Neon lights, tall buildings, narrow streets, bustling people. Big brands like “Prada”, “Rolex”, and a four-story “Victoria Secret” greeted me on either side as I stepped off the metro.
Todo, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
This is Hong Kong. It’s nothing like the “authentic Chinese experience” that the movies depicted. It seemed more people spoke English than Cantonese, and when you mentioned China, more than one local could be seen suddenly passionately enraged.
Heck, they even have a “Times Square” that looks fairly similar to the one in New York. Slightly smaller, but similar amounts of people and same kinds of buildings.
What’s funny is that if you go even one street over you can see that “authentic Chinese experience” that movies depict, with vendors yelling in Cantonese, raw fish slaughtered in front of you, and walking into any restaurant to order delicacies like chicken feet and fried pigeon (see below!).
After spending a week in Hong Kong in an attempt to get my visa (which I was able to get a 10 year visa! See more about that adventure here: https://biggerthanramen.com/?p=74 ), here are the things I would DEFINITELY recommend doing in Hong Kong.
BEST THINGS I DID IN HONG KONG
#2 Tan Tien Buddha – This is the huge Buddha that’s pictured a lot when you look for experiences in China. Absolutely beautiful. You can also see the Hong Kong 1000 Buddha Monastery while you’re there which is also spectacular. The only way up is the sky cable car though, so make sure you have $235 HKD ($30 USD) for the round trip.
#3 Partying in Chai Wan – Definitely recommend partying in Chai Wan if you’re there Thursday-Sunday. The whole street turns into a mix of foreigners and locals partying and having a good time. One of the local bars plays music on the street and so it turns into a great time. I did the splits in the middle of the crowd and I’ve never seen so many drunk people lose their minds. Just be careful, drinks can be VERY expensive in Hong Kong, so it’s best to either drink at the 7-Eleven (called “Club 7” locally, cheapest drinks in town!) or go at happy hour to get buy one get one all over town.
WORST THINGS I DID IN HONG KONG
#1 Victoria Peak, Number 1 Tourist Attraction – I went on a day it was foggy so you couldn’t see anything (I know, my fault). Plus it’s expensive to get up. You either pay $200 HKD ($25 USD) to stand in a 2 hr line to use a streetcar to the top or you get a taxi for roughly $350 HKD ($44 USD). And everything at the top is touristy and costs twice as much as on the ground.
#2 Wong Tai Sin Temple – This is the most popular temple in Hong Kong and honestly, it was really disappointing. There’s not too much to see and you can’t go
For someone looking for an easy experience as a traveler I would highly recommend Hong Kong. There’s not a whole lot to do, you only need a few days to experience all of it, but the people are unbelievably nice and the majority speak English. Plus, it’s really easy to get your Chinese visa here if you prepare all the paperwork (besides the application itself) beforehand. And hotels can be pretty expensive, but hostels were very cheap. I was able to get a bed for $78 HKD ($10 USD) per night.