Hong Kong Diaries – 2nd Edition – Hong Kong Family Holiday Concludes
To rest, simply wasn’t an option on this trip, not in a destination like Hong Kong which has so much to divulge, so much to see and with such little time available in our schedule to get it done, it was important to keep on the go and get in as much as possible. In that case, the second edition of our holiday in HK was always going to be full-on, as the action-packed Hong Kong family holiday continued its momentum.
To begin with, you can find all the events in the first edition of Hong Kong Diaries with a click of this link, and the highlights were plentiful right from arrival. We visited attractions that included a family package tour to Hong Kong Disneyland, the vibrant Tsim Sha Tsui and the impressive Tian Tan Buddha, the list would only continue to expand the further we explored the vast regions during our Hong Kong tour. Even if at that stage, we had only scratched at the barrel on our Hong Kong vacation.
In the final days, the action didn’t stop either. For the second leg of our trip we headed over to Hong Kong Island and their famous Peak, we got mesmerised by Cheung Chau Island and even had a last-minute spur of the moment idea to cross the border into mainland China to Shenzhen city.
All this and much more, were the major highlights of the second and last edition of Hong Kong diaries, as the Hong Kong Family Holiday concluded.
Getting Around Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island is a tourist phenomenon that you’ll more than likely visit on a couple of occasions during your stay. That’s assuming you haven’t booked accommodations on the island already. The HK island is famous for Victoria Peak which gives you gorgeous harbor views over the city, scintillating shopping malls, abundance of ferry terminals taking you to various ports in Asia and a lengthy Esplanade full of entertainment that looks over Victoria Harbour to Tsim Sha Tsui.
Our accommodation was situated on the mainland of Hong Kong in an area called Tsuen Wan and the best way to get to Hong Kong Island was via MTR using the Octopus Card and catching the red line all the way to its last stop at Central station. Although there are other ways to the island, either by car using a taxi or Uber, buses, or the Star Ferry services.
Let’s cover a few of the highlights of our adventures in Hong Kong Island.
It’s all happening at the Victoria Peak
There is no argument in the matter, when you have a Hong Kong holiday, you’ll visit Victoria Peak.
The only decision you’ll need to make is how to get to the Peak itself. There’s a couple of good options to take you there, you can pre-purchase tickets from Klook to catch the Tourist Peak Tram and enjoy a scenic ride to the top or take the bus number 15A from various bus stops on Hong Kong Island using the Octopus Card.
On this occasion, we elected to take the regular bus service to the Peak, mainly to avoid the large queues that came with the tourist tram, plus it’s much cheaper to go by bus and it takes around 30-40 minutes, depending on traffic at the time.
Getting off the bus at the terminal on arrival at The Peak, the first thing we did was to make our way to The Peak Tower, a unique designed building used for multi-purposes such as a shopping mall, a tourist zone with family-fun attractions, number of fine-dining restaurants with great views and an Observation Sky Terrace that gives you 360 views of the surrounding areas.
At the forefront of the Tower there is a bit going on also, you have the stationary tourist tram where you can take a few photos, enter inside for a rest or receive information from the staff member at the desk, who’ll give you helpful information of the best walking tracks to take around Victoria Peak. More on that later.
Inside the actual Peak Tower, you are spoilt for choices with numerous attractions, while we didn’t visit them all, there were a few great things we did do during our travels, but I’ll give you brief run down on what is happening.
As previously mentioned, there is an Observation deck at top of the Peak Terrace to capture the gorgeous views that includes the picturesque Victoria Harbour. You can take dazzling photos inside the Madness 3D adventure, where you can try and trick your family and friends back home that you were doing terrifying stunts during your holiday in Hong Kong. I know my boys had fun with this one, perhaps I did too.
Of course, for those who need retail therapy, you can spend your hard-earned dollars and go shopping with a large range of retail outlets to browse through (I still love that black jacket I bought), indulge in a choice of stylish restaurants even though we settled for Burger King, tempt your taste buds with a delicious ice-cream that is sure to hit your waist-line (but it sure was delicious) and find many more fun things available to the tourist if you simply take your time to wander around and take it all in.
Naturally, when you visit the Peak, you’re going to want to take a brisk walk along one of the trails to capture more mesmerising views. On this occasion we took the Peak Circle Walk, which starts close by to the Peak Tower, and is a around a 90-minute loop walk that has ample stopping areas to take that memorable photo over Victoria Harbour. I can only hope the day is clearer for you as it was for me when you visit, but that’s life when you travel to Hong Kong in winter.
Find Awesome Day tours on Hong Kong Island with Get Your Guide
The Promenade at dark and the Symphony of Lights Show
Due to the fact we came back from The Peak during rush hour, it took a good hour to arrive at the The Promenade precinct and the Hong Kong night lights were well and truly in affect with the usual 5:30pm sunset in the middle part of December.
We got off the 15A bus at Queensway Plaza and wandered through the mall, cutting through the streets and stepping over the footbridge, until we reached Tamar Park and the Central and Western District Promenade, where a dazzling lighting experience awaited us. Because let’s be honest, Hong Kong at dark with the towering buildings and Christmas lights looks spectacular.
During the month of December, in fact, it ran from November-29 to February-24 2019, there is a Hong Kong Pulse Light Festival showcasing a range of lighting arts throughout the promenade. The lighting show is perfect for all kinds of travellers, be it a family experience or a couple romantic stroll, and you can admire the dazzling event all the way through to the Hong Kong Observation Wheel and Ferry Terminal.
Not only can you appreciate the light show, you can look across Victoria harbour to watch the ferries and cruise boats flowing through the water and further towards Tsim Sha Tsui where more buildings in the distance are looking delightful in the night sky. Hong Kong is a city that is completely lit up.
It’s at 8pm every evening, all through the year, that everyone searches for a great vantage point to watch the Symphony of Lights show. It’s a lighting performance from the high buildings on Hong Kong Island as the lights beam over the harbour and dazzle the on-lookers.
Usually the best spot to watch the show is from the Tsim Sha Tsui side looking back towards HK Island, however, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it from Hong Kong Island where we were located, with good vantage points from the ferry terminal, as we did, or from the Golden Bauhinia Square.
For those who want to watch the Symphony of Lights show in style, you can view it from Aqua Luna cruise. A popular tourist cruise that runs daily and has a variety of sessions throughout the evening to further appreciate the night lights. This short cruise is ideal for lovers as you set sail on the Harbour, receive a complimentary alcoholic drink and admire the views hand in hand from unique looking cruise boat. You can purchase your Aqua Luna tickets from Klook for the cheapest prices.
Crystal Jade Dining Experience at Queensway Plaza
After admiring the night lights, it was time for a later than usual dinner. It was back to the Queensway Shopping Mall, where we previously set our sights on the Crystal Jade restaurant. It’s a fine dining restaurant, that doesn’t come too cheap, but the food of mainly Hong Kong cuisine is top quality and it capped off the day perfectly, before catching the train back to the Royal View hotel and making it a late finish to a hectic day.
A day in Shenzhen – China
Visiting Shenzhen for the day was certainly a spur of the moment idea that provided a few dramas for the family. Not the fault of the city, but the lack of my own research when studying about going to Shenzhen from Hong Kong and the Visa requirements needed to enter into mainland China.
I don’t want to bore you with all the details here, because I have written a separate article in which can be found with this link and will cover most things you’ll need to know for entry.
To get to the bottom story, we originally went to the wrong border area at Futian Checkpoint, where they don’t hand out on the spot Visas. Since we had already scanned our passports to exit Hong Kong, we had to get marched back through to Hong Kong, back to the MTR and took another train to Lo Wu checkpoint. The train ride only took around 10 minutes to Lo Wu, where we got our five-day Visa for China and before we knew it we were in Shenzhen. At least, it seemed that straight forward, but please see that Shenzhen Visa article for a detailed description.
The decision to go into Shenzhen was really inspired by my oldest son, he has a fascination with large buildings and Shenzhen is the home of the fourth tallest building in the world and I speak of the Ping An Financial Building. It’s a flush building only recently completed in 2017 and is well guarded by security detectors at most entrance points.
The Ping An Centre as a whole is a business district and a mega shopping mall, that at the time we visited was half empty due to its recent opening, but it was simply superb modern layout, with retail outlets and fine-dining restaurants which looked five stars.
The main purpose of visiting the Ping An building was to visit the Free Sky Observation deck, it cost 200 yuan to go to the top, in which I felt the admittance fee was worth it, even if our views were spoilt by a foggy day. Up the top of the observation area you can capture the birds-eye view of Shenzhen and beyond, take a ride on the virtual slide down the building, learn a few facts of the building and buy a souvenir item or two from the souvenir shop.
Now, I was only in Shenzhen a short time, so I am not your ideal travel guide to the city, there are plenty of other resources for that. In our short time in the Chinese city, we wandered the streets of Shenzhen, got lost in the large MTR system, explored the underground world of malls that in lead to the MTR stations and visited the boutique —- shopping mall.
A busy day in mainland China well spent after all the drama of the morning, before going back on course and continuing our travel tours in Hong Kong.
A day trip to Cheung Chau Island
Cheung Chau Island, WOW!!! One of the best tourist attractions to visit and certainly a tourist destination that needs to be added to the list for travel in Hong Kong with kids.
A rare perfect sunny day embraced our day on Cheung Chau and many tourists had the same idea make their way to the picturesque island by ferry. On Cheung Chau Island, there is no skyscrapers, no modern buildings or any no motorised vehicle. You need to either get around the pretty island by foot (the preferred and safest option) or hire a pedal bike from several locations that are quite affordable. The only modern thing you’ll find on the island is a McDonalds fast-food restaurant and to be honest that is truly wasted with a number of delicious seafood restaurants that over look the harbour.
Cheung Chau gets your attention on initial sight, first of all you’ll see hundreds of boats anchored in the harbour and as you look into the distance, you’ll see an open highland that creates beautiful scenery from lower ground of the main town ship area. The best part of the Island will be wandering the back alleyways into further stores, marketplaces, restaurants and even run-down apartment buildings where the locals live. It’s all quite fascinating.
The further you go around Cheung Chau, you’ll find many wonderful things to see and do. You’ll stumble across many small temples that are hardly any masterpiece, but they are there, nonetheless. You can view mesmerising coastlines that offers scenic views over the bay and even provide a chance to take a refreshing swim in the several beaches available to you.
There are rock cravings, nature walks, lookout towers to capture even better views and the island even has a Mini Great Wall that is perfectly located on the oceans edge. A full day is well spent on Cheung Chau Island and it’s a must to visit for all tourists to Hong Kong and don’t forget to have a seafood lunch with a glass of beer, it was delicious, and it capped off our time on the island perfectly.
What’s Next? Macau
Our Hong Kong Family Holiday has concluded with Cheung Chau Island pretty much the last attraction we visited, and I have no doubt our time was spent wisely during the trip as you have figured out in our Hong Kong diaries.
The trip to the region has not quite ended there, however, with a ferry trip to Macau that followed Hong Kong immediately. Now, all you need to do is wait and check our adventures in Macau, a destination like I have never seen before.