My Hong Kong Travel Adventure

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Before 2017, I can't say that Hong Kong was ever on my must-see travel list. I didn't know a lot about Hong Kong or what to expect from travelling there. After spending two weeks in Hong Kong in October, I can say with certainty that I love it and I'm so thankful that I had the chance to experience it! (And can't wait to go back!)

Looking back, we did so much over the span of 2 weeks in Hong Kong, but these were certainly some of the highlights.

The Flight

When I told people that I was going to Hong Kong, the first thing that they often asked about was the flight. How long would it be? Had I ever taken a flight that long? What would we do?

Before Hong Kong, the longest flight I had been on was 6-7 hours when I went to Europe in 2006. Since then, my travel experiences have been full of shorter flights throughout Canada, the US and Caribbean, so I honestly didn't know what it was going to be like to be on a plane for 14 hours nonstop.

Our flight left Toronto at 2am on a Saturday morning and arrived in Hong Kong around 5am on Sunday morning thanks to the time difference. We flew Cathay Pacific and they were awesome! I found out that I was able to request a gluten free meal, which meant that I was able to enjoy safe food on our lengthy journey, and that I got served first on a huge aircraft - not bad! On the way over I was able to sleep for 6-7 hours, watched TV and movies, chatted and had snacks.

To be honest, neither flight was that bad. 14 hours is a long time to be seated, but I felt well taken care of, took breaks as needed and the reward to arrive in Hong Kong especially was worth it!

The City

I instantly felt very comfortable in Hong Kong.

Even though it is densely populated, I loved how efficient everything was. The subway system is fast, clean, cheap and easy to navigate. They have Octopus cards that you use for transit (and even small purchases) which made it very easy to get on and off the subway. You can grab one at the airport so you can easily take transit into the city. Taxis were also really inexpensive, but traffic in Hong Kong is unlike anything I've ever seen before! I slowly got used to making the conversion from the Hong Kong dollar to Canadian (dividing by 6 based on the conversion). Most signs were in English as well as Cantonese, and as a city gal, I loved the lights along with the hustle and bustle.

Best Eats

I think everything I ate in Hong Kong was delicious, from the yum cha lunches (Cantonese tradition involving tea and dim sum) to random snacks on the street. Some of the highlights included the Dim Sum Library for an awesome yum cha lunch, Green Waffle Diner for gluten free waffles, The Cakery for gluten free vegan cupcakes in unique flavours like black sesame (they also do a gluten free high tea that I really want to try the next time I'm in Hong Kong!), nood for fresh organic juices and raw chocolate, and Zuma for champagne brunch and phenomenal food.

I also got to visit the Hello Kitty Dim Sum restaurant, where everything was Hello Kitty themed from the food to the decor. It was pretty epic!

It has closed since our visit in October, so I'm especially glad that we had the chance to visit while we were there.

We ate delicious meals with Paul's family when we were at home, and I loved picking up some treats at the grocery store when we were there. Marks & Spencer had gluten free crumpets (!!!) and I found an awesome, local, vegan ice cream called Happy Cow with amazing flavours like green tea, salted caramel swirl and chai. I found it very manageable to avoid dairy and gluten in Hong Kong, while still enjoying all sorts of delectable food.

Favourite Sights

As a big city kid, Hong Kong felt like a big playground to me. I felt like I do in Toronto or New York - at ease. The skyline is phenomenal and it's very cool to see it all lit up at night. My favourite view was from OZONE, which is atop the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton hotel. We enjoyed some cocktails and the spectacular view!

Our days included fun excursions to the tea museum, the botanical garden in Hong Kong Park, great shops, markets and a local artisan market.

Best Adventures

We spent quite a bit of time on Hong Kong island and in the central district, but we did take a couple of day trips as well. The cool thing about Hong Kong is that there are a number of places that are within a short ferry ride.

We went to Lamma Island for a day to have lunch and explore. It's a 30 minute ferry ride from Hong Kong and a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city. It's very laid back, much less crowded and very cute to explore. There are tonnes of little restaurants with great waterfront views, adorable shops with wares from local artisans, shrines and places to hike and explore. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and I picked up some cute, inexpensive souvenirs. It was quite hot outside the day that we went, so it was nice to be on the breezy waterfront.

I had been told that Macau was like the Las Vegas of Asia and it did not disappoint! It was an hour ride to get there, and has a totally different vibe and feel than Hong Kong, as it was a Portuguese territory until 1999. I loved seeing the Portuguese influenced architecture and signage everywhere. When indoors, it really felt like we were in Vegas - the casinos, the vibrant art pieces and vast amount of shopping are very similar.

We had drinks at the Wing Lei Bar in the Wynn Palace which was absolutely stunning and enjoyed an incredible meal at El Gaucho. There's also a really cool cable car ride into the Wynn that made our visit that much more spectacular.

Best Shopping

Hong Kong is full of luxury shopping, from watches to handbags and high fashion clothing but you can also find some very inexpensive shopping in the night markets that pop up - it's a really interesting contrast! We had fun exploring the night market and the ladies' market, as well as some of the fancy shops and department stores.

My favourite shop ended up being a stationary store called kikki.k where I spent a lot of time and got a VIP card on my first go. (They don't have a presence in Canada but I just learned that some of their merchandise is available online through Indigo - dangerous!!)

I got a beautiful 2018 day planner, a journal and an amazing purse that has a phone charger built inside. Everything is beautifully designed and many of the items have the option to have your initials embossed on them.

I also enjoyed the stationary options at LOG-ON, fell in love with Brown the bear at Line Friends, and was treated to some fantastic kitten earmuffs from Kate Spade.

I don't even feel like this post begins to cover everything else in Hong Kong - the amazing time we spent with Paul's family, great conversations, fun times swimming and playing tennis, our various ukulele duets, a trip to the Hong Kong cinema complete with sweet popcorn and time spent relaxing and watching Netflix. I felt very spoiled, happy and loved.

I'm grateful that I had the chance to visit Hong Kong, meet Paul's family, and enjoy a tremendous vacation. I had so much fun travelling with Paul and experiencing his hometown. I can't wait to go back and explore even more!

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