Seeing Hong Kong In A Day
On South China Sea cruises Hong Kong is a major port of call. While one day is not enough time to see much you can hit some of the major highlights.
As you sail into Hong Kong your first impression of the city is one of rolling hills and endless skyscrapers. In this city even low-income housing is mostly in skyscrapers. Much like Singapore, Hong Kong developed because of its unique geo-political status and the South China Sea location. Recently the government of mainland China is working to absorb Hong Kong politically into China, against the requirements of the treaty that transferred the city from British control, but mostly daily life seems to go on as usual. Putting politics aside Hong Kong is a remarkable city. Modern, efficient and clean with the people incredibly friendly and eager to be helpful.
Where Your Ship Docks
Most cruise ships will usually dock at the new cruise terminal that was once the site of the international airport in Kowloon. The modern Kai Tak Cruise Terminal has plenty of public facilities, shops and tour offices and information stands inside. Outside taxi service and shuttle buses are available. There is no metro station at the cruise terminal however. The nearest one is the Ngau Tau Kok Station about 2 miles away. Across Victoria Harbor from the cruise terminal is Hong Kong Island encompassing the central business district with Victoria Peak standing above the city. To get into town you can take a taxi but often there are free shuttles. Local businesses in order to deliver cruise passengers to their merchants will provide free bus service to several locations on Hong Kong Island and that opportunity is worth taking advantage of.
The first suggestion is to get yourself oriented as to where you are and what locations you would like to visit. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive and the subway (MTR) is clean, modern, inexpensive and easy to use. You can find a number of official maps HERE or download our free map below.
The free bus rides from the cruise terminal will usually include a ride to Plaza Hollywood which is a large mall featuring exhibit space, a movie theatre and a couple hundred stores. While not a real destination it will get you to a central Hong Kong location with easy access to the MTR with one station under the mall.
The local currency is still the Hong Kong Dollar and is worth somewhat less than US$0.15. Credit cards are welcome everywhere and ATM machines are plentiful. If you don’t want to use credit cards you will need to exchange some money for Hong Kong Dollars.
Things To See
This city is itself a wonder and just exploring its districts and neighborhoods is enough to begin to get its flavor. If you took the free shuttle to Plaza Hollywood you will find yourself near a couple of MTR stations (one inside the mall) and the Nan Lian Gardens (look for the elevated highway and walk under it after exiting the mall). The park is a classic style Chinese garden and is beautiful with flowers, waterfalls, Koi ponds and pagodas and completely walled in by high rise buildings (admission is free).
Taking the MTR is easy to figure out with well designed maps and ticket machines that take credit cards and English language options. The trains and stations are modern, clean and well marked. Your first objective should be to get to the Central MTR station for its location in the CBD and the Peak Tram. The area features commercial skyscrapers and upscale shopping with the alleys between buildings filled with market stalls selling everything from food to inexpensive clothing.
Going up to Victoria Peak is one of the cities highlights. There is a Peak Tram that leaves from a station near Hong Kong Park and the Government Center in the CDB but the wait in line to buy tickets and catch the tram can be several hours. Another option is to offer to share a taxi with others with the fare up and back costing less than 25 Hong Kong Dollars (US$3) each. The view is spectacular and well worth the trip. If you are overnighting here do not pass up a visit to The Heights at night.
If you’re visiting Hong Kong for a few days or visiting on a cruise don’t hesitate to take advantage of the cities fantastic metro system. It’s clean, easy to understand and most signage includes English. You can depend on the people to also be friendly and eager to offer assistance.
Hong Kong is an incredible city with a great metro system. Generally the people are friendly and helpful. The young people don’t just get up to give older people their seat – they insist. Fares are very reasonable and coverage is extensive.