china hong kong

Hong Kong

Sunday, October 26, 2008tee

Hong Kong, October 2008
Here’s my own version of “HongKong Survival Kit”. :) Hopefully this may come handy to anyone who wants to visit HongKong (and a note-to-self as well in case I want to come back in the future).

Money HongKong, being an special administrative region from China, has its own currency – the Hong Kong dollar. (As of today, the exchange rate is around USD 1 = HKD 7.40, or in pesos, HKD 1 = PhP 6.50). Most shops and stores will expect you to pay in HK dollars, although there are a few which will gladly receive your US dollars (the stores’ exchange rate is also good.) Moneychangers can be found anywhere – every corner in busy Kowloon or inside stores and malls. If you’ve run out of cash, major credit cards are acceptable as well.

Places to Stay

1. Hotels – Hong Kong offers a range of good hotels (Marriot, Shangrila, Inter Continental, Sheraton, Peninsula, Ritz-Carlton, etc).

2. Apartments – If staying in HongKong for weeks or months, it would be better to stay in apartments which also offer the amenities in hotels. There are many hotel apartments scattered over the city, as well.

3. Guest Houses – Another option when visiting HongKong for those on a budget are guest houses. These are for guests who don’t mind basic facilities (small room with aircon and toilet). There are a lot of guest houses in HongKong, but stay clear of those in ChungKing mansion, a friend of mine had a bad experience with her stay there. HongKong Sealand Guest House is a recommended place, you’d be surprise there’s WiFi internet provided here.

4. Hostels – For the budget conscious, another choice to stay are hostels. Some hostels are located in the countryside, but there are those which are conveniently located in the city. The YMCA’s “The Salisbury” provides dorm-type rooms at affordable prices.


Transportation

1. Taxis – Taxis will take you anywhere in the city, although I’ve read that a certain taxi will only have one route/area designation (depending on its color). Taxis are a bit pricey in HongKong, though.

2. Trams, Buses and MTR – Public transportation is the cheapest means to go to places in HongKong. Trams, Buses (double deckers) and the MTR covers different routes and will take you where to go (for this, a map will be handy). Public transportation can be paid through cash (HK $), and tickets. But if you’re planning to use the public transportation for a number of times, the most convenient method is to use an “Octopus Card” which is a prepaid card that can be used to pay for any public transportation. The Octopus card is also accepted in some stores to buy groceries such as 7-11. For HK $150, you can buy an Octopus card (only $100 can be used, the reserve $50 can be refunded along with the remaining contents once the card is surrendered. If running low in credit/load, you can still use the reserve $50 to pay for your expenses, it will just be deducted from the amount which will be refunded later on.)

3. Star Ferry – Star Ferry is a boat which carries passengers from HongKong to Kowloon and vice versa. Star Ferry only takes around 5 minutes and is a very fun way to cross to the HK island. I’d recommend you try this out (even once). Best time to ride it would be in the evening so you’d get a view of the amazing city lights by the harbour.

Must Visit and Must See Places

Depending on your needs (if you’re into culture, sports, etc), Hong Kong also offers a lot of places to see and visit (museums, theme parks, and others). See books in recommended reads for a complete list.
1. Avenue of Stars

2. Symphony of Lights

3. Ocean Park


4. HongKong DisneyLand
5. Victoria Peak

6. Aberdeen Fishing Village



Shopping
HongKong is not called the “shopping mecca” in Asia for nothing. In HongKong you can see stores, boutiques and bazaars in almost every corner. In fact, it looks like one big “shopping city”, if there’s such a term. Depending on your needs – jewelry, designer items, jades, clothes, techy stuff, European/imported brands, HongKong provides a wide array of choices. Here are a list of places to start shopping:

1. City Gate – Outlet stores including Nike, Esprit, Adidas, Benetton can be found in this mall. Since these are outlet stores, the items generally cost lesser (from hundreds to thousand/s of pesos) than here in the Philippines.

2. Tiangges – There are lot of bazaars and night markets in HongKong. Kowloon is famous for “Ladies Market” which is an open night market which opens till 11.30 in the evening. Prices are usually jacked-up (I’ve noticed the starting price can reach up to an additional 100%) so haggling is a requirement here. Most vendors are willing to bargain and will lower their prices. Other markets include the flea market in Li Yuen West and East streets in HongKong and Stanley Market. The markets in Li Yuen and Stanley are easier to get by especially if you don’t have “haggling talents” or patience for haggling like me (Haggling is a game, so I’ve been told). Most of the merchandise have prices labeled in them and these are reasonably priced, although some vendors can give discounts especially when you’re buying in bulk. Some boutiques around the street also sell merchandise at reasonable prices.


3. H&M - This is a store in Queen’s Road (right in front of Li Yuen) which sells a mixture of all brands and a whole lot of fashion finds and in reasonable and too-good-to-be-true prices.

4. Other malls. Pacific Place, Harbour City, IFC Mall are also good areas to shop. For those with an unlimited credit limit, the area in Central district is a good place to start. Walking in the place is like stepping out of a picture of Paris where all the good designer labels are there (Ferragamo, Blvgari, although these brands can also be found in almost every mall.)

Recommended Reads:
I’m not really a Hong Kong expert, so on top of reading this blog, if you’re considering visiting Hong Kong sometime in the future, please take time to read these as well:


1. Mini Hong Kong , The Essential Visitors’ Guide (www.explorerpublishing.com) – My friend loaned to me this book and it contains a lot of information from places to visit, to hang-out places, where to shop what, where to eat, the essentials, Hong Kong profile. I found this book really information and very handy, with a mini map of HongKong and the MTR system to boot.


2. Hong Kong Visitors’ Kit (www.discoverhongkong.com)– I got one from Ocean Park and in the place where we stayed. This kit will easily fit into your pocket or bag. This is provided by the tourism board and contains a condensed list and description of Hong Kong’s spots and must see places.

If you'll have the chance to visit HongKong, I hope you'd have loads of fun as I did! :)

(more pics at my multiply page)
* P.S. Picture grids were created using Google Picasa, a ever reliable tool especially if I'm too lazy to edit. :)

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