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Symphony of Lights, Tsim Sha Tsui promenade
Continent : Asie
Language : chinese (cantonese), english
Superficy : 1.104 km2
Population (2019): 7.466.441 hab.
Density : 6.763 hab./km2
Currency : Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
Our 'Wish List'
- see the famous skyline of Hong Kong from the harbour
- climb to 'Peak' and see the city from above
- experimenting Chinese culture (ok, it's not China, but hey! it's more Chinese than France or Norway!)
- walk the streets of the city with the highest population density in the world
What to do in HONG KONG ?
We stayed 6 days on Hong Kong. We stayed in the Mongkok district and explored the city and its islands from this base.
Our feelings on Hong Kong remain very mixed ...
So, yes, Hong Kong, it is this city with hyper modern buildings with impressive architectures, it is the extremely famous 'skyline', the view from the 'Peak' on Victoria Harbour. But Hong Kong is also (actually for most people living there) old, dirty and unhealthy buildings, often infested with insects and rats, thousands of air-conditioning machines dropping on the sidewalks ... and it's also these hundreds of Chinese grocery stores that sell lots of unidentifiable products in powder, granules, pieces, and with some well-recognized protected animals like sharks, turtles, seahorses, manta rays for the most obvious ... what leaves a very uncomfortable feeling of huge waste ...
In short ... we did not like ... Yes the buildings are impressive. Yes the site of the city is impressive. But, a year later, what we finally remember is the degraded and unhealthy living conditions of most Hong Kong people, and all these protected animals (or who should be!) sold in jars ...
We do not advise against visiting Hong Kong. It depends on the affinities of everyone ... .and on your budget! If you have money : take an accommodation on Hong Kong Island, the cultural shock will certainly be less intense than in Kowloon!
- one of Hong Kong's main districts. A bit confusing: it is a mix of very large avenues with shopping malls and luxury shops, very modern and design buildings, English-style busses - and completely unhealthy streets with very old buildings, cockroaches crushed on the sidewalks ... very strange ...
If you like shopping, this part of the city is for you!
Otherwise ... well ... we're still looking for...
TO DO :
- walk along the streets
- in the early evening, night markets
- do the 'Symphony of Lights' on the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade
- visit the history museum of Hong Kong: free, very well done (really!), big, complete, lots of information, great! We recommend absolutely!
- well hold the hand of your child in the crowded streets and the metro ...: There are a lot of people, a lot of traffic with dozens of buses driving at full speed on the big avenues ... .an environment no very reassuring when you are with young children.
Streets in Mongkok
Hong Kong island
- it is the island with all the skyscrapers and banks offices.
And it's like you're in another country when crossing the Victoria Harbour that separates it from Kowloon ... Here it's cleaner, modern, quieter, civilized. There are fewer people, less traffic, less noise. No crushed cockroaches on the sidewalks. No mouse running at your approach ... But shopping centres, again and again ...
And some points of interest:
TO DO :
- take the 'Star Ferry' to cross Victoria Harbour
- take the cable car to the 'Peak' to have this famous view overlooking the city and its skyscrapers (be careful: come VERY early to the terminal because the queue is monstrously long from 10 am...).
- stroll through the small streets at the foot of the Peak
- go to the Buddhist temple of Man Mo
Hong Kong from The Peak
& temple Man Mo
It is one of the largest islands in the Hong Kong archipelago.
Very surprising: here it is like 'in the countryside', with villages, forests, mountains and beaches. Pretty charming! You can walk around and get a breath of fresh air and space. A real escape from the crowded Hong Kong!
TO DO :
- Ngong Ping Buddha
- Po Lin Monastery
- The fishing village of Tai O
For transportation: take the MTR to Tung Chung Station; then it is either by cable car (expensive and VERY LONG queue!), or by bus, depending on your budget! We found that the bus was very good ...
For the bus, to make the full tour: take bus 23 from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping, then bus 21 from Ngong Ping to Tai O and bus 11 from Tai O to Tung Chung. (35 HKD for the day per adult, 8HKD per child)
Bouddha of Lantau
Basically, in Hong Kong, there are 2 big theme parks: Disneyland and Ocean Park. So, for most travellers, well you have to choose! The Disney factory and its iconic characters or the local Ocean Park?
We decided to try the local one, often described as more fun, with a zoo / aquarium section, and a cable car on the mountainside that is worth the detour. Well, it was also cheaper 😉
And it was not bad. Not extraordinary. But well done. The children keep a very good memory. For adults, it will not be imperishable ... but hey, anyway, we do this kind of thing for children, huh ?!
Transport : MTR South Island line - station Ocean Park (direct access from the station)
Recommandation : IF with young children
Price : adulte (>12): 498 HK$, children (3-11) : 249 HK$
Times : 09:00-18:00
Site : https://www.oceanpark.com.hk/en
Due to a very tight budget, we took an accommodation in the Mongkok-Kowloon area. We do not recommend at all! The area is dirty and unhygienic, not at all welcoming for a family with young children... And the housing is still very expensive ...
So, if you can, budget-wise, we recommend staying on the island of Hong Kong itself.
But, even taking it very early (6 months!), we found nothing cheap nor that great. But it is true that we need an accommodation with kitchen, which greatly reduces the list of possibilities. So maybe you can find a nice, basic and cheap room on the HK island?
Restaurants with glutenfree options
We did not try any restaurant.
The Internet lists quite a few restaurants offering gluten-free food on the island of Hong Kong, but we have not tested: it was over budget for us! Life is quite expensive in Hong Kong. It's really not a destination for every budget ...
We just took a piece of chocolate cake in a kind of little cafe that offers gluten-free cakes and sandwiches: Sweetpea Cafe
It was really overpriced ... but the kids loved it ...
To make the point
Our memory list
A place: the Tsim Sha Tsui walk and the view on the skyscrapers
An image: the dried protected animals in Chinese grocery stores ...
An animal: the panda of Ocean Park
A smell: the dirty streets of Mongkok
One color: the red of the flag
A noise: the crowds
Family 2 adults, 2 children (9, 6)
Country Entry Date: 13.11.2018
Release date country: 19.11.2018
Number of days: 6
Sites: Hong Kong
Total expenditure: 1.090 EUR
Food: EUR 270
Transport: EUR 40
Accommodation: EUR 525
Activities, visits: 230 EUR
Extras, souvenirs: 25 EUR
Average: 45 EUR / day / pers.
A paper guide
The Lonely Planet is basic and interesting, small and practical.
But it's still a LP with lots of unnecessary pages on housing and restaurants ...
Internet, sites and travel blogs remain a safer value, with less consensual comments 😉
- the skyscrapers, yes it's still very impressive
- the Hong Kong History Museum: a very nice surprise, very well done, great, complete, lots of information, free!
- Hong Kong Park on Hong Kong Island
- The Peak and city view
- the supermarkets, well supplied with all products translated into English !!! yipppiii !! a real deliverance for us to be able to buy food for our children! (after 1 month in Japan where you cannot read anything…)
- night markets filled with weird articles
- the Star Ferry to cross the bay
- the Man Mo Temple on Hong Kong Island
- the view of the skyscrapers from Tsim Sha Tsui, day and night
- the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau
- see a real panda at Ocean Park !!
The children liked:
- Ocean Park
- gluten free cereals Cheerios
- the 'hand-spinners' on the markets
- the cows near the Tian Tan Buddha
- the small streets
We didn’t like
Adults did not like:
- see dried protected animals on the markets: seahorses, sharks, turtles, manta rays ...
- our housing, in an unhealthy building, very dirty
- the price of housing
- the crowds in the streets ... each city-tour is exhausting, oppressive because of the density of population .... you need to slalom constantly, be careful not to lose the children, keep their hand in yours permanently ...
- night markets : too crowded!
- the humidity: it is not really hot, the temperature is nice (25), but it is very wet, very humid, everything is moist ...
- the 'Symphony of Lights' on the Tsim Sha Tsui ... we didn’t understand: 9 min of some lasers projected from the top of some buildings on the island of Hong Kong, on a Chinese soundtrack ... we did not understand why it was 'to do' ...
- the pseudo traditional village of Ngong Ping near the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau: a real Disneyland park ...
- the Chinese people who speak loudly, shout in their phones, spit on the ground, clear their throats loudly, push you brutally .... for us, a sum of impoliteness and disrespect - for them, nothing more normal probably ... the true definition of a real clash of cultures!
- not having time to go to the fishing village of Tai O on the island of Lantau
The children did not like:
- too many people!
- the noisy and crowded metro
We found specific gluten-free products at a supermarket in Mongkok: Market Place, in the big shopping mall at Langham Place Shopping Mall. Gluten-free flours, pasta and biscuits.
Stores and supermarkets on the Hong Kong Island are likely to have more choice, as foreigners mainly reside there.