Thanksgiving is coming up and all flights within the United States cost an arm and a leg. Naturally one would think flying out of the country is just as expensive. But the cardinal rule of travel reminds us to always keep our minds and our (country) borders open.
Thanksgiving is one of two holidays when we get two weekdays off—the other being Christmas—except for when the latter falls on a weekend. I state the obvious, but putting it in writing just drives the hopeless feeling home. But for the globetrotters that we are, we said challenge accepted! And so, we set our sights on Hong Kong.
Tripadvisor.com is usually our go-to when planning our activities because it’s both practical and great for finding hidden gems in any country. So it was no surprise that we found a great blog outlining just what we needed: 3 days in Hong Kong.
I won’t go into the details of each and every activity; rather I will cover the points that aren’t already mentioned in the TripAdvisor post.
Location, Location, ….well you know how that saying ends
We stayed in the heart of Kowloon’s business district. I’ll admit we got lucky with the hotel since we had some connections. But if you can shell it, I would recommend the Sheraton right by Victoria harbor. We had great views of the amazing Hong Kong skyline from our room and front row seats to the laser show that lit up the skies every night. Regardless, you can find plenty of budget hotels in the area and that’s really all you need to sleep and shower.
Bring your best walking shoes
I did not. But I did live to tell the tale. We walked close to 30 miles in the 3.5 days we were there and no amount of foot massages helped. On the second night we stopped by the Ladies’ Market in Mong Kok and picked up a pair of Toms to get me through the rest of the trip. The night markets have blocks and blocks of stalls filled with trinkets, souvenirs, clothes, electronics and even goldfish. Brush up on your bargaining skills before you get there. Don’t buy at the first stall you see because I guarantee you will see the same item a couple stalls down at a better rate. The jade market was a little more challenging for us because we forgot to research what jade actually costs so do your homework!
All that walking requires a satisfied stomach
I am a vegetarian. My husband is not. Hong Kong’s food is undeniably a foodies’ paradise but we had several ‘hangry’ moments searching for restaurants that both of us could eat in. Bakeries are a great option to hold you over until you find something. The aroma of fresh buns and pastries can be experienced on most streets. Here are our favorite foodie finds:
Tai Cheong Bakery: Stop by for authentic egg tarts
Lan Fong Yuen: Be prepared to get comfortable sitting in close proximity with locals and fellow travelers. This place is literally a hole in the wall and a must visit. From I learned watching my husband’s face as he ate it, the pork buns here are legendary. I enjoyed a warm cup of Hong Kong style milk tea while we got to know the other couple sharing the table with us.
Australia Dairy Company: This place is the stuff business school case studies are made of. We went there for breakfast
since they are famous for scrambled eggs. The line was about half a block long but our whole experience from standing time until our satisfied exit took all of 40 minutes. My creamy scrambled eggs on toast tasted like a royal meal. A year later my mouth still waters thinking about it.
Mido Cafe: This is another great breakfast place, not because the food is exceptionally good but more so because this cafe provided the backdrop for many movies and photo shoots. It’s another excellent breakfast stop where you can enjoy scrambled eggs, Hong Kong style french toast and delicious Yin Yang (half tea, half coffee, fully amazing).
Other random items to try include any seafood on Cheung Chau and Tai O because I’m pretty sure the fare doesn’t get any fresher than this. The vegetarian food at the Po Lin monastery next to the Big Buddha is a winner. You don’t get to pick the food that you get but this is one place where you won’t have any complaints about that. Farm to table ain’t got nothing on this place.
Off the beaten path
My husband has a knack for finding locations that usually don’t make most people’s itineraries. So on our last day, we caught a bus that took us to the outskirts of Central District. The MTR (subway) is great but the bus system in Hong Kong was my favorite mode of transport-they ran often, they were on time, and they could take you just about anywhere.
To experience some history, we took a 40 minute bus ride to the Kowloon Walled City. We could tell that this wasn’t a part of town the tourists frequented. People stared at us just a quarter of a second longer than they would a local. Previously a Chinese military fort, it has now been converted into a beautiful park situated in the middle of urban, high-rise apartment buildings.
The park has a strange calmness about it and the little museum takes you back in time to experience the life of people who lived there.
Our next stop was the Chi Lin Nunnery, a picturesque monastery set against the beautiful Chinese hillside. The best part of this stop was what came after we exited the monastery—a lovely sit-down restaurant that was ALL vegetarian! Although a bit pricey it was the perfect end-cap to an exhausting but highly satisfying trip.
Hong Kong is a sensory overload. Between the bright lights, picturesque seaside towns, and lip-smacking, but sometimes limiting, food options (I speak for the vegetarians), it’s the ideal spot for the solo traveler, couples both young and old, and the whole family.