Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Travelling on holiday to a country for the very first time can be very exciting. You have a whole new adventure waiting for you, but there are two things that many of us would not like - (1) The idea of planning and (2) the feeling of foreignness. You have completely no idea what is awaiting you, how are the people like, how is the culture like and what should you avoid. Which is why I have decided to compile my guide to traveling in Hong Kong based on my own experience. Hope it will shed some light and pre-empt you what to expect when you visit Hong Kong the next time.

Jul 2012

May 2014

Jul 2014

Feb 2016

Feb 2016

May 2016

May 2016

It is only 5 months into 2016 and I had already went Hong Kong twice. Every trip to Hong Kong would re-ignited my love for this bustling city over and over again. Hong Kong is a country I find myself going every now and then. Not because I can never be sick of it but more like it is the cheapest I can find and also one that I feel most comfortable with.

1. How many days is enough for a holiday trip to Hong Kong ?

Typically, a 4D3N would be enough. The 2 trips I had this year were 4D3N. Last 3 trips other than my work trip were 7D6N and I felt that it was a little too draggy. But it will be good if you want a really chillax trip as you will have more time to spare.

2. Language

The official local language is Cantonese. However the people generally is able to speak understandable Mandarin and English. If you're a Chinese, you should not face any problems. You may always ask for English menu if you cannot read Chinese.

3. Currency

HKD aka Hong Kong Dollar is used in Hong Kong. When I buy things in Hong Kong, I would just divide the HKD by 5. The last I changed was SGD 1.00 to HKD 5.71. Most malls accept credit cards too, so if you are looking to buy some luxury items there, you can just get your bank to activate your credit card for overseas usage, or just activate overseas cash withdrawal via atm. If you are travelling to Macau, their currency MOP is 1 to 1 to HKD and I have not met anyone in Macau that does not accept HKD.

4. Public Transport

Trains, also known as MTR is equally accessible as Singapore and they arrive very timely and frequently. But they are just equally crowded to the MRT in Singapore. You may purchase the tourist Octopus card or their standard Octopus card at the airport. If I remember correctly, it should cost around HKD 150, inclusive of HKD 50 deposit. If you purchase the Octopus card (which is our ez-link card equivalent) each ride would mostly cost around HKD 5.00 = SGD 1.00, unless you go slightly further, then it will be bit more expensive. But generally, their trains are considered affordable. Similar to Singapore, you'll just have to tap in and push through the rotating bars of the gantries to enter the station platforms.

5. Weather

I have travelled to Hong Kong in February, May, July and September and I find that the best period to come is in February. The weather was chilling at around 17 to 18 degrees and the sky was clear. May onwards, through July can get abit too hot and sunny, while September was the monsoon season. I remember when I went in July 2012, there was a typhoon (Typhoon Vincente) that passed by the Hong Kong island and the Hong Kong Observatory even issued a hurricane signal of 10 (which was the first in many years since 1999).

If you are going to Hong Kong during summer, make sure you bring lots of sunblock (oral, topical), aloe vera gel, umbrella, cap, whatever you can, to defend yourself against the merciless sun !! You can barely open your eyes if you do not wear a cap cause the sun is just SO GLARING.

6. Tax Claims and Duty Free

Hong Kong is tax free so just shop away ! No GST, No nothing !

7. The Locals

Albeit angst and rude, some are nice too I do not deny. Be warned that some of the locals, especially the older generation, can be really aggressive. People shove you around in crowded places. I remember on several occasions when I was ordering a meal from Tsui Wah, the staffs were literally giving me attitude, and it is not like I spoke to them in Mandarin (they really have something against China nationals). But in all honesty and fairness, there are also many friendly Hong Kongers out there.

8. Mobile Data in Hong Kong

9. Travelling to Macau

Travelling to Macau is very simple. All you need to do is to take a ferry from Ferry Terminal and there you are in Macau. I always take Cotal which departs from Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal. There are also other ferry options such as CKS and TurboJet. There were also a lot of "black market" tickets right in front of the counters, which explained why the counter tickets were all sold out when we got there the last time. We did not want to change our plans so we bought a pair TurboJet tickets from the black market vendors. The vendor lied to us and said that for our tickets, we depart at the designated timing, but for return, we can just head over and board any return ferry. But we were tricked and instead of boarding any return ferry, we had to like queue in this waiting line and they will squeeze us in if there are any available seats in the earlier ferry. Else, we would still have to take our designated ferry.

3/F Shun Tak Centre
200 Connaught Road Central
Sheung Wan Hong Kong

Nearest Station : MTR Sheung Wan Station Exit D

If you are headed for the St Paul's Ruins or casinos then you will need to take a bus (which is right outside the terminal) to Senado Square and walk a short distance. Do note that you will HAVE TO BRING your passport along if you are crossing over to Macau.

10. Shopping Places in Hong Kong

Many people often goes to Hong Kong and shop for ALOT of stuffs but for me, there are only 2 places that I will stay on for a long long time (1) Esprit (2) Uniqlo. Hong Kong has several Esprit Outlet Stores and when they have seasonal sales, each piece of apparel can go as low as SGD 15.00 so that's pretty much of a good deal. Uniqlo also has an extremely wide range of designs to choose from.

11. Food Guide for Hong Kong

Disclaimer: All recommendations below are based on my personal opinions and you may or may not agree with me. But regardless, do not hesistate to leave a comment to share your own opinions !

To me, Hong Kong is all about the food. The delicious food in Hong Kong usually makes up for their rude and unfriendly service crew. The quintessential Hong Kong breakfast has got to be scrambled eggs on toast, with macaroni and a cup of sweet, strong milk tea, or 鸳鸯. There are many different restaurants serving such menu, but I have tried a few to know which the better ones are.

Australia Dairy Co. (Jordan)
G/F, 47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan

Opening Hours: Mon to Wed & Fri to Sun: 07:30-23:00

Amongst the 茶餐厅, Australia Dairy Co. is definitely one of the most famous. It is easy to find, you exit at Jordan MTR and take a short walk to Parkes Street. In fact, it was just one a stone’s throw away from my hotel. One of the main reason why I have been going back to Rainbow Hotel.

Australia Dairy Co. is usually very cramped with both tourists and locals (or so I thought). The queue moves fast and I usually get a seat in less than 15 minutes. You just gotta be prepared to share a table with other people if you are travelling in small groups.

The breakfast set comes with a bowl of hearty macaroni, one eggs on toast, and one drink. I recommend two to share one set. The macaroni is meh but the egg on toast is what got me going back all the time. If you are not having the set and wants to order ala carte instead, then just skip the macaroni. Another item you have to order at Australia Dairy Co. is their milk pudding. It is smooth, creamy, and simply just melts in your mouth.

Kau Kee Beef Brisket Noodles 九記牛腩 (Sheung Wan)
G/F, 21 Gough Street, Central

Opening Hours: Mon to Sat 12:30-22:30

Kau Kee Beef Brisket Noodles is very much known as the best beef brisket noodles in Hong Kong. I really LOVE the beef brisket noodles at Kau Kee very much and I think it is definitely worth a visit ! Getting to Kau Kee Beef Brisket Noodles more hassle than the other food places because it is quite a distance away from Sheung Wan MTR and there is an uphill climb but the effort is definitely worth.

Tsui Wah Restaurant 翠華餐廳
77-81 Parkes Street, Jordon, Kowloon
And many other various locations

Opening Hours: 24 hours Daily for certain locations

This chain eatery probably needs no explanation ! Tsui Wah has branches all over Hong Kong so you should have no problem finding it. This well established char chan teng is known to be open 24 hours. The range of dishes served in this char chan teng will amaze, but perhaps the most amazing part is that none of the dishes has ever failed to satisfy. Locals come here, not for the service or decor but for the food. An extensive menu that offers a range of dishes from classic fish ball with horfun, XO fried rice, XO prawn noodles, to Japanese Udon Noodle and curry - retouched to their local's palettes. This is as close as you can come to Chinese comfort food - all at very reasonable prices.

Bai Wei Shi Pei 百味食品
688 Nathan Road, New Town Mall, Mong Kok

Tai Cheong Bakery 泰昌餅家
35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong
中環擺花街 35號地下

Hui Lau Shan 许留山
Many branches, basically everywhere

Dim Dim Sum
23 Man Ying Street, Man Wah Building, Jordan
Opening Hours: Daily 10:00-01:00

Street Food : Spicy Fishballs & Siew Mai

Via Tokyo
29A Cameron Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Opening Hours: Sun to Thu: 12:00-23:00 & Fri to Sat: 12:00-23:30

Urban Bakery Works
Shop 322, 3/F, Landmark Atrium, Hong Kong
Opening Hours: Mon to Fri: 07:30-20:00 Sat, Sun & PH: 08:30-20:00

Personally I think that there are still many hidden gems that I have not visited in Hong Kong. Say Lantau Island, Honolulu Cafe, Capital Cafe, etc etc. But I guess this should suffice for now. Will probably come up with another entry for Bangkok when I return from Bangkok next !

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