What makes Hong Kong so popular?
Without question, Hong Kong is the ultimate shopping destination in Asia. This city state is small but packs a really big punch with its fast-faced economy co-existing with its ancient Chinese culture. International labels can be found in its famous shopping district in Nathan Street. Trust me, you can shop American and European brands here with ease.
If you’re looking for bargains, Hong Kong has night markets that sell everything from souvenirs to bags to clothes to decorations to scarves to calligraphy tools and tons more than you can possibly think of. There are more than a dozen night markets in Hong Kong but the ones I liked best are the Ladies Market in Mong Kok and the Temple Street Night Market in Yau Ma Tei. What’s more, the sellers expect you to haggle prices so be prepared to charm them if you really want something.
The night markets start at around 7PM so be sure to come early to get good bargains. Better bring your own big shopping bag as its super hassle to carry small bags of things you bought.
Hong Kong’s famous skyline boasts really tall buildings in the business district. This tiny city state is home to all the industries in the world. Their economy is stable enough to make them one of the world’s first class cosmopolitan centers.
Check out the breathtaking view from our hotel room in the luxurious Intercontinental Hotel where we stayed for three days.
As in any small state, housing seems to be answered by the tall condominiums that I saw everywhere. Some of them are as tall as 40 stories high from what I can estimate and the towers are so closely built together. You can imagine the amount of people inside this compound!
Always check a guide or a map wherever you visit especially in Hong Kong where the buildings are all tall in most places and the sidewalks are really crowded and narrow. You can easily get turned around and get lost in the side streets. Although English is fluently spoken in the business district and the high end shops, some of the smaller stores and restaurants as well as taxi drivers are still predominantly Chinese speaking so be sure to travel with a local for those out of the way areas or get your translations written by and ready.
One of the best things to do when visiting a country is to learn about its culture. Reading about it is good and being able to see it for yourself is even better. I make it a point to visit a temple or a church whenever I visit a new place to get a small glimpse of their history. In Hong Kong, I had the chance to visit the Big Buddha Statue or Tian Tan Buddha in Lantau Island. This is the view from the cable car ride in Ngong Ping that I took going there. From HK$135 to HK$213 round trip, you can experience a very scenic view for about 30 minutes till you get there.
The Big Buddha is really amazing! It’s almost 35 meters tall and it sits on a very green forest so walking up the stairs to see it up close is worth it. I took this perfect chance to pose in this circular stage/entry when no other tourists were around. I love that the statue is directly above me making it a perfect shot.
The long walk upwards is worth it to be able to see the ancient houses, the temple and light incense sticks for your wishes in the altars around the base. The Po Lin Monastery sits on the base of the enormous statue and its monks preserve the sanctity of the temple. I was fortunate enough to see the monks around and observed their activities while going through their prayer rituals.
Going up to the statue is free. Check the weather forecast even before going to Hong Kong. When it’s foggy and raining, going up to the Big Buddha is not worth it as you won’t be able to see the magnificent views going there and even the Buddha itself will be covered in fog. The best time to go to Hong Kong is from November to February when the sun is shining but the cold winds from China travels down to its small sister state. You can check accuweather’s website for this valuable info.
Hiking in Hong Kong
Hiking is a popular sport here in Hong Kong. Dragon’s Back Hike is one of the most famous trails here. It has one of the most scenic views around the island. Then you can swim or sunbathe in Big Wave Bay after a long mostly downhill trek afterwards. I hiked in Lantau Island and the trek and view was breathtaking in a really nice way.
Check the weather before going out hiking to avoid any accidents. Water bottles, towels and snacks are necessary for these treks so bring as much as you can. Insect repellents are also a good thing to have at all times just to be sure.
Disneyland Hong Kong
A visit to Hong Kong is not complete without visiting Disneyland. Smaller than its sibling in Tokyo, Hong Kong’s Disneyland is still a paradise to indulge the Disney princess in me. Walk around the park and join the various theme rides and booths. The theater shows are really at world class levels with professional performers on stage. I love the music and the songs, of course, are very nostalgic.
Disney shopping is a must
If you want to get gifts to take home, get it all inside Disneyland. The shops are all full of very nice high quality products for kids and also for adults. You can find not only souvenirs here but also really nice toys, clothes, household things and even jewelry to remember your stay. I love my Minnie Mouse ears and I’ve just got to pose in Main Street here!
Hong Kong Disneyland is a very popular tourist destination specially on weekends and holidays. Check their website for day passes you can purchase online to avoid the long que for tickets going into the theme park. Each day pass costs about HK$630 inclusive of a meal ticket. You can also get lots of savings if you stay in the Disney hotels of course. There’s Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, Disney Explorer’s Lodge and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and all of them will steep you in all things magically Disney.
Hong Kong is a very memorable destination and really worth going to.
From Manila, there are around six airlines going to and from Hong Kong everyday. Philippine airlines has the most number of direct flights everyday followed by Cathay Pacific with three direct flights daily.
Macao = Casinos
My first impression of Macao is that they really love casinos here. It seems that almost the whole place is just one big casino. The lights are so bright and you can feel the energy of the place especially at night.
Check out my pictures here. Aren’t they a sight to see?
A simple Google search and I found out that Macao is at the top of the gambling destination in the world. It even earned the title “The Asian Las Vegas” and gambling is still the main source of income in this small Asian territory.
Macau was under Portugal’s rule for hundreds of years and was only returned as a province of China in 1911. It is the first and last European colony in the world. Today, you can still see how European some of the buildings and structures are all over Macao. To visit there is to find a perfect image of East meets West with its mainly local Chinese population mixing their culture like food and traditions with those of their European beginnings.
Tourists like us flock to Macau by the millions every year. Luxury resorts, good food and a great climate are great reasons to visit this vibrant place.
A small bit of Paris in Asia
I stayed in the Parisian Macau Hotel and I fell in love with this small bit of Paris. You can see the murals in the ceilings and it impressed me so much as its so classic! The red lobby of this hotel is really gorgeous, right? The gold accents on the walls and ceilings is so rich and positively screams luxury. I can’t help but take pictures of the chandeliers that lights up the hotel so warmly and so welcoming.
I can’t say enough about the amazing views from this hotel and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to visit Macau. The Parisian Macau is truly world class.
I cannot resist dressing up and of course taking pictures! 🙂
For a dinner at The Kitchen, Grand Lisboa, I wore this long black dress that made me feel so gorgeous. I also had to take a picture beside these gold murals in the hotel pool. Don’t you think it looks perfect as a background to me and my black swim suit? 🙂
The Venetian is also a great place to visit in Macau. Just looking at it from the outside is already impressive as its so big! A little search and I found out that its the worst largest casino and hotel. Imagine having 3,000 rooms? No, that wasn’t a typo, it’s not 300 but 3,000. The lighting at night and its very unusual shape are both Instagram-able.
Check out the first pics on top. Super impressive, right? Wait till you see the inside. It looks and feels like you’re walking in a street in a shopping district somewhere with all the designer shops and restaurants inside. You can even ride a gondola right inside this hotel’s man-made flowing river. There’s also the very tall ceiling painted in sky blue and what looks like clouds on it. You can easily forget that you are actually inside a huge casino!
Macau’s local sites
When I travel abroad, visiting historical sites is always on my mind. You learn a lot of the country’s culture that way. In Macau, the most famous site is The Ruins of St. Paul. The façade or the front of the church is the only thing remaining of this church from the 17th century. A fire destroyed it in 1835 and damaged almost the whole building.
Another must see in Macau is Senado Square. I love the mosaic colored stones paving this place in a fabulous wave pattern. The work that must have been done to get that laid out must have been staggering! The buildings surrounding it are also a very pretty with all its pastel colors.
There are other places to see in Macau but I didn’t have enough time to visit. There’s the A Ma Temple, Guia Fortress and the Statue of the Goddess of Mercy in Kun Iam Ecumenical Centre. I will surely include them in the next time that I get to visit Macau.
My travel tips
The best time to visit Macau is from October to December where they’ll have their autumn and winter season.
To visit, I highly suggest going there from Hong Kong riding the ferry. It’s about an hour away and costs about HK$200. Luckily, most nationalities do not need a visa to go to Macau and the immigration processing in the port area is really fast. The ferry also leaves every 15 minutes so you can be sure to be on schedule every time.
Until next time everyone! Happy travels!