Spring Break is almost here! Do you have travel plans? Maybe to Asia? Last March, our family spent Spring Break reveling in the international excitement of Hong Kong. With preparation, it was the perfect experience!
The internet is your friend. Here are some tips picked up from web searches and from our trip:
1. An Octopus card (to get around by trains, trams and buses) may be purchased at the airport express counter. If it’s a relatively small group, you might want to forego the card and use taxis for convenience. It pained my frugal mindset that we left money on the card. Be warned, any money left on the card will be forfeited if not used within a certain time frame.
2. Tourism brochures can be had from visitor centers at Hong Kong International Airport, Causeway Bay MTR Station, Kowloon, Star Ferry and The Peak.
3. It’s best to drink bottled water. We used the coffeemaker in the room to boil water daily for drinking and brushing teeth. (We also asked for and received TWO adaptors to charge our phones and cameras!)
4. ALWAYS, ALWAYS carry tissues. A travel size sanitizer wouldn’t hurt either. Hard to believe, but many of the eateries don’t supply napkins and many of the toilets won’t have tissue.
Put on your bargain face!
5. Research items you are planning on purchasing
Know what you’re up against. If you are looking at an expensive item such as a camera or jewelry, check it out online first. HK deals for such items aren’t as great as in years past. If it’s a little less than what you’d pay at home, don’t buy it. Purchase it at home for an easier return or exchange.
6. Offer less
Our HK born friend, Henry, said to start at 50% less. Inexpensive souvenirs might not apply for that discount, but it doesn’t hurt to bargain for some sort of discount.
7. Use local currency
We knew what we were negotiating with in HK dollars. Those little calculators merchants use to convert U.S. dollars will usually give you a worse exchange rate than when you first converted over. If you do use U.S. dollars, I suggest you pull your cell phone out and calculate along to be sure they do it correctly.
8. Buddy system
Don’t get pulled in by the exciting locale and enticing deals. Have someone be the voice of reason if the bargaining bug bites and you lose sight of the whole picture.
9. Dress Simply
The U.S. thinking is to dress nicer when shopping as you will get better service. When traveling, over dressing can make you a target. Vendors may try to overcharge you or not go down in price as much, especially because you look like you can afford it!
10. Don’t be fooled by the merchant’s spiel
Many items can be knockoffs. (Shanghai has a below ground shopping system that is Knockoff City!) Unless you really know about the item you want to purchase, buy at your own peril.
11. Let it go
If you’re not satisfied with the negotiated price, be prepared to let it go. If the merchant calls you back, good for you. If not, don’t look back.
12. If possible, experience Hong Kong with loved ones.
The freedom to share hugs or reach for the hand of a child or spouse whenever I wanted was pure heaven! Our children don’t live nearby and it’s always a joy to spend time with them.
I am blessed with a wonderful husband. He collates information for a living and googled “Top Things to do in Hong Kong.” He then compiled the contents from 15 websites to get a list of 132 things to do. Of that, there were 69 unique listings. Below are the sites that had at least 2 recommendations. I don’t think much has changed in Hong Kong in the past year, so the list below should be fairly current.
|Victoria Peak / Tram / Harbour||16|
|Lantau Island & Cable Car||10|
|Happy Valley Racecourse||5|
|Temple Street Night Market||5|
|Aberdeen Harbour Sampan Ride||3|
|Lan Kwai Fong||3|
|Mid-Levels Escalators at Rush Hour||3|
|Symphony of Lights from Avenue of Stars, Kowloon Promenade, 8pm.||3|
|Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade||3|
|Hong Kong Museum of History||2|
|Hong Kong park||2|
|Hong Kong Wetland Park||2|
|Mong Kok Tung Choi Markets||2|
|Street Car tram ride||2|
|Tian Tan Buddha||2|
Next, I may write about my favorite things to do in Hong Kong!