As Hong Kong Airlines are relatively new to the NZ market I thought I would give them a go and spend a few nights checking out Hong Kong so I could be all the more wiser for the loads of clients that we send there each year.
Hong Kong Airlines currently fly the A330 200 out of Auckland (although that will be changing as their new A350’s will still be on the Auckland to Hong Kong route) so yes, the aircraft is dated but I was still impressed with not only the service (friendly cabin crew, a lot of English spoken on board, amenities kit in all cabin classes, good food and warm face cloths) but also with the space and recline of the seat … My husband is 6 foot 3 with legs up to his armpits and I was nervous about how compact economy class would be for him. It wasn’t at all. The flight was completely comfortable.
On the way home we gave business class a go. On the old aircraft the business class is described as “angled lie flat” and that is exactly what it is. I found it easier to sleep when the seat was in a recline position like a sun lounger. But as far as bang for buck goes … the value is great so definitely worth it despite being angled lie flat. Keep in mind that when the new A350’s get here business class will be fully lie flat.
I had many opinions of my own and from others when I was tossing up where to stay. After much debate between Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon or Wan Chai and Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island I opted for Wan Chai.
I was nervous as it has a reputation as the “red light district” however, I was very pleased with the decision as it turned out to be more the “light district”. Yes, there are street markets selling meat, fish, clothes, toys but there are also trendy bars such as DJAPA (see pics below) and there were tens and tens of lighting stores … and no, the lights weren’t red lol.
Times Square was a 650 metre walk from our hotel and you can get every designer label under the sun there and this is the irony of Hong Kong.
Inside a local arcade is Vive Cake Boutique where you can bring your pooch and have deliciously crafted cupcakes. Half an hour later you’re 50 metres up the road amongst dirty streets and open air butcheries yet there are pristinely made up locals and a Lamborghini or Tesla or every corner.
The other great thing about Wan Chai and Hong Kong Island as a whole is the trams. Not only are they a novelty but they compliment the MTR so if you’re feeling lazy or it’s raining you can head out of the MTR and jump straight on a tram which in our case conveniently dropped us at the door of our hotel. The best part is the cost. $2.3 HKD which is approx. 50 cents. I enjoyed the tram so much I rode it all the way down to Quarry Bay which was an excellent way to see other suburbs.
On that note I have to let you know an Octopus Card is a must. It will get you on the tram, MTR, ferry and buses. It’s easy to top up at any 7 Eleven and if you return your card when you leave they will refund you the card bond of approx. $10 NZD and any credit remaining. Win, win!
Everywhere you go in Hong Kong there is a market … or a mall for that. But below is a quick low down on the options:
Stanley Street Market, Hong Kong Island – If you’re not much of a market fan but want to do one of two. Include this on your list. You have to take the bus across the island but it’s an easy trip and the scenery outside of the city is quite different so worth the journey for the bus drive alone. Stanley Street Market is pleasant and compact with the same stuff as Ladies and Temple Street Markets. Most items have marked prices so although it’s definitely not one of the cheapest markets it’s great if you can’t be bothered haggling but you want a fair price. There is heaps of art and quite a few boutique and strangely enough cotton stores here. The cotton shops have beautifully embroided handkerchiefs, pillow cases, night dresses etc and the price on them is extremely fair compared to what you would pay for the same quality in NZ.
Wan Chai Market, Hong Kong Island – This area covers toy street which is where you will find many match box cars (these are actually very cool) and then your run of the mill plastic toys. The toy shops have labelled pricing and I didn’t find it any cheaper than at home so I didn’t think it was worth it. Other things you will find in Wan Chai is kids clothing, stockings and some craft.
Ladies Market, Kowloon – Here you will find all sorts of stuff from clothing, toys, rip off bags and scarves, to art. This is definitely one of the cheaper markets if you’re prepared to haggle.
NB: If you like kicks head to Sneakers Street as every brand under the sun is within a couple hundred metres walk.
Temple Street, Kowloon – Here you will find the same stuff as Ladies market and this is also one of the cheaper markets if you’re prepared to haggle. Here you will also find some really good, cheap street eats and big bots of Tsing Tao.
Asia’s Vegas! After having been to Las Vegas 3 months ago I wasn’t sure what to expect but I highly rate Macau.
The hotels are grander, cleaner, smoke free and the pokies are behind screens so you can actually enjoy the beautiful lobby’s, malls and attractions within these gigantic hotels.
My favourite hotel was Studio City.
It’s a cinema themed hotel with a huge swimming pool and ACTIVITIES!
We rode the “Golden Reel” which is an inside out ferris wheel of sorts. At 130 metres high t is the worlds highest figure 8 ferris wheel. The views are amazing the the carriages are fun steampunk themed and clean.
I don’t know if anyone has heard of the mega bridge that links Hong Kong and Macau. It only opened a few weeks ago and it is the worlds longest sea crossing. Its 55 kilometres of bridge and tunnel! To be honest it’s not at all quick as it takes 2.5 hours to get from the bus terminal in Kwun Tong, Kowloon to The Parisian, Macau and it’s definitely not for those that are mobility challenged as you have to go through a huge customs terminal in both Hong Kong and Macau but it’s pretty incredible. Especially where the bridge dives in to the ocean for 12 kms to form a shipping lane.
Due to the lengthy journey time we opted for the Turbo Jet Ferry on the way home which only took an hour and landed us at the Wan Chai Terminal Very handy!
So, overall Hong Kong was a fun-filled, jam-packed travel adventure with many memorable experiences 🙂
Hong Kong as seen through the eyes of Cat Parker (09 522 3414, email@example.com)