Hong Kong was always a place I wanted to visit and now I could tick it off my bucket list. (Also, you can read about my travels in Shanghai here) I decided to fly Business Class with Turkish Airlines from Dublin to Istanbul and onwards to Hong Kong. Since this article was written, Cathay Pacific now fly direct from Dublin to Hong Kong. For those of you who have not flown either economy or business class with Turkish Airlines, you need to try it. The service from the time you check-in, to arriving at your final destination is superb. Business passengers have access to the DAA lounge in Dublin prior to departing and when boarding the modern 737-800 aircraft you are greeted by the Chef/Cabin Manager, who offers a refreshing lemonade before you take off. I must give credit where it’s due, and the quality of the food served on the outbound flight was superb.
The delicious starters were followed by a steak cooked to my liking with roast peppers/vegetables complimented by the Turkish Red wine Egeo, which was surprisingly lovely. Upon arrival in Istanbul, you have access to the Turkish Airlines lounge which is nearly bigger than some airports. I have to say that I enjoyed the whole experience of the Turkish Airlines lounge with so many activities from golf, pool, massage to racing cars, it certainly made the time fly by, not to mention the choice of food & drink. As I was boarding my next flight in the early hours I was ready to sleep in my lie-flat bed on the next leg of my journey to Hong Kong on the Turkish airlines 777 wide-bodied aircraft.
After arriving in Hong Kong Airport, we were delightfully met by the Shangri-La Airport Manager and whisked off from the airport by the house car of the Kowloon Shangrila-La Hotel, a Mercedes no less (they obviously knew what The Fabulous Traveller was accustomed to). The journey took approx 45 mins and when we arrived at the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel (recommended by Dominic Burke from Travel Centres) we were greeted by Cynthia from guest relations who took us straight away to our room without the need to check-in at reception (great service). Our Deluxe Harbour View room on the 15th floor had an amazing view of Kowloon harbour and the buildings across the bay. Cynthia was able to do all the necessary paper-work directly from our room while we enjoyed the hospitality.
The Kowloon Shangri-La is a fabulous hotel situated right on the harbour with stunning views. The hotel is more old-world luxurious than modern contemporary. The hotel also has a spa and gym with a small pool and sauna. The hotel has also recently introduced a handy phone in each room which is a really clever idea. This mobile smartphone can be used by clients and taken out with them when visiting Hong Kong. The handy phone allows them to call destinations at low cost and access data-free. The phone also gives tips on where to shop (ideal for persons who do not have big data packages when roaming abroad). The hotel also offers upgraded suites for persons taking their family package and kids can experience sleeping in tents in their room if they so wish. Other hotels to consider are New World Millenium (contemporary hotel) and The Peninsula both in Kowloon.
Hong Kong is made up of a number of islands the main being Kowloon and Hong Kong island. These are joined by road tunnels, metro, and the star ferries service. Star Ferries takes approx 2-3 minutes and is a great way of seeing the harbour and lights. The ferry costs approx €0.60 per person which is really cheap. The metro is very easy to access (metro line right below Kowloon Shangri-La hotel) and cost a similar price to the Ferry.
So, our first attraction to visit was The Sky Terrace using the Peak Tram. Get the Star Ferry to Hong Kong island, as you come out of the harbour building turn left and get the 15C bus (or a taxi) to the Peak Tram building. Ok so here’s the issue: we arrived at the tram building and had to queue for at least an hour to get on the tram to take us up to the peak. This is really annoying and needs to be managed much better. We arrived in the afternoon so maybe the morning time is better. The tram ride is really quaint and the view looking down is wow but I don’t want to wait an hour to get on it! The alternative is to get a taxi to the top and back down to the bottom and just pay in at the top (we actually took a taxi back down as the queue was another hour to get the 5 min tram back down).
When you finally get to the Sky Terrace, the views are breathtaking overlooking Hong Kong, there is a 360 view of the islands both skyscrapers and the islands in the bay. There are also shops and restaurants at the top. We had lunch in the Wildfire pizza co which also has views over Hong Kong and the prices are fairly reasonable. As I mentioned earlier we got a taxi back down to the port (don’t pay more than HK$ 150 – €15 as taxis are known for ripping people off, correct price should be HK$ 70 – €8.
There is so much to see and do in Hong Kong, other attractions including Ocean Park (which is a mix of animals and attraction rides) expect queues and Lantau Island where you can take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car with a glass-bottom floor known as the Crystal cabin and other sports activities. Other attractions to visit are Hong Kong Wetland Park and the usual hop on hop off bus tours.
If it’s shopping you are after then check out Ladies Market near Mon Kok metro station, Electronic Street (all electrical goods) and Sneaker Street (sports trainers etc). Ladies Market is where you will haggle all day long for stuff you will probably throw out when you get back (watch out for some aggressive traders and that’s just the women). Electronics are good value (Hong Kong is duty-free) but we were disappointed with the value on perfumes and aftershaves which are just as cheap in Dublin Airport.
Night-time is when Hong Kong comes alive. The benefit of staying in Kowloon over Hong Kong Island is the view, especially at night. The lights on the buildings bring it alive at night. At 8 pm each evening a laser light show happens in the bay. All I would say is don’t get too excited about this (it’s boring) we were waiting for the WOW moment that never happened. You can take a boat out into the bay such as Aqualina or Aurora, who will charge you more for the light show (don’t bother) watch it from the promenade in Kowloon.
There are plenty of restaurants and bars in Hong Kong. We had some fabulous meals during our trip including The Tango Argentinian Steakhouse and Wooloomooloo Steakhouse. We also had a great Thai meal in a restaurant called Azurike on Hong Kong island (some great bars on that street too). Again, with so many restaurants and bars to choose from just check out local reviews. If you are looking for some cool bars check out 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Back Bar, one of my favourites Lily & Bloom, The Old Man and Zuma.
We only had three days in Hong Kong but if I had more time, I would have visited Macao which is known as the Las Vegas of China. It’s an hour away by ferry however, there is a new bridge opened in 2018 offering direct access from Hong Kong to Macao which will take 45 mins by car. Hong Kong is a fabulous destination, so go on, get booking, tick it off your bucket list!!
Note as at Sept 2019 – currently, there is Civil Unrest in Hong Kong so please constantly check with the airline that you are travelling with. It is worth noting that standard Travel Insurance Policies exclude Civil Unrest so check the terms and conditions of your policy. Check with your provider for Travel Disruption Cover.