So, when you unexpectedly get the chance to visit the dazzling “twin” of Singapore aka Hong Kong, would you turn down the opportunity? No!! And that was what we did. So a quick plan and we booked the tickets on Cathay Pacific for April 22nd. We chose HK because Indians (if not other people) did not need a visa to be taken prior to the visit, nor is there a VOA (visa-on-arrival). Please note that they do not stamp the entry stamp on your passport, instead they do it on the arrival card that the air-hostesses will give you on board the flight. Fill in the particulars correctly. Keep this piece of paper safe.
The flight was a breeze and we had a good time, in fact time flew. The duration of flight was about 4 hours and by the time we landed, it was 2.30 pm (local time). Both HK and Malaysia come under the same time zone – GMT + 8.
As we landed, we could see a few islands off the main island of Hong Kong. It was rainy when we arrived. We wasted no time to get off the flight, finished immigration which was a fast-moving queue. To save time, I stood in a different queue while S and A stood in another. I had read a couple of months by chance that Hong Kong gives asylum to a specific number of Asians – Indians, Indonesians and possibly Pakistanis every year. I thought I would skip mentioning this, but after reading this link, I think everyone must be aware of the procedures. I was asked too many questions, never faced this at any other place that I visited. Who am I travelling with – I point out S and A in the other queue. Officer not satisfied. The barrage of questions continued and only when my return ticket and my malaysian residence status was clear, she let me go through.
Tip – Always keep a copy of your tickets (onward and return) on your phone or if that is not possible, print it out. You never know when it will come in handy.
The airport is said to be a man-made wonder and we couldn’t spend much time exploring, made a mental note to do that on the day of our return.
Public transport in Hong Kong
The easiest way to go around in HK is the public transport – MTR as it is called. The trains are one of the best I have seen in Asia, um.. best after Singapore maybe… 😉 So, purchase the Octopus card at the Airport itself before you head out to the city. We chose to take the bus to our hotel/guesthouse in Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) . A21 drops you just a few metres away from the TST MTR station, next to our accommodation. You could also choose to take the super fast train from airport to city, costs about 100 HKD per person, and takes roughly about 21-24 mins to reach city centre! That’s fast!
Kids above 3 must use the Octopus card, they will be charged the child rate. You will have to pay a refundable deposit of HKD 50 (handed back upon card return within 90 days of purchase of card). This card can be used anywhere – much like the TouchNGo card in Malaysia (KL) – to pay for grocery, taxi fare, bus fare, train fare, name it, you can do it with the Octopus card. The journey from airport to our stop cost HKD 33 for an adult. You either use the card or pay exact change to the bus driver. The one hour journey from airport to the city centre was mind-blowing, construction everywhere, high-rises true to their name – reaching the sky! Oh I forget, all buses in HK are double-decker so, it was fun! And we could have a look at the harbour, amazing engineering, perfect roads set against the sky that seemed to break down any moment. It was a good ride.
Accommodation is expensive in HK, along with a lot of other things. So we chose to stay in a guest-house style accommodation in TST, the ChungKing Mansion. Whatever people talked about it was not entirely true. We found people from all walks of life, all sorts of countries in this place. The room given to us was neat and clean, hot water any time, aircon and power. Indian food right at our doorsteps, station just outside the place of stay. All the places of interest were within walking distance. Well, there was Sheraton on the same street but unfortunately not possible to squeeze into our budget lol.. With all these perks, what more could we ask for from our accommodation.
Do you need a SIM card in Hong Kong?
The answer is – not really necessary if you have a smart phone. There is free wifi almost everywhere in HK, every mall, hotel has wifi so the need for a local SIM did not arise, atleast for us. You could pick up a map of the city from the airport, along with this pick up the train route map, very helpful to plan your outing. Of course google maps came in handy and so also the MTR app. So, dont worry, you will not get lost in this city, there is loads of information everywhere!
Do you have anything more to add? How was your trip to Hong Kong?