macau Trip: The Peak Experience

Victoria Peak or The Peak is a “must visit” destination and one of the major tourist attractions in Hong Kong. What so unique about The Peak? First, you’ll be thrilled riding the Peak Tram in getting there. Second, you will be rewarded by the panoramic view of a magnificent skyline and the waterfront that will take your breath away.

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it was a downcast morning so this was the only picture I got from The Peak

Perching on an elevation of 552 meters (1,811 feet), The Peak is the highest point on Hong Kong Island and undeniably the place where every visitors will surely enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Hong Kong.

The ride

For me, I chose the Peak Tram for I want to experience the best and most unique ride in getting to The Peak.

The Peak

The five-minute ride at the Peak Tram in getting to the Peak was short but it thrilled me much. Our trip ended in upper terminus inside the Peak Tower. It is a large shopping complex located in Victoria Gap where it offers dining, shopping and entertainment events.

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We passed by the Peak Market, a lane of souvenir shops quietly inviting visitors to drop by and shop. There was a series of escalators connecting all levels of the tower.

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The major attraction of the Peak Tower is the Sky Terrace 428, the 360 open-air viewing deck located at the top level of the building. Its distinctive stylish architecture includes the captivating wok-shaped roof designed by British Architect Terry Farrell. At 428 meters above sea level, this is where visitors can enjoy the stunning panoramic view of the harbour, the surrounding islands and the skyline.

they say you will get the best view here at Sky Terrace 360

they say you will get the best view here at Sky Terrace 428

Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 11:00 pm – Monday to Friday / 8:00 am to 11:00 pm – Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays

Ticket price:  Adult – HK$48.00 / Children (11 and below years of age) and Senior Citizen (65 years old and above) – HK$24.00

Another attraction is Madame Tussauds, a wax museum exhibiting nearly 100 life-size wax figures of local and international known personalities which are grouped into themed settings. The museum offers visitors a unique experience to get close and have pictures taken with famous Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe, Angelina Jolie, Elvis Presley and Asian stars like Bruce Lee and Jacky Chan and a lot more.

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Opening Hours:  10:00 am to 10:00 pm daily

We set off to a viewing deck in one of the levels of the tower and from there, I was hooked looking at the stunning vista. But since it was a downcast morning, all my pictures were not so alive. I wish the sun will come out so I have a better picture of the view.

Just across the Peak Tower is the Peak Galleria, another shopping complex that also offers dining, shopping, a museum, tourist attraction and free-entry observatory deck on level 3. But the latter has more restaurants and boutiques. Sip your favorite coffee at Starbucks Coffee or have some scoop of your favorite ice cream at Häagen-Dazs, both located at the ground level.

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One of its major attractions is the TrickEye Museum located at the 3rd level. For those who love the mind-blowing tricky paintings and sculptures, this museum will excite you. TrickEye Museum has 50 optical illusion paintings in five different themed zones, Hong Kong Discovery, Secret Garden, World of Masterpieces, Neverland and Great Adventure.

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Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 9:00 pm – Monday to Sunday (All year round)

I had my best shot

After touring around, we looked for a better vantage point to see again the panoramic view. Still, there was no sun. Anyway, I had my best photo of the marvelous skyline soaring high and a breathtaking harbor which is one of the finest I’ve seen.

My sojourn to The Peak had ended. Nonetheless, I was happy and satisfied. Now, it’s time to embrace my intrepid solo adventure…in Disneyland.

Next Destination – Hong Kong Disneyland

Four ways in getting to The Peak:

* The Peak Tram – at Grand Road Terminal tram – opens from 7:00 am to 12:00 midnight-Monday to Sunday and Public Holidays. Departs every 10 to 15 minutes.

* By Bus – take the bus route no. 15 from Exchange Square bus terminus in Central. Operates daily from 10:00 am to 12:00 am – trip may take 30 to 35 minutes.

* By taxi – the shortest route may take a taxi ride from Admiralty MTR Station for about 15 to 20 minutes.

* Mini-bus – you may opt to take the green mini bus route no. 1 from MTR Hong Kong Station Public Transport Interchange.

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Part 6: Hong Kong and Macau Trip: The Double-deck tram, the Peak Tram and the Peak Tram Historical Gallery

Our yesterday’s visit in Macau and to the prime attractions of Tsim Sha Tsui of Hong Kong at night had been crammed with adventure. For my second day in the city, I was again so excited for I will be riding the double-deck tram and the Peak Tram. And lastly, I will be exploring Disneyland, alone. Sounds scary? It’s not! (I guess so, hehehe).

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getting ready for the exciting and enjoyable ride at the Peak Tram

Day Leen and I woke up early, took a quick shower and set out hurriedly to Shau Kei Wan MTR Station to avoid the long queue at the Peak Tram Lower Terminus. We alighted at Admiralty Station and settled for breakfast at KFC. As promised by my new friend, she will let me experience a ride in a double-deck tram right after we eat. And I was pretty much excited to the highest level.

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Double-Deck Tram 

The double-deck tram which is called by the local as Ding Ding is the cheapest and one of the earliest forms of public transport in Hong Kong (over 110 years in service). Its size was smaller compared to the regular bus in the city but it looked so cute.

while waiting for the double-deck tram to stop

while waiting for the double-deck tram to stop

 After our breakfast, we headed to Admiralty MTR Station (an intermediate stop) and boarded excitedly the double-deck tram. We tapped our Octopus Card on the processor and I smiled in delight while standing inside the tram. We alighted on next stop. It was a short ride, but I was so happy for this memorable experience.

Passengers may pay an exact fare in coins or by tapping the Octopus card. The current fare is HK#2.30 for adults, HK$1.20 for kids (below 12 years old), and HK$1.10 for senior citizens (65 and above).

The double-deck tram is also a major tourist attraction in Hong Kong and what’s so good about this? You’ll be riding an environment-friendly way of roaming around the city.

So when you are in Hong Kong try it too! It was fun!

 Our Way to The Peak

We walked all the way to The Peak Tram Lower Terminus in Garden Road to buy our ticket. Since we will not stay long at The Peak, we only bought a return ticket for HK$45. It was around 7:30 am and while waiting for the Peak Tram to set off, I grabbed the opportunity to see The Peak Tram Historical Gallery. It’s like going back in time seeing several memorabilia displayed on the glass wall and be more educated and be amazed how The Peak Tram had started, its heritage as well as the history of Hong Kong.

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have a little history of Hong Kong while waiting for the Peak Tram to set off

Time for the exciting ride!

There are four ways in getting to The Peak. But for me, I want to experience the best and most unique ride in getting there, so I chose the Peak Tram. This is one of the world’s oldest and most famous funicular railways which is serving Hong Kong for 120 years now! Imagine that!

Day Leen and I opted to stand at the back when the tram car slowly moved upwards on a steep slope. So steep that those buildings looked like they were leaning. The cable railway was sandwiched by a lush tropical forest. It was only a five-minute journey and before I knew it, we were in the upper terminus already.

passengers inside the Peak Tram

passengers inside the Peak Tram

For a climber like me, I was thinking, I could trek the top in thirty minutes. The ride though short thrilled me much. Kids will surely love this ride too.

the tram railway on its way to the steep slope

the tram railway on its way to the steep slope

Ticket Price: for single ride – Adult-HK$75 / Children (11 years old and below) – HK$34 / Senior Citizen (65 years old and above) – HK$34

For return ride: Adult-HK$88 / Children-HK$42 / Senior Citizen – HK$42

Next Destination – into The Peak

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