On our recent South China Sea cruise we spent a day in Hong Kong. While it is not enough time to do much we managed to hit a few highlights. Our first impression of the city as we sailed into port is one of rolling hills and countless skyscrapers. If you are cruising in, the ship will probably dock at the new cruise terminal that was once the site of the international airport in Kowloon. That airport was replaced with one that was exciting to fly into a number of years ago. Across Victoria Harbour is
Hong Kong Island and the central business district with Victoria Peak standing above it. The first suggestion is to get yourself oriented as to where you are and what locations you would like to visit. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive and the subway (MTR) is easy to use. You can find a number of official maps here .
Going up to Victoria Peak is one of the cities highlights. There is a Peak Tram that leaves from a station near Hong Kong Park and the Government Center but by the time we got to the tram the wait to buy tickets and catch the tram was several hours. We’ve been told that the tram is an experience in itself but from our experience we would recommend getting to the tram lower terminus early in the day and if you’re staying in Hong Kong for a few days don’t miss going up at night. We shared a taxi with another couple up and back for less than 25 Hong Kong Dollars (US$5) each person and the view is well worth the trip. I can imagine what it looks like at night with the city glowing below you but even in the
day it is spectacular.
We started the day with a free bus ride to Plaza Hollywood which is a large mall with exhibit space, a movie theatre and a couple hundred stores. Leaving the Plaza we walked a couple of blocks to the Nan Lian Gardens (look for the elevated highway and walk under it). The park is a classic style Chinese garden and is beautiful with flowers, water falls, Koi ponds and pagodas and completely surrounded by high rise buildings (admission is free). Afterwards we walked back to Plaza Hollywood and the MTR Diamond Hill Station where we caught a subway. We used the subway to get to the business district at the Central Station. The MTR is easy to figure out with well designed maps and ticket machines with English language options. The trains and stations are modern, clean and well marked. From Central MTR station we walked to the Lower Peak Tram Terminus. The area features commercial skyscrapers and upscale shopping with the alleys between buildings filled with market stalls selling everything from food to inexpensive clothing.
One of the surprising things we learned is that while Hong Kong is wealthy, vertical city with high rise buildings and skyscrapers everywhere, there are lower income neighborhoods where high rise apartments average only a dozen square meters. We were told that it is common to have them furnished with triple-decker bunk beds and when you realize this you begin to notice laundry hanging out of windows all the way up to the higher floors.
If we weren’t running short on time we could have taken the MTR back to the Cruise Terminal but we used our remaining Hong Kong dollars to take a taxi. We would recommend changing money and using credit cards in Hong Kong as US dollars are not readily accepted.
Our ship sailed out of Victoria Harbour as the Sun began to slip behind the skyline marking the end of a great visit, but we are convinced that this city deserves a number of days to spend exploring.