While travelling in India, I took a last-minute decision to visit another Asian destination. Hong Kong was visa-free for Moroccans with an easy access from New Delhi and Mumbai. So Hong Kong it is!
Hong Kong is a very cosmopolite city with so many attractions to offer to its visitors, its fabulous skyline gives it some airs of Manhattan but its Chinese influences give this city a special identity. This article offers a selection of things to do in the metropolis where Western and Oriental become one. This article offers a selection of 10 things to do in Hong Kong, from accommodation to attractions!
What is Hong Kong?
First of all, let’s get to know the city! Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China (SAR), therefore it enjoys lot of autonomy and independence from Mainland China. The city used to belong to the British Empire till independence in 1997 when returned to China. Hong Kong has its own currency (Hong Kong Dollars), its own immigration system (that’s why it’s visa-free for so many nationalities including Moroccans), its own government and much more things that make it different from China. The deal with China is “one nation, two systems”. Hong Kong is very bilingual, people speak Cantonese and English. Orientation around the city is fairly easy, there are several islands but most things are in Hong Kong Island.
Where to stay?
First thing to think of as usual is accommodation. But trust me, don’t spend too much time thinking about it, Hong Kong has a very wide range of choice concerning hotels and hostels. When I stayed there, I tried different types of hotels so I got to see that there is for everyone!
1- Mini Hotel, Causeway Bay
The name of the hotel suggests that it is a cute and tiny hotel. Indeed, this hotel may have reminded me of a doll house with its small rooms and design. The rooms are very well designed so as it fits the maximum in the minimum without feeling at all in a tight and limited space, that was really the magic of Mini Hotel. A bed that stretches from wall to wall, a tv hanging on the right side of the room, a small bathroom combing shower and toilet and more space to use under the bed to leave the luggage and a safety box. It’s all in one! What to ask for more? The necessary things are there even a hair dryer and a coffee machine!
The view from my room was not spectacular but I still had a large window to have some sunshine and see some neighbouring towers. The staff at the hotel pays well attention to details and gives priority to the guests. Moreover, if you like shopping then the area where the hotel is located is like paradise for that, so many stores and shopping malls that attracts all Hong Kong to Causeway Bay. The reception and lobby area are very relaxed, a cosy and chic decoration and lot of pictures hanging on the wall from famous artists and photographers. I even spot a picture taken in Chefchaouen, Morocco that made me really happy!
I believe that this hotel is very welcoming to any type of guests: from backpackers to business travellers. In my case, I was a solo traveller and it was just perfect. When I first entered the room, I found a basket of toiletries, Chinese tea and a Mooncake made especially to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong. Such a nice welcome!
Book your room at Mini Hotel, Causeway Bay here: http://minihotel.hk/core/cwb-rooms/
2- Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
Famous around the world, the Mandarin Oriental is a mythical hotel in Hong Kong. It has been in service for 50 years and guests are still satisfied and rate it high on websites such as TripAdvisor. I stayed at a Deluxe Room on the 15th floor, I think that the room’s main asset was the view over the Harbour! I felt like I did not have any reason to leave the room as I had Hong Kong inside my room. The fabulous view was accompanied by French champagne that I received as welcome treat.
The hotel had some major restorations lately and is very much updated to today’s needs. It has a fully equipped rooms with the latest technologies and gadgets, a last generation TV with so many channels, a mini bar, a coffee and tea machine, a smart AC, a work desk directly looking over the window and more… But my favourite thing was definitely the TV hanging on the mirror of the bathroom. I could just sit back and relax in the hot tub and watch a movie or keep updated with the latest news when I take my morning shower.
The hotel’s staff is very quick and efficient and kept an eye open to satisfy me during my whole stay. The international breakfast is served at the Clipper Lounge, and has everything needed including some locally produced dishes like Hong Kong’s dim sum. Other facilities include a wide range of restaurants, a barber, a bakery, a hair stylist, a spa but my very special and favourite was the Man Wah restaurant on top floor with the best view over the city. Perfect spot to watch New Year’s fireworks!
Book your fantastic stay at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong here: http://www.mandarinoriental.com/hongkong/
What to see?
3- Big Buddha: Even though, I did not have the opportunity to really go there, I can still recommend it. Once I arrive to the funicular that takes us up to the Big Buddha, a thunderstorm has been announced so it is no longer safe to take the funicular with its amazing 360 degrees views. Shame! Buses go up there too but I gave up so quickly and returned back to my hotel. Although, it’s a must see in HK!
4- Hung Shing Temple: Just one station away from Mini Hotel Causeway Bay, this small temple in Wan Chai was my only introduction to Buddhism. I got to see some of the rituals and I noticed that believers were not only Asian but also Westerners that fell in love with its philosophy.
5- The Peak: For the best views over Hong Kong, this is the place to be. Tickets are a bit costly but then all the city is expensive, so standard prices after all. Most people go up there by tram and sometimes it is over crowded so good timing must be chosen to get there quick. Perhaps best at lunch time or early morning!
6- Stars Avenue: The Hollywood of Hong Kong is this avenue. Not only it is really dedicated to cinema but from there you can take some of the best pictures of Hong Kong Island at night. The whole skyline of the island is shining, there is a light show not to miss at 8pm everyday.
What to do?
7- Shopping in Causeway Bay: The best place for shopping around the city that is the best city for shopping in Asia… So la creme de la creme! Lot of malls, lot of stores and huge crowds. I’m not fan of shopping especially when travelling but it’s impossible to resist there!
8- Party at LKF: Lan Kwai Fong is my favourite place for party ever! Very crowded but it is not bad, people are friendly, all mix between Asians, tourists and expats. No need to go inside a club or a bar, in weekends party is in the streets!
9- Rooftop Bars: A drink with a view… And there is never a disappointment! The city’s skyline is very wide that in every rooftop bar, there will be a nice view for sure. Hong Kong is the city with the most skyscrapers in the world!
10- Go to Macau: Just one hour by ferry from Hong Kong, Macau is another SAR of China. It delivers visa on arrival for Moroccans and most nationalities can enter without visa. It is the “Vegas of the East” so expect lot of casinos and gambling. Macau was part of Portugal until 1999, therefore, there is a huge part of the portuguese history left there like in Senado Square. The main tourists spot!