When Visiting Hong Kong

I have recently gone to Hong Kong (and Macau as side trip) for a trade fair. It wasn’t all work for sure. Since Hong Kong is one of my most favourite places on earth, I made sure to enjoy the city as well. My last visit to Hong Kong was in 2006 and even though it still looks the same as it was during my last visit, I still had fun. For some reasons, it is one place where I really feel at home, second to my country.

For this nth visit, I decided to list down the things that visitors can expect and doΒ when visiting Hong Kong. I will constantly update this when I remember more from my previous visits.

1. When using the stairs or entrances, always keep left. Remember, HK used to be a British colony.

2. When riding escalators, leave the left lane for those people who are in a hurry.

3. When dining, arm yourself with your own table napkin. Most HK restaurants, especially the Cantonese restaurants, don’t provide table napkins.

4. Wear flats / comfortable shoes. HK is a place where most areas are accessible by foot. Aside from taking the MTR (underground train) or the ferry, a lot of people walk to their destinations.

5. Therefore, expect to do a lot of walking. HK is never fun when you spend your transfers riding taxis.

6. Always keep your rubbish (trash). The place is too clean for you to be littering. Besides, trash bins can be seen everywhere.

7. When putting your rubbish in the bins, don’t forget to follow their segregation instructions.

8. Don’t forget to carry a map when going around. Maps can be found once exiting the immigration in the airport. Look for their tourism booth if you want more information about the city’s attractions.

9. If you forget to bring a map with you when going around, don’t panic. Information booths can be found in almost all MTR stations. You can seek help from their very efficient information officers.

10. HK never lack Chinese and English signages especially in tourist-frequented areas.

11. Therefore, don’t be afraid to EXPLORE and GET LOST. πŸ™‚ (This one is my motto when travelling. Haha.)

12. Expect to be in a huge crowd in malls, MTR stations, restaurants, and night markets especially after office hours.

13. Expect to see constructions. This country never fails to spend for further development and facelift.

14. Shopping stores and restaurants aren’t only seen in buildings. Expect to see more underground, especially in areas which connect you to the MTR.

15. Stay either in Hong Kong Island or Kowloon area especially if you are a first time visitor. I found myself staying in New Territories during my most recent visit (booking done by a travel agent) and the travel time from the hotel to the city center took most of my time. Plus, I had to head back to the hotel before 12 midnight since I had to catch the last train to the hotel. Unless you just want to do a Disney trip, then hotels in New Territories are not so advisable venues to stay. (Note: Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t really all that bad. The hotel we stayed in, Royal Park Hotel, was a 4-star hotel with really great amenities, newly-renovated rooms, flat screen TV, relaxing dining area, name it. On the brighter side, it provided me really comfortable nights in HK.) πŸ™‚

16. For first timers who are on a free and easy travel (open schedule), a visit to the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) office or booth could be worth your time. They have the maps and the travel packages that you would need.

17. Expect to see a lot of ferry companies offering cruise packages especially in Kowloon Pier (Tsim Tsa Tsui area). They all service day and night cruises (some with buffet meals) which are worth taking.

18. For people who are more into heritage and culture (like me), you might want to take the Dukling ferry ride organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Dukling is the icon of Hong Kong and is an authentic Chinese junk built in Hong Kong in 1955, originally owned and manned by Chinese fishermen.

19. Shopping centers / stores usually open at 11 am and close at midnight. Expect to still see peopleΒ  / shoppers on the streets even at midnight.

20. Take some time to stroll along Avenue of the Stars and witness the Hong Kong Skyline Light and Sound Show which is listed as the largest permanent light and sound festival by Guiness Book of World Records. The show usually starts at 8 P.M.

21. Most hotels provide a “Drive Me to (Name of Hotel)” coupons which have the hotel’s name, address, and contact numbers in English and Chinese. If your hotel has them, then don’t forget to bring one with you. This maybe useful especially when you take the taxi in going back to the hotel. Bear in mind that not all taxi drivers can understand and speak English.

22. For a bird’s eyeview of Hong Kong, visit either R66, HK’s revolving restaurant, or Victoria Peak. These two are definite must-go’s. The moment of being on top of the city can make you feel so relaxed.

23. Try the local food. What’s the use of visiting a place without getting to know the culture? Good and reasonable Cantonese food can be found almost everywhere. Eversince I started visiting Hong Kong, I always eat Cantonese food in Mongkok. The area has a row of Cantonese restaurants where you can dine and at the same time experience being with the locals.

24. Even when travelling on a budget, bring at least some shopping money. Leaving Hong Kong without shopping can never be fun! πŸ™‚

25. When travelling with children, it would be wiser to just visit the theme parks such as the Ocean Park and Disneyland. You wouldn’t want your children to be walking with the crowd in Mongkok, Tsim Tsa Tsui, Causeway Bay, and the likes. There wouldn’t be a worse nightmare than a child getting lost in the crowd.

26. In MTR stations, when a voice over warns “Mind the Gap”, do mind the gap.

27. Go from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon (Wanchai to Tsim Tsa Tsui or Tsim Tsa Tsui to Central) and vice versa using the Star Ferry. See why the National Geographic named this ferry crossing as one of the 50 places of a lifetime.

28. Try visiting the Aberdeen Fishing Village. It provides you with at least a good picture of a local life.

29. HK fashion (which for me is very artistic and expresses a lot of freedom) could be different from Philippine fashion in more ways than one. It’s nice to people-watch but these locals would prefer to mind one’s own business.

30. Dress up like the locals even just for a day. Remember, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. It’s fun!

31. When in a group tour, if the tour escort or guide (which is always a local) says that meeting time is at 8 A.M., then it’s 8 A.M. and not 8:01 A.M. Time is very important in this part of the world.

32. Have fun like no one’s watching. πŸ™‚

33. Take lots of photos.

34. If you want to ask a local for directions, always ask first if he/she knows how to speak English. Some of them, especially the older ones, have zero knowledge in English. A few may even get intimidated if you directly talk to them in English which sometimes just make them walk away even if you are still talking to them. If this happens to you, don’t get offended because logically, you should be the one speaking their language since you are in their country. Haha.

35. Better yet, learn some Cantonese words first when planning a trip to Hong Kong. This will make your travel easier. It will also provide you with a wonderful experience if you get to really converse with the locals.

36. If you want to do some last minute shopping at the airport, check-in early. Hong Kong International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world and currently has 80 departure gates. It has a huge shopping center inside with a number of really inviting stores which can make you wander longer than you want.

Last Updated: 12 July 2008

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12 Comments »

  1. […] in the Macau Peninsula. (This is based from the two trips to Macau that I had. Like my entry about Hong Kong, this will be updatedΒ  from time to time especially when I get to remember the places I went to […]

  2. Joy said

    Hey.. I was in HK recently too. Next time do let me know when you get to HK because I go there frequently.

  3. pamalfaro said

    @JOY: Sure! Will keep in touch when I finalize my plans of going back again. Do send my regards to the SPYs. πŸ™‚

  4. Marti said

    Hi Pam, thanks so much for these very colorful tips. Was in Hong Kong with my wife just last Nov 18-21 and we had so much fun, even if it’s our first visit… thanks to you! Btw, I printed your list of tips and used it as our checklist of “must do” while we were in HK… “swak” talaga!!!

    We weren’t able to visit Macau though, since we were so busy hopping (not shopping ha since everything seems so expensive…hehe) around HK. Anyway, we did enjoy the trip and we’re pretty sure we’ll be going back to HK soon, and include Macau in our itinerary also.

    Pls do post more travel tips, ok? Hehe… Thanks again and God bless!

  5. pamalfaro said

    @MARTI: Hi there. πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for visiting my site. I’m glad that you found the tips helpful. Even more glad that you and your wife had such a great time in HK. πŸ™‚ HK is just a superb place to visit!

    I really hope to be posting more travel entries soon. I’ve been to a few more places after Hong Kong however, managing my travel agency is somehow taking most of my time now.

    Do leave comments or even questions about destinations if you have any. Have fun in your next travel! πŸ™‚

    Thanks. πŸ™‚

  6. Marti Mercado said

    Hi Pam, here are some more suggestions (those that I wish I had done during our recent trip…):

    1. Bring a good camera – one which you could easily use in dim light or at night. This will be extremely useful when visiting places such as the aquariums at Ocean Park (dim light), the fireworks and light displays at Disneyland and of course, the breathtaking view of HK from The Peak.

    2. When using a new camera, learn to operate the camera before leaving for Hong Kong as you would be switching to different modes (indoor, sunny/outdoor, night mode, etc) most of the time. Hong Kong is very lively at daytime and appears even more vibrant at night. As you would be taking a lot of pictures, make sure you bring extra batteries and memory cards.

    3. If you need to access the internet from time to time, it would be best to bring your portable internet device (any PDA or phone with built-in Wi-Fi) anywhere you go as wi-fi is accessible from major public places such as the airport, malls and MTR (train) stations. Internet usage is quite expensive (ranging from HK$ 10.00 / 30 mins in the internet shops to HK$ 40.00 / 15 minutes in hotels).

  7. pamalfaro said

    Gratsi for the tips Marti! πŸ™‚ Feel free to post more travel tips to HK anytime. πŸ™‚

  8. ryan said

    whats the cheapest way to go to hong kong? from manila?

    • pamalfaro said

      Hi RYAN! Watch out for airline seat sale but make sure that your travel dates are final coz these are non-refundable. πŸ™‚

  9. Shems said

    hey pam,

    thanks for this! i’m going to hk & macau this sept. this really helps!

    • pamalfaro said

      Hi Shems, thanks for dropping by. Long time no see. I wish you a fun, fun trip in HK and Macau πŸ™‚ Spend more time in HK. πŸ™‚ Hope to see you soon. Take care there πŸ™‚

  10. always choose your travel agency very well, you would not really want to deal with those rip-off travel agents ~~’

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