Hong Kong – the city of legends, the city of diversity.
Hong Kong has almost as many citizens as our whole home country, Sweden. 7 million people crowd between stalls of food, electronics and blocks of skyscrapers.
The city is divided in several parts. Hong Kong Islands, Kowloon and the New territories.
Every parts with sights to see and things to do.
Hong Kong was under british rule from to 1842 to 1997 and is not really joined with China. Not 100%. They say “one country, two systems”.
Heading in to Hong Kong from the airport is quite easy. Although it is a huge airport it is also very informative and easy for arrived confused tourists to get to where they are going.
There are several options to get into Hong Kong city from Hong Kong airport. We took an urban taxi, the red cars. That cost us about 450 HKD. Something most people don’t tell you is that when you ask a local of the prices the will tell you the basic cost. Which usually is around 250 HKD. But there is also a service charge and taxes which are added upon the basic cost.
The journey from the airport to Hong Kong island takes about 40 minutes. Be sure to show your driver your destination on a map and address. Hong Kong is a big city and it can be expensive for you if the driver get the address wrong.
If you’re not comfortable with taking a taxi there are shuttle trains arriving at most MTR stations in Hong Kong.
MTR is Hong Kong’s network of subway trains. It is highly efficient and very reliable.
There are several routs to choose from. We choose the MTR many times since it is very easy to travel between Hong Kong and Hong Kong island with the MTR.
A ticket with the MTR is about 4.50 HKD if you are travelling withing Hong Kong. If you would like to cross the water to or from Hong Kong Island the price is about 12 HKD. The journey between Hong Kong and Hong Kong island takes about ten minutes with the MTR.
We though MTR stands for “Metro” since it is a subway. But asking a local for the closest Metro Station will get you nowhere. Ask for an MTR station and you will get lucky.
Trams are also an efficient way of travel if you are a more sightseeing type of tourist.
The trams are considered a cultural must in Hong Kong and they are quite amusing to watch as they linger between buses, taxis and people trying to get on with their busy lives.
A ride with a tram cost about 3-4 HKD. Please note that they don’t accept bills and only take the exact amount. You put your money in a box and if you put in more than the ticket price you will not get any money back.
If you try and enter the tram like most are familiar with, which is through the front door, you will be stopped. In Hong Kong you enter at the back of the tram and pay as you get off.
Hong Kong by foot is the cheapest way to get around. It is a very compact city so walking is not difficult if you have the right shoes for it. Get a good city map and mark your favourite spots and get walking. There is no time to waste.
Temple Street market
It is one of the bigger markets that is well known for both tourists as locals is the temple market. Get of at Ya ma Tei MTR and walk a minute or two until you reach temple street and Temple street market. You will find everything here from sex-toys to clothes and antiques. It is also linked with Jade market if you would like to browse some jade jewelry.
One of our favorite markets and locations in Hong Kong is the Bird market. Hidden in a small passage behind Kowloon stadium.
It might be unlikely that you will purchase a bird but walking the bird market is a nice break from the busy streets.
Locals gather here for a game of cards and feed the birds or to purchase a bird.
Many sellers at the bird market manufacture their own birdcages. Traditional Chinese bird cages with gorgeous porcelain feeders are hanging in the shops and if you are lucky you can catch a cage being made on the spot.
It is a weird feeling though walking around in the bird market. On one hand it is beautiful and peaceful but on the other hand we felt sorry for the birds, overcrowded in the small cages not able to be free.
Not far from the Bird Market is the flower market on Flower market street. It is basically a long street with flower shops selling flower bouquets, bamboo arrangements and Bonsai trees.
Hong Kong is a mecca if you are looking for electronics or photo equipment. There are loads of shops selling electronic and even though it is cheap from our point of view, they are still overpriced. If there is anything in particular you are looking for we recommend you browsing some shops like Broadway or Fortress and then head over to Apliu market. The prices are low and you can make a good bargain here if you stick to your shopping list and don’t overdo it.
A nice surprise with this market is that you head down one of the side streets there are antiques and food stalls to browse if you get tired of looking at electronics.
The most well known and biggest market is Stanley market. A popular tourist attraction but also the most expensive market since it is popular sight for tourists.
Hong Kong is the capital of shopping. Not only is the city a port relived of import and sales taxes, it is also where a large percent of all products are made. That’s probably why the whole city of Hong Kong is covered in clothes, electronic, makeup and everything you haven’t seen before. Everything to make you want everything.
If shopping malls are your thing you’ll have one in every street. Good malls for electronics are Sim city for camera equipment and Mongkok Computer centre for computers and other electronics.
Mongkok is in general a very good shopping area.
Sights and attractions
Get up and away with one of the best views in the city. Take a classic peak tram up or go trekking to get a panoramic view.
Sky 100 tower
If you like viewing points but don’t really want to leave the city, you can pay a visit to the Sky 100. It is a viewing deck at the 100th floor in the ICC-tower. The finance building which is the second tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong. There is an entrance fee, but well worth the money.
Symphony of lights
Every evening at 8 there is a light show at the harbor. It is the worlds largest permanent light show, according to Guinness world record. You will get a good view if you make it to the harbor about 30 minutes early.
A very popular and appreciated attraction in Hong Kong is Disney world. Both Young and adults of all ages can enjoy a Day or two here. Located on Lantau Island. It is easy accessible with public transport
From Hong Kong to China. Chinese visa.
Hong Kong is not China. Many think it is. But it is actually its own country with their own currency. We did not need a visa or travel permit (only passport) for Hong Kong. But as soon as we would like to leave we had to apply for a Chinese visa.
The restrictions and laws of a Chinese visa changes regularly. So it is best to check with your embassy or Visa service in advance which laws apply go your visa. A tourist visa is the most common visa. It gives you clearance to visit China for up to 30 days. Sometimes 60 days but few get that privilege.
In order to get a visa (march 2014) there are a few thing you need to do. In some countries you can apply directly at the Chinese embassy in your city or at a visa service agency. We decided to apply in Hong Kong at the Chinese Travel Service (CTS) since it is much cheaper than in our home country.
But remember, there are a few things you must have in order before applying for a Chinese visa:
– Passport. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after leaving China. It must also hold at least two empty pages in order to get your passport stamped.
-You need to provide your hotel information. Sometimes you need to provide itinerary and hotels for your entire trip.
-You need to provide a letter from your employer that you are employed in your home country (only applicable for some countries).
-If traveling from Hong Kong you’ll need to provide a ticket into China. Either by air, bus or train.