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Hong Kong Sightseeing and airport transportation

Hong Kong Sightseeing and airport transportation

Feb 22nd, 2004, 08:09 PM
  #1  
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Hong Kong Sightseeing and airport transportation

We're arriving in Hong Kong on a Monday in March around 6PM. We will be staying 3 nights,and 2 full days,leaving Thursday AM.

Two questions:
What are the options for getting to Kowloon(Sheraton Hotel) from the airport?
What sights would be good to see our first night in Hong Kong? We will be arriving after 4 days in Langkawi, Malaysia, resting from our long Eastern US flight to KL. Jet lag or fatigue should not be an issue.

My list of things I want to do is long, and I want to spend our brief time there well.

My priorities right now are the following(not in order):
See the view from Victoria Peak
Ride the Star Ferry
Visit the Po Lin Monestery
Shop the Temple Street night mkt and the Jade Market, shop for pearls
Take a Harbor tour, ending at one of the Floating Restaurants.
Perhaps spend a few hours at Ocean Park
Any suggestions would be welcomed.
Barb_in_Ga is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2004, 08:40 PM
  #2  
 
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Several ways to go from airport to Sheraton, from most expensive to cheapest:

- Limo service. About HK$500 (US$65) per vehicle on a Mercedes S320. Two different companies have counters at airport, or call the Sheraton to arrange.

- Taxis. About HK$270 (according to HKG's website).

- Airport Express Train. HK$90 to Kowloon station. Transfer to free shuttle bus (K2) to hotel. Or transfer to taxi at Kowloon station.

- Private airport shuttles. From the same company as the limos. ~$90-120 to hotel. Two companies, each run ~ every 30 minutes.

- Airport bus, #A21, HK$33. Stop #14 is one block from Sheraton. Every 10-13 minutes during day time.

As far as your tour goes, I think Harbor tour and floating restaurant are over-rated. The best views of the harbor can be get by just riding the Star Ferry (Take the lower level, for about 25 US cents).

Ocean Park is not worth going for someone from the US. You can get better shows at any Seaworld, and much better rides at any theme park in the U.S.

After visiting Po Lin Monastery, it's worth going to the fishing village of Tai O at the far west end of Lantau Island.

Do go to Stanley on the South side of Hong Kong Island. Nice market, good restaurants there. And you can get off the bus at Repulse Bay, a beach surrounded by luxury apartments and some shops.

Going to Po Lin Monastery will take you over half a day, so you itinerary is very full already.
rkkwan is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2004, 03:01 AM
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Given you arrival time of 6 pm, I would estimate that you won't be in your hotel room until about 8 pm; by the time you get through immigration, customs, and get from the airport to Kowloon, etc. My suggestion for the first night is dinner in or near your hotel and then head to the night market in Temple Street, not too far from your hotel.

A good place for dinner would be the Harbourside restaurant on the lower level of the Intercontinental hotel. The Intercontinental is right across the street from the Sheraton and is right on the harbour. The restaurant has huge windows and you will be treated to great night views of the harbour and Hong Kong island. This food is very good, and the place would be a somewhat cheaper alternative to the more formal restaurants like Felix in the Peninsula. If you don't want to eat at the Harbourside, then have a drink in the lobby bar of the Intercontinental for the same breathtaking view.

A stroll along the esplanade waterfront walk along the Kowloon side of the harbour either after dinner or after the night market would be a good way to end the evening by seeing all the lights on the Hong Kong side.

The next day, a good way to start might be to go the Peak for breakfast. Walk to the Star Ferry pier a few blocks from your hotel and take the ferry over (thus accomplishing one of your other goals). Once you get off on the Hong Kong side, take the Peak Tram shuttle bus to Peak Tram embarkation station. (Look for a brown or maroon double decker bus, open on top.) You can also take a taxi or walk, although the walking is a bit confusing. A taxi will cost about $4. Once at the tram station, take the tram to the Peak and spend some time here admiring the view from the various lookout points. There are several small coffee bars and cafes in the shopping gallery in which the Peak Tram stops where you could get croissants etc., and there are others across the street in the Galleria shopping center. There is also a Movenpick restaurant in the Peak Tram station that is OK. After breakfast, a good walk that is flat and takes about an hour is the Luggard Road circuit that starts just behind the Peak Tram station and winds around the Peak ending back at the same place. You will get great views from here of both sides of Hong Kong island. When you have seen enough, you can go back down on the Peak Tram and explore other parts of Hong Kong Island .

An alternative to going to the Peak in the morning would be to go in the late afternoon and stay for the sunset. The sun will set at about 6:15 pm and you will have twilight until about 6:45. It would be good to get up to the Peak around 5 pm to see it in full daylight and then take the Luggard Road walk to see the sun setting and all the lights of the city come up. If you want to stay for dinner, my favorite restaurant is

Café Deco
Asian, continental, stunning views, Peak Galleria, the Peak. You would need reservations for a good table (at least a day in advance) ask for window seat upstairs if possible
Peak Galleria, 118 Peak Road
Tel: 2849 5111
Website: www.cafedeco.com

As mentioned above, a trip to Stanley is a lot of fun. The best way to go is to take the public double decker bus from Central. Sit up top as near to the front as possible for a roller coaster of a ride up over the mountains and down into Stanley. The trip from Central takes about an hour. The buses depart from the Exchange Square Bus Terminal in Central (not too far from the Star Ferry Pier). The bus you want should be #6 of #6A, but check with your hotel, because you do NOT want the bus which goes to Stanley via the Aberdeen tunnel, thereby skipping the mountain route which IMO is the whole reason to take the bus in the first place. You can also pick the #6 and #6A buses up at Pacific Place shopping mall (near to the Peak Tram station) or along Queensway Road east. The fare is about HK$7.50 (about US$1.00) truly a bargain. You pay when you get on the bus. The drivers speak little or no English, but others on board or in line can help you if you have questions. (The bus may say "Stanley", "Stanley Market" "Stanley Fort" or even "Stanley Prison" on the front, any of these are what you want. You will get off at Stanley Village bus stop, were virtually everyone else will get off as well.)

Stanley has a fun market with lots of souvenirs and Chinese kitsch gifts like seals in which you can have your name engraved in Chinese characters. There is a little beach and several good restaurants along the water. It is very low-key and you will get a different feel here than you do in the "city" parts of Hong Kong Island or Kowloon. My favorite restaurant in Stanley is

The Boathouse
Seafood-focused but offers other dishes. Nice sea views from the upper floors, there are outside terraces. Food and ambience are so good and views are lovely.
86?88 Stanley Main Street, Stanley
Tel: 2813 4467.

On the way our out back to Stanley, you can stop at Repulse Bay Beach and take a walk along the wide and flat beach down to the temple on the far end. You can't miss Repulse Bay, it is a huge sandy bay which you will descend down into on the bus.

I agree that Ocean Park is not worth your limited time, it is a rather pale imitation of good water parks in the US.

I personally would not go to Po Lin Monastery if you only have 2 days in Hong Kong, as there is a lot to see on Hong Kong island itself, and also some things on the Kowloon side. As noted above, getting to and from Lantau Island and up to the monastery is about a half day trip, my estimate is that you would not be back in Kowloon until about 3 pm. I don't know what your interest in the monastery is, if you are interested in the architecture and/or the actual monastery, then maybe it is worth it, although it there is nothing architecturally interesting about the temple or the monastery buildings, IMO. However, I am not sure how much of the monastery is open to the public. If you are only interested in seeing the giant Buddha and having lunch at the vegetarian restaurant, then I don't think it is worth it given your limited time.

I kind of go back and forth on Aberdeen. I lived in Hong Kong for 5 years, and it was always one of the places my visitors wanted to see and I have to say it is still so unique to Asia that I do think it is worth it. I would skip Po Lin Monastery in favor of it, you could also do it on the way over to and back from Stanley (although lunch at the Boathouse would be much better than a meal at one of the floating restaurants, IMO). It is rather interesting to take a boat tour of the harbour which is packed with small fishing boats which whole families live on. The floating restaurants are very big (you won't know you are floating) and very touristy, but not really bad. If you take an organized tour to Aberdeen, make sure the tour spends quality time on a small boat going around the harbour, and not just a big boat over from Hong Kong harbour to the restaurants with a shopping stop at some jade farm, etc. You can easily also do this yourself by taking a bus or taxi over to Aberdeen, have lunch or dinner at Jumbo, and hire one of the many small fishing boats that will be vying for your custom at the entrance to Jumbo or the other restaurants. You can negotiate a price, the boat drivers speak enough English for this. A 30 to 45 minute tour is good, make sure they take you out a bit past the restaurants. The Jumbo restaurant has a free shuttle ferry which will pick you up at the pier in Aberdeen, so it is easy to get to the restaurant that way. Their website is http://www.jumbo.com.hk/main.htm

As for pearls, I see from other threads that you have received some recommendations. Just do some shopping before you leave the US (even on-line shopping is better than nothing) to get an idea of what prices are in the US and for what quality pearls. (In person shopping is obviously better than on-line to get an idea of quality.) There are many many excellent fakes out there, so be careful and if a price seems to good to be true, it probably is. . . .

My jeweler in Hong Kong is

Golden Mile Jewelry
Hutchison House
10 Harcourt Rd
Queensway, Hong Kong
Shop 114A, 1st floor
Tel: 2525-6760

Hutchison House is about close to the Star Ferry pier in Hong Kong, about a block past the Mandarin hotel. The shop is one flight up from the ground floor, Hong Kong uses the European numbering system. I have always found him reliable and his prices are very good. His specialty is more gold and precious stones, and he will make to order, but he does have some pearls.

Cicerone is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2004, 06:28 AM
  #4  
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rkkwan--thanks for the suggestions-I frequently take private shuttles when I am traveling, but I wasn't sure about your pricing. If it's about $120HKD per person, then that compares to other major cities(Rome, France), and would be about $30 USD for both of us. Let me know if I've figured this correctly. How does one arrange this ride?

Cicerone--your in depth suggestions are excellent! I wanted to see just the seated Buddha, but it sounds as though this would use a lot of time. I really enjoyed seeing many of the Wat in Bangkok, primarily for the history, craftmanship, and sense of the culture. This is such a short trip, that I want to get an overall feel, without spending an entire day.
Your 1st evening itinerary sounds good, too, as we want to start the trip with a real sense of the uniqueness of HK. As far as shopping for pearls and jade, I am well aware of the many fakes, and I'm not truly looking for high-end gem quality pieces, but a few items that will be "fun jewelry reminders" of HK. I'm especially interested in unusual shape and color Chinese freshwater pearls. I manage a jewelry store here in the US, so I'm usually pretty comfortable in making selections. I bought a golden sapphire ring in BKK for $2900 USD, which appraised for $10,000 upon my return. I did use a jeweler who had been recommended by someone in the trade.
Thanks again for the great input--we leave 1 week from today, and I'm very excited to see Hong Kong.
I will take the advice of both of you and forget about ocean park, and add a visit to Stanley.

Is the view/sight of the Midlands escalator a worthwhile thing to do?
Thanks for the great suggestions.
Barb_in_Ga is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2004, 07:24 AM
  #5  
 
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Barb - Great suggestion and explanation by Cicerone.

About the hotel shuttles, yes, that's about HK$100-120 per person. So, that's about US$30 for two. You don't need reservations. Each of the two companies have two counters at HKG's "Limo & Coach" area. One company is called "Airport Hotelink" run by Wing On Travel; the other is "Airport Shuttle" associated with Parklane Limo. Just walk up to the counters and find out which one leaves first. Prices should be comparable. [Or just take the taxi for just a little more. From hotel to airport, you can even negotiate a price from taxi drivers, and ignore the meter (it's illegal, but everybody does it); that's why the shuttle rides are also cheaper hotel->airport.]

I have been to Po Lin Monastery many times when I lived in HK, and after I moved to the US. If you want more info, let me know. There are now two major ways to get there, either via MTR train to Tung Chung (near the airport), or ferry from Central to Mui Wo. Either way, you'll need to transfer to a bus. From the door of the Sheraton, expect about 2 hours each way. Weekends have more frequent buses, but more people. It's more quiet and tranquil on weekdays. You can get a combo buddha/vegetarian lunch ticket there.

Since you only have two full days, I think you should wait after the first full day (probably to the Peak, Stanley), before deciding whether to go or not.

Oh, besides the Peak Tram and the Star Ferry, another transportation worth taking is the double decker trams on HK Island. Also very cheap (about 25cents).

The escalators to the "Mid-Levels" on HK Island themselves aren't worth seeing. However, they do lead you up to Hollywood Road and beyond (the SoHo). There are many antique stores on Hollywood Road as well as a major temple a bit to the West of the escalators; and there are many newer fancy restaurants (mostly non-Chinese) in the SoHo area.

Another tip for tourists to Hong Kong. You should get an "Octopus" card for transportation. They are available at the Airport Express counter at HKG, or any MTR station in the city. It's a stored value cash card used by all major transportation companies (excluding private airport shuttles), as well as 7-Eleven, supermarkets, vending machines, etc... Each card costs HK$150, and you'll have HK$100 of value on it. At the end of your visit, get that HK$50 deposit along with any unspent amount when you turn in the card. It's a MUST HAVE for any visitor to Hong Kong.
rkkwan is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2004, 07:49 AM
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The temples in Hong Kong which I have seen do not come close to those of Thailand, no glorious soaring tile roofs in red and green with gold accents, etc. I think the Po Lin Monastery would disappoint you if you have seen the temples in Thailand.

The escalator up to the top of Mid-levels is interesting and is a good way to get up to the Hollywood Road area and to the Staunton Street area, both of which have antique shops and curio booths. Staunton Street has a lot of good restaurants as well, good for lunch or dinner.

As you will be there on a Wednesday evening , you might go to the horse racing at Happy Valley for the truly quintessential Hong Kong experience. Races start at about 7 pm. There are 7 races as I recall, the last one is around 10:30, but you don't have to arrive for the first or stay for the last race, 3-4 races may be enough for you to get the idea and to see how possessed Hong Kongers are about betting. The basic admission price is HK$10, which is for standing-room only. However, you can watch from the more exclusive Hong Kong Jockey Club members' enclosure by purchasing a temporary "member's badge" for HK$50 (about US$6.50). It's available upon showing your passport at either the Badge Enquiry Office at the main entrance to the Members' Private Enclosure at Happy Valley, or an easier way is to go to one of the off-track betting centers like the one near the Star Ferry concourse in Central or on Nathan Road in Kowloon where you can buy the badges up to 5 days in advance. Take a look at the website for the Hong Kong Jockey Club at --. Click on "Come Racing" and then "Overseas Visitors" in the text. The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi from the Star Ferry and have him drop you at the Members Enclosure Entrance.

I would love to hear about your jewellery buying experiences in Asia and after you return from Hong Kong., I always like to hear advice from someone who knows their subject.
Cicerone is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2004, 07:51 AM
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Sorry, website for the Hong KOng Jockey Club is www.hongkongjockeyclub.com/english
Cicerone is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2004, 08:30 AM
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I agree with Cicerone that Po Lin Monastery itself is nothing to write home about. The older buildings are very small and non-descriptive; while the larger main hall is built in the 1960's I believe. It does not compare to any "main" temples in Thailand or China. The main buildings are open to visitors with no entrance fees. You only pay to go up to the buddha and for lunch.

To me, it's the trip itself that makes it worthwhile, especially if you take the ferry route. It's a great escape from the city itself, and the bus ride up to the monastery is nothing short of breath-taking. Better than anything you'll see in GA, TN or NC. But since you only have two full days in Hong Kong, you probably woudln't appreciate an "escape" from the city itself!
rkkwan is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2004, 01:57 PM
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For your second sunset (Wed. nite), I suggest taking in the billion $ view of H.K. Island from Kowloon. Then take the Star Ferry and a taxi to Happy Valley Racecourse, as Cicerone recommended. It really is a nice track and worth the visit. The program with past performances of the the race horses is in the South China Daily News (I was not able to get a copy of the paper at the track).

A good rule of thumb in horse racing is to bet on the French jockey and/or the French horse. This works everywhere in the world, except for France where you bet on the Brits.

Anyway, I think you would enjoy a visit to Happy Valley. When you leave the members entrance, turn right and go around to the "front" of the race track and you should see the tram line that you can take back to the ferry.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2004, 06:11 PM
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Hi Barb,

Apologies for this shameless plug, but I thought you might be interested in a free trial service my company Mobile Adventures (http://www.mobileadventures.net) has just launched - mobile-phone guided walks of Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. Our content is meant for both visitors and residents of Hong Kong, and is meant to really look at what Hong Kong is all about, and how it came to be here. We really take a good look at the city's history (particularly its unsavory origins), its multicultural heritage, its architecture, its society and most of all, its sense of identity. I would like to think that we provide refreshing, original opinions of the city and its people, as well as more mundane things such as where to eat, shop or find a bathroom. Our view was that Hong Kong, being in a sense just seven years old, really lacked a medium from which people, particularly visitors and expats, could find out more about Hong Kong's heritage, particularly its colonial past and its implications for the present.

Our service is available any time of day. As I mentioned, it is free to anyone (except for one's local mobile minutes) that wants to try it during our trial period, and we earn no money from it. To use it, if you have a T-Mobile phone you'd probably just need to buy a SIM card from any 7-11 or mobile phone company to try it out. If not, then you might have to rent a phone to try it.

Have a great time in Hong Kong!
davew is offline  
Feb 24th, 2004, 12:02 AM
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Davew, please don't put a shameless plug on a thread with useful information, as Fodors will probably now pull this threaddue to you add. You should have started your own thread on this.

I would note that a big problem you are going to have with this service is that people in the US generlally do not have tri-band phones and so their phones will not work in Hong Kong.
Cicerone is offline  

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