Hong Kong was a refreshing experience for us. Our friend Natalie introduced us to her parents who graciously hosted us at their house in Stanley. We felt like we were staying at a 5-star resort and loved getting to know them better. They made a HUGE difference in our experience in Hong Kong and we are very, very thankful.
Hong Kong is beautiful. It’s a big city that is split up by a snaking bay and surrounded by sizeable hills and beachy coves. We were surprised by how tropical it felt.
Here are a few of the activities that we loved in Hong Kong:
Stanley is a 30-60 minute bus ride from the city (Usually on the shorter end unless during peak traffic). This meant that we got to ride the bus a lot. Before we arrived, I was a little apprehensive about this since I don’t typically affiliate buses and “fun experience”.
These bus rides were awesome. The buses we rode were all double-deckers and we always claimed our spot on the top deck, front row. The bus drivers seemed to think they were on Gran Tourismo and raced around the weaving roads as fast as possible. Trees encroach on the roadway from the green hills but have a clearly cut out square for the busses to pass through (turns out the buses knock into these trees a decent amount and perform the trimming themselves!). On the way to and from the city, the bus passes several coves, each with one or more roped of swimming beaches, a handful of tall apartment buildings and an incredible view of the ocean. The buses were a great, relaxing way to see the beauty of the city.
We walked through Hong Kong Park on our first day there. It was a thrilling activity for Stella. There was a fun lake with fish and turtles that Stella could have stayed at for days. We also went inside their free Aviary and played at the children’s park, complete with a sand pit. Stella found a friend to play with and loved being there.
We went up to “The Peak” twice, once during the day and once at night. It’s a high point on the hill that allows you to see all of Hong Kong. It’s pretty spectacular. During the day, it was overcast so we weren’t able to see much. We did enjoy traveling up and down on the tram (This gets quite busy later at night, but was tolerable during the day). At the top of the tram, they shuffled us into this bug building with a viewpoint at the top. It was incredibly hard to find the exit. At one point we connected with a group of several other people also trying to find the exit and wandering down random hallways. After lots of escalator rides and wrong turns, we eventually got out.
There wasn’t a lot of clear signage about viewpoints. We later learned the best view is either at the top of the labyrinth building or just past the tram line outside that building. We instead tried walking up a road toward the very top of the hill and some gardens. This turned out to be the wrong choice as there wasn’t a great view point and the gardens were lackluster.
We did have lunch at a pizza restaurant with a great full-length window toward the city which was delicious and beautiful.
On our last night, our hosts took us back up to the peak on a clear night. Wow. It was amazing. We could see all the way across the bay to the Kowloon side and everywhere between. There were several impressive buildings including one that turns into a tv-screen of sorts at night with cooridanted lights running up the entire height.
If you go, I’d say do it at night, but make sure the forecast is for clear skies.
It was time for us to hit the trail again. We found a well-reviewed hike with nice views and decided to give it a shot. Stella fell asleep on the drive there, so we put her in the baby carrier where she and I shared lots of sweat until she woke up very frustrated with how drenched and sticky she was. Once she was awake, she was ecstatic to hike on her own. She made it her mission to pick up every single rock. Eventually we found her a new goal of chasing butterflies which was entertaining and MUCH lighter.
The views were pretty amazing and we got to the summit in about 45 minutes of hiking. At that point we could either continue on, or turn back and go down the way we came. We decided YOLO and continued on. Well, the rest of the hike turned out to be pretty long and added another 2 hours or so. The peak was the last of the viewpoints, although we did find many more butterflies along the rest of the trek.
By the end, we were all very tired and done with hiking. But, looking back on the pictures it was a fun time.
One rainy day, we road the bus over to Kowloon. It was surprisingly very retail-focused. It left me wondering who on earth is buying so many watches that you could need 4+ Rolex shops on one street. We found our way to a Michelin star (but cheap!) Dim Sum place. There was a group of people waiting to enter and we were not really sure how to get a spot on the waiting list. Eventually we found the hostess to get a menu (typical Dim Sum style where you write in your order) and a number scribbled on some blue scrap paper. We hovered around, having no idea how long the wait would be. To further complicate things, we realized they were only shouting numbers in Chinese. Lindsay looked up how to say 135 in Chinese, but we were pretty convinced that wasn’t going to help. After about 20 minutes, I went back to the counter to see if I could peer over and see the sheet they were crossing people off of. I showed the lady our number and she just motioned for us to come in. Sweet!
The place was known for their pork buns. These were not your typical steamed pork buns. These were baked sweet rolls with pork inside and a buttery, sugary glaze on top. We ordered six and I’m glad we did. To be honest, we grossly over-ordered (also a typical Dim Sum mistake) but we got to try a lot of interesting stuff, all of which we liked. Other highlights were the pork dumplings, sesame custards, and this chicken-rice dish which looked gross but tasted fantastic.
The Big Buddha is a 34-meter tall statue on top of a hill near the airport. There is a 15-minute tram ride to get there with impressive views. We ended up getting there at 11am and found a HUGE line to get on the tram. When we returned, there was no line at all. Lesson learned is to come early in the morning or in the afternoon, but not at lunch time.
The Budhha is impressive and makes a great photo. It was a fun trip. The pictures explain it better than words can.
We went up the world’s largest outdoor escalator. It runs one direction for the morning commute and the other direction the rest of the day. It took about 20 minutes to go from bottom to top.
We ate some incredible restaurants with our hosts. Both were small-plate style. We had some incredible sliders, ceviche scallops, and watermelon+avocado+tuna+wasabi tartar.
Thanks for reading,