Friday, January 7, 2011

What to do in Hong Kong and Macau on your first visit

[Trip from November 2007] To give a recap on things, months before my first trip out of the country, I’ve researched extensively the contents of our Hong Kong and Macau itinerary. Through the process, I’ve stumbled upon the following websites that have helped me create our trip activities: Discover Hong Kong, Travel China Guide, Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, Hong Kong Extras and HKG Travel, and Expedia.

With the help of a few detailed FREE Hong Kong maps, my Kuya and I were able to go around HKG easily. The MTR and buses were so convenient to find and were very fast, which made the commute a breeze for us after sometime. Anyway, let me share what we did during our short stay in Hong Kong and Macau.

DAY 1 

· Checked-in at our hotel around 2 PM, at the YMCA International House (YMCA Hotel by Waterloo Road, near Yau Ma Tei MTR station).

· Headed out for some late lunch at Mcdonald’s (Central area) with my cousin, his wife, and daughter. Mcdo meals in HKG were pricey compared to ours in the Philippines.

· Went shopping at the Central area - This particular area would have to be one of Hong Kong’s busiest places. I’ve encountered a lot of our fellow Overseas Filipino Workers, enjoying and having their ‘leisure time’ here. Believe it or not, you’ll see floors filled with people having picnics, watching on their portable TV’s and DVD players, and chatting away throughout the day. It was a familiar sight in HK Central, aside from the many branded outlet stores for you to shop in. 

· Shopping at the Ladies Night Market by Mongkok - The Ladies Night Market (OPEN from noon to 22:30 daily) was the highlight of my day! I went gaga over the many good finds. It was like a mini-Greenhills-and-Divisoria but cleaner! You’ll find a bunch of cheap things to buy in this area ranging from clothes, shoes, bags and more!

· Dinner at Delifrance - We ended the day by having dinner at Delifrance by Nathan Road. The pasta that we ordered was great despite being pricey. 


· The Peak – We were able to get to the famous ‘Peak’ via bus and tram. The place hosted several shopping and food centers too, which housed shops like Starbucks, Giordano and Hard Rock Cafe. An NBA Exhibit was also present during our visit, as well as an Art gallery (you can also check out Madame Tussauds Wax Museum). It also has a Sky Terrace on top where you can access a 360 view of Hong Kong. 

· Queens Road (posh area where the big fashion brands can be located) - We found a  picturesque cathedral nearby before heading out to Queens Road. We even had a nice encounter with a Chinese monk who offered us a Buddha bracelet and a shiny photo in exchange for money. Now, if you’re patient and adventurous enough to go around Queens road, you’ll find several off-the-wall shops that you’ll definitely go crazy for. 

· Get to experience the world’s longest escalator by checking out the Central Mid-levels escalators (the distance that it covers is about 800 meters, and can go as high as 135 meters). It operates from Cochrane Street between Queen's Road Central and Hollywood Road, then all the way to Shelley St.

· Also passed by the Victoria Harbour, where we got to see an authentic Chinese junk! You'll also find the Avenue of Stars here.

· Temple Market –
This particular market is near the iFC mall. I was able to buy a few quirky notebooks here, which I gave out as Christmas presents. 

· Mongkok (My version of the City of Lights) – Look for Argyle center in Mongkok, as it's one of HKG’s Divisoria-like malls (Argyle Center houses some of the best $HK 20 items

· Ladies Night Market – Can be similarly compared to Greenhills Mall in the Philippines. 


· YMCA HOTEL - On our 3rd day, my kuya and I decided to check out the other shopping areas nearby. 

· SHAM SHUI PO – Here’s another version of Divisoria. If you're looking to purchase bulk/wholesale items, then this is the place for you. Sham Shui Po is about 3 stations away from the Yau Ma Tei station. 

· DRAGON CENTRE (the mall with the SM feel) – This particular mall wasn’t that extraordinary for me, except maybe for the BIG embossed Dragon display by the escalator. 


Kuya and I also spent our third day in Macau. We made sure that we brought our passport, since we were going to enter a different part of China. No visa’s required. Just your passport. Anyway, we chose to buy our tickets from Turbo Jet, as our means of entry to Macau.

*Payments made: HK $138 to Macau / HK $176 to HK
*FREE SHUTTLE to Venetian Hotel from the Macau Port 

Since we arrived late in Macau, Kuya and I just visited the Venetian Hotel. The shuttle ride to the hotel was free, so we hopped on board as soon as we got off the pier. When we got there, we were able to try the Casino for their slot machines. We also went around. But we couldn’t find anything that we wanted to purchase since most of the shops were too expensive for our taste. 

· LAN KWAI FONG (Bar strip-small U-shaped area) - We left Macau at around 7PM, and went straight to Lan Kwai Fong to meet a few friends. This was HKG’s Night Life haven, and it was definitely packed with a lot of foreigners and many other personalities. Although the drinks and food were expensive, we still helped ourselves to some cold drinks and some finger-food. You should try Bulldog’s when you go there! 


· TSIM SHA TSUI – A place where you can get your Fashion & Designer/Branded items. To go there, you can take the Tram, MTR or Bus. 

· GRANVILLE ROAD – This is where I bought my first pair of cheap yet authentic Birkenstocks sandals. There are also several off-the wall shops here, similar to our surplus shops that offer marked down goods. I bought several tops here for only HKD 20 each (that’s about Php120). 

· ARGYLE CENTRE – Went here again to do some last minute shopping. We also ate dinner at The Spaghetti House before heading back to the hotel. 

· Commute to HKG AIRPORT – If you’re coming from Yau Ma Tei by Nathan Road, wait for the A21 Airport Bus. The ride back to the airport will only cost you about $25-35 HKD. Buses that have A’s on them are only the ones that permit and carry any form of luggage inside the bus. Other than that, the entire trip to the airport took about 30-minute (since it went on several stops to pick-up passengers along the way). 

· Steak dinner at the HKG Airport – Our last stop was the Hong Kong International Airport. 

My Hong Kong/Macau trip ends here. But not the wayfaring part. And if this isn't enough, you may also check my other Hong Kong expeditions. Click here to travel with me more.

Explore & Be Free! 
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