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ronjrich Oct 14th, 2006 01:57 PM

Hong Kong in January?
I plan to travel for 10 days to Hong Kong and the best time for us to go is in January. I am reading that this may not be the best time to visit and am wondering whether we should wait until March or April. We do not need beach weather, but would like the temps to be in the 60s or 70s at least. Is January going to provide moderate temps? Also, we have rewards to use for the hotel and are deciding between the Ritz Carlton and the Sheraton. Both appear to be great choices. The Ritz is obviously more luxurious, but as we are travelling with a 2 year old, we are wondering if the Sheraton will provide a more "family friendly" stay?

rkkwan Oct 14th, 2006 02:19 PM

January has good weather. Average high is 67F and average low 58F, and it's dry. Yes it may get down to the 40's or get up to 70's, but it's overall quite mild, in N. American standard.

March/April is not a good time to go to Hong Kong. Very very wet, and often you'll not see the Peak or across the harbour for days due to fog.

As for Sheraton vs RC. One advantage for the RC is that their published room size is 365 sq ft, which is significantly larger than the Sheraton's 280 sq ft.

RC is in Central, which is very quiet at night. But since a 2-year old really doesn't require a lot of entertainment, I don't see why it's a major minus for you guys.

hobbes Oct 14th, 2006 10:14 PM

What time in Jan were you thinking? The later it is the more avoidable - in the run up to Chinese new year the city gets very crowded with mainland tourists. Also, in my experience the weather is always terrible during Chinese new year - locals joke that it is consistently the worst time of the year! Personally, I prefer March-April weather to Jan.

ronjrich Oct 15th, 2006 04:28 AM

Thanks for the comments. We plan to go in early January so no fear of Chinese New Year. Good to know about the size of the rooms. It sounds like the RC may be the better choice. I assume if we do want to plan out any night time activities that transport via the ferry is easy enough so that being in Central is not too far from where we would want to be? Also, if we are planning 1 or 2 day trips outside of the city, any recommendations on the best places to go where we might experience a more local feel, as opposed to a touristy locale? We like "down and dirty" and love open markets, street food (when safe) and authentic experiences.

rkkwan Oct 15th, 2006 07:47 AM

What do you mean by "out of the city"? Do you mean out of Hong Kong? (With 10 days, you do have enough time for Macau or a short trip to China).

Or do you mean just part of Hong Kong outside the central areas?

Anyways, Hong Kong is Hong Kong. Everything is authentic Hong Kong (well, maybe except the new Disneyland). For example, the Ladies Market or the market on Temple Street caters mostly to locals. The vendors do not rely on tourists to make a living there. And both are right in the middle of the city. [BTW, the government has over the last 30 years chased out most legal street-stall eateries. But you will still find some on Temple Street at night. Sounds like that's a place you want to visit.]

But back to "out of the city". Within Hong Kong, there are lots of day trips or half-day trips you can do.

On Hong Kong Island, most tourists do visit Repulse Bay & Stanley on the south side of the island. But you can also go to Shek O, a different beach at the far SE side of the island. [Bus #9 from Shau Kei Wan MTR.]

On Lantau Island, besides Disney and the airport, there are other stuff to see. The new NP360 cable car has opened, which can take you from Tung Chung MTR to get up to Ngong Ping, where the Po Lin Monastery and the biggest outdoor sitting Buddha in the world is. From there, don't take the cable car down. Instead, take the bus (require a change) to the fishing village of Tai O. Then take bus #1 back to Mui Wo, where you can ferry back to Central.

Other interesting islands to explore are Cheung Chau and Lamma Island.

In the New Territories, there are monasteries, taoist temples, walled villages, ancestral halls, etc to see. [If you mean this type of "authenticities", then you've got them!] I went to a few of these places during my last trip to Hong Kong - I grew up there and have been to most places that's worth seeing, but everything I go back now, I revisit a few. One short walk is in the Sha Tin area where you can visit the rebuilt Che Kung Temple (but note original building in back), the walled village of Tsang Tai Uk, and the Heritage Museum. Which is basically the first half of this route (KCR to Che Kung Temple station):

[BTW, lots of "walks" on that official Hong Kong Tourism Board. I highly recommend them. The "Central and Western District" walk is very worth doing.

Another one I did and would recommend is the Ping Shan Heritage Walk. Description here on the government's site, which you should also explore (KCR to Tin Shui Wai, then walk or transfer to Light Rail one stop to Hang Mei Village):

If you do this trip, you should also stop by the old market town of Yuen Long nearby. Trust me, you won't see any foreign tourists there. Also nearby is the new Wetland Park. I've not been there yet, so can't say if it's worth it or not.

South of Yuen Long is Tuen Mun. There is a large taoist temple there, called Ching Chung Koon. May worth a look, though I've not been there for years. Tuen Mun is at the foot of the very steep Tsing Shan, or Castle Hill (easily recognizable from the airport). 1/3 up the hillside is my favorite buddhist monastery in Hong Kong - simply called Tsing Shan Chi. It's pretty small, but with almost few tourists these days, it's as "authentic" as you'll get. (Take taxi from Tuen Mun Town Centre or Tuen Mun Ferry Pier. Hold the taxi if you don't want to walk back down. Pay the first trip first - the driver will wait and no meter running. Most don't mind waiting 20 minutes and have a guaranteed fare back down).

East side of the New Territories is the fishing village of Sai Kung. There are fresh seafood stalls there where everything's alive in tanks. Pick what you want, and then bring them to one of the restaurants nearby. You pay them seperately. Also in Sai Kung is a dessert place called "Honeymoon", which has lots of durian-based items. Durian is an extremely pungent fruit from SE Asia. A lot of people cannot stand the smell, so be warned.

I have more stuff, but go check out those two sites I gave you. That'd give you a start. If you have specific questions, ask away. Or if you want to know about Macau - how to get there, what to do, etc.

I am also currently transferring some of my photos from a trip almost 2 years ago to a new site. I'll post link later today. I will be in Hong Kong myself in 2 weeks.

puddinggow Oct 15th, 2006 08:11 AM

The weather in Jan should be fine. It can get suprisingly cold sometimes so do bring some sweaters and a jacket in case. But haven't said that it can be unpredictable and it might be just cool. The coldest I rememer it being was 9c but it could be as high as 16c or higher - sorry really it will be really hard to tell until nearer the time. It might rain but not for days on days like in Apr/May so you should be ok.

Both hotels are very close to the MTR and the RC will be quieter at night when all the office workers leave. The Sheraton is right in the middle of the tourist area. I would personally choose the RC as it is definitely more luxurious and if you want food - Lan Kwai Fong and Soho are 10-15 mins walk away. The Star Ferry (they will move the terminal by the time you come - extra 5 mins walk)is about 10 mins walk from the RC. A very nice place to walk around is the Soho area - take the escalator and walk around the area with lots of resturants, small shops and also some old areas & local places to eat (many famous places for noodles, HK style tea & snacks). Also the walk to Sheung Wan and partly to Western (you can take the tram and get on and off when you feel like it) will give you some feel of an older HK. Des Voeux Rd West has a lot of dried seafood shops which are interesting.

I don't think that a overnight stay is required for any day trips. One of the most famous day trips is a trip to Cheung Chau (where they hold the bun festival although not when you will be there). It will take you about 1 hour each way and you can spend about 1/2 day there. You can go to Lautau and to the buddha and then to Tai O which will take you on another day trip. I would suggest maybe joining a tour to go around the New Terroritories as you can get there by train and bus but it might not be easy to go to some of the sightseeing places.

One place you might consider an overnight stay in is Macau. It's small and still has a few unique characteristics and food (it was a former Portugese enclave). However it is being turned into an Asian Las Vegas & is a gambling mecca for Mainland & HK Chinese. However I think you should still go but you can make a day trip out of it or stay overnight for a more leisurely trip. But a word of advice - trip to pick a hotel that does not have an casino or more expensive resort type hotel. I stayed in the New World Hotel which was supposed to be 4* but was not good - the rooms were mainly for gamblers (mainland), smelled of smoke & did not feel clean.

For some safer places to try local market food check out some of the urban council markets. Happy Valley market on the top floor has 2 famous 'places' for seafood and other stir-fried dishes which are quite inexpensive. 2 different 'companies' (don't know how really to describe them since they are not really restaurants) take over the top floor at night & vye for business. Both are good - not much difference. Gets full after 7pm esp on wkends. Kowloon City is a good place to try out loads of different foods (take 101 or 110 from Central). There is a Thai place in the Urban district market which is good & at night gets really busy!!!! Tai Po market in NT is also really famous & has many good & cheap food stalls inside it.

That's about all I can think of now - have fun in the planning of your trip!!!

rkkwan Oct 15th, 2006 01:09 PM

My pictures from my Christams 2004 trip to Hong Kong and Macau are finally online:

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