A city break in Hong Kong

I'll start this blog post with a confession: I had a lot more planned for our time in Hong Kong, but since we'd just spent two non-stop weeks travelling around Vietnam, the call of a slower pace took over the desire to try and tick off every major sight in the city. (I've blogged about Disneyland here, and five fun things you can do in Hong Kong here.)

Hong Kong is a fabulous layover destination if you want to explore Asia - and it can make your long-haul flights a lot cheaper. We flew to Hong Kong from Heathrow with Cathay Pacific, then transferred to a Cathay Dragon flight to head to Hanoi to begin our Vietnamese adventure. Flying into Vietnam this way meant that we had our return flight home from Hong Kong to Heathrow in place, and it saved us about £900 compared to flying directly to Hanoi (we only had to wait around 90 minutes in the airport, which after a 12 hour flight wasn't a bad thing).

You'll need to fill in a landing card to clear customs, but if you're from the UK and in town to be a tourist, you don't need to purchase a visa. (Sadly, you don't get a stamp in your passport.) Getting from the airport to the city is super easy on public transport, and a lot quicker (and cheaper) than a taxi. Once you clear customs, go to a MTR desk and purchase an on-loan Octopus card. It will cost $150 Hong Kong dollars ($50 is a refundable deposit, leaving $100 to spend on transport, and you have to purchase it using cash), which you can then use to travel on the Airport Express. It takes 20 minutes to get to Kowloon; 24 minutes if you're heading to Hong Kong island.

Keep hold of your Octopus card as you'll continue to use it on the MTR (the Tube, basically, though it's also valid on ferries, buses etc, as well as in fast-food outlets, vending machines and some supermarkets). One trip on the Airport Express will cost the full $100 (about £10), but your other journeys will be much less. When your trip is over, return it at the airport to get your deposit back, minus a small service charge (around 90p). Taking the Airport Express also means you can handily check in your luggage at Kowloon or Hong Kong station instead of at the airport. (I wasn't convinced, but our luggage arrived at Heathrow with us!)

We stayed in the Kowloon area, across from Hong Kong island. After staying in some more basic hotels in Vietnam, we decided to go all-out and enjoy some luxury. We booked a king room with harbour view and club access at Hotel Icon, which is another reason why we didn't manage to see as much as we wanted to in Hong Kong - it was difficult to leave the hotel! Our room was awesome, as was the view, and we appreciated the twice-daily housekeeping service because it meant that the free minibar was replenished twice a day! Other fabulous features of the room included the rainfall shower (it actually had three different modes) and the TV in the bathroom to watch TV in the tub.

Club access gets you breakfast, afternoon tea between 3-5pm, and "happy hour" between 6-8pm at Above and Beyond. Above and Beyond is on the 28th floor, which is where we had breakfast each day, though you can also have breakfast at The Market on the second floor. Above and Beyond's highly-rated dim sum is on the breakfast menu, so it's a great opportunity to have it without needing to return at lunchtime (and, thus, having to pay for it). As for happy hour, we stuck to champagne and cocktails with the canapes - said champagne was free-flowing bottles of Mumm, and we got through a fair bit! Other club perks include use of a smartphone which you can take out and about - use it as a WiFi connection for your own phone and make free international and local calls - plus discount on laundry services, spa services and at the hotel's restaurants.

Wherever you end up staying in Hong Kong, and whatever you end up doing - even if it's just hanging out by the pool, admiring the view - you'll have a fantastic time. x

No comments