SimpleHongKong – a visitors guide to the “Fragrant Harbour”
In February of 2015 I had a pleasure of being in Hong Kong for 2 weeks (well, 13 days to be exact), 10 of which I was rolling solo, and the remaining days were spent showing my family around; so I have spent the first part as a tourist, and the second part as a tour guide.
For the more detailed set of events, see My Hong Kong Vacation – February 2015; but I will be referencing the places I have visited, and my recommendations throughout this article anyway.
Simple Hong Kong.
Solo Traveller Tips for visiting Hong Kong.
What to do in Hong Kong.
Let’s start with the short list of things to know about HK:
1. Streets and public transit in Hong Kong are very clean. Eating on public transit is prohibited, and frowned upon. Seriously, DO NOT EAT OR DRINK ON PUBLIC TRANSIT.
2. There are a ton of public recreational areas, be that the soccer/basketball fields, elliptical machines, or vertical chin up bars. If you like jogging, you will not be disappointed.
3. Despite the location, there are no seagulls. Given their diet, they should thrive there; yet I have not seen a single seagull. In Vancouver, which is pretty similar in a number of ways, they are everywhere.
4. As bizarre as it is, Hong Kong has more smartphones than people. Everyone owns a smartphone, and free public Wi-Fi is very easy to find (if you need Wi-Fi, go to any mall, or to a Starbucks; the former usually has free 30 minutes per visitor every 24 hours).
5. Smoking is prohibited in most public areas, and most people seem to follow that rule. My guess the reason is the hefty fine involved in disobeying.
6. Contrary to the common stereotype, HK residents are pretty good drivers. I have not seen a single accident during the entire visit. People are just less overly cautious than in North America.
7. Consuming alcohol in public is allowed, but only a few people do it, which is odd given the wide availability and the cheap price… I’m not sure if it is a cultural thing, or if it is considered tactless, but I did not feel like I was getting any weird looks, and I’ve had a can of Guinness in my hands and 2 in my bag almost the entire time.
7/11 has deals on beer too, which are really good.
8. People are generally more reserved; and, unlike North Americans, are mindful of your personal space. I’ve had strangers strike up conversations with me only on two occasions: once by an Irish dude, and once by a local gentleman who used to live in Seattle.
Another thing, stretching or singing in public is not viewed as odd behavior. Or maybe it is, but people just choose to ignore it and mind their snarky and smarmy comments to themselves.
9. Overall, Hong Kong feels very safe. The policemen are friendly and not intimidating. They have helped me each time I was lost and asked for the assistance. There was no “us vs. them” attitude, just people helping people.
10. Giving and accepting money (and credit cards) with both hands is a sign of good tone.
What to see in Hong Kong.
1. Kowloon skyline + Laser Show (8.00-8.17 PM daily);
2. Avenue of starts + Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade – this can be done on the same day as #1.
3. Chi Lin Nunnery + Nan Lian Garden (can also be done on the same day as #1 and #2, just keep in mind that the Nunnery closes at 4 pm).
4. Shek-O beach.
5. Stanley (can be visited on the same day as Shek-O)
6. Ngong-Ping (Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery)
7. The Peak (Victoria Peak).
Unfortunately, the pictures that I took at the Peak are awful, so I did not make a post about it, nor will I be uploading them; but let the view be a surprise for you; just take my word for it – on a clear day it is just as impressive, if not more impressive than the view from the Grouse or Cypress Mountain.
When you go to the Peak, make sure to dress warm, as the temperature there is much lower than down in the city (it was initially built for the rich folks to escape the heat), and the winds are staggering cold.
If you are in HK for one day only, you must visit the Peak.
Read the detailed trip report of my Hong Kong trip: My Hong Kong vacation, Feb. 2015.