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Where We Are: Hong Kong

If this trip had an origin story, Hong Kong would be central to the story line. Our yearlong trip around the world really grew from the fact that we’d be in Hong Kong in December no matter what, so why not tack on six months of travel on either side?

We are in Hong Kong because my big brother is getting married! His fiance is from Hong Kong and most of her family is still here, which is why they chose to have the wedding here. It’s going to be an amazing time and I can’t believe this wedding is finally almost here! (I don’t even know how long they’ve been dating but I’m sure it’s well over 10 years by now.)

The view of Central from somewhere in the greenery of Hong Kong Park.

And weddings come with family, and guess what that means!? My parents are coming!! We can’t believe that my parents, who have never left continental North America are flying halfway around the world and will be spending almost two weeks in Asia. I really hope they have the best time and I’m excited to have them see a glimpse of what our travel life is like. It’s such perfect timing to have almost my whole family together! I love that it fell near the holidays and right in the middle of our trip when we’re missing people the most.

We arrived a few days before the rest of the family so we could get a handle on the city and knock a few things out at our pace before settling in on autopilot for group activities while everyone is together.

Disneyland #4 on our trip, and only 1 more to go!

The first thing we did (obviously) was go to Hong Kong Disneyland! It’s not the best park, but I really had a fun time there! There were very few lines which made it an easy park to enjoy and do everything at a relaxed pace.

We also took some time exploring Central (the city center neighborhood), Tsim Sha Tsui (a shopping/night life district on the Kowloon side, also the neighborhood where we’re staying) and Mongkok (a densely populated area with lots of markets, shops and people). We’ve had a great time in our first few days here, and are so excited to see more with the family!

The view of one of the many street markets we wandered through. You could find everything from clothes and souvenirs, to electronics, to live animals like goldfish or birds.

Initial Reactions on Hong Kong

  1. Amazing Bird Experiences. I love birds. I don’t think it’s come out very clearly on this blog, but I could watch birds all day, every day. I used to have parakeets and dream of a world where my husband lets me adopt a huge macaw parrot. Hong Kong has some of the most amazing bird experiences that I’ve encountered on this trip! The bird market in Prince Edward is incredible and is about two blocks lined with bird cages filled with every kind of bird from song birds to macaws. There is an aviary in Hong Kong Park and Kowloon Park where you can find a wide range of amazing birds, AND there were free-flying parrots just hanging out in Kowloon Park. I’ve had the best time!
  2. The markets are some of our favorites. We’ve been to a lot of markets around the world. It’s one of those things you do in just about every city (church, square,  hill with a view, museum, and market – everywhere you go!). But the markets in Hong Kong are something special. They are diverse – we went to a bird market, gold fish market, clothing market, shoe market – and they are selling things we actually want to look at and buy! Very rarely have we been able to make a full day out of a market, but we were definitely able to do that here in Hong Kong.
  3. Beautiful Skyline day and night. Before we got to Asia, we really hadn’t been to any cities with notable skylines. Of course Prague and Budapest were beautiful with their castles on the river, but I’m tasking true city skylines. Hong Kong has one of the best. All of Victoria Harbour is lit up in a huge wall of lights. It’s beautiful to see from the Kowloon side of the river and it goes on for what feels like ever.

The view over Victoria Harbour overlooking Hong Kong Central.

What you need to know:

  • Population: 7.3 million
  • Altitude: 0-957  meters based on where you’re at
  • Exchange Rate: 7.80 HKD to $1 USD
  • Primary Language: Cantonese and English
  • Walking Tour: No, we haven’t seen the prevalence here in Asia.
  • Time Zone: Hong Kong Time Zone, UTC +8 (14 hours ahead of US Central Time)
  • Taxi: Yes
  • Uber: Yes, but it seems like it’s pretty controversial, and public transit is so good, I’m not sure we’d recommend using it.
  • Public Transit: City Bus, Mini Bus (for routes further from the city center), train and ferry – all the public trans!
  • Emergency Number: 999
  • Running: We’re the worst. We still haven’t run since Budapest, but we hope to go for a run with my brother here in HK! I’ll update the route once we have it.
  • American Football: Football in Asia isn’t really fun to track because of the time difference. We can only catch the nights games in the morning our time, so we can’t really watch them at bars.
  • Starbucks: Yes, many.
  • Local Starbucks Specialty: We haven’t seen anything unique here, but there holiday beverage are a fun mix of East and West. They have Peppermint Mocha and Gingerbread lattes like the US, but also have the Toffee Crunch latte like we saw in Seoul and a Christmas Tree Dark Mocha which is similar to the White Chocolate Pine Nut latte in Shanghai which are both served with green whipped cream.
  • McDonald’s Veggie Burger: Not really, but they have an egg and cheese burger (aka McMuffin minus the bacon) which is available all the time, so that kind of counts I guess.
  • Coffee Price:  around 50 UKD  (~$6 USD) for a latte beverage at a Starbucks or cafe, but I’m sure you can find coffee for cheaper.
  • Beer Price: wide range, but we’ve seen from from around 60 – 100 HKD (~$7.50 – $12 USD)

Oh just me loving being inside one of the many amazing Aviaries in Hong Kong!