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!
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.
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 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!
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.
There is something so intriguing about Hong Kong that I did not object to 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 downside: the communication barrier and some of its people.
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 airfare, hotel, ferry boat fare, and cable car.
It would be a lot of saving to book early for cheap airfare. 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.
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 the middle of September to the end of February. To skip 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.
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 bathrooms, linen, blanket, hairdryer, and with free coffee, water, and Wi-Fi.
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 of Hong Kong.
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 to 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 on their website.
Hong Kong has an efficient, safe, and highly developed transportation. They have an MTR website where I patiently browsed the fares to all our destinations. Just like what I did during my first visit to 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.
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 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 on this trip.
I encouraged my office mates to buy Octopus card so we can have easy and fast access to MTR stations and convenience stores. It costs HK$150, with a refundable deposit of HK$50.
I allotted an average budget on food. I’m sure we will be eating at Café de Coral, McDonald’s, 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 a light snacks to save us from spending much.
Every country has different cultures, beliefs, and people. I was already familiar with 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. The 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.
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 about 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 journey hahaha!
Every country has different plug systems. In Hong Kong, the majority of its electrical outlets use 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.
This is it!
With sufficient money in our pockets, enough rest, and a fiery motivation prior to 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 at Hong Kong Airport at around 9:00 pm. I discovered that passengers of Cebu Pacific will ride a driverless train called “Crystal Mover” in getting to the next hall. From the arrival area, we went down to the train tunnel and boarded on this train. It has a screen door along the edge preventing passengers off the track.
We went to the information area to buy an Octopus Card and together with my office mates we all loaded it with HK$200.
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 guides in exploring Hong Kong.
There is free Wi-Fi available at Hong Kong International Airport throughout all terminals. Just connect to the“#HKAirport Free Wi-Fi” network. No need to register.
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.
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 about 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.
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
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 to 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 a few distances to Block E. We boarded a small elevator that fits around six to eight people only. Upon reaching the 5th Floor, we searched for Shanghai Hostel but were instructed by staff to go to 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.
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.
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 at the airport down to our room. We only had a 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 a few hours.
And to get ready for our first-day tour.
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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.
Dubbed as the “Happiest Place on Earth”, Hong Kong Disneyland is one of the best places to visit in Hong Kong especially if you have kids. It saddened me to leave my family in Manila but they encouraged me to enjoy my solo vacation. It somehow lessened the agony. As for them, a mother deserves to travel once in a while to fully enjoy life. With their support and encouragement, I’m in for a solo adventure in this wonderful theme park! Again, thank you HSBC for my free trip to the city-state.
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.
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.
For me, I chose the Peak Tram for I want to experience the best and most unique ride in getting to 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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