Hong Kong, a city of bright neon lights, crowds, amazing food and the hustle and bustle of activity, is a must visit destination in South East Asia.
We had visited this amazing city just recently for a few days. As it was our first visit to the city, we mostly did all the touristy things only. We tried to pack in as many sights as possible in the 4 days we had. We reached Hong Kong Airport in the morning. The landing strip is a beautiful sight as it is so close to the water. Once we got done with immigration and picked up or luggage, we went to the counter for the coach that was dropping us off at our hotel. We were taking transfers on a “seat – in – coach” (sic) basis, where the coach picks up & drops off many passengers from & to their respective destinations. First of all, as there were many passengers on that day for different coaches, we got into our coach after a long wait. Even once we got into our coach, the coach took a long route as there were many different hotels where other passengers needed to be dropped off. We took in our first sights of Hong Kong, as we sometimes passed narrow roads, street markets, small shops, fruit n vegetable vendors. This part looked like an older Hong Kong. Then there were times, as we reached the Wanchai district, when we saw tall buildings, modern architecture and a newer Hong Kong. Our hotel, the Grand Hyatt was also a part of this new Hong Kong, situated in the Wanchai district. The Wanchai district and a few others are the most developed and modern areas of Hong Kong island, where many of the financial, technological, electronic companies are based. Hong Kong itself is one of the financial hubs of the world.
The Grand Hyatt, one of the best hotels in Hong Kong; has great views, good service and is at a great location, being very close to the Wanchai ferry pier. It’s also close to many shops, restaurants and other entertainment. It houses the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, one of the biggest in the city, where there are many exhibitions, conferences, conventions, etc. taking place every few days. The rooms are beautiful, tastefully decorated and with great views of the skyline.
Once we were checked in, we freshened up and left immediately for our “Big Bus Hop on Hop Off” Hong Kong City tour. We took a taxi from our hotel to pier 7, which was the start point for our tour. There is one piece of advice I would give, travel by taxi only if absolutely necessary. It is an expensive affair. Also they accept only Hong Kong Dollars. They do not accept the US Dollar or RMB, the Chinese currency (which is a problem everywhere in Hong Kong). While we are at this another problem we faced was that most places in Hong Kong; restaurants, shops, etc. accept only visa, no American Express. Now getting back to the city tour, we had taken a 48 hours pass which covered all three of the routes and also the night tour. There were three routes to choose from, red, green and blue routes. The red route is a tour of Hong Kong Island and includes sights like Hong Kong Convention and exhibition Centre, Peak Tram, Lan Kwai Fong (Hong Kong’s premium dining experience), Mid-Level Escalators Man Mo Temple, etc. The Hong Kong Island tour enables you to explore everything from traditional temples and historic colonial sites to the most contemporary shopping and high-rise architecture. The green route takes you away from the bustling city, into the south of Hong Kong Island, providing beautiful views of Hong Kong’s countryside and coastline. The sights include Aberdeen, Ocean Park, Repulse Bay, Stanley Market, etc. At the Aberdeen Harbor, you can take a ride on a “sampan”, the traditional fishing boat. The blue tour is a tour of Kowloon. The sights include Temple Street markets, the science museum and many other markets, museums, etc. We chose to take the red & green route and the night tour so that in we could cover Kowloon by night.
On that first day we started with the red route from pier 7. We got off at directly at the Peak Tram stop, viewing the other sights from the bus itself. The Victoria Peak Tram & Tower, I found, is one of the best sights of Hong Kong. The Peak Tram takes you on the top to the tower which provides the best views of the city’s breath taking skyline. The tram ride itself is great fun indeed, taking the narrow route towards the top. Once we reached the top at the Peak Tower, it was an amazing sight. The Peak Tower, perched at 396 meters above sea level, is one of the most stylish architectural icons in Hong Kong. With an avant-garde design representing the epitome of modern architecture, the spectacular tower has been featured in millions of photographs and postcards across the world. Inside the peak tower, there is an array of restaurants, shops and other entertainment. And of course, the Peak Tower boasts of the highest 360 degrees viewing platform – The Sky Terrace 428 (It stands at 428 meters above sea level). The Sky Terrace offers breathtaking & spectacular panoramic views of this beautiful city. Whether you visit The Peak in the morning, afternoon or nighttime, The Sky Terrace 428 is a scenic spot that one should not miss. On P1 or level 1 there is an outpost of the wax museum, which house wax likenesses of international as well as local stars like Jackie Chan, etc. We skipped going there as we had already visited the one in the US. We took some great pictures of the panoramic views from the Sky Terrace, spent some time loitering around in the Peak Tower and then took the tram back down to get the next bus to continue our tour on the red route ahead. Once we “hopped on to the next bus, we did not stop at any other sights. We had spent a good chunk of our time at the Peak Tram, and had to also continue onwards for our night tour. The other spot we wanted to visit, but could not due to lack of time, is the Man – Mo temple. Built in 1847, the Man Mo Temple is a picturesque tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo).
Our tour ended at the point we started from, pier 7. We took the bus for our night tour which started at 6 pm. The night tour is a one hour tour of Kowloon at its best. The tour takes you through the bustling streets and night markets of Hong Kong. If one wishes, they can stop at any of these markets to take on the unique experience of haggling with the expert shopkeepers. You will be sure to get a good deal somewhere or the other. The night tour ends at the “Avenue of Stars” at the Tsim Sha Sui promenade. As you walk along the promenade at the Avenue of Stars, you will see a sight similar to the Hollywood walk of fame at Los Angeles. You will see the signed hand prints and statues of the many stars of the Hong Kong film & television industry. Between 8:00 and 8:20 pm, one should find a good spot to stand and watch the “Symphony of Lights” show. It is a spectacular sound & light show involving 44 buildings on the Hong Kong Island skyline. After strolling along the Avenue of Stars, taking pictures along the way, we stopped at a Starbucks and picked up a couple of coffees. We found an appropriate spot to watch the show and waiting in anticipation for it to start. We were not disappointed. It was a really amazing show which showcased the Hong Kong skyline at its best. After the show, we strolled towards the Star Ferry Terminal for the ferry ride across Victoria Harbor, back to Hong Kong Island. Once we reached Hong Kong Island, we had a quick dinner and headed back to the hotel.
Look forward to the continuation of the trip in the next post..coming soon!