Hong kong things to do lonely planet
Hong Kong & Macau by Steve FallonAll you need to know about Hong Kong
14 January 2013
The thing with these books is that you probably should read them (not necessarily the Lonely Planet ones) before you go overseas, though since they can become out dated pretty quickly, it is also best to try to get the latest one available. They pretty much contain everything that you need to know about your holiday destination, which includes the cost of catching a cab, the selected hotels that they recommend, and also a fair number of restaurants that you can try out. They even have a very handy directory that gives you information on almost anything you need to know.
I have been to Hong Kong before, and I did purchase this book prior to going, however it ended up that I did not even use it. Mind you, I was only there for five days, and there was enough to keep me occupied for those five days without having to use to book to see if there was anything else I wanted to do. I also had a friend in Hong Kong when I went who pretty much kept us company for the entire time (and he even came into the massage parlours with me). That was really handy because he could speak Cantonese and also knew how things worked in Hong Kong. However this time I am going by myself and my friend is now in Australia.
Mind you, after reading this book I realised that there is enough to keep me occupied in Hong Kong for the entire two and a half weeks that I am going to be there, and that is not even actually leaving the territory to go to Macau or Shenzen (though considering Shenzen is a modern metropolis, I wonder if there is anything really all that touristy there, though I do intend to find out). The book is cool because it even gives you information on the hiking trails that are in Hong Kong, and there are more trails than simply the one that goes to the top of that mountain in Kowloon (actually it is in the New Territories – I am not talking about Victoria Peak on the island). In fact, there are a couple of cool hiking trails, one that takes you to a pirate cave (and the treasure has yet to be found, though I have no intention of jumping into the Pearl River delta to see if I can find it, though many have probably done that before me). There is also a really long hike on Lantau Island (which I intend to do) that takes you to an old British Fort which was used to keep the pirate population down.
I am now even more keen than ever on going to Macau. There is a reason why it is called the Vegas of the Orient, and in fact many of the Vegas casinos have ended up setting up shop there. To date the per capita income of Macau has now exceeded Vegas, which is not surprising because China is still powering on where as the United States has slumped, and one of the places that was hit the hardest was Vegas. It sort of baffles me as to why that place was growing so fast when in reality the only industry that was worth anything there is the service industry (and that is not counting Area 51 where all the alien corpses are supposed to be hidden - I suspect that there is no Area 51 type of place near Macau).
Another thing that I didnt know is that you can catch express trains from Hong Kong directly to Shanghai and Beijing. Apparently you board the train at Hung Hom railway station in Kowloon (you go through customs there and it takes you directly to the mainland). When I was last there the train took me to the border of Hong Kong and you had to get off and cross the border to then catch another train on to China, however it seems that you dont actually have to do that. You can even catch a train directly to Shenzen (and entering Shenzen is easier to enter than China, unless you are American because you have to get yourself a proper Visa).
The Guidebook in Action
23 March 2013
I though that since I am now in Hong Kong and have been using this book I might give a bit of an update of how I have found it, and I must say that it is very useful. Okay, I am also using it in conjunction with my smart phone (I managed to get a sim card that gives me internet over here, so that is also very helpful – you can purchase them at the airport, and the same was the case when I arrived in Bangkok). I have taken a couple of the walks that they suggested, one through the Kowloon Markets (and it is quite extensive since it starts at the Bird Market and finishes at the south end of the Night Market). Mind you, the problem with the market walk is that the Bird Market begins to close down when the Night Market opens up.
The book is very thorough, though I must say that the way they price their restaurants is a little dicey. I suspect it is because they are only listing good restaurants, but there are hundreds of little hole in the wall restaurants in Kowloon which are even cheaper than what you would get in the book. For instance, you can have a pretty decent feed for around $6.50 US (though remember that the Hong Kong Dollar is pegged to the US Dollar so the prices are not going to change based on the exchange rate, which does affect me since most of my capital is in Australian dollars).
I guess the best way to use this book is to read it through before you actually go to Hong Kong (and this will apply to any of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks) and make a note of what interests you and then plan your days around those particular sights. Remember Hong Kong is actually quite a small place so you can fit a number of things into a day, but dont go running all over the place, try to localise all of your activities. Mind you, because it is also a small place, you can quickly run out of things to do (unless you are simply interested in shopping and having fun, then that can last a lot longer). Ive spent a week here now and you could say that I am pretty Hong Konged out, though I still love the place.
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