Hong Kong is such a vibrant, colourful destination with so many sights, sounds and smells that entice you to experience something different at any given moment.
We spent a ‘long weekend’ in Hong Kong at the end of May, the weather was hot, humid with frequent short showers but this did not deter us in the least. On arrival at Hong Kong Airport it is advisable to purchase an ‘Octopus’ card which will allow you to travel on most of the public transport systems, including the airport express, busses, trains and ferries. You can purchase a card for HK$150 and then top it up at any 7/11 as you travel and use up your credit, the 7/11's are located on almost every street corner. Once we had collected our baggage and bought our Octopus Cards we followed the signage to the Airport Express Train which took us directly from the airport to Kowloon Station and from there we hopped on one of the hotel busses that took us to our hotel on Kowloon. There are about four bus routes stopping at various hotels so it is best to do some research and find out which one will stop at your hotel or nearby, otherwise there are clearly marked maps for each bus route at the station.
Our hotel the Eaton was centrally located on Nathan Road in Kowloon and was within easy walking distance to the Ladies Market and Temple Street Market, as well as the Mong Kok shopping district. The room was comfortable and the staff were amazing. The hotel also offers popular food court where guests can enjoy various dishes of the local cuisine and a full on breakfast in the mornings. Nathan Road also takes you straight down to the Promenade where you can walk along the waters edge and take in the sights of Hong Kong Island across the bay. The Ferries also depart from here and take you across to Hong Kong Island within 15 minutes.
Hong Kong Island is where the central Business District is and many of the skyscrapers. It also boasts the World's longest outdoor escalator. We loved hopping on and off the ‘Ding Ding’s’ or Trams as they stop along the main shopping routes on the island. Unfortunately the Peak Tram was out of service during our visit so we opted for one of the Busses taking tourists up to the top of Victoria Peak and we were certainly not disappointed with the views along the way. Once on top of the Peak you can walk along a 3.5km walking trail with various outlook posts over Victoria Bay or what most visitors do is to go to the top of the Sky Terrace which gives you a 360 degree view over Victoria Bay. You can also grab a drink and a bite to eat at the top of the peak as there are various eateries to choose from.
On our third day we took a local bus from Kowloon to Lantau Island where we then took a panoramic trip on the cable car which ascends 6 meters per second and offers spectacular views over Lantau Island, the airport and villages below. At the top you can visit the Tian Tan Buddha, the tallest outdoor statue of a seated Budha as well as the Po Lin Monastery. It was a great morning out and probably one of the most thrilling and scenic cable car rides I have every experienced! Lantau Island is also the location of Hong Kongs Disneyland for families wanting to escape into the world of make believe.
Other areas and sightseeing that we managed to fit into our jam packed weekend included a trip to Stanley Market and a brief stop in Aberdeen which are both located on the other side of Hong Kong Island. We also had a lovely visit to Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens which is a public park located in the middle of the bustling city. It was such a peaceful contrast to the all the concrete buildings surrounding the gardens. The park also offers visitors an insight into how all the wooden temples and monasteries were built back in the day with their unique architectural skills as well as the beautifully manicured gardens with large of a variety of bonsais on display.
All in all, I can highly recommend Hong Kong as a stopover on your way to the East or Aus / New Zealand. I would suggest staying for a minimum of 3 nights to be able to visit all the major tourist attractions and still shop!