November 14, 2018

5 Days and 4 Nights DIY Hong Kong Trip

The last time John and I went to Hong Kong was in year 2001. That time I booked a package tour  which included the airfare, hotel and an overnight trip to China for a hassle-free trip.

In our experience, joining a group tour is hassle free but is actually more expensive and the time is  compressed that we didn't get to enjoy the places we really liked to see. I felt that we just wasted one day when we went to jewelry stores, herbal medicine shops and other places we could have skipped. When you join a group package tour, it is a must to join these side trips. Otherwise, you will have to pay an additional $$.

I've planned so many Hong Kong trips for our family but we would end up cancelling because of my kids' school activities. As scholars, they cannot easily absent form attending classes. This time booked November 28 to November 1 thinking it's semestral break. Lo and behold, it was not! DepEd declared October 22-26 as the semestral break for government-run schools.

I asked my husband if I'll just cancel this trip, John decided we'll push with the plan. I messaged the school, Dra. Regino and Ma'am Oben for Julia, Rafael and Juan to be excused.

As per my son's, Juan, advice, I did not make a jampacked  itinerary for a more relax pace unlike our trip in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea where we were running from one place to another to cover most of the tourist spots.

Day 1

8:05am flight from Manila to HK via Cathay Pacific

Since Disneyland was not yet constructed on our first trip to Hong Kong in 2001, I booked an overnight stay at Disney Explorers Lodge. Malou, my classmate in elementary, met us at Disney Park where we had lunch (KFC courtesy of Malou😊).

After lunch we checked in the hotel where John and the kids spent the whole day inside the room while Malou and I checked all the three Disneyland Hotels, namely Disneyland Hotel, Disney Explorers Lodge and Hollywood Disney Hotel.

Day 2
We checked out at Disney Explorers Lodge early at 9am to enjoy whole day of fun at Disneyland rides. We left all our luggage at Disney Explorers Lodge Luggage area which is free of charge. After the Parade of characters, we went back at Disney Explorers Lodge to pick up our luggage. We traveled via MTR and reached Tsim Sha Tui around 11pm.

Day 3 - Spent the whole day at Ocean Park. Located on the southern coast of Hong Kong Island, the park is easily reached by taking the MTR, Ocean Park Citybus 629 from the Central Ferry Pier or Admiralty Station. Visitors are welcome between 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Don't forget to buy sponge cake at Jim Bakery

Day 4. Before checking out at New Reliance Inn ( DO NOT BOOK THIS PLACE!) we had a walking tour of Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, Star Ferry Pier. Near the Star Ferry Pier, the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade is easily reached via MTR's East Tsim Sha Tsui Station. The shops, bars, restaurants and museums that stand along the promenade, including the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong Space Museum and Hong Kong Museum of Art, maintain varied hours of operation. Tsim Sha Tsui promenade gives you unobstructed views of Hong Kong Island's majestic skyline. During the day, you can watch the boats travel in and out of Victoria Harbour, but travelers recommend making an extra visit at night: From 8 to about 8:20 p.m., the Symphony of the Stars (a sound-and-light show) projects dazzling lights onto the Hong Kong skyline. .

Checked out at New Reliance Inn ( DO NOT BOOK THIS PLACE!) and checked in at Stanford Hillview Hotel located at 13-17 Observatory Road on Knutsford Terrace. At 2pm, we met Klook guy at Central Station for our tickets to Peak Tram and headed to The Peak. Victoria Peak, commonly called The Peak, situated atop the highest point on Hong Kong Island, is a must-visit attraction for its incredible views. There are are multiple vantage points atop the mountain, including the Peak Tower and the Peak Galleria, with the latter offering access to its observation deck free of charge.

Day 5

Things to consider before planning your Hong Kong trip:

1. If you hold a Philippine passport, you can stay at Hong Kong for 14 days without needing to apply for a VISA. A total of 170 countries’ nationals can enter Hong Kong without a VISA.

2.  Choose the season you want to experience in Hong Kong. The ideal travel season is from October to around Christmas for autumn, when Hong Kong weather is relatively more pleasant. The four seasons are:   Spring – warm and humid is from March to mid-May
                      Summer –  hot and rainy is from May to mid-September
                      Autumn – pleasant and sunny is late September to November.
                      Winter – cool and dry is from December to February

3. Choose the airline for flights. There are several budget airlines flying from Manila to Hong Kong and vice versa, such as Cebu Pacific and Air Asia. I bought a round trip airfare at Cathay Pacific because they had a sale last August for Elite Visa Credit Card Holders, payable for 3 months at 0% interest. We got round trip ticket at P10,000 per passenger, including terminal tax, 20kg baggage allowance and free snacks.It is our first time to ride a Cathay Pacific plane.

4.  Where to Stay. I usually book our accommodations through I've tried and AirBNB.comonce, and they're both ok.

Tsim Sha Tsui – This place will give you stunning view of Hong Kong’s skyline with its proximity to Victoria Harbour. You can also have access to Avenue of the Stars and a lot of shopping options. Low-budget hostels are also spread along the place and the location is pretty great with access to ferries and MTRs.
Central – Here is where the high-end shopping centers and companies are. Think Makati or BGC. Central is where The Peak is located – one of the top tourist destinations in Hong Kong.

5.  Exchange currency for Hong Kong dollars at Chungking Mansion/Mirador Mansion to get a better rate.

6. I rented a pocket wifi because I needed to be updated on things. If you're on a budget, don't rent a pocket wifi or buy a sim card because Free Wi-Fi is located all over Hong Kong – in major tourist attractions, shopping malls, parks, museums, and even MTR stations.

If you're the type who'd online every second, you can use either of the two options below:

7. Download Useful Apps/Websites like Google Translate to make your travel in Hong Kong easier

8.  Ride MTR instead of taxi. It will save you time and money but it will reguire you to transfer to other train from time to time depending on where you are going.

There are three main ways to reach the city from the airport.

1. Public Buses is the cheapest option but the ride is an hour long, depending on the traffic.

2. Airport Express – The airport express takes passengers to Central in around 24 minutes.

3 Taxis the most expensive

9. Buy an Octopus Card. It is a card use if you prefer to ride buses or trains. You can also use your octopus card at convenience stores, fast food shops, supermarkets, vending machines. Or you could also buy them online where it’s much cheaper.    Octopus card are refundable in 7-Eleven and other places They will refund you HKD50 once you return it.  Present your identification card so they can give you the right color of card for your age - rainbow color for adults, pink for kids 11 and below, and green for senior citizens 60 years old and above.

10.  Shops in Hong Kong charge for shopping bags so be eco friendly, bring you're own shopping bag.

11. Be practical, bring water bottle and drink water instead of sugary drinks.

12. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

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