Hong Kong: Before You Go

Tempus fugit was perhaps the favorite phrase of one of my professors in college. Time flies. Indeed, it did. The past weeks flew by in a haze, and now almost 2012 is over.

November went by pretty fast, or so it felt to me. I had three trips booked — one to Hong Kong and Macau, one to Puerto Princesa, and the other to Baler.

By the end of that month, my relatives arrived from the United States to spend some time with us here in Manila. Being the hospitable people that we (as most Filipinos) are, I’ve allocated most of my weekends for them from that point until Christmas. During that time, holiday parties were abound. I was lucky that my team’s Christmas party was scheduled on the weekend when my relatives were away. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go with them to the paradise of El Nido. To add to that, my workload became heavier over the last two weeks. It was indeed a busy time.

So, here I am trying to catch up with all the posts to be written and photos to be shared. Let me begin by sharing some tips prior to your Hong Kong trip.

1. Understand Hong Kong geography.

You see, Hong Kong is not merely an island — it consists of several ones, plus the peninsula attached to China. The most famous parts of Hong Kong are the Kowloon peninsula, Hong Kong island, Lantau island, the new territories (outskirts of Kowloon) and the outlying islands (south of Hong Kong island).

The airport is in Lantau island, so are Ngong Ping 360 and Disneyland HK. A lot of museums, markets and malls are located in Kowloon, while the CBD, Victoria Peak, and the Ocean Park are all in Hong Kong island.

Knowing this will help you plan your itinerary, so you’ll minimize the time going to and from places. This will also aid you in deciding where to stay.

Hong Kong map

2. Prepare to pay high for accommodation.

If you’ve tried searching online, hotel prices in Hong Kong are high. I initially thought that Singapore hotels are already expensive, but I was surprised to learn that Hong Kong hotels are even more pricey! The common problem that we encounter is that we explore the city for most of the day so the time we spend in hotel rooms is actually short, yet we want to make sure that we are comfortable when we sleep. As I was travelling with my parents, hostels are not an option.

The best choices that we had were The Salisbury – YMCA of Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui and The Harbourview Hotel in Hong Kong island. These two fitted our needs the most, while offering the best prices we can afford. However, The Salisbury was already booked for the nights that we’re in Hong Kong. So, we opted for the rooms with harbour view from the other hotel. Room price was around HKD 1100 including taxes and service charge, since we had an early bird discount. Rooms without a view run at around HKD 880 inclusive of taxes.

If you’re plenty in the group, you can always rent an apartment instead of getting a number of hotel rooms. I’m sure you can also cut costs this way.

3. Book online for tickets, if possible.

Looking back, I think this was one of the best things we’ve done before the trip — booking our Ngong Ping 360 and Victoria Peak tickets online. We were able to skip a lot of lines in doing so, saving us our most precious time in Hong Kong. This came in specially handy in Victoria Peak, as there was a very long queue for the tram.

However, skip the online reservation for Aqua Luna. We had ours booked online, yet there’s not much to gain from that. Anyone can hop into the boat. The perks? You get to ride first before the ones without a reservation, so it’s relatively easier to get a seat on the cozier space on the upper floor of the boat.

It’s quite cheap and so much fun to visit Hong Kong! More on this trip in my next posts. 🙂