When in Hong Kong

I was fortunate enough to have a chance to be in Hong Kong. If your looking for an escape where you can shop till you drop while enjoying the view of nature or wanted to experience a different culture. Then Hong Kong is right for you. Its really a tourist friendly city. And its true that Hong Kong is a perfect destination for first timers like me. Feel free to read along this blog to get a glimpse of what Hong Kong can offer and some tips too. For me, there’s one word to describe this city… its AWESOME. 🙂

Budget

All of us is concerned of how we can survive when travelling. You need to allot budget for this to enjoy the city. Basically if you have 30KPHP pocket money you can definitely survive a 3-5 day stay in Hong Kong provided you’ve settled your accommodation and airfare. This is just estimation only since exchange rates varies. You also need to allot around 2150PHP pesos for the travel tax and terminal fee. I believe if your thrifty enough and lucky to find some good discounts you can buy pasalubong for your family.

Tour Package or Do-It-Yourself
You can opt to choose a tour package but if your travelling with friends you don’t need to. Navigating the city is not that hard. If you get lost, just look around and I’m sure you can find one of our kababayans. In tour package you are bounded by its schedule unlike DIY it depends on you. You just need to plan ahead specially if your going to a tourist spots. I believe tour package is suitable for you if you don’t have time to prepare and if when your in large group of people like with your family to avoid the hassle. You need to weigh things out and choose a path where you can save more.
Accommodation
There are a lot of hotels to choose from in Hong Kong but we chose a Guesthouse which is cheaper than a hotel. Ours is Legend Guesthouse which is located just in front of the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station. We booked it via booking.com. We actually had problems with the booking payments but they’re kind enough to still reserve the room slot to us. We paid a downpayment first and settled it the next day. Their hotel is clean with a working heater. They’re also very considerate because we originally booked a room for 3 people but one of us wasn’t able to come so we asked if we can be transferred. And they did and also gave a us a refund. I have nothing against this hotel. They also have free WiFi service. The rooms are compact. Compact means everything is squeezed in. But you can still freely move. They had room service everytime your out. And also no missing items in our case. I still advise you to lock your important belongings to the vault provided. They also offer free water in the lobby of their hotel floors. They can be found in 12 and 13th flr (main reception) of Harilela Mansion. If your planning to go to Hong Kong you can consider this hotel.
First Ride in Hong Kong
When I first arrived in Hong Kong, a lot of things are bothering me. Thoughts of being lost somewhere, of meeting bad people and other negative stuffs. All of the negative vibes fade away when I saw the airport. I was so amazed. Its so huge and very organized. All hallways are properly labeled so it will be easy for you to find where your heading to.
Anyway, after my clearance to the immigration and got my luggage I bought an octopus card. You can find a MTR kiosk around the airport. This card is very useful for travelling around the city. You can use it on all modes of transportation like MTR, Cityflyer, Ding ding Tram. You can even use it to pay at stores like 7/11 or McDo. Buy it early to avoid hassle. CityFlyer for instance accepts cash payments but should be an exact amount.
In my case I used the CityFlyer to get to my hotel since riding Airport Express a dedicated MTR line from the airport to the City is quite expensive around 100HKD while CityFlyer cost 33HKD. You also need to note that there are specific bus number you need to ride to get thru the City. So you need to asked your hotel for proper instructions on how to get there to avoid getting lost. Riding CityFlyer is convenient but expect that most people have there own luggage so watch out for rolling luggage while in transit since the luggage compartment can’t accommodate all. The CityFlyer also flashes in LEDs each bus stops. I was so keen at reading every station though my destination is at 13th stop. 😛
When I got off the bus and saw the street (Nathan Road). It was so busy, dazzling city lights welcomed me. Lots of people are walking. Everywhere I look, there are people carrying their luggage. Tsim Sha Tsui is like a mall shopping strip with all the branded merchandise in every corners. At first I find it hard to find my building good thing I note the building number of our hotel and have asked a sales lady outside a store and told me that every street block are numbered. When I settled in our hotel room I attempted to walk around the block but didn’t go too far as I was scared I might get lost so I ended up with a 7/11 15HKD noodle meal as my dinner. 😛
China Travel Service
The next day I went back to the airport to pickup my friend. (We’re on a different flight because there’s no available seat as we got our ticket on Cebu Pacific Air’s year-end seat sale.) Since we’ve already changed partial of our pocket money in HKD, we bought some of the tickets in China Travel Service kiosk in the airport. Btw, the CTS ticket you’ll buy in the airport is slightly cheaper as compared to the price on other CTS branch in the city. So I suggest you need to prepare a HKD money on the day of your flight so that you can buy tickets before going to your hotel. This will save you time as tickets lines in the attractions are long. They also offer food bundles with your entrance ticket in Oceanpark and Disneyland but there’s a pre-defined list of restaurant you can choose from.
HKD to PHP 
Speaking of money changing, there’s only a slight difference either change your pocket money in the Philippines or in Hong Kong. I’ll just list down the Money Changer Shop that we went to.
Sanry’s Money Changer – 2F Market! Market! Bonifacio Global City, Taguig Philippines
Standard Money Changer – Shop 9B(45), G/F Mirador Arcade, 58 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong

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Let the Adventure Begins
After buying all the necessary tickets, we went back to our hotel to settle all the luggage and planned to proceed on our first stop which is the Ocean Park. But before that, we ate at a nearby restaurant and have tasted an authentic Congee. I’m not good at food tasting, but I love the taste of their Congee.
Day 1: Oceanpark
Our ride to Oceanpark marks my first MTR ride. At Tsim Sha Tsui Station, we went to Admiralty Station and took a CityBus Route 629.  So my first impression of the Park is its huge. 😀 First attraction you’ll see is the Grand Aquarium. On the side, you’ll find a restaurant you can buy foods. At the entrance you can get a map of the whole park for your reference. We line up in the Grand Aquarium for about 15-30 minutes  I guess, but the view is spectacular. There are wide varieties of fishes inside the aquarium from Hammerhead Sharks, to Sting rays, to Crabs and sea horses. There are also school of fishes with a cylindrical aquarium. It was really a great view To my surprise there are even Corals inside or maybe a sea anemone. Along the trail, you’ll find some tips and other water and marine conservation acts. We spent almost 2hours there before we decided to eat. We then proceeded to Old Hong Kong Food Street and bought a nice set of Hong Kong Style noodle and a steamed rice roll. I have to admit, I didn’t fancy the taste of the steamed rice roll, but the noodles is quite good. Just like the Hong Kong Style noodle flavor you can buy on our MRTs. 🙂 After our heavy lunch we proceeded to the Thrill Mountain where we tried our first Cable Car ride. From the word itself, it is the location of the park where the thrilling rides are. There are fives rides on this thrill mountain, and tried four. The Flash, Hair Raiser, Rev Booster and Whirly Bird. Among those my favorite is The Flash as I love the feeling of being tossed on a ride plus getting an aerial view of the park. They also show the estimated waiting time for each ride.
We weren’t able to explore other rides of the park since need to go down to eat on the restaurant to consume our food voucher which is until 6PM. But before going down we dropped by at the South Pole Spectacular where you can find the Penguins. Its was so cold there and you’ll see them swim and play around. 🙂 We dined at Panda Cafe, where we stayed for about 30 minutes. And proceeded at The Lagoon to standby for the Symbio, a 360° water screen show. It was a perfect way to cap of my Ocean Park adventure. The show was fantastic, the 360° water screen, the sound effects, the fiery waters. They’re really great. 😀 As you noticed, there are other attractions you can enjoy, so I suggest you to spend your ticket well, I believe, there’s a 2-day pass for this so you can come back the next day if you weren’t able to complete all the rides.

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The next day, we went to the Ngong Ping Village, my second Cable Car ride, but this time with a more decent cable car. This is where we appreciate the convenience of buying tickets from the CTS, since we don’t have to wait for about 60-75 minutes just to buy tickets. We went straight to the counter to exchange our CTS vouchers, to wristbands. 🙂 Our ride here is just MTR from Tsim Sha Tsui to Tung Chung Station walk past the Citygates Mall to the Cable Car Terminal.
The view of the City is great. Your eyes will be relaxed as we get pass to the mountains. You can see from the cable car the view of their airport. The air is quite cold on top even though the sun is rising. The panoramic view of Hong Kong waters is really great surrounded by thick forest. We rode a Crystal Cabin going up and a Standard Cabin going down. The only difference is that crystal cabin has glass floor. 🙂 You can also view the mountain trail.
Once arrived in the village, brace yourself on long walks. Literal, “Lakad Pa More”. 😛 There are shops here where you can buy souvenir items and dine in for snacks like Subway. Among the popular sites here are the Big Buddha, Po Lin Monastery and Wisdom Path. The way to the Big Buddha is quite tiring but the view is really great. You see I’m running out of adjectives here 😛 But yes, the view is so beautiful. 🙂 Its also my first time to enter a Buddhist monastery, and its so solemn, peaceful and calm. I was able to see a ritual being performed by monks. 🙂 Because we’re quite exhausted, we decided to rest and eat at subway after which visited some souvenir shops and then went down a cable car ride again going to Tung Chung Terminal.
Our adventure continues, this time at Citygates Outlet, its one of the haven for shoppers. Everywhere you look, there’s a sale on every establishment. And the outlets here are designers outlets ranging from Michael Korrs, Coach, etc… to Clothing like Giordano, Levis, etc… to sneakers like Nike, Adidas and New Balance. If you have the budget, make sure to drop by on this outlets. Fair warning though, CONTROL. 😛
We capped the night with a yummy dinner at The Spaghetti House in 1/F 57 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. If you’re nearby, don’t forget to drop by! its a must try! 🙂

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Day 3: The Peak
We allotted our third day, visiting The Peak. To get there, you can ride MTR to Central Station and then exit J2, you need to cross Queen’s Road Central to Garden Road to reach the Peak Tram Terminus. The train ride is a little bumpy and has the most unusual track since its inclined. You also have the nice view on the side, This is a feel of Hong Kong’s humble beginnings. After the inclined train ride, you will be welcomed with a nice view of Hong Kong’s metropolis. There are variety of food options to choose. Of course, a mall where you can shop some souvenir items. Part of The Peaks attraction is the Madame Tussaud’s Hong Kong. This is where you get a chance to have a picture of your favorite celebrities. There are wide range of well known people here, from history to politics, to celebrities, sports icon and comic icons. We’ve released our hidden talent here just to came up with a nice shot with known celebrities. Wala ng hiya-hiya di naman taga doon. 😛 After Madame Tussaud’s we ate our lunch at Tsui Wah Restaurant, often known as Cha Chaan Teng (Tea Restaurant). It offers various Chinese foods such as noodles, congees, rice meals, etc. Here’s what I ordered. You see I’m on a tight budget so whichever is below 70-80HKD is fine with me. 🙂
After eating, we went inside The Peak Tower to reach the Sky Terrace 428. We stayed the rest of the afternoon until sundown to experience the best panoramic view of the Hong Kong skyline. I have to remind there are many people here so taking that perfect picture of Hong Kong buildings is a challenge but the view is really spectacular. If you’re the type who loved City Lights and buildings, this is really a perfect place for you. They also offered a digital audio/visual tour thru their handy touch screen panel. It describes the iconic buildings along Hong Kong skyline.

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Day 4: Central Day

We allotted this day suppose to be to roam around Central to eat foods and to buy some goodies, however we were lost because I wasn’t able to prepare properly and find it hard to locate the restaurant that I listed. What made it worse is that the Tim Ho Wan restaurant located in ifc mall was under renovation so there. We tried to reach the MTR again and went to Wan Chai to find Maxim’s Restaurant, some sort of chinese fast food chain. However we got confused with its logo to which we’ve already came across while we’re walking. While walking we decided to proceed to Timesquare Hong Kong to check some stuff. We ended up dining at Pizza Express, a pizza and pasta restaurant which is quite expensive. I spent around 180HKD for pasta and a dessert platter 😦  But the food is really great thank goodness. 😛 After eating we decided taking the Ding Ding Tram heading to Central Station to St. John’s Cathedral. Its a perfect way to kill time. The fare is around 3HKD or any destination. Luckily we were able to reach the church on time. They also have special prayer service in which we prayed hard. 🙂 After church we decided to go to the Symphony of Light along the Avenue of Stars. There’s not much on this attraction, a dancing light in tuned with a beat. However the music accompaniment is not loud. Don’t bother getting to front view, you can let all the people lined up to the shore and wait for them to leave the place once the show is finished. Here you can have a sideview of Hong Kong skyline which taken atop Victoria Peak.  The view as usual is magnificent. 🙂 We still have enough energy left that we decided to eat dinner at Harbour City. Not knowing that the restaurant we’re supposed is not existing anymore. 😦 Good thing its not that far from the Avenue of Stars. So we ended up at Dimdimsum Bar where I ate rice again I spent around 100HKd here for food. The food is good as well. 🙂 The tea is like what’s being served on a normal tea shop here in the Philippines.

We went home a bit tired. This is a reminder to me as well as to you to properly plan out your route in order to avoid getting lost. Remember, when you get lost, expect you will spend more on food and transpo.

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Day 5: Disneyland
We woke up the next day with rainy weather. We thought it will be a hindrance to our Disney adventure pero walang makakapigil samin. 😛 We again took MTR to Central Station then take interchange station to Sunny Bay where there’s a dedicated train going to Disneyland 😀 What makes the train ride exciting is that there’s a mickey shape windows as well as mini statue of iconic Disney characters inside the train. When we reached our destination, I was stunned, the place is so magical. You can definitely feel forever young. Its so huge that you need to carefully look at the map to plan your route. We actually didn’t explore the rides because we thought that most them are for kids. 😛 Instead we look for good finds at souvenir shops on all portions of the theme park. Our first thriller ride is the Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. Its kind of a roller coaster ride but in total darkness to resemble the galaxy. 😛 I felt quite dizzy after riding this. Maybe because I took off my glasses and all I see was the flashes of light. Most thrilling rides can be found on Toy Story Land. So we headed right away. We tried RC Racer and Toy Soldier Parachute Drop. I suggest you attempt to take the front seat of RC Racer. Its fun and exciting. We walked past the Fantasyland but didn’t took any rides, because again we thought its for kids. So we checked the souvenir shops here 😛 We then proceed in Mystic Point, we’re supposed to be only checking some souvenirs like in Fantasyland but decided to ride the Mystic Manor. It was a really nice attraction. The light and sound effects are so cool. After here we proceeded at Grizzly Gulch, in here we tried the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars, its quite a thrilling ride. The sound effects are great. Pardon me for saying, there’s a portion of the ride where you thought its done, but its not which made me feel nervous. 😛 In Adventureland, we tried the Tarzan’s Treehouse which is quite deserted because you need to ride a raft to get there. But we didn’t look around the treehouse, instead we sat there and rest for a while. After we’ve already freshen up, we decided to go back again to look for souvenirs again as well as find a place to use our food voucher. We decided to eat at Royal Banquet Hall in Fantasyland. The Riverview Cafe and Explorer’s Club restaurants are closed while we didn’t fancy the food offerings of Starliner Diner and Tahitian Terrace. We ate the Royal Mixed Grill combination meal with beef, chicken, sausage and bacon. Such a heavy lunch/dinner for us. 🙂 Sulit na sulit ang food voucher. 😛
Our adventure here is very memorable, if given a chance to come back, I’ll really make sure to attempt trying all the rides. Prepare your money because surely you will spend most here for the Disney goodies. Just pick the items only exclusive to Disneyland. Walang sisihan pag napamahal ka 😛

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I hope you learned some tips during our stay in Hong Kong. I know some of you were able to explore Mongkok. If you do, please share it on the comments section below, I’m looking forward to visit that place. Hopefully. 😀 If I’ll be given another chance to come back, I’ll try more street foods, like the egg tart, egg waffle and pineapple bun. I’m so excited to share with you my next travel experience. Till my next post. 😀

Just a few more pointers:
  • Upon reaching the hotel, find groceries first to buy cheaper water, instant noodles for your breakfast. 😛 Also asked your hotel, if they offer free water.
  • Bring Utensils and Water bottle for your convenience. 🙂
  • Don’t forget, Tissues and Wet wipes before your flight. Believe me its much cheaper in the Philippines compared here. 😛 Also, we noticed, most restaurant doesn’t provide tissues.
  • If you have the budget, take advantage of internet service in the country, you can find a kiosk where they offered pocket wifi at a reasonable price. I forgot the name of the kiosk, but you can find one its near the CTS kiosk. Meanwhile, Globe Telecom’s rate for international data is around 600.
  • Download MTR related application including the map. Its very useful too.
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