Waking up to our first morning in Hong Kong we enjoyed breakfast in the hotel then walked the few steps to North Point MTR station where we purchased Octopus travel cards HK$150 each including a refundable deposit of HK$50, (only cash accepted for visitors). We topped up the cards an additional HK$100 each then took the Kennedy Town line to Admirality, the train was crowded but we just managed to squeeze in.
Leaving the station we took a series of escalators up to Hong Kong Park. This small park with its waterfall and ponds is a haven of tranquility in Central. We spotted numerous turtles, some swimming whilst others rested on rocks on top of each other.
Across the road from the park lies the Peak Tram station and there was already a lengthy queue when we arrived at 10.00 am. Although we didn’t need to purchase tickets (we intended to pay using our Octopus cards) we still had to join the main queue and it was 40 minutes later when we finally boarded the old wooden tram. Fortunately we were at the head of the queue by then so we were able to choose the best seats for the 8 minute journey. If you plan to ride the Peak Tram try and sit on the right hand side from where you can see dramatic views looking down as the tram climbs to the Peak. We’ve taken this journey on each of our visits to Hong Kong and never tire of the enthralling experience.
It’s always busy with tourists at the viewpoints nearest to the tram station and the Peak Galleria shopping centre but if you take the ‘Morning Trail’ a 3Km walking trail round the Peak you can enjoy uninterrupted views down to Victoria Harbour below whilst strolling amid lush vegetation with only a few walkers in sight, it really is tranquil. Finishing our walk we sat on the terrace of La Galleria sipping refreshing glasses of iced tea.
We then felt ready to continue so, instead of joining the lengthy queues for the return descent on the tram we opted instead to take the No.15 bus back down to Central. Luckily, we managed to get the front seats on the upper deck for this scenic journey. It’s almost like riding a roller coaster as there are so many twists and turns on the steep descent, again with some dramatic views of the many skyscrapers and the harbour below.
Located across the road from the Exchange bus station in Central is the International Finance Centre mall (IFC) a gleaming upscale shopping centre filled with high end retailers. For some spectacular views of Victoria Harbour and the Central waterfront take the escalators up to Podium Level 3 where you will find an open air public terrace. Office workers were relaxing and eating their packed lunches whilst we enjoyed the amazing views.
It was then back to the bus station to take a ride to Stanley in the south of the island (buses 6, 6X and 260) can all be taken. Again luck was with us and we were able to sit upstairs at the front. It’s another scenic ride taking around 30 minutes and passing the beach resorts of Deepwater Bay and Repulse Bay before terminating in Stanley. On arrival, we found a cafe for some lunch then enjoyed a stroll along the delightful waterfront firstly to Blake Pier and then on to the Pak Tai temple at the far end of the coastal path.
Retracing our steps we headed to the nearby Stanley Market which nowadays is primarily tourist orientated. We wandered around the stalls but weren’t tempted into buying anything though it was interesting to look. We returned to our hotel in North Point on a direct bus (No.65) which took around one hour. We then experienced our first rain shower of the holiday so we made a dash from the bus stop to our hotel to try and keep dry.
After relaxing for awhile we caught the MTR to Jordan to visit the Temple Street Night Market in the Mongkok district. It was still raining but most of the stalls were protected with covers and we also had our umbrellas. Our plan for dinner was to eat at the same Dai Pai Dong (traditional street food cafe) we’d dined in two years ago, managing to find it again we weren’t disappointed – the food was delicious and polythene walls and a tarpaulin roof had been erected to protect diners from the rain.
To round off our evening we took the MTR from Tsim Sha Tsui so that we could cross Victoria Harbour on the Star Ferry – this iconic ferry ride is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in the world and inexpensive too – HK$2.50 upper deck and HK$$2.00 lower deck . We sit on the upper deck for the best views and photo opportunities. Our final treat of the day was to return to the hotel from Wan Chai on the top deck of one of Hong Kong’s old trams affectionately known as ‘Ding Dings’. There is a flat fare of HK$2.30 for tram rides, passengers board at the back and leave at the front, paying the driver or presenting the Octopus card. Sitting on the upper deck on the old wooden seats is one of the best ways to soak in the vibrant, fast paced atmosphere of Hong Kong as the tram rattles along.