Generally I have to say, when I go to foreign cities, I always like to behave as if I live there rather than being the typical tourist. As I was there for a conference, even more, I was limited on time and so I had to pick the best things for me to LIVE the city, rather than just being a visitor.
THE FLIGHT- CATHAY PACIFIC from London Heathrow
I have to say, I didn't expect much when I booked my flight with Cathay Pacific, as I have never been on board with them and so I thought it was just another airline like all the others. I have read beforehand, that they were pretty high up on the ranking of all the airlines. I was really positively surprised and this was already when I dropped my bag. The staff was really friendly and helpful on choosing a good seat and they took on my poster as checked baggage. Last time I went to a conference, it was with BA and they wouldn't let me check the poster so I had to carry it around, which was annoying. The airplane was really modern, also on the way back and there was more than enough legroom. The food was very good and there was snacks at all times as well as drinks. The entertainment system was great with a broad choice of movies and TV shows, so the flight passed quite quickly! Cathay Pacific will definitely see me again!
ARRIVING IN HONG KONG
When you arrive in Hong Kong, of course you have to go through immigration and whilst you need a visa for most of the parts of China, you only need an immigration card for your stay in Hong Kong (thank god.). After picking up the luggage the next question is how to get to the hotel from the airport. Depending on where you live and if it is Central Hong Kong, the best and fastest way is to take the Airport Express. A ticket costs 100 HKD which is about 13 Euros. It is very easy to find and it takes you directly to Central Station in 25 minutes. Once there, you can commence your travels by underground- it is also a very easy system and you can either buy an Octopus Card (the equivalent to the Oyster Card), which can be topped up as you go, or you buy a single ticket, which is 4,50 HKD. I took the underground to my hotel and that was very easy. I ended up being 3 minutes away from my hotel, however, you have to know, that there is lots of bridges for crossing the street and this can be a bit confusing at the beginning as there seems not to be a direct way to your goal all the times...my advice: look up where you want to go and the route for it on Citymapper or on google maps- this can save you a lot of time!
THE WHARNEY GUANG DONG Hotel Hong Kong
& THE RENAISSANCE HARBOUR HOTEL
Once arrived in my hotel, I was pleased by my room and the very welcoming staff at the hotel. It is a 4 star hotel in Wan Chai, about a 5 minute walk away from the Convention Centre, so ideally positioned for me. The hotel has a pool and a gym and the breakfast is very nice. Also, there is a restaurant at the first floor, where we ate sushi one evening for an all inclusive prize of around 30 Euros- you could order unlimited amounts of very nice sushi- a bargain!!! The night in that hotel is around 100 Euros- which if split by two- is a good price for what the hotel offers. Breakfast is included and it is a buffet with a lot of choice.
Also recommendable is the Renaissance Harbour Hotel, which is directly connected to the Convention Centre and as one of my colleagues stayed there, I could be a visitor and use the pool and the gym one time- whenever I will be in Hong Kong again, I will definitely stay there! The pool is massive and you have an amazing view over the harbour- you have the big city and still you get some good relaxation at that pool! :) (see pictures below). This hotel is of course a bit more expensive- I think a night starts at about 150 Euros- but it is also absolutely worth it!
One evening, we hiked up Victoria Peak. It is the top of the mountain in Hong Kong and the view over the skyline from up there is just amazing! I definitely would recommend hiking up there but if you are not fit, the climate could make you struggle, so in doubt, there is also a train which takes you up from Central Hong Kong or you can get a bus or a taxi.
The walk takes approximately one hour if you start at Central Hong Kong. We got lost briefly as we followed the Wan Chai Green trail- we ended up at a Street without sidewalk and that was a bit dangerous so for the last bit, we jumped into a taxi.
The view from up there is just amazing:
There is literally shopping everywhere! From the Convention Centre to Central, there is one shopping mall after another, all linked to each other by bridges and it is actually nice to walk inside them because you get to walk within airconditioned areas...:).
I went shopping into the mall in Central, that mall has too many shops, from Zara to Prada, you can find everything. AND: all of Hong Kong is tax free!!! Isn't that amazing!?? :))))
- Morton's Steakhouse
Excellent seafood, steaks and the best truffled fries ever!!!
- Koh Thai
- Soho Spice
It is located at Hollywood Road in Soho. Good value for money though, staff really friendly.
- Fu Lou Shou
There is plenty of rooftop bars and all of them do some nice cocktails. All of them are pricey, I think that just comes from being up the top of a city like Hong Kong. We especially liked Excelsior (only inside, but that didn't affect us in any way as the windows are reaching from the bottom to the top :D), the rooftop bar at the Sheraton (above Morton's steakhouse) and there is also plenty of more rooftop bars which we didn't have the time to explore but my friend from Hong Kong recommended: WOOLOOMOOLO in Wan Chai, SUGAR at the East Hotel in Taikoo, SEVVA bar and ARMANI bar.
I think the rooftop bars are easy to find there and you just need to decide for your own taste :))).
OPHELIA and MAHALO are two more cocktail bars, which are insider tipps from my friend. The latter is a Hawaiian inspired bar- as a lover of MAHIKI in London, I can't wait to explore this bar when I next visit Hong Kong...:)
Getting a taxi driver to actually stop for you as a tourist can be tricky! I think that it is due to a lot of drivers not being able to talk to you in English, so don't get mad, it is actually better for you to be a bit more patient but then sit in a cab where the driver actually understands where you want to go...
ISLANDS AROUND HONG KONG
So, I went to Cheung Chao by ferry boat on my last day- the conference was already over, so I had one full day to enjoy!
The ferry boats are leaving from Central from the piers half hourly from 6am to 11:30pm and my friend told me that there were a few options depending on what I wanted: Lamma island, Cheung Chao and Mui wo, which are local and traditional places, and there is discovery bay, which is more western style.
I decided to go to Cheung Chao because on the internet I have read, that this was supposed to be the Phi Phi island of Hong Kong. No cars, small island, local food, perfect for me!!!
So I went there, the ferry took around half an hour- there is a slow and a fast ferry and of course, I took the fast one ;). Once there, it is very easy to orientate yourself, as you can walk from one to the other side in 5 minutes and there is streets which you just follow and stroll around- no way you can get lost. There is shops and restaurants and there is no cars, which is very relaxing. And of course, there is the beach!!! If you walk a bit longer, let's say 10 minutes, you can already find beautiful, empty, sandy beaches and the water is actually nice and not too dirty for it being an island just in front of Hong Kong!!!
I went on a little island-exploration tour and it was just beautiful!!!
You can find a lot of local restaurants with amazing seafood and cold beer! Just everything you need! :)))
I hope this post is helpful to all of you world travellers!