During my last winter break as a college student I packed up my bags and took off with my best friend for a 3 week long Asian adventure. Our trip started out in Hong Kong because we found that some of the cheapest round trip flights from the United States to Asia went to Hong Kong. Although Hong Kong wasn’t specifically on my travel radar until we booking these tickets it turned out to be an awesome city to explore.
Hong Kong does often has a reputation for being expensive so we made sure to do our research to find the best way to save money. Although our accommodation was a bit pricier than the other hostels in Asia it was centrally located and close to the metro station so we were able to fully utilize Hong Kong’s great transportation system. Getting an Octopus card was must because it allows us to take the trains, buses and even the star ferries. We were able to get to all the locations mentioned below using the Octopus card and by walking.
Lantau Island – Big Buddha, Po Monastery, Wisdom Path
Lantau Island is a great day trip to take to escape from the hustle bustle of the city. Only about a 30 minute ride away on the MTR it is convenient and accessible. Once you get off at the MTR stop Tung Chung you can take the Nging Ping Cable Car up to the top of the Island where the Big Buddha, Po Monastery and Wisdom Path are located. Surrounded by green hills and the ocean the views are stunning as are the attractions found here.
Central Hong Kong– Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, Victoria Peak, Man Mo Temple, Victoria Bay (day and night)
In central Hong Kong you find the modern and sleek side of the city and most of the popular tourist attractions. The Zoological and Botanical Gardens are a beautiful spot for tourists and locals alike to enjoy. I particularly enjoyed their enclosed aviary that had some one of the most visible collection of birds I have ever seen. Then of course there is the ever popular Victoria Peak which you can get to by either funicular or bus 15. On the day we visited the line for the funicular was over two hours long! So needless to say we opted to take bus and were pretty happy with the decision since the bus gave us a great opportunity to take in the beautiful view of the bay while going up the hill.
Kowloon– Temple Street Night Market, Ladies Market, Nathan Rd, Kowloon Park, Hong Kong Museum of History
Kowloon is bustling, urban and exciting place to explore. There is a little something for everyone in this part of Hong Kong. The Museum district has some great museum you can visit for free. I visited the Hong Kong Museum of History which gave me a great background on the history and culture of the diverse and interesting city. Kowloon Park is a beautiful urban garden where you can find cartoon statues, a koi pond and even flamingos. For shopping and food you can hit up the Mong Kok area with its famous 14 story mall or go on a market crawl. For for souvenir shopping you can hit up the Temple Street Night Market, but make sure to negotiate prices. To see how locals shop visit the Ladies market or other street markets in the Sham Shiu Po area.
Nan Lian Garden and Monastary– These gardens are a little out of the way but definitely worth the long subway ride there. The Tang style gardens are beautiful and very different from any gardens in the states. And if you need another reason to go there is a wonderful vegetarian restaurant behind the waterfall with incredible dim sum.