I interned and studied abroad in Hong Kong when I was in college but Henry’s HK experiences have been far more limited. It wasn’t initially a part of our itinerary and was added when we found out that direct flights from Shanghai to Hanoi were ~$500/person while flights going through HK were ~$300/person. I was a bit worried about our airline, Hong Kong Airlines, because I had never heard of them before. However, the planes ended up being very new and modern. The only thing is that the airline doesn’t have gates at the HK airport so you have to take one of those buses from the plane to the terminal.
HK is an expensive city and we tried to cut down on our expenses by spending one of the two nights in Shenzhen, just across the border in China and accessible by the MTR. We tried the Water Cube (SLF) Spa across the Lok Ma Chau station. It was a slight hassle to go through HK and Chinese immigration a couple of times but it was an excellent value. My cousin helped us purchase Dianping vouchers for discounted massages. For ~350 yuan ($55) including tip, the two of us each got a 90 minute Thai massage in a private massage room and were able to sleep in the room overnight after the massage. There were also free fruits and ice cream in the main floor area. There are a ton of these large “massage palaces” in Shenzhen and since they’re all open 24/7, they experience a high level of wear and tear. Although Water Cube is certainly one of the newest large scale spas, it’s really showing the wear and I was disappointed by its condition.
Back in Hong Kong, we saw Victoria Peak, Big Buddha, Symphony of Lights and various markets on Hong Kong island and in Kowloon and rode on pretty much every single form of transportation (except the taxi): double decker bus, minibus, MTR, HK tramway, Star Ferry, Peak Tram, Mid-level Escalators, and Airport Express train. We had planned on doing the Dragon’s Back trail on HK island but the weather was looking gloomy so we tabled that for next time.
For our 1 night in HK, we stayed at the newly opened Ibis Sheung Wan and Central. HK hotels are insanely expensive and this hotel was the only one I could find for <$150 (cancellable rate), within 10 minute walking distance to a convenient MTR station, and at least 3 stars (I’m definitely too old for a hostel). The hotel was sterile and the room was small, as expected. It was clean and included a free buffet breakfast that looked quite tasty. But since we had limited time in HK, we weren’t going to waste one of our meals on a hotel breakfast.
We had breakfast dim sum at the famous Luk Yu Teahouse. It was 7am in the morning and the other diners were all regulars so it was a good sign. Unfortunately, the dim sum turned out to be average at best and very expensive. I can think of half a dozen dim sum places in the SGV with better food and for half the price. We also tried the HK Station branch of Tim Ho Wan, a 1-Michelin star budget dim sum restaurant, and since the wait was very long at lunch time, we ordered food for “takeaway.” Their famous pork buns were delicious and so were the har gow we ordered. It’s certainly a step up on terms of quality and value from Luk Yu but again, it didn’t blow the SGV out of the water.