5 Days in Hong Kong

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1. Getting there

There is no direct flight from Karachi to Hong Kong, so you will either have to route your journey via Bangkok or Dubai.

If your flight arrives mid-afternoon to evening time, check into your hotel and head straight out the door. The first night, take the famed Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour (adults HK$2.50-$3.40 or Rs32-Rs43). The ferry gives you a spectacular view of the skyline with lights reflecting in the water. It leaves Hong Kong Island from two ports — the Wan Chai Port (5-min walk from Wan Chai MTR) or the Central Port (5-min walk from Central or Hong Kong MTR stops). The ferry will take you across the river to Tsim Sha Tsui Port, in Kowloon. Head to West Kowloon Cultural District. Although still under development, it has high hopes of becoming the heart of culture of the city. As I went around Chinese New Year, I enjoyed a pop-up Bamboo Theatre and a street market. Temporary events are on throughout the year (wkcdauthority.hk).

When heading back, take the ferry or get a taxi to the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR line. If you are there for more than a day get the Octopus Card ($150 or Rs1,900)

2.  Mid Levels to temples

Head for breakfast somewhere in Mid-levels, which is exactly what the name suggests: bars and street restaurants on different levels in the middle of Hong Kong. The closest MTR to Mid-levels is Hong Kong Station located in the IFC (International Finance Centre), but the mall is so big that you’ll have to rely on signs and friendly locals to get out where you need to.

Today, head to one of the best viewpoints on a clear day: Lion Rock Peak, in Lion Rock National Park, New Territories. The closest MTR is Wong Tai Sin, from where you will have to get a taxi ($40 or Rs507) to the entrance. From there, hike up one of the many trails. When you see a small opening with a few benches, check which of the five signs directs you to ‘Lion Rock’. Another half hour and you get to the top where you get a breathtaking 360-degree panoramic view.

Back down from the top, take a taxi or walk a mile to the nearby Wong Tai Sin Temple. Before you enter the Taoist temple take a stroll through the aisles of mystical fortune tellers. Try to find an English-speaking one. You can bargain depending on if you want a face or palm reading, or a combination ($300-$600 or Rs3,800-Rs7,604). If you’re lucky, your fortune teller won’t have trouble finding your ‘marriage line’. After your scepticism settles, take a walk inside the temple, no charge for entry.

Have a look at the idols and if you are feeling adventurous buy a few incense sticks and get into the crowd. Wander through the right side and toss a coin into a flower in the wishing fountain.

Head back to the Won Tai Sin MTR and go towards Lang Kwai Fong for another sort of spiritual experience. Lan Kwai Fong is Hong Kong’s famed party neighbourhood. The streets are lined with bars and restaurants. Here you see an interesting mix of locals and expats.

3.  Dim sum at the beach

Head to Lamma Island. Catch a ferry ($16) from the Central Ferry piers. The Central MTR is the closest to this. Have a look at the tiny islands along the 20-minute ride and arrive early enough to catch morning dim sum by the pier! Look out for a red tent and get a table next to the water. A good meal will cost from $50 (Rs634) per person. Keep an eye out for the fried, only-chicken and only-veg options.

After breakfast head towards Hung Shing Yeh Beach through Yung Shue Wan Village. From the beach, get ready for a short hike up the northern hillsides of Lamma Island. Hikes can range from an hour up to four. The demarcated ‘Family Walk’ is probably the safest. There are minimal inclines. Information is available online, and do check out the wind turbine and hilltop pavilion.

On the way back to the pier, wander through the small vintage boutiques, which are only slightly over-priced (a dress costs about $150 or Rs1,901). Take the ferry back to Hong Kong Island, where you brace yourself to head up to another fantastic viewpoint, Victoria Peak.

Take the MTR to Central and make your way to Mid-levels, then take a nice ride up the World’s Longest Escalator, although it’s broken into small parts. You’ll spot it easily enough. Along the way, try and get off to spot sideways trees and the Jamia Mosque.

When you get to the top, get a taxi to Victoria Peak. If the day is too sunny you will probably have to wait about 30 minutes in traffic uphill. You can also get the tram up to the peak for $40 return. (thepeak.com.hk)

You can do the grueling hike up. You know you’re at the top when you feel slightly confused by the giant shopping mall complex. To get to the highest point, you will need a ‘Sky Pass’ ($40). The best time to plan this trip is sunset.

4. Haggling in the market

Today you recover from your three hikes. Take a casual stroll through the famous for knock-offs Ladies Market (MTR Mong Kok). Locals told me that the vendors often quote prices about three times as high. A leather wallet should reasonably cost you $80 (Rs1,013). Browsing the four busy lanes you will find everything from underwear to chess sets.

If you’re not quite done with this city yet, head to Aqua, a restaurant-bar on Peking Road, closest MTR Tsim Sha Tsui. It overlooks Hong Kong and has spectacular views at night. Along the streets below are Gucci, Prada and Armani stores.

5. Chocolate coins

Fly back! Morning flights give a great view of the bridges connecting the islands. Take back some Chinese chocolate coins from the airport if you forgot souvenirs for those eagerly waiting to hear about your packed adventure in the rising Asia metropolis.

*All prices are approximated based on exchange rates of HK$1 = Rs12.67. Rates may change over time.

Originally published at http://tribune.com.pk/story/539902/hong-kong-in-5-days/

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