If you’re from the Philippines, Hong Kong is probably in your to-go list, and for a few good reasons. It’s quite close to the Philippines, there are cheap flights going to Hong Kong from Manila, and of course, there are a lot of things tourists can do even just for a weekend.
As a solo traveler, I thought I wouldn’t enjoy Hong Kong. I put off going there until two years ago when I managed to buy a really cheap ticket. I thought I would get bored, but boy, was I wrong about that!
On my second year since I visited Hong Kong, I’m looking back and wishing I could go back there again, this time with friends. I could take my family, too; the kids in my family would definitely enjoy not only Disneyland, but Lantau Island as well, with its glass-bottomed cable cars and the charming Ngong Ping Village.
Here’s what I did in Hong Kong, and what you can do, too, when you go visit with family and friends!
Hike solo to Victoria Peak
I wasn’t completely alone when I visited Hong Kong. I met up with a blogger friend, Aileen, on the second half of my stay. Before she arrived, I decided to go to the much-talked about Victoria Peak. The view of the HK skyline from there is iconic and I wanted to see it for myself.
Unfortunately for me, when I arrived at the terminal for the Peak Tram, there were hundreds of people queuing. It took me 5 seconds to decide that instead of waiting in line for hours, I would rather spend that time hiking to Victoria Peak.
How to do it: On the opposite side of The Peak Tram terminus, find the path that says “No. 1 Tramway Path.” It’s a concrete path going up; some parts would have stairs, others don’t.
There are no “trail signs” going up to the Peak. I just followed the path going up. In some cases, when I had to cross the road, I just walked a bit to find the path again. Like what I did when I hiked solo to Machu Picchu, I followed the train tracks and saw the tram passing me by occasionally.
There are parts where you can’t do it, though, so do a detour and look for the path going up. At some point, I even asked for directions from two security guards at a gated community, and both of them told me there’s no way to go up, and that I should go back.
Obviously, I didn’t believe them, and resolved to just look for the path myself. I found it when I saw Central Green Trail sign. It took me a little over an hour to reach Victoria Peak from the Peak Tram terminal.
Go window shopping with friends
Another thing I enjoyed was window shopping in Hong Kong with friends. We went to several shopping malls, noting that while some reminded us of Philippine malls, others were quite different.
The Dragon Centre Mall, for example, is a huge shopping center where mostly locals shop. It reminded us of the Philippines, with lots of commercial establishments, vendors stalls, and of course, entertainment options for the whole family.
The Solo Mall at Radio City, on the other Hand, are full of specialty stores that you can only find if you already know where you want to go. It’s certainly different from what we’d encountered before.
Spend a day at Lantau Island
Lantau Island is definitely special. You’ll enjoy every second of it, from the cable car going to the island, to your first look of the Big Buddha, a.k.a., Tian Tan Buddha, which you’ll reach after climbing 268 steps.
Most people stop here. I would recommend doing what I did, which was to continue walking past the monastery and into the Wisdom Path. There were almost nobody else there and for long stretches of time, it was just me.
You won’t get lost hiking the Wisdom Path as, unlike in Victoria Peak, the trail there is clearly marked. You’ll pass by some abandoned buildings, with trees growing in and around them. Quite creepy!
Next time around, when I come back with friends, I will ask them if we could hike to Lantau Island instead of taking the cable car. That would be an experience indeed!
Go on a food trip (of course)
Of course, you should never miss going on a food trip when in Hong Kong. The dim sum and the noodles are certainly to die for!
If you’re on a budget, look out for the lower lunch rates during tea time, which starts at 3pm. At the time I was there, Yoshinoya had cheaper tea time rates than during lunch or dinner hours.
And while Tim Ho Wan is already in the Philippines, it’s still a must to eat there while in Hong Kong. It is the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant (!!!), so definitely experience it for yourself!
I met up with a former work colleague who’s now based in Hong Kong, and she bought my lunch at Tim Ho Wan. It was definitely a good lunch and I hope to be back in Hong Kong someday to return the treat.
Watch the light and sound show
Head to Tsim Sha Tsui before 8pm and wait for the nightly light and sound show called the Symphony of Lights. There are several places to watch this (free) show, but the best ones are outside the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront and the promenade at Golden Bauhinia Square in Wanchai.
Alternatively, you can buy a spot in one of the many sightseeing ferries in the Victoria Harbour.
On hindsight, this would have been a nicer experience if I were with friends. Most of the people I saw there were with their partners, families, or friends, making the experience even more memorable.
When I left Hong Kong after nine days, I told myself I would be back again. Unfortunately, life happened and I had never found the time to go back. I still hope I can do so someday, especially during winter time in Hong Kong when hiking with friends is more bearable because of the cool weather.
If you’re interested to visit Hong Kong this winter (December to February), the Hong Kong Tourism Board has a year-end traveler promo and you can get free tours from Cathay Pacific, too. It is the best time to visit, as the weather is very pleasant, with a high temperature of only 20 °C (68 °F).
Check out the Tourism Board’s teaser video of Hong Kong. Doesn’t it make you want to go visit?
Have you been to Hong Kong? What are your favorite things to do there?