At the start of January we headed over to Hong Kong to celebrate my birthday. I was so, so excited to explore a part of the world that was new to me and couldn’t wait to take it all in. Luckily for us, I have a wonderful friend from my uni days who lives in Hong Kong and we also met a man on the plane who lives there too, so we quizzed both of them on their top tips and must see places. I now present to you my top ten tips for visiting Hong Kong…
1. Get yourself an Octopus card
I had heard about the Octopus card that is used all over Hong Kong. It’s a prepaid card that works like an Oyster card in London. It’s great because you can save so much money on public transport by having one. As a Londoner, I found the MTR to be super cheap and such a convenient way to get around town. You can also use your Octopus to pay for things in fast food restaurants and convenience stores.
2. Buy theme park tickets from 7 Eleven
This is a tip that we picked up from our chatty plane companion. Tickets for places such as Disneyland and Ocean Park can be picked up from the 7 Eleven stores that are all over the city. There are two major pluses for this; firstly, no queues on arrival and secondly they are a couple of quid cheaper – hurrah!
3. Use the Openrice app
This tip was given to us by our lovely friend Cindy. It’s basically an app that you can use to source restaurants, cafes and general eateries. People post reviews and photos of the food. I found this super handy because it’s always a good idea to go on recommendations from others and we could see what was around when we were hungry. Plus I’m super cautious over food hygiene when eating out and this gave us a bit of a heads up.
Taken at Yum Cha in Tsim Sha Tsui.
4. Haggle at the markets
The night markets in Hong Kong are great, especially for choosing souvenirs. Make sure you know what price you are prepared to pay and haggle down if you think it’s on the steep side. There are some bargains to be had, but some merchants will try to take advantage of you!
5. Take advantage of the MTR
I loved using the MTR whilst we were away. I’m always a fan of walking lots and using public transport whilst away because I feel like you really get to see the place. The MTR goes all over Hong Kong and has stops near all of the major attractions. It even has a Disney themed train!
6. But also don’t be afraid to use a taxi
I was so surprised at just how reasonable the taxis are. When we arrived at the airport we went over to the taxi rank and it was so well organised. We knew how much we would be paying, the taxis are colour coded (red for Tsim Sha Tsui) and they’re all registered too, so we felt safe.
7. Do Disney
Disneyland in Hong Kong is really special. It’s much smaller than the other Disney parks that I’ve visited, it’s bitesized and a perfect addition to a visit to Hong Kong. We visited on my birthday and had such a fun day. It was super quiet in the park and we didn’t need to queue for any rides except for the Iron Man ride which had a twenty minute queue and had opened that day. We had so much time to do everything because we weren’t queuing all day and watched two parades, one show and met a few of the characters. All in all a fantastic birthday. Also, take advantage of the free wifi and fast passes.
8. Accept that it’s busy
Hong Kong is a bustling hive twenty-four/seven. We dragged our jet lagged selves out in the early hours one night for a drink and snack only to be greeted with streets still alive with people. It’s incredible. And also ridiculously handy if you need a shop in the middle of the night (which we actually did one evening when I was unwell!). It’s a bit daunting that the city is so tall and busy, but I think that’s part of Hong Kong’s charm. It’s pulse barely reaches resting state. So just be prepared to embrace it’s intensity.
9. Happy Valley Race course
Apparently, Happy Valley Race Course serves cheap drinks and it’s a great place to go for a night out. We didn’t find alcohol particularly expensive during our trip, but according to our plane pal, the race course is where it’s happening.
10. Check out the free places
There are lots of places to visit in Hong Kong that are either free or require a small donation. There are some beautiful temples, parks and gardens to explore. Perfect for those on a budget. Check out the Avenue of Stars for something quirky.
Have you visited Hong Kong?