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Landing in Hong Kong is always a thrill. We have been several times before and use Hong Kong as our hub for travels, primarily because Air New Zealand has good deals. An added bonus is we can take advantage of being very frequent flyers, use the lounges and get the occasional upgrade. In the past we have timed it so we have been able to get Premium Economy tickets for not much more than Economy tickets. And the difference really pays off for an 11 hour flight.
When we arrive in Hong Kong we are either heading off on vacation or heading home. So the sense of anticipation is always great. This trip we had two stops in Hong Kong. We had six hours to kill before our flight to Phnom Penh at the beginning of a month away, and then three days at the end.
Hong Kong in the run up to Christmas is a great place to explore. It is dressed for Christmas, and the airport always has a large display.
Hong Kong Airport is a major hub in Asia – so you can expect to get the necessities there. When you land or leave you will invariably need to catch a train to the main airport terminal. These are quick, run frequently, and there is plenty of signage in English. Even if you are transiting you will need to fill in a card and line up at Customs – but we have noticed these queues move much quicker than other airports.
If you are heading into town for a couple of hours before your next flights we would recommend you pick up some cash before you exit into the main terminal – and also use the toilets (there always appear to be huge queues at the ones on the other side). There is also free wifi in most public areas – but it can be a bit patchy.
Six hours to kill in Hong Kong is enough time to get on the MTR Airport Express. You could also spend that time in the airport. We have also found the food to be fairly average and pretty expensive air-side, we would recommend having a water bottle you can fill up and some snacks. In the past we have paid to access the Premium Lounge . It can be a good thing to do but it is pricey, but it means you can have a shower, have something to eat and sometimes they have massage vouchers. The couple of times we have been it has been very full, there were loads of children there, and the wifi wasn’t that great.
This time we chose to get out of the airport and head into the city. It is really easy to buy tickets at the airport, hop on the MTR, and then half an hour later, boom – there you are in Hong Kong. It cost around $100 HK dollars which seems a lot but equates to approximately $20NZD/$12USD. Easy Peasy. We were also able to store our bags at the airport for a couple of hours, we hadn’t done this before and were surprised at how easy and reasonably priced it was.
Every time we catch the train in we are gobsmacked at the amount of development and building going on – amazing. We also noticed there was free wifi on the MTR this time – a nice improvement from the last time we caught it into the city.
A six-hour stop over doesn’t really give you enough time to do lots of sight-seeing. Once we get to the city we will go in search of a coffee (we are both addicts) and know there is a Fuel Espresso in IFC Mall. Fuel is a New Zealand coffee company, so this is almost our last taste of home before our holidays. We aren’t particularly interested in shopping but IFC is always eye-opening to walk around for the sheer scale and expense of the shops.
This stopover and chance to head into the city is more of an opportunity to stretch the legs, get something to eat (check out my husband’s Tim Ho Wan post on Goodfoodchronicles.com) and have a wander round.
As we have been to Hong Kong several times, we know we can get really good dim sum and bottomless tea at Tim Ho Wan. Best of all there is a Tim Ho Wan in the train station where we get off the MTR, so there isn’t far to go.
Once we had stuffed ourselves with delicious yum cha, checked out the Christmas Decorations at the The Landmark, and stretched the legs, it was time to head back to the airport. Not to worry – we knew we didn’t have to squeeze too much in – we were back in four weeks.
Returning to Hong Kong after four weeks in Cambodia and Vietnam is a real culture shock. The vertical intensity of the city, narrow streets and hill climbs are a quick reminder that we are back in a big, booming city. And it is chilly in January – so back on with the layers of clothing. Plus we had both managed to pick up colds (!) in Vietnam, so we were under the weather.
On our previous stays in Hong Kong we have stayed in Airbnb’s and while they were good, this time we decided to try a hotel experience. Righto, let’s be up front. Hotel prices in Hong Kong are not for the faint hearted. We tend to stay on Hong Kong Island rather than Kowloon. This time we stayed at the Lan Kwai Fong Hotel, a lovely centrally located boutique hotel. We booked through Booking.com and it cost us $500NZD for two nights. This didn’t include breakfast. Our recommendation would be to hit up one of the local bakeries for breakfast – we made the mistake of heading to a small cafe for breakfast which set us back $40NZD for two ham and cheese baguettes and two coffees. Crikey!!
A word of warning – because the hotel is centrally located, and there is a one way system for traffic, getting there through Hong Kong traffic on a Saturday afternoon took quite a while as we got stuck in traffic that wasn’t moving. The hotel itself was lovely. Our room was a decent size for Hong Kong. There is plenty of art around the hotel and the staff were really helpful. Best of all there was a guests lounge that had tea and coffee facilities, soft drinks, apples, water and snacks. Plus an unexpected Happy Hour – a plentiful supply of red and white wine,and snacks. Needless to say we had to have a drop or two.
The hotel is within good walking distance of plenty of good places to eat. Although, many places don’t open on Sunday so if you are only around for a weekend check out if the places you want to eat at are open! If you are planning on heading to a great restaurant – don’t arrive at 8ish expecting to get a table within an hour and a half. We New Zealander’s don’t know how lucky we are in the homeland!
We found several good places to eat while we were there, including:
Because we were both under the weather we didn’t do many touristy things – aside from eating and wandering around. I was pleasantly surprised by how much street art there was though – it was great.
We were there just before Chinese New Year and the dawning of the Year of the Rooster. So there was plenty to see and enjoy.
Hong Kong is great fun. Easy to get around. Plenty to see and explore. Great food. An all round great experience.