HONG KONG TRAVEL GUIDE


My first major trip to Hong Kong was around two months ago, and I just came back a few days ago from my second trip! I honestly feel like exploring the city even more and actually planning to live there for a month, I could definitely tell that I love Hong Kong very much just basically from staying there for several days, making it easy to convince myself that it is one of my most favorite cities in the world. I always have hard time explaining why I love certain cities, but I know I just love it. There's a certain charm and the look of the city that reminds me of Singapore, only Singapore is clearly cleaner and more-organized, but somehow the imperfection of Hong Kong is in fact the main reason why I really love the city, and not to mention, THE GOOD FOOD.

People travel for various reasons, either to "really travel" and go around, but I am certainly on the food hunter group. I love places with gorgeous views, and I love places with rich cultural values, BUT I am not really into cultural site craps and museum. Talking about rich cultural values, I love walking around, and I love the art of getting lost in a city, and by lost I mean with me not knowing exactly where I am but I can still feel totally safe just by walking and walking. Hong Kong is definitely one of those places, I remember us being in the Central with the Google Maps turned off and all we did was keep on walking, maybe you can't relate if you've never done that before, but it was just the best feeling in the world.
When it comes to travelling, there is just no such thing as the right or wrong, and another thing that I really like to do when I am travelling: sitting by the window of a coffee shop and see people walking. I love movement, I love people and as simple as seeing people walking just fascinates me, it's like you're in a city where you don't know anybody but you feel comfortable in it. Maybe I should do a single post just to talk about "travelling" because I can talk forever, but here we are at my own guide to travelling in Hong Kong. There are so many good words to describe Hong Kong, but the closest two to my heart are "alive" and "gorgeous".

I hope this post can benefit you in some ways before travelling to The New York of Asia, enjoy reading!
HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Hong Kong International Airport is one of the biggest airports in the world (man they have more than 500 boarding gates), and worldly known as one of the best as well. That I totally agree! For some reasons, the airport appeals to me more like a shopping mall rather than an actual airport. It's also home to one of the best business lounge I've ever visited: The Pier!
CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE RATE
Hong Kong's currency is Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), as of August 4th 2016, 1 HKD = IDR 1700 and changing on the daily basis, visit this website for the exchange rate update. It's important to carry HKD the whole time as generally most places in Hong Kong only accept HKD. While you can use HKD in Macau, you can not really use Macau Pataca in Hong Kong.

LANGUAGE
Majority of people in Hong Kong speaks Cantonese, some speaks Mandarin. English is not widely spoken here and it could very well be one of the difficulties if you don't speak both Cantonese and Mandarin, so do download Pleco to make communication easier here.

WEATHER
The weather is Hong Kong is generally humid and foggy (at least that's what I experienced from my last two travels). It could reach up to 40 degree in the summer with an unexpected chance of rain and lack of blue sky. If you read my live blog post, an 8-scale typhoon occurred but fortunately it wasn't a terrible dealbreaker.
COMMUNICATION
As soon as you land on the airport, look for a mobile shop named TOTO and go for the CSL Sim Card. So many people recommended me this and I was a happy customer! There are two options available: The 5-day Pass with 1,5 GB data (HKD 88) and The 8-day Pass with 5 GB data (118 HKD). If you're an internet whore go for the The 8-day Pass, you're only paying a cheap IDR 200k ($15) for fast 4G internet, 8 days usage and 40mb extra roaming data to be used in Macau (but basically garbage - 40MB is nothing).

More details of CSL -> click here
ACCOMMODATION
Accomodations in Hong Kong are generally quite expensive and I am talking about boutique and 5-star hotels here, and they are mostly terribly small for the price that you're paying if you compare the spent value to hotels in Jakarta, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, but to my surprise as I was surfing the AirBNB, it was not expensive, and if you can dig it right, you can get a whole apartment for four for around IDR 1,2 mil ($70) per night!

Average cost for:
Hostels in Hong Kong: HKD 150/night
Boutique hotels: HKD 700/night
5-star hotels: HKD 1500/night

TRANSPORTATION
Travelling in Singapore is ABC easy, and the ease of travelling around Hong Kong is also as easy as Singapore with great public transportations too! If you're planning to stay let's say 4 days and above, I highly suggest getting the Octopus Card at the airport (HKD 150 - with HKD 50 deposit that you can refund later), it's pretty much like the Singapore's EZLink card that you can use widely for MRT and buses, anyway I suggest right after getting the card, you top up as soon as possible because if you're planning to take the MTR to the city, especially Hong Kong station, the trip cost HKD 100 and basically you have no balance left. Based on my experience, after countless MTR and bus rides, you should be OK with HKD 250 balance on the card (including the balance for train back to the airport on your last day). Another thing I love the Octopus card is that you can use this as a payment card at supermarkets and bookstores.

They have great Mass Train Railway (MTR) that I mostly used during my last stay here, and they do accommodate single ticket purchase too, but with the Octopus Card, it's all good.
HONG KONG MTR MAP
source: mtr.com.hk
Travelling with bus is also relatively easy in Hong Kong, and since I do not speak Cantonese or Mandarin, I found me relying mostly on Google Maps for bus stops and directions (and boy did it help me a lot!).
The iconic Hong Kong red taxi. I never took taxi here but I heard taking taxi here will cost you a little fortune for each ride, and if you're unlucky, you can find a driver who is such a pain in the ass like most Malay taxi drivers. Since Hong Kong was pretty humid on my last visit, there were times when we really gave up walking and went with Uber instead! Uber here is pretty affordable, not exactly crazy cheap like Malaysia or Bangkok, but still ok, especially when you compare it with taxi.
Average cost for:
Public bus: 70 HKD
Taxi: depending on the destination and traffic

FOOD AND EATING OUT
Hong Kong in general is relatively expensive, but eating out in Hong Kong can be pretty affordable, but again that depends on where you're going, of course you will be spending more if you dine at 5-star high end fine dining restaurants.
Good food is everywhere in Hong Kong, you can easily find markets selling great Chinese food for 40 HKD and above. Sit down restaurants will cost you around HKD 80 and above per person (including drink), prepare at least 300 HKD per person to eat high end fine dining restaurants. I am giving you recommendations on my favorite restaurants and must visit in HK towards the end of this guide. Keep reading.

MONEY SAVING TIPS
Take public transportation
Get the Octopus card
While Octopus card will cost you less on travels, it is also more efficient in terms of usage, with the card, you can continuously travel without having to purchase single tickets.

Stay at AirBNB (believe me I don't get paid even a single rupiah)
I stayed at the Shangri-La Kowloon on the first two nights on my trip and it could cost around HKD 3000 for two nights/room while the Mongkok apartment that we rent out from AirBNB only cost us pretty much the same value only that we could stay for 3 nights and divide the cost by 4. When browsing the apartement list on AirBNB I found that there are a lot of quite affordable decent apartement with two bedrooms for around IDR 1 mil/night or slightly below or over.
Eat at the markets
Nathan Road is where you can find good variety of Hong Kong street food.

Drink tea
When I am talking about tea I refer to regular Chinese tea, it's just like the tap water in Australia where you don't need to pay anything, but actually when in Hong Kong, drink as much milk tea as you can, they're quite good.
WHAT TO CHECK OUT IN HONG KONG
Avenue of the Stars
Avenue of The Stars is just very touristy, that's what I can say, but I think it's really okay to be touristy especially on that very first experience. I suggest going to the Avenue of The Stars twice: the day and the night as it really had that different ambiance to it. Take the day to take pictures with the icons and stars on the floor, and enjoy the visible night city landscape view from the deck.

Central
Being a city person that I am, I find it A MUST to check out the downtown of each city that I've been. Central is like the Orchard of Singapore where the rent is more expensive, more hip & fancy cafes and restaurants are located and where most seasonal events are held. It's just nice to stroll this area and bond with the crowd.
Cha Chaan Teng
Cha Chaan Teng is basically a tea restaurant or a Chinese/Hong Kong style cafe. They typically sell all-day Hong Kong breakfast with tea or milk tea as the main beverage here. There are tons of Cha Chaan Teng in Hong Kong and some of my favorites are Australia Dairy Company, Capital Cafe, Kam Wah and Tsui Wah.

More food recommendation below.

Disneyland Hong Kong
Review -> HERE
Ladies Market
Ladies Market is where you can go to shop for souvenirs and fashion (they have plenty of cheap fake branded bags here), I honestly did not find it amusing and the sellers could be pretty aggresive. The key to win here is to bargain A LOT, act like you want it but you just gotta act expensive in the same time, they know when you really want it. My friend could get the keychains that she wanted for 50% cheaper!

Lan Kwai Fong
Lan Kwai Fong is the alley of night entertainment but that doesn't mean it is the red light district of Hong Kong (Wan Chai is), if you're one of those party people and wanted to see how "alive" Hong Kong is at night with boozing music, Lan Kwai Fong it is!
Ngong Ping 360
Ngong Ping 360 is the well-known 3.5 miles cable car service that would take you to the Ngong Ping village (Lantau Island) where the largest sitting Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha) is located. There are two options of cable cars here, I suggest going for the one with transparent floor so you can check on the gorgeous view beneath your step. I managed to booked the tickets from the hotel that I stayed at, and I highly suggest you to do so to avoid the uber long queue from the on the spot purchase.

The one way ride will take around 30 minutes and I enjoyed every bit of it.
Largest sitting buddha in the world (Tian Tan buddha)
It's always ok to put on a little effort to prevent, when visiting Ngong Ping, I didn't expect that it would rain and boy it was raining VERY HARD and very foggy that our cable car ride needed to be delayed for an hour.
Shanghai Street 
Shanghai Street is simply a paradise for kitchen ware and utensils enthusiast, if you're looking for good and relatively cheap props for your picture, this is where you need to be. Shanghai street is located along the Jordan-Mong Kok area.

THAT Starbucks at Central
The particular Starbucks outlet in Duddell street Central is something one of a kind with bold characteristic, retro vibe and authenticity. It's probably one of the most photogenic Starbucks I've ever been.

The Peak Tram - Victoria Peak
The Peak Tram will take you to The Peak, which is Hong Kong's largest mountain, here you can get an aerial view of Hong Kong's incredible Victoria Harbour landscape along with the hill surrounding it.

WHAT TO EAT IN HONG KONG: FAVORITE CAFE/RESTAURANTS
Good food is everywhere in Hong Kong, I have plenty of recommendations but I might have a separate blog post just for the food! Anyway here are some of my favorites and highlights!
%ARABICA
I personally think this is one of the best coffee shops I've ever been in my life, the coffee here is perfection with clean and subtle finish. The iced cappuccino is personally better than the hot one in my opinion. However it's a little far to reach from the city as you're basically going to Lantau Island (arrive at Sunny Bay station) with another 45 minute bus ride to the Discovery Bay.
Australia Dairy Company
When it comes to good Cha Chaan Teng in Hong Kong, Australia Dairy Company is the one that should be on your list! This cafe is known for its amazing scrambled egg and toast, high-paced service and short service. The scrambled egg for me is to die for, I don't know how to explain how delicious the scrambled egg is, it's just so creamy, salty, buttery and melt in your mouth.
Butao Ramen
I want to add Ichiran on the list, but it's not THAT Hong Kong authentic, However Butao Ramen is. I think they serve amazing ramen with rich and bold seasoning (it's bolder than Ichiran in my opinion), their Classic King & Black King are the must try here with roasted miso sauce on the Black King and thick ass pork belly topping that you can add on!
Delicious Kitchen
Delicious Kitchen is famous for its pork chop on top of the salty vegetable rice. It's just so so simple and just like that, delicious.
Hui Lau Shan
Hui Lau Shan is a popular local dessert chain in Hong Kong that sells mostly Mango based dessert and blended drinks. Their creations are simple, fresh and sweet, an easy drink to fight the hot Hong Kong days. Price ranges from HKD 25-50 per cup.
Kau Kee
Kau Kee is one of my personal favorite findings, it's a small shop at Gough street that sells noodle soup with beef brisket and tendon topping! Their original soup is very refreshing with a bit of ginseng aroma and flavor in it (but just a tiny bit), if you love something a little more spicy, go for their curry based soup!
Kam Wah
Another favorite Cha Chaan Teng of mine: Kam Wah at Mong Kok. The place is almost always packed and I understand why, the food here is good and somehow fit my Indonesian palate perfectly, there's just something about the flavor of the food that's Indonesianized to me with bold flavor and mostly salty, and oh DO TRY THEIR POLO BUN!
Mak's Noodles
Mak's Noodle is definitely the best wonton noodle that I've had so far in Hong Kong, the springy noodle had the perfect firmness with wonton that consist of 70% pork and 30% shrimp.
Joy Hing Roasted Goose
When it comes to roast goose dish, Joy Hing should be on your list for its exquisite, tender, and fatty goose! It's a humble restaurant located in Wan Chai area (5 minute walk from the Queen's Road) and I always have their BBQ Combo consisting of the goose, BBQ pork and Pork Belly, it's quite hard to communicate with the servers here so I suggest you look at the picture online and show it to them like I did. Trust me it's easier, maybe you can just show this picture of mine.
Tsui Wah
Tsui Wah is just like Indonesia's very own Kafe Betawi, only both are completely different in terms of product. It's a popular Cha Chaan Teng establishment and they are most packed for breakfast & lunch time, wonder why is that? Because they open 24 HOURS!
Via Tokyo
Hands down to my most favorite place to have ice cream in Hong Kong! Via Tokyo has awesome matcha soft serve with the perfect creamy texture, bold flavor, sweet and fresh! MUST GO!
Thank you for reading!

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