I traveled solo to Hong Kong 3 years ago. While most people who go to Hong Kong have Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park on their itinerary, mine didn’t have those two. I actually didn’t prepare an itinerary for the trip, I went there without a plan. Days prior to the trip I was searching for things to do in HK, and I found out that there are actually plenty of mountains to hike there. I flew to Hong Kong without a plan, but I knew that I wanna try hiking there, view the HK skyline from the secret spot in Victoria Peak that I have read in a blog, and go to Macau to see a giant panda.
I wrote the first draft of this post a few weeks after my trip. But I don’t remember why I never got to finish it. And now that I’m on voluntary home quarantine, I am going over the drafts of my blog and saw this. I completely forgot about this draft. I don’t even remember that I actually finished half of this post already. But I’ll finish this now even though I no longer remember all the details (like costs etc.). Things probably have changed too, especially with the pandemic. But who knows, maybe some of the things here might still be useful when we can travel again.
First Out of the Country Trip After Four Years
My trip to Hong Kong was my first out of the country trip after 4 years. It wasn’t actually planned but my officemate won two round trip tickets to HK from her credit card and she just got back from her family trip there so she decided to sell the tickets since it’s transferrable. I got my roundtrip ticket to Hong Kong in 2017 for only Php 5000 (around USD 100). It was cheap considering the airline was Cathay Pacific.
I was supposed to go there with another officemate who bought the other ticket but he decided to back out two weeks before the trip. (Another I went anyways moment for me). It had no effect on me though because when we booked our flight we agreed that once we get to HK, we will part ways and we’ll just meet again at the airport on the day of our flight back to the Philippines.
On the Day of the Flight to Hong Kong
The original time of my flight was 19:55. However, when I was at the check-in counter in the airport, the girl at the counter asked if I wanted to take the earlier flight, 17:45. She said there won’t be any issues because it was still early and it would mean I will get to Hong Kong earlier so I agreed. Crazy me, I didn’t check the time. After getting my boarding pass, I proceeded to Immigration. That’s when I realized I only had five minutes left until the boarding time. The line at the Immigration was a bit long. I was getting a little bit worried so I asked the girl in front of me if it was okay that I go first and she was kind enough to let me. Luckily, I didn’t have any issues at the immigration and I got to the boarding gate in time.
The flight to Hong Kong from Manila is 2 hours and 10 minutes. After finishing the necessary steps at the immigration and getting my checked-in bag, I looked for a money changer because I only had Philippine Peso with me.
Travel tip: Do not exchange all of your money at the airport. The exchange rate at the money changers in Chungking Mansions is way better. Exchange only enough HKD to make it to your hotel and to last for a day.
After exchanging money, I purchased Octopus Card at the Airport Express Customer Service Centre. The card is mostly used to pay for rides on the MTR, buses, ferries, trams, and on a few taxis equipped with Octopus readers. The card costs HKD 150. It has an initial stored value of HKD 100 and a deposit of HKD 50 which will be refunded to you together with the remaining value of the card when you return it at the Customer Service Centre at the airport. (Note: A refund fee of HKD 9 will be deducted when you return the card within 3 months from the date of purchase.) After purchasing an Octopus Card, I went to the bus terminal and looked for Bus A21 to get to Urban Pack Hostel.
Fun fact: I survived my solo trip in Hong Kong even if I didn’t buy a tourist sim card and I never turned on my mobile data. It means I didn’t have an internet connection when I’m out exploring. What I did was prior to going somewhere, I research how to get to that place and I make a screenshot on my phone of the directions. I also downloaded an offline map of Hong Kong.
My First Night in Hong Kong
I spent my first night in HK looking for Panadol. Yup, you read it correctly. I walked around Tsim Sha Tsui at 1 am looking for 7 Eleven because I was told that they have that in 7 Eleven. You may be wondering why the hell was I looking for Panadol.
The hostel I stayed at is a mixed dorm, meaning I have girls and guy roommates. While resting in my bunk bed and researching on the internet how to go to Dragon’s Back Hiking Trail, one of my guy roommates talked to me. The first thing he asked was if I speak Chinese (he is from mainland China btw). When I told him no he told me to wait then he talked to someone on his phone. When he finished he handed me his phone. He told me his girlfriend wants to talk to me. I was confused about what was going on. I thought she’s going to scold me but then I listened to what she has to say.
Apparently, her boyfriend is sick. He has a headache and had been vomiting several times that day. She said he needs medicine and he doesn’t know how to speak English so he had to ask her to talk to me. After talking to his girlfriend, the guy gave me HKD 50 for the medicine. I didn’t know what medicine to buy because I’m in HK. I wasn’t sure if they have Biogesic there. I’m glad though that while I was preparing to go out, the receptionist of the hostel who happens to be Filipino dropped by our dorm room before going home. He was the one who told me to buy Panadol and that the medicine is available in 7 Eleven.
First Day: Hiked the Dragon’s Back Hiking Trail and Visited the Big Wave Bay Beach
My first day in HK was a Sunday. I didn’t wake up early because I have read that Dragon’s Back Hiking Trail can be done in about two hours. I don’t have anything planned for the day except the hike so I didn’t feel the need to rush. One of the things I love about traveling solo is that you do things at your own pace. You can wake up late if you feel like spending more time in bed. Before doing the hike, I first had brunch at KFC. There I met two friendly Filipinas working in HK. Before I left, they prayed over for me for my safety during the hike.
From KFC, I made my way to the bus stop that goes to the jump-off point of the hike. I ended the hike at the Big Wave Bay Beach. It took me less than 3 and a half hours from the jump-off point to the Big Wave Bay. Check out this post to read the details of my Dragon’s Back Hike.
After the hike, I explored the Tsim Sha Tsui area, where my hostel is located. I passed by so many Chinese restaurants but during that time, I didn’t know how to use chopsticks. I knew that I won’t be able to eat if I ate in a restaurant without a spoon and fork so I ended up eating at Mc Donald’s.
Second Day: Traveled to Macau and checked out Macau Historic Centre
On my second day, I checked out of my hostel to travel to Macau. The ferry terminal is about four blocks away from my hostel. I don’t remember anymore how much is the fare and how long is the ferry ride. But there is a bridge to Macau now, so you can just ride a bus to get there.
When I got to Macau, there were many kababayan (fellow Filipino/countryman) waiting at the arrival area of the ferry terminal. One of them approached me and offered me accommodation for a really cheap price. I decided to take it and so her niece accompanied me to their apartment. After leaving my stuff in their apartment, she showed me around. She took me to Senado Square and Ruins of St. Paul’s. It was really bad timing though because the time that I was in Macau was like a week before Chinese New Year. A lot of mainland Chinese were in Macau for the holiday so the streets were super crowded, it was so hard to move around.
After accompanying me to the Ruins of St. Paul’s, the lady had to leave because she has a flight to the Philippines in the evening. I explored Macau on my own, using a map I got at the ferry terminal. I checked out as many sites in the Macau Historic Centre as I can. Some of the sites I was able to visit were Mount Fortress, Na Tcha Temple and Section of the Old City Walls, St. Anthony’s Church, and Camoes Garden and Grotto.
Third Day: Visited Macau Panda Conservation and traveled back to Hong Kong
The following day, I visited Macau Panda Conservation. It has always been my dream to see a panda and that became a reality when I visited Macau Panda Conservation. The place is a bit far from where I stayed but it was worth it.
After seeing the panda, I dropped by The Parisian Macao to check out the replica of Eiffel Tower. The Parisian Macao is a luxury hotel in Macau. After that, I went back to HK and checked in at a different hostel, the Yesinn @ Causeway Bay.
Fourth Day: Hiked the Lantau Peak, explored Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, Victoria Peak, and rode the Central-Mid-Levels escalator
On my fourth day, I went to visit the Tian Tan Buddha but instead of taking the cable car or bus to go there, I hiked Lantau Peak from Pak Kung Au and went down to Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. Lantau Peak is the second-highest peak in Hong Kong. It was a very nice hike, and it would have been nicer if I didn’t forget to bring water. Read about my hiking experience here.
After the hike, I checked out some malls to find Adidas shoes that my brother asked me to find. Unfortunately, they were out of stock. After that, I went to Victoria Peak. But I didn’t take the tram to enjoy the view there. Instead, I went to a secret spot that I’ve read about the days before my trip. It’s a secret pathway in The Peak leading to a spot with an unobstructed view of Victoria Harbour. Read more about that spot here.
From Victoria Peak, I went to try out the Central-Mid-Levels escalator that starts alongside 100 Queens Road Central at its junction with Cochrane Street. It is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. It is a series of 20 escalators and 3 inclined moving walkways. I learned about it after watching the movie Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong.
Last Day: Checked-out Sham Shui Po and Ladies’ Market; flight back to Manila
On my last day, my thighs were sore from hiking Lantau Peak. I was having a hard time climbing stairs, it was really painful. I checked out of the hostel before 11 AM but left my bags in their storage area because my flight is still at night.
My first stop after checking out of the hostel was Sham Shui Po. It is a place in Hong Kong to buy stuff for DIY projects. I love the place so much. You can read about my Sham Shui Po experience here.
From Sham Shui Po, I went to Ladies’ Market. It runs along Tung Choi Street, located in Mong Kok. It is Hong Kong’s most famous open market. Here you can buy clothes, shoes, accessories, toys, souvenirs, electronics, and many more. I don’t remember buying anything here because I spent most of my remaining HK dollars buying craft stuff in Sham Shui Po.
That’s how I spent five days in Hong Kong. I can’t believe I was finally able to finish this post after three years! Hope you enjoyed reading it and gave you an idea of how you can experience Hong Kong in a different way.