Advantages Clean, safe city which is really alive.
Disadvantages It's a long, long flight.
|Value for Money|
|Ease of getting around|
How to get there:There are many travel companies offering packages, but to save money book a flight and hotel online. Try Travelbag, Opodo, Thomas Cook and any of the airlines - Cathay Pacific, KLM Royal Dutch Airline, Virgin Atlantic, Quantas, British Airways all have flights every day.
If you are planning well in advance, check the prices every day as they change frequently. Almost always you will find one or more of the airlines have special offers, and again these prices change from day to day. The most I have paid for a return ticket is £385.I have travelled to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific (I've taken 3 flights) and all flights have been on time, with good quality service and meals, but unfortunately the entertainment systems have not been working on any of my flights with this airline. I'm glad I took a book, as 12 hours is a long time to sit doing nothing.
KLM via Amsterdam (I've also taken 3 flights) offer excellent food, an entertainment system consisting of tv screens built into the ceiling, so it depends where you sit as to how easy it is to watch the films. There are films shown at various stages of the flight, the first one is shown 2 hours after take-off.Virgin Atlantic (I've taken 2 flights) offer a selection of food from 3 menus, and individual seat-back screens with a choice of 55 films, 35 tv programs, music and a selection of 18 computer games, any of which are instantly available. There's no chance of being bored here.
Unfortunately at night you are more likely to sleep than watch the midnight movie, but on waking there will still be enough hours to see at least one film.I watched 3 episodes of the Catherine Tate show, (not suitable for children - ha,ha!). but you can also easily set the entertainment system so adult items are barred.
If you choose a daytime flight (Cathay Pacific, or KLM) you will arrive early in the morning HK time, which is around midnight UK time. I have felt very tired on the first and second day as I adjust to the time difference, and then when things begin to feel about right it's time to go home.BA, Cathay Pacific and Virgin offer overnight flights, which I find, suit me much better. You board the plane at around 10:30 pm, have a meal (I slept early and missed mine on Virgin Atlantic) but arrived refreshed mid morning UK time (5pm HK time) and you can then enjoy your first evening in HK without suffering jet-lag.
There is a budget airline about to start direct flights London Gatwick to Hong Kong for around £80.00 each way. They have all the necessary licenses and have leased 2 aircraft, but the launch date has been put back from June 2006 to October 2006. Check out their website at http://www.oasis-air.com/en/index
In Hong Kong the hotel prices vary with the time of year and school holiday periods can be the most expensive times to visit. As with the flights, check prices frequently as the special offers often change from day to day. During the summer months - May until September, humidity is high and perversely prices are at their highest. I have travelled in October, February and April and find these months offer comfortable temperatures in the mid to upper 70's with just moderate humidty.Hotel Club uk often have some very reasonable offers with rooms (for one or two persons) ranging from £31 per night (Ibis, North Point May 2006); £38 (Newton, North Point, Feb 2005); although at peak season (August, December, Chinese New Year) expect to pay up to £90 a night (Newton, North Point, April 2006).
Transport in Hong Kong:The easiest way from the airport to Central Hong Kong is by the airport express railway which is modern, clean, air-conditioned, with trains every 10 minutes. A single ticket costs HK$100, [13.5 HK$ = £1.00] or you can buy a Tourist Octopus Card (similar to London's Oyster Card) which offers return airport express and 3 days unlimited MTR (Hong Kong's excellent clean, air conditioned Underground) travel for HK$300.
On your first day, transfer from Airport Express to MTR is free, so your 3 days MTR travel start from the day after your arrival in HK.At the end of your trip you can hand in your Octopus Card for a HK$50 refund, or keep it for next time or as a souvenir. I have topped mine up and any unused credit is available for 18 months from the last date of travel.
The card also has a small amount of value, which can be used on the busses and the Star Ferry.If you are on a very tight budget or feeling particularly mean you could take the bus from the airport, or even walk to Tung Chung (5 minutes bus ride) and take the MTR from there to Central for just HK$23.
What to do in Hong Kong:All visitors should take the tram to Victoria Peak [HK$30 return] from where you can see the whole city, with views across to Kowloon and the New Territories] Madamme Tussaud's waxworks on the peak is worth a visit, and a combined tram/waxwork ticket offers a small reduction on the individual prices. There is a new modern shopping centre at the Peak selling all of the usual tourist items.
The Star Ferry crosses the harbour from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui in around 8 minutes at a cost of just HK$1.8 [15 pence]. A one hour day cruise costs HK$40 and at night there are harbour cruises [HK$80 = £5.00] which include refreshments. At 8pm each evening there is an amazing light show from the HK skyscrapers - like electric fireworks - with synchronized music and commentary from the speakers on the ferry which is given in English and Chinese language on alternate nights - sorry - can't remember which days for which language).There are huge modern shopping centers at Causeway Bay, Times Square, Admiralty, and across the water at Tsim Sha Tsui. It is impossible to show these on a map, as the shops are on many levels, both under and above ground, and with elevated walkways which cross the main roads.
Here you will see all the latest gadgets long before they appear in UK shops. Unfortunately, prices are not a great saving on UK cost.Everywhere the signs are in English, and restaurants have menus in both languages. Expect to pay just under £3.50 for a meal with drink (sweet and sour pork with rice plus jasmine tea - fast food style) in Pacific Place Centre, Admiralty.
Disneyland Hong Kong:Opened in 2005, this is very popular with both tourists and residents. Book your tickets in advance, as once the park reaches capacity each day no more visitors are admitted.
The MTR from Central to Disneyland is HK$26 single - HK$23.1 Octopus fare - under £2.00) The train takes 30 minutes and at Sunny Bay station you change to the Disneyland MTR line which has Micky Mouse shaped windows and hand-grips to get you straight into the fun Disneyland mood.Adult admission prices are HK$350 at peak season £25.00]. A "must see" is the excellent Lion King Show (30 minutes of music, song and dance in a circular air-conditioned theatre), a 3D film show, Disney characters everywhere, and frequent music and dance items on the streets.
Eating and drinking prices are reasonable and again you can get a hot meal with tea for under UK5.00I haven't been to any of the other Disneyland resorts, but friends who have been tell me that the Paris one is bigger and offers a wider selection of rides.
You need a complete day for a Disneyland visit. The park opens at 10am and closes soon after the fireworks which are at 7pm (Feb) to 8pm (May/June) It gets dark at a reasonably constant time throughout the year as Hong Kong is in the tropics.Ocean Park:
This was the main attraction before Disneyland came to town, and in my opinion it is still the best! There are direct double-decker busses from Admiralty and Central for HK£10.90 single. [UK 85 pence] A taxi costs around HK$65 [£5.00]Ocean Park is on the south of Hong Kong island, and is situated on two sides of a mountain. Travel between the two areas is by cable car, but if you are not feeling brave there is a free bus service linking the two areas.
Admission to Ocean Park is HK$185 (£13.75) and is open daily from 10am until 6pm. The main feature is the dolphin and sealion display - 30 minutes of amazing synchonised swimming and stunts, and then you can visit a huge aquarium with sharks of many varieties and sizes which you can view from underneath as well as through the sides of their enormous tanks. There are huge aquariums the size of swimming pools with tropical fish - some of which are really huge specimums.The Ocean Park pandas, gifts from the Chinese government, have made history by producing the first offspring ever to be born in captivity, and you can visit their air-conditioned area of the park where visitors have to keep very quiet to avoid upsetting the animals. If the pandas are resting and not in direct view there is a tv screen showing their sleeping accommodation.
Another place worth visit is the Ten Thousand Buddah Monastery. Take the MTR to Kowloon Tong and change there to the KCR East train for the two stations to Sha Tin. On leaving the station you will see the pagoda at the top of the mountain, and this is reached via a long winding footpath and - be warned - what seems like ten thousand steps. About 30 minutes, one bottle of water, and all of those steps later, I arrived five minutes before it closed for the day but It's worth the effort,and I will go earlier in the day next time.At the end of your Hong Kong holiday take the Airport express from Central Station to Hong Kong International Airport. You can check in your bags at Central Station for some airlines - and on arrival you will find a variety of shops and restaurants before checking in. When you have passed through immigration, there is an even larger selection of shops air-side and a much wider range of restaurants. The airport prices, to my surprise, are no more expensive than in the city. I had roast beef with vegetables and boiled rice (30/5/06) for just HK$23 (£1.80)
If you really want to save money on accommodation, try out-of-town hotels such as the Golden View, Yuan Long (air-con rooms HK$320 - £23.00) or the Wung Kong Villa Boarding House, Yuan Long, where small air conditioned rooms are just HK$300 (£22.00). I have stayed in both of the above and you will receive excellent service from their small team of friendly staff.Hotel rooms throughout Hong Kong are small compared to UK, and even in the larger hotels you will be lucky to find rooms of the size we are used to in the UK.
I can't wait to go again!
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