Hong Kong

Hong Kong Travel Guide for first time travellers!

Hong Kong is proudly regarded as Asia’s world city. Hong Kong has the highest number of skyscrapers in the world. (317 according to Wikipedia). Hong Kong is a popular tourist destination as well as a transit hub for citizens of many nationalities.

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To begin with you will most likely land at Hong Kong International Airport. HKIA is around 38 KM from the city centre. To travel from the airport to the city you have 3 options – Taxi, Bus and the Airport Express. TIP: Hong Kong Airport express is the fastest and the most convenient way to get to the city.

Things to see and do

1. A walk at the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade

Tsim sha Tsui offers breathtaking views of Central HK. The promenade consists many buildings of historical importance. The Clock tower, Avenue of stars, the cultural centres as well as the museum is all located along the promenade. The Symphony of lights begins daily at 8 PM and ends in about 15 minutes – The show lights up the entire Victoria Harbour.

2. The Peak

The Peak provides stunning views of Central as well as Kowloon island. It is the highest mountain on Hong Kong island with an elevation of 1811 feet. The Peak provides amazing photo taking opportunities with stunning views and is a must see attraction at HK. Travel to the peak by the tram to experience the stunning landscape of Hong Kong. Madame Tussauds is located at the peak.

3. Ocean Park and Disneyland Hongkong

These are the two most popular theme parks / amusement parks located in HK. You need a day each to visit both the attractions; however, if travelling on a budget and your main motive is to experience the rich culture of Hong Kong – you can visit just one of the two or give a miss to both. Its all upto you and your preferences.

4. Stanley Beach

A beach in Hong Kong – Surprised ain’t you. Yes, Hong Kong does have beaches and attractions which are a complete opposite of Central Hong Kong. Stanley and repulse bay is located on Hong Kong island. Stanley located at the southern end of the island is not included in the Hongkong MTR map and it is best to travel to these areas by using a Taxi. Stanley even consists of a popular flea market.

5. Markets

Finally the reason why most people visit Hongkong – “Shopping”. Street markets can be found all across Hong Kong from Central Hong Kong to Kowloon. Street markets are located in by lanes of most streets. Bargaining should be involved in most of your purchases as the prices may be inflated depending on the mood of the hawker. The more popular night markets are located on the Kowloon side which includes temple street markets, ladies market and so on. The main shopping area is Hong Kong island is “Causeway Bay”. Causeway Bay is a better version of the markets which are located on the Kowloon side. Causeway Bay has street markets to high end department stores.

Note: If you have extra time in HK it is worth visiting the Lantau islands and have a look at the big buddha and the cable car.

Where to Eat

Food is everywhere in Hongkong from Michelin star restaurants to local street side food. All the popular fast chain restaurants we are used to is also present in Hongkong. HK is very popular for its desserts and dumplings so once in HK you should all try.

Typical costs and budget tips

In Hong Kong space is a constraint and hotels may not come cheap depending on the season. For a young traveller it is best to stay in a hostel or a mini hotel. Before booking your hotel or hostel it is advisable to research online and look out for reviews online. If on a budget it is best to avoid taking a taxi and depend on the Hongkong MTR. You can also save money by dining at local food outlets and buying packaged drinking water from one of the supermarkets or a 7-eleven. Try exploring hong Kong on foot and experience Hongkong like the locals.

For Hongkong travel tips for Indians please refer to my previous blog post at http://asiatravelsin.com/hong-kong-travel-tips/

 

Singapore Airlines A350 review ( SQ 421 )

Singapore Airlines recently upgraded SQ 421 which flies from Mumbai to Singapore to the latest Airbus A350-900 XWB. The flight leaves Mumbai ( CSIA ) at 11:50 AM and arrives at Singapore at 7:50 PM.

Check-in process

The check in process opens 3 hours before boarding. On this particular day the checkin process took quite long with massive queues building up. I was stuck at the checkin counters for around 1 hour. The checkin staff were quite friendly and I was handed out my boarding pass post checking of my visa and travel documents.

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Immigration/Security

Immigration and security was a breeze at BOM and was completed within a few minutes.

TIP: Keep your travel documents and visa ready before approaching the immigration officer. Indians arriving and departing now do not need to fill any forms. At security remove any metal objects from your body and drop it in the tray along with your carry on luggage and mobiles/laptops.

Mumbai Airport has a wide range of food options from the usual fast food outlets to Indian food.

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Boarding

The plane started boarding at 11:20 AM and started with the usual business class/premium class first then the rear economy followed by forward economy class cabin. The boarding was quick and efficient and I was soon greeted by a Singapore girl.

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SQ422 landing

The new SQ safety video was quite good showcasing Singapore and its attractions.

The Seat and a few extras

The Plane was brand new delivered to Singapore Airlines just a year ago. Economy class seats were in the usual A350 seating format of 3-3-3. Each seat has a pillow and a blanket. Cabin Crew soon started distributing earphones. The earphones provided by SQ in economy is of poor quality and its advisable to carry your own set of 3.5 mm earphones as SQ provides an adapter to use your own earphones. Each set has a respected amount of legroom and width and is equipped with a USB/charging slots. The plane also has mood lighting.

Inflight entertainment

The inflight entertainment screen on A350 is a touch screen and very responsive. A remote control is also provided along with a secondary screen to view flight map etc. The contents on the inflight entertainment is very good with latest Bollywood and Hollywood movies included along with a few regional content. The entertainment screen also contains TV shows as well as music and games.

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NOTE: The A350-900 also comes with Wi-Fi at a cost for economy passengers. I did not pay hence cannot comment on the Wi-Fi service.

Food & drinks

SQ first begins with a drink service followed by the meal service. Drinks offered include the usual options. Chicken or Fish were the meal options followed by ice cream. SQ airlines food is alright but the quantity has gone downhill from the last time I flew with Singapore.

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TIP: Vegetarian passengers are advised to prebook their meals 24 hours before departure by logging to the SQ site.

Post the meal service lights are dimmed for the remainder of the flight. A few mins before landing Tea/Coffee are offered.

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Overall it was a pleasant journey flying Singapore Airlines and definitely the A350 is an upgrade to the B777 200 retrofit used earlier on the route.

I will review my other Singapore Airlines flights ( 777-200, 777-300er and the A380) in my subsequent posts.

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Watch out for my Cathay Pacific review as well which will be posted shortly.

 

Hong Kong travel tips

So finally my first travel blog. I love travelling and this is my medium to share my passion with the world. This is my first blog which involved my travels to Hong Kong. I would share my travel stories and tips from rest of Asia as well.

The planning process:

Airfare: It is best to travel to Hong Kong via a direct flight not only is it more convenient but it saves time as well. Cathay Pacific Airways along with its sister airline Dragon Air fly non stop from various Indian destinations. Keep in mind to book your cathay pacific tickets in advance as it is a busy airline with a lot of transit passengers to mainland china and various other international destinations. Jet airways and Air India flies non-stop to Hong Kong as well but only from limited international airports.

TIP: If booking cathay pacific it is best to pre order your Hindu Non Veg/Veg meal before departure.

TIP: Use makemytrip.com for amazing deals on hotels and some great deals if you use HDFC bank cards on certain days of the week.

Arrival into Hong Kong

Hong Kong offers Indians a Visa free entry for upto 14 days, provided you clear the pre arrival registration; however, first time visitors please keep in mind that you will most likely be questioned by immigration officers. You will need to provide hotel bookings, Return tickets, Employer ID, and most importantly funds. A credit card will be ok as well. The second round of immigration interview can take a long time depending on the amount of people present in the immigration restricted room.

If you are most likely travelling on a budget then it is best to travel by bus from the airport; however, the Airport Express is the most convenient option you can buy a round-trip AE ticket from Cathay pacific flights at a small discounted rate.

TIP: After collecting your luggage from the airport it is best to purchase your OCTOPUS card from the Airport Express ticket counter. it costs 150 HKD.

To Visit Hong kong on a budget you will need to make judicious use of the MTR to explore various destinations in Hong Kong. Hong Kong MTR is extremely easy to use

If your looking for a quick bite of food in hong kong it is best to purchase them from the MTR Stations ( NON PAID area)  various food outlets which include Circle K, Pret O manger, Seven Eleven and the list goes on.

Indians looking for Indian food head to Chungking Mansions located at Tsim Sha Sui- Nathan Road, here you will find plently of our country men who speak hindi as well.

Must visit tourist attractions 

  • Hong kong island Peak- Central MTR
  • IFC mall- Walking distance from Central
  • Tsim sha sui Promenade
  • Big buddha
  • Ocean park
  • Walk around Mongkok( Real Hong Kong )

The Air in Hong Kong is sometimes in the poor category so it is advisable to use facial masks.

Please comment below for any help and suggestions. You can e-mail me at asiatravelsin@gmail.com. Do let me know in the comments section if you would love to have a Cathay Pacific and HKIA review as well.

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