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Guide for Self-Organised Trip to HK, First Time, 4-5 NIghts

Isle of Man, United...
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Guide for Self-Organised Trip to HK, First Time, 4-5 NIghts

Hello Everyone,

I have skimmed and scanned some of the forum questions which have been very hepful,

however I would like to post my questions personally to hopefully get more insight from yous.

I am travelling from the Philippines and will be taking my parents and brother with me for a 4 to 5 night stint in Hongkong.

I initially planned to book through a travel agency, however I am weighing it between doing my own itinerary and having more control of our own time versus the supposed convenience of pre organised trips.

Please illuminate me if this is worth doing, as I dont mind the hassle of planning a trip. I have done solo travelling myself, however I am more concious that I set it right this time as like I said I am travelling with my parents so I want it to be a bit more organised.

I would like to ask for help regarding:

1. Accomodation. There are a lot of information on this, but would like to weigh between, getting a hostel/apartment for 4 people versus, hotel. I am not particular about the accomodation as I imagine my family and I would be out most of the day and would need the just the basics bed and shower/toilet; although when people sell the idea of the "harbour view" it is quite inviting too. Any top 5 recommendations? Since this is going to be a self organised trip now, I would Imagine the place should be near a MTR station for convenience. Another thing is my mom wants to go to the Night Market for cheaper shopping. Excuse my ignorance if this is not the case. However this also takes priority in my consideration. Another consideration is food, as then again, my father and brother are both, happy adevnturous eaters :) if you know what I mean.

2. Itinerary

How best shall I organise my trip. Considering the tours that the agencies offer, I have an idea of what I want to see.I am looking at dates May 10/11-May 15.

The City Tours seem like basic tours, quite dear, if the forums say, they are quite close to each other, this puts me off from booking with an agency

The Peak

Harbour. I would like to get on a day and evening cruise, are there any meals included?, and the Synphony of Lights (these seem to go hand in hand in tours)

Lantau Island (Theres again an organised tour for this, I dont know if its worth taking, or can I organise a trip for this, there are mentions of the Ngong Ping Village, Tai-O, Big Buddha, dolphin watching, etc.)

Disneyland

Macau

Basically, thats what the tour inclusions are. I was a bit disappointed that the agency i was in contact with didnt provide hotel pick ups so I thought, I might as well make my way to those places, if this was feasible.

Activities : Sight Seeing, Shopping, Food Adventure

Any other suggestions, welcome.

3. Airport Transfer,

There's a forum about airport shuttles, do you know how much they normally cost. Are they basically like airport taxis that can take you direct to your hotel? Are they pretty much available within the airport anytime?

4. Transport

If I were to organise the trip, then is getting the Octopus Card the way to go? Does it also cover buses or just trains?

5. Getting to Macau from Hongkong

There's mention about taking the ferry. Is this quite straightforward or do I need to pre book this? Is this generally a long queue? When is the best day and time to go to Macau and come back to HK or would you suggest staying overnight in Macau?

Same agenda in Macau, sight seeing, food; not really aiming at casinos

I hope you could help me, would really appreciate!

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1. Re: Guide for Self-Organised Trip to HK, First Time, 4-5 NIghts

First things first ... HK (and Macau) are easy enough to do on your own. There is no need to use the services of a tour company, unless you actually want someone to provide you with some commentary (in that case, take a look at some of the reviews for the walking tours, as they seem quite good). There is virtually nowhere that you won't be able to get to on your own. So, personally, I recommend a DIY trip instead, with maybe a walking tour, if you're into that sort of thing (e.g. I saw that there's some food walking tours, which might be interesting - Definitely read up on reviews so you pick a company that most interests you).

Accommodation: Comes down to budget range. I would err on the side of caution and NOT recommend a hostel for you and your parents. The only reason being is that the hostel rooms are super tiny usually (the only one that isn't is Y-Loft, I believe, but that is far away from tourist spots). Apartments are becoming more popular, but hotels would probably still dominate the majority of accommodation available.

In terms of top 5, I would say YMCA Salisbury (if you want the harbourview experience, but don't want to pay Peninsular HK hotel prices), Langham Place Hotel (if you want to be close to Ladies Market, and they do offer rooms that can fit up to 4 people as well), and the others all come down to budget range. Most hotels are near the MTR, so, no worries in getting around. Maybe check out Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok on Kowloon, and Causeway Bay on HK Island. You will be surrounded by shops, restaurants, and convenience in terms of getting around.

Yes, the markets offer cheap shopping - But, be aware that cheap does not equal to quality necessarily. If you want quality, you're better off sticking with shops in the shopping centres/malls, or department stores like Sogo, Jusco, Wing On, etc.

Once again, I stress that there is no need to go on city tours. You can very easily do it yourself. The most important thing you should arm yourself with is an Octopus Card for each person - It is the BEST thing ever, and most necessary for your trip! If you're familiar with London's Oyster Card, then, it works similarly, but better, as you can pay for non-transport things too. It is definitely one of the first things you should be getting, and you can get them at the airport too.

Your typical highlights for HK would cover things like the Peak, the NP360 Cable Car, Giant Buddha, Star Ferry trip on the harbour, markets like Ladies Market, etc. Other things to include could be a trip to Stanley, Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens, etc. Take a look at what you want to do, and just group them by location (e.g. You could group Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens with Ladies Market in the afternoon/night, as these are on Kowloon).

Just let everyone know what you want to see/do, and put up an itinerary for people to comment on. That way, you'll know whether you need to shift things around or whether everything is feasible.

Some harbour cruises will include food, but I can't say you would generally go on for the food, as I remember some people saying (I guess, depending on which cruise you're on) that the food is not too good. You can get a good list here: www.hongkongextras.com/harbourtours.html

For the Symphony of Lights, you can also just stand on Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade and get an excellent view. Do go on a night where they have the English commentary, if you want to know what it's all about.

No need to take a tour for Lantau Island, as you can also do it on your own. Just take the MTR (depending where you stay, there may be some transfers on the MTR, but this is really easy) to Tung Chung and go from there for the cable car. This will take you up to explore the Giant Buddha, Ngong Ping Village, Po Lin Monastery, etc. If you do want to go to Tai O, you can take a bus. All of the Lantau Island bus timetables are here: http://www.newlantaobus.com/nlb.html

Disneyland is also super easy to get to on your own. Just take the MTR there - everyone does it, so, no worries! Just note that the journey time (like Lantau Island) will take awhile, but that's no issue.

Shopping is where you can't go past Tsim Sha Tsui or Causeway Bay. There is no way you won't find something to buy! Food is ... everywhere! You can't really starve in HK!

For the airport transfer: I recommend AGAINST using the shuttle buses. There are three better options instead: Just take a taxi direct to your hotel OR take the Airport Express MTR to either HK or Kowloon Station (just depends where your hotel is) and then, if your hotel is on the list, you can take a free shuttle bus to your hotel or take a taxi or take the MTR (probably not the latter option, if you have lots of luggage), OR take the public bus from the airport (a very good option if budget is important to you, but also handy because many hotels are located near bus stops).

Octopus Card = As mentioned, it is definitely the way to go. It covers the MTR, buses, minibuses, Ding Ding trams, and also, some bakeries, 7-11 shops, etc.

Unless you have lots of money and plan to take a helicopter to Macau (!!), then, ferry is virtually one of the only (and best) ways to get there from HK. You need to go to the ferry terminal (it'll either be Shun Tak Centre in Sheung Wan, if you're on HK Island, or China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, if you're on Kowloon) and catch the ferry (there are really only two companies to choose from: Turbojet or CotaiJet - We have always caught Turbojet) straight to Macau.

There is no need to book, as you can get tickets when arriving at the ferry terminal. However, where you might want to book is if you are going to Macau on the weekends/public holidays or on a special event day, which I would advise against anyway. In that case, you might want to book at least several hours before your intended travel time (if not, the day or days before). Also, another situation where you might want to book in advance is if you book with a travel agency (e.g. China Travel Service), where they might be able to offer you some cheaper deals (especially, if combining with overnight stay, for example).

Go in the morning and come back at night, if on a day trip, so, you can allow sufficient time for yourself to see what you want to see. The ferries run around the clock, anyway. However, I think people would recommend overnight stays, but, if you have only 4-5 days, then, an overnight stay might take a chunk out of your time for HK. Macau is not big at all, so, you can easily do it on your own.

For Macau, you can take a taxi, but, even though you're not looking at the casinos, the major ones do offer free shuttles from the ferry terminal, which can be handy in getting you around to certain locations (including the casinos themselves).

One website I really recommend because it is full of comprehensive information about HK is: http://www.hongkongextras.com I haven't found too many other websites (other than, perhaps, HK Tourism's official website) that can beat the info there.

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2. Re: Guide for Self-Organised Trip to HK, First Time, 4-5 NIghts

Just a couple of thoughts for now.

>>>2. Itinerary<<<<

Try to visit Macau (if staying overnight) during the week, not Friday or Saturday when hotel rates can double or triple.

Also try to manage your visits to Disney, Peak and Ocean Park (if you decide to try this popular attraction) for weekdays as well as crowds will be smaller.

Isle of Man, United...
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3. Re: Guide for Self-Organised Trip to HK, First Time, 4-5 NIghts

Thank you for taking time to reply. This would really help. I spent quite a time last night lnarrowing my accomodation choice to TST as Ive gathered its usually near MTR, shopping and usually surrounded by foodshops. Theres also mention about Causeway Bay and if im reading thr reviews right Causeway Bay would be surrounded by shops but high end shops? is that right? I havr been reading on hotel reviews and most of them comment about relatively smaller sized rooms thats why I was put off from looking at hostels but then again its down to budget versus convenience versus comfort. Likr I said I am not after a hotel with a pool kinda thing because I am foreseeing this will not be the activity my mom will enjoy rather it will mostly be an all day most night getting around. I will look into accomodation further tonight and if Im stuck I hope you dont mind me asking again. Then ill pull my itinerary together and will definitely need your help for tips ob organising the day better. What realistic budget am I looking at per person to cover food/accomodation/and totours/transport for 4 to 5 nights? Currently, the agency is quoting about 350 pounds for land arrangement per person covering the earlier mentioned itinerary.Accomodation they offered was Silka Far East.do you think I could beat that for a DIY tour. I was considering airbnb as a site for rooms/flat to rent but couldnt get any decent location or when I say that theres limited places in TST. Any recommendations or shall I just stick to a hotel.

Isle of Man, United...
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4. Re: Guide for Self-Organised Trip to HK, First Time, 4-5 NIghts

My mom is not so keen on a full day in disneyland so wondering if the park offered half a day pass. I think personally I would just like to see their fireworks and the parade as we are not themepark maximisers like we dont really like rides etc. I didnt out ocean park in my initial itinerary as we have been to one before, or something similar anyway. I may need to shift money to their wants and needs lije food and shopping which I gathered are both generously placed in hongkong. thank you for the reply!

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5. Re: Guide for Self-Organised Trip to HK, First Time, 4-5 NIghts

>>>Theres also mention about Causeway Bay and if im reading thr reviews right Causeway Bay would be surrounded by shops but high end shops? is that right? <<<<

Causeway Bay has high end malls but also mid range and even street markets. A bit of everything can be found in this area of the city. Have a look at this shopping hot spot list, which might be useful for understanding the major shopping area of Hk.

Hong Kong Top Shopping area

tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i36592-Hong_Kon…

>>>What realistic budget am I looking at per person to cover food/accomodation/and totours/transport for 4 to 5 nights? <<<<

You'll find a wide range of suggestions on what amount is suitable in Hong Kong. Because you can spend as little as you like or as high as London type prices, it might be worth reading through some of the many past discussions on this topic. Just type in 'budget in hong kong' or something similar in the Search Box and you'll have access to all past discussions of a similar nature.

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6. Re: Guide for Self-Organised Trip to HK, First Time, 4-5 NIghts

Unfortunately, it is very unrealistic to get accommodation where you actually get spacious rooms. Tiny rooms is the reality in HK because if you want space, you usually will be paying much higher prices for it. This is why I definitely don't recommend hostels for you

I think accommodation (unless you can get some good deals) will be your most expensive part of the trip. Food can be quite cheap, particularly if you stick with local food rather than constantly eating western food, but then again, of course, if you're going fine dining, then, expect the price tag to match accordingly.

I don't believe Disneyland offers half-day passes either.

If you can provide us with a rough budget range for accommodation per night, then, that might be helpful in giving you suggestions. You can also look at a site like www.wotif.com/ and see what's available in your price range too.

Personally, Silka Far East wouldn't be my first choice (not because of the hotel, but more because of the location). You're located in Tsuen Wan, so, that means travel time to the more touristy spots. Let us know your budget range, so, we can help

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7. Re: Guide for Self-Organised Trip to HK, First Time, 4-5 NIghts

Am travelling with senior mom who has had stroke but can walk short distances. will be bringing light travel wheelchair. Do you have suggestion of where we can stay comfortably in HK near transit as we are on budget travel trying to make "grandma's last trip" fun and memorable yet showing the grand"children" a good visit also. NICE comfort for grandma who deserves it, but a daughter with 3 teens/university age who are on FIRST visit to HK/China. Need English tour group

Being from Toronto, I realize the HK prices so far are long NYC prices. Hoping we can be in large suite to accommodate five of us?

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8. Re: Guide for Self-Organised Trip to HK, First Time, 4-5 NIghts

The only place I know of that will fit 5 people in the same room is the Y-Loft in Chai Wan. They have rooms for up to 6 people, and their rooms are decent-sized. Keep in mind there are some downsides to Y-Loft - It's not a hotel (it's a hostel, but I would actually consider it to be a budget hotel instead, as it's nothing like the usual hostels or guesthouses you would find in HK), and also, because it's in Chai Wan, you're at the beginning/end of the HK Island MTR line, so, this does mean more travel time. However, you're super close to the MTR though, but just further away from tourist spots. The positive though about being on the beginning/end of the MTR line is that you're generally guaranteed a spot to sit when going out from Chai Wan to elsewhere.

If you DON'T need to one room to fit all five of you, then, it's a lot easier. For example, Royal Plaza Hotel has larger rooms, but I doubt they would allow 5 people in the same room.

Also, I wouldn't go with a tour group (the only kind I would recommend is perhaps going on the walking day tours, which get good reviews here on TA - read up on which might be best for your group / Having said that though, if you're going with your Mum, then, maybe look at the HOHO bus, which might make things a bit easier, or utilising taxis can be a good option too, as they are not very expensive and you'll be able to get from one point to another without any issues). HK is so easy to get around, and given you're going with university/teens, then, I'm sure they can help with the research and planning too of things that would interest them.

Edited: 26 March 2014, 04:41
Isle of Man, United...
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9. Re: Guide for Self-Organised Trip to HK, First Time, 4-5 NIghts

Thank you for your further responses. My family and I are arriving in Hongkong on the 5th of May and instead of 4 nights, I have decided to do 5 nights instead. I still havent booked for accomodation, as still not sure where to find strategic location. I have considered 3 hotels (Xi Hotel, Hotel Benito and Royal Plaza), but my mom is quite inclined to just booking a flat or getting a room for 4 (to make it a bit cheaper). I have seen flats in TST area, naming Carnarvon Road, Kimberley Road, Nathan Road. I have yet to read more about this, but would be helpful to hear from all of you. I am not sure whether to book the accomodation in Tsimshatsui (seems to be very popular) or in Mong Kok (encouraged as it seems cheaper, and closer to night market shopping, but yet to read about it. I have seen flats supposed to be near prince edward mtr?)HELP! Certainly my top priorities would be travel times to our so far identified hk highlights. please help me weigh between the 2 neighborhoods. My mom would definitely want to be where night market is convenient. on the other hand, my brother is concerned with travel times. Plans: we want to see Lantau, Macau, The Peak, The Harbour, Ocean Park and Disneyland, Stanley, Nunnery and Nian Gardens. Additional consideration is we will be arriving in HK at 2030, so if i am gathering it right, its roughly about 45 minutes to get to the Kowloon area. The other thing about being in a central location is obviously the travel cost. in terms of the aforementioned basic highlights of our trip, which area would you rather suggest? By the Way, my parents are still able walkers, and so is my brother. if that information would be necessary :) I would also like to experience the DingDing, The Dukling, dinner by the harbour?, and see Kung Fu :P. Please help me cluster/organise itinerary, and add any suggestions! forum really helpful! Again, Many Many Thanks.

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10. Re: Guide for Self-Organised Trip to HK, First Time, 4-5 NIghts

Tsim Sha Tsui is a better neighborhood than Mong Kok. I would pick TST if I were you. Mong Kok at late night is where the bad boys gathered around, triad or not, lingering at McDonalds or other places. TST is a bit more tourist friendly. Don't let the proximity to night market steer your decision. A short taxi ride from Mong Kok to TST costs only HKD $22 to $25, 10 minutes, for all 4 of you.