Taylor just quit his job (he has a new one in Chiang Mai – yay!) and we were going to meet his sis-in-law in Hong Kong before bringing her on over to Chiang Mai. Flights from Chiang Mai to Hong Kong were just over $100 round trip and DIRECT via HK Express and it took just 2.5 hours!
Hong Kong is EXPENSIVE. Like… I knew this, but I didn’t really KNOW. Living in Chiang Mai and having only popped around to budget countries made me realize “WOW WHY IS THAT COCKTAIL $25 USD?”
But anyways, three nights in Hong Kong was perfect to experience a bit of the culture, eat amazing dim sum, learn some crazy history, and escape the day before the big storm flew in. (We were so lucky that our flight was two days before the huge typhoon swept in).
We stayed in the Mirador Mansion (HK Peace Guest House) for about $30USD per night. It was in the lively neighborhood of Tsim Sha Tsui and we walked/subwayed all over.
Tuesday: Taylor and I flew in during the late afternoon. From the airport we could get the train to Kowloon for about $10USD each (20 minute journey). This then led us to a bus depot that provided a free shuttle to our neighborhood. It was SO EASY.
We showed up and found “Peaceful Guesthouse” in the Chunking Mansions. However, we were unaware there is a Peaceful Guesthouse and HK Peace Guesthouse almost next to each other so were a tad confused and a bit stressed upon arrival. We decided to go sim-card-less since we didn’t need internet. But after a few questions to locals nearby, we found our guest house. It’s a bit crazy in the area as EVERYONE wants to sell you a tailored suit. But it was easy enough to ignore.
Once we settled, we just wanted to eat. We found an amazinnnnng dim sum place across the street through an alley outside. It wasn’t necessarily the traditional dim sum, but it was literally the best food I’ve ever had in my life (and I never exaggerate). We went there four times in three days as it was our fave. GO THERE. We continued to walk around the neighborhood, eat, and drink through the evening.
Later we found a fun jazz bar, Ned Kelly’s Last Stand, that had a band playing. It was a nice first day of exploring with not much on our itinerary.
Wednesday: The next morning, we found Kara (Taylor’s sis-in-law) and met her for breakfast. It was fun to see family abroad and all be able to explore a new city. We decided to head on over via ferry to Hong Kong Island and make our way to Victoria Peak. We walked on over to the tram and it took us up to the scenic area that you MUST go to if you visit Hong Kong. It was a beautiful day so we walked around the area, did a mini hike, and then lounged for happy hour with the skyline as the backdrop.
Did you know that Hong Kong has more skyscrapers than any city in the world?! Yes, 303, and the city with the next largest number is New York with 237.
Later that evening Taylor and I went to the night markets near Lok Fu to get more food and found some good craft breweries. It’s been a while since we splurged on IPAs so we thought we could treat ourselves a bit.
Thursday: Thursday was “learn about the culture day.” Luckily, the Hong Kong Museum of History had free entry and we ended up spending about two hours there learning about Hong Kong. A lot of Hong Kong is man-made and the entire financial district is basically built on artificial land. Hong Kong was colonized by the Brits and that lasted until 1997 when they became “independent-ish” even though that could still possibly change in the future. There are tons of English speakers and it really reminded me of a mix between London and….. well….. Asia.
Back in the 1800s the British really wanted tea, silk, and other resources from China. However, China wanted nothing from England so didn’t really care to trade. Because of that, Brits knew that if they went to their other colony of India that they could get opium and trade that for what they wanted in China. Well, it worked. But the Chinese government wasn’t too pleased. Anyways, this led to that, and wars happened and that’s likely how the influence of England is so humongo in Hong Kong. Well, also because it was just over 20 years ago that they really had some power there.
Later that afternoon we went to the Kowloon Walled City park. This was the most densely populated area the world has ever seen. In just 6.5 acres lived 40-50,000 people in a community that was basically self-governed. It existed until the early 90’s when it was forced to be demolished because of crime and drugs. We walked around the park and learned what it used to look like and how it functioned.
Friday: We didn’t have much time but we wanted to binge on a bit more dim sum. We went to Tim Ho Wan which is apparently famous for cheap delish dim sum.
Hong Kong was a short and sweet trip, but totally worth it. I love big cities and walking around and eating the food. If you’re going to Hong Kong on a budget stay in the our guest house ($30 per night-ish) and DON’T DRINK BOOZE. That’s the most expensive, but if you are really wanting to do Hong Kong without breaking the bank, it can be done if you eat street food and stick to water.