My Layover – Hong Kong (Part 1)

I haven’t updated this blog for awhile due to a work trip Ben and I did to China.  But I wanted to share with you our one day layover in Hong Kong.  Personally,  Hong Kong is my favourite city (outside of Calgary).  What I really love about it is that it’s so very international.  You see people from all walks of life.  It’s fast pace,  it’s beautiful, and the people are friendly.  They have a convenient and easy to navigate transportation system (the cleanest subway trains I have been in) and there is an abundance of food choices 24/7.

Here are some tips if you do plan on travelling to this awesome city!

What a pretty shoreline of Hong Kong.

Ben and I stayed in Kowloon’s BP International Hotel located just on Austin Road.  We’ve been staying at this hotel every time we go to Hong Kong because of it’s location.  It’s very close to public transportation, as well as attached to a bus station that goes to the Mainland, there is an Hong Kong Airport Express Shuttle that’s just around the hotel which can take you to and from the airport, walking distance to shopping on Nathan Road, a 7/11 store (which really 7/11’s in Asia are so much better than the ones in North America- and not scary to be in), and the hotel itself is very clean and affordable.

I’m going to elaborate on the convenience of the Hong Kong Airport Express Shuttle because I discovered this after my second trip to Hong Kong.  It’s so very convenient, safe and affordable to use and get to where you want to go.  First,  once in the Arrival Hall in the Hong Kong Airport figure out which area of Hong Kong you want to go, so for us, we need to go to Kowloon because that’s where our hotel is,  so we just went up to the automated ticket counter and bought 2- two way/trip passes from the airport to Kowloon.  Then you wait for the train to come, get in and take the trip until it tells you you’re at Kowloon Station,  this trip will take a good 20 minutes or so.

Then once you’re at Kowloon Station, you need to look for signs that will tell you Airport Hotel Bus Shuttle, or Airport Express Shuttle and based on the hotel you’re going, you need to see which bus you need to get on.  Then voila!  The bus driver will drop you off at the designated hotel.  I would highly suggest before hand to book a hotel that’s is on the Airport Express Shuttle Route. 

I personally would suggest staying somewhere in Kowloon instead of Central Hong Kong,  the reason is because you’ll find great deals on hotels in Kowloon and the food choices Kowloon are much more vast, authentic and much more affordable.  There’s great shopping as well, and you do have Temple Street in this area which is a night market where you find tonnes of vendors selling leather goods (fake if you catch my drift), toys, clothing, watches, basically a crap load of stuff.  But what I love about it too is that there’s a great choice of food vendors there too.  Generally, they’ll have pictures of what they serve on the restaurant so you can see what they have to offer and nearly everyone here speaks English so finding out what’s popular is an easy task.  Check out my post on Temple Spice Crab on Temple Street in Hong Kong for reference of the food that you’ll find here.

Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon.  This is an older picture of mine taken in the winter, believe it or not, it was raining and humid so I didn’t take my camera out…

Hong Kong in June, and I’m safe to say in the summer months is ridiculously hot and humid, so be prepared to bring t-shirts, shorts and sandals and make sure you have an umbrella ready because it will rain hard.  If for some reason you were not prepared for this type of weather you can definitely go shopping and find great deals on clothing in Hong Kong,  stores I would suggest that are affordable would be like Bossini and Giordano.  They always have specials and deals that I’m sure no one would refuse.

If Bossini and Giordano ain’t your style, another thing I would suggest checking out – especially for the men, is get a custom suit made in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong is really well known for their tailors,  I even believe a lot of corporations even have tailors that come from Hong Kong to make suits for their employees.  That’s how good they are.  Given that Ben and I had about 30 hours in Hong Kong, we were still able to get a suit made for him and had them ship it back to Calgary for us.  The tailors that we went too are on Nathan Road, which alone has many tailor shops so feel free to take your time to check them out to see if any of them fancy you.    The tailors we went too are known as Shaniel Fashions Ltd.  They were able to make a jacket, pants, & shirt using the fabrics of our choosing (which I am a fan of high thread counts and cashmere) + ship it to us to Canada for all under $400.00 CAD, oh and it fit Ben like a glove!  Yeah, he was really happy.  All we did was get him measured in the morning, and by 3:00pm get his first fitting done and that was it.  I will admit, I was a little skeptical on how everything will turn out but after meeting the tailor himself that was working on the suit (a very cute old Chinese gentlemen who you can tell has been making suits for a long time….) put my feelings at ease.   What’s great is that Ben now has a file there, so in the future, if we ever wanted to make another jacket, pant or tie,  all we would have to do is e-mail them, they’ll send over fabric swatches, and let them know which fabrics we want and they’ll make it to his measurements!  So easy!  What’s great is because its custom made, you can tell them to add anything you want.  I’ve heard of men putting pockets under their sleeves instead of the front of their shirts (to each their own), but that’s the kind of thing you can ask them to do and I’m sure they’ll do it for you.

Another tip is to shop around for currency exchanges in Hong Kong. All currency exchanges will have flashing currency signs up, so they’re hard to miss.  I believe I was quoted for $1.00 USD = $7.40 HKD in one location then walked down the same street a couple store fronts down and got a quote for $1.00 USD = $7.80 HKD,  I mean,  when exchanging $100.00 USD,  that’s $40 HKD difference!   So don’t settle at one place for the exchange,  chances are there’s another currency exchange booth just seconds down,  no harm to price compare.  Given that Hong Kong is an international city where there’s lots of big corporations as well as small mom and pop stores, you can definitely use your visa card here, but if you’re going out to eat, best to bring cash because most places may not even take credit cards, especially if you’re looking to eat at sidewalk/street food/ Dai Pai Dongs restaurants.

Hope those tips will help when you decide to go on your own trip to Hong Kong!  Watch out for my next post about where we ate in our one day layover in Hong Kong!

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