For many, SouthEast Asia is the ideal getaway, boasting a mixture of secluded islands, bustling cities and glorious sunshine. Without really giving it much thought, my tickets were booked and my friend was pleased to hear that I would be making the oh so glamourous 12 hour journey to see her in Hong Kong. *I’ve never been on a plane for that long.*
Considering this was my first trip to SouthEast Asia, Hong Kong was definitely a good place to start. As with any new destination, there were a number of concerns that arose before flying off. They all however, were swiftly washed away once immersed within the party capital of Asia.
1. The language barrier
Elements of the previous British colonisation can be seen throughout Hong Kong such as street and station names and the number of expats working and living there. Both local and big businesses have made noted efforts to communicate in English, which makes it super easy to navigate around and snap up a bargain.
2. Efficient travel
For a couple of days I had to travel solo. The thought of this petrified me. What if I get lost, what if I get stranded and can’t contact my friend… what if I end up in Mainland China!?!
Hong Kong’s MTR frankly makes London’s underground look amateur. Traveling is ridiculously easy with fewer lines and extremely cheap prices, with a single fare from Prince Edward, where I was staying, to Wan Chai, on Hong Kong Island costing HKD$10.70 – that’s the equivalent to £0.82. As for being unable to contact anyone, Hong Kong’s MTR doesn’t get in the way of making phone calls or perusing through your email – even when you’re on the move. There’s no rushing to connect to WiFi once you stop at a station like you would do in London. Hong Kong’s service is absolutely seamless – and again, way cheaper than TfL.
Anyone can tell you that a city or town is safe, but unless you venture out, you won’t appreciate just how secure it really is. Hong Kong exudes this. Not once did I personally feel unsafe or threatened by locals and generally the rapport between expats and locals is civil and pleasant. That doesn’t mean go out and flash your cash. It’s good to keep your wits with you, but it’s very unlikely you’ll be needing to consult them.
4. Food glorious food
Food was definitely a top concern. Finding restaurants that serve halal food can be challenging enough in London where there is a big Muslim community. Given the large Chinese demographic in Hong Kong, I couldn’t imagine there being much in the way of halal restaurants/eateries and so I prepared myself to be a Pescetarian for a week. Surprisingly enough, there was no need for this as there were many halal restaurants to choose from. For Muslims, the availability of halal meat in dream destinations can be somewhat disheartening. However Hong Kong boasts a surprising number of restaurants that hold accreditation. Ma’s Restaurant offers halal dim sum and authentic chinese dishes. There is also halal dim sum available at the Islamic Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui – Hong Kong’s answer to our Oxford Street.
5. Shopaholic Heaven
If you’re obsessed with your designer labels and fashion, then Hong Kong is definitely the place to get your shopping fix. Luxury designer stores line the streets at Harbour city in Tsim Sha Tsui and more affordable brands can be found at the various shopping malls that is directly linked to MTR exits. Whilst travel is cheap, designer brands are not, so make sure you venture out with enough money.
6. Stunning Sights
There are pockets here and there within Hong Kong that really takes your breath away. The Ladies Market at night is something to behold. Crowds of people descend on these stalls looking for the best deals when it comes to fake designer bags and purses, souvenirs and clothing. The way in which the streets come alive with bright lights is somewhat reminiscent of New York if you’ve ever visited. The real show stealer is of course the skyline. What can only be described as stunning, you will definitely want to snap pictures both day and night. Some of the best places to get a picturesque view includes Harbour City, Victoria’s Peak and one of my highlights of the trip – the Ritz-Carlton’s Ozone Bar. Perched on the 118th floor, it is the highest bar in Asia, boasting delectable nibbles, refreshing drinks and views from among the clouds, making Hong Kong truly memorable.