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Weekend trip to Hong Kong

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Hi there!

It looks like I can take 2-3 days off on the way from India back to SF and intend to stop-over in Hong Kong (flying Cathay Pacific on First! - no I am not that rich, tired of trying to use AA miles and burning all of it on this flight)

I will be landing on Sat morning at 9 am, and will be departing HKG at 11 pm on Tue evening. Have a few basic questions, which will help me plan the trip.

1. Weather - I realize this may not be the ideal time to visit HK with thunderstorms. But I am hoping it will be quick showers and not hamper plans for the entire day.

2. Baggage - I will have 4 large baggage, should I leave them in storage at the airport or take them to the hotel.. I don't think I can fit all 4 bags into a single cab.. is there a way to hire a larger vehicle (SUV?)?

3. Hotels - Is there any advantage apart from price on staying in the Kowloon side? If I am not terribly price constrained, should I stay on the HK side? Any thoughts on the W (using starwood points).. if not, a few central locations to search for would be useful.
(Note - I have not done my research on hotels, so looking just for pointers to get me started.. will then spend some time and look at old posts on this topic).

4. Books to help guide - Any suggestions of good guide books. I am in India, so the more common ones, are the ones I am more likely to find. (E.g., fodors, lonely planet etc).

Appreciate the responses..

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    1, no comment, can be a hit or miss.

    2, there's no way you'll get 4 large suitcases in a cab. There is a left luggage office at the airport but I don't know if they will store luggage for a few days.

    3, The only advantage of staying in Kowloon is to get a room with a great view of HK. Of course this is only true if you are staying in the Tsim Sha Tsui or Hung Hom area in Kowloon. I prefer staying on HK island. Sounds like this is your first visit to HK, these areas are all conveniently located and have good public transport options:- Causeway Bay, Central, Admiralty and Tsim Sha Tsui.

    4, Fodors, of course! Just kidding, I haven't read any common [ie, Fodors, LP, Frommers, etc] guidebooks on HK recently so I really can't recommend one.

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    BTW, what do you mean by "tired of trying" to use your AA miles? Just curious. Overall, seat avialability for award seats is better on AA than most carriers.

    One more things regarding taxis, the only way you could hire a large vehicle would be to arrange this with a car service company or through your hotel.

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    How many people in your party? Four suitcases can fit, if it's only one of you. You can sit in the front seat, and put the suitcases in the back seat. Maybe 2 of you will be okay too. In addition, drivers have bungee cords to hold the trunk lid, so they don't have to shut.

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    My thoughts are below:

    1. Weather - I realize this may not be the ideal time to visit HK with thunderstorms. But I am hoping it will be quick showers and not hamper plans for the entire day.

    As you have not actually indicated when your trip will be, I am assuming it is sometime between today and mid-October. If that is the case, then yes it will be quite hot and prone to rain with fairly high humidity. Typhoons are possible, statistically your greatest risk is in September. Hate to say that showers are generally not “quick” here, they can last for hours and days. This is not a place where the weather changes quickly, so if it is overcast and rainy, that is likely to be the weather for a day or more. But it will all be a matter of luck during your trip as to whether it is sunny and hot or rainy and hot. There is plenty to do even if it rains (although a typhoon can shut everything down.) One good thing is that our air pollution is much less in summer, and this summer especially so. The clearest air I have seen since 2007 and possibly since 1997.

    2. Baggage - I will have 4 large baggage, should I leave them in storage at the airport or take them to the hotel.. I don't think I can fit all 4 bags into a single cab.. is there a way to hire a larger vehicle (SUV?)?

    With a short layover, I don’t see any sense in lugging 4 big suitcases into town, just to repeat the exercise on the way out. I would keep most of the suitcases at the airport. You can check your luggage for HK$35 (US$4) a day, go to http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/aguide/baggage.html#left for info. The "Meeters and Greeters Hall" is the main arrivals area, the Left Luggage area is on the far right of the hall as you exit the baggage claim/Customs areas.

    You should also be able to hire a private car service which can arrange for a van if you really want to take all that luggage with you. See try Park Lane, they are very reliable and I believe have vans. But even 4 bags should fit into their normal car, which is a Mercedes limo so has a larger seating area and a very large trunk. See http://www.hongkonglimo.com/.

    3. Hotels - Is there any advantage apart from price on staying in the Kowloon side? If I am not terribly price constrained, should I stay on the HK side? Any thoughts on the W (using Starwood points).. if not, a few central locations to search for would be useful.
    (Note - I have not done my research on hotels, so looking just for pointers to get me started.. will then spend some time and look at old posts on this topic).


    IMO, there is absolutely no advantage to staying on the Kowloon side. There are many disadvantages, such as distance from tourist sites, poorer choice of restaurants and the fact that virtually everyone else there is a tourist or a tout trying to sell you something. It is not necessarily cheaper to stay on the Kowloon side, and for the luxury hotels with views, not at all cheaper. The only possible reason to stay on the Kowloon side is if you have a room with a good view, which unfortunately the W does not.

    If you have Starwood points, then consider a harbour view room in the Towers section of the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Kowloon. It would have a good view and for Kowloon, is in a good location. Otherwise, if you are paying for a room, knowing your budget would be helpful. Also search this board as this topic is pretty popular.

    Can you use AA miles at hotels? IMO it would be better to fly business class and use the left over miles for a hotel in Hong Kong. Esp for the India-Hong Kong flight, which is only 4-6 hours or so, First Class is kind of a waste. The lounges in the Indian airports are not all what you might expect, and are no better for First than for Business (except possibly in Bangalore which is brand new and has probably the best lounges in India, which is not saying much.) You probably will be taking off at something like 2 am and therefore may not be able to enjoy the perks of First Class (all you will want to do is try to get some sleep.) For the longer leg to the US, First Class would be nice, but personally the flat beds in business class are quite comfortable. (Make sure the aircraft has the new flat beds; for the India-Hong Kong portion, in my experience Cathay generally uses older aircraft without the flat beds. So again, using miles for First Class on that sector may not be worth it. The flat beds are on the longer-haul flights like to the US and Europe.)

    You also may need the miles to pay for the suitcases, as even in First Class I don’t think you can check 4 bags for free. To the best of my knowledge, the limit is 2 free checked bags for First and Business.

    4. Books to help guide - Any suggestions of good guide books. I am in India, so the more common ones, are the ones I am more likely to find. (E.g., fodors, lonely planet etc).

    Fodors is quite good, IMO. Also, just look at their “Destinations” guide on this site, which is quite helpful especially for a short trip. I think that the National Geographic guide for Hong Kong is quite good and has more unusual recommendations than others. Lonely Planet is pretty good, but may be too much information for such a short trip. You can get the 6-page fold-out paper Luxe Guide, see http://www.luxecityguides.com/; however there is very little sightseeing advice in it, it is mostly shopping and restaurants. Also check the Hong Kong Tourism Board website at http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/ for other ideas, as well as the Leisure and Cultural Services Department website at http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/en/home.php to see all events and museums offered by the government.

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    Cicerone, you give good advice on this forum. I am surprised to hear the you find the CX flat beds in business class quite comfortable. I have to say these are amoung the worst flat bed business class seats I have ever experienced. Don't great me wrong, overall CX is a good airline and their service is good, but recently I'd found myself booking different carriers (in business class) just to avoid the CX seats. Another thing I dislike about the CX seats is that you can't look out the window because of the design of the seats. CX's product definitely needs alot of improvment.
    As for the flights to/from India, in most cases CX uses the older business class cabin design on medium haul flight, it is unlikely that the cabin will have the flat bed business class seats. I don't want to hijack the op's thread but I just had to vent about the CX business class product.

    AFAIK, you can only use AA miles for air and hotel packages and not for booking hotels only.

    You CANNOT use AA miles to pay CX's charges for excess luggage. Since the op will exceed CX's luggage allowance he/she will have to resolve the matter with CX, there is nothing AA could do for the op regarding this matter.

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