Tag Archive for: Hong Kong

What should I say about Hong Kong? It is a city that I wanted to visit for a long time. Actually, it is the first big city I ever dreamed of. When I was 13, I read a book about the adventures of a girl in Hong Kong and since then I always wanted to visit the so-called Pearl of the Orient.

Now the time had finally come, but the magical feeling that I had expected and the enthusiasm that I usually feel when I’m in a new place did not arrive. Why? I can not tell exactly! I know what it means to explore big metropolises as I have lived in Dubai for 2 years and in Sydney for some time, I visited New York, Tokyo, Berlin, Lima and Moscow, but Hong Kong couldn’t fascinate me at first.

Probably the contrast to Japan was bigger than expected or did I expect too much? I’m sure that some of the important factors were my own well-being, because I had a cold, and the value for money in our hostel was not the best either.


A second chance for Hong Kong

But there was something that convinced me to give Hong Kong another chance. It was the day we planned to visit a major tourist attraction in Hong Kong, Victoria Peak. We arrived at Central Station and walked between the cold looking skyscrapers towards Peak Tram Station. We knew, like any other area in the city, we had to expect many visitors.  Therefore we had previously informed ourselves about the walking distance to the lookout point.



Once we arrived at the station, our guess came true. I can not say how many meters the queue was, but it seemed with no end. It took not long for Alex and me to make a decision. After a last look at Google Maps to find the right path to the peak we set off. We agreed that even with the flu, the heat and the steep path, we were still faster than waiting in line for the tram. Besides, we both prefer walking.

And then came the wow effect.

On the way to Victoria Peak

Our walk led us through the Botanical Gardens and between the skyscrapers. From here you can already imagine what view will be offered to you. It’s easy to find your way. After the garden you can see the pink signs leading towards the peak. In the end, you just need to walk up.


At some point, you will reach a pedestrian zone. From here the road is steep, but it is a very nice path in the shade of the trees. Suddenly you will find yourself far away from the city bustle in the middle of nature and only the skyscrapers that occasionally dart through the trees, allow you to understand that you are still in the city. During our little hike we even saw a boar.

Finally, we arrived at the top… We were sweating and were exhausted, but it was worth doing it for the view from the almost 400 m altitude. The moment we found ourselves in the big crowds again, we knew it was the right decision to do the walk. A quick glance at the watch told us that the walk took only 40 minutes, so we can definitely recommend it to everyone.



However, we do not want to question the Peak Tram. The almost 130-year-old train ride is definitely worth a try. There is a reason why the Peak Tram is called “The Pride of Hong Kong”. While driving, it is said that you feel like the houses are falling over. Of course, that’s just an illusion. A study in 2013 showed that this illusion arises from the oblique position of the body (from 4 ° to 27 ° downhill).

History of the peak

The Victoria Peak or Tai Ping Shan (Chinese) means “mountain of great peace”. At 552 meters above sea level, Victoria Peak is the highest point on Hong Kong Island and served as a signal position for incoming cargo ships in the 19th century.

The cooler air that prevailed at this altitude attracted privileged locals, who gradually settled on the mountain. At that time they were still carried up on sedan chairs. The exclusive residential area became increasingly popular and in May 1881, the Scottish man Alexander Findlay Smith made a plan to reach the mountain faster and easier.

The tram line was opened in 1888 by Governor Sir William Des Voeux and offered space to 52 passengers. This has been expanded to 120 passengers per trip until today. These and many more information can be found at the visitor center located on the top, in an old train.

Victoria Peak is more than just a lookout

If the train journey and the view are not sufficient as highlights, you can visit for example the Madam Tussauds wax museum or the Sky Terrace. At the Peak Post Office, you can send souvenir cards with a special peak stamp. Of course, there is a whole lot more to discover. Here is something to enjoy for everyone: shopping lovers, gourmets or connoisseurs.



If we get the chance to come back, we will try to arrive in the late afternoon to enjoy the skyline with evening lights and we’ll spend more time wandering on the peak itself. Various hiking routes are listed on the website of the peak.

By the way, there is also a bus that goes directly to the peak. Line number 15 runs daily from Pier 5 Central to the Peak (cost about 10HK $). More information about the buses here.

The day itself was very successful and even during our descent I could not restrain my enthusiasm for this magnificent view and walk. That day helped me change my mind about Hong Kong and I’m sure that someday I will come back and have a better start.

Here you will find more pictures of Hong Kong.

After a whole month in Japan, arriving in Hong Kong felt like a big change. Suddenly we knew that we will miss the Nippon lifestyle, the beautiful and quiet places and the extraordinary people.

We prefer being closer to nature but we also enjoy getting lost on the streets of the big cities sometimes. Hong Kong just happens to be more than a big city. It is the fourth-most densely populated region in the world, with skyscrapers popping out from everywhere and large masses of tourists that move continuously, making this place feel more alive and also more crowded than any of the other ones we’ve already visited.



We landed on the Hong Kong International Airport late in the afternoon with a well-organized plan to make the best out of our 6 days stay in the city. Our priority was to finish with the formalities necessary for obtaining the Chinese Visa so that we could cross the border at the beginning of the following month. The best practice is to apply for the visa at the embassy in your home country, but since our plan has been to visit the Russian Federation and Japan in the first months of our travels, it just felt like a good idea to apply for the Chinese visa in Hong Kong. There are several agencies that will get the job done for you, two of them having an office at the airport, which makes the process easy right after your arrival. It just happened to be less easy for us.

Visa for China in Hong Kong

We did our homework before the arrival and read all the available information on how to obtain the visa. We were sure that everything was ok, so we headed confidently to the Chinese Travel Service’s office in Terminal 1. After a very short inspection of our passports, we were told that the visa cannot be obtained, due to one of the passports being “too new” (released on October 2016, so less than two years earlier). The Chinese authorities require a complete list of all the countries that applicants for the visa have visited prior to their arrival in China. For this reason, passports released after the year 2015 will not be accepted if not presented together with old passports, containing data about previous travel destinations.

Our enthusiasm turned into despair during the one minute of silence that followed after this shocking news. The straight and unfriendly face of the person in front of us made us feel hopeless as we asked if anything else could be done. Without saying any other word he just pointed at another desk 3 meters away from us, marked with the name “Aloha Travels”. We went there with the same request and were happy to get a different answer. It was obviously a special situation… that required a special price (of course). We found out that a group visa could be arranged, that would get us across the border into China. Another good thing about it is that it could be obtained in less than 24 hours, which for us it was not needed as we were planning to stay longer in Hong Kong anyway.

Unhappy for seeing our budget suffering so much but pleased that we could find a solution to our unexpected problem, we took the express train to the city. A tiny room has been our accommodation for the five nights that we spent in the city. It was less than what we got in other places for the same price, but property in one of the most expensive city on the planet isn’t cheap, and budget travelers get budget rooms. We weren’t planning to spend too much time inside anyway and the location of the hostel offered us easy access to all the places that we wanted to see.

Hong Kong – a unique world

The Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong, is made up of four parts: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands, all being home to approximately seven million people, mostly Cantonese speaking Chinese. Most of them speak also English, which leaves little space to language barriers and making the former British colony one of the hottest travel destinations in Asia. As communicating didn’t feel like a difficult task, we had a hard time understanding why the people here, with a few exceptions, don’t smile or don’t respond to a “good morning” or a “thank you”. Probably in such a big city, the busyness of everyday life doesn’t leave much space for politeness.

We experienced good weather during our stay, which gave us the chance to forget about our bulky clothes and to finally enjoy wearing shorts. We spent our first morning exploring the Avenue of Stars. At the entrance several statues greeted us, representing movie setups with lights, chairs and video cameras, where tourists can take pictures, and a replica of the statuette given to winners at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Along the promenade we got acquainted with the cinematic history of the city, told by many plaques containing the names, and (some of them) handprints and autographs of honored celebrities. Special attention is given to the well-known star Bruce Lee, who has his own statue.



Later in the afternoon, we continued our walk towards the Victoria Harbour, one of the most visited touristic spots, offering a beautiful panoramic view of the city’s skyline.

Lantau Island

Lantau Island is one of the special places in Hong Kong open to tourists, which we decided to visit during our third day. Its main attraction is the giant Buddha, located near the Po Lin monastery. If you are planning to stay for a longer time in Hong Kong, we recommend waking up early and hiking all the way to the monastery. We instead had to fight with flu symptoms that day, so we chose the lazy way and went there with the cable car. The view is truly spectacular as the cable car crosses the waters and the green hills revealing behind them the shape of a 34 meters tall Buddha statue.



The arrival place felt noisy and crowded with shops, tourists and sacred cows that openly roam the grounds of the Po Lin Monastery. At the end of the shopping area we climbed 268 steps up to the impressive Buddha statue that is watching over the region, surrounded by other six smaller statues known as “The Offering of the Six Devas” that symbolize generosity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which is believed that are necessary for enlightenment. You can spend an entire day in the area, enjoying walks, taking pictures and having short breaks at the many coffee places in the area.


We came back in the evening, just in time to buy a “to go” meal and enjoy our dinner under the lights of the colorful skyline at the Victoria Harbour, where tourists can enjoy the light show every evening at 8:30PM.


Hiking to Victoria Peak

Our fourth day in Hong Kong started with the decision to discover more of the green parts of the city, which brought us on the path to Victoria Peak. The initial plan was to take the touristic tram towards the peak, but the long queue at the ticket counter made the idea of hiking the path more appealing. It took us around 40 minutes to reach the end of it and the view on top made it feel like an incredible hike that we highly recommend. Restaurants and bars are waiting for visitors with refreshments and a viewing platform is available for a cost, which we didn’t think was worth paying for as most of the views worth seeing are available for free during a relaxing tour around the area.


The fifth day has been quieter. We only went for short walks around and spent some time at a coffee place nearby, in order to prepare the necessary things for the departure on the following day.

We crossed the border

On the morning of our sixth day in Hong Kong, we took the A21 bus to the airport, where we could pick up our passports with the Chinese visa. Later we headed to the bus terminal, from where the bus A43 took us on a 50 minutes ride to the Sheung Shui MTR station, which is the connection point to Lo Wu Station. We chose this transportation option as we needed to return to the airport anyway for the passports and the visa and it has been recommended as the fastest and cheapest from that point. Getting through Hong Kong Immigration building and after walking to the China Immigrations building took us another hour. The Lo Wu checkpoint to enter China can be extremely crowded as it is being chosen by many travelers. On less crowded days the whole process can last less than 20 minutes.

And so we arrived in Shenzhen, where we spent our first night in China and where we found again friendly and helpful people that offered their guidance to the two lost people whose digital map didn’t prove very helpful in the new country.

Shenzhen is one of the best-rated destinations in China, but our visa guaranteed us a stay of only 30 days, so we had to plan carefully our itinerary and give up some of the destinations that were left for another time.

For more pictures from Hong Kong, check out our gallery here.