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Go honkers for Hong Kong stopover

Published December 9th, 2015

One thing young Aussie travellers quickly realise is the great value of adding stopovers to long flights to Europe or North America. Giving you an opportunity to see more and pay less! Gems like Bangkok and Singapore are popular for good reason, but if you're looking for somewhere different, Hong Kong is hard to beat. A city that evokes clichés of east meets west, new versus old and city versus nature, Hong Kong is the perfect destination to spend a few days exploring. Student Flights consultant Josh Cranston shares his tips from one of his fave stop-over cities in the world... 

Victoria Harbour #insta #picoftheday. Image: Ashton Rigg

Where to stay?

For a compact city Hong Kong’s districts offer a surprising amount of diversity, whether you base yourself on the island or across the water on the peninsula. If you’re keen on the glitz and glamour of the big city check out Hong Kong Island proper. Areas like Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and HKG’s own SoHo are a fascinating mix of history, skyscrapers and nightlife. Heading across to Kowloon peninsula and Tsim Shai Tsui (which translates to ‘nine dragons’) for shopping sprees on Nathan Road, grabbing souvenirs at Temple Street night markets and satisfying your inner foodie in Mong Kok.

A trip to Lantau Island via glass-bottom cable car is a must. Image: Ashton Rigg

Getting around and getting orientated

Wherever you stay, it’s easy to explore the city, get to and from the airport and head further afield thanks to the uber-efficient MTR (Mass Transit Railway). Octopus cards are cheap, easy to use and a no-brainer if you’re staying for more than a few hours. Better yet, do yourself a favour and get some great local knowledge from our friends at Urban Adventures. Their awesome day trips cover food safaris, epic market jaunts and history based city walks – all with Hongkongese guides. If you don’t get your fill of history from a walking tour, the Hong Kong Museum of History’s permanent exhibition ‘The Story of Hong Kong’ is excellent, covering the Chinese imperial, British colonial and post-reunification eras in detail.

Touristy? Yes. Fun? Absolutely! Enjoy a Junk Boat ride on the Harbour during the nightly light show. Image: Ashton Rigg

The Harbour

Like Sydney, Hong Kong is a city defined by its harbour and is best seen from the water. It’s super touristy but an afternoon spent on a ‘junk boat’ with a few beers is an absolute highlight. The famous Star Ferry is still great for those shorter on time. Back on land, the Avenue of Stars is Chinese cinema’s answer to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Get there early to avoid the lineup for pictures with Bruce Lee! Later at night the sound and light show highlights the city’s skyline across two 15-minute shows.

Check out Tian Tan Buddha statue on Lantau Island. Image: Ashton Rigg

HKG Outdoors

One of the city’s best-known attractions is the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island.  It’s worth dedicating a day to visiting. Besides the Big Buddha itself, Po Lin monastery and the Wisdom Path are both relaxing and Instagram worthy highlights of #HKG. Victoria Peak is closer to the city and is greatTi for epic views over the skyline and cityscape on one side and the South China Sea on the other. The ‘Peak Tram’ is a funicular that saves a hike up the mountain, but be wary of long lines in the heat after midday. Local cabs can take you up in a fraction of the time for a minimal cost. If you are feeling more adventurous, Hong Kong has a surprising amount of hiking options available. The Dragon’s Back bushwalk is easy to reach, showing off some of the most picturesque parts of China’s coastline, and can be finished off with a dip in the beach at Big Wave Bay.

Get ready to EAT. A LOT. Image: Ashton Rigg

The Food

The foodie scene in Hong Kong is absolutely thriving, from street eats all the way up to 5-star hotel restaurants. The biggest mistake you can make is asking for the ‘Western’ or ‘English’ menu. It’s not just the language that’s different but the actual food itself, which means instead of delicious dim sums or a hot pot you might be chowing down on defrosted spam instead. Be wary of the impressively named ‘Phoenix Talons’ as well! Mong Kok boasts some of the best restaurants and hawker’s stalls in the city, including the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world – Tim Ho Wan. Orders are made with a pad and pencil and it’s hard to go wrong so tick away.

Don't miss getting a pair of limited edition kicks along 'Sneaker Street' for fraction of the price compared to back home. Image: Ashton Rigg

Partying

If you’re not in a dim sum induced food coma after dinner  HKG’s night life beckons. If you’re aiming to stretch your budget further, start with happy hour in trendy Wan Chai whilst rubbing shoulders with expats. Follow the crowds out past the watering holes along Star Street, before dancing the night away in Lan Kwai Fang. Expert tip – take a pocketful of business cards with you. Many bars include free or discounted drinks for leaving these at the bar, plus any locals you meet out will be impressed if you have them to exchange.

The breathtaking view from Victoria Peak. Image: Rachel Surgeoner

Haven’t had your fill of China?

Have more than a few days to spend and loving your taste of China so far? Hong Kong is close by to a range of other cities worth a visit. Most popularly, Macau is only an hour away by ferry and home to both the largest casinos in Asia and the world’s tallest bungee jump, off Macau Tower. Shenzen is also within day tripping distance for a snap shot of Ming dynasty history  or China’s best golf courses, while Guangzhou on the Pearl River is a shopping mecca.


This blog was written by Student Flights' Consultant Josh Cranston after his recent Hong Kong trip. If you're in Sydney, drop into Student Flights Anzac Parade and chat to Josh about a Hong Kong holiday or how you can stop over there on your way to Europe perhaps? For everyone else, you can drop into any of our 80 stores nationally, pick up the phone or book online. Fly with Scoot to Hong Kong from $299* + 4 nights accom from $239* Dreaming of an overseas adventure? Check out our We HEART Travel SALE for awesome deals on Asia tours and Black Market Flights!


 

Josh Cranston

I'm lucky enough that I get paid to do what I love - live and breathe travel with Student Flights! A backpacker at heart, I am always looking for the best value way to maximise my experiences around our beautiful world. It's a hard choice but India, Hungary and Myanmar are just a few of my favourite stops so far!