Hong Kong Vacation - Backpacking in Hong Kong China

Wandering on Chinese soil for few weeks is a dream for many a person like me bitten by the travel bug. Fortunately for me, this dream turned into a reality in April 2006. After weeks of preparation, the trip to Hong Kong , Mainland China and Macau was finally on!

Day 1 CLK Airport , Temple Street Market, Flower Market, Bird Market

Many have probably already heard of the Kai Tak Airport , Hong Kong's earlier airport which was right in the heart of the city amidst all the skyscrapers, making the many take-offs and landing very spectacular. That is now closed though, and the new Chep Lap Kok airport lacks all that excitement and is in a remote location of HK, in an island called Lantau however, it is huge and with all possible facilities for the traveler!

Purchasing the multi-purpose Octopus card (the pre-paid bus/metro/tram card to use for all tickets) right from the airport is a very good idea and I found it to be extremely useful throughout my stay. It really avoids the frustration of looking for change for buying the tickets! From the airport, it was a 45-minute peaceful and sight-filled ride to popular hang out of budget travelers- Tsim Shat Sui (situated in Kowloon ). The most spectacular point however was traveling over the 2.2 km long Tsing Ma Bridge - the longest suspension bridge in the world!


I checked in at the cheap and popular Garden Hostel which was on the 3 rd floor of an old, massive and famous building called Mirador Mansions in the heart of the Tsim Shat Sui (TST) area. The Sri Lankan hostel manager was very friendly and gave me a comparatively spacious, clean 4-bed room for HK$ 60 which I would share with two Turkish gentlemen and the manager himself over the next few days!

The rest of the first evening was spent taking in my initial sights and sounds of Hong Kong . The excitement and buzz that the streets of HK is famous for has to be experienced first hand - the place is always so full of energy! Hong Kong has a good number of expatriates and the TST area was an area filled with expatriates from the sub-continent, their shops and restaurants! I had an MTR metro station right next to my hostel, so that evening I took the metro from TST Station to Prince Edward Station. From here, the interesting and noisy Bird Market and beautiful Flower Market are just a stone's throw away, and one can easily spend a few hours looking around.

A short walk from there to the metro stop of Mongkok gave me access to the excellent Temple Street Market with its famous food street, where I took many pictures of strange sea food! This street is also highly recommended for some cheap shopping and it's full of tourists! All around of course, you get to see the numerous neon signs and billboards, which is something Hong Kong has always been famous for!

Day 2 Star Ferry, HK Island , Central, Mid-Levels, SoHo , TST Harbour

At 8.30 am, I set off on foot to the nearby Star Ferry pier, where I would board the legendary Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island, which was a mere 7-minute ride away. The fare is either HK$ 1.7 or HK$ 2.2 on this route (depending on which deck you choose to travel in), and this is a very economical and smart way to travel between Kowloon and HK Island . What's more, it provided stunning views of the tall skyscrapers and skyline as well, and I ended up using this mode of travel several times during my stay in HK! There are several other routes for the Star Ferry - visit for more information on this!

HK Island has a very efficient tram system running between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan and sharing space with buses and other road traffic, with several interesting stops along the way ( ). The fare is HK$ 2 each time you board the tram, regardless of which route or place you travel to. I took the tram towards Western Market and walked along the Bird's Nest Street . Yes, in this intriguing street, the nests of birds were being sold (dried and well-packaged) and apparently people here devour this delicacy!! I also came across a big shop selling everything related to sharks, from its fins (for soup!) to its meat.

Western Market has little to boast about, but I had an excellent, unusually tasty vegetarian lunch from a restaurant called Harvester's just outside it. Walks around Cat Street , Hollywood Street and a few other adjoining areas were pleasant and helped to take in the life and pace of the place slowly!

Later, I took the tram to Central and walked between numerous skyscrapers to the worlds longest set of escalators, which connects the area called Central with the area called Mid-Levels (situated a little above sea level!) in Hong Kong . This 800-meter, covered escalator ( ) takes a total of 20 minutes to transport you to the top, but you can always break your journey in between and explore the numerous pretty streets below it! I wandered around SoHo (south of Hollywood Road , as the area is known) and also spent some time in one of the few mosques I found in Hong Kong , called Jamia Mosque in the Mid-Levels.

The next tram I took to Causeway Bay was slow but the rush and buzz on the HK streets added motion to the movement. Once the sun set, I found myself in Victoria Park , the largest in Hong Kong situated bang in the middle of all the tall buildings! Munching crisps and watching life go by amidst all the greenery felt great and I observed the Hongkongers chill out in different ways after a hard day at work.

By 8 PM , I was at the TST Star Ferry, just minutes before the daily 13-minute popular light and laser show began over the HK Island skyline and from the tall buildings. This is a must-have experience for all travelers to Hong Kong and the sight was not just stunning but it was also absolutely free!

DAY 3 Peak Tram, Victoria Peak , The Markets

Today's first activity was boarding the Peak Tram ( ). This gut-wrenchingly steep tram (sloped up to 30 degrees at some points!) takes you up to the Victoria Peak , a posh area but with breathtaking views of Hong Kong from up there for free! There are a number of walking trails amongst the greenery and it's definitely worth spending some time here. Hong Kong 's Madam Tussaud's and Ripley's Believe It or Not museum is located here as well.

The evening was spent checking out the nearby Kowloon Mosque and shopping around at the Temple Street Market once again. The young hostel manager took me out for a night walk around some of Hong Kong 's seedy areas at 10pm ; it was interesting to see how the night brings about a different feel to this metropolis! We also had some weird Chinese herbal concoction which he said would cure my feverishness. Incredibly, and much to my surprise, the next day I found out that I was cured! I don't know if it was just a coincidence, but I do think that concoction, as bitter as it was, had some magic in it!

DAY 4 Shek O, Stanley, Lang Kwai Fong

Hong Kong is home to tall skyscrapers, huge malls, stylish, rich but hard working people with lots of glitz and glamour. While all this is true, I had also read that HK has a lot of scenic, green spots and beaches, away from all the nonsense of big city life, and I decided to spend this day exploring some of it for a change. Amazingly, it turned out to be one of the best days of my trip!

My first destination was Shek O , a quaint little fishing village in the west of Hong Kong Island . Using the metro and then taking an excellent scenic 45-minute bus ride, I reached Shek O. Truly; amidst all the concrete I had seen over the past few days, this place was amazing! It was quiet, peaceful and calm, with life moving two paces slower than in central HK. The beach was amazingly clean and if I had had more time, I would have definitely pitched tent out there for a while! A walk around the village is a definite must-do - the beautiful and colorful houses make for wonderful eye-candy!

After a few hours, I bussed to Stanley , another area where Hong Kong 's rich and famous reside. This area also has a beautiful little market and beach. En route, I stopped briefly at a Chinese cemetery where neatly laid out tombstones remembered the dead. From the way the entire cemetery is built and taken care of, I gathered that Hong Kongers not just miss but also tremendously respect their dead.

By evening, I was back at my room to get ready I had friends taking me out! It was Friday night and time to party, Hong Kong style! I met up with three friends who were busy during the weekdays but they were great fun and we had a fabulous time during the weekend! We went around Lang Kwai Fong , Hong Kong's No. 1 party district, filled with hot spots and watering holes on both sides of the road to such an extent that the party had spilled into the streets! It was great fun, the atmosphere was electric and the company was excellent! The evening was rounded off with some delicious hot pot for dinner - a local Cantonese dish.

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