The Backpacking Freelancer - Part IX

29 June 2011
This post is all about itinerary planning. What sites in HK are worth your while? How do you get there and how much do entrance fees cost?

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After arranging your flight and your accommodations in Hong Kong, you're all set to plan your "trip" -- and by "trip" I mean the things that you actually want to do when you arrive at Hong Kong International Airport. 

I'm going to assume that you'll be staying at Golden Crown Guesthouse or any of top-rated HK hostels and guesthouses by Trip Advisor. All of them are in Tsim Sha Tsui, which is the best location to be for sightseeing. So here goes:

12 Fun Things to Do in Hong Kong
  • Buy an Octopus card. The card is equivalent to Singapore's EZ Link card. You can debit your bus and MTR fare (except the Airport Express) from the Octopus card at discount rates. You can also use the card to pay for your purchases at Watson's, Circle K, 7-11, McDonald's and many other establishments. Cost: 150 HKD.

  • Stay at a place that is cheap, clean and accessible. What makes lodging houses in Tsim Sha Tsui appealing is that you can reach them at any hour of the day or night. To reach Golden Crown Guesthouse for instance, just take Bus A21 (day time) or N21 (midnight to 5:00 a.m.). Ask the driver to drop you off at the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR (across Kowloon Park) on Nathan Road, and you will find yourself just a few steps away from the guesthouse. Cost: 23 HKD.

  • Shop at Citygate Outlet Mall. The mall is a commanding structure that is home to at least 80 famous international brands. Why am I recommending this seemingly high-class stopover for backpackers? It’s a prime location and it makes a nice sidetrip to your visit to Ngong Ping or Disneyland. To reach Citygate from Tsim Sha Tsui, take the Tsuen Wan line to Lai King and then head for Tung Chung aboard the Tung Chung line. Cost: 18 HKD.

  • Ride the cable car to Ngong Ping island. The island houses a number of small shops peddling trinkets and souvenirs, and restaurants that serve delicious Oriental fare. If a rich Chinese atmosphere is what you’re after, you’ll find it here. The highlights of this tourist destination are the cable car ride itself, the Giant Buddha and the monastery. To find the cable car station to Ngong Ping, just follow the signs from the Tung Chung MTR station or from Citygate Outlet Mall. Cost: 115 HKD for a round-trip cable car ride.

  • Spend a day at Disneyland. Deemed the happiest place on earth, the theme park caters to both the young and the young at heart. The entrance ticket already covers all the rides and the spectacular fireworks display at 8:00 p.m. Cost: 350 HKD. The same entrance ticket is sold to guests of Golden Crown for only 320 HKD.

  • Enjoy Disney meal sets on a budget. Since the park does not open until 10:00 a.m., many travelers opt to visit Disneyland in the afternoon. Backpackers who want to get the most value of the meal coupon however find it more practical not to miss any of the included meals: lunch from 11:30 a.m. onwards, dinner from 4:30 p.m. onwards and your choice of one beverage or snack item. The coupon is sold separately from the entrance ticket. Cost: 128 HKD.

  • Get a rush commuting from Disneyland, Ngong Ping or Citygate to Tsim Sha Tsui. Just remember your travel route and follow it backwards. Isn’t this exciting? From Sunny Bay or Tung Chung, head to Lai King. From Lai King, take the Tsuen Wan line heading to Tsim Sha Tsui. Cost: 18 HKD.

  • Do not miss Ocean Park. The experience is not the same as Disney. Think of your Ocean Park experience as an educational tour of the wild. The rides are more intense, and nature lovers will find the aviary, the aquarium, the seal feeding schedule and the dolphin show an unforgettable treat. The park usually closes at 6:00 p.m. Ticket Cost: 250 HKD (but beginning September this year, the rate will go up to 280 HKD).

  • Have fun with your Ocean Park commute. Give taxis a pass, and think of how much you save with Hong Kong’s efficient public transportation system. To reach Ocean Park from Tsim Sha Tsui, take the MTR Central Line to Admiralty. The ride costs 7.90 HKD. Follow Exit B and then board City Bus 629. The bus ride costs 10.60 HKD. To head home, simply track back your steps. Total Commuting Cost Per Way: 18.50 HKD.

  • Experience the Peak. True to its name, the peak is a tourist destination which gives visitors an overview of the island from the top and an exciting 45-degree angle of buildings from inside the tram. A regular ride will cost you 28 HKD per trip (kids and senior citizens pay less), but if you purchase round-trip tickets ahead, you can get them for just 40 HKD and debit the cost from your Octopus card. There are a number of restaurants and plenty of souvenir shops at the Peak itself. I personally prefer to buy souvenirs here. They’re cheap and have a very HK feel in them. Cost: 40 – 56 HKD.

  • Don’t leave the Peak without paying Madamme Tussaud a visit. The museum is where the wax figures of favorite Asian and international celebrities come to life (sort of). Picture taking with the stars is free except with Jacky Chan. A photographer will shoot the photo for you and sell the print for about 400 HKD. A regular entrance ticket costs 160 HKD per person. However, it’s wiser to avail of the 2-in-1 combo package which covers a hassle-free round-trip tram ride and the museum entrance at a lower pricing. Cost: 190 HKD.

  • Savor your journey to and from the Peak. The tram ride has already been covered above. Here is some info on how you can reach the Peak from Tsim Sha Tsui. Take the MTR to Central and exit at J2. You will exit at a park where you can take nice photos and such. You will have to cross the street and follow the signs that will lead you to the Lower Peak Terminus. Make sure that you have enough energy for the inclined ascent and the descent later on your way back. Cost Per Way: 10 HKD.*
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