The Last Aeroplan Hurrah: Exploring Hong Kong

Introduction
United Global First Lounge San Francisco
Lufthansa First Class San Francisco to Munich
Le Meridien Munich
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich, Swiss Business Class Munich to Zurich
Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich, Swiss First Class Zurich to Bangkok
St. Regis Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Ritz Carlton Hong Kong
Exploring Hong Kong
United Club Hong Kong and Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon
Hyatt Regency Incheon Airport
Asiana First Class Lounge Seoul Incheon
Asiana First Class Seoul Incheon to Frankfurt
Sheraton Frankfurt Airport
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt, Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Seattle
Four Seasons Seattle


Hong Kong is the greatest city on earth. Period. Sadly I know my way around Hong Kong better than I know my way around Tampa, as anyone that has been there with me can attest to. While there are plenty of cities I love visiting, Hong Kong is a city I could actually imagine living in. The city has a beautiful balance being being bustling yet peaceful at the same time. And I’d say the “city” scenery is among the most stunning anywhere.

We only had one full day in Hong Kong, though the weather turned out to be near perfect, so I think we hit most of the major highlights. My apologies for the lack of pictures, as I didn’t end up taking that many aside from a few of the highlights. I’ve been to Hong Kong well over a dozen times, so I have enough of a picture stash. As a result a few of these pictures are “recycled.”

We started by taking a taxi over to the Kowloon Star Ferry Terminal, and from there walked along the Avenue of Stars and Kowloon for about an hour. While the views from the Avenue of Stars are fantastic, what I enjoy even more is people watching, as you have thousands of tourists from Japan, mainland China, etc., taking a picture with every possible star. As a Caucasian the most entertaining thing has to be the number of people that randomly stop you and want to take a picture with you.


View from Avenue of Stars


Kowloon

From there we took the Star Ferry over to Hong Kong. It takes about ten minutes, and you’ve gotta love that it’s still under $0.50USD.


Star Ferry


View from Star Ferry with Ritz Carlton in the background

From there we walked towards the Peak Tram. One of my favorite aspects of Hong Kong is how international it is. You walk right past all the office buildings on the way there, and it’s always amazing to see the number of ex-pats living and working in Hong Kong, so while I feel like I’m abroad when in Hong Kong, I don’t feel like I’m totally “out of my element.”

I’ve taken the Peak Tram to the top of Victoria Peak at least a dozen times, though the views never get old (and my friend had never been to Hong Kong, so it was a must). The one thing that was different this time is that there was an hour-long wait. I’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes, though I figured it was still well worth the wait.


Tram

The tram ride to the top is crazy-steep and takes about ten minutes. And then the views from the top are amazing.


The Peak


Amazing views from the Peak

After that it was off to Stanley. It’s best known for Stanley Market, though I don’t find that to be especially interesting (I far prefer the Temple Street Market). What I love about going to Stanley is twofold:

1) The bus ride there is incredibly scenic. They have double decker buses running there on very narrow, winding roads, so the ride itself is worth it.
2) It shows a completely different side of Hong Kong. For the most part Hong Kong is bustling, though Stanley is relaxing and on the water, so it’s where a lot of the ex-pats live.

So while we only stayed there for about half an hour (due to time constraints), it was well worth it.


Stanley


Stanley

And of course no trip to Hong Kong is complete without viewing the Symphony of Lights. Many say it’s a total tourist trap. Fair enough, but it’s an awesome tourist trap.


Symphony of Lights

To sum it up, I love Hong Kong. If anyone wants to donate money to the “let Lucky retire in Hong Kong fund,” I’d be more than happy to accept! ;)

Comments

  1. aznprzn says

    No need to donate. You can crash at my flat I own there. By the way what is the going exchange rate there for one USD?

  2. Wouter says

    Lucky, give me one reason why you don’t move to Hong Kong for at least a few months??? Why not? You’ll love it! It will probably be one of the best experiences of your life!!!

  3. Nguyen says

    I travel vicariously through Lucky’s trips. Would love to visit Hong Kong and then Sai Gon city. What would be the better usage for this trip, Avios or AA miles? Thanks.

  4. Frank says

    You see, Lucky, this is the kind of trip report that is excellent. You show a total appreciation of the world around you and the opportunity to travel. Reading this warms my heart.

  5. lucky says

    @ aznprzn — Hah, thanks! Right now it’s 1:7.76.

    @ Wouter — Cause it’s damn expensive! But I am tempted.

    @ Arthur — I would do all of the above (Stanley, Symphony of Lights, Victoria Peak), as well as Temple Street Market, Ladies Market (not as dirty as it sounds), etc. If you have time, the New Territories are well worth a visit too.

    @ Nguyen — Thanks! Depends where you’re originating, though generally the redemption rates from North America are lower through American. One-way tickets are 55,000 miles in business class or 67,500 miles in first class.

    @ Frank — Thanks!

  6. Nguyen says

    Thanks Lucky. Actually, we would leave from SFO. Would love to try the business class for once, but probably travel the normal way in the coach class (no class) :-)

  7. lucky says

    @ Nguyen — In coach you’d pay 35,000 Avios in coach, 70,000 Avios in business, or 105,000 Avios in first. With American you’d pay 30,000 miles in coach, 55,000 miles in business, or 67,500 miles in first. The only difference is that with British Airways you’d pay an additional ~$150 per direction in fuel surcharges. So you’re probably better off using American miles regardless of which cabin you fly in.

    Hope you have a great time!

  8. Arthur says

    I am doing LA JFK FRA HKG. I am still undecided on the best way back maximizing my UsAir miles. Uim doing all biz class. As of now I have HKG ICN LAX. suggestions? Maybe Europe?

  9. lucky says

    @ Arthur — Depends how you define maximizing. You’re only allowed one stopover enroute to your destination, so if you stop in Europe on the way out there’s no incentive to returning via Europe other than flying more.

    If your return flight on Asiana is on the 777, I’d say that’s a great option since it most likely has their new business class.

  10. lucky says

    @ Arthur — If it’s only a layover, then I’d route the return based on where you’d prefer to stopover. Maybe Seoul, Zurich, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Copenhagen, Stockholm, etc.?

  11. formite says

    HK is probably one of the best cities in the world. I hope I can retired there too. BTW, United should have two flights from SFO->HKG daily.

  12. Ben says

    @Lucky: It’s actually not that expensive; food & transportation is incredibly cheap; the only $$$ is housing. For eg. the apartment complexes that are adjacent to the ICC/Ritz Carlton and have harbor views start at around $5.5 Million USD. But, if you really want to live in HKG, you can live in other parts of Kowloon (not near Central) which are much cheaper from my understanding.

  13. Coutureguy says

    Lucky, I agree that Hong Kong is an awesome place to visit. A couple of years ago I actually went there 4 times within an 8 month period, and contemplated moving there myself. I love how it truly is where East meets West, so you can get a dose of familiar Western culture with an Eastern flair. The dim sum (or yum cha as they say in Cantonese) alone is enough for a trip, lol. However as awesome as HK and some other global cities are, New York is still the greatest city in the world! (Just my opinion of course.) :-)

  14. Peter says

    Lucky: I will visit Hong Kong twice (20 hour each time) in June & July. Will stay in Grand Hyatt & Hyatt Regency. Sha Tin.

    What are the best ways to see HK within 2 (20-hr) stays?

    By the way, do you use Bus service all the time in HK?

    Thanks for your advise.

  15. lucky says

    @ Peter — When in Hong Kong I walk for the most part when exploring the city. I take the Star Ferry between Hong Kong and Kowloon, but other than that I walk. When I’m leaving the city (like to Stanley), I take the bus.

    Hong Kong also has a great subway (the MTR), though I rarely end up using it.

    Two 20 hour layovers should be more than enough to see all of the above, assuming you hit the ground running when you land. I saw all of the above in one day, so if the weather cooperates you should have no issue doing so either.

  16. lucky says

    @ RakSiam — Just because I enjoy what I fill my days with doesn’t mean it’s not “work!”

  17. says

    I “only” spent 2 weeks in Hong Kong on a trip, and would without a doubt say it’s one of the best cities I have been to so far.

    Do they still have the “Asia’s World City” signs around, especially at the top of Victoria Peak? I always thought that was a bit peculiar.

  18. John C says

    Lucky,

    I agree with you 100 percent. I love Hong Kong. The fast pace, great food, a wonderful mix of old and new, and the best Airport in the world. And to top it off, it’s home to one of the finest airlines in the world, Cathay Pacific. With 4 daily CX flights from JFK to HKG (3 nonstops), you’re only 16.5 hours away from a wonderful adventure. Thanks for the posting.

  19. Chas says

    @Arthur
    For U.S. citizens, no. U.S. Citizens receive a 90-day tourist entry permit on arrival in Japan.

  20. Wouter says

    @Lucky: Many students on internships and international university programs live in Hong Kong. They are your age, and I don’t think they have more to spend than you do (you have a fulltime job, they don’t!).

    Of course, you might not be able to live in the center of Hong Kong, and you might have to share an appartment with other international flatmates, but that’s just part of the experience! It’s awesome :-)

  21. Arthur says

    Quick question. You have 90,000 UsAirways miles. Flying from LA, how would you maximize this with a must in HKG with stopovers etc?

  22. lucky says

    @ Arthur — It all comes down to what you’re looking to do. Do you enjoy flying different carriers or do you want to get there as comfortably and quickly as possible? What cities would you be interested in stopping in?

  23. Arthur says

    Love carriers! Like you. Always want to try different products, business class. I’m open to ALL cities. ZURICH, BKK, HKG, ETC.

  24. lucky says

    @ Arthur — Well in that case I’d route via Europe to maximize miles. Pending availability of course, maybe something like LAX-LHR on Air New Zealand, LHR-BKK on Thai, BKK-HKG on Thai, HKG-ICN-FRA on Asiana, FRA-VIE-JFK on Austrian, and JFK-LAX on United. Of course that’s just a totally speculative routing because availability is usually not so great that you have so much of a choice, but that sounds like a good option to me.

  25. Arthur says

    Im slightly obssesed with your blog. It’s like playing chess trying to maximize miles with dates, times. Etc

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