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driverphil Feb 2nd, 2012 12:12 PM

Hong Kong - Mobility Limited - Where to stay? Easy sightseeing?
 
We'll be in Hong Kong for four days, (I know that isn't long enough)

I can do some stairs, board buses and the like, but I can only walk about 100 yards before needing to sit down.

My wife and I are interested in Chinese meals and low-key sightseeing.

Any suggestions on where to stay and dine for us slow moving folks?

rkkwan Feb 2nd, 2012 07:02 PM

Stick with the popular areas like TsimShaTsui or Causeway Bay, and you should be fine. What's your budget? And can you do stairs? Distance is not a big issue in HK, but staircases are.

driverphil Feb 3rd, 2012 11:19 AM

Stairs should be okay. Handrails would be helpful.

Budget is quite flexible. Expensive is okay as long as the place isn't inhabited by snobs or fashionistas.

Trav_Eller Feb 3rd, 2012 01:41 PM

When choosing hotels look for one near an MTR station. http://maps.google.com.au/maps?q=hon...en&sa=N&tab=wl

If you are arriving by air, buy an Airport Express Tourist Octopus card to get to and from the airport: http://hong-kong-travel.org/octopus/

That will include 3 free days of MTR travel. Ask about the extra day when you purchase it and don't forget to get the refund back as you leave.

If you are staying on the Island, also consider a hotel near the tram tracks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Ko...ys#Tram_routes

Cheers, Alan, Australia

rkkwan Feb 4th, 2012 05:38 AM

The reason I asked about stairs is because many MTR (subway) entrances do not have escalators for the whole way between street and concourse levels. But if you are generally okay with stairs, then the MTR will work fine. And taxis are relatively inexpensive, so if you're tired and need to get back to your hotel, just flag down a taxi.

Hotel cost is very in HK for most time now, and the type of stayers you don't want to see are not snobs and fashionistas, but rather the mainland Chinese groups. You can't avoid them altogether, but they seem to be the only type staying at many 3 & 4* properties.

The best mode of transportation between airport and hotel depends on which property you end up choosing. A hotel near the MTR doesn't mean the Airport Express is the best way to get there.

DonTopaz Feb 4th, 2012 01:33 PM

driverphil,

I think you will generally be better off using taxis, which are both plentiful and cheap to use in Hong Kong.
Although the MTR (subway) is convenient for most people, you can have a long walk to get to the trains from the entrance at many stations -- certainly more than 100 yards. Only thing you should know about taxis is that they are not allowed to stop for pickups or drop-offs if the curb is painted red (I think red, maybe another color though).

One type of public transportation that would suit you is the trams, which run on Hong Kong Island. They're insanely inexpensive, run down the middle of the street (minimizing walking), and are a terrific way to enjoy the sights of the street.

rkkwan Feb 4th, 2012 02:19 PM

Except the tram is often crowded, with few seats on the lower level. The stairs to the upper deck is not the easiest to handle.

BTW, in my last post, I meant hotel cost is very high in HK recently.

driverphil Feb 5th, 2012 10:20 AM

Thanks so much!

About hotels. Looking for a hotel with a bit or character, not some soul-less chain place. Any come to mend?

DonTopaz Feb 5th, 2012 12:26 PM

As rkkwan says, Hong Kong hotels are not inexpensive. But on the other hand, you'll have lots of choices when looking for a non-cookie-cutter place.

If 'character" is your top criterion, my first two suggestions are the Peninsula (in Kowloon) and the Mandarin Oriental (HK Island). Both offer amazing service and a long history. The Mandarin is smack in the middle of the Central district, with plenty of shopping and restaurants in easy walking distance. The Peninsula is at the foot of thye Nathan Road area -- vibrant but not as upscale as Central -- but more importantly the Peninsula offers harbor views toward HK Island.

For great hotels at a somewhat lower price, either of the 2 Shangri-La properties would also be good choices. The Kowloon Shangri-La has excellent harbor-view rooms, and it's close to restaurants and shops. The Hong Kong Shangri-La features an amazing mural as well as direct access to the Pacific Place shopping center. Both provide excellent service (far better than almost any U.S. hotel, though not quite the level of Mandarin or Peninsula).

The InterContinental also has plenty of character, top service, and the best view of the harbor. However, its location would be challenging for people with limited mobility, as the hotel is actually a bit isolated (you have to take an underpass just to cross the street).

funnetbabe Feb 8th, 2012 09:14 PM

I agree with Don Topaz, taxi best way to get around , MRT sometime you have to deal with lots of stairs especially at station with no elevator and many people at certain time! Many nicer, expensive hotel like InterContinental, Hyatt will be better equips concierge that can help you out tremendously there.

driverphil Feb 9th, 2012 12:21 PM

Thanks so much! I do appreciate your assistance on this.

The Kowloon Shangri-la looks interesting. I'll look into it.

Cicerone Feb 14th, 2012 02:03 PM

Only being able to walk 100 yards may be a challenge for you in a city like Hong Kong, but is probably doable. Some things to bear in mind:

1. Public seating, like benches, are hard to find. You can find them in parks, but they are virtually non-existent on city streets. There are no benches at bus stops, for example. There is very little public seating in malls (I believe this is designed to discourage Filipina maids from congregating inside shopping malls on their days off). So if you need to sit down, your best solution will be to find a Starbucks, a hotel lobby, a small restaurant or a McDonalds, KFC, etc.

2. Hong Kong is a city of many islands, so you will be able to take advantage of this by using public ferries and private boats to do your sightseeing. There is of course the Star Ferry across the harbour, which is a rather short journey; they have a few other routes see http://www.starferry.com.hk/new/en/index.asp. But there are many longer scenic public ferry journeys to outlying islands which will give you city and lovely water/island views, all from the comfort of your seat. The public ferry trips to Lamma, Cheung Chau, Po Toi, and Tung Lung are among the most scenic (some of these run only on weekends or public holidays). You can often combine ferry trips to do a circuit of the islands. Go to http://www.td.gov.hk/, click on “Passengers” then “Ferries” to see the regular ferries and the Kaitos” (these are small public ferries). The TD website also has links to bus schedules and will generally be quite useful to you.

In addition, there are day trips on private “junks” to various locations (including Stanley and the very interesting Joss House Bay) and also afternoon and evening cocktail tours, any of which could be interesting. Go to http://www.aqua.com.hk/ for a good one, the boat is called the Aqua Luna.

There is also a trip to see the pink dolphins, take a look at http://www.hkdolphinwatch.com. (You can also join a much shorter and cheaper half hour tour from Tai Po, but bear in mind that seeing Tai Po itself does require a good bit of walking.)

The DiscoverHongKong.com website also offers day boat tours to outlying areas and places like the very scenic Geopark which might be worth considering. See
http://www.discoverhongkong.com/login.html and click on Touring and then see “Touring Victoria Harbour” and “Touring Outlying Islands”.

If you can splurge, hiring your own boat is something to definitely consider. My first recco would the Jaspas Junk, see www.jaspasjunk.com, but you can also try http://www.saffron-cruises.com/, or www.jubilee.com.hk (none of these are actual junks, but are luxury wooden motorboats that sort of looks like a junk, but very nice, they have bathrooms). For a real sailing junk, try http://www.dukling.com.hk/. You could also go to Sai Kung and along the main waterfront there you can hire one of the local sampan drivers for an afternoon, this would probably be about US$100 for 3 hours or so (these are not speedboats but you can get out to some nice areas).

4. While I don’t think the MTR is a good choice for you (see below), Hong Kong is extremely well serviced by buses, many of which are double deckers which offer an excellent perspective on street life or really scenic views. The #6 to Stanley, the #10 which runs most of the length of Hong Kong Island, the #15 to the Peak, the #973 around the west coast and out to Stanley, the #9 to the beaches of Shek O, the #92 to Sai Kung from Diamond Hill (continuing from there on the #94 or #96 R out to Chek Keng from where you could get a ferry to outlying islands), all would be very scenic ways to see parts of Hong Kong.

In addition, there are the private open top ” hop on hop off” buses. There are two operators who run buses, see www.rickshawbus.com and http://www.bigbustours.com/eng/hongkong . There are tours of both sides of the harbour (Hong Kong Island and Kowloon/Tsim Sha Tsui).

5. Although I am not generally a person who advocates organized bus tours, in your case this may be a good use of your time, esp for something like the Buddha on Lantau, as I believe the bus tour for that trip can go up the side road and avoid most of the long staircase up to the Buddha. You may want to look at the Discoverhongkong.com website to see what type of bus tours are offered and consider one or more of them. You may be able to hire a private limousine service to provide the same option, your hotel may be able to arrange this or see something like http://www.hongkonglimo.com/html/home.html

6. For hotels, based on your needs, IMO your best choices would be one of the 4 hotels in the Pacific Place Mall on Hong Kong Island: the JW Marriott, the Conrad, the Island Shangri-La or the Upper House. This is an ideal location because the hotels there are (i) located on several major bus routes and the tram line; (ii) walkable to the Peak Tram station via Hong Kong Park, which has benches and is a pleasant place to just sit out and offers the small and easily walkable Museum of Tea Ware; (iii) well-served by taxi service and are a short taxi ride to Central and the ferry piers in one direction and Wan Chai in the other, (iv) on the MTR if you want it (a longish underground walk but escalators are available), and (v) is in a shopping mall with several good restaurants.

Of the 4, my personal choice would be the Upper House, but you could not go wrong with any of them really. The Upper House does not have a pool if that makes any difference to you. (The pool at the Conrad may not be one which appeals at the present time as a guest drowned there about 3 weeks ago.)

The Mandarin Oriental would also be a good choice, IMO. Access to bus service is not as good as you will need to walk further to get it, and the taxi line can often be long there. But otherwise a good central location. The Four Seasons would be a good choice in terms of access to the ferry piers, although the walk to the piers is much more than 100 yards and few if any benches are available along this walk. There is some good bus service from the hotel area and access to the Airport Express trains.

The Kowloon Shangri-La, mentioned above, would be a good location if you wanted to spend most of your time sitting in your hotel room looking at the View, which admittedly from that hotel would be quite lovely (weather permitting, you don’t indicate when your trip will be). But the hotel is not walkable in 100 yards to anything, and so you will be getting in a taxi to go anywhere. However, the big drawback to staying on the Kowloon side is that IMO most of what you will want to see and do is on the other side on Hong Kong Island, and given your limited mobility I think you will find this to be a problem. You will spend a lot of time in transit just getting where you want to be. While there are some sights on the Kowloon side, most of these (like the Bird Market, the Flower Market and just the crowded streets in general) would not, IMO, lend themselves to someone who can only walk 100 yards and then needs to sit down. There are very few benches along the Kowloon waterfront, for example, so even just a walk along the Esplanade may become an issue for you. The Peak, Peak Tram, street tram, Stanley, Repulse Bay, Aberdeen, the best bus rides and the ferry piers for the outlying islands are on the Hong Kong side.

If you are going to stay on the Kowloon side, have a good budget and want a view, I would choose the Ritz-Carlton or the Penninsula. You will end up taking taxis (esp for the Ritz) but the views and luxury will more than make up for it. (Both are of course full of fashionistas, but they are the PRC versions, so perhaps you won’t notice quite so much….but in Hong Kong it’s hard to swing your Fendi bag without hitting a fashonista.)

7. As mentioned above, the subway (MTR) often requires quite a long walk underground to reach the trains. Virtually all stations have stairs at some point to reach the street level. There are escalators or elevators at many exists ( but not al) so you will often find yourself having to take stairs. However, it is the long distances underground to reach the trains that may be most tiring for you. This is esp the case at the stations at Tsim Sha Tsui (the tourist tip of Kowloon) and Central on Hong Kong Island, so be wary of this. I personally would avoid the MTR and take taxis (which are very cheap) and buses as much as possible. The street tram, mentioned above, is also a good choice, although it only runs along a portion of Hong Kong Island. It is however, very scenic. Avoid it at rush hours if you don’t want to navigate narrow stairs to reach the second level (which offers the best views) in a crowd. Board in the back and pay as you leave.

8. Do you have a preference for Chinese cuisine? Virtually all regions are represented in Hong Kong, including Hakka (what might be considered the "local" Hong Kong cuisine) which is hard to find elsewhere. If you send me a message a [email protected], I would be happy to send you my restaurant list.


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