Hong Kong is a popular destination among many of my Beijing friends, and for good reason. It’s an inexpensive flight, and once you’re there, it’s an easy city to travel within. The public transportation system is extensive and easy to use. There aren’t any language barriers because so many people speak English. Hong Kong is a beautiful city. It’s clean. And there is a lot to do.
There is so much information out there already about what to do in Hong Kong and how to get around, I feel a bit silly writing about it myself, and yet, we had such a good time visiting during the Chinese New Year holiday, I can’t help but chime in and add my two cents.
Where We Stayed
One downside of Hong Kong is the price of the hotels; they are pretty expensive. When we were trying to find lodging, we were a bit discouraged, so my hubby suggested we try staying at an Airbnb. (If you don’t know what Airbnb is, check out their website here or a description of how it works here.)
I was hesitant to try it because two separate families told me that they had tried staying at an Airbnb in China, and both of them said that what they found when they arrived was nothing like what was given in the description of the lodging. Both families said they stayed for one night and then left to stay at an overpriced hotel (all that was left in the city they had traveled to). So since I had been warned to stay away from Airbnbs in China, understandably, I was a bit leery of the idea. Hubby persisted, saying we could stay at an Airbnb for half the price of a hotel and that it wouldn’t be as risky in Hong Kong as it would be in mainland China, so I finally gave in and said we could give it a try.
The night before we left, Hubby received a message from host of the apartment we booked saying that the bathroom was leaking into the apartment below and would need to be fixed. So at 10:30 pm the night before we flew to Hong Kong, we suddenly found ourselves without any lodging. In my own mind, I was wishing I would have stood my ground when Hubby told me Airbnb was a good option. He looked on the Airbnb website and found everything had already been filled in the area we wanted, so he tried to contact the host of an apartment farther away from Central. Fortunately, the host responded right away, so by morning (just a couple hours before we left) we once again had lodging.
I was a bit disappointed with the whole thing at first. I had planned an itinerary based on where we originally thought we’d be staying, and staying so far out meant that our plans would be changed for a few of the days we were there. But it all worked out okay in the end. In all honesty, I ended up happy that our place was changed. We stayed in Discovery Bay—an area of the city with little traffic and a more laid back atmosphere than Central, and the apartment was adequate. All in all, it suited my family quite nicely. So even with the hiccup, it turns out I’d stay at an Airbnb again if we return to Hong Kong.
What We Did
Disneyland was my entire reason for wanting to go to Hong Kong in the first place. My children are six and four and were the perfect ages to enjoy Disneyland. The crowds in the park can get pretty massive. We arrived before opening, enjoyed the park for several hours, and about the time the kids had had enough (around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon) the crowds were so massive we didn’t really want to be there anymore anyway. We were happy to have had a two day ticket. It gave us the right amount of time to see and do everything we wanted to without trying to cram it all into a single day.
My six-year-old son was tall enough to enjoy all the rides throughout the park. My four-year-old daughter was tall enough to ride most of them, but not all. Don’t miss the theater shows. “Mickey and the Wondrous Book” in Fantasyland and “Festival of the Lion King” in Adventureland are both quite good.
Ocean Park has a mixture of rides and animals. Both of my children were too short for almost all of the rides, but that was okay. I think they had more fun with the animal exhibits anyway. They were thrilled to see penguins and seals and watch a show with dolphins. In the one day we were there, we didn’t feel like we got to see all we wanted to (even though we skipped almost all the rides), but Ocean Park doesn’t have a two-day pass option like Disneyland.
Touring Central and Downtown:
We spent a day shopping in and seeing the sights around Central. When most people think of Hong Kong, this is the area that usually comes to mind with its shopping malls, old tram system, the peak, and long escalator. By the end of the day, the kids were exhausted and a bit overstimulated, but even so, we had a great time exploring this busy city center.
There was a lot a great hiking around the Discovery Bay area where we stayed. We spent one day away from the noise and hustle of the city and took a ferry to Peng Chau island and had a very relaxing, quiet walk. If we had had more days in Hong Kong, we would have done some more hiking around Discovery Bay.
When I was planning our trip, Hubby made a special request to visit Stanley Market while we were there. There are several little shops here selling paintings, bags, Chinese souvenirs, and other odds and ends. Stanley has a nice atmosphere. It, too, is away from the hustle and bustle of Central and has more of a relaxed pace. You can browse the shops here and then get some food from one of the little restaurants.
All in all, spending a week in Hong Kong was a really fun way to bring in the Year of the Rooster. I’m looking forward to going again someday.