3 days in Hong Kong: A passageway for the city soul

If you’re a city girl or city guy, starting a long trip in Hong Kong is a great way to transition into a non-English-speaking city, to get used to a different currency, and to familiarize yourself with a different culture.

Another great thing is Hong Kong has a great blend of city and nature — you can find a park, garden, or even a hike in the middle of the city. Their metro system is so affordable and efficient you won’t break the bank trying to get to these places either.

With that, here’s an itinerary for our four days and three nights in Hong Kong and what we actually did:

Itinerary:

Hong Kong Itinerary
Things we had planned for our three days in Hong Kong but we deviated a little from that. It’s still a good plan but we were too tired to follow through with it.

Reality:

Day 0.5 – A Smooth Introduction

Thanks to Maggie’s cousin, we were staying in 99 Bonham, a boutique hotel in Hong Kong. It’s located at Sheung Wan Station on the MTR, on the Central side of Hong Kong.

This area has a lot of boutiques, art galleries, and Western stores because it’s an area catered to Westerners. On the other is the pier along with an abundance of stores selling ginseng and herbs. To get here, Maggie’s cousin brought me on the E11 bus from the airport straight to the Shueng Wan area.

The hotel was beautiful. There was so much detail that went into every aspect of the room, from the sleek and modern decor to the amenities like a Nespresso machine and kitchenette, which was revealed only after you moved the sliding door. Every inch of the space was utilized.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
Sipping on my Nespresso shot at 99 Bonham. Their decor was PERFECT for Instagram pictures.

I quickly fell in love with this hotel. Also because I knew that this was going to be the best we would have moving forward with the trip.

Location: Sheung Wan, Central, Hong Kong
Cost: ~$150-$200/night
Amenities: 24 hour gym, 24 hour front desk, Free cellphone in your room to use in Hong Kong, Nespresso machine in room, fully equipped kitchenette, mini fridge with sodas, free water every day, free snack, sink in
Toiletries by L’Occitane

Day 1

Our first full day in Hong Kong was a bit delayed since Maggie arrived a day after we planned. It was because of her disastrous experience with China Eastern who left her in Shanghai because of a cancelled flight she didn’t know about until the day of departure. Regardless, we did everything we had planned… just a little later in the day!

First stop: Yum Cha @ Central

yum cha

In Hong Kong, there are so many things to eat, we definitely ate at least three to four meals a day. The food is pretty special as well, since there are so many different types of fusions: American, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Indian… you name it.

On the top of our list, however, was something typical yet unique. It was dim sum.

We stopped by Yum Cha, a modern-day dim sum restaurant who’s known for their Instagram-worthy custard buns that ooze out the good when you poke it.

The food overall was slightly above average because they have a blend Eastern and Western influences. However, the portion sizes are not relative to their prices. The decor and ambiance of the restaurant was great — they had cute tableware (especially the plates) and great design. As for the overall experience of this place, it was 4 out of 5. I left with a full tummy and great pictures…but a skinny wallet (well, Maggie’s wallet got skinnier since she paid.)

Good For: Instagram pictures, fusion dim sum
Price Range: $$$ (For dim sum at least)
Ambiance: 5/5
Food: 4/5
Directions: MTR to Sheung Wan and walk a little bit. It’s upstairs in a mall.

Next Stop: Lamma Island

img_0354-1
We were chasing this sunset from the boat ride, and when we got to Lamma Island, we finally caught it.

Visiting the islands that surround Hong Kong (which is also an island) is something to do since ferry rides are cheap and quite enjoyable. We chose Lamma Island.

It’s one of the bigger islands in between Lantau Island and Hong Kong Island Island, known for mochi, seafood, and absence of cars. Here you’ll also find the Kamikaze Cave, where the Japanese had speedboats hidden here as part of their suicide mission squad during World War II. Lamma Island is also known for the Tin Hua Temple, a temple of the water goddess, revered by those who are tied to the sea.

Lamma IslandGetting there was easy — we took the MTR to Hong Kong Station on the blue line and walked to the Central Ferry Terminal No. 3 (or No. 4) and took a 30-minute boat ride. We used our Octopus card, and it costs about $14 HKD. It’s simple, but make sure you check the schedule ahead of time. There are two ferries you can take: Yung Shue WanSok Kwu Wan  and one is cheaper than the other.

When we got there, we caught an amazing sunset by the sea.

img_3399
The popular mochi that has a whole mango slice as filling. They also offered durian ones!

However, that also meant it was getting later. We had planned to hike across the island so that we could get some good mochi on the other side.

Just a third of the way in, we were not feeling it. We were getting bit my mosquitoes like no other since we forgot our bug spray, we were getting lost because there were so many small roads, and it was getting darker by the second. It sounded like a completely terrible idea.

So, we turned around and headed back to the pier to get mochi from there instead, which was good but not impressive. And so that goes for the whole experience on the island: good but not impressive.

Perhaps if we had gotten there earlier it would’ve been better.

After that we gave up on exploring altogether because we were finally hit with jet lag. We were exhausted and just wanted to go home to nap before we went out to LKF that night.

After we got back to Hong Kong Island, we stopped by McDonald’s for a quick dinner. We got the McWings meal set, a special in Hong Kong but it wasn’t very good. Then, we decided to take a nap… it was VERY much needed.

Lamma Island
Good For: Hikes, seafood, mochi, history, scenery
Price Range: $ – but not sure about the actual food
Ambiance: 4/5
Directions: MTR to Central/ Hong Kong Station then ferry.

Lan Kwai Fong

One of the main reasons we decided to stay on the Central side of Hong Kong was because of LKF, a street we always heard about when we watched TVB.

Since we did live on this side of the island, we decided to explore and walk there. It wasn’t the smartest thing we did. It was quite far away and very, VERY hilly. It was quite a workout and it felt like we would never get there. But, when we finally got there, there was no mistake this was the place.

Just as we imagined, people were littered on the street, drinking, smoking, dancing, and laughing. It was a lot happening at once.

LKF
Me and Maggie on Hong Kong’s infamous street, Lan Kwai Fong.

We needed to catch up and there was no better place to do it than at the local 7-Eleven. Everyone goes there before hitting the clubs or bars in LKF because the prices are so much cheaper and because you can drink openly in that area.

After we had our drinks we stopped by Bungalow, a club that I’ve been before and it was pretty fun. Admission was free for girls (of course!) and luckily we got asked to join some tables and got free champagne and drinks! We stayed for a little while before making our way to PLAY, Deja Vu, and LEVELS.

Good For: Nightlife, meeting new people, free party for girls
Price Range: $$
Ambiance: 5/5
Directions: MTR to Central


Day 2 : Everything is an uphill battle

Day 2 in Hong Kong was supposed to be hike to Victoria Peak…but that didn’t happen. After seeing how jet lagged we were in the middle of day 1, we decided to take it easy and switched our itinerary to what we had planned for day 3 instead.

First, we headed to the famous Australia Dairy Co. located near Jordan Station, which was about a 30-minute ride via the MTR. We knew we were there when we saw the long line in the middle of the block and just 10 minutes later we were seat.

Australia Dairy Co.

HK Sign
The iconic signage in Hong Kong—this one is just outside of Australia Dairy Co.

Bless the Hong Kongese people and their speedy ways.

As we sat down, we weren’t handed any menu: it was already tucked under the glass of the table. The menu is entirely in Chinese so we didn’t have a clue how to order but we saw that most of the people inside were eating macaroni and ham or spaghetti and roast pork with a side of egg, ham, and toast so we ordered that.

A typical breakfast meal at the famous Australia Dairy Co.
A typical breakfast meal at the famous Australia Dairy Co. Definitely not something I would usually get.

Yes, I ordered that even though I don’t eat beef or pork because I had no idea what else was on the menu.

So, note to vegetarians and those who have a restricted diet: Don’t come here cause you won’t have anything to eat.

After we finished our main course, we got iced Hong Kong styled milk teas and a cup of the steamed milk, which the restaurant is known for. The texture of this dessert is similar to pudding or custard. It was very sweet but very fun to eat. You can probably share this little dessert because we didn’t finish it!

Good For: Fast breakfast
Price Range: $
Ambiance: 3/5
Directions: MTR to Jordan Station

Snoopy World

After breakfast we decided to head to one of my favorite places in Hong Kong: Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (Man Fat Tsz) located near Shin Tin, which is at the Northern part of Hong Kong.

Getting there was fairly easy: We took the MTR and transferred to three different lines until we got to the New Town Plaza mall. We also decided to make a pit stop to Snoopy World. It isn’t much but a small Snoopy/ Peanuts World-themed playground for children just outside of a mall. It’s actually really cute and decided to just stop by for a photo op.

Our cute Peanuts World family picture!

TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS MONASTARY

From there, we got lost a few times looking for the monastery but got to it somehow. The entrance is near a parking lot and it looks somewhat shady, but a lot of people pass through there. There are also lots of signs that say Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery—in English, so no worries.

10k Buddhas
The circle of Guanyins at the top of the walk.

This place is not actually a monastery because there are no monks here and is managed by a layperson, but it’s still a great place to see Buddhist temples and the religious art sculptures.

The many buddhas lined up the stairs.
The many buddhas lined up the stairs.

Getting to the temples and monastery is part of the journey because there are literally thousands of buddha and monk statutes covering every foot of the walk up. Each has a different expression, clothing, and action. It’s really cool and creepy at the same time. 

The walk itself was pretty brutal: It was a very steep uphill and we were sweating and out of breath by the end of it. We finally reached the top of the hill or mountain or whatever we hiked, and we are drenched in sweat… but it was worth it.

We stood in front of a majestic statue of the Guanyin standing atop a dragon. There was also a laughing buddha at the bottom of that statue. After taking a bunch of photos of the view and art we made our rounds praying at the temples and went down to the big main temple area to pray some more, and stopped by the souvenir shop for some blessed trinkets.

Guanyin
This spot right here is my favorite in the entire monastery. The beautiful statue of the Guanyin siting atop a dragon is just so majestic and magical!

It’s a great place especially if you don’t like to be around too many tourists or if you want to go for a little hike. It’s also free!

Good For: Hiking, scenery, temples, history, art
Price Range: Free
Ambiance: 5/5
Directions: MTR to Shin Tin Station

Then, we were off to our next destination:

Mongkok

I LOVE MONGKOK. It’s my favorite area to be in Hong Kong. It is also THE place for some awesome BAO LAU YAOS (Pineapple bun with butter). We even asked locals where the best ones were and they said Mongkok.

Since that is the case, we decided to get the baos from Kam Wah, a cafe known for this bun along with their HK style milk teas. We were super lucky to get the buns when they just came out of the oven.

The glorious bao lau yau along with the milk tea.
The glorious bao lau yau along with the milk tea. Look. At. That. Slab. Of. Butter.

Like most restaurants in Hong Kong, the service here terrible: They do not give a crap about your tip because it’s included in the cost of food, and they will let you know that.

But, it’s kind of what makes it a fun experience.

You can also try Hong Lin, which is a block away. Or just go to random ones in Hong Kong.

Since we are in Mongkok, we also had to go to shopping in the area.

Lady’s Market

This street is famous for its hundreds of stalls lined next to one another down Tung Choi Street (starts at Argyle Street and ends at Dundas Street.) You’ll find fake handbags, bargain clothing, and tons of souvenirs.

Lady's Market
A walk down Lady’s Market… trying not to buy anything was so hard!

This street is famous for its hundreds of stalls lined next to one another down Tung Choi Street (starts at Argyle Street and ends at Dundas Street.) You’ll find fake handbags, bargain clothing, and tons of souvenirs.

Usually you can get things for about half the price or less, but it might take some convincing because the vendors are very good at sticking to their prices as well. If anything, just walk away because you can probably find what you’re looking for somewhere else.

Less than an hour there we basically spent all our money.

Luckily, we were saved by my friend Joe who was also in Hong Kong at the time. We had plans to meet up and now we were finally going to! We met at TAP The Ale Project where they have a great beer selection.

After a round of beers we were off again, this time looking for food.

We made our way down Fa Yuen Street and passed by Sushi Express, a cute sushi restaurant that sells sushi by the piece.

It only cost $3 HKD a piece, which is dirt cheap. But me and Maggie couldn’t choose so we settled for two of the 10-piece mixed boxes for $30 HKD each.

Then we walked along the streets and passed by food vendors. We stopped to get some curry fishballs and try the stinky tofu. The stinky tofu wasn’t as smelly as we expected but it wasn’t as good either.

Mongkok
Good For: food, pineapple buns, fake stuff, bargain clothing, souvenir shopping, bars
Price Range: $-$$
Ambiance: 5/5
Directions: MTR to Mongkok or Yau Ma Tei

After food we went back to our hotel where passed out almost immediately.

day 3 – finishing what we started

The day started with a surprise breakfast from Maggie: She knows how grumpy I get when I get woken up so she used the food trick. I couldn’t be mad.

western breakfast
Woke up to this surprise from Maggie.

She got me a Western breakfast of fish fillet with runny scrambled eggs, toast, and milk tea. It was delicious only because it came from Maggie, otherwise it was just average.

After breakfast we decided to go to the gym for a little bit since it was still super early.

We gymmed for about an hour, showered, and headed out to explore the Central area. We started with exchanging money so we would be prepared for our return. Luckily we were in a neighborhood full of currency exchange places and looked around for the best rate.

After that we decided to retrace our steps to the LKF area to visit some of the galleries we passed by and that I saw online. Our journey there was quite interesting as well.

We passed by an outdoor food and goods market, and it was super busy cause it was early in the day. Then we stumbled upon a small cafe that served the famous Yin Yang drink (coffee and milk tea). We walked some more until we reached LKF, and we stopped by the Pearl Lam Gallery in Central.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
Pearl Lam Gallery in Central, Hong Kong. Photo by Maggie Huang edited by Jessica Mai.

Joy Hing

We were starved by the time we finished, so we went to check out a restaurant Maggie really wanted to try, Joy Hing, a small cafe know for their roast pork rice dish and has a Michelin star in Wan Chai. I wasn’t very for it since I don’t like rice that much but got myself a soy sauce chicken dish. Maggie liked hers a lot though — and it was cheap.

Joy Hing
Good For: Roast meats, cheap eats
Price Range: $
Ambiance: 4/5
Directions: MTR to Wan Chai

After our meal we wandered around Wan Chai but there was nothing but some shopping malls and some dingy clubs. Since we had so much time to kill before our flight to Phuket, which was at 11 p.m., we decided to go to Victoria Harbor and Avenue of the Stars, which was part of our itinerary anyway.

Tsim Tsa Tsui

We took the MTR to Tsim Tsa Tsui and walked towards the harbor. I suggested visiting the museum because I really liked it when I went and it’s free. But, it was closed! We were super sad but moved along to the harbor. magg and jess hongkong

Hong Kong’s city scape is beautiful and the boats in the harbor add the finishing touches. They also have a light show here at the harbor every day at 8 p.m. However, we didn’t get to go because I was really not interested in it.

img_0568
There’s also a clock tower here that I love.

We made our way to the Avenue of the Stars, only to discover it had moved! It used to be along the harbor but the area was under construction. It got moved to a pavilion that’s similar to NYC’s High Line and got renamed to The Garden of Stars.

It’s only been a year since I had been here and so much had changed! It only goes to show how quickly Hong Kong is developing.

TST
Good For: Victoria Harbor, scenery, light show, night activities, strolls, free museum
Price Range: $
Ambiance: 5/5
Directions: MTR to Tsim Tsa Tsui

We finished our day exploring in Tsim Tsa Tsui before going back to grab food for our plane ride. Getting to the airport was harder than expected because we were trying to save money but we gave up and took a hotel shuttle to the Hong Kong station to catch our AirTrain to the airport for about $100 HKD per person. We did get to drop off our luggage there so it made everything so much easier.

And we were off to Phuket.


 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: