Hello Hong Kong !

Hello Hong Kong !

We have spent 3 days in Hong Kong and we can say it was not enough ! This is a vibrant city and a major gateway to China. We can find anything anytime. We left the city hungry for more and here are 10 reasons why we will go back to Hong Kong : 

1. Sightseeing 
The city has a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing. From the city to the beach, from hiking to shopping, everything is possible ! Some attractions are combined with the forest. We could definitively call Hong Kong an urban jungle! 
During these 3 days we went to see the ten thousand Buddhas which was amazing to see. The walk of fame with famous actors such as Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan on Victoria harbor impressed us with a breathtaking view on the skylines of Hong Kong city island. We also could see numerous shopping malls that make us feel in Europe as there is always a French touch somewhere. Finally the beautiful beach at Shok O made our trip. The 60 minutes ride was worth it !

2. The street food and markets
Every sense are awakened as you walk through the markets and the streets. There is not only the countless advertisements that catch your eyes but all the different stands where you can find fruits and veggies as well as cheap clothes, souvenirs, Hello Kitty items and many other funky staff ! Don’t forget to bargain on the street as the prices can double or triple.

3. The restaurants 
Being vegetarians, Hong Kong made us the happiest couple in term of food. The city has 7 million people and 15,000 restaurants. It is simply incredible ! You can find all the kind of food you want high up on floors buildings or on the street. We loved the noodle soups and green teas that are delicious. If you want to go in a specific or famous restaurant, make sure you reserve a table or you will have to go back another day ! 

4. The transportation 
Hong Kong is really good at getting you where you need to go.The public transportation system is famous around the world for its efficiency and profitability, making Hong Kong one of the least car-dependent cities, with only about 710,000 registered vehicles. It is true that while walking in the center, we could not see that much traffic or cars pollution. It makes the city very pleasant to walk through. The Metro lines (the MTR Corporation) are easy to take, getting you all around the different islands. If not, many buses are available. The prices are affordable but the cheapest trip we did was by ferry – 2.50 HKG one ride from Kowloon island to mainland Hong Kong (Victoria harbor).

5. The safety 
The city not only has one of the lowest crime and homicides rates in the world (third place in a list compiled by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2011)
We really felt safe wherever we went day or night. We can say that the law is quite rigid which makes people think twice, I guess. If you throw litter in the Harbor for example, it will get you a 5’000 HKG and 6 months in jail!! 

6. To make business ?!
As a financial center that has historically been seen as the gateway to the Chinese market, Hong Kong is a great place to make money. Also, what truly sets Hong Kong apart is that residents actually get to keep most of the money they earn. With one of the lowest salaries tax rates in the world, capped at 15-17% and no sales tax or VAT, Hong Kong is an attractive place to work and play! 

7. Cosmopolitan
Hong Kong is a very diverse city having different nationalities from all around the world. Meeting new people and learning about different countries is very interesting. Staying 3 days in the city, we couldn’t do much connections though. We could see that people from Hong Kong can be very helpful and welcoming but at the same time very into their “routine” or daily life. I guess it might take some time to enter into their world, but once in there, it must be fantastic.

8. The culture 
“150 years of rule as a separate British colony, as well as political separation from the rest of mainland China have resulted in a unique local identity. Elements of Traditional Chinese culture combining British western influences have shaped Hong Kong in every facet of the city spanning from law, politics, education, language, food, and the way of thinking. It is for this reason that many people in Hong Kong are proud of their culture and generally refer themselves as “Hong Konger” or “Hong Kong Chinese”, to distinguish themselves from the Chinese in mainland China.” (Source Wikipedia) We would have indeed loved to learn a little more about the culture of the tea, the Chinese medicine, Cantonese opera, Fung Shui or Tai Chi.

9. Zen moments
That day we couldn’t go see the “Peak” – 360° viewing platform, accessible by tram from Hong Kong island. Unfortunately we didn’t know we could book the tickets in advance and more importantly we had to arrive early ! The queue was huge.. 3-4 hours waiting. (official website is here http://www.thepeak.com.hk/en/5_2_1.asp
The other thing we didn’t know was that around the corner some nice green parks were there ! We decided to give up on the peak and go see a very nice park nearby as well as a zen garden with water features and sculpted plants. It was a great relaxing time away from the crowd.

Additionally regarding “zenitude”, massages salons are available all over the city at cheap prices. You will find anything you want from reflexology to body massages. Yes it is possible to be totally zen in a busy 7 millions inhabitants city 🙂

10. Shopping (!!)
As we travel for 10 month we obviously cannot carry a lot of stuff but it seems the city has malls everywhere ! The streets markets are also very interesting where the haggling is at every corner. 
In addition to this, we have been approached many time by tailors mainly from India. There are probably more bad tailors than good in Hong Kong. We would simply advice you to stay away from them or to get a good recommendation !

You will in fact never be bored in Hong Kong ! Enjoy 🙂

Useful information:

The city in general is not cheap for travelers on a budget, especially the accommodation. You can get a very very tiny room for around 45 USD in the center (we stayed at the Singapore Hostel on Nathan road – Chungking mansion). A 15 floors building with 20 different guest houses on it is totally normal there. Or you can have something more spacious but more away of the city center.. Your choice!

The trip from the airport to the city center – Hong Kong island is very easy. You can access it by fast train available at the airport for 80.00 HKG going to the central metro station. From there you can then take a metro depending on where you want to go.

The trip to Shok O beach is worth it if you would like to have a relaxing day at the beach. It is surrounded by mountainous forest with a view to another islands. It is stunning. The best way to go by bus line 9 from metro station Shau Kei Wan (blue line). Or here you will find the 10 best beaches in Hong Kong according to The Guardian.

The ladies market in Mong Kok is something to see. However don’t forget to bargain !! Even after having cut the price by 50% on a dress, I still think that I paid too much.. But well now it is too late !