Travel Tips From a Trip to Hong Kong
It’s my fourth time going to Hong Kong but this time I’m taking notes to help out travellers who are planning to go. Most of what I’m going to share should applicable to any trip.
Hong Kong is a shopping paradise with extremely competitive prices – I found some out of the way places that had items up to a half off the prices I was used to. It’s not unreasonable to have more than half your luggage weight extra going out than coming in. During my first few trips I bought an extra bag to fit all the items I bought but that was before I happened onto the excellent idea of using nested luggage. Go to any luggage shop and you’ll see luggage being sold in stepped sizes – essentially the same bags but different sizes. Like Russian dolls you can actually fit the smaller bag inside the bigger one, and this is what I did coming into my trip, I put my stuff in the smaller bag and put it inside the bigger one, that way I immediately have an extra bag for all my shopping items!
Anticipating the Carousel
So there I was, with my big black upright luggage all packed when I thought about the inevitable situation in the airport carousel. In order to make it easier to spot my luggage I tied a red ribbon on the handle. Satisfied with my excellent idea I settled down for my trip. When it came time to retrieve my luggage in the arrival area I kept my eye out for my red ribbon only to notice that nearly everybody had a black roller type bag around the same size as mine, and, amazingly, most of the bags sported red ribbons! Not greens, not yellows, reds. Everybody had the same idea. I would never have believed this if I hadn’t seen it myself, therefore spotting my bag was not as easy as I thought. On my return trip I put both the red ribbon and some masking tape on the handle to make my bag easier to spot, you might want to do the same or try a ribbon other than red. Standing in the carousel I noticed the bags with unusual colors or unique patterns, those were really easy to spot – this is something to think about when making a luggage purchase.
Hong Kong drivers are friendly, competent and very professional. Cabs are typically Toyota Crowns or Comforts – big cars with five passenger limits, bags are placed at the boot or trunk which can be left partially open if there is too much luggage- with an elastic band to keep things tied down. One thing the drivers might not be is handy with English. In my experience, even saying an address while using slow intonations doesn’t work. One thing that did is bringing a map of Hong Kong and pointing at your destination. I obtained one before leaving my home airport but there should be one in the Hong Kong airport – just mark your destination and show it to the driver.
Location Is Everything
Yet another seemingly smart move on my part was booking a hotel slightly off the tourist paths to take advantage of the lower rates. What a terrible mistake this was. When I got out of the lobby of my hotel I was in the middle of slaughterhouses and rundown warehouses, far from the trains and I had trouble finding any taxi stands; I found I had to travel a bit to get to the spots I wanted to go to. Needless to say, I had to rebook myself to a better location. In Hong Kong I recommend that you stay in the Kowloon side and within walking distance of Nathan Road. The most important advantage to doing this is you can stay out late into the night and still be walking distance to your hotel. Also, Kowloon is a good hotel spot because you can walk near the bay and see the incredible Hong Kong skyline – one of the most famous skylines in the world. It’s something to see, specially at night.
The MTR is Hong Kong’s train system. I kept away from it initially, concerned about how it might be confusing and I might get lost. Happily, something happened the forced me to use the MTR. Being a true tourist, I wanted to go to Hong Kong Disneyland. So I got out of my hotel and got into a taxi and told
the driver “Disneyland” only to see him shake his head. Hong Kong taxis come in two colors: red and green. The red ones are for the inner city and the green ones …