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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Bates

Danik's guide to Hong Kong

Updated: Feb 17

Hong Kong, where do I start? This part of China has always interested I from a very young age and when I got the chance to visit the area, I made sure I had a lot of time to explore. I mean, I had two weeks. Well, I wasn't alone, Olga was in tow who was three months pregnant at the time. Was that enough? NO! It is if you want to do all the touristy sights like the Peak, Disneyland Resort and check out the lights on the skyscrapers at night. However, chuck in beaches, beautiful hiking trails, maybe a marathon like I did, go to the other areas of Hong Kong away from the city to take in the landscape, a day trip to Shenzhen and Macau, then two weeks will give visitors a good insight but I would say a month is needed to try and do everything. However, I know most visitors will not spend a month here and Hong Kong isn’t a cheap place to visit in Asia. It can be done on a budget and that’s what we tried to do. On this post are places which have to be visited and how to get about cheaply.

Hong Kong is separated into various areas, however most visitors tend to hit up the northern shoreline of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Lantau Island (where Disneyland Resort and the International airport is located).

Hong Kong is full of beautiful monasteries like this one, the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong

Let's start off with….

Hong Kong Central

The most visited part of Hong Kong has be the Central part on Hong Kong Island (also known as ‘Downtown’), and despite the fact it has so many skyscrapers in one small area which are mainly financial institutes, there is still quite a few things to do for visitors to see and do (with some of them free entry which makes this even area even more popular to explore).

Star Ferry: Not only is it a transport link between TST and Hong Kong Central, it is a great tourist attraction and the best thing is, it's cheaper than a journey on the MTR and that is cheap! The views from the boat of all those skyscrapers over on the Central side is amazing and there are also some other great views of Victoria Harbour to be had if taking the Star Ferry over to Wanchai (near Victoria Park). Octopus Cards can be used on this otherwise make sure there is some loose change in your pocket to put in the ticket machine to grab a ticket but queues can sometimes be long for that. There is not much of a wait for a service as they do run very regularly and the journey only takes several minutes.

The ferry routes have been around since 1888 and have become a part of everyday life for locals in Kowloon and Central. Despite the excellent road tunnel and MTR services (which are really good despite the overcrowding during rush hour), commuters still use the Star Ferry (we don’t blame them in the warm months as we would want to have some sea air blown into my face).

The fleet of boats now consists of twelve diesel powered vessels and are all named after stars. In Hong Kong however with all the pollution and night time glare, can anyone really see the stars? These vessels replaced the four coal-fired boats which were used when the service was first started. The great thing we love about the current vessels, the seats can be switched over to the direction of travel (just pull the seat backs) and also there are no windows so taking photos from the vessel is fantastic. Also to note, the ferry departs from pier 6 on the Downtown Side of the harbour.

Central is a maze, where do I go from Star Ferry to the fun parts?

When leaving the Star Ferry, walk on straight until you come to some covered walkways. This city can be daunting at first with so many skyscrapers and many people filling up the walkways but it’s pretty simple. Follow the signs for the Escalator (head straight, then turn right - the road Connaught will be below you, then turn left at the end, walk over bridge, into a building which looks gloomy and has some market stalls and run down shops and keep heading straight, this will lead to the Escalator and heart of Central so visitors can go from here to their desire destination. This is the quickest route).

The Escalator: This is so funny to be included on the budget things to do and see in Hong Kong. It's great as it is free but when we came here, we had never come across this sort of escalator. The lowdown is that the Central part of Hong Kong Island lies on a steep mountainside. From Queens Street (the start at the bottom of the escalator) to Conduit Street which is over 900 meters away is a very steep walk so the government built an escalator to get people to and from and every street in between quickly to their destination.

There are actually 792 meters (2,598 feet) of escalators and we found this a great way to quickly get a grip on what there is to do in this area. Halfway up the escalators is the area known as SoHo which is great for eating but visitors can go all the way to the top at Conduit Street where we have to admit, it's just a residential area. Still, ride all the escalators to say that you have done it. It is a lazy way to get about but during the very humid months, it is a blessing. Just remember that the escalator does run from the very early hours until midnight and goes uphill but during the morning rush hour, it does run downhill.

Hong Kong Park: This is a great place to check out especially if visitors get fed up with the hustle and bustle of local life. Stepping into the park, after a few moments people tend to forget that they are in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world. With tall trees dotted around the outskirts of the park hiding all the buildings (apart from the very tall skyscrapers of course), this also somehow blocks out the sound of nearby traffic.

A walk around the park to see the beautiful plants, pond with fish and the water fountains is nice but the highlight here has to be the huge walk through aviary (which is also another freebie). The path will take visitors along flowing streams and amazing plant life which reminds me of being in a rainforest but we also love checking out the exotic birds on show.

Elsewhere in the park there is a large conservatory which is worth checking out the plants of this part of the world and for some reason, cactus (which we have never seen in Hong Kong). Oh, there is a museum of Tea-ware located in the nearby Flagstaff House but to be honest, this is a thing to do if you were really bored and it is pissing it down with rain outside.

Man Mo Temple: The first ever temple we explored (which was not in a monastery) was the Man Mo Temple on the western end of Hollywood Road (another freebie). From the outside (despite being overshadowed by apartment blocks) it looks lovely with its red roof but as soon as we walked inside the main entrance, the smell of sandalwood smoke from a huge spiral hanging from over my head hit us. We never smelt anything like this before but we quickly got used to it. These spirals take weeks to burn which we also found amazing but each to their own.

The temple is dedicated to two deities, Mo (the son of War) and Man (the god of literature), that’s as much as we can tell you in the way of religion but we noticed walking around despite the smoke, the interior is very gloomy inside with its gold and red paint plus wooden beams everywhere. A nice place to check out whilst in the area and another place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Ride the Ding-Ding. The Ding-Ding’s are trams which run along the main road on the northern side of Hong Kong island from Kennedy Town (in the west) to Shau Kei Wan (in the east) and also the famous racecourse, Happy Valley. They have been here since the early 1900s and are a pleasure to ride on. They are very cheap (which Octopus Card can be used) to ride on and we love sitting on the top deck checking out the scenery and street life from down below which in the end we found an enjoyable experience (but we couldn’t do this every day as the journey takes forever from one end to the other!) We recommend jumping on one and experiencing the ride (and the sounds of the ding-ding!).

Ding Ding tram, Hong Kong

The Peak: Central Hong Kong lies underneath the mountain known as ‘Victoria Peak’ and is worth a trip to the summit to check out Hong Kong’s most spectacular views. The cheap way to do this is to hike this but there is another attraction to check out and that is riding the Peak Tram. A handy tip before making a day of it up at the top is to make sure there are no clouds otherwise it will be a wasted journey.

On arrival, the Peak Tram finishes inside the Peak Tower, a weird anvil-shaped building which also contains a mall, restaurants and for a charge the Sky Terrace viewing gallery which we didn’t bother doing. Just leave the building and head eastwards for a few meters and there is a viewing platform on the walking path!

There is plenty to do up from having lunch, hiking around the roads, checking out the gardens but for us it was the chance to do some fine dining overlooking Hong Kong’s skyscrapers at the Wildfire Pizza and Grill which is a bit classy and not really a budget meal option but we paid the extra to get that amazing view!

Checking out New Kowloon

One of the areas we didn’t really check out was the northern area of Kowloon, known as New Kowloon. Here however we did find an amazing street market and a beautiful temple which we would like to share with you.

Wong Tai Sin Temple: this amazing temple near the Wong Tai Sin MTR station in Chuk Yuen Village is the best known and busiest in Hong Kong. The Taoist temple is really interesting and fascinating to walk around and needs a bit of time. Here, the temple god (Wong Tai Sin but also known to locals as Huang Chu-Ping) saves the dying, punishes evil and heals the sick and wounded but the craziest thing is that people who are sick are not the only ones to worship here, also business people with financial difficulties. Another strange fact is that the temple is the only one to conduct Taoist wedding ceremonies. Again the temple like many others has a lot of ornate Chinese architecture but what we love about this place is that it is a nice quiet area away from city life and the only thing spoiling this place is the high-rise buildings surrounding it.

Olga at temple, Hong Kong

Entry to the temple (which is another freebie) is entered via a large memorial arch and there is a one-way system to adhere to as it is so busy. Once inside the complex there are a few things to check out like the Main Altar, where there is a portrait of Wong Tai Sin and wooden sculptures everywhere which tell the story of how Wong Tai Sin became a god. On the temple walls there are Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist images engraved. (We only knew that thanks to a local, otherwise we wouldn’t have a bloody clue!)

Wong Tai Sin Temple, Hong Kong

Facing the main altar on another platform is where there are bronze statues of the twelve Zodiac animals. Pretty cool place to check out and hang out with these crazy guys. Walking around the one way system, visitors get to pass many other shrines and smaller temples which are all beautifully decorated.

Wong Tai Sin temple in Hong Kong

Ladies Market: This is a great market to check out if you want clothes, handbags etc and also designer stuff (which are fake). The prices of goods here are cheap and a great place to do some haggling. The Ladies Market is on three streets near the Mong Kok and Prince Edward MTR stations and is signposted from the entrances and along the streets. The main road is Tung Choi Street and two surrounding parallel streets (to which one of them is known as ‘sneaker’ street as its shops are full of trainers/sneakers). Also there are plenty of food stalls on the street selling cheap local foods.

Shoe shop at the Ladies Market, Hong Kong

Tin Hau Temple: Just off the Nathan Road in Yau Ma Tei is the Tin Hau Temple which is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea and a lot of fisherman or anyone else who is tied to the sea comes here to pray. The thought we had is why is this temple located in the middle of an urban sprawl and not by the sea? It is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea. We later found out that before this area was built on many moons ago, the temple here was actually on the harbour front! How much land did the locals claim here? The quickest way to get here (if not already walking along the Nathan Road) is take exit C out of Yau Ma Tei MTR station and walk along Man Ming Lane until reaching Temple Street and there you go.

Tin Hau temple, Hong Kong

Checking out Hong Kong's Lantau Island

Lantau Island is one of many islands which makes up the archipelago of the Chinese territory of Hong Kong and lies directly west of the main hub. Taking a day out away from the city to explore the island has to be a ‘must’ on anyone’s visit to this amazing part of the world. A lot of visitors to Hong Kong will arrive on the island via the international airport, Chek Lap Kok but away from the noise of aircraft taking off and coming into land, the island is quite peaceful, quaint and very relaxed. Of course it has one of the biggest tourist attractions, the Ngong Ping 360 cable car which takes visitors from the Tung Chung MTR station to another of Hong Kong’s amazing sights, the Big Buddha and the nearby Po Lin Monastery. There are also fishing villages, hiking trails and fantastic scenery to check out.

On a day trip out here, the sights of the Big Buddha, the monastery and the fishing village can be done. We have written about the tourist way or the ‘hardcore’ backpacker who wants to save money way.

The tourist way or the ‘lazy way’ to the Lantau Island sights. This is a great way to check out the views of the mountains on the eastern side of the island (or to see the airplanes land at the nearby runway). The twenty five minute journey to Po Lin which is around 4 miles (5.7km) in distance is one of the highlights of this amazing day trip, which goes high up into the North Lantau Country Park but once over the highest peak on the journey, sweeping views of the South China Sea comes into focus as well as the Big Buddha statue.

HINT: If taking this route, the Ngong Ping 360 does amazing offers. I brought the package which included the return trip on the cable car and a tour of the nearby fishing village of Tai O. The entrance to the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery is free to walk around.

Once off the Lantau Island cable car, visitors will arrive at Ngong Ping village where there are a range of shops, restaurants, coffee outlets to wander around as well as various museums. Walking around this village reminded me of a theme park and unless we wanted something to eat (to which we did try out the local cuisine up here) we headed to the main sight of the Big Buddha which can be seen for miles around.

Big Buddha - dodging the crazy cows which loom around the place, knocking over rubbish bins and chasing dogs (yes, the cows do that here), the Big Buddha is the first place of call. Standing at a height of thirty-four meters (that's 112ft), the bronze statue is one of the biggest Buddha statues in the world. This beautiful statue sits on a throne of lotus which is the symbol of purity in Buddhism.

Inside the Buddha itself is a sacred relic of the real Buddha (it is a tooth inside a crystal container) which is enshrined within the image but we have to admit it was pretty difficult to make out. Also underneath the Buddha is a mini-museum about the life of the Buddha and his path to enlightenment. There are many pretty images to check out. Step outside the Buddha looking south and this is a great viewpoint of the sea (but look north and this is also a great viewpoint looking at the other mountains and the nearby monastery). On each side of the staircase, there are three Bodhisattvas (six in total). For those who don’t know, Bodhisattvas are Buddhist deities who help mortals reach enlightenment.

Visitors who are new to Buddhism or do not know much about it, the statues around here have a ‘reverse swastika’. They are used throughout temples as well as decoration but here at the Big Buddha statue, there is one carved into the chest. The symbol has absolutely nothing to do with the swastika and the Nazi Germans, it's just one of the symbols used with the Buddhism religion, so don’t get worried guys.

Po Lin Monastery - located a stone throw's away from the Big Buddha statue is the monastery. First built in the 20th century, the Buddhist monks were attracted by the seclusion. Po Lin (also known as ‘precious lotus’ monastery became very popular and a place of pilgrimage in the 1920s when the first abbot was appointed and the Great Hall was built. This was the very first Buddhist temple we have ever come across in our life and it was so nice to see the beautiful decor on the outside walls and roofs but even more spectacular on the inside.

We also noticed with Buddhist monks here and other locations around Hong Kong (mainly the tourist spots), that some of them are walking around asking for money etc. Those who do this are not Buddhist monks and are fakes (as locals pointed out to me, we never did give any money). Just a handy tip to those worth knowing for the future. Also worth pointing out that entrance to the temple is not allowed around 3pm as the Buddhists have their daily prayers. Nearby this area is the Tea Gardens where the Buddhists have their own tea plantation and the Temple gateway which is guarded by two lions and is known to replicate the southern gate into Buddhist heaven.

The hardcore way to the sights. For those who do not want to spend the money on the cable car and have some time to do a hike, then the four mile walk on a wooden path through the Tung Chung valley is a must. Starting from Tung Chung, follow this path up and down the mountains to Ngong Ping but on the way we are told there are some small monasteries, one of which serves cheap vegetarian lunches. The view of the path from the cable car does look like a challenging one on the last mile. If the views are the same as the cable cars then hikers are in for a treat.

Tai O Fishing Village. From Ngong Ping there are buses which go along a very bendy road to Tai O on the western coast of the island. (If going with the cable car, buy the bus ticket which includes a boat ride around Tai O otherwise if not, just buy the bus tickets and boat ride tickets separately). Either way, from the village to Tai O, visitors will need bus 21 which runs very regularly. This pretty village sitting on a tidal estuary is definitely worth the trip. On arrival the smell of shrimp paste which is a type of sauce made by fermenting shrimp and spices together in a barrel then laying out in the sun fills the air. Head through the market following signs for boat tours and get on one.

Here the power boat tours (which are roughly twenty to thirty minutes long) will take visitors out into the South China Sea to see the rare Pink Dolphins whom are an endangered species (maybe that's because of the South China Sea is not that pleasant and can be some of the harshest conditions for any type of Dolphins to exist in).

The boat ride will head back into the village which is famous for its Stilt Houses. This is one of the last remaining places in Hong Kong where visitors will see the traditional stilt housing of southern Chinese fishing villages. The houses sit above/along the waterfront in the estuary and are protected from the harsh storms which are whipped up sometimes in the sea. Now with the fishing seeing a decline in this area, the stilt houses of Tai O have the drawback with tourism, where some of the houses are now restaurants and cafes.

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong

One of the most amazing places to visit in the New Territories area of Hong Kong has to be the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. Ten Thousand Buddhas??? Really? Actually someone at the last count noticed thirteen thousand Buddhas! This temple is an excellent place to visit, it takes half a day to explore around the area (which includes traveling time from the centre) and the best thing about this place, there are not too many people and it is not too touristy. The monastery consists of five temples, an elegant nine-storey pagoda and two pavilions.

The Staircase. Once visitors have found the entrance from the main street (how to get here details are a bit further down on this post), there are 431 steps to walk up. Now this may sound boring and like hard work but there are around 500 life-size gilded Arhan statues to look at. They definitely look freaky but a great photo opportunity. However, the climb up the staircase is totally worth it.

The Monastery. Once at the top of the staircase, the Ten Thousand Buddha temple comes into view. Inside there are almost 13,000 miniature Buddha statues made out of gold ceramic stacked on shelves. Every single statue (at twelve inches high) adopts a different pose and expressions and on top of that, there is an inscription bearing the name of its donor. The place is freaking awesome and I love it. It is so peaceful and calm but for the local Buddhist community to build a temple and put all these gold statues in here, that’s time and dedication for you!

Outside the temple directly in front of it is the Kwun Yam Pavilion but the main feature of the square has to be the nine-storey pagoda. Visitors have been told that they can climb the internal spiral staircase but on this day I was shooed away by an old man. Around the area there are more statues dotted around the place including some freaky green ones!

Don’t forget the monkeys. Next to the pagoda is a staircase going back down the mountain side. This is where we found monkeys in the trees and baby ones on the path, minding their own business. The monkeys are known to go inside the monastery as well. If they approach you, do not be afraid but just keep an eye on your belongings, the crafty buggers are always up to mischief.

Go further up the mountain. Go back past the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery and go back to the staircase which brought yourself here. Instead of going down, go up! More steps but it will be worth it. More Arhan statues along the path but at the top is the upper terrace which contains a few more buildings with statues in them and a pavilion.

Our favourite feature up here is at the eastern end of the terrace. There is a huge white Kwun Yam statue in front of the waterfall overlooking a pond which is full of miniature gold statues which are perched on the surrounding rocks. It is so calm and peaceful here and the statue with its surroundings is beautiful. Also the views overlooking Sha Tin are absolutely awesome.

How to get there - The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery otherwise known as Man Fat Tsz is located at Po Fook Hill in the village of Pai Tau, an area of Sha Tin in the New Territories. To reach Sha Tin on the MTR, take the East Rail Line (Grey Line) from Hung Hom. At Sha Tin MTR station, take the exit A1 which leads out to a bus station. Outside the main doors of the MTR station, turn left which will lead to a covered ramp and go down to street level. Follow the path straight (pass a little village street on the left hand side and main road on the right) to the road where there is the Home Square Centre (with IKEA inside). Cross the road to it but do not go inside, just bear left alongside the building. Then there will be a road to the right called Sheung Wo Che. Head down this road and where there is a car park to the right, the entrance to the monastery (which is not signposted at this point) is down a path on the left. Follow this path for a short distance and then the steps will appear with a welcome sign on the fence.

Food - there is a small building just outside the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery which sells vegetarian meals. However this is the only place to eat food as we noticed there are signs saying no eating elsewhere around the monastery. If you do not fancy this sort of meal, head back to nearby Ikea and go for their meatballs and other meal options. It's one of the cheapest places to eat. We got a meal, cake and refills on soda for around 55 HKD.

Look out for dodgy monks - As I mentioned earlier on in the post, we were warned of monks begging for money outside temples in Hong Kong. We did not encounter any on the day we came here but we have heard of fake monks operating and that the Hong Kong Buddhist Association have confirmed genuine monks are not allowed to beg in Hong Kong. We also heard that the police are on the case and there have been some arrests and those who were arrested came from mainland China.

Hiking the Dragon's Back in Hong Kong

After nearly spending ten days in the overcrowded city of Hong Kong, the overcrowding of subway trains during rush hour, flocks of people trying to cross streets and shops crammed with shoppers on the Nathan Road (you get the picture), it was time to leave the city life behind and check out what is outside the range of skyscrapers, highways and ding-ding trains. We really wanted to be by ourselves and away from people. We do love exploring cities but we are more close to nature and thankfully Hong Kong has quite a few small mountains as well as islands to explore. The hike we found was located on Hong Kong Island and called the Dragon’s Back, which is part of the Hong Kong trail which runs from west to east on the island. A fairly easy hike to do even if it is blistering hot so we had to check it out and if it got us out of the city for a few hours.

Getting there: from Central Hong Kong take the MTR Island Line (the light blue line on the map) to Shau Kei Wan. Take the exit A3 out of the MTR station and head to the bus station next door and jump on the NWFB bus number 9 towards Shek-O. Get off the stop at To Tei Wen on the Shek-O road (driver knows a lot of hikers get off here but there are electronic signs with stop names in Chinese and English, so you really can’t miss the stop).

First part of the hike – going up: the way we did this from the start at To Tei Wen, it’s an uphill start straight away but a steady climb. The first part of the walk is a little bit boring but at the trail junction (the Dragons Back and the Hong Kong trail path is well signposted, keep following the Dragons Back path by the way), turning around, we managed to get some great views westwards of Stanley and the rugged coastline on this part of the island. We turned right here and carried on upwards until we got to the top of this part of the small mountain.

Hiking the Dragon's Back in Hong Kong
The sign at the start of the trail near to where the bus stop is located

Second part of the hike – the Dragon’s Back. Why is it called the Dragon’s Back? All we can say is get to the right view point on the summit of these rugged mountains and it looks like you are actually on the back of a dragon. The path goes up and down but the best view came into view, overlooking the small town of Shek-O down below. We had a great day for this, the sun was out and there was a light breeze, so we stopped for a while, looking out towards the South China Sea. Taking in the quietness and at this point we were so glad to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Third part of the hike – At the next junction, we decided to turn left and follow signs back to the Shek-O road. This part of the hike actually goes quite quickly as it's flat. This took me back to the junction on the first part of the hike. Just carry on, go downhill and the bus stop at To Tei Wen is there.

Afterwards: The great thing about this hike is that it can be combined with a short visit to the seaside village of Shek-O. Jump back on the bus number 9 and stay on until the last stop. At Shek-O there are a few restaurants and a small shop but there are two things to do here.

First off, carry on walking through the village to the headland which is located at the very end of the road (there are no signposts but visitors can’t get lost as the sea is at the end of the road). It’s a small bit of land (or a huge rock) out in the sea connected by a small footbridge. This can be a nice little hike and the views from the top looking back inland are great as we got to see the ridge we walked on earlier in the day.

For relaxing, on the way back towards the bus stop and the restaurants, there is a sit down area on the left hand side of the road (or right hand side if coming from the bus stop). Walk through this and there is the beach and we have to admit the beaches on this side of the island look pretty stunning. It’s pure golden sands, flat and with the warm sea and not many people, the beach was the perfect place to chill out and take a nap. Getting back to the MTR at Shau Kei Wan, just take bus number 9 at the bus stop. It is that easy!

Overall we found the Dragon's Back hike to be a pleasant easy one but it was just nice to get out of the city. It only takes a couple of hours and the total elevation is about 230m. Combine this with a trip to Shek-O and then this is a great day trip. We would just advise anyone else doing this to take some water and a light snack on the hike if needed (remember to take the rubbish with you), and take cash as there are no ATM machines in Shek-O. We would recommend this to anyone who just wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a day (but we have been told that the trail gets really busy on weekends with the locals).

Nu Tung Chai - Hong Kong's waterfall hike

For the second day in a row, we needed to get away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong city and the streets of Kowloon and decided to go on another hike. We chose one with amazing waterfalls but we found out it was more challenging than expected. We chose the Nu Tung Chai hike in the New Territories (an area which is located in the northern part of Hong Kong). Getting here was easier than expected. We took the East Rail Line on the MTR and got off at Tai Wo and left the station at exit A, then took the escalators on the right which leads to the bus stops and took the bus KMB 64 (not the one heading towards Tai Wo market). Then it’s a short distance to the bus stop at Nu Tung Chai.

Nu Tung Chai hiking trail in Hong Kong

From here we walked up the road (Nu Tung Chai road) and it can be a bit of a steep climb in places. The hike is signposted clearly so once away from the housing estate, the hike has truly started. After about twenty minutes we came across the Man Tuk Yuen temple which was closed to visitors which was a shame but the trail from here now goes from concrete path to a woodland/gravel type path into the mountains. We are now walking through the Tai Mo Shan country park and the views are amazing, the higher up we went, over the treetops we look and we can look right into the heart of the valley which lies behind me. The sounds of the fast flowing water can be heard from down below.

Nu Tung Chai hiking trail in Hong Kong

Taking the waterfall path route (there is a junction not long after the temple, carry on straight and don’t turn right) it takes a while to get to the first waterfall known as ‘Bottom Falls’. Probably the best out of all four waterfalls as it’s in a very scenic and green area with overhanging branches. No words can describe this place nor the photos but the photos tried well to describe.

Nu Tung Chai hiking trail in Hong Kong

The next part of the hike is quite an uphill struggle if visitors are not used to hiking and in places it did kinda tire us out but the next waterfall put all those struggles to the back of my mind. ‘Middle Falls’ is a great one to get close to (not recommend) whilst a great place to cool down for a while and once again with all the rockery in the water, the scenery is calm and the sounds of nature lovely. Not a soul in sight and by this point (despite the light rain), We were really getting into our groove now. We could do this hike for days, weeks or even months.

Not far is the third waterfall which is ‘Main Falls, crashing down hard the mountain side from above into a huge pool of water and jetting off downstream. There is a rocky bench here and a great place to sit down and take in the surroundings. The next part of the trail is a bit confusing due to the lack of signposts but just left of the waterfall is a staircase. We took this and climbed up more rocks back in the direction towards the waterfall. Eventually climbing up all the rocks led to another trail path which took us to the last waterfall ‘Scatter Falls’ which is directly above the ‘Main Falls’.

The waterfalls are fantastic and a hidden treasure of Hong Kong but it was time to head back down the mountain. This is easier than coming up. By this point we think we climbed between 500-700 meters in elevation. The path down is easy, we carried on walking up a little from the Scatter Falls then we came to a junction where we walked straight (do not turn left). Here a sign side it will take one hour to get to the road (where the bus stop was). It was right. The path is easy to walk down with lots of steps but eventually after 35-40 minutes we came back to the junction near the temple where we took a left turn and headed back towards the housing estate and went back the same way as we came in. We got to the bus stop after one hour and took the bus KMB 64 back towards Tai Wo Market (getting off at the MTR).

This hike was totally worth it. Not just for the amazing waterfalls, walking up over 500 meters in elevation and getting away from the city but we had time to reflect on what we want to do with our lives plus it was nice to hear the raindrops against the branches, the sounds of the water flowing down the mountain side and most of the time, the sound of my feet hitting the trail. We love being close to nature, we love to hike and take it all in and for me this was probably one of the highlights for us visiting Hong Kong.

Accommodation we stayed at whilst in Hong Kong

Speak to anyone who has done budget travel to Hong Kong and most people will say ‘Stay at Chungking Mansions’. This skyscraper of 16 floors is located at 36-44 on the Nathan Road (the main road which runs north to south in TST) and has many budget hotels and hostels. Don’t be scared about the Indians and other guys on the bottom floor (which is like an indoor flea market), trying to sell you sim cards, copy handbags and trying to provide you with accommodation, just walk past them or just say no. Accommodation websites like will offer great rates for these places but on arrival to Chungking, it can be daunting trying to find where they are located. There are five elevators in the building, Block A, B, C, D, E, so on the address find out which block the accommodation is located and take that elevator.

At Chungking Mansions we stayed at a budget hotel known as ‘Joyous Guest House’ (it's in Block D, take the left hand elevator to the 14th floor and well signposted) where the WIFI is excellent. The rooms are very small and we could barely swing a cat around the room but we did get some good sleep. The owners and staff are very friendly and kept the place clean.

Handy tips if staying in Chungking Mansions: the ground floor is a flea market and is great for cheap eats and drinks but across the road on Peking Road (on the left hand side) is a supermarket which is below ground level for cheap eats and of course the usual international fast food joints if visitors are not into the local foods. Further along Peking road, there is a side street on the right called Ashley Road which has local restaurants plus a bar which serves food as well.

The best thing about staying in Chungking Mansions is the location with the MTR directly outside the building (nearest entrance/exit is the elevator going down inside the main entrance of the I-Square shopping mall on the corner of Peking Road/Nathan Road, you can’t miss it!). Also a few minutes walk south to the harbour-front is the Star Ferry. Nathan Road is also on many bus routes to take passengers around Kowloon and other parts of Hong Kong.

Another place we stayed was at the Regal Airport Hotel which is the perfect way to have full relaxation before a flight the following morning as we were heading back home. Ideally located next to the passenger terminal at Hong Kong International Airport, we took the opportunity to stay here before our flight back to Europe after a lengthy stay in the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong city and we must say, this was the most relaxing night we had on our trip.

Clearly signposted from inside the terminal building, entering the building there were many members of staff awaiting visitors, to take luggage trolleys of them or directing them to the reception area. The decor and the bright golden lights which are dotted around the concierge gives that warm feeling and sense of calmness. Looking around there are a couple of restaurants, bars and shops for everyday needs.

The reception makes check in as smooth and swift as possible but adding the fantastic customer service experience at the same time. There are several staff in hand behind the desk so waiting to be checked in doesn’t take very long.

Entering the hotel room, the eyes take hold of the huge bed and the large floor space as well as the modern decor. The bed is the most important item of course and in this case this has to be one of the best nights we have had in a hotel. The mattress and the pillow were soft and very comfortable while the blankets were neither too heavy nor too light, just right for the climate which Hong Kong has. Another point is that despite being right next to the airport’s runway, we didn’t hear any aircraft landing or taking off. The rooms are soundproof and this is another important reason to have a stay here.

The detail of attention for visitors needs is fantastic, from the WIFI (which has a very strong signal in the rooms), to the kettle, hair dryer, the amount of wall sockets dotted around the room, the television offering a variety of international channels to services such as dry cleaning and room service, the hotel has thought of everything. Even the washroom is spacious with a shower that has a powerful pressure to soak the stress away.

As well as offering dinner options in the evening at the lobby, the buffet style breakfast is one of the best we have had whilst staying in a hotel in Asia. The top-floor located restaurant offers a Western-European/American style food such as scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon and of course cereal, there is also an European Continental style breakfast with the usual pastries, yogurts, fruit and bread rolls. Whilst there is food on offer on the tables, there is also a chef on hand to cook up anything fresh and hot such as omelettes. There is also a nice view looking over the runway with the low mountains in the background.

Our personal opinion of the Regal Airport Hotel is that we would highly recommend it for an overnight stay before a morning flight (if in the visitors budget range) and then there is no need for the rush-rush of getting to the airport before a flight, Instead we felt very refreshed and ready for the long journey home. For us, it was also the comfortness of the room and the fact we got our best night sleep here on this particular visit is saying something. As a budget traveler who wouldn’t usually stay in luxury hotels, this time we were happy to pay the extra for the service and the location whilst overall saved us a lot of time (and of course the expensive of taking a taxi ride in the middle of the night which probably would have led us to paying the same amount of the hotel room). Our time at the Regal Airport Hotel was paid for by ourselves and was not sponsored in any way by the company. The opinions in this post are our own.

Beautiful Hong Kong city landscape

Handy tips for Hong Kong

While in Hong Kong we picked up some pieces of advice and tips which we would like to share with you ranging from transport tips to budget saving information. Hong Kong compared to other Asian countries can be expensive for dining out in restaurants and shopping but there are ways to explore this beautiful part of China on a budget.

Cheap Eats - we were always going to the supermarket to buy food and cook it at the hotel we were staying in at the budget accommodation in Chungking Mansions on the Nathan Road. Also the food stalls at markets and certain streets in Hong Kong are worth checking out as well to save some money. Another cheap meal can be found in IKEA near Sha Tin MTR which works out around 53HKD for a meal, cake and refills on drinks.

Octopus Card - everyone's favourite card, more popular than a credit card in Hong Kong. The lowdown is that this card can be used on all different types of transportation and to buy goods in shops as well as other discounts. To buy one of these, go to a customer service information desk at the airport, Hong Kong Central MTR or other major MTR stations like the one in Tsim Sha Tsui. Pay 150HKD to which 100HKD will be credited and 50HKD is like the payment to loan the card out. These can be topped up anywhere but when doing so at the customer information desks at MTR stations, they only accept cash. When leaving Hong Kong and having no use for these, simply return the card at the Customer Information Desk (most people do this at the airport) and receive 50HKD in return. Simples!

Airport Express Train - Not a budget option but it is the quickest way to get to and from the airport and Central Hong Kong. The Airport Express Travel Pass ticket costs $205 for the fast service which takes about twenty-five minutes. Saves time and money (note that Octopus cards are not valid on this service).

The Peak on a Sunday - our worst mistake was trying to do the tram on a Sunday up to the Peak. The queues are very long and we also heard at the summit it's just crammed with locals and tourists. It's best to do this in midweek.

Day trip to Macau - Macau is another territory of China and is not far to go by ferries. Plenty of them do go from Central and Kowloon ferry ports so get down there early and do a day trip to Macau.

Free places to hit up - check out museums, galleries and temples but also the light and laser show from the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui at 20:00. For great views from the top of a skyscraper in downtown Hong Kong, head to the viewing gallery on the 43rd floor of the Bank of China tower, another great freebie and one of the photogenic visitors.

Crime tips - to be honest Hong Kong is one of the safest places we have visited (alongside Iceland because no sod lives there!) and crime is very rare. However backpackers staying in Chungking Mansions just keep an eye on your luggage, items which do go missing (very rarely we mind you) are usually by unscrupulous fellow travelers I have been told. However we had no problems staying in this building for two weeks.

Don’t bother driving - what’s the point with the excellent transport system but to be frank, the real reason is that traffic is usually bumper to bumper.

What to wear - most of the year Hong Kong is pretty warm so light clothing is best. We would also advise taking a long sleeved top for walking along the seafront in the winter months at night and also for hotel rooms which have arctic conditioning when the air con goes into overdrive!

Do not eat on the MTR or stations - we nearly did this once and nearly got my head bitten off and since then did not even attempt this. We think the main reason for this is because the locals love chicken and like to throw the bones over the floor. That's what we were told anyway.

Looking out at Downtown Hong Kong

Other things to note:

Electricity Info: 220V, 50Hz. Types G and D are used.

Languages: Cantonese and English. Don’t worry about the language barrier as most people speak English due to the history of the area and a lot of signs are in English. However a lot of Mandarin is creeping into Hong Kong due to Chinese mainlanders coming to the area.

Currency: Hong Kong Dollar. There are plenty of ATM machines and currency exchanges to buy the dollars. However most places will take credit cards.

Need insurance? Safety Wing offers coverage for a lot of adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and so forth. I never travel without travel insurance. I highly recommend them for those who need travel insurance.

Ok, these would be our top tips about visiting Hong Kong but seriously, go out there and have fun. The area has so much to offer and it is not all about downtown, the skyscrapers and the peak! Go hiking and see those waterfalls, check out the temples, lay on the beach at Shek O, this part of China is totally awesome!

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