Asia & Oceania Travel

Visiting Hong Kong for the First Time

Oh we have tried to get to Hong Kong twice in the past. And for one reason or another it just never happened. But this year, we made it a priority. I really wanted to see this city, but I was also a little nervous knowing how immense it was. But we went, we saw, we ate and oh what a place. I know we will visit again. Here is my post Visiting Hong Kong for the First Time.


Hong Kong

As we drove in after dark (our flight was delayed from Manila), the lights of this city of nearly 8 million seem to go on forever. And not just forever but up…this city is built to touch the sky with literally thousands and thousands of skyscrapers as far as you can see. I was feeling a little intimidated at the mass of it all.

The Big Bus

Luckily we made the right decision to get tickets to The Big Bus, a hop-on -hop-off bus that goes all over the most touristy parts of Hong Kong and Stanley Island. This was a very good decision because it really helped us with the scale of the place and to understand where everything was. Our two day pass allowed us to do both the red line (Hong Kong Island), the green line (out to beautiful Stanley Island) and the Star Ferry that crosses Victoria Harbor from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon. We did all of that. It was great.

Hong Kong

On Kowloon we walked the waterfront boardwalk on a spectacular sunny day. We also visited the Ladies Market, the Flower Market and the Bird Market.

Flower Market
Bird Market (popular pets)

Another perk of the Big Bus Ticket was it gave us a round trip ticket to take the funicular tram up to Victoria Peak. We did this on day two and it was another great way to get the lay of the land. The tram takes about ten minutes to get to the top. It’s not a gondola it’s on a track, but it is so steep I couldn’t believe it. At the top you have wonderful views back down to the city. We took a hike around the circular trail at the top and enjoyed that excursion very much.

Tram Track to Victoria Peak
View from Victoria Peak
Hiking Victoria Peak

Harbor Lights

Every evening at 8pm a light show with music commences on the waterfront of Victoria Harbor. It’s a synchronized light show that illuminates buildings on both sides of the harbor. We enjoyed it but it wasn’t nearly as impressive as the show we saw in Shanghai.

Food Tour

We booked ahead of time with With Locals to do a food walking tour. We met our guide Angel in the area called the Dry Fish Street. It was fascinating to walk around and see all the dried fish products for sale as well as many other things like mushrooms, seeds, sausage and plants. The Cantonese cuisine uses these products regularly in daily meals but the street was exceptionally busy getting ready for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival.

Dry Fish
Dry Sausage
Dim Sum Restaurant

With Angel we visited a very authentic Dim Sum restaurant that a visitor would never be able to find and we had so many great dishes. I love this style of eating, like tapas or small plates, but you eat until you are full. Next we visited a very ancient temple Man Mo, a quirky local store and a former prison now a museum called The Prison Yard. We tasted a special tea, a delicious beef soup and a lovely bowl of noodles. We ended our tour with a popular sweet called a Pineapple Bun (not actually made of pineapple but shaped like one) and a tea/coffee/milk mixture very popular on a hot day. We highly recommend this tour.

Beef Noodle Soup
Prison Museum at the Prison Yard
Man Mo Temple

We also did a cooking class, but I’m going to tell you all about that in next week’s blog post. Here is a sneak peek photo. 🙂

More about our cooking class next week

Lamma Island

We decided to take a 40 minute ferry to Lamma Island, one of the smaller islands in this region of islands. Lamma has no cars, and is home to a large fishing fleet. There are two paved trails to circumnavigate the island. We walked from the small town of Yung Shue Wan where the ferry let us off to the even smaller fishing town of Sok Kwu Wan where we caught another ferry. The ferry ride itself was a lovely way to see the area but we were so glad we took the time to visit this tiny island. Such a change from past-paced Hong Kong. I think it would be an attractive place to live and commute into the city – giving you time away from the hustle and bustle.

From the trail looking at Sok Kwu Wan
The beach on Lamma Island
View from the ferry

Hong Kong Palace Museum

Hong Kong is home to a handful of museums, and at the recommendation of our cooking class instructor we visited the Hong Kong Palace Museum to see two special exhibitions. This beautiful museum overlooking the water was so unexpected. We learned a great deal about ancient Chinese history, art and culture. I highly recommend it.

Hong Kong Palace Museum
Hong Kong Palace Museum
Hong Kong Palace Museum


We were very adventurous in our eating, popping into some tiny places we stumbled on. Dim Sum, noodles, sausage and delicious stir fried greens made me very happy at our meals. We also discovered how popular the Portuguese sweet called Pastel de Nata is and the Mid-Autumn Festival speciality Moon Cake. After a week of the most delicious Cantonese Food we enjoyed an Italian Feast on our final night. Although we highly recommend eating the local food while in Hong Kong you can also find just about any other cuisines of the world.

We loved this simple dish of sausage and rice
We ate as much dumplings as we could!
Egg tart known as Pastel de Nata
A special holiday treat moon cake
Our final night. Cheers Hong Kong and thank you.

Getting Around Hong Kong

Getting around a city of nearly 8 million people might at first glance seem daunting. But let me tell you it was so very simple. Hong Kong is home to an exceptional subway system, an above ground tram(rail) system, a massive bus system and an impressive ferry system. All of these were efficient, clean, on time, easy to figure out and inexpensive.

Some subway stations are entire malls
The old track style tram still very popular with locals

Surprisingly Inexpensive

Maybe because I was thinking about our visits to Tokyo or Singapore I was expecting Hong Kong to be expensive. It was not. All of our restaurant visits were less than $30 for two with drinks, except for our last night where we spent about $120 for an upscale meal. We purchased some breakfast groceries and they were very inexpensive. Transportation was inexpensive and tipping is usually not expected. I did very little shopping but I looked at a couple of ladies clothing stores and I was definitely tempted. Beautiful blouse for $13, a winter coat for $30.

Delicious noodles with beef and goodies
View from the Hong Kong Palace Museum

We Did Not See it All

It’s a big place and it was really hot and humid, which wore us out by the end of each day. We wanted to see the Dragon Dance for the Mid-Autumn Festival but it was suffocatingly packed with bodies I couldn’t take it so we decided to forego it.

Enjoying a beautiful evening

Next time we will also spend a day on Stanley Island, home to the famous Stanley Island Market. We also will next time visit the giant Buddha on Lantau Island, which is home to a monastery that serves delicious vegetarian food. And finally, we tried to go to a performance at the beautiful performing arts center in Kowloon but we just couldn’t make any of the offerings fit our schedule. Too bad as it looked amazing with symphonies, ballet and much more.

Visting Hong Kong for the First Time

Kowloon side of the Harbor looking at Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island side of the Harbor looking at Kowloon

It’s a wonderful city. Friendly, clean, efficient and inexpensive. Everyone speaks English and they are helpful and welcoming. They have some strong opinions about their place in the world and in China, and I loved hearing their input about that. Hong Kong has a long and wonderful history, and I hope the people can continue to be autonomous and flourish. We certainly hope to visit again.

Thanks for reading my post Visiting Hong Kong for the First Time. Come back next week to learn about the cooking class we took in Hong Kong.

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    Well, I am ready to take a trip to Hong Kong. Honestly, I get intimidated by the city sometimes given the skyscrapers and lights. But, it is one of the destinations that I have been longing to visit. Also, it is visa-free for Indians.

    October 20, 2023 at 10:45 pm
  • Reply Viola

    Your adventure in Hong Kong sounds absolutely amazing! I love how you embraced the city’s immensity and explored it from top to bottom, especially the stunning views from Victoria Peak. Your post captures the essence of Hong Kong, making me feel like I was right there with you. Looking forward to hearing about your cooking class next week!

    October 21, 2023 at 1:04 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Thank you for your nice remarks!!

      October 21, 2023 at 1:45 am
  • Reply simplyjolayne

    My husband was just there for work, though I doubt he had as much fun. Most of his sightseeing usually happens after a long work day after sunset.

    October 21, 2023 at 3:30 am
    • Reply Laureen

      It would be hard to enjoy it after a long work day. But hopefully he’s was able to eat some good food!

      October 21, 2023 at 4:43 am
  • Reply Linda (LD Holland)

    We too missed Hong Kong several times before we finally visited. We had 2 days of tours and then went back to see things we wanted to spend more time at. But we too did not see it all. But Hong Kong is a gateway so we are sure we will get more time one year.

    October 21, 2023 at 7:35 am
    • Reply Laureen

      My thinking as well. Can’t wait to go back.

      October 21, 2023 at 2:06 pm
  • Reply Kateryna

    So many great ideas, Im ready to travel just for the food!

    October 21, 2023 at 7:54 am
    • Reply Laureen

      I always travel for the food!!

      October 21, 2023 at 2:06 pm
  • Reply Marya

    I totally agree that Hong Kong was surprisingly inexpensive. When I first traveled there, a lot of people told me that Hong Kong was similar to Singapore in terms of travel expenses etc. But apart from accommodation, everything else seems to be far cheaper than Singapore! 🙂

    October 21, 2023 at 1:32 pm
  • Reply Anja

    I was quite overwhelmed the first (and so far only time) I visited HongKong. Arrived at night, can’t read Chinese etc… Thankfully, there was a tram stop outside my hotel so I stopped exploring from there, and loved it! Definitely a city where I probably would have done the bus tour too.

    October 22, 2023 at 1:47 am
    • Reply Laureen

      A fun challenge!

      October 22, 2023 at 3:09 pm
  • Reply Claudia

    About 10 years ago, as part of a 6 month trip, we visited Hong Kong and loved it. For me the most wonderful thing was a visit to a night market that had a whole row of fortune tellers. This is not something that I believe in or have ever done but we decided to give it a try. We picked a very old man because he was photogenic. He didn’t speak English but a younger man who had the next booth was willing to interpret for us. He took my hand and spoke to me giving me the most wonderful fortune and advice. What he said has all come true in vague ways. I’ll never again have my fortune read because his reading was perfect and why mess with perfect.

    October 22, 2023 at 11:30 am
    • Reply Laureen

      What a wonderful

      October 22, 2023 at 3:10 pm
  • Reply Cosette

    Hong Kong is still on my want to visit list. The Harbor Lights, the cooking class and museum sound so good.

    November 10, 2023 at 6:35 am
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