My new husband and I honeymooned in Hong Kong following our wedding in November. We spent a lot of time lurking on these forums while we were planning our trip - so a big thank you to everybody who posts here, particularly the regulars. Your opinions and advice have been enormously helpful!
So now it's our turn to give something back to the community. Apologies for the delay - it's taken a while to post reviews of everything we did and I'm finally finding time to post a consolidated trip report.
It was a two week trip, so I'll try and keep it reasonably brief. If you would like more detail on anything, please check out my reviews or feel free to ask questions here.
Both of us have travelled extensively and while Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities in the world (this was my third visit), my husband had never been there. It was wonderful introducing him to places I loved, and discovering new ones together. Okay, enough mushy stuff!
Our flight arrived in the evening and we caught our transfer and checked in to the Eaton Hotel. We had booked a standard room but were upgraded to a deluxe room on arrival because it was our honeymoon. The service was fantastic and the room, although small, very nice. We also received a complimentary bottle of champagne in our room. We went for a brief wander down Nathan Road just to stretch our legs a bit after the long flight.
Bought our Octopus cards (the top up ones) and started with HK$100 on them. We used the cards everywhere (even at Mrs Field cookies) and over our two week trip we probably topped up with another HK$300 each. The public transport system in Hong Kong is fabulous and so easy to navigate. We spent the day shopping in and around Mongkok for camera gear. We purchased quite a number of items and saved approximately 50% compared to what we would have paid in Oz. We stopped for lunch at an Azabu Sabo, which was the most bizzare place! It's a chain of Japanese dessert and tea houses, which serve really weird (to us Aussies anyway) soft serve icecream and fruit combinations. I'm not at all adventurous when it comes to food, but I did try sesame icecream for the first time and was pleasantly surprised. In the evening we visited the Temple Street markets and went a little crazy. We had bought a spare, empty suitcase with us from home and it was almost half full by the end of day two - oops!
We had breakfast at the hotel (included in our room rate), which was very good. A nice assortment of eastern and western foods in the buffet, including an egg station and freshly made pancakes. Then we headed up to Sham Shui Po and the Golden Computer Arcade. My husband was in heaven - he probably would have spent all day there if I let him. There are dozens of stores within the Arcade selling all sorts of electronics and computer equipment, all at very cheap prices compared to home. Next we caught a double decker bus down to the TST Star Ferry terminal, and caught the ferry over to Central. We walked through the Landmark building, which is full of designer stores (I managed to keep my credit card in my bag - such restraint!). We explored the Pedder Building, which is well known for its vintage clothing and designer outlet stores. I wasn't so restrained here and bought two Emilio Pucci dresses - fabulous quality and a fantastic souvenir of our trip (I'm a 60's girl at heart who was born far too late). We checked out the famous Shanghai Tang which is well worth a visit, even if just to browse the gorgeous store. Next on the agenda was the amazing Mid Levels Escalators. These were truly fascinating and a great way to see some different parts of HK Island without completely wearing out our feet. We caught them all the way to the very top, then wandered through the Hong Kong Zoological Gardens. It was a lovely walk, although a number of the exhibits were empty. The reptile house had just one lonely python! We kept walking down to the Peak terminus, but the lines were very long, so we caught the MTR back to Kowloon instead. We run a wedding business, so we took a trip to Hong Kong's famous wedding mall, Golden Plaza in Mongkok. It's a multi-level shopping arcade with hundreds of wedding-related stores. Really interesting to us! Then we took a quick trip back to Sham Shui Po and the Golden Computer Arcade, then our final stop was the Ladies Market.
After yesterday's exhausting activities, we had a lazy morning. Just before lunch we quickly visited the Ladies Market to buy some gifts for family. We had lunch at McDonalds to see if it was the same as Maccas at home (the menu was similar, except for a couple of localised items like sweet potato pies). Then we went adventuring and caught the MTR and a bus out to South Horizons to the Prada outlet store. I'm pretty sure I tried on every single item in the store (I'm a Prada fanatic) but still walked out empty handed. My poor husband - we were there for over an hour. We caught the bus back to the Central bus terminal, then jumped straight on another bus to the Peak. The first thing we did was head in to the Peak Galleria to find the Wonderfish Spa! store. Without a doubt, this was one of the highlights of our entire trip, just for the bizzaro factor. It is the weirdest thing in the world to dip your feet into a pool of flesh-sucking fish. But it's incredibly relaxing once you get over the creepiness and then the ticklishness. Highly recommended. Madame Tussauds next, which was fantastic fun. Plenty of photo opportunities and we had a great time making the other tourists laugh by coming up with weird and wonderful poses with the dummies! When we hit the gift shop we discovered that we could have little "mini-me" figurines of ourselves made, which is the ultimate in kitsch so we couldn't resist. They are eerily lifelike and now take pride of place on our mantlepiece! Our final stop was the Sky Terrace, which was freezing at night but still very crowded. The view was quite hazy, but I suspect it's always hazy at that time of year, as there wasn't a single clear night during our trip. We left the Peak at about 10pm and only had to line up for about five minutes to catch the Peak tram back down to Central.
Another rest morning (we're both several millimetres shorter by now, having worn down our feet from so much walking). Went out for lunch and a quick visit back to the Golden Plaza wedding mall to take some photos, then back to the hotel for a three hour nap (hey, it was our honeymoon!). Headed back out in the early evening and visited a fortune teller in Kansu Street. He was fabulous and although we're both sceptics, we had to admit he was scarily accurate, particularly about our personality traits. The good news is, our marriage is going to last (phew!). We wandered through Bowring Street markets and stopped at a cafe for dinner. We had pizza, which seemed to have lasagne on it. Kinda strange, but edible!
After breakfast we jumped on the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui (and finally learned how to pronounce it properly) and walked along the Avenue of Stars. Like many western tourists, we only knew Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, but it was a lovely walk. We went into the Jackie Chan store (which is more of a kiosk but which he apparently owns) and bought some souvenirs for the kids. We stopped at Starbucks for a drink and sat on their top deck overlooking Victoria Harbour, which was a lovely way to spend an hour. We walked back to the Clocktower and took some photos - it's very picturesque. Then we caught the Star Ferry to Central, followed by a bus to Aberdeen, where we went for a wander along the harbour and through the fish markets. Instead of taking a sampan ride, we jumped on the ferry over to Ap Lei Chau, which was a quick and cheap way of riding amongst the fishing boats for some photo opportunities. We caught a bus back to Causeway Bay and had dinner at Din Tai Fung (fabulous food, terrible service). Back to TST via MTR, then we staked out our spot overlooking Victoria Harbour and waited for the Symphony of Lights. The narration was in Cantonese, but I don't think we missed too much. It was pretty much what we expected, having already seen it on YouTube!
Today we got going relatively early, leaving the hotel by 9am. We caught the MTR up to Lo Wu (it's well worth upgrading to the first class train cabin) for a day trip to Shenzhen. We hadn't prearranged Visas, but found the process at the border quite easy. Stepping out of the train station was quite strange - the air felt really heavy and was very smoggy. It was immediately apparent that we were in a foreign country, much more so than in Hong Kong. We ignored the touts trying to take us to their stores in the Luo Ho shopping centre and headed to the Shangri-La hotel instead, where we enjoyed a lovely lunch in their lobby bar. Feeling brave, we decided to check out the Luo Ho shopping centre, but quickly determined that the prices were higher than we had been paying in Hong Kong, particularly when several store owners made it clear that they wouldn't bargain. I even got abused by one guy for daring to suggest that I would pay less than the price he quoted for a pair of shoes. Not at all what we were expecting. We decided to live dangerously and caught a taxi out to the Hua Giang electronics district, which ended up being a fabulous decision. It allowed us to see much more of the city and really appreciate the scale and size of the region, which is mindblowingly enormous. The district we visited has 47 plazas, each containing hundreds of individual stalls and stores over multiple levels. It really was eye-opening and so different from anything we have ever experienced. Well worth a visit. Unlike Hong Kong, nobody in Shenzhen spoke more than a smattering of English. In one store, while I was looking at handbags, my husband sat down on a bench and was trying to joke with the staff, pointing at his feet and making funny faces to indicate that his feet were sore. They had no idea what he was trying to tell them and kept bringing him pairs of shoes, thinking that he wanted to buy new ones! We stopped for lunch - if anyone's interested, McDonalds in China tastes totally different than it does in both Hong Kong and Australia. Generally we found that prices for clothing and electronic goods were higher than in Hong Kong and in some cases, the same as or even higher than in Australia - possibly because of the inflationary pressures they've been experiencing. It was a fabulous day trip and incredible to experience a city of 14 million people, when our home town has a mere 1 million!
After breakfast we went straight to the Jade market and bought a few cheap pieces - this market has a lovely atmosphere and the sellers are so friendly. Also a great place for photo opportunities. We then caught the MTR up to Tung Chung with the intention of catching the Ngong Ping cable car, but when we arrived at the terminal we both took one look at the cable cars and the mountains and chickened out! We both agreed to blame the waiting time though, as the line up was very long. We went for a quick wander through the Citygate Outlet Mall instead, since we were there (I was very restrained and only bought one Guess top), then we jumped back on the MTR and went to Sha Tin. Our intention was to visit the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery but, like many before us, we ended up at the Po Fook Hill Ancestral Worship Halls by accident first. Not a bad mistake though - it was a very interesting place. We eventually found the entrance to the Monastery and made the looong climb to the first level. Fascinating place and well worth a visit, but take water with you! Back to the hotel and room service dinner - too worn out to go out again!
We caught the bus to Ocean Park. There weren’t any queues, so we bought our tickets and walked straight in. The animals were definitely the highlight here. The pandas were fabulous and very animated. One of them even climbed a tree and did a somersault back down to the ground! We did wonder if they were actually people in panda suits, because they did not stop playing up to the crowd the whole time we were watching them. The other animal displays (alligators, turtles, seals, sealions, red pandas, etc) were also very good. We didn’t go on any of the rides (I’m a major scaredy cat) but we did wander through the Sea Jelly Spectacular which was certainly spectacular but also suffocatingly crowded. Back to our hotel for a rest (it’s our honeymoon, remember!) then we headed out separately – he went back to the computer arcade at Sham Shui Po while I went back to the Temple Street markets to pick up some last minute gifts for friends and family.
We went our separate ways again this morning (apparently the honeymoon was over already!) – he went to check out some music stores and some more computer and camera stores. Meanwhile I shopped the entire length of Nathan Road, then walked along Salisbury Road and back up Canton Road. We met up again and did a final sweep of the Ladies Market before heading back to the hotel to try and pack. We ended up having the hotel ship home about 7kg of stuff but we did manage to get the suitcases closed!
We caught the ferry to Macau and then took a free shuttle bus to our hotel, the MGM Grand. On check-in we were upgraded to a King room, due to our newlywed status (gotta remember that for our next trip!). Our room was absolutely stunning and approximately eight times the size of our Hong Kong hotel room. We went for a wander through the MGM Grand casino before hitting the streets of Macau to get our bearings. Later that night we went to Lion’s Bar within the MGM Grand to see a cover band, who were very good. It was a great night out and the cocktail prices were very cheap compared to Australia.
We left our hotel and walked along the Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen (say that quickly three times), which is basically the coastal road. We came to the Macau Science Centre (which I had read about on these forums) which was on our to-do list. Unfortunately some of the galleries were closed and a number of the exhibits were not working, but it was interesting and a bit of fun. We wandered through the Macau Cultural Centre, but there was nothing happening there. We kept walking and found Golden Lotus Square with its giant gold lotus flower statue. Nearby we found the Macau Grand Prix Museum, which was very interesting and well worth a visit, particularly since entry was free. Over to Fishermans Wharf next, where a food and wine festival was happening. Lots of very interesting looking food, but we have no idea what most of it was, since there were no English signs at all. Back to the hotel and I rested and watched a movie, while my husband went over to the Grand Lisboa Casino to play in a poker tournament (he came second, much to his delight – and mine, since it meant more money for shopping!). We met up again in the MGM Grand Casino, lost some of his winnings, then decided to have dinner in Rossio, one of the MGM Grand restaurants. The buffet was fabulous, with a broad range of cuisines and excellent service. Macau is definitely a night-time city and casinos are the main attraction.
Buffet breakfast back at Rossio (magnificent), then we packed, checked out and caught a taxi to the ferry terminal. The ferry took us back to Hong Kong, where a private transfer was waiting to take us to Disney’s Hollywood Hotel. The hotel decor is lovely, but overall we were disappointed with our experience here (see my review for more details). Since we arrived around midday we decided to have a quick lunch in the hotel and then go straight to Hong Kong Disneyland. Being a relatively young Disneyland, most of the rides and attractions are aimed at young kids rather than teenagers and adults, but we enjoyed ourselves and stayed until the fireworks.
Back to Disneyland for round two! We spent another four hours at the park and managed to do everything we’d missed the previous day, plus revisit some favourites. We then decided to catch the MTR back into Kowloon for one last visit to the Ladies Market. We stashed our stuff in a locker at Disneyland, caught the MTR to Mongkok, did our shopping, caught the MTR back to Disneyland, picked up our stuff, then went back to our hotel to pack as we had a very early transfer the next day.
Apologies for the very long write-up, but it’s very hard to condense two weeks into a few paragraphs! Thank you again for all of your help on these forums. Our next trip is Thailand in February, so we’ll be hanging out on those forums for the next few weeks. However, my husband fell in love with HK just as much as I had done previously. We talked seriously about the possibility of moving there to live “one day” so who knows, maybe I’ll be back some day as a content expert! Until then, happy travels and please let me know if I can answer any questions you may have.Edited: 08 January 2011, 13:35