Although Hong Kong was handed over to China a few years back, a visa is not required if you are a U.S. citizen, so that makes it really easy to get to since there are several nonstop flights from the U.S. Including Continental Airlines (now United) from Newark, Chicago and San Francisco as well as Cathay Pacific from New York-JFK, Chicago and Los Angeles plus nonstop from Vancouver, BC Canada. Air Canada (AC) also flies from Vancouver as well.
The likes of Air France (AF), British Airways (BA), KLM (KL), Lufthansa (LH) and Virgin Atlantic Airways (VS) will get you there from Europe. So you can throw out the excuse you were cooking up. This coupled with many connections out of Asia gives you no reason not to check out this great city.
You can decide to head east or west it does not matter you’ll get there about the same time on Sunday a.m. if you leave the U.S. Friday p.m. The eastbound option allows you to work a full day while the westbound option have you working 1/2 a day or possibly taking the entire Friday off depending on where you live in the U.S. If you are in Europe, you get even more time in Hong Kong.
Its very easy to get around the city, either by ferry or subway is the cheapest. Getting from the airport to the city works well as you can take the train. Once in the city, you can get to all parts of the city.
My favorite place to hang out is Stanley Market as the bargains are fantastic if you know what you are looking for. Next stop would be to get some suits made from the many tailors around the city. If you had time you could do a side trip to either Macau like I did (visa on arrival) via a CAT complete with airplane seats :-), or head to Shenzen on mainland China for more shopping. You can also get to mainland China easily from the trains stations in Hong Kong.
I’ve not done Shenzen as yet, but have flown in one morning, had breakfast, went shopping, visited Macau, came back to Hong Kong, had dinner at my friend’s hotel, then headed back to the airport and caught a Cathay Pacific flight to Los Angeles, CA (LAX). All in a weekend i.e. Friday to Sunday p.m. arriving at work on Monday a.m. on the red eye from LAX.
One of my favorite memories of Hong Kong are the landings at the old Kai Tak airport. The planes used to come over the city so low, you could read the registration information under the airplane. If you jumped high enough you could almost touch them. The noise was immense, but everyone loved it. Today, the new airport Chep Lap Kok sits on a bay some distance from the city. I had the pleasure of flying in on the second to last day of Kai Tak and flying out on the first day of Chep Lap Kok, but that’s for another post.
Here’s what my friend did with two of her girlfriends on her weekend extravaganza from the U.S. doing the eastbound route via London-Heathrow with British Airways (BA), then returning via Los Angeles, CA on Cathay Pacific (CX).
For this weekend trip we had about 10 hours to explore the city and do a quick foodie trip as well. Chep Lap Kok, Hong Kong (HKG) is a great airport in which to have a layover as there’s great shopping and restaurants to occupy your time.
Once we arrived, we took the train into the city (100 HKD). From the train station in the city, we grabbed a quick bite at a bakery and then took a bus to our first stop, Victoria Peak, it was a beautiful clear day so there were alot of people there. I’d advise you to get there early to avoid long lines. The view there was amazing, it’s one of the places from where you can see almost all of Hong Kong.
After that we waved down a taxi and asked the driver to take us to the nearest Dim Sum and shopping place. He took us to Soho where we had the authentic local Dim Sum experience at Lin Heung. We had to fight for an open table as well as food with the other customers.
After what some would call a stressful brunch we walked around Soho and stumbled upon Mak’s Noodle, they had freshly made egg noodles with wantons (this place Anthony Bourdain had visited before).
Then we shopped around the street markets and decided to take the subway to the gaint Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha) on Lan Tau Island. When we got there we decided to pay a little extra for the crystal gondola (its the gondolas with the clear bottoms) it is worth it as the lines back were about 15-30mins longer for the regular gondolas. The ride took about 30mins to reach Ngong Ping the village near the giant Buddha.
As we were limited on time we ran past all the shopping and restaurants in that village to get to the monastery (about a 15 min walk but with all the crowds about 10 mins longer). Once inside you can take a tour inside the Buddha and walk up all the stairs. Be sure to watch the times and the lines because the gondola rides end at 5:30 p.m. and you will have to take a bus into the city if you miss the last gondola.
From there we headed back to the airport, it was a short 15 min ride and cost about 4 HKD.
Have you been to Hong Kong? What was it like for you?