It’s that time of the year again–for our annual family vacation. After much thought, we decided on Hong Kong, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations.
I was assigned to make the itinerary, which I was able to do with the help of Google. Thank you, technology! However, we weren’t able to do everything we wanted, but at the end of this article, I’m going to show you the itinerary I planned for 31 May to June 4. The itinerary is complete with costs, transportation instructions, and other activities.
Now, most itineraries you will find on the Internet will include day tours to either Macau or Shenzen, which we decided to forego. Of course, it really depends on your preference. For this trip, we decided we wanted to see more of Hong Kong. Here’s a quick summary video of our amazing trip!
Before I start, here are some pre-travel tips you might find useful:
- Make sure you have cash with you (to exchange), but there are far better exchange rates outside the airport. If you don’t have cash with you, you can withdraw from any ATM with the Cirrus logo.
- For BDO account holders, each withdrawal will have a PhP 50 service charge. For BPI account holders, you will have to go to BPI first before you leave the country, so they can activate your card. If you forget, there is a BPI at Central Station in HK, where you have to pay $50 for activation. After an hour, you can withdraw from any ATM with the Cirrus logo.
- Exhange rate is around PhP 1:00 : $ 6.38.
- Prepare $150 to buy an Octopus Card upon arriving at the airport–it will already have $100 prepaid load, while the $50 is the deposit. You can use the Octopus card for buses and the MTR, as well as some purchases. It’s really awesome. You can reload it at the MTR stations or even at 7-11 stores.
- Download the official MTR App because it will be your guiding light during your stay. It’s available on both iOS and Android.
- Really do research on places to stay in. Some prefer smaller and cheaper rooms because they plan to be out the whole day anyway. Make sure you read reviews and ask around, so you know what to expect.We arrived at 5:30 PM on May 31, so we consider June 1 our official Day 1.
It is just a 5-minute walk from where we were staying. There’s a lot to see in Kowloon Park, such as roof gardens, fitness trails, an aviary, Chinese garden, maze gardens, and even a Kung Fu corner (which was undergoing maintenance when we were there). The Avenue of Comic Book Stars is also there, before exiting the park.
Central Station and IFC Mall
Via MTR, we went to Central Station to withdraw money from BDO, and also because we were going to The Peak. To go to The Peak Tram Terminus, you have to go to Exit J2, but for World Wide House (where the BPI and BDO are), it’s either B or D. We also walked to IFC Mall and enjoyed the lovely architecture and sculpture, and ate at Cafe de Coral for lunch.
The Tram ride itself is an amazing experience. It was still foggy because it had just rained, so it was a good thing we didn’t get the Sky Terrace Pass because we couldn’t see anything! 😦 We walked around the mall, and eventually the fog lifted so were still able to see Hong Kong from above. Aside from the shops, and the Sky Terrace, The Peak also has Madam Tussaud’s museum and 3D museum for cool photo opportunities!
We checked out Fashion Walk, which was apparently a big high-end mall. There’s also a nearby Food Street which featured some cool restaurants. We walked to Victoria Park and stayed there for a while before doing some grocery shopping and finally going back to the hotel.
Ngong Ping Village and Piazza
Cable cars were closed for the time being, so we took a 45-minute bus ride to Ngong Ping Village. It was like being transported back in time even though there are already a lot of modern restaurants in the village.
Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha)
Chiara, Bea, and I were the only ones who climbed up to see this wonder up close. The fog was thick but we were able to see Buddha clearly.
MOKO and Mongkok
We were supposed to go to Nan Lian Gardens but we decided to forego it because everyone was tired. My sister Chiara works for our grandfather’s company so they have contacts in HK. We visited the store where Lolo’s products are being sold. It’s in this big and really nice mall called MOKO in Mongkok. Vivian and Isaac were very nice and brought us to this small restaurant where we were able to taste the famous pineapple buns and egg tarts!
Since there are six of us and tickets for Disneyland and Ocean Park cost around $410 each, we had to choose only one. We decided to go for Ocean Park because most reviews we heard shared how small Disneyland HK is. (Still, Disney kids fo’ life!) We plan to go back to go to Disneyland and Nan Lian. Anyway, try to get a ticket at your hotel or some shops–they are cheaper than buying from Ocean Park. We had a blast even though we weren’t able to go to each corner of the Park, so that’s another reason to come back.
Prepare a lot of money, because this place is shopping heaven! We checked out Sneaker Street, Beauty Avenue, and Ladies’ Market. Your bargaining skills will be tested. It’s really fun because the vendors also expect you to bargain with them. Our youngest sister got a sweater for almost 40% off even though she didn’t ask for a lower price. Our dad is really talented. He was able to buy two bags for $500 when they were at $480 EACH. Mongkok is a very busy place, so take care of your stuff. Tip: Bring plastic bags or ecobags. Also, shops close at 11:00 PM. Next time, we plan to check out Temple Street–some reviews said that some items are cheaper there.
Lolo’s business partner Nerissa was kind enough to drive us to the airport, where her niece Sharon also came to see us. She shared that Hong Kong traffic is complicated, and that taking the train (MTR) is the fastest way around the city.
Anyway, the airport is lovely, and VERY organized–as usual! There’s also a train inside so you can get to your boarding gate. You won’t get lost–everything is there! Oh, don’t forget to return your Octopus cards so you can get your $50 deposit + whatever balance the card still has.
WHERE WE STAYED:
Delta Hotel, 16th Floor, Block A, Chungking Mansions, Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Agoda and Airbnb are helpful sites for booking. We found our hotel through Agoda, and since it offered around PhP 5,000 per night for 2 rooms (we are a family of 6), we booked it at once. However, I noticed that the address was at Chungking Mansions, and when I started doing research, I was hesitant.
Chunking Mansions is an old building notorious for being a place of illegal activities (drugs, prostitution, etc.). There was even a movie made about it. In recent years however, there have been efforts to clean up the image of the place. Sure, there are travel bloggers who shared how uncomfortable they were there that they had to transfer within a few hours of checking in. On the other hand, there were also travel bloggers who had stayed at Chungking for more than 5 times already. It all depends on which hotel you choose.
Chungking Mansions is made of five blocks (A to E), and each floor is owned separately. This means that there are a lot of different hotels and guesthouses in the mansions alone. Our hotel was in Block A, so that means we were near the entrance. And thankfully, there were good reviews. We actually had a pleasant stay. The receptionist, Ate Gloria, was Filipino and was very accommodating. The cleaning lady, Ate Lottie, also Filipino, was also very nice. Plus, Ate Lottie also sells souvenirs at her own shop near Chungking everyday from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM.
While locals stay away from Chungking, it’s actually a popular place for many travellers and backpackers. The first two floors are full of different shops selling all sorts of stuff (suits, restaurants, money changers, etc.) The entrance is very noticeable because of the big TV screens. There are also a lot of people outside the building who will try to sell you all sorts of stuff. Just ignore them and keep walking.
The rooms in Delta Hotel are small, but clean and comfortable. It was okay for us since we planned to be out the whole day anyway. Basically, we just used the rooms for sleeping. The bathrooms are also small, but clean.
WHAT I LOVED ABOUT HONG KONG:
The highlight of our trip was really the transportation system. I loved their MTR! Even without the app actually, you won’t get lost if you just read the signs. You can go anywhere in Hong Kong with the help of the amazing MTR system. Hong Kong is such a tourist-friendly place and there are signs everywhere to guide you. Aside from this, there are a lot of trains and buses–if you miss one, the next one will come in about a minute. I love how organized this system is. There are also specific times for pedestrians to cross the street.
I also loved how much they value their elderly and PWDs. There are priority lanes, priority seats, braille maps, and sounds everywhere for the blind (to signal where the escalator is, and when to cross). Ramps for wheelchairs are also everywhere. They also have facilities for elderly such as free exercise stations in the parks.
I also loved how everyone stays on the right and walks on the left on escalators! This is one of my frustrations in the Philippines, but I’m not losing hope–yet.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR:
People may come across as rude, but don’t take it personally. Make sure you are also not disrupting anyone when you stop to take photos or just soak in the ambience. Hong Kong is a very busy place, and people walk really fast.
When you’re walking along the sidewalks there may be droplets of water from above coming from the different air conditioners in the buildings.
There are a lot of things to do in Hong Kong, and it’s perfectly natural to want to do everything. I personally listed down everything I wanted to do, but we weren’t able to do them all. You should also be considerate of your traveling companions because they may get tired before you do. In our case, I’m used to walking a lot because of my two dogs. Some of my family members aren’t used to walking as much. And since it’s a vacation after all, we want to avoid being stressed just to see everything. The important thing is to relax and enjoy the time with family. There are more reasons to come back, after all. 🙂
And as promised, here was the original itinerary. Feel free to use it. 🙂
I definitely look forward to my next time in Hong Kong, and visiting the places we weren’t able to. 🙂