Hong Kong is one of those places in Asia that I always wanted to see. I have heard so many things about the region and I’ve seen so many photos and I needed to visit, see and experience it myself. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of big cities before, with London only two hours away from home but let me tell you that most cities I’ve experienced so far were nothing like Hong Kong. Once I landed there, I have found that Hong Kong has its own, distinct personality and exploring the region was a unique experience.
I had spent 8 days in Hong Kong and no day was like the other. The city is bustling with energy and there is something new to do on every street and a different type of food to try with every step you take. With a population of over 7 million, it makes complete sense for Hong Kong to have over 25.000 (licensed) restaurants. This means that if I wanted to eat out at a new restaurant each day, it would take me over 80 years to do so. And no, I’m not getting my hopes up.
How to get there?
The best route I’ve found from Europe was London-Hong Kong, direct flight with Cathay Pacific Airlines. I have actually done a multi-city trip, which included 18 days in Taiwan as well. There are also some good flights from Budapest, Rome, Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen.
I usually prefer a direct flight, but one layover is never a big deal. I was pretty happy with the services provided by Cathay (could not say no to unlimited free noodles), their plane’s legroom and the food. A flight from Europe to Hong Kong ranges between 12-16 hours so make sure you have a good book to read or that you are tired enough to sleep. For long flights like this one, you will most probably have on-board entertainment (music, movies) provided by the airline, so that should make it easier as well.
The prices from Europe to Hong-Kong range between 400£-600£, depending on the dates of your flight and on the airline company of your choosing.
Where to stay?
Even if hong Kong is a big yet small city/region, you will find plenty of options for accommodation. I would not recommend going for something very cheap or for something too expensive. Keep in mind that space is a luxury in Hong Kong so always check to see the size of your hotel room before booking and if the room has a window or not.
Another thing to consider is on which side to stay. Hong Kong Island of Kowloon. I personally chose Hong Kong island, Causeway Bay. I found the location to be very practical as some points of interest were at a walking distance (in 10 minutes I was in Victoria Park). Wherever you stay, make sure that you are near a metro or bus station.
How to explore around?
Exploring Hong Kong is a great experience. Everything is well connected and it’s so easy to get from one place to another, either using the metro, buses, minibuses or taxis. I have found public transportation is Hong Kong to be pretty affordable, so taking a taxis to get to the exact place you want or for coming back to the hotel late at night will not dig holes through your budget.
Language and Currency
In Hong Kong, over 90% of the population of Chinese descent and the rest are foreign nationals and expats. The spoken language of the region is Chinese Cantonese but most people speak English as well, as both languages are acknowledged as official. The currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD). 1£ is about 10HKD, so it is quite easy to convert it. People in the service business in Hong Kong are friendly but at the same time, they don’t like to wait around for you in shops and restaurants. It’s more of a buy-or-leave attitude that you could feel, which can be classed as normal for big cities.
The currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD). 1£ is about 10HKD, so it is quite easy to convert it. Make you that you always double check the prices in HK. Some products like different types of fruits can be quite expensive and some shop owners might use a different measuring unit than the others. If you’re not paying attention, by the time you realised, you’ve already paid 15£ for 500g of grapes.
People in the service business in Hong Kong are friendly but at the same time, they don’t like to wait around for you in shops and restaurants. It’s more of a buy-or-leave attitude that you could feel, which can be classed as normal for big cities.
Now that you’re all up to date to how to get there, where to stay and how to spend your money, let’s talk about how to spend one week in Hong Kong.
1. Roam the wonderful streets of Hong Kong
I fell in love with the streets of Hong Kong. The busyness, the variety of shops, the pretty lights and all the delicious food – it just appealed to me. Hong Kong is very busy at all times, but you will sometimes find that odd street that’s peaceful and there is where you can catch your breath.
On a daily basis, I walked for about 15 kilometers per day, so make sure that you have some proper shoes on if you plan to explore Hong Kong by foot. You have to know that time will fly so make sure that you also hydrate and grab a snack once in a while.
2. Watch ‘A Symphony of Lights’ at The Victoria Harbour
A Symphony of Lights is a must when you visit Hong Kong so don’t miss it! It’s a light and sound show, staged every night, after 8 PM at Victoria Harbour. Actually, it’s the world’s largest permanent light and music show and once you’ve seen it, there will be nothing like it!
Everything around you takes part in the show, the skyscrapers, the boats, the water. It’s a wonderful experience and it’s one of those free things that you can do in Hong Kong which have a great impact on your experience.
3. Take a walk through Victoria Park, go shopping at The Fashion Walk and visit Times Square
I have been to most parks in Hong Kong, but Victoria Park was by far my favourite. The park sits on 47 acres and people of all cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs get together there to take a walk, to eat or to play a game of basketball or tennis. While walking in the park I also witnessed a few ‘toy boat’ races and the players meant business! It was loads of fun, so don’t forget to watch out for that as well!
Sometimes parts of the park are reserved for exhibitions, which I highly recommend anyone to go to; so many things to discover!
From Victoria Park, you can easily get to Fashion Walk, an area populated with shops and brands from all over the world. From Ted Baker to the latest high-tech accessories and to Korean beauty products, they have it all and you can find pretty much everything there. Don’t forget to also mind your budget. Hong Kong can be pretty expensive, especially when it comes to international brands.
4. Hike The Peak/The Victoria Peak/Lion Rock and enjoy the breathtaking views
Take a break from the busy city life and go for a hike. Going for a hike in Hong Kong will not only give you breathtaking views of Hong Kong but will also reconnect you with nature and give you a feel of the region. While up there you can contemplate on how everything used to look before the 1950’s when there were no skyscrapers around.
5. Try the food. Both from markets, the street and from restaurants
As mentioned, Hong Kong to have over 25.000 (licensed) restaurants. This means that if I wanted to eat out at a new restaurant each day, it would take me over 80 years to do so but I’ve tried my best. Each day, I ate out at a new restaurant and each day I’ve tried other types of street food. Hong Kong can be heaven for a foodie and it definitely felt like it. Food is quite affordable in Hong Kong (except fruits, which I’ve found rather expensive). I’ve also had to try some French/European cuisine (just to see how they do things in HK) and that was a bit more expensive (up to 100£ for four).
6. Go to Lan Kwai Fong
If you are the party type or the Boheme type, then Lan Kwai Fong is for you. During the day, you will find cosy bars, antiques and lovely shops and during night time you will find some amazing places to eat, drink and party. Lan Kwai Fong is where both the people of HK and the expats go to party and have a good time. If you spend a week in Hong Kong make sure that you put aside some time to explore this area as well.
7. Go to Mong Kok and the Ladies Market (spoiler alert: it’s not for ladies only)
Mong Kok is a super-busy area. At all times. On any weather. Nobody really warned me of how busy this area is and once I’ve got there I was amazed. So many people roamed around, all the shops were full and I had to queue for literally anything (even to look at a pair of shoes). I loved it! That is because I love crowds. If you feel overwhelmed by crowds or if you have a sensitivity to noise or travelling with a toddler, you might want to only make a short stop here or avoid it altogether.
There is also a popular market in Mong Kok, called ‘The Ladies Market’. Once entered, it feels like the market never ends. There are different products there, from souvenirs to clothes, accessories and jewellery. Haggling and negotiating the price is a common practice there and you should never go for the price that was stated at the beginning. I’ve got some pretty cute stuff from there, especially some cat socks and a cat coin purse (too adorable to say no to).
8. Take a half day trip to Stanley
I wanted to go to Stanley and knew about the place from my prior research about Hong Kong. I was not sure exactly how to get there but I was lucky enough to be introduced to a lovely person, who is living in Hong Kong. She was the one that introduced us to the mini-buses as well (that was so much fun). Stanley is located in the south, east of Repulse Bay it has a great market, lovely restaurants and great views. A cab will probably get you there for about 10-15£ and a mini-bus will cost about 3-5£. It’s definitely worth exploring that side of Hong Kong as well.
9. Take a one-day trip to Macau
Here’s another idea on how to spend a week in Hong Kong. If you go to Hong Kong, you must visit Macau as well. It’s just an hour away by ferry and it’s a fascinating place. Make sure that if you visit, you will not only stick to the casino side (Coloane, Cotai & Taipa). Go to the north side of Macau as well, where the locals live, where you can see the ruins of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the Fort and the Gran Lisboa.
How would you spend one week in Hong Kong?
Which is your favourite spot that you either have been to or want to go to?
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