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Travel advice on Hong Kong Aug/Sept 2009.

Travel advice wanted on trip to Hong Kong in Aug/Sept 2009.
10 years ago, March 13th 2009 No: 1 Msg: #65774  
I am looking for any advice, tips, recommendations etc. on a forthcoming trip to Hong Kong and southern China – more particularly for southern China/Guangdong province which is not as developed as Hong Kong(see below).

I am a professional photographer and have been commissioned to photograph at a conference in Hong Kong where I need to be from Sat 12th Sept to Sat 19th Sept. I want to do all my travelling (approx 3 weeks) before the conference.

An approximate itinerary (based on my limited knowledge of the area) would be:
• 1 week in Hong Kong/New Territories visiting surrounding area/islands.
• About 10 days travelling up and around one of the rivers/waterways north west of Hong Kong on the China mainland. I have looked at a map and the following appear interesting (although I have no knowledge whatsoever about them!): Xi Jang River, with the cities Jiujiang and Zhaoqing along the river. Guangzhou and Dongugan, more to the east - basically the southern part of Guangdong province.
• 1 week back in Hong Kong/New Territories and surrounding area/islands.

I’m 55, fairly fit & healthy and enjoy independent travelling. Based on past travelling experiences, I much prefer to visit places/locations/areas away from the traditional ‘tourist sites’. In an urban/city environment, I love walking the streets and photographing ‘street life’, i.e. people getting on with their daily life, markets, architecture, construction/building site activities, small business activities etc. But I am also attracted (less so) to natural beauty spots where one can relax and ‘chill out’ and possibly take some picturesque landscape/flora/fauna/agricultural images.

I am not the type of person who wants to see and do 101 things in a short space of time - I would much prefer to experience a more ‘in-depth’ knowledge/experience of area/s visited.

With regards accommodation, I would be happy in budget hotels/hostels, as long as I have my own room and ideally, private bathroom facilities.

I am aware that in large areas of China (especially off the ‘tourist trail’), English is not spoken. Also I will obviously look like a photographer/tourist as I would normally walk around with a camera jacket, two cameras/lenses round my neck and an ‘ordinary’ looking camera bag. Of course this will present me with personal security issues and I will just have to use common sense and always be aware of possible/potential ‘situations’.

Your input, however great or small, will be greatly appreciated.
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10 years ago, April 14th 2009 No: 2 Msg: #69528  
Hi -

I was in Hong Kong in February of this year for 10 days. At 56 I'm a fairly fit single woman; I'm sure that you can do anything I could.

Accomodation:] I stayed at the Salisbury YMCA, which is impeccably clean, very safe, fantastic location, and a real bargain. Forget your stereotype of a YMCA, my room came with a coffee maker and a mini-fridge that was stocked with beer and bottled water - a welcome sight after a long flight from Chicago.

I know you want to stay away from tourist sites, but I would very much recommend you take the trip to the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery (Lantau Island). There is nothing like it in the world. You can skip the adjacent Ngong Ping village, unless you are looking for the closest Starbucks.

Kowloon Park on Sunday is a great place for people watching. Check out the tai chi and sword practice by the sculpture garden. The park is busy all day, but if you want to see tai chi come in the morning.

The Man Mo Temple on Ladder Street is on many tourist lists, but when I went, I didn't see many foreigners. You are welcome to take photos as long as you aren't a jerk, and the hanging incense is quite photogenic. A lot of local people come here to have their fortune told, and there is an English speaking fortune teller if you want to try it yourself.

The Ladies Market and Night Markets are pretty much all tourists, but the Jade Market is another story. Unless you really know your stuff, I wouldn't buy anything here other than a momento (which can be had very inexpensively) but you will see Chinese tai tais examining better pieces of jade with a critical eye.

The Star Ferry is one of my favorite things about Hong Kong. It's cheap, they run constantly, and is good for people watching. Also, just seeing Victoria Harbor from another perspective is cool.

Food: I love street food, and I've found many good meals that way. A couple of chain restaurants that are clean and serve decent inexpensive food are Cafe de Coral and Yoshinoya. The staff may not speak English, but the menu board has pictures and you can order by number or point at your selection. I also found a wonderful restaurant just off Nathan Road. The sign and the menu were in Cantonese, but I can send you a pictures and directions if you want.

A note about language: in Hong Kong people speak Cantonese, not Mandarin. Don't be fooled, while there are some similiarities, there are also many differences. I found most people were charmed that I could say "please" and "thank you" (and "beer" and "credit card") in Cantonese. It has been 12 years since the British left Hong Kong, and I was surprised at the number of businesses and restaurants right on Nathan Road that had no English evident in their signage.

I'm in the process of posting the stories and pictures of my trip, so you might want to check out my blogs Karen Johnson

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10 years ago, April 16th 2009 No: 3 Msg: #69807  
B Posts: 277
Hi, I spent a few days in Hong Kong last September. I agree with the above, and just want to add the Peak Tram. There are also good tourist information from the Hong Kong board of Tourism, called Discover Hong Kong. There is a good website and offices in different locations in HK. If you are interested in museums there are quite a few, I visited the Hong Kong Museum of Art, which had a good collection of Chinese historical artefacts and also temporary exhibitions. It was definitely worth the visit (it is in Tsim Sha Tsui right at the waterfront). Hong Kong is really travel friendly and easy to navigate by metro, bus and boat. Be aware that at this time of the year the weather is hot and humid, putting some limits of what you can do.
As for going to China I believe that the coastal area is highly developed and it may not be what you are interested in. I suggest you venture further, although it will entail overnight train (an experience in itself) or short plane journey. One little visited province is Hunan, which has a lot to offer someone looking for things outside the standard route, especially the northeast area and the capital, Changsha. I have written a travel blog on Zhangjiajie and I also visited Fenghuang and Changsha on the same trip (updates will follow), you can check out the details there. This will give you some idea of China and abundant photo opportunities. Another province close by is Guizhou, with beautiful scenery and minority villages. We have enjoyed visiting the capital Guiyang and surrounding areas. In my opinion you should avoid Guilin/Yangshuo, although the scenery is impressive it has become a victim of its success. As with all popular tourist destinations really. Don't worry about not knowing Chinese, just do some research before and have all important informatin written down in Chinese characters (usually in hotels there is someone who knows English and can help in this). After six trips to China my experience is that it is a safe place to travel and Chinese are very eager to help and interact with foreigners (if you go to the less travelled places). Just use your common sense, as pickpockets may target you (but it has never happened to us). If you need any more information you can send an e-mail. Reply to this

10 years ago, April 18th 2009 No: 4 Msg: #70058  
N Posts: 7
Hi there, would not recommend the Big Buddha on Lantau Island. It is sooooo touristy and crowded. All I wanted to do is get away from the place. The place has no soul. You arrive and there is lots of shops and attractions for children. The whole area right at the bottom where the buddha is, is a building site. (I guess they must be constructing more things for tourists!) The whole thing was quite pricey in the end as you have to take the tube and the cable car to get there. I naively expected to find a peaceful place where people come and pray (what you expect of a monastery really, a peaceful haven). That trip was the only time in Hong Kong I did not enjoy.
I would suggest you take the ferry to Cheung Chau Island (1/2 hour from Hong Kong). There are no cars there and it is really pretty and peaceful. We have seen a few tourist but not a lot. We hired bikes and cycled round the island all day and stopped at one of the beaches for a swim. There is a sense of a more traditional Hong Kong there. Food is amazing there, I have tasted the best dim sum ever along the harbour!
Kowloon is a good area to go to for pictures. It is very different from Hong Kong island. It is crowded but very lively. People there are full of life compared to Hong Kong Island where they seem more subdued. Very authentic place. Really liked it!
Really wanted to go to Sha Lo Tung but didn't have time. Check it out, I am pretty sure it is worth it. Reply to this

10 years ago, April 29th 2009 No: 5 Msg: #71340  
I currently live in Hong Kong...and since you mentioned the whole market thing, there are a few places I would like to suggest:

for the 'Street Life', Central is a place to be. You can see it on the MTR (the Mass Transit Railway) map, and here you can see the architecture, building sites, and HK's daily life. I recommend you take the long escalator that goes from Central all the way up to Mid Levels if you want to see all the restaurants, bars and shops.

Jordan's Temple Street is where you can experience a nightmarket. It usually shuts at 12am... so I suggest you go before then.

The Star Ferry is a must-see. It's very chilled out.

For a more natural setting.. you should go out to the islands (Cheung Chau, Mui Wo Lantau, Lamma) to experience a totally different setting from the city life.

I personally wouldn't be worried about not being able to communicate. I've been living here 10 years and ended up using English more than any other language!

Hope that helped Reply to this

10 years ago, May 12th 2009 No: 6 Msg: #72570  
N Posts: 1
Hi Robert,

My wife and the kids and I visit Hong Kong almost every year, since my wife's family is there.

You'll love Hong Kong. If possible, make a friend and have them take you to an authentic Chinese restaurant for dinner, in a local area, where the locals eat. BTW, Hong Kong is safe with a very low crime rate. You can venture all over the place and be fine. Get familiar with the MTR system.

As far as where to stay, why not rent an apartment for less than a hotel? (hotels are high in HK) This will give you a taste of the culture. Check out my web site where I provide a list of Hong Kong vacation rentals for under US $100 per night. I have one place listed for $70 per night and in Causeway Bay, a very popular area. There is also rooms for rent for around $24 per night. This is all on my web site at: http://visithk.weebly.com

Oh yeah, also visit the coastal museum. It is a great history lesson.


Bill Reply to this

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