Hong Kong-Solo female advice

Apr 17th, 2004, 03:31 AM
  #1  
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Hong Kong-Solo female advice

I am a 46 y.o. female making a solo trip
to Hong Kong during the second week of May and have a few general questions please:
1)Is it safe for a female alone to walk around the city at night - and which spots in particular?
2)Will knowing NO Chinese - only english be a problem?
3) Thinking of staying 4 nights at the Royal Garden Kowloon so I can splurge my last 2 nights at the Peninsula. Any reviews or tips on these accomodations appreciated.
4)Best place to meet other English speaking people; and
5)Advice on organized tours of the city and outlying islands offered by the hotels.
Thanks for any help.
zoey9220 is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 05:12 AM
  #2  
 
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Hong Kong is absolutely safe to walk around at night, certainly from a personal safety perspective. While pickpoets are by no means rampant and not nearly the concern that they'd be in most N. American or European cities, it would obviously be a good idea to be prudent in terms of where you carry your cash and credit cards.

Knowing no Chinese is not a problem, though you wont be able to read the Chinese-only signs when you start walking in residential neighborhoods. If you learn nothing more than 'thank you' (shi-shi, sort of, in Mandarin), you'll be ahead of the game.

Great idea to plan a few nights at the Pen. The Royal Kowloon wouldn't be my first choice for a save-some-money place, though: while the hotel itself is fine, its location in TST East is inconvenient. It's a long (~10-min) walk to the subway, even longer to the Star Ferry, and there's not much in TST East that I find appealing. (OK, I do like the Ginki Sushi place.) It will be warm and very humid in May, and convenience to the subway should not be underestimated. You might condier places like the Holiday Inn or Kowloon Hotel in TST, or the JW Marriott or even the Conrad (if you find a good rate) in Admiralty. All of those places are in the middle of prime areas and they're adjacent (or on top of) subway stations.
DonTopaz is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 05:52 AM
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Agree with rizzuto that you should avoid the Royal Garden because of its location. If you don't mind moving luggage across the harbor, you may want to consider something on HK Island for your first 4 nights - so that you can sample both areas. For slightly cheaper hotels, look for one in the Causeway Bay area. Very lively, with tonnes of shops and restaurants.

Knowing no English is not a problem, unless you want to eat at very cheap restaurants frequented by locals - like little noodle shops. Most of those places don't have English menu (or their English menu don't include the "good stuff" that's scribbled on the wall), and don't expect their wait staff to know any English. It won't be a problem for dim sum at a restaurant, as you can just point at the stuff you want.

To meet English-speaking people, try some of the clubs at Lan Kwai Fong near Central on HK Island. Or bars/clubs in Tsim Sha Tsui. Though I really don't know exactly where, as I don't usually frequent those places.

And like rizzuto says, it's generally very safe to walk around Hong Kong. Some areas like Sham Shui Po have quite a few ladies from mainland China working in the sex industry, and you may see a lot of yellow-colored neon signs on entrances to buildings. But still, you won't be bothered at all.

I don't have specific information about tours, but you can look up some information here: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/...rs/index.jhtml

But with 6 nights in Hong Kong, you may want to just tour the city on your own instead of joining others on a bus. It's very easy to use public transportation around all of Hong Kong, as long as you get a "Octopus" stored-value card (or the tourist version that includes Airport Express rides to/from airport).
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 06:57 AM
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agree absolutely with rkkwan - there is no need to join organised tours in HK - just take a bus.

The language thing is interesting. I sort of expected English to be in more general use than it was when I visited just after the handover to China (don't ask me why!!) I only ever needed to take a taxi once and was surprised that the driver didn't speak any English.

But once you have taken that on board, you can get around quite happily without speaking Chinese.

I just loved Hong Kong and was also there as a solo 46 year old. Don't miss the wonderful Hong Kong Museum of Art just to the right of the Star ferry terminus Kowloon side. And be sure to take a ferry out to some of the islands - Lantau probably the pick of the easily accessible ones
alice13 is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 07:24 AM
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About taxi drivers speaking English, I'd say that most should understand the basics - like most streets on Hong Kong Island, most major hotels, airport, etc. Many visitors and expats take taxis frequently and don't have any problems. But if you need to go to some obscure place or some residential block, then you might want to have your hotel's clerk write out the address in Chinese.

English is learned at school from very young age, but because Hong Kong is a very homogenous city - unlike Singapore - most people don't get to use their English often. And things haven't improved in recent years as most people spend time to speak better Mandarin/Putonghua than English.

With 6 nights in Hong Kong, a tour of Lantau is a must. No need to take a tour. Just take a ferry from Central to Silvermine Bay (aka Mui Wo), and take bus #2 to Po Lin Monastery. Get a combo ticket to visit the buddha and have an early vegetarian lunch there. Take another bus to the fishing village to Tai O, and then return. [Or take the MTR to Tung Chung, and switch to a bus, for either of the journey.] Highly recommended.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 02:32 PM
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Agree with all of the above.
Here are some of my favorites. A 1/2 day trip to Stanley Market. Take a bus from Central. The double decker ride there is an adventure. The narrow roads with hairpin turns, with drops of 1000's of feet on either side. Some outstanding views of HK as well. Actuallly, you may want to make a full day trip, as there is a great beach at Repulse Bay, before you get to Stanley Bay, if that's your kind of thing. They do have changing rooms and showers, so after few hours you could catch another bus and continue. Stanley Bay is a great little fishing village on the other side of HK island. After you check-out the market, walk by the waterfront. There are numerous restaurants and pubs with great water views. Most do cater to the tourists so there is a good chance of meeting fellow travelers. Taking the bus back to Central you could also check out Ocean Park, but I can't tell you much about it. It is a large amusement and entertainment complex.
Make sure you take the cable car to the Peak. Some people like to do a R/T on the cable car. Personally I preffered going up in the car and returning by bus, as again you have some outstanding views of both HK and Kowloon. Do the Peak on a clear day.
A must, the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator. The world's longest outdoor escalator system. In the mornings it goes down but after 10:30am or so, it reverses and goes up. Along the way, you get to see into peoples lives, as some of the buildings are within reach. There are many local street markets, mostly food, and many restaurants and pubs. If you go all the way up, you will have to walk down, but it's worth it. Very nice way to spend couple of hours and see more of a local life.
The ultimate must. Be on the Star ferry at or before 8pm, heading from the Kowloon side to Hong Kong Island. All the highrises come alive in a fantastic lite show, with lasers and window lights synchronized. It lasts for 20 minutes and it's just amazing. If you into photography, then stay on the Kowloon side, because you will need to have your camera steady to catch this amazing show.
A very fun and cheap way to get kind of a tour of The lower Hong Kong is to take the tram from one end to the other. They are also double deckers so make sure you sit on top and you will get a nice tour.
Don't worry about transportation. It is very easy to figure out. The busses, the subway, the trams will get you just about everywhere.
For upscale shopping, The Pacific Place is a must. You better bring your fully loaded charge card to buy anything there. It also has some fabulous restaurants, and if you want a little feel of home, there is a place called Chicago something(can't remember), but it has the look and feel of a Chicago pizza/tavern joint with great Chicago memorabilia on the walls. The food was actually good too. I just needed that one evening. It does actually become a hot evening spot with many expats.
I would suggest getting the Octopus Tourist card at the airport upon arrival (the ticket agent is right in front of the station. It's an excellent value. Make sure you get the one with airport express R/T. There are porters at either end to help you load and unload lugagge onto luggage carts. It will also include unlimited 3 day use of subway, busses, and the trams. The 3 day does NOT start with the train trip to the city. It starts when you actually use public transportation. It also has an added value of HK$20 which could be used for many things. There is also a HK$50 deposit on the card, which you could get back once you return to the airport. These cards are rechargeable, so after 3 days and after using up the extra $20, you could just purchase more at any station. Minimum recharge is HK$50. The card I just described is HK$300. Great value.
Perfectly safe city. The city is alive just about about 24/7. The streets are always busy. Take the normal precautions and you will be fine.

Have a great time. I know I did. After my first visit there, it quickly became one of my favorite cities.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 02:57 PM
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Great advice from AAFF.

Just want to clarify on the Octopus card, as this is the most important tool to go around Hong Kong. The HK$300 tourist card that AAFF describes include a round-trip on the Airport Express. There's also a HK$220 version that only includes a one-way trip on the AE. Both are special versions of the "Octopus" stored-value cards.

But if you decide not to take the Airport Express, you will need to get a regular "Octopus" card for $150, which includes $100 worth of travel fares + $50 of deposit. [The $220/$300 Tourist Card also has a $50 deposit on it. They'd like you to keep the card as souvenir, but you can get HK$50 back when you turn it in.]

You cannot use credit card to purchase these travel cards. Cash only - for good reason, as you can get you cash back anytime. So, go to an ATM near the center of the arrival hall to get HK Dollars first, and then head back to either of the two ticket counters.

If you read my posts on this forum, you'll know that I'm not a fan of the Airport Express. It's fast and comfortable, but it's not convenient. The Kowloon station is in the middle of nowhere, and the Hong Kong station is a long 10-min walk from the MTR Central station. Basically, you'll need a taxi ride to any hotel, or wait for the free shuttle. Instead, if you want door-to-door service, get a hotel shuttle. If you want cheap, take a Cityflyer airport bus. [And there's also complains here that you actually cannot see the large Tsing Ma bridge because the train tracks in enclosed. On the other hand, the roadway is exposed on top, with great view from a bus. The bridge is one of the longest road/rail suspension bridge in the world.]

AAFF mentioned upscale shopping at Pacific Place (connected to the Conrad, Island Shangri-La and Marriott). There's a sister-mall on Kowloon side called "Festival Walk", at the Kowloon Tong MTR/KCR station that's similar in style. For the real name brand, there's also the Landmark in Central. There are also some in the small arcade of the Peninsula.

For really "down-scale" shopping, go to the night market in Mong Kok (so called "Ladies' Market on Sai Yeung Choi Street South) and the Temple Street Night market (between the Jordan and Yau Ma Tei MTR stations).

I'd skip the Ocean Park. It's supposed to be like Sea World, with killer whale/dophin shows, aquarium, waterpark, etc. Its roller coaster was one of the better ones in the world when it opened like 15 years ago, on a cliff. But it can't compete with the newer and better ones in the U.S. nowadays. The only thing that's unique is a Chinese village, with people dressing in period costumes, etc. But nowadays, the only people who go to the Ocean Park are tourists from mainland China, or elderly HK residents bringing their grandsons and grand-daughters as they get in for free or very little.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 05:10 PM
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I have travelled to Hong Komg eight times now and it is my very favourite city.I am not a female but I must agree with what others have said..it is generally very safe..the most you will be pestered is by people approaching you in the street to buy copy watches etc.Don't waste your money on tours, it is so easy and much more interesting to do it yourself on foot.Do get prices on Park Hotel and the Mirimar ..they are very well situated and reasonably priced.You will not need to know Chinese..English has been part of the place for years. There is less since the handover and this is because a lot of the shop assistants have been brought in from mainland China.In any case they will always get someone on staff to help you.I can recommend the Museum of Hong Kong..it is reasonably new , very very good and will give you an excellent understanding of the beginnings of the colony right up to the handover.Suggest you do it before you venture out further and allow a couple of hours.Go on a ferry to Cheung Chau or Lantau Islands for relief from the city and another aspect of HK.Enjoy fabulous Hong Kong!.
Peteralan is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 06:19 PM
  #9  
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Thanks so much to all of you who
have taken time to provide such
great responses to my questions.
Your responses have alleviated some
of my concerns. I'll let you know
how my trip went when I return.
zoey9220 is offline  
Apr 18th, 2004, 02:35 PM
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Good zoey9220...I look forward to hearing how you went...I am a Hong Kong junkie and have to get my regular fix. If I can't go myself I love to hear other people's adventures. If you need any other advice I would be happy to help if I can. Cheers and enjoy!
Peteralan is offline  
Apr 21st, 2004, 01:13 AM
  #11  
 
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For the language problem in taking taxi, even if the drivers don't understand, they always use walkie talkie in the taxi to ask other drivers to translate for you. So, simply make sure the driver understands exactly where you want to go.
r_shum is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2004, 01:07 PM
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I agree with AAFF and take the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator all the way to the top. You can jump off if some interesting store or restaruant catches your eye. I suggest your walk down be via east on Conduit Road to Robinson Road and then into the Zoological & Botanical Gardens. Quite interesting and free!

I also agree to take the ferry to Lantua Island to visit the big budda at the Po Lin Monastery or great little shops and fresh seafood on Cheung Chau.

For your trip to the Peak, do the tram up and the bus (double decker) down. Whew, what a ride! Once on top, if you have an hour, take the walk all around the peak(Lugard Road and Harlech Road). Great views in all directions.

Even though Stanley Market is for tourists, I go every time for great buys like short silk housecoats for $7 and lace Kleenex box covers for $2. Those are Candian prices too! I would also stop at Repulse Bay for a few hours. Nice beach to relax on.

I've been 3 times already and leave on May 6th (2 weeks today) for my 4th visit. I only speak English but my husband is from Hong Kong and I must admit we go places most tourists wouldn't because of this.

We may be there at the same time (May 7-16). Have a great time.

Betty
BettyInToronto is offline  
Apr 24th, 2004, 12:13 PM
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Don't worry too much. Just use standard precautions. Avoid super crowded areas, such as outdoor markets, do not flash lots of cash, do not show much skin. If you are blond, you will get more attention because there are so few of them over there. When my wife and I were there in February, men were touching her hair.

J.
psyke is offline  
Apr 24th, 2004, 01:00 PM
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Hi Zoey - I used to live in HK and made my last trip there only two weeks ago. Whilst it's huge and bustling, it's still easy to get around with the best transport system. We stayed at the Harbour Plaza on Kowloon side ( we usually stay on the island side) and the view of HK island at night was a knock-out. It's a no 6 bus to Stanley - make sure you have the right money for the bus driver. I accidentally left a bag in a taxi - no worries - the driver took it back to the hotel where we were staying and from where he'd picked us up- pretty slim chance of that ever happening in Sydney!
pat_woolford is offline  
Apr 24th, 2004, 08:40 PM
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Anybody visiting HK should use a "Octopus" stored value transportation card. [Or the Airport Express Tourist Card, which is a version of the Octopus.] That way you'll don't need to worry about getting exact change for buses, or trains, ferries, trams, etc...
rkkwan is offline  

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