Last January of this year (2013), me and my mom went to Hong Kong and Macau for our post christmas and new year’s celebration.
This is gonna be my first time to go out of the country, so i’m very excited about this. I don’t know if it’s normal but I spent almost three (3) months planning and preparing for this trip.
Just like anyone who doesn’t know what to expect at their destination, I decided to read blogs and forum threads to help me plan this exciting trip. And to give you an overview of the preparations I’ve made, I’ll sum it up into:
1. Booking a flight
2. Booking a hotel room
3. Creating an Itinerary
4. Setting up a budget
5. Things to bring (include the list of people you need to give pasalubong so you wont waste time and money going around HK and buying unnecessary items)
Tips: This is the forum thread that helped me a lot in my preparations: http://www.pinoyexchange.com/forums/showthread.php?t=532044
You can also visit http://www.discoverhongkong.com (where you can actually plan your itinerary).
I wouldn’t include the details of booking a flight in this post. I know you guys are familiar with that already. Instead, I’d focus more on booking a hotel room and creating an itinerary.
Booking a Hotel Room
http://www.agoda.com/ would be a great help if you wanted to consider your options but since I’m a budgeted wanderer (and thinking I’ll only spend 8 hours at the most per night for sleep), I’ve chosen to stay in a guesthouse. And the top choice is Golden Crown Guesthouse (http://www.goldencrownhk.com/reservations/en). It’s a decent place to stay which is managed by our fellow Filipino (Actually Filipina). Im not sure if she’s a part owner and since they’re Filipinos, its easier to ask for directions and suggestions on where to go or eat.
Anyway, since this is just a guesthouse expect nothing but a room to stay. No swimming pool, entertainment lounge, coffee shops, etc. Just a heads up, room sizes are small and that’s the standard in Hong Kong since spaces are really expensive. But at least there’s a free wifi, free use of the computer if you forgot to bring your ipads or laptops, and there’s also a landline inside the room. Hot water, microwave, towels and toiletries are also available. Their office also sells “discounted” tickets to the different attractions just like The Peak, Tian Tan Buddha, Disney Land and Ocean Park. You can also have your US Dollars exchanged to HK Dollars at their office. In fact you can also have your HK Dollars exchanged back to US Dollars when you’re about to leave HK.
Creating your Itinerary and Setting Up a Budget
Part of planning your itinerary is considering your budget and the time you have for your travel.
Your budget actually depends on you. But make sure you have enough or even bring some extra bucks just for those emergency situations. Also, call your bank to activate your atm card/s so that you can easily withdraw money from any atm machine in HK or Macau.
Tip: My formula for this is: Plane Ticket + Accomodation + Food + Expenses (from entrance tickets, transportation, food, pasalubong, everything!).
Visit the airline websites (which I’ve included at the first part of this post) as well as the different websites for your hotel and the attractions you wanted to visit. This would give you a real-time price, thus will help you big time in preparing your budget.
For Pocket Moneys. You don’t actually need to exchange all of your Philippine money to HK Dollars. It is even advisable to buy just the right amount of HK Dollars from your trusted money changers here (just enough until you’d be able to have your US Dollars exchange at HK) and then the rest exchange it for US Dollars. This has been the custom of Filipino tourists because US Dollars have higher exchange rates in HK.
Trusted Money Changers in Manila are:
Edsen Money Changer and Nikko Money Changer (Both are in Mabini, Ermita, Manila)
Trusted Money Changer in HK:
There’s a money changer that was suggested to me that is located inside a building beside Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, but we weren’t able to locate it. Good thing we were able to exchange money at the Golden Crown Guesthouse office. (I dont really know what to suggest aside from this. If you have a trusted money changer in HK please feel free to suggest/ or leave a comment).
And here’s our itinerary for our 3D2N Hong Kong- Macau Adventure:
Day One (1):
2300 – ETD NAIA Terminal 3 Pasay City
0100 – ETA Hong Kong Intl Airport
0100 – 0630 – Sleep at the Airport (Yes! If you’re a budget traveler then you should be ready for this! lol, But don’t worry there are lots of people sleeping at the airport benches, just find a comfortable spot and you’ll sure to have a good night sleep.)
0700 – Breakfast at the Airport
0730 – 1130- Cable Car, Ngong Ping Village, Tian Tan Buddha or “Giant Buddha” (All at Lantau Island)
1200 – Lunch
1300 – Check-in at Guesthouse at Tsim Sha Tsui (This is supposed to be 1400 or 2 pm but we’ll try to check in early, if possible) then rest for a while.
1430 – Meet Friends and Kamag-anak (Since we’re Pinoys then this should always be part of our IT)
1430 – 2000 – Free to roam around Kowloon and TST
2100 – Temple Street Night Market
2300 – End of Day 1 (Sleep)
Day Two (2):
0600 – Breakfast
0700 – ETD Hong Kong – Macau Ferry Terminal
0800 – ETA Macau
0800 – 01730 – Wander around Macau
– Fisherman’s Wharf
– Casinos (Sands, Wynn Macau, Grand Lisboa Venetian,
City of Dreams, Galaxy Macau, etc.)
– Senado Square
– St. Paul Ruins
– Macau Museum
– Macau Tower
(Honestly, when I am making this Macau Itinerary, I’m not really sure how to go to these places and if its really possible to go to each and every place with a very limited time. All I know is that there are free buses that we can make use of to go around this vibrant city.) Besides, getting lost is the best adventure of all! lol)
1800 – ETD Macau
1900 – ETA HK – Macau Ferry Terminal then Quick Dinner
2000 – Symphony of Lights, TST Promenade, Clock Tower and Avenue of
2300 – End of Day 2
Day Three (3):
0600 – Breakfast
0700 – Ride on the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour , Ride Ding-Ding (Double Deckers) at Central HK, Western Market
1200 – Lunch
1300 – 1600 – The Peak, Madame Tussauds
1700 – Last minute shopping at Kowloon
1900 – Should be at the Airport for Check-in
2100 – ETD HK Intl Aip
2200 – ETA NAIA Terminal 3 Pasay
You may or may not follow this itinerary but there are some points I needed to clarify and I know there are already some questions running through your heads right now. So here:
– Since, Im not a fan of theme parks and me and my mom are both adults already, I dont think we would enjoy DisneyLand or Ocean Park that is why I didn’t include them to the places that I wanted to visit. (If ever, you will be travelling with kids then this trip wouldn’t be complete without these theme parks)
– Next, it was an honest mistake. I’ve booked tickets to and from Hong Kong, so Instead of spending the first few days in Hong Kong then the last day in Macau before going back to Manila, I needed to squeeze in Macau between the first and third day of our stay. It was a last minute decision to include Macau instead of going to DisneyLand or Ocean Park.
– I’ve decided to create my own itinerary and not hire a tour guide or avail of any tour packages since (as I’ve read from forums) I wanted to make the most out of our stay and I dont want to be obliged to follow a strict and boring itinerary (But if you’re the type who isn’t adventurous enough, specially if you’re not really good with directions and reading or understanding maps then I suggest you avail of a travel agency’s service)
– Lastly, I wanted to make the most out of our 3 days stay so I’ve included as much places as we could visit..
Don’t worry if you wouldn’t be able to religiously follow an itinerary (which happens most of the time), besides this should only serve as a guide and the fun in wandering through unfamiliar places comes from being open to any possibility and embracing every adventure that comes your way.
Things to bring:
– Cellphone ( Registered for roaming) and Charger
– Laptop / Ipad (this isn’t necessary since you can always use the computers at your hotel. But if you want to be always connected with your friends and brag about your travel then these gadgets would be a great help! lol) You can also download maps to your ipad to avoid getting lost (although maps are available at the airport).
– Medicines (Paracetamol, Antacids, Bonamin, Loperamide, Vitamins, and other meds you needed to take during the entire duration of your travel like maintenance medications)
– Of course, Money! (Philippine peso, HK and US Dollars).
-List of things to buy for yourself and pasalubongs to loved ones, friends and frenemies!
– Adapter/ Plug (because in HK, they’re using the three-pronged UK-style plug)
– Rosary (to guide you with your travel)
(For sure, there’s something you wanted to add to this list so please feel free to leave a comment)
This post might or might not be complete yet for you. Make sure to do your own research and make your travel as personalized as possible, this way you’d be able to not just learn and make the most out of your trip but also have a great time in Hong Kong and Macau.
Photos of our actual trip will be posted soon in a different entry. Thanks for reading my post and don’t forget to share the love and hit the ‘like’ button! (Comments are greatly appreciated).
See you guys again soon!