A Solo Trip to Hong Kong
by Caley Daniels
Monday, December 10, 2018
Hong Kong: a meshed masterpiece of bustling city streets and captivating mountain views. I have no regrets of choosing her as the destination of my first ever solo trip. Arriving is always the easy part. Airports are relatively easy to navigate, being designed for foreigners and having plenty of people along the way who can provide whatever help you need. After the bus ride to Jordan and panicked confusion as to which stop to get off at, I was thankful to arrive at the seedy little backpackers that would be my home for the next 5 days.
Jordan was a great place to stay for its positioning alone. With an MTR station literally right outside the door of the backpackers I was staying at, I had (albeit pricey) access to the entire city at my doorstep. The subway system is priced according to how far you go. Although I didn’t use one, getting an Octopus card is highly recommended. An Octopus card can have money stored on it and swiped for use on public transport (including buses and ferries) and even payments at certain convenience stores. It’ll save you about a dollar per trip on the MTR and whatever money you don’t use can be redeemed from your card at the end of your trip. The alternative to the Octopus card is buying single tickets at the self-service stations. These are very comprehensive and I ended up making use of these instead of the Octopus card as they were convenient enough for the MTR. For ferries and buses however, without an Octopus card one is required to present exact change, which got a bit tricky as I ended up feeling like a Leprechaun lugging a bag full of heavy coins around. The most I spent on transport in a day (which included 2 ferry rides and a couple of MTR trips) came to about HK$84 (about US$10 and R160). Public transport aside, as long as you have some comfortable shoes, walking isn’t so bad; it saves you money and let’s you see more of the country (not to mention, it’ll burn off those extra calories you’ll pick up from the endless delicious bowls of noodles you’ll want to try).
With so many hotels, Airbnbs and backpackers hostels to choose from, securing accommodation is the one thing that shouldn’t be a problem in Hong Kong. I went for the cheapest backpackers I could find and though I really did get what I paid for (a shady area, strange smells and a kind of haunted house feeling), I couldn’t have found friendlier staff and a better located hostel. The backpackers was on Jordan Road, with Jordan MTR station exit B1 literally right on its doorstep. The harbor and access to the Star ferry to Central was just a short walk down the road. A HK$4 ticket (that’s only 4c for our American friends, and about R8) was able to get me on the Star ferry to Central harbor, where you can take a ferry to just about anywhere else you need to be. More than that, this particular hostel was just a few blocks away from the famous Temple Street Market, which I enjoyed perusing in the evenings. I found Kowloon a perfect place to stay, but there are definitely enough accommodation options to suit whatever preferences you may have.
This is something you’ll want to make a day of. Hong Kong is littered with street markets where you can buy cheap goods and even authentic ones. Here are my three favorites from the trip:
Apliu Street Market
For cheap electronics, Apliu Street Market is a must. Opening around 11am, the vendors offer a range of electronic items, from cell phone accessories and various chargers, to authentic Casio watches and radios. Generic market products are also available including clothes, bags and trinkets. While things like watches were ridiculously overpriced, vendors can be persuaded though it might take some advanced haggling skills. Try your luck, you never know. You can get to this market easily from Sham Shui Po exit C1.
Temple Street Night Market
Just a block away from the backpackers where I was staying, I thoroughly enjoyed perusing the stalls at Temple Street Night Market. Renowned for its street food, the market is lined with little restaurants and stalls selling delicious fresh and cooked food and the fragrances were tantalizing. The market itself is full of random goods such as clothing, bags, souvenirs, accessories and even little leather notebooks. Even if you don’t buy anything, I highly recommend it for the experience.
By far my favorite, the flower market provided a kind of reprieve from the maddening crowds of Hong Kong. Stall upon stall of fresh flowers and herbs stretch out over a few blocks in Prince Edward, just a short walk from the MTR station exit B1. Shops full of decorations, garden accessories and tools, and more orchids than I’ve ever seen in one place line the streets and, while its impractical to buy plants and take them home with you after your trip, the market itself is a must see. If you keep walking you’ll find Bird Street as well, a market displaying over 50 species of birds and everything you need to take care of them.
If you’ve done any research whatsoever on things to do in Hong Kong, you’ll definitely have heard of Victoria Peak. A GPS would be helpful for the walk from Central MTR station exit J2 to get you to either the tram terminus or the entry trail of the hike. The steep 2.5km hike to the top was a bit grueling I’ll admit, but certainly worth it.
I took the tram on the way down to soothe my aching legs and the view was just as beautiful, so I would recommend taking the tram at least one way up or down. A single ticket cost about HK$84 (just over US$10 and about R160).
My favorite thing to do in Hong Kong quickly became nightly strolls by Victoria Harbor. Every night they put on a light show at 8pm, and seeing as the mid-Autumn festival was in full swing when I arrived, my first night at the harbor included live music from various buskers and street performers. The lights on the water make for a great place to relax and think about your day.
There was so much more to be experienced in Hong Kong that I simply couldn’t get to in 5 days. Getting a good idea of what you want to do during your stay before you arrive goes a long way. Hong Kong is a city that invites you in nonchalantly and leaves you to do what you please, yet its easy enough to navigate on your own through the bustling anonymity it offers. Though I was initially intimidated by the idea of traveling alone, I never once felt unsafe or as though I couldn’t ask for help. I’d highly recommend this island city for a solo trip; with the right preparation, it will not disappoint.
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January 4, 2019
Awesome Caley....feek like I travelled a bit through your eyes....excellent!
January 4, 2019
Wonderfully written, I can agree on a similar experience of Hong Kong :)