As a favoured spot for short breaks, layovers and multi-stops; Hong Kong is often done in a hurry. While a few days in Hong Kong is far from ideal it is doable. To get the most of a short trip to the city the quick and convenient Hong Kong Rail Network (MTR) comes in very handy. Here is my quick guide to the tourist octopus card, getting onto Hong Kong’s MTR and some top attractions along the line. Hong Kong by train.
Tourist Octopus Card
For Hong Kong by train; plan your destinations in advance, get a Tourist Octopus Card and you will soon be whizzing between Hong Kong’s top attractions. The central tourist areas are connected by the Blue Line (Island Line) and the Red Line (Tsuen Wan Line) with the central interchange station at Central Station. Transit between the two popular tourist areas of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui) is at Central Station. From the airport line you will arrive at Central (Hong Kong) Station. Pick up a map at any Hong Kong Rail Network (MTR) station and away you go.
Blue Line (Island Line):
Victoria Peak (Central, Exit J2) – Hong Kong Harbour Views
The Hong Kong Rail Network (MTR) and Peak Tram stations are not connected so expect a short walk from Central Station to reach the Peak Tram Terminus. Follow signposts from Central Station (Exit J2). Standard ticket price to Victoria Peak is HK$40 (Check official website). Be sure to check weather before this trip; views not so great on cloudy/rainy days.
Star Ferry (Central Exit A) – Boat crossing Hong Kong Harbour.
The Star Ferry passes between Hong Kong Island near Central Station (Exit A) and Kowloon near Tsim Sha Tsui Station (Exit L6). Expect a short walk from MTR to find the Star Ferry Terminus. Standard ticket price for crossing is HK$2.50 with boats leaving every 10 minutes (or so). A second Star Ferry service operates from the nearby Wan Chai MTR station (Full pricing on Star Ferry website). The iconic Hong Kong city skyline can be viewed from the Kowloon side (not Central).
Ding Dong (Hong Kong Island) – Cute Name for the Local Tram
The tram lines run parallel to the Hong Kong Rail Network (MTR) on Hong Kong Island. Pay a tiny fair, jump on board and away you go. Don’t worry about getting lost; at worst a small taxi fare will find you back to the Hong Kong MTR lines. Last visit I boarded at North Point jumping off at Central area.
Night Life (Wan Chai Exit C / Central Exit D2) – Nightlife for Locals and Expats.
Lined with neon lights, international restaurants, pubs and nightclubs the Wan Chai and Lan Kwai Fong (Central) areas are both hot spots for Hong Kong’s party fiends. Note, nightlife areas can bring some “red light” activity.
Red Line (Tsuen Wan Line):
Victoria Harbour (East Tsim Sha Tsui, Exit J) – Hong Kong Harbour
Many of Hong Kong’s top tourist attractions found here. Views of Hong Kong city skyline, traditional junk trips and Avenue of the Stars to name a few. Best in the evenings when the harbour lights up and comes to life. There is a free light show every night at 8pm (Symphony of Lights). Arrive via the scenic route by Star Ferry from Hong Kong island (as above) or a short(ish) walk from both Tsim Sha Tsui or East Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Stations.
Temple Street Night Market (Jordan, Exit A) – Shopping, and Street Food.
Temple Street comes to life at night with haggling markets and street side eating. The markets sell the usual mix of tourist trinkets and dodgy clothes and accessories. The outside eating area surrounding the night market is a great place for cheap Chinese food, beer and banter. The nearby Jordan and Yau Ma Tei areas are also great spots for late night shopping and eating. Temple street is located between the Hong Kong Rail Network (MTR)s of Jordan (exit A) and Yau Ma Tei (exit C).
Green Line (Kwun Tong Line):
Ladies Market (Mongkok, Exit E2) – Cheap Clothes, Souvenir Shopping and Hectic City Bustle.
Found on the busy streets of Mongkok this 1km shopping stretch sell clothes, souvenirs and tourist trinkets (not only women’s clothes). Good for a one stop shopping trip. Expect to haggle hard, take your time and never buy at the first shop as there’s a good chance you will find it cheaper a few stalls down.
Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden (Diamond Hill, Exit C2) – Chinese Gardens and Buddhist Temple.
Not so many tourists here so it makes for a great getaway from city street bustle and touristy attractions. The Chi Lin Nunnery (Buddhist Temple) and the serene Nan Lian Gardens sit side-by-side in the peaceful residential area of Diamond Hill. Styled from the Tang Dynasty the temple sits beneath the South Kowloon skyline and entrance is free of charge.
Orange Line (Tung Chung Line):
Disneyland (Sunny Bay) – A Favourite with Kids and Asian Girls
Roughly 40 minutes from Central station by Hong Kong Rail Network (MTR). Take the orange line to Sunny Bay then transfer to the Disneyland Resort Line. Standard ticket price is HK$399 (Full Pricing on official website). Again check weather before travelling or you may find attractions closed.
Ngong Ping 360 (Tung Chung station) – Cable Cars over Lantau Island
With impressive landscape views of Lantau this far-out attraction is worth the 40 minute train ride. The line arrives at a plasticky themed tourist village. Pass on through to find some impressive attractions including Po Lin Monastery and a 34 meter tall Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha). Round trip cable car tickets start HK$125.
Where to Stay in Hong Kong?
With sky high property prices in Hong Kong you can expect tiny rooms and expensive accommodation when arriving from Southeast Asia. If on a budget and don’t fancy hosteling the best option is to stay outside the immediate tourist area. The Ibis, North Point (Next to North Point MTR on Hong Kong Island) is my preferred choice. Six stops on the Hong Kong Rail Network (MTR) finds the Central Station.
There isn’t a big difference between staying on Hong Kong island or Kowloon. They are well linked and both sides offer their share of tourist attractions. Hong Kong island tends to be the preferred side, less touristy and more amiable. Kowloon is best for cheap accommodation, hostels and shopping bustle.
Hong Kong to Macau
Turbojet to Macau – Boats leave the ferry terminal at Sheung Wan MTR station (Island Line). Depart every 15mins between 07:00 – 00:00. (Macau Ferry Times Here).
Sky Shuttle to Macau – Helicopters leave the Sky Shuttle Heliport at Sheung Wan MTR station (Island Line). Depart every 30 mins between 09:00 – 23:00. Full schedule and booking (Macau Helicopter Times Here).
Anyway, check out our rather ancient video diary for all the above attractions and forwarding to Macau.