I recently went on a very short trip to Hong Kong to meet my parents, who were travelling in a cruise in a Philippines-Taiwan-Hong Kong route. I arrived in HK on a Friday afternoon, giving me enough time to do a quick roam around Tsim Sha Tsui (Harbour Area) before meeting my parents in the morning next day. I’ve been to HK before (way back 2012) with my mom and brother. It was a full travel agency planned trip. But now, I had to plan on my own so I figured I should (obviously!) try to do some research first. So in this blog post, I’ll be summarizing the tips that I found really helpful for me.
1. Check out Klook Hongkong
You’ve probably heard about Klook, but for those who haven’t — It’s so convenient. For my case, I’ve heard about it before for tours and sightseeing but it never occurred to me that it could be helpful for transport and wifi needs as well. Check out their link, Klook Hongkong. Since my trip was short, I wasn’t able to try the tours, etc. but the transport and wifi offers were amazing. Btw, I got this tip from gettingstamped.com‘s post about “8 must know Hongkong travel tips”. I purchased beforehand all the transportation stuff I needed to get to the hostel from the airport which includes:
- Airport Express Train Tickets – Klook even offered this under a 30% discount. There are three available stops (Kowloon, Hongkong Island, Tsing Yi). Upon arriving at the airport, go straight to the airport express train platform and hop in. On the station that you chose to arrive at, you will see a reception desk. All you have to do is present your printed Klook voucher or the digital voucher available in your Klook app. In Kowloon station (and I guess in other two stations too), they have this airport shuttle service that will take you around the area. FOR FREE! The airport shuttle service usually goes around the busy areas, so you’ll probably find some stops close to your chosen accommodation. Don’t worry as well about your luggage, they have room for that in the shuttle.
- Tourist Octopus – I cannot emphasize more how convenient this Octopus card was for me. It’s basically a re-loadable card that allows you to pay for transportation, shopping, and even dining (for selected restaurants). You can pick up your Octopus card from Hong Kong International Airport Arrivals Area Counter A13. This will save you time and hassle of trying to purchase this on your own some place else.
- 4G/3G SIM Card for Hong Kong – This was especially convenient for me because I don’t have a data plan from my network. And it could be even pricier with roaming charges. Klook has this under 20% discount and available for 8-days of use. Since I only need internet to get around the city, this 4G/3G sim card was very helpful. They said that free wifi was common in most areas in HK, but I wanted to have the convenience of having wifi (with more than acceptable internet speed) whenever I need it.
2. Cheap Hostels in Chungking Mansion
For those travelling on a budget (like me!), Chungking Mansion is the place to be. There are lots of hostels available in this building. I booked mine through booking.com. If you don’t have an account with them, you should! They have secret deals and amazing discounts for members. They also have good options for cancellations and no pre-payments needed just in case you suddenly change your mind about the accommodation you initially chose. You just have to be keen in choosing the right hostel for you. Make sure you read reviews and check hostel facilities. Some hostels have common toilets and such. In any case, Chungking Mansion is collective of cheap hostels. It has a great location since the Harbour area was very near (where I will be meeting my parents). In addition, it’s also just a few minutes of walk or a few subway stops to shopping areas and tourist spots (e.g. Mongkok, Tsim Sha Tsui, Harbour City). But with cheap hostels in Chungking Mansion comes some issues here and there that I feel I need to address at some point. Chungking Mansion is heavily dominated by male South Asians. You might feel intimidated since they are very vocal and “friendly”. For my case, not only did I feel intimidated but also somehow uncomfortable and unsafe. I’m a female solo traveller. So I didn’t appreciate then that I was continuously cat called every time I went out of my room. I perhaps can charge this to my “experience-is-the-best-teacher” list. Nevertheless, Chungking Mansion is the cheapest there is around Kowloon area. But I suggest you get yourself prepared before accepting the challenge of staying in a hostel in Chungking Mansion. Here’s a link that shows a nice photo of the entrance in the Chungking Mansion by Everything Everywhere.
3. Dim Sum!
Yes I had to put an exclamation point on that for more intensity, lol. But seriously, Hongkong dimsum is known to be one of the best. And as other bloggers have recommended, I also highly suggest to put this on your must-try list. Although there are branches of Tim Ho Wan in the Philippines, I’ve always wanted to try their first ever store in Hongkong. Just a quick introduction, Tim Ho Wan is the cheapest Michelin Star restaurant in the world. Aside from their awesome dimsum menu, they’re also known for their delicious Pork Buns (must-try, I swear!). Also (just a heads up), the original restaurant location is in Sham Shui and it opens as early as 9:30AM for locals and 10:00AM for foreigners. But if you come alone, they’ll be cool to take you in already. Just be prepared to be joined in a table with other diners. In my case, I was joined in with a couple and another solo-er. It was a nice opportunity to make new friends. I also found it useful since I was able to ask recommendations on what to order.
4. Tourist spots and best shopping areas
Even if only had a few days to spend in HK, I wanted to go out and see some tourist spots around the area. A few nice articles that I based on were justoneticket.com, forbes.com, simonseeks.com, and wheretraveler. Given my time constraint, I was able to go to a few spots (comforably because of my Octopus card, btw) including:
- Mongkok area – this area is the best for shopping shoes, clothes, cosmetics. They also have a night market here. Streetfood is also awesome in this area.
- Tsim Sha Tsui – this area houses brands that are in the more expensive end, but they have an area that sells cheap gadgets and cameras. I wanted to buy a camera since most says that you can never get it cheaper than HK price, so I took advantage of the opportunity to buy already. With a bit of research, I’ve decided to buy my Fujifilm XA-3 in Tin Cheung. Here are some articles I based on: peterstewartphotography.com, aevansphoto.com, and ipricehk.com.
- Avenue of Stars – this place is both amazing in the morning and at night. In the morning you’ll people enjoying the view of the Hong Kong Island skyline and Victoria Harbor. It is particularly interesting at night (around 8PM) because of the light show. Try to arrive early to get a good spot.
- Kowloon Park – it’s just a regular park to be honest, BUT what’s interesting in this park are the park goers that does Taichi in the morning. I woke up early and decided to go for a walk in the park and saw how people are doing Taichi or sword practices and the likes. There’s even a spot in the park where there are birds hanging out. We’re not allowed to feed them though, but it was relaxing to look at them anyhow.
- Harbour City – basically a mall with high end brands, but what’s interesting here are the restaurants that are over-looking the HK skyline. Oh and yeah, this is where I met my parents because this is the usual dock area for cruises.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me about my trip. Hope this helps! Cheers!
Here are more photos from my trip. 🙂