Hong Kong – things to know, before you go!
We had a love and hate relationship with Hong Kong, for the most part it was love but there a few things to be aware of before travelling to Hong Kong. Here are our top tips and things to know before you go!
TAKE THE AIRPORT EXPRESS
Leaving the airport and getting to the city is super easy! As soon a you leave the airport, the airport express station is right in front of you with a desk to the left to buy tickets. You can board the train directly to Kowloon or Hong Kong island with trains every 10 minutes. This is by far the cheapest and quickest option for travelling to and from the airport and it couldn’t be simpler.
TRAVEL IS CHEAP
The MTR and taxi’s are super cheap. You would think that Hong Kong being an expensive city to live in would mean that travel is expensive, but no, you can travel on the MTR trains for as little as 20p or take a taxi from £2! A major perk when visiting Hong Kong! The only routes that are slightly dearer are to and from the airport on the airport express, and to and from the attractions outside of Hong Kong island and Kowloon such as Disneyland and the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car. You can get the MTR to these attractions for around £4 return.
SKIP THE TRAM AT VICTORIA PEAK
In our opinion the most over rated and over priced tourist attraction is Hong Kong is the Victoria Peak tram, the queues stood at 2 hours for a tram that takes less than 5 minutes to reach the top with restricted views of anything other than the track in front or behind of you. We took a taxi up and the bus back down which cost us around £1 per person instead of £9 per person and you still get to enjoy the same views at the top as everyone else!
To see a totally different side to Hong Kong, take the 6, 6X or 260 bus to Stanley. It’s a beautiful seaside resort just 30 mins out of town and has a totally different feel to the urban madness of Hong Kong. A beautiful promenade of restaurants line the seaside front and an array of little shops and markets where you can find souvenirs, jewellery, fabrics and clothes is situated just behind. If I were to live in Hong Kong, this is definitely where I’d want to be!
THERE IS NO PERSONAL SPACE IN HONG KONG
For people who like to keep themselves to themselves, Hong Kong is not the place for you. Being one of the most densely populated cities in Asia, Hong Kong feels noticeably more busy than London. Particularly in the busier areas such as Mong Kok and other parts of Kowloon, it can soon begin to feel claustrophobic for those who like a reasonable amount of personal space. The MTR at rush hour isn’t quite how you see in viral videos from mainland China with commuters being pushed in like cattle, but be prepared for a lot more pushing and squeezing in than in the more regardful London.
Hong Kong is a beautiful city, the coastal location it has with picturesque islands in the far distance is breathtaking, however what is strikingly obvious is the fact that the pollution in this city is ruining it. For everywhere you turn there is a haze of smog covering the view in the distance. We hadn’t been there 24 hours and this became apparent when we went to board the star ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong island and what should have been a crystal clear view of the skyline across the river was blurry like a cloud of fog had just blown in, and further into our first day we headed up to Victoria Peak where you can admire the beautiful city from a viewing platform and observation deck, but again you could only see clearly up to a couple of hundred metres before the skyline disappeared into the smog pollution in the background.
Within 24 hours of arriving I began to feel quite ill, I felt like I had a 24 hour sickness bug but without the sickness, I had sweats and chills, a rapid heartbeat and I felt like I had vertigo. I put this down to jet lag at first but after the 3rd day I began googling and getting worried. On the 4th day I broke out in a rash all over my body, like eczema but flat. I found numerous accounts online of people feeling similarly rough and with skin rashes too, with Hong Kong doctors telling them it was because they are ‘allergic to pollution’. I don’t know if this is a genuine allergic reaction but it’s certainly something to be aware of if you’re prone to skin reactions or have asthmatic tendencies like I do. It didn’t stop me having a great time though, just be sure to bring enough medicine for all possibilities. Saying that though, the pollution is Hong Kong is nothing like the pollution is Beijing, Shanghai and Delhi!
Don’t let us put you off, regardless of falling ill, we still loved Hong Kong! Our highlights were the Tian Tan Buddha, Hong Kong Disneyland, the food, and seeing the beautiful skyline at night. I’d read on blogs that it was like the new New York city and it certainly feels that way with it’s metropolitan bustling lifestyle.
Go and see Hong Kong for yourself and let us know your thoughts!