Travel Tips

Where is the toilet?

I thought this may be a useful post for visitors to Hong Kong.

The public toilets in the city are not many, and they are not really clean.  Hong Kongers  shirk them and prefer to use toilets in shopping malls which are indeed many, or in McDonald’s restaurants, which are in every corner, or the big Chinese restaurants (酒樓) which are everywhere too.

Don’t try to find toilets in Hong kong’s MTR stations. They have no toilets unless it is East Rail Line (Between Hung Hom and Tuen Mun) and West Rail Line (Between Hung Hom and Lo Wu / Lok Ma Chau). Both MTR lines have toilets in each of their stations.

toilet in Tsim Sha Tsui East Station

Therefore, Tsim Sha Tsui East station on East Rail line, has toilet, but not Tsim Sha Tsui station on Tsuen Wan line, though the latter station is much busier than the former.

Travel Tips

Explore HK’s creative side with a tailor-made map

Two artists have come up with an art and design map to help locals and tourists savour Hong Kong’s creative side. It is launching its second edition and a shame that you can only get it at bookstore.

Created and developed by artists Danielle Huthart and Louise Wong, the map employs the idea of “district curators”, who share what inspire(s) them in their neighbourhood and district. It is set to be totally different from the official HK map provided by Hong Kong Tourism Board, and aims to let you take the path less travelled and savour the creativity of Hong Kong. Galleries, markets, restaurants, architectural gems and cafe hideouts are highlighted in the map.

Called Creative City, the map retails for HK$68 and is available at Bookazine (Canton House, Ocean Terminal, IFC Mall, Prince’s Building, Shui On), Dymocks (Harbour Centre), Island Shangri-La Hotel, Cosmos Books (Wan Chai), Kapok, Loveramics and K11 Design Store. A website is yet to function.

The heavily government sponsored Hong Kong Tourism Board should have done a map like this and give it for free to tourists.

Travel Tips

Things to do in HK: Top 6

I want to give a list of top 5, but end up with one of top 6.

So here’s my take of the top 6 things to do for a visitor to Hong Kong:

 1.Take Star Ferry between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui to see Victoria Harbour.

I love this ferry ride. It is part of my and many Hong Kong people’s memory about Hong Kong. The current Star Ferry pier in Central is not original, though. When the original was demolished to make way for reclamation, there was a spate of protests and people flocked to the pier on the last day it was in use.

2. Go hiking.
Dragon Back on Hong Kong Island is famous, but Sai Kung has probably the territory’s most beautiful natural scenery. You will never disappoint if you hike any route in Sai Kung.

3. Visit Hong Kong Museum of Art or Hong Kong Museum of History.
I think both museums are good, especially for those wanting to inject some culture and history into their visit. This post of mine has comment on Hong Kong Museum of Art.

4. Yum Cha.
Hong Kong probably has the world’s best dim sum restaurants. Don’t miss it. The Maxim’s Palace in City Hall (2/F, Low Block), Central is a good place for dim sum. How about this route? Have dim sum in City Hall, head to the Star Ferry in Central, take the ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui, and then visit Hong Kong Arts Musuem.

5. Visit one of the outlying islands – Chueng Chau, Lama Island, Mui Wo, Ping Chau, etc.
Try to go on weekdays to avoid the crowd – the locals like going to the islands during the weekend. The fares are lower too.

6. Take the tram.
The tram on Hong Kong Island is over 100-year old, the most historic and also the cheapest transportation in HK. For HK$2.3 (less than US$0.5), you can ride across the island, from east to west, or vice versa, having a glimpse of the life and landscape of the city. You can try going east, starting from Kenney Town, which is an old district, and ride through districts like Sheung Wan (where the dry seafood street is), Central, the business district, and Causeway Bay, the shopping district.

Travel Tips

MTR app

If you travel in Hong Kong, the most convenient transportation to be used would be the train, MTR. An app for iphone, ipad and Android smartphone is now available, which provides useful information on routes, fare as well as shopping and visit information.

Check out here.

Travel Tips

Avenue of Stars a tourist trap?

The Avenue of Stars along the Victoria Harbour waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui is named one of the world’s 12 worst tourist traps by CNNGO. While I think reports like this are subjective and for attention grabbing only, I do agree that the Avenue of Stars is not a worthy place to visit. The reason is two-folded.

First, it is full of mainland tourists and the locals like me have stopped going there. That is a shame, really. It is such a nice harbourfront.

Second, it is too “artificial”. The Avenue of Stars is obviously an imitation of Hollywood’s Walk of the Fame, with local movie celebrities’ autographs and hand prints set in cement as plagues. The whole thing was set up just to promote Hong Kong’s tourism, not a natural outgrowth of the local culture. I never like visiting places like this.

I still go to Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront from time to time though, not to see the celebrity plagues, but to visit Hong Kong Museum of Art. The exhibitions put up there often give me delight surprises. The Museum has benches facing a glass wall at each of its floor (except the ground floor), allowing visitors to take in the harbour for a respite after appreciation of art works, a much better space than the noise and excitement on the Avenue of Stars. To go there, make sure that you take Star Ferry. That is something not only tourists but also locals enjoy doing.