Tips and thoughts on travelling for an Hong Kong holiday

The last eight posts on Yummy Lummy have been about my recent Hong Kong holiday.

Hugging on Victoria Peak
Hugging on Victoria Peak

I have links to each post below.

I thought I’d write a summary post with some tips and ideas on travelling for an Hong Kong holiday. This holiday was a family affair with my three daughters, viz., Miss14, Ms18 and Ms20. The planning was undertaken by Ms18 and Ms20 and my job was to pay for the flights, accommodation, ground transport, and tickets to Hong Kong Disneyland, Ocean Park and the Hong Kong 3D Museum. In addition I looked after most of the meals. The girls brought with them spending money for shopping.

Here are some things (in no particular order) to consider when travelling for an Hong Kong holiday. I’m grateful to Miss14 for her input.

Walking shoes: Good quality shoes that will stand up to >33,000 steps a day are a must. The weather can be inclement so pools of water to step over need to be considered as well.

Band aids for blisters: If you don’t have worn in shoes or if you don’t have decent shoes make sure you start the trip with plenty of band aids. Of course new band aids can be purchased from dispensaries or pharmacies.

Google maps and transit routes especially station and bus times: It’s often said Google maps can be inaccurate and we experienced this too, however, the benefits for use outweighed the occasional GPS inaccuracy which was probably because of the tall buildings. A simple turning off and on of the app often fixes the problem. The Hong Kong public transport system is simply fabulous. The best I’ve experienced anywhere. Even better, Google maps lists all the options for trains, trams, buses including times, distances and walking requirements. Having a smartphone with Google maps made our holiday orders of magnitude easier and harmonious. We had no bickering or arguing because we’d gone in the wrong direction. Google was there to help. The added benefit we had was that the Cosmopolitan Hotel supplied for our use an Alcatel smartphone with a 4G sim card so we could use it as a wi-fi hot spot and also use the MTR and Google apps on it for navigation and assistance.

Power packs: You can now buy cheap power packs for smartphones, tablets and even small cameras. With an overnight charge these handy little devices can keep your smartphone juiced up all day. It wasn’t uncommon at about 10.30 am for one of the girls to say they were at <50% battery power for their iPhone. With wi-fi everywhere and so many selfies being taken and so much Facebook and Snapchat being used it was little wonder each of them needed to have a charger (except Ms18 who with the aid of low battery mode and an iPhone 6 managed most days on one overnight charge). The best thing is you can buy short (10 cm) and long (2 m) cords to connect the power pack and smartphone to suit your situation. I wore a jacket most places and could keep the power pack and iPhone on me and continue to use the device while it was charging. BTW for those interested my Snapchat user names are garydlum and yummy_lummy Follow me if you like.

Octopus card: The public transport system in Hong Kong is fantastic. You can buy an Octopus card at the airport when you land for HKD$200. This gives you straight up HKD$100 credit to get you to your hotel plus probably a day or so around Hong Kong. Not only can it be used on trains, trams and buses but it can be used as a debit card in many shops including shops at the airport.

Travel with someone good with directions: People who know me know I have no inbuilt compass. I am hopeless. Completely, utterly without any sense of direction nor an ability to read a map confidently. Fortunately Ms20 has an excellent sense of direction and could remember over each day the direction of where we were meant to go. In addition she can remember where every shop is she has entered in case a return visit is necessary.

Smartphone for maps and camera: This carries on from the Google maps piece of advice. If you don’t have a smartphone, try to get one and get used to it about a month before hand. You won’t regret it. In this day and age, being au fait with a smartphone can help you enormously. Shooting photographs with your smartphone isn’t just for sharing on social media and for blogging and for holiday memories, the photographs with the geotag GPS information can help you find somewhere you’ve been and need to return to. The photographs can also be used as evidence in case of mishaps. I highly recommend having a smartphone on your person at all times.

Related post  New Year's Day 2016 in Hong Kong

Smartphone for apps like swarm, snapchat, Facebook and Twitter: I’m not sure how many people use social media. I know a lot do. I was in awe watching my girls use their iPhones for all sorts of communication with friends. I thought I had a good handle on social media, I’m a novice by comparison. You can checkout where I’ve been by my swarm/foursquare history. You can see what I’ve posted on Facebook and Twitter too. By using hashtags like #HongKong and #holiday as well as specific location hashtags I could ask for assistance and advice as well as receive unsolicited comments and advice. Even if you aren’t a regular social media user, for a holiday, it can be a real help. I use an if this then that recipe that sends my swarm check ins to my Google calendar so when I write a blog post I know where I’ve been each day. The possibilities are endless.

Camera bag: Camera bags are a very personal choice. My advice is use one you’re used to. I have a Lowepro sling bag which was just perfect for my camera body and lenses as well as my power pack, hat, sunglasses, lens cleaning cloths, Platypod, close up filters and cords and cables. I prefer a sling bag to a backpack because it’s easier to get my camera out. I use a wrist strap on my camera which makes it easy to pull out of my sling bag.

Coat with pockets: If it’s cool weather this means you can distribute stuff on your body rather than a bag. If it’s summer, wear shorts and shirts with pockets. Yeah, I know not fashionable. You need to decide for yourself what will suit you and what level of dagginess you will tolerate. Those that know me know I’m a total bogan/dag so I don’t care what I wear so long as it is practical. Miss14 felt pockets were essential especially for easy access to things like her iPhone and Octopus card.

T-shirts: In temperate weather like Hong Kong, it never got too cold or too hot. Wearing a coat was helpful in the air conditioned areas and on New Year’s Eve when it got chilly. Wearing a T-shirt underneath meant I could regulate my body temperature more easily. I used a combination of short and long sleeve T-shirts depending on the weather conditions.

Power cube: I love my power cube. While it has four AC outlets and 2 high power USB ports, you can really only use three outlets at any one time if you rest the cube on a bedside table. Each night I could charge my devices and camera batteries as well as my power pack without any problems.

Book a small room: You don’t need a large room. We aimed not to be in the room unless we were sleeping. Make the most of every minute of every day you’re on holiday. We had two double beds in the room. The bathroom was pretty good with a combination shower/bathtub. You just need room for beds and bags really.

Book in advance: Some trips are cheaper and easier, e.g., Ngong Ping cable car

Grab free Wi-Fi wherever you can: This is a no brainer. I am fortunate. I have a Vodafone roaming account so for AUD$5/day I get all the calls and data I need like I’m at home. I also regularly use HolidayPhone to purchase SIM cards before a trip if there is no Vodafone coverage and also for a small portable 3G/4G wi-fi router. I’ve been particularly grateful to the support (Scott) from HolidayPhone when there have been hiccoughs, so I’m happy to recommend them. That said, there’s nothing like exploiting wi-fi whenever you can. Do it safely though and be careful. Be alert to on-line security.

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Foreign money cash cards: I use QANTAS cash which lets me have a MasterCard in common currencies. This worked brilliantly in Hong Kong. I could withdraw cash when I needed it and use the Qantas cash MasterCard credit card to make purchases. I always alert my credit card company of overseas travel just to be safe.

Don’t bring anything unnecessary: Pack light and travel happy. Like I said, I’m not fashionable and so I stayed as clean as possible and wore some clothes again. I didn’t bring my regular everyday leather RM Williams boots. Even though I knew we’d eat in some nice places, I was confident my casual shoes would be fine. The added benefit was that I didn’t have to remove my shoes for airport security.

Hand sanitiser. Toilets look clean and generally are clean but when you see how people behave in toilets and how they’re cleaned you’ll think twice. I didn’t go into the detail I’m known for when describing my squat toilet experience on New Year’s Eve, sufficie to say I’m glad I had hand sanitiser. Hand sanitiser can also be used to clean toilet seats.

Medication: Bring your supply of medication. I now need to take some regular medication, it’s important to ensure you have a supply and keep it safe. If there is any doubt about whether you can travel with it, speak with your medical practitioner and if necessary get a letter to cover you. I also found with all the walking and carrying a sling bag, my back got sore every day so having some analgesics in my bag was always helpful.

Spare set of spectacles: If you need spectacles for reading, you MUST bring a spare pair. Even though I had three girls with me who at times read things for me when my glasses were in my bag, you need to be able to read.

Sunglasses and a hat: Eye and skin protection are always important.

Poncho or rain coat: Hong Kong can have wet weather. On the Sunday we went to see Tian Tan ‘Big’ Buddha, it was wet. We also got wet on one of the rides at Ocean park too. A poncho or rain coat would be helpful.

Planning: This is from Miss14 and you can tell she’s the daughter of an emergency manager. Having a plan is good. Being flexible about the plan as situations change is also important. Having an idea at the end of each day for what the next day held was really helpful. We usually discussed the next day’s plan on the way back to the hotel the night before. We’d talk about it again at breakfast. The good thing is as the situation changed, having travelling companions who are flexible is also great. Travelling with my daughters was an absolute pleasure.

Make the most of each day: Again this comes from Miss14. She was a great example of doing as much as possible with every minute we had.

I’ll update this as I get more ideas from Ms18 and Ms20.

Here’s a list of all the posts so far from our Hong Kong Holiday.

Have you enjoyed an Hong Kong holiday? Tell me about it.

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