So I recently turned another year older. (blah) But what’s a birthday without bringing it in while in another country? Over the last few years, I have made it a point to bring in a new birthday in another country. This year, I chose Hong Kong. As you know by now (or at least should know), I currently live in Korea so I needed a destination that was doable within a weekend’s time. I narrowed my choices down to Tokyo, Osaka, and Hong Kong. Based on flight price and times alone, Hong Kong won.
The good thing about living in Asia is that are many airlines to choose from. It really just depends on your budget. For this short trip I went with Hong Kong Express. The flip side to Asian budget airlines is that you usually have to pay extra for baggage, picking seats, and even meals/beverages on board. But if you don’t mind that, it still ends up being worth it for shorter trips.
I booked my accommodations at the JJ Hotel in the Wan Chai area of HK. I reserved the hotel online with booking.com. It was very reasonable compared to all other hotels in mainland HK and ended up being in a GREAT location. The hotel was smaller and reminded me a lot of Aloft hotels in the states.
I flew out from Korea late on a Friday (10:00pm) and arrived in HK at around 12:45am (HK time. So 3.5 hour flight) Unfortunately because it was a late arrival the buses and trains had stopped for the night so taxi was my only option. It was pretty pricey to get from the airport to mainland HK. So if you plan a trip make sure you pick an arrival time that allows you to catch a train or bus to your hotel. (or rent a car if you’re bold)
Since I arrived so late, I literally went to the 24 hour McDonald’s nearby for some quick food and then headed to bed. I knew I wanted to get my day started pretty early since time was limited.
I got up on schedule and headed out. I read in several blogs that a must try for breakfast are the egg tarts. They can be found at almost any bakery but there were only a few bakeries that actually get attention. Luckily, once was only a short walk from my hotel. I found the Honolulu cafe two streets over from the JJ Hotel. I ordered an egg tart, a pineapple bun, and a warm almond drink. (similar to almond milk but a little thicker and warmed) I was able to get a small table very quick. The price was about $38HKD or $4.37 USD. The egg tart was decent but not this miraculous thing. At least I can say I had one. I paid with cash and headed about my day.
My first stop was to see Victoria Peak. I took the subway from the Wan Chai station ( a 5 minute walk from my hotel) to the Central station. (2-3 stops away) From there I walked to the Central bus terminus to catch bus 15. Before I caught the subway I bought an Octopus card which is the transportation card used in HK and it can also be used to purchase food at lots of places. (best investment ever)
The bus ride from Central terminus to the peak terminus was right around 40 minutes. There were other stops along the way. I picked a seat on the second level of the bus. (Most city buses are double decker) There were some great views even on the ride up. I was like a kid at times saying WOOOWWW.
Once we arrived at the Terminus. I walked though the peak plaza mall and out near the peak tram building. I opted to take a short trail to see the view as opposed to the tram. (The trail was free.99) It was only about a 10 minute walk to the spot with clearest view. There were plenty of people also walking the trail and even folks taking their daily run. So don’t worry about thinking it’s some deserted trail. After snapping some great pics, I headed back to the bus stop. (remember, I’m on a tight schedule here)
My next stop was to the Mong Kok area which is known for the infamous Ladies Market and Sneaker Street. (yeaaaaa buddy)
Mong Kok is literally a big shopping and food area. I ended up at the Ladies market first. It is stalls and stalls of souvenirs, gadgets, clothes, and knock off bags. (some look pretty real though) The vibe in the market is exactly what you expect, stall owners trying their best to get you into their stall by making their best offers on things. (I literally heard the stereotypical “$5 dollar for you ma’am” a few times.)
I walked through the stalls to take it in and finally stopped to buy a couple of HK souvenirs for my mom. The main reason I wanted to check out Mong Kok was for “Sneaker Street.” For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a big sneaker fan. I have quite an impressive collection for a woman that is supposed to wear business casual most days. (Hey I like what I like.)
Sneaker street is any sneaker lovers dream come true. Its stores upon stores lining several streets with all the latest and greatest in the sneaker world. I was so happy, I wanted to cry! My goal was to find a particular pair of Nike’s that I’d been eyeing for months. I was let down by a few stores and was literally about to give up and buy a different pair when I stumbled upon one store that actually had them. Without hesitation I got them!!! So after that it was time to head back to Wan Chai to rest up and get ready for my fancy dinner reservation.
By this time, I was starving. The only thing I had was my breakfast from earlier and some bottled water. I was scared to try the street food in Mong Kok although it looked quite interesting.
I decided to stop by another highly recommend and even award winning place, Kam’s Roast Goose. Just like Honolulu cafe, this place was a short walk from my hotel. This was great because there is always a line to eat here, so I decided on take out. I ordered the roast goose over rice and extra veggies. OMG I don’t think I ever ate goose before but this was delicious!!! The skin was kind of crunchy and then the meat was so juicy. (my mouth is watering.) The veggies were poached in some kind of oil and still a little crunch but perfect! The meal was $88 HKD or around $11.27 USD. It was worth it.
After I devoured the food I tried to lay down for short nap before getting dolled up to take myself on a fancy date.
I made a reservation at the Wooloomooloo (yea that’s a tongue twister) steakhouse 31 floors up in the Hennessy building in Wan Chai. I had seen several pictures of the view this restaurant offered and I knew I had to go. SO I DID! I requested a table with a view and they met my request perfectly.
Since I was still somewhat full from the roast goose, I only ordered the signature sirloin salad, a cocktail, and dessert. I spent most of my time just admiring the view and reflecting on how awesome God is to allow me to see things like this! The restaurant knew it was my birthday so when they brought out my dessert, they wrote happy birthday on the plate and brought a candle. I made a wish, blew it out, and enjoyed my apple crumble cake with ice cream. Once I finished my meal I headed one floor up to see the view from the restaurants rooftop bar area. IT WAS AMAZING. The tall buildings adorned in neon lights was something special added to that was a view of Victoria Harbor in the background. I snapped a few more pics. Then headed back to my hotel on foot. (The restaurant was super close too. I was able to walk in my heels and back)
By this point I was super exhausted so I stayed in for the rest of the night to get a good night’s rest in the giant bed. The plan was to get an early start again to see a few more things before flying out the next day.
First stop was to find what’s known as “The Mansion.” It’s a giant housing building, similar to a housing project in the states, made up of five buildings connected. It was off of the Tai Koo station. (about 7 stops from Wan Chai) It was a little hard to find initially because there isn’t a giant sign for it and from the main street is looks like any other building. But after walking and reading the building signs a little closer, I saw two small signs that referenced “mansion” so I walked up the steps and through the breezeway to see. I WAS RIGHT!!! Once you walked through the breezeway and into the courtyard you are instantly amazed that 1.this structure is real and 2. that people live here. Apparently these buildings have been used in a few movies as well. It was so surreal. I almost felt bad for taking pics knowing people had to live here, but they didn’t seem to mind.
After taking it all in, it was back to the subway and off to Causeway Bay, another major shopping area of Hong Kong. Causeway Bay gives the perfect mix of high end stores with local and traditional HK flare. The HK Times Square (really just a fancy mall) is also located here. I walked around and went in a few shops before heading back to the hotel to checkout at noon.
After checkout, I had the hotel hold my luggage while I made one last stop for lunch. I had been eyeing a cute little spot called Elephant Grounds after seeing it on Instagram. It was known for it’s creative hot drinks, in particular a rainbow latte. Just like most other things, it was in walking distance from my hotel so I made the 15 minute walk to the place. It was in an area of Wan Chai that reminded me alot of L.A. It had that trendy semi upscale vibe to it. I was seated pretty quickly. Unfortunately, they were out of the ingredients to make the rainbow drinks so I was pretty bummed. I decided to stay and eat lunch anyway. I ordered the B.E.L.T (bacon egg lettuce tomato) which came with fries. It was pretty good. A lot of people ordered the fish filet sandwich and it was massive. ( I should have tried it but didn’t know what it was like until after the fact) The music and vibe was super cute. (they were playing the good music too) The service was a bit slow seeing as though the place wasn’t that big but I made due.
I headed back to grab my luggage then make my way back to the airport. This time I was able to take the airport express train which literally drops you off in the airport. After checking into my flight, I went to the service counter to return my Octopus card. If you return it, they refund you $50 HKD plus whatever balance is left on the card. I initially paid $150 HKD (which is the minimum to buy it) and added an additonal $50HKD on it just in case. I rode the subway several times, the bus, and even bought food and snacks with the card and still got a refund of $60HKD. (SWEET!) I used the cash to buy a few more souvenirs and snacks before boarding my flight back to Korea.
Hong Kong was such a melting pot of cultures and races. It was the perfect blend of trendy and traditional too! Although my time was short, I feel like it was perfect for seeing all that I wanted to see. To me it’s a city that you pop in and pop out off for short periods only. I would definitely go back though. I want to see Disney Hong Kong before I go back to the States for good.
As always, thanks for reading and Happy Traveling!