hong kong guide

 
Hong Kong Guide

 
For Budget Travelers

The only guide with a photo of Chungking Mansions stairs

Contents. Sorry, no in-page links | updated 7/2010 before you go | money | cost | airfare  |  airport | transportation into city areas  places to stay | random tips  I have one day in HK | what next | getting around | cheap things to do | shopping | food/water | nightlife | internet |  Health | Living there | Macau | China & Vietnam visas 

 

Before you go
To me, the best thing about being in Hong Kong is being in HK, in that whole HK scene (here's a slideshow). This site is about basics and is set up so it can be printed and carried along. The most straightforward and easy to navigate HK travel sites other than this one are
12hk.comHK Magazine  (keeps getting  better), MetroplasiaHong Kong Extras is an extensive source of information - nice. Lonely Planet website has some info, but more helpful to spend time on the LP Thorntree/TT Forum. The LP Hong Kong & Macau guide book (2006) is excellent. I think it would be a good idea to get a copy ($13-20 USD) for a visit of more than about four days. HK Stopover Guide has detailed information on brief visits, but valuable to any visitor. Fodor's print guide to HK is okay, but not much on budget travel. ThingsAsian has stories & photos. Wikitravel on Hong Kong and About: Hong Kong answer many questions. Mask of China is another personal HK site. Frommer’s is okay.
The oft-recommended Hong Kong Tourism Board website is improving, but still not as good as others, HK Magazine for example. Maybe just go straight to the helpful 18 Districts section of HKTB site. Once you get to HK, the HKTB places right after you clear customs and in big arrival hall have printed materials and the facility at the Kowloon Star Ferry Terminal has a lot printed and very helpful staff - Star Ferry site almost essential to travelers. Here are HK Outdoors and Philk's HK exploration blog (Oriental Sweet Lips) - the latter more for aficionados than casual visitors. Photo above: Side street in TST; photo left: people boarding the Star Ferry

Also worthwhile to search TravelBlogTravelPod, MyTripJournal, or RealTravel for other people’s experiences in HK. Worldisround has photos (these are mine - also see 2006-2007 photos) - link to budget-oriented photos and from a photographer commited to street-level photos. Visa information here from HK government. Maps on HTTB site. Information on HK's 18 districts/ areas (has maps, but I can't get them to print).
 
Current weather & seasonal information (World Meteorological Organization has a chart showing mean high/low temperatures, rainfall, and number of rain days. Also see World Atlas.com & Hong Kong Univ). CIA World FactbookNews from Asia TimesCNN in Asia, and South China Morning Post (have to register for SCMP)
 
Note
I’ve tended to focus on Kowloon because that’s my favorite part of HK and the least expensive once
you're out of lower Nathan Road/Tsim Sha Tsui area. Photo: Cheap dim sum at the Fa Yuen Market
 
Money
All prices given here are in Hong Kong Dollars (HKD). Current (7/2010) exchange rate is $7.79HKD to $1USD or $9.75HKD to $1€:
Currency Converter.

Money changers in Chungking Mansions (36-40 Nathan Road - see photo under Cheap things to do, below) seem to have rates slightly better than most other money changers or banks(unless you have an account at the bank). Rates are posted and vary according to size of bill and whether cash or traveler’s check. Bigger bills = better rates, as do changers further into the arcade. Transactions are at very public windows in the main arcade (a couple on next floor up). Do your math before you get to the window. When changing money just assume someone is evaluating you and how easy or difficult it would be to steal something. HK is generally a safe city, but it’s never a good idea to be lax where money is concerned.

Plenty of ATMs and banks around.

How much does it cost?
(Also see Cheap things to do below.) This for comfortable budget only. Let’s say there are two people traveling together. A small, clean, okay aircon double or twin with shower in Mirador Mansion or Sincere House will cost about $180-280HKD; triple $200-300 (~$100-150/person). See photos (below) of what this will get you. Decent food + bus, ferry, bottle water about $100/day. Add $50 for internet café, coffee, etc. and the total is around $32-35USD/person/day. Budget for $40-45USD /person/day for comfortable, budget travel in HK. Of course you can go cheaper and still live reasonably -
or you can spend a lot more. See Food section below for ways to save at Wellcome, streets, etc. Photo: Mongkok market

Airfare 
Airfare varies enor
mously - may be cheaper to fly Asiana to Macau, but factor in ferry (~$150 weekdays, more on weekends and nights) & time costs. We got better airfare prices on the phone with China Air DFW-HKG-BKK-BKK-HKG-DFW than on internet. Buying several months ahead and flying out of peak season (before 12/8) we equaled China Air price on the better Cathay Pacific. To find out airlines flying from HK to a specific place, go to the HK airport departure board and sort by destination, leave airline blank and click go - is this cool or what! Here is a list of
airlines flying in/out of Hong Kong + websites, airlines in Macauairlines in Bangkok, TaipeiLos Angeles, Phnom Penh & Siem Reap (Vietnam, Laos, and Burma not up). New Delhi & Mumbai are not very helpful sites. Google others. World airport codes & other interesting info. Many airports have a page with all their airlines listed. Lots to learn from these lists, like are there obscure connections that might run cheaper? In any case, preceding are some pretty good links. Skytrax rates airlines & airports. Seat Guru is a great site that tells you what seats are good, neutral, questionable, or bad on virtually every plane flown by every airline. If you're not in Asia, you might enjoy seeing the Chek Lap Kok departure board. Isn't it grand, seeing all the destinations ... 

Countless travel agents and related in HK, including Aero, Tiglion, ZujiJapan Travel Agency, and for China, China Travel Service (CTS) offices (though others can also take care of China travel - (thanks drumbrake & wyattwang).

Airport (Chek Lap Kok)
Arrival: Easy to find your way around and out of airport. Customs easy for most people. Hong Kong Tourism Board has a kiosk shortly after you clear customs. Several help desks and money changers (decent, but not best rates) in arrival hall. Change $20-50USD to HKD at airport. Get an
Octopus card at the airport Express Line Customer Service Centre. Use this electronic card to pay for public transportation, including bus, ferry, tram, etc. Deposit and left-over money refunded at end of trip (minus $7 service charge if returned before three months). Ask helpful staff or police where to catch bus into city (see below). You'll walk out to your right down a long ramp and to bus stop, where you wait briefly for the right bus (see below). Airport website. Expensive left luggage service (other options long-left things below in Random Tips). Sleeping in HK airport (some very good accounts - see Traveller's Lounge for ~$35 USD). SeatGuru is a great site on plane seating. Photo above: Departure area 

Departure: See Security above. Check-in for departure at compact area, then pay departure tax of $120 (as of 4/26/06) and go on through customs to a very comfortable departure area. Free internet in airport after immigration, and also with coffee at Pacific Coffee. Departure area large, easy to get around with moving sidewalks.

Transportation into city
Bus (A21 days, N21 nights) from HK airport to Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui (where most budget travelers stay) is $33HKD ($4.25 USD days and less at night). Exact change or Octopus only. Very easy and somewhat scenic ride. Bus has luggage racks and goes to heart of TST with stops ½ block from Dragon Hostel or Mirador and Chungking Mansions. There are announcements and a sign at the head of the bus telling what the next stop is and driver will tell you when to get off - usually grudgingly, but who cares - get used to it. Number A11 goes to HK Island for $40.

There also is the rail link, which is faster and more expensive – $90 one way to Kowloon, then catch a shuttle to TST. More complete and current information all buses, etc. on the airport website

Areas of HK

These are linked to a wide variety of external links for your surfing enjoyment. Photos at Worldisroundstreet-level photos all over HK. Maps are below under Places to Stay.
Kowloon (Where most budget guest houses are - see below): Tsim Sha Tsui is at lower Nathan Road with tourists, touts, hotels, "mansions" guesthouses, expensive shops - cheaper shops on side streets. In order, as you walk north on Nathan are: Jordan, Yau Ma Tei, Mong Kok, and Sham Shui Po - very busy, crowded. Temple Street night market is near Jordan Road and the Ladies Market is further north in Mong Kok, other cheap shopping, cheap food, everything good. See HK Magazine on Mong Kok. Further north looks good - it's many years since I was there. Tsim Sha Tsui East is relatively new area with shopping, museum, hotels.

New Territories (NT): Everything north of Kowloon is part of the NT. The area was largely rural until the rapid growth of townships (new towns) over the past 25 years. Transportation to the NT is via the KCR West Rail or MTR and then mini bus or taxi. The Sai Kung Peninsula and Clearwater Bay are good getaways from Kowloon.  

Hong Kong Island: Central is business-oriented, expensive shopping, hotels, some less expensive neighboorhood type streets, and The PeakLan Kwai Fong is in Central, but entertainment-oriented. Wanchai is east of Central and is where sailors used to go. Still has bars (but much nicer than sailor-oriented), businesses, hotels, horse racing at Happy Valley, and Hong Kong Convention Center. Causeway Bay is further east & has expensive shopping & hotels. Heading west from Central is Western District and Sheung WanWestern has Chinese neighborhood life, Hollywood Road, Man Mo Temple and SoHo scene. Central-Mid-Levels Escalator is here. Sheung Wan has mostly Chinese neighborhood life. On south side of Island is Aberdeen, a basic fishing port with access to the expensive "floating" restaurants. A great bus ride from Central are Repulse Bay, Stanley, and Shek-O for beaches & shopping. Photo above: Dried food for sale - photo taken from bus.

The islands: Lantau has a giant Buddha image and the Po Lin Monastery. Cheung Chau has beach areas and glimpses of traditional life. Lamma is known for open-air seafood restaurants, very quiet. All can be reached by ferry from Central (go to your right from Star Ferry pier). Links: Lamma.com, Virtual Tourist guide (okay, not great), INM Travel Guide.

Places to stay (budget)
Budget rooms in HK are very small. In May 2005 we paid $240HKD for clean aircon triple in old section of Cosmic Guesthouse in Mirador Mansion (58 Nathan Road) and in July 2005 we paid $260 for nicer triple (photo below) in new section. In 2006 we paid $260 for a clean aircon twin room at the Dragon Inn in Mong Kok and in 2007 and 2008 we paid around $300 for twin at the Dragon Hostel, also in Mongkok at the Sincere House. There won’t be much difference in price for a double or single. Decent places available for $260 up dbl. No need to stay in a dirty, unfriendly, or dubious place! There are a few touts in the arcade of the Mirador and many touts in Chungking arcade (36-44 Nathan Road) - not to mention countless GHs. Photo above: Cosmic GH entrance (David & me); photo below: most of the budget rooms really are very small

One way to look for a room is to leave one person with the packs or whatever in the arcade and another person take the elevator to a high floor - I think Mirador has about 16 floors (Cosmic on 13) - and work your way down checking out places and prices. Or you can carry your pack from place to place – no big deal. You're only at a bargaining disadvantage if you look tired or frazzled. Try to negotiate for cost of room, except in high season. Here is a set of photos of nothing BUT budget HK guesthouses and Hong Kong Youth Hostels site. The following are commercial sites and seem to be in financial relationships with the places they list. Most, but not all, listings are good places to stay: http://www.hostelz.comhttp://www.hostels.net/Twizi! listing/ advertisements of low cost guesthouses with photos (map is a little off, e.g., Mirador is much further south), 2Camels listing of guesthouses. Here is a pretty good government site showing registered guesthouses. Photo below: Triple room new section of Cosmic GH.

More and more guesthouses are going on-line and their sites are interesting in terms of seeing what your money will get and also maybe some cultural clues (to what I don't know) in what they choose to show photos of - for example, they all have a hallway photo. Working your way up Nathan Road (toward the north) from the Star Ferry, here are some budget places to stay (all very easily accessible from/to via bus A21):

Cheapest (multiple locations) is Hong Kong Youth Hostels

Close to Star Ferry - YMCA at 41 Salisbury Road is at the beginning (southern end) of Nathan Road. Not a budget place, but people always want to know - the Y is expensive (>$100- $350 USD) but has some harbor view rooms.

Chungking Mansions (36-44 Nathan Road) has countless GHs, some for particular nationalities (Pakistan, Nigeria, etc.). Here is a site with CKM GHs and hostels listed (some websites) The Chungking House has been there for many years. Cheapest place in TST (from drumbrake) is Travellers Hostel, A block, 16Fl, Chungking Mansions - dorm beds are around $60HKD ($7.75USD) a night. Time Travel nearby - good rates. Here is photo of a cheap guesthouse "room" & account of staying in the Chungking Mansions - ¡Ay Caramba! Map of Kowloon: click the map below to read it. Hawaii Guesthouse, Elevator A, rooms $90-160, always full because it's so cheap, must book ahead. New Peking Guest House is recommended by some and has a classic website.

map of Kowloon, Hong KongMirador Mansion (58-62 Nathan Road) has about 15 or 16 floors and is small enough that you can take an elevator to the top and work your way down on the stairs from GH to GH (maybe 15-20 GHs?). The new website for Cosmic GH is spiffer than the Cosmic itself. "We Got Shower in Every Room." Drumbrake, who knows just about everything about HK says, "I think Garden Hostel (3rd floor, Mirador Mansions) is still the friendliest hostel in HK..." Time Travel is near. Garden GH is not the same as New Garden GH, which gets poor reviews on TT. Man Hing Lung Hotel also in Mirador.

Golden Crown Court (66-70 Nathan Road) has several places to stay, including Yiu Fai GH and Wonderful Inn.

Cameron Road (couple of blocks up from Mirador Mansion) - at corner of Nathan and Cameron is the Majestic House, where the Sealand GH is; Star & Lee Garden GHs are on Cameron.

Jordan Road - a block over is Tak Hing Street, where the more upscale Rent-A-Room is.

New Lucky House (300-306 Nathan Road/enter on Jordan in Yau Ma Tei) has several GHs, but none (so far) with websites, including Hakka's, Ocean, Overseas and others. 

Saigon Street is how to get to Woo Sung Street, where you will find the Evergreen Hotel ("We Are Not A 5-Star Hong Kong Hotel").

Cliff Road is halfway between Kansu & Waterloo Roads - Caritas Lodge & Caritas Bianchi Lodge, both on Cliff Road, are more upscale than most of the places in this site. 

Waterloo Road - near Yau Ma Tei MTR is Wing Sing Lane where Salvation Army Booth Lodge has a free-standing building with doubles $490 HK up.

Sincere House is several kilometers up Nathan Road and 2 blocks over on Argyle (6th stop A21 bus from airport). Here you'll find the popular Dragon Hostel (our favorite) and the Dragon Inn (and other places as well). We like this neighborhood better than TST, as it has virtually no touts and very few tourists.

map of Hong Kong EastNear the Mong Kok MTR is Anne Black GH (YWCA) - accepts women & men.

Sham Shui Po, a non-tourist area further north has the Joy Guesthouse and low-cost electronics + assorteds.

Shatin (New Territories) - Ascension House 

Hong Kong Island - Causeway Bay area - Alisan GHNoble Hostel & Wang Fat Hostel. Near North is Yesinn Hostel. Jockey Club Mount Davis Hostel (formerly Ma Wui Hall) for stays elsewhere on Island. More maps here: Click this one to enlarge

Other: Lamma: Sunrise Holiday Resort is  $330-$380 weekdays. Guesthouse - "resort" on Lamma is $350 weekdays cheapest & $660 weekends. Concerto Inn has rooms $480 up + charges. Cheung Chau: Cheung Chau Bed & Breakfast has doubles $390-490 weekdays, up to $790 weekends. Lantau has Mui Wo (good article from SFGate). Augusters Lodge is in Macau - check out the entrance photo. Post questions on lodging and other issues at Thorntree Travel Forum. Photo (below): courtyard hallway to the Dragon Inn

Bed bugs are uncommon in HK, but ... Adult bed bugs are about 1/4 inch long and reddish brown, with oval, flattened bodies. Nymphs are ~size of a pinhead. Eggs are tiny, whitish, and hard to see. Bed bugs usually hide close to where people sleep, e.g., pleats & tufts of mattresses, springs, bed frames, and headboards. Hiding areas are marked by dark spotting and staining from dried excrement; there also may be eggs and eggshells, molted skins of maturing nymphs, and the bugs themselves. Another likely sign of bed bugs is rusty or reddish spots of blood on bed sheets, mattresses, or walls (have a look, using flashlight before paying for room). Bugs are most active in pre-dawn hours. Sources: Univ. of Kentucky & Harvard

Random tips
Have an umbrella and consider carrying it (remember, I told you). Don't buy camera, electronics, or
watch on lower Nathan Rood. Don't leave passport or money in your room. Plugs in HK. Leaving things long-term (month or more): Hong Kong Self Storage, Room+, SC Storage, Store Friendly, Self Store Asia, Hong Kong Storage (thanks to Bruce McLaughlin on Thorntree)  

I have 12-24 hours in HK
There have been several threads on TT on this topic. Here is a good discussion/review of a day in HK from the very knowledgeable drumbrake. Also see HK Stopover Guide. Here are considered suggestions for what can be done in 12 or a few more hours in HK without rushing. The problem with a 12 hour lay-over is that it's 3-5 hours less than 12 hours because of time in the plane, customs, security, figuring things out, getting from one place to another, getting lost, making sure you're not late back to airport, etc. Also, see cheap things to do, below. Photo below: Haiphong Road

Arrive around noon: clear customs, grab a map, use left luggage if (hopefully not) necessary or check luggage for next flight, change about $50 US to ~$385HKD - enough to buy a few inexpensive things, food, etc. If you have leftover HKD sell back is not a terrible deal; if you need more plenty of okay money changers around. Get a map if you can and a one day RT ticket for airport express train or take A21 bus (by now it will probably be 1:30) to Tsim Sha Tsui. Train faster, bus more scenic. The goal is to get close to Star Ferry. If hungry, there are several place for snacks in the streets north of the ferry. Stop in HK Tourism Board office to pick up free maps, etc., then take the ferry to Central. If the Peak is not covered in fog, walk to Peak Tram terminus, take tram to Peak, hang around there for awhile - food expensive. May want to skip walking around the Peak trail as it takes about an hour. Head back to ferry, cross harbor. If you have time, check out Chungking Mansions, then take a bus up Nathan Road to the Ladies Market/Tung Choi Street area (plenty of street food around here), walk around, catch bus on Nathan Road back to airport.

IMPORTANT From Cathay Pacific website 9/1/2006: Passengers are reminded to be at the airport for check-in at least 3 hours prior to departure and proceed to the departure area immediately after check-in. Due to additional security measures, the security processing time will take longer than usual and passengers are advised to have minimal hand-carry baggage.

Arrive about 8am: Read above. Follow above except you have time to hang out on the ferry promenade to left of ferry terminal. Take ferry to Central, walk to Peak Tram terminus, Peak (you probably have time to walk all the way around), back down, chose from Island options (Central/Wanchai, Central/Lan Kwai Fong, Sheung Wan/Central/ SoHo), ferry back to Tsim Sha Tsui, walk through the Lock, Hankow Road area to Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road. Walk around the 1st floor for 15 minutes for a true international experience, then walk or bus up Nathan Road to Mong Kok (restaurants of varying cost 1-2 streets to west of Nathan Road). Take bus to the airport - see IMPORTANT above.

I have a room, some $HKD: What next?
The next thing to do is go to Star Ferry and the tourist office there (on Kowloon side). On the way if you walk one-two streets (Lock or Hankow Roads) over from Nathan Road you may see a restaurant to come back to. Free maps, aircon, etc. at tourist office. Questions answered. You'll be glad you have the map. Get several – a great souvenir. Check brochures. To get to the ferry just walk down Nathan Road or a street or two over toward the harbor to Salisbury Road. As you run out of walking area, go to your right and you will get to the Star Ferry. After getting your maps and any brochures that look interesting, maybe it’s time to take your
first Star Ferry ride. Photo: Star Ferry looking toward Central

Getting around
A good public transportation site. To take a bus, use map from tourist office and signs at bus stops to figure out which bus to take.
Very easy and in-town fares run around $4.50 new bus and $2.30 old bus. Always several options on buses to take. Correct change is required for public transportation OR you can get an Octopus card at some public transportation facilities, including the airport and MTR. I think all taxis have a meter, though I haven't taken one since 1978. Ferry couldn't be simpler. HK Tram site (Central). MTR is here. Hong Kong is very compact and walking often an option. Check http://www.yp.com.hk for addresses. Photo: Street in TST

Cheap things to do
Streets: Just being on the streets is wonderful, especially once past the "golden mile" of tourist electronics area of Nathan Road (these guys are not your friend). Lock, Hankow, and Ashley running off Haiphong at Nathan Road are much quieter than Nathan. Temple Street/night market area off Jordan at Nathan Road has some good things, some different than Ladies Market in Mong Kok, which is also good. Wanchai on HK Island is good, with some small streets and good markets & shopping. Central has business district atmosphere. Western and Sheung Wan are a great trolley car ride from Central. Get off anywhere and walk one street over for deep Chinese neighborhood. Even the bongo crosswalks in HK are a pleasure. See neighborhoods below.

Thorntree thread on oddball things to do in HK.

Star Ferry (photo is ~1 page up): The Star Ferry is a very good ride for very little money. Fares are $2.20 (30 cents) for 1st class with aircon and views to the front and $1.70 for 2nd class closer to the water. 1st or 2nd class, views of the harbor are unparalleled. Ride during day and at night. The ferry promenade on TST has good views, relaxed. At night there is a light show across the harbor.

Victoria Peak: A very nice 20 minute walk from the Star Ferry on HK Island ferry takes you to the Victoria Peak tram station on Garden Road. Instead of walking you can take the shuttle bus #15C from the bus stop close to the ferry to the Peak Tram Terminus for $20. Less expensive and much more scenic than tram is bus #15 ($9) from the bus stop just across from the ferry and a little to your right (3 minutes from Star Ferry) to the top of the Peak. Even if you have to wait at the stop, try to be first or second on the bus and go straight to front topside seats - Excellent! The view from the top is grand. The 1-2 hour walk around the Peak on Lugard Road is recommended. Pacific Coffee on Peak has pretty good coffee - in the context of traveling in Asia, very good - and if you buy coffee you can use internet for awhile at no additional charge - overlooking the harbor.

Man Mo Temple: This Buddhist/Taoist temple near Hollywood and Ladder Streets (interesting neighborhood) has huge incense coils, fascinating atmosphere, and opportunities to contribute.

Buses & Trams: Many buses have a top deck. Whether riding up Nathan Road, to Stanley (on the Island), or wherever, the view is good and the price is right (cheap). At ~$4.50 in-town for newer buses and less ($2.40?) for older, I think bus rides are as good a deal as the Star Ferry. Just not as - dare I say it - romantic as the ferry. The tram will take you from the Western to the Eastern parts of HK for $2. Catch it on Des Voeux Road Central (later becomes Johnston Road).

Shatin Horse Ground: Just watch the races for $10 (people's area) or gamble, with the latter not a "cheap thing to do" - unless you win - haha.

Chungking Mansions: Some would say I'm strange for this recommendation, but I cannot imagine going to HK and not wandering around the maze of the ground floor arcade of the Chungking Mansions - though I do not recommend staying there as there are way too many hustlers and angry-looking men around. Someday they’ll tear this place down (or it will burn) and you'll be so glad you can say (casually), “Yeah, sure, I’ve been to the Chungking.” Photo: "Gritty" stairs CKM (this is the only HK guide with a photo of CKM stairs)

Earlier morning (i.e., 10am) cinema screenings were very cheap the last time HongKongDave was there (8/2004) - only HK$30 for first run films. You can get film details at www.cinema.com.hk & http://www.cityline.com.hk. Another HK movie page - including where to buy DVDs.

Meeting locals (from pretty good TT thread on things to do in HK): If you want to meet locals in Hong Kong, do the things you would do at home. There's a wide range of services and newspapers available in English if you don't speak Cantonese or Mandarin to get you started.

  • If you're into classical music, call up a music teacher and go to some recitals or CK suggests Chinese University of HK Music Department.
  • If you're a church goer, go to a service or mass.
  • If you're a clubber, there's plenty of nightlife centred around drinking and music.
  • If you're a runner, call up the local Hash House Harrier group - they have good weekly get-togethers with runs and beers afterwards.

And so on and so forth... there are clubs and societies and hobby-groups for every mania (must be an English thing they inherited). Thanks to Jumping on TT Forum. Here is a good TT thread on free things to do and a thread on interesting free views

Shopping
If you’re reading this you probably cannot afford antiques, real designer clothes and the like, which are available in HK. However, copies are available and some are nice. I've bought a lot of things in HK over the years and am glad I have most of it. I prefer shopping in Burma, Cambodia, and so on, though.

Books: Swindon's is a fairly large bookstore at 13-15 Lock Road (small street one over and parallel to Nathan Road). The Travellers Home has a small collection of used books and CDs at 2/F 55 Hankow Road (one street over from Lock Road). Flow Organic Bookshop has two locations. Here is a HK publisher.

Clothes, etc.: Ladies' Market area - Tung Choi Street, Fu Yuen street area in Mongkok (parallel to Nathan Road) have clothes and everything else under the sun at good (negotiable) prices. All copies. Traffic is blocked off some of the streets. Great street food mostly on cross streets like Argyle. Best after 4-5pm. Much better now than Temple Street “night market.” Granville Road off lower Nathan Road in TST has outlet branches. Stanley Market (via excellent bus ride from Central) is recommended by many for souvenirs & larger size clothes. Photo above: Shopping (taken somewhere past Mongkok? - I was completely lost this day) Below: The Mongkok Fa Yuen) Market

Jewelry: Jade Market: You have no chance of getting a good deal on good jade here – unless you really know jade. Great deals on imitation, though. Market is open in the morning near Kansau Street in Yau Ma Ti (up Nathan Road). Department stores, e.g., China Arts & Crafts, Yue Hwa, others have mid-priced things. In the past my wife and I got a good deal on a diamond and sapphire ring at King Fook on Nathan Road.

Souvenirs: A million places. Prices at China Arts & Crafts or Yue Hwa tell you the maximum to pay elsewhere, and you should be able to do better elsewhere.

Cameras, electronics, watches, etc.: Probably best to purchase such things on internet before you go. Forget buying these on Nathan Road and forget about starting there for comparison shopping. The Golden Computer Arcade and Golden Shopping Center is a great place to buy computer and small electronics-related things around Apliu Street area next to the Sham Shui Po MTR station way up Nathan Road. I compared camera prices at Fortress, a HK electronics chain with (I think) a good reputation vs. what is available on internet via CNET site. Fortress was more expensive by 10-20% on mid-price cameras. Photo: Noodle shop

Food
Going just a block or so away from tourist areas saves money. For example, BBQ duck and pork rice is twice as expensive at Guangdong BBQ on Lock or Hankow as at a nicer place (Happy Garden Noodle & Congee) a few blocks away on Canton Road (though many Chinese eating at Guangdong). We had a massive feast of duck, pork, veggies, rice & tea for $18/person at small place near Golden Computer Arcade. Cold drinks usually more expensive than hot ones.

Good street food around Mongkok, especially Ladies Market. Sham Shui Po further up Nathan Road is good. Night market area seemed more expensive. Something good is available at a good price in most neighborhoods except for banking/upscale business and tourist areas.

Good Lonely Planet discussion of food. LP thread SE Asian food. Good food site: Cha Xui Bao. Photo: BBQ place near Ladies Market. Clever photog in lower right

You can save money by shopping at Wellcome grocery store (many locations, including Nathan Road, Hankow Road), eating at stalls in back of Chungking, getting street food near Ladies Market, Temple Street, off of Haiphong Road, and so on.

Great Indian (halal) food in back of Chungking behind E-Block at Shalimar Restaurant for around $50-70/person (tandoori $50, vindaloo $38, madras $38, nan $8-15, lassi $15). Other people report other good places for Indian food in CKM, e.g., Taj Mahal Club (3rd floor, B block) and Delhi Club (3rd floor C block). List of halal and vegeterian restaurants.

Nice little place called Big John’s at 17 Lock Road off Nathan Road. Western and Chinese food. You say you’re ready for chicken salad, maybe even some vegetables or a western breakfast? Runs $24-40. Pretty good vibes, too.

Several food courts around – Ruth in China recommends food court on west side of Nathan Road on Argyle in Langham Place Mall - Indian, Korean and Chinese food as well as a Deli France, Starbucks, Pacific Coffee (free internet), etc.

Artichoke (a person living in HK) recommends going to small local restaurants (cha charn teng) for a pineapple bun with butter (bo lor yau) or egg tart (dang tart - gimme one a them dang tarts). Photo Outside the Shalimar Restaurant in Chungking MansionsWater
Good deals on bottle water at Wellcome; 7-11 and arcades more expensive.

Night life
Central/Mid-Levels/Lan Kwai Fong area is popular, mid-upscale. hkclubbing.com/ & Pubs in Asia. TSkillet on Thorn Tree recommends
Chemical Suzy in TST for local crowd. Careful of hostesses in TST bars - they're not approaching you because you're so good looking - you'll pay. From Drumbrake: "Ruth has the best idea - buy beer from 7-11 and go to LKF. Many others do that as well ... Friday or Saturday night - is when it really gets busy."

Bandshows (~$60) feature 4-6 local bands like King Lychee and Shepherds the Weak - these are rockers, not pop bands.

Internet
There are fewer internet cafes than I anticipated. Pacific Coffee Company (several locations) gives 20 or
more minutes with purchase of coffee. There is an amazingly small place in Chungking arcade. I don't know where else.
 
Health
There are no current health concerns specific to HK. Travelers may experience diarrhea, but even for this, risk is low. Translate western medicines into Chinese at http://www.drdict.com/, e.g., albuterol is 沙丁胺醇, 舒喘灵(亦称

Living in HK
Internet resources that may be helpful in considering living in HK: TT thread
HKexpats, Geoexpat, and Asiaxpat. Some apartment sites are apartments.com, YWCA Building, Rent-A-Room Hong Kong, and Caritas Lodge & Caritas Bianchi Lodge (Yau Ma Tei). Work visas not freely given. Jobs at SCMP Classifieds.

Macau (almost everything here is from drumbrake on Thorn Tree Forum @ lonelyplanet.com) Photo: TST bar

Here is a Great Thorntree thread on Macau.

For historical sights and things to photo, Macau is a great place to go and is highly recommended. There is so much more in Macau than just the casinos: Macau government tourism site, also see Lonely Planet on Macau or (not a backpacker site) Hoteltravel.comThere's a fast ferry between Hong Kong and Macau. It takes an hour and costs around HK$140 one way

If there are two people, it's usually cheaper to buy a package including hotel and return ferry tickets from one of the travel agents at the Macau ferry pier in Hong Kong. Packages start from around HK$800 for weekdays which means you are getting a night in a decent hotel for around HK$200, much cheaper than a similar hotel in Hong Kong. Sunday through Thursday best price. Here is a cheap place to stay in Macau, coutesy of Ruth in China.

China & Vietnam visa
The most common tourist visa for China is a single entry tourist visa valid for up to 30 days from issue. Visa are available from PRC embassies, China Travel Service (CTS) offices, or other travel agencies (drumbrake notes
Japan Travel Agency in TST is popular) - some travelers advise using agency other than CTS. Here is a TT thread on visas with important information for US citizens. A CTS office in Kowloon is at the Alpha House, 27-33 Nathan Road near the Star Ferry (phone 852-2315 7188), and is open 7 days/week. Cost of visa (as of 3/2006) is $210 with 3 day service, $360 for 2 day service, and $480 for one day service (but see TT thread above). Check CTS site for exemptions and other types of visas.

Vietnam visa in HK available from VN Consulate on HK Island (Wan Chai). Address is 230 Wan Chai Road in the Great Smart Tower Building. Tourist office at Star Ferry can give specific details on how to get there. Takes two days normal for one month ($300) but you can get 14 day visa immediately for an an extra $500. Thanks to worldbackpacker.

Have a wonderful time in Hong Kong. Photo: Waiting to board the ferry

 

Thanks to drumbrake, (the amazing) astroboy, Ruth in China, philk, Lionfish, worldbackpacker, artichoke, HongKongDave, Tskillet, , exiledgooner, Aristotle, & sanddog; my traveling companions, David & Jeff; and Leslie, my wife, my life & traveling companion

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