Hong Kong’s gonna be my very first out of the country getaway. Although I am really fond of travelling locally, this time it feels different. Part of me is somehow worried brought about by the uncertainty and being on our own in a very unfamiliar place. But at least the feeling of excitement is much greater than my anxiety.
At last after 3 months of preparation, here we are boarding our plane. We left Manila at around 11 in the evening via Cebu Pacific at the NAIA Terminal 3 for a short 2-hour flight to Hong Kong.
We arrived at the HK Intl Airport at around 1 in the morning. (It was part of the plan and besides as a budget wanderer I would like to experience sleeping in airports).
Since I want to make the most out of our 3-days stay, I’ve booked the earliest flight to HK and the latest flight to Manila. So upon arrival we searched for a comfortable spot to get a few hours of sleep before starting our Hong Kong Adventure.
You don’t need to worry and feel like your depriving yourself of comfort since almost all benches here are occupied by airport sleepers! lol..and besides that’s part of the adventure.
After having breakfast, we decided to get ourselves an octopus card. These are reloadable cards that can be used at all public transportation, convenience stores, fast-food restaurants and other point-of-sale transactions in Hong Kong.
For our first stop: Ngong Ping Village and Tian Tan Buddha
To Get There from the Airport: Ride the S1 Bus outside the airport to Tung Chung Station. From there, ride a cable car to get to Ngong Ping Village.
Tip: Make sure to take the front seats of the upper deck of the double-decker bus and be amazed by the views.
From airport to Tung Chung, it would only take about 10-15 minutes. We arrived here a little early for the opening of the Ngong Ping cable car terminal which is 9am (since its a Sunday, but for weekdays its 10am).
So we wandered and get to visit Citygate Mall (although stores inside are still closed) and the Tung Chung surrounding. There’s nothing much to see here because this is considered to be a new town, so its mostly residential buildings.
After some picture taking, we get to ride the Cable Car at last! You have the option to ride a standard cabin or a crystal cabin. (Crystal cabins have glass bottoms which let’s you see the view right under your feet!).
After 5.7 km or 20-25mins journey from Tung Chung, we finally arrived at the Ngong Ping Village.
Tip: Make sure to be here early morning to avoid the long line of people waiting to ride the cable car and the village isn’t crowded yet.
The Village is lined with different attractions from restaurants, coffee shops, theatre, tourism office, souvenir shops, and cable car gallery.
Tip: Souvenirs here are a bit pricey. Its better to buy souvenirs in Kowloon especially at night markets.
Before you go and climb the stairs up the Giant Buddha make sure to visit first the Po Lin Monastery. Im not really sure if its possible to go inside and besides there are no people in the area yet who we can ask. Out of respect and excitement to see the Giant Buddha, me and my mom decided to just have our pictures taken in front of the buddhist monastery.
A short walk from the monastery, you will already have a glimpse of the Giant Buddha.
To be able to see the statue on all its grandness, you should be able to climb the 240 steps up the hill where the Giant Buddha sits.
But once you’re there, right in front of this giant statue, you’ll not just be amazed by its humungous size but you’ll also fell in love with it’s calmness.
Ngong Ping Village and Lantau Island have so much to offer but it’s almost noon and we need to have lunch and to check in to the guesthouse where we will be staying.
We used our round trip tickets for the cable car ride back to Tung Chung. There’s no more fog so we were able to see the stunning mountain and sea views. Plus strong wind pushing the cable car causing it to swing from side to side makes it a different cable car experience. But its safe..they said. lol
I always say that Hong Kong has an efficient system when it comes to its public transportations. Its MTR can bring you to the different parts of the country in just minutes and the public’s safety is a top priority. But of course there are also buses and taxis if you prefer a much comfortable (but pricier) ride.
The 31 km travel from Tung Chung to Tsim Sha Tsui where our guesthouse is located is about 35 minutes riding the MTR. From Tung Chung we transferred to another train at the Lai King Station to get to TST. Unlike in Manila where you need to exit the station, in Hong Kong you only need to walk to the other side of the platform to ride another train. How efficient!
“When in Rome, Do what the Romans Do”. Same thing in HK. When in HK, do what the locals do. Even riding the escalators can be a traumatic experience if you’re not aware of the locals’ custom. If you’re not in a hurry, ALWAYS stay at the right side of the escalator.
After enjoying the suburban feel of Ngong Ping, here we are stunned with Hong Kong’s modernity. With the tall skyscrapers and busy locals and tourists making their way through the busy streets of HK, I feel like the typical “probinsyano” (province guy) who cant help but stare and be amazed by his surroundings.
After we’ve checked in at the Golden Crown Guesthouse (my first blog entry contains a short review about Golden Crown: https://budgetedwanderer.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/hong-kong-macau-part-1-preparation/ ) and a quick lunch in one of the local restaurants in the area, we decided to meet my cousin and my aunt who work in HK.
A former police headquarters, the 1881 Heritage was our first destination in Kowloon. The British colonization is very evident here because of the victorian inspired architecture.
On the farthest end of Salisbury Road is where the pier of Star Ferry located. Tour of Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without experiencing this iconic ferry. It feels like you’ve time traveled aboard the star ferry because of its dark wooden interior giving it its nostalgic feel.
You can use either your octopus card or a token which you can get at vending machines at the pier to ride the ferry.
The ferry operates across the Victoria Harbour which is also the home port of Star Pisces, one of the cruise ships of Star cruises.
On our first day, we had a quick glimpse of Central HK because from here we took the MTR to Cheung Sha Wan (back to Kowloon side) where we will spend the rest of the afternoon at my cousin and aunt’s apartment before we visit the Temple Street NightMarket.
Here at Temple Street Night Market we purchased most of the pasalubongs (gifts) we brought back home.
At night you’ll see a different but more vibrant and lively Hong Kong.
Thank you for reading my blog about our first day in HK!
Join me as we spend our second day in Macau and back in Hong Kong on our third day. (Blog entries for these will be posted soon!)
Follow me on:
Thank you and happy wandering!