Explore Hong Kong on foot
A journey recorded while exploring Hong Kong mainland, Lantau island, Lamma island and Macau in 4 days on a shoestring budget.
Walking through Hong Kong mainland
The Hong Kong Museum of History is a 2 km walk from Mong Kok and is a wonderful place to start off the journey. The multi-lingual movies and information kiosks give one a thorough understanding of the history of the land. The museum is divided into 8 sections and tracks Hong Kong’s history from over 300 million years ago to modern times. The museum (just like MTR, public bus, ferry, and public toilets) is accessibility friendly.
Tim Ho Wan consistently appeared at the top of all food blogs in Hong Kong. It shot to legendary status in 2010 as the least expensive restaurant in the world to receive 1 Star from the Michelin Guide. It has quite a few branches in Hong Kong — and though locals have their favourites, I found that the food and ambience were consistently good across all. The ones at Sham Sui Po and Causeway Bay are less than 600m from the nearest metro. The food was carefully prepared and presented: all the dishes were delectable and light on the wallet. Although the staff didn’t speak English, they were very helpful. On interacting with fellow guests at my table, I found that most of the locals didn’t even care that their daily breakfast was at a Michelin star rated restaurant!
Buskers are a common site in the dense streets of downtown HK, which to me captures the real essence of the city. While many people are in a typical metropolitan hurry, a few take the time to rejoice in the performance of some extremely talented street artists. A few homeless people (like the one without a shirt on the left) often walk long distances to enjoy their favourite singers. Busking in Hong Kong is not regulated by government policy, and is thus not taxed (unlike some parts of Europe). Some of the most talented buskers can be found at the Avenue of Stars; Lan Kwai Fang; the over bridge connecting Central Station to Central Piers; the MTR exits of Mong KoK and Tsim Sha Tsui. Buskers in Hong Kong are tipped generously. When i went to drop a few coins, I found that the guitar case contained notes of 10–20 HKD only.
Lantau Island Trail
Ngong Ping is a tourist destination in west Lantau Island, famous for its large bronze statue of the Buddha. While many tourists travel to and fro by cable car, the walk from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping can be equally rewarding. It took a little over 4 hours to cover the 8km Tung Chung trail owing to steep gradients and slippery surfaces. At Ngong Ping I visited the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha before proceeding to hike to Lantau Peak: the second highest Peak in Hong Kong. It is just 2 Kms (plan distance) and about 600m in elevation gain from Ngong Ping village. The hiking trail is very well marked often giving grid references at checkposts. The peak gives a picturesque view of the Buddha statue against a backdrop of the Zhuijiang River Estuary and nearby hills bathed by the setting sun.
Walking through Cotai Strip, Macau
The Cotai strip is conceptualized around the Las Vegas strip and is considered equally extravagant. The 1Km long strip has wide walkways on both sides making it ideal to be explored by foot. Gigantic resorts and casinos dot both sides of the road. The biggest of them all (and the largest in the world) is the Venetian Macao, a Venice themed resort. The resort has grand pillars towering over walls covered with huge paintings. The Canal Shoppes, a part of the resort, is an artificially created environment with a false sky and is a good place to stroll. The bets at the gambling tables start at 100 HKD. That doesn’t deter the young chinese men and women though, and most tables are almost always occupied.
The House of Dancing Water in City of Dreams
The House of dancing water is a water based stage circus designed by the makers of the Cirque du Soleil. At 522 HKD, it may seem highly priced, but I lost this impression just a few minutes into the show. It looked straight out of a fictional world. The initial burst of dazzling lights uncovered a dimly lit pool of water. Little did I know that the pool would magically transform into solid ground out of which a large house, a giant ship, and a motorcycle race track would emerge. The one and half hour long presentation had dangerous stunts coordinated carefully to an exhilarating background score. The circus and the occasional humour were wrapped flawlessly in an underlying theme symbolizing the victory of love over hate and good over evil.
Lamma Island trail
The Lamma Island trail consists of a dendritic network of nature trails. While the main route — the family trail — is paved, many of the routes and loops that branch out are unpaved. Restrooms are located every 2 km, even in the middle of the jungle. The trail is designed such that the runner is catapulted away from the bustling life on the mainland into nature’s lap. Although one may be determined to not pause while running, if the killing gradient which is as high as 30% at times doesn’t make you stop, the breathtaking views of the sea surely will.
Victoria Peak trail
The walk from central station to Victoria peak is about 4 Kms with a constant gradient of 5 to 10 percent. The walkway is paved throughout and takes you through the forest on Victoria Hill. The walking route that starts at Old peak Road has sufficient resting spots on the way and one restroom at the halfway mark. The trail ends at the anvil shaped building called The Peak that gives panoramic views of Hong Kong island. As suggested in many blogs, I timed my walk to reach the top 15 minutes after sunset. At this time, lights in many buildings are turned on while there is sufficient daylight to capture a remarkable composition.
Miscellaneous information for the co-traveller
A meticulously search for cheap hostels in the mainland yielded Dragon Hostel. The hosts are friendly and the facility is very clean, well worth the money for its privileged location in Mong Kok. Amenities include hot shower, hot and cold drinking water, and air conditioning. I didn’t face any troubles with my stay.
All parts of the city are inter-connected by MTR and local buses. The buses and trains to the airport have dedicated baggage storage area. While leaving the city, you may alternatively check-in your baggage at Central Station. It would be a wise idea to get an Octopus card from any of the MTR stations. The card can be widely used in all government transport systems such as bus, MTR, ferry and many stores such as 7-eleven and McDonald’s. The card can be returned for a refund of the cash stored in it too.