During my work in the Philippines I took vacation in the end of April to get outside of Manila and see something different than huge shopping malls, traffic jams and so on. One of my destinations was Hong Kong. Before I start I would like to say one thing – I’m glad I’ve decided to spend 3 days in Hong Kong, this is one of the coolest cities I’ve ever been in my life!
Hong Kong is 2 hours away by plane from the capital of the Philippines, Manila. To get there I was searching for some cheep flights. There are several budget companies which operate from the Philippines. For example one of them is CEBU Pacific. CEBU Pacific has many internal flights as well as cheap international destinations and one of those is Hong Kong.
For this flight I was actually using Dragon Air as they had special offer at that time and prices were almost the same. In addition to that they had much better time of the flight and free luggage included. All together for 2 return tickets I paid something around 250 EUR.
Arriving to Hong Kong Airport
We have arrived to the airport early in the morning, somewhere around 8am. Hong Kong International Airport is very big and very logical place. I think it is the easiest airport I have been in my life; it is very hard to get lost there.
After arriving we walked long corridor with moving paths everywhere all the time informing you to “mind the step”. Our walk ended right at passport control. Hong Kong has very different visa policies than mainland China and in most cases you won’t need a visa for 14 up to 90 days of stay as a tourist. Visa is still required for residents of several countries. Full visa information you can find here.
After passport control we got our luggage. In the luggage sector you can find free telephones to call locally. From one of such we called our hostel, GuangDong Guest House, to double-check if we know how to get to the place. On the way out of luggage sector you will find a stand with information about Hong Kong and some young guys and girls willing to answer your questions. Good travel tip: get some Hong Kong maps from tourist stand, those maps are pretty good and free, everything is free in that tourist stand.
Tip – besides free things at the tourist stand get yourself a good guide to Hong Kong. I used Frommer’s Hong Kong guide (also has part for Macau). I like those guides as they are full of information for travelers on foot and for budget travelers.
Hong Kong Octopus Card
Before getting out of the airport we went to buy Hong Kong Octopus Card. Octopus card is something like any prepaid debit or credit card with a big difference; you don’t need to have any PIN codes or put in into a card reader. When you use it in a bus to buy a ticket or in a kiosk to buy a bottle of water for example you just wave it next to a special box and money automatically taken from it! I must admit that this card is a very smart and convenient invention!
Besides that it is very high-tech and convenient it is also a must if you stay more than 1 day in the city. Thing is that all public transport, Star Ferry, kiosks, entrances to museums, fast food places, etc have those Octopus readers and in some places, like buses or trams drivers will not have change. So you better have all the time exact cash. In Hong Kong metro you will lose so much time buying a “normal” ticket if you don’t have Octopus card. On Star Ferry you will lose time in long line of unprepared tourists if you don’t have it. Be smart! Highly recommended!
Getting to Hong Kong
There are 3 ways getting from the airport to Hong Kong. You can take a taxi, get a fast express train or get a bus.
Here are cost table to compare (approx numbers):
- Taking taxi to Hong Kong or Kowloon – 250-300HK or around 25-30 EUR
- Taking fast train to Hong Kong Station – 100HK (one-way) or 180HK (return), a bit cheaper online
- A21 Bus – around 35HK (4 EUR one-way) and it will take you through major places of Kowloon
We took cheapest option and went for A21 Bus. Bus stop is on the right from the Octopus Card stand, hard to miss it. If you get lost (hard to imagine in such logical place as this airport) you can ask anyone form the staff. Tip for budget travelers – take the bus.
Riding A21 Bus is great! Buses are very clean (as everything in Hong Kong), double-deck. Depending on where you are going it will take you from 40 to 60 minutes to get to your place. Glazing out of the window on the second deck is very cool. Adding that you spend only 4 EUR for such a cool ride makes it even better! I highly recommended this bus to everyone.
Sleeping in Hong Kong
Good thing about Hong Kong that the city is for every budget. Daily budget can be as low as 50 EUR that includes cheap hostel and 2 meals a day, some rice or noodles and a fast-food place plus a free entrance to Hong Kong Museum which is right on the cost of Kowloon island, next to Star Ferry port.
There is no end to high prices in Hong Kong if you are looking for a posh vacation. Hotels with best views in the world, restaurants with best food, top-notch brands and so on.
Well, I wasn’t looking forward to spend a fortune so I went for option 1 – get a hostel. After some research I decided to stay at Guangdong Guesthouse which is located in the famous Chungking Mansions! This place is awesome and amazing! Mecca for backpackers. Location of Chungking Mansions could not be better; it is 5 minutes walk from Star Ferry and Avenue of Stars (where all the best pictures of Hong Kong island are taken) as well as Hong Kong museum and Tiffany Co shop (who needs it). Check out the map on the top of the post.
Review of Guangdong Guesthouse and Chunking Mansions has all the info you need and some pictures also. Amazing place, great experience!
Eating in Hong Kong
Food in Hong Kong is not too spicy, not too dry, not too expensive…food in Hong Kong is just perfect.
There are many places to eat in the city from local stalls outside the street or in the metro up to expensive restaurants with best word-known chefs. For a budget traveler, especially the one who stays in Chungking Mansions price is not a question. This bizarre building has everything hungry traveler will need. Interesting thing (but very common for Hong Kong) is that bars, restaurants, shops even small factories can be on any floor in the building. It is absolutely normal to have offices from 1st to 11th floor, then 5 floors of shopping malls and then another 5 of more offices.
In Chungking mansions you can find small home-food places on every floor. If you don’t stay there then come just to check first and second floor are full of Indian, Pakistani food places. You can get a nice meal for 30-80HK (3-8 EUR) which makes you full for at least half a day.
Also, consider visiting SOGO – big underground shopping mall. It is located next to Hong Kong Museum. There they have food store and in that store you will find several small stalls selling fresh sushi, rolls, chicken teriyaki, noodles and some more. Prices are very reasonable and you can eat right on the spot, they have small dining area in that food store; very convenient. You will notice Octopus reader boxes, again, very fast way of paying for your food.
Food tip – get up earlier and get those fresh sushi from this place, price is something around 60HK (5 EUR), box is full of fresh food and you get a drink for free.
Check out Tips and Stories section for Hong Kong. There you will find Hong Kong articles that are more focused on specific places of this awesome city.