02 Sep What are common mistakes tourists make in Hong Kong?
1. Thinking that the most iconic and well known sites are not worth visiting.
They are very much worth visiting, it just means doing it a bit smarter than everyone else.
Victoria Peak for example… it has arguably one of the best vistas in the world. If there is one thing you should definitely do if you’ve never been to Hong Kong, is to go see the view from Victoria Peak. Ignore the locals who say it’s not worth it, or an aunt who visited last year and lined up for hours for the Peak Tram… instead, make your own way up by taxi or 15 bus and avoid the lines and the tram completely.
*Don’t be swayed by buying tickets for skipping the line at the tram station, these don’t save time due to the number of people purchasing them.
If you have time once you’re at the Peak, take a stroll along Lugard Road, which is where this image was taken. You’ll be rewarded with the best panoramic (and free) view of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories… and on a great day, Shenzhen.
2. Thinking that a restaurant is only truly authentic if it is full of local people
Bear in mind Hong Kong is 94% ethnic Chinese. Therefore it is extremely likely that you will be the only tourist in the restaurant.
3. Not buying an on-loan Octopus card
The on-loan Octopus card can be used on all public ferries, buses, trains and trams. It costs HK $150 per adult, which includes $100 of loaded credit and a $50 deposit – they can be purchased from any MTR station with Hong Kong currency (cash only). When you are finished with the card you can return it for any outstanding credit and your deposit (minus $9 admin charge if handed back within 90 days).
You can also use this card in most outlets for payment of small purchases e.g coffee, 7–11, bakeries etc making it super useful. Anywhere you see the sign at the cashier you can use it.
I would advise NOT to buy the Airport Express Travelpass or Tourist Day pass as these work out more expensive and are limited on which types of transport you can use. I have done many calculations on this!
It can also be used on the airport express train (but would only advise using it if you’re in Hong Kong for less than 24 hours – details on the best tickets for the airport express train below).
4. Not using the in-town check-in and airport express train
Hong Kong has two stations where you can check your luggage in in-town. They are:
- Hong Kong Station
- Kowloon Station
You can take your luggage and get your boarding passes at any of the stations, meaning there is no need to haul your luggage all the way out to the airport. Some airlines will do this up to 24 hours in advance. The train stations are equipped with check-in desks and luggage belts. In fact it looks just like the airport. It takes 24 minutes to get to the airport from Hong Kong using the train.
Image: Hong Kong Extras
Now there are some limitations for checking in your luggage here with some airlines, so it’s best to check here to see if you can do it for your flight. All long-haul carriers offer this service.
If you are coming from / to the airport in a group, it is better to ask for the GROUP tickets (one-way) for better discounts available for group travel, more information here.
The Airport Express also provides complimentary shuttle busesfrom Hong Kong and Kowloon Stations to most of the major hotels in those districts, more information here.
Here is a link to my blog post for all you need to know about getting into the city from Hong Kong Airport – https://www.hkgreeters.com/2017/10/how-to-get-city-from-hong-kong-airport/
5. Listening to your hotel concierge and booking on a coach tour
I would estimate that most hotels will recommend a coach tour to you… why? Because they run regularly, the route is tried and tested (it’s been the same one for 40 years) and they are affordable.
What is the downside? Forced shopping in the jewellery factory, not enough time at each interesting location, and hours of picking up and dropping off from every hotel location.
Do a bit of research, there are many local private tour companies like ours in Hong Kong who can help you with a comprehensive tour, or one of specialist interest…. with no forced shopping(!)