Travel Planning: Fall in Asia
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Review: ICN Cathay Pacific Lounge
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Recap: Time in Hong Kong
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Hong Kong was my favorite of the three large cities we visited on this trip to Asia. The city has an undeniable energy and there are so many amazing things to see. Tokyo can come off as just a (very) large city with miles and miles of buildings and concrete and Seoul didn’t have a lot of specific character to me either. Hong Kong, on the other hand, has so many different areas and has an incredible amount of character.
We had a little less than three days in Hong Kong and since it was the end of our trip, we were a bit exhausted, so didn’t do everything we probably should have done. Despite that, I think we got a good feel for Hong Kong and I know I’ll be back.
The first day, we arrived in Hong Kong in the afternoon from Seoul. We took our time checking in to our hotel and getting settled and then ventured out to see the harbor and walk along the water. We were staying on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, so we had a great view of Hong Kong Island and Victoria Peak. Each night after sundown, there is a laser light show to be seen from the harbor, which is honestly a total tourist trap, but is still something you should probably see once. We took in the show from our side of the harbor and grabbed some dinner before calling it a night.
The next morning, we planned to visit the Tian Tan Buddha, a.k.a. the “Big Buddha”, on Lantau Island, which can be reached by several methods including a cable car. Somewhere in my reading of things to do in Hong Kong, I read that you should get there as early as possible to get on the cable car, get out to the island, and get back before it gets too busy and boy am I glad we did! (By the time we left the island and headed back via the cable car somewhere between 11 AM and 12 PM, there were hundreds and hundreds of people in line just to buy tickets, then more to get in a car.) To get to the cable cars, we took MTR to Tung Chung station and then walked a short way to the NP360 station, arriving right around when it opened at 10 AM. We had to wait in a short line to buy tickets, but if you can, I would recommend buying online ahead of time.
There are two types of cable cars that you can ride in - a glass bottom cabin, and a traditional cabin. Of course, the glass bottom cabin allows you to see below, but it’s more expensive, so we opted to ride out in the glass bottom cabin and back in the traditional cabin, which was about $230HK. This also turned out to be a good idea, because there was a much shorter line for the glass bottom cabin than for the traditional cabin and we got on quickly. The ride actually is quite long and takes about 25 minutes. If you have a fear of heights or enclosed spaces, this would not be the best way for you to go, since you’re in a small cabin very high up for a fairly long period of time. That being said, it was absolutely beautiful and there were many amazing views along the way.
Once we arrived on Lantau Island, we found that it’s set up in a very touristy way. You will get off the cable car and then walk through a “village” of sorts, which has lots of souvenir shops and some restaurants. There was even a Starbucks! Once through the village, you’ll see the buddha looming ahead of you and beyond that, a monastery, which I believe you can visit. We climbed the steps to the top of the buddha, took a few pictures, and were ready to go back. Again, as we were leaving, things got much much busier and I was very glad that we arrived early and were some of the first to the top of the buddha, which means less people in all of your pictures!
After the buddha, we wanted to visit the top of Victoria Peak, which almost could not be further away from where we were over by Lantau Island, so we began the long journey via MTR. Once we arrived on Hong Kong island, we went straight for the Peak Tram, which is a funicular railway that takes you to the top of Victoria Peak. For some reason, we were under the impression that this was the only way to get to the top of the peak, so we freaked out when we saw the massive line of people that would mean a two hour wait. We did a few searches and realized that you can easily take a taxi to the top of the peak, so we quickly abandoned the idea of the Peak Tram and set off in search of a taxi. Interestingly, we were in Hong Kong during the beginning of the protests being led by students in downtown Hong Kong, so many of the streets were completely closed off and it was incredibly difficult to find a taxi as many other streets were also completely abandoned. Finally, we found one and made it to the top of the Peak, which we found had yet another mall on top! Luckily, it was an absolutely beautiful, clear day, so we could see for miles. At this point, it was already later in the afternoon, so we decided to make our way back to our hotel to get ready for the evening.
That night, we had booked a sunset cruise on Aqua Luna, which you will become familiar with very quickly as it sails every night on the harbour and is a very distinctive traditional Chinese junk boat with bright red sails. The sunset cruise was perfect because we also caught the beginning of the light show and we really enjoyed the chance to see the views from both sides of the island and now the harbour. It was a fairly quick 45 minute ride, but we had a lot of fun.
After the cruise ended, we grabbed dinner and then headed to Ozone after a recommendation from a friend, which boasts the title of “highest bar in the world” on the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong. It was an incredible looking bar with a fascinating aesthetic, but the drinks cost $25 each and it was really not my scene. Probably one of those do it to say you’ve done it things, but not a place to spend much time.
The next day, we had a very late red eye flight back to the states, so we figured we could see more touristy things in Hong Kong like the Ladies Market or Nan Lian Garden or we could go to Hong Kong Disneyland, or we could spend the day in Macau. After taking a quick poll on Facebook, Macau won, so we headed to the ferry terminal to buy tickets. This was quite the ordeal. Of course, there are tons and tons of people trying to sell you their ferry tickets and trying to give you “good deal”, which makes things incredibly overwhelming. The ferry terminal itself is really not that easy to navigate and we weren’t sure what to do, so we eventually decided to choose someone at random and hope their ferry tickets were legit. We got on the ferry and headed to Macau, which took about an hour by boat.
Once we arrived, we realized that we had tickets into one ferry terminal and out of another, but our second ticket wasn’t valid yet (or something), so we spent the first hour and a half on the island going from one terminal to another to fix our tickets. Once we did that, we decided to check out a few of the resorts on the island (more to see what they looked like rather than to gamble) because that’s really all there is to do while you’re there. Once nice thing is that all of the hotels have massive luxury shuttle buses waiting at each ferry terminal which will take you to their property for free, so we got on the shuttle for the Venetian and decided to check it out. The Venetian Macau was incredibly bizarre. It’s absolutely massive and it looks identical to the Venetian in Las Vegas, which is even weirder because it’s like a replica of a replica and then you’re in China. We also checked out the Wynn (which is another replica) and wandered down the street to the old town part of Macau, but at that point, had to turn back so that we wouldn’t miss our ferry back to Hong Kong.
Once we got back to Hong Kong, we headed to our hotel to pick up our baggage and then went to the airport. So came the end of our excellent Asia trip, but we had one more exciting thing to experience - Cathay Pacific First Class on our way home!
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.