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First time in Hong Kong...

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Hi All

I had a BIG birthday this year, and my hubby offered for me to do a 'Return To Oz' trip. I spent a year doing the backpacking thing in the mid 90's, so am used to travelling solo. (hubby wouldn't do the flight!) So, I'm having a month away (from London and work!) and re-visiting Australia. On the way home I'm treating myself to three days in Hong Kong - just because I've never been, and possibly will never get there again!

My first query is where to stay. I've seen the 'guest houses' in Kowloon, which look prety cheap, and I'm concerned that they're safe? I'm happy to pay £60 a night for a hotel, (even as a single female traveller) so can afford to be somewhere reasonably OK. I'd like to be not too far away from things (although transport looks fairly decent, so probably not an issue) and should I stay in Kowloon or remain on the HK Island side? I beleive the views are better from Kowloon..

Also, is is worth my while getting an Octopus card? I'm used to the London Oyster, so the concept is not alien to me!

Finally... can I get away with not speaking ANY cantonese?!!

Looking forward to your responses!

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    If you're on a budget, find the best "guesthouse" or budget hotel based on its quality and convenience to transportation, and NOT which side of the harbour. You won't have a view from your room anyways. Stop reading these "which side of the harbor" posts on this forum. It's only minutes on the MTR between the main areas you'll likely stay on either side of the harbour.

    And £60 should get you something better than a guesthouse. "Guesthouses" are not inherently unsafe, but they are in multi-use buildings, and you may not like those other users who you share the hallway and elevators with. Stick with hotels that occupy the whole building. Just expect very small rooms.

    The cost of using an Octopus card is miniscule. HK$7 (60p) is all you'll lose for getting and then returning a regular Octopus at the end of the trip. You definitely need some version of it, either the regular Octopus, or one of the MTR travel cards, which are Octopus with various types of passes and/or Airport Express train rides preloaded onto them.

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    Believe it or not, a budget of ₤60 (less than US$100) won’t get you a whole lot in Hong Kong these days. (Don’t forget about tax/service charge which will add 10-15% to the bill unless the rates indicate this is included. ) But some thoughts are below. I would also encourage you to check the Thorn Tree Posts website run by Lonely Planet (and/or consult their guidebook) as they are better for budget travel. I agree with your budget you are unlikely to have any view at all (in some cases perhaps no windows).

    I think guest houses will vary in quality of physical conditions as well as the quality of your fellow guests. While I don’t think they are unsafe in terms of physical assualts or anything, I do think that theft from rooms can be an issue (by your fellow guests more than your hosts I think). If you can go a step up, IMO it is worth paying a bit more for. Also bear in mind issues like cleanliness, which will deteriorate the lower in price you go.

    1. The Salisbury YMCA, this has a great location on the waterfront in Kowloon. ₤60 will get you their smallest single room with no view (and tiny at 17 sq meters), but for one person for 2 nights or so this is probably fine. Can’t beat the location really, even if it is in Kowloon, it’s practically at the Star Ferry pier. They have a nice indoor pool which otherwise in your budget may be hard to do (and quite nice a nice feature from about April to mid-October). See www.asiatravel.com/hongkong/ymcasalisbury/index.html .

    There are several other YMCAs and YWCAs which have lodging as well see www.ymca-hotels.com and http://hotel.ywca.org.hk/eng/Mainpage/index.htm. Some locations are quite remote for a 3-day stay, and some only rent for long terms like a month.

    2. Mingle Group - these are small budget hotels in excellent locations, most of them in or near traditional neighborhood parts of town, but easily accessible to major sights. (Kudos to the daughter of my college boyfriend who found these when planning a trip here over Christmas when I was out of town. I had never heard of them. ) I have to say the location of all their hotels is quite good and any would be a good choice. Mingle on the Park would fit your budget. I have not seen the rooms, some are very much on the small side from what the website seems to show, but some are larger. No size is given on the website, so do call or e-mail to ask. See http://www.mingleplace.com/ for locations and rates.

    3. The Hello Inn in the Mirador Mansion in Kowloon has been was recommend by -- , a poster on Fodors who I met earlier this year when she passed through Hong Kong for a few days. I did not see it, but she said it was quite nice. See http://helloinn.mysinablog.com/ for info. They don’t show rates, but my understanding from Margaret is that it would be within your budget.

    3. Another poster reccos the Hop Inn, rooms really appear to be former closets from what the pictures on the website seem to show, but at like ₤40 it seems to be a good value. I don’t know it at all, but the location is good for Kowloon. See http://www.hostels.com/hostels/hong-kong/hop-inn/39944.

    4. The Bauhinia, this is just outside the main business district on Hong Kong Island and IMO has a great location for sightseeing and getting around. I have not seen the rooms, but this hotel is less than a year old so even if it is very basic, things are new. See http://www.thebauhinia.com.hk/cenh_zh.html. I think they may be over your budget, but perhaps worth considering for location.

    5. Bishop Lei International House. This hotel is in mid-levels on Hong Kong Island which makes it very convenient for things like dinner, exploring Soho and Hollywood Road, and just generally being a tourist. The rooms are probably above your budget, but check your particular dates as their rates vary a lot from month to month. They have a nice outdoor pool. Rooms are quite small but recently redone. Many of the rooms have great views over the city and the harbor. See http://www.bishopleihtl.com.hk

    6. The Wesley. This hotel is about 300 yards from the Pacific Place complex of the JW Marriott/Conrad and Shangri-La which of course charge hundreds more for their rooms. This is in a great neighborhood of excellent restaurants, both cheap and dear, and near some of my favorite (and fast disappearing) market areas for strolling and people-watching. The Admiralty/Pacific Place metro would be very close, and the hotel fronts the tram line and several major bus lines. It may be over your budget, but again IMO is worth considering for location. Take a look at http://www.hanglung.com/contents.asp?articleid=853

    7. BP International House. This is run by the Boy Scouts, and has a nice location in Kowloon. Their rack rates are above your budget, but check your dates and specials to see if you can get something that might work. See http://www.bpih.com.hk/

    8. There are some hotels in Causeway Bay which are probably going to be above your budget, but may be offering specials or good rates and might be worth considering:

    L’hotel http://www.lhotelcausewaybayhv.com/leisure.php
    Central Hotel (www.centralparkhotel.com.hk),
    Metropark Causeway Bay (http://www.metroparkhotel.com/)
    Rosedale (http://www.rosedale.com.hk ).

    At many of these hotels, ask about room size, as rooms tend to be very small (like 220 square feet/20 square meters, which is pretty small even for two kids sharing) and get the largest you can.

    9. You could also consider a “holiday chalet” type place on Lamma Island, just a short ferry ride from Hong Kong Island. Lamma is a lovely, green, quiet island with some nice beaches and a really fun laid-back atmosphere. Some good walking, some good local restaurants, esp in Yung Shue Wan. You can ferry into Hong Kong for a day when you want to see some city sights. You can take the wonderful local wooden kaido ferries to Aberdeen and from there go to the south side of Hong Kong Island for its beaches and walking. Take a look at
    http://www.lammabali.com/index_en.html, http://www.lamma.com.hk/ and http://www.lammaresort.com/ for rentals. These are going to be fairly simple places. And for a first-time visitor, staying on an outlying island may not be ideal.

    Lack of Cantonese is absolutely no issue. Octopus is nice to have, I would not get one with unlmited MTR rides as you are unlikely to be taking the MTR very much. Just get a regular stored value Octopus. Hong Kong side is prefered for sights and restaurants, but you are not going to have as many budget accomodation options, so Kowloon is probably where you will end up.

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    Hi,
    I was in HK last year and stayed in Kowloon at the Novotel on Nathan Rd. It was a great location as it was a 15 min walk to Ocean Terminal which has lots of shopping, it was very close to the ferry that will take you to Hong Kong Island. I think if you check on Expedia you will be able to find cheap hotels, I would recommend a hotel as they can guide you on where to go and how to get there. Also, you will have no issues if you don't speak the language. If you have time try to get to Festival Walk shopping centre - my favourite!

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