What is the first thing coming to your mind when you hear HONG KONG word? Financial area? Chinese? Skylines? Oh yes, all is right. Yet, Hong Kong can still surprise you. What is that? Keep reading 😀
Again, I need to mention you all that it is my personal travel blog so the way Hong Kong impressed me might not be the same one it does to you. So do not take it so serious 😀
Hong Kong, aka HK, did welcome my friend and I with fog and cool breezes at 11:00AM. I was not impressed much when I got out of the airport. I knew HK from a lot TVB soap-operas which have been watched by my grandma and mother. It is a small area packed by millions of people, buildings, cars, trains, buses, planes. According to Wikipedia:
With a land mass of 1,104 km2 (426 sq mi) and a population of seven million people, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
So, no surprise to see skylines and bunches of apartment building in the city.
Somewhere in Hong Kong – taken by Thuy Muoi, Feb 2011
Hong Kong Port. Taken by Thuy Muoi, Feb 2011
Among countries I have visited, HK is the first city where local city buses run almost 24/7. I did not check the info but I did take a bus at 3:00AM. Is that cool for people like hanging out late with friends? I am one of them 🙂 Probably that system works in HK Island only. Why do you need a very very late bus from HK Island to New Territory when you have a car? That mean of transportation is just for backpackers like me. There are various types of buses: mini-van, normal bus, double-deck bus. Ticket rate is reasonable. You can use either Octopus card or cash. Hey, just click on the lick to find out what Octopus card is 🙂
big buses in Hong Kong
Next is MRT, oop! MTR. I am not sure which one is the first one for the mass transit railway but it is ok for me in both way. Just remember which one in HK and Singapore. One thing I do not like about MTR/MRT: crowded @ rush hours 😀 Please click here for Hong Kong MTR map (2 kilometre radius) in Cantonese and English.
MTR operates every day from around 6:00AM (I did not check) until mid-night. The latest one I took was about 00:30AM or something like that. Pretty cool 🙂 You also cannot get lost in the stations as MTR staffs are pretty friendly and helpful. They do not allow you to sit down on the floor of the station though 🙂
MTR in Hong Kong
counters in MTR station
Cars. Many. Hundreds. Thousands. Anyway, I got some chances to hop on some private cars. Similar to others in other countries. I do not write about it here.
Taxi. The most expensive transportation for backpackers. Dangerous and easily to rip off when taking a taxi is in Viet Nam. With that concept, wherever I travel to, I always take a very serious caution before getting on any taxi. Taxis in Hong Kong are a bit different. Maybe I did not stay there long enough. I took 3 taxis. One was nice to me by keeping saying sorry when he could not drive me to my place and denied to keep the change. 18HK$/two first kilometer if you take a red taxi.
Here are some little notes I wrote while moving around the city on public transportation ($ mentioned is Hong Kong dollars)
– Bus S1 from HK international airport to Tung Chung MTR station: 3.5$ per pax — You can totally take a MTR to Disneyland. It is quite expensive though. You will change 2 trains to reach the final destination. There was a very nice story happening to us at the bus stop right in front of Terminal 1. E had some cash but big notes. When we were finding out some small changes to pay for our bus, a local woman offered us a favor. She paid for us two (2) tickets. Plus she gave us some small changes and told us to use for next buses. We were too lucky or she was super nice to us? Appreciated that a lot to unknown name woman. I wish all the best for her and her family.
– Octopus card 150$ per pax — 50$ for deposit. You can definitely can receive it and the remain on the card before you leave Hong Kong at Hong Kong International Airport, Terminal 2.
– MTR from Tung Chung station to Disneyland station 11.6$ — You cannot miss any train to Disneyland since all the trains are decorated with Disney’s things 🙂
– Disney to Kowloon station – exit at gate D: 16.6$ — It was the long MTR ride and we changed 3 trains. It was so crowded on Sunday and waiting in queue actually took us a lot of time. We still managed to get two (2) spaces on the trains and arrived at Kowloon station around almost 9:00PM. I was so exhausted to continue wandering in the station and looking for more info. E was kind to collect all info and made the trip safe back to his uncle’s house. If you continue your trip by bus, you should exit at gate D. The stations seem like small cities. There are so many signs, info boards, maps, etc. You can find ways to go to your places. Otherwise, the friendly staff are always there to help you.
– Bus 29A: 3.90$ from Kowloon station to Broadcast Rd, Kowloon Tong + Able to use Octopus card — The bus ticket is not cheap as the distance from the station to E’s Uncle’s is around 10mins or less walking. We did not know how far it was so bus was the best option at that night.
– Taxi from Broadcast Rd to Kwong Wan, Mong Kok: 40$ — You definitely can take a train to reach here. Taxi was nice, clean and 18$ for two (2) first kilometers.
– Mong Kok MTR station to Central HK island Station: 9.7$ — not bad at all
– Taxi from mandarin hotel to Willintong St: 33$ — big area for eating and shopping and pretty close to Lan Kwai Fong
– Mong Kok MTR station to Diamond Hill station: 3.3$ — I went to Diamond Hill for a veggie dinner in a very nice veggie restaurant located in a zen-style garden
Lady Market in Mong Kok, Hong Kong
– Taxi from Kowloon station to Broadcast: 20$ — I got back home very late (2:00AM) and I did not know whether the area was safe for a woman walking alone. I decided to take a taxi. That was a nice taxi ride. I totally forgot to ask my friend to write down the add in Cantonese and my cellphone was out of battery. The driver and I talked to each other in body language and my limited Cantonese. He tried to contact the center for direction. When we arrived in front of my place, he kept saying sorry to me because he did not know the way to take me home well enough and made me feel uncomfortable. Woah, it was not at all. He tried to help me a lot. Impressive, huh? Not many times in my life, I have seen similar cases.
– Kowloon Tong MTR station to Kowloon Bay MTR station: 5.5$ — I went here for my first IKEA shopping. I love IKEA a lot. I want to buy so many things for my own house when I actually own one :D. I wrote a post about my dream house before and I thought it was pretty hard to get IKEA stuffs since it was from Sweden. I was wrong. There are three (3) accessible IKEA in Asia Pacific (which means I can take a flight and go shopping): Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong. IKEA, you rock!!!
– Kowloon Bay to TST MTR Station: 11$ — TST, aka Tsim Sha Tsui, is a cool place to check out Avenue of Star, view of Hong Kong island by night, museums, and big shopping malls [will be posted in detail in next post]
TST area – view from Hong Kong island
– Diamond Hill MTR station to Sai Kung town by KMB bus: 5.8$ — It was a start for our Geopark trip
– Sai Kung final stop/police station to East Part or Pak Tam Chung by bus: 5.8$ — where you can get more info for hiking in Geopark
– Taxi from Geopark Visitor Center to East Dam: 62$/way — it was too late for us to do hiking, even half way. Taxi is a quite good option for late visitors. It is extremely expensive though so I do not recommend that way 😛
Those notes were mine and not in any order. I just let you know an idea about moving around Hong Kong and some numbers 🙂
I did enjoy the public transportation in Hong Kong, which means it impressed me :). To avoid crowded as much as you can, try to start the trip early or a bit later than rush hour. You will be ok. Always bring a book/music player device when you travel solo. It helps you much more than you think.