It’s been almost a week since we got back from Hong Kong, and boy, what a difference a week makes. Two Mondays ago, I was probably just getting on my third rollercoaster ride. Now I’m currently upstairs writing as everyone else is having lunch #gantipuasa
We’ve been very very blessed to be able to go on a trip abroad every year since we got married. Bali in 2015, Maldives in 2016 (I never got around to that blogpost huh?) and Hong Kong in 2017. Mashallah, we’re so grateful #thankyoupaycheckandsmartsaving
A big reason on how we chose Hong Kong was because it was the cheapest flight out of KL on the dates I was looking at. It was simply that! I’ve been to Hong Kong (from now on shortened to HK) before when I was in high school with my family. We did a four-day trip to Disney and I remember loving everything about it.
Ashraf has never been to a Disney park so I was determined to make his first trip one that we would remember! We learned a lot about HK, each other and our travel habits during this trip. I’ve listed a few things I thought would be great to share with you:
1. Use the Airport Transfer
Once you land you should buy a ticket from the Hong Kong Airport Express. A round trip ticket is obviously cheaper than a one-way ticket. They also provide a free shuttle to your hotel. Inform the salesperson which hotel you’ll be staying at and they will tell you which stop you should get off at, which shuttle you should take and which stop your hotel will be.
We stayed at Ibis Hotel in Central and Sheung Wan, so we got off the Airport Express at Hong Kong Station, boarded the H2 bus and our hotel was the fourth stop. It was extremely convenient and we didn’t have to worry about getting lost!
2. Invest in an Octopus Card
We decided to use the MTR to get ourselves around town and it was the fastest and relatively ‘cheap’ way to get around. Ashraf used the Citymapper app which he highly recommends. You can buy an Octopus card at any MTR station from the customer service booth. It’ll cost you HK$ 150 and the card will have HK$ 100 preloaded into it for you to use right away. So the card itself will essentially cost you HK$ 50.
Trams are the best way to move around the city if you’re not in a rush because they are a bit slower. But as a tourist it’s a great way to watch the city go by and admire it! One ride will cost you HK$ 2.30. Remember, board through the back, alight at the front.
The MTR will be a bit more costly. A way one trip to Disneyland from Sheung Wan station (which is a pretty central location) cost us HK$ 25 per person.
We had to top up our cards a few times during our 6 day trip. All in all, I think we loaded about HK$ 300 onto our cards, each (this is including the initial HK$ 150 we paid). The cards are also great because you can use them to purchase things at stores! Kind of like an all-in-one card – you can use them at most restaurants, 7-11, other convenience stores, grocery stores, almost everything!
3. Don’t rush Disney
If you’re deciding between a one or two day ticket to Disney, trust me when I say go for the two-day ticket. The price difference is not much: HK$589 for a one-day ticket VS HK$629 for a two-day ticket. It’s just a bit over HK$40 for a whole extra day. This is a no brainer.
This also allows you to be calm throughout your time in the park so that you do not feel pressured to squeeze everything in one day!
There are lots of secondary sites that offer Disneyland tickets, but I always prefer buying from the main park/attraction itself. They also run promotions so it’s good to check out what you can get
4. Sub-tips from Disney
- Bring an empty water bottle and fill it at the many drinking fountains you’ll find around Disneyland. A soda or bottle of water will cost you roughly HK$38 per bottle #insane
- Bring snacks to hold you up during the day. Disney is going to offer you many many MANY tempting snacks (I am sure the popcorn killed a part of my soul) but do not give in. A box of crackers from Malaysia will still keep you standing straight (even though it may not taste as good as grilled squid…)
- There are several Halal restaurants in Disneyland for Muslims to eat at. Yay! A hot and delicious meal will seriously make a difference in the middle of the day. Ashraf and I would play till about 3PM, and then made a pit stop at the Explorer’s Club Restaurant in Mystic Point for lunch. I chose from the Korean and Japanese menu, and Ashraf had the tandoori chicken set from the Indian menu for both days. A meal here will set you back about HK$139 per person, but it’s worth it
- If you’re looking to pray in Disney, they have a room right behind Explorer’s Club that’s closed off with curtains which you can use to pray. They’ve even installed a ‘Wudhu Mate’. Just bring a pair of socks so you can cover up will you pray (or bring telekung too if you want)
- Make full use of the Fast Pass!
- If the wait for Winnie the Pooh ride is under 15 minutes, you should wait! This is the only ride we missed because the wait was hours long and we could not justify waiting in line.
- Rides to NOT miss: The Iron Man Experience, Hyperspace Mountain (we rode this 3 times), It’s A Small World (I might have cried. Might), Mystic Manor (so underrated, but so awesome), RC Racer.
- Shows to NOT miss: Philharmagic, Lion King, Mickey’s Story Book of Wonder (it was in Cantonese, but they are English subtitles)
- Claim your piece of Main Street sidewalk by 7:10PM. The parade will start at 8PM and you want to make sure you have a front row seat!
- Stay for the fireworks at 9PM and go as close as you possibly can to the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. For some reason, the people with us that night didn’t sit down #rude so we all had to stand. Usually in the other Disney parks I’ve been in, everyone is courteous enough to sit down to so everyone can see the castle and fireworks.
5. Eat all the Dim Sum and Roasted Duck you can!
We googled and found amazing recommendations for Wai Kee and Islamic Centre Canteen.
We had lunch on our first day at Wai Kee and had the roasted chicken and duck combo. It’s to die for, you HAVE to eat there. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing location, but trust me, you’re there for the food. Order a Cream Soda too #omgmymouthiswateringrightnow #sissabar
The Islamic Centre is also a super place to go to for dim sum. We went there for Sunday lunch and Monday dinner. It was packed on Sunday lunch and completely empty on Monday night. How it works: you walk up to the dim sum table (you’ll know it when you see it) and point to the menu to which dim sum you want (or if you speak Cantonese/Mandarin you don’t have to point) and carry it to your table. If you want heavier things from the menu (meat/beef/seafood dishes, rice, noodles, soup, etc) you call a server over and place an order with them. We stuffed ourselves silly.
On Monday night though, it was almost empty and they didn’t have any dim sum, so we could only order from the menu. Ashraf recommends the mutton curry!
6. Have cash. LOTS of cash.
HK is a highly expensive city. We ‘sorta’ expected that but we also assumed that they would be a credit card friendly city (y’know, being the centre of Asian commerce and all) but they were surprisingly credit card averse! There were several times where we had to count our dollars to see if we could buy lunch at a restaurant. It boggles my mind how they don’t accept credit card at majority of the stores/restaurants. Our fallback was – McDonalds always accepts credit cards!
So, carry a lot of cash if you don’t want to feel uncomfortable. We had to exchange our money once and withdraw once as well from the hotel.
7. Look into buying an iVenture card
I bought us a 3-day iVenture card. I have used passes like this before in London and New York, where you pay a fixed price and the pass gets you into all the main attractions in that city. I LOVED the London and New York passes because it got me to the front of the line AND it included a transport pass (especially important for London because the pass included attractions that were outside Central London).
I thought I was going to love the iVenture card too, but honestly I’m a bit ‘meh’ about it. We bought the 3-day pass and honestly there are very limited attractions we could choose from. Granted perhaps there aren’t many ‘attraction’ options in HK. These are the ones we went to:
- Rickshaw bus: It was a good drive around the city. I just wish the bus came with a guide who would tell us more about HK history and significance of the places we were seeing. Getting to the pick up point took us such a long time! It was all the way in Central Pier (number 6) and I think we must have walked for 40 minutes trying to find the booth. We were so sweaty.
- Victoria Peak: Hop on to a funicular and ride up the Peak – it is amazing. When we got to the top, I expected just a look out point. But of course there was not one, but TWO malls #Asia. You could go up and spend a day on Victoria Peak if you wanted, but we were just there for the views and hopped back down after a cup of coffee. The iVenture card got us basic tickets to the top, but we had to pay an extra HK$100 (I think) per person to get up to the 360 degree viewing deck – it was worth it! But I wish it was made clear that the viewing deck was not open to the public early on. We also had to wait in line for 1 and 1/2 hours for the funicular ride up. There is a combo ticket you can buy from Victoria Peak + Madame Tussauds + Fast Lane, but we did’t think it was worth it. It’s okay, we played 20 questions while waiting. You can also take a bus or taxi up to the Peak, but trust me when I say you want to experience the funicular.
- Ocean Park: This theme park is pretty old but pretty amazing. It had more thrill rides than Disneyland so it’s not a repetitive visit and I definitely recommend. They also have animals that you can visit: penguins, pandas, dolphins, seals, birds, all kinds! Almost like a zoo and an amusement park. I recommend buying their fast pass because it gets you 10 ‘cut the line’ passes which is amazing – saves you SO much time. It was worth the HK$250 (per person) that we paid. I cannot recommend this fast pass more!
- Ngong Ping Village: Tung Chung Station is even further than Disneyland so be prepared to carve out a chunk of your time to visit Ngong Ping Village. Once you arrive Tung Chung, it’s pretty clear how to walk to the Ngong Ping cable car station. Yes, you read right – cable car! We experienced a 5.6KM cable car ride through the trees and the views were extremely spectacular. When you’re getting on the cable car, make sure you get in one that does not have the frosting on the windows – because you won’t be able to see outside! We got into a clear car on the way there – awesome, and then into a frosted car on the way back – no good.
Once you’re at Ngong Ping, take it easy and walk through the little village before making your way up to Big Buddha. You might not want to climb up when you see those steps, but the views up there will make it worth it.
Ride this one:
NOT this one!
8. Have fun!
Hong Kong is a fabulous city and I wish we were still there. If you’re looking for a city vacation filled with little treasures and many adventures, I recommend Hong Kong. Make sure you bring an umbrella (mucho important!), comfortable walking shoes and cash (I can’t stress this enough, haha)