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48 Hours In Hong Kong, The Pearl Of The Orient

When you’re travelling far away, a stopover is not always inevitable. Waiting around at an airport for your next flight, is probably one of the most annoying things to do during your trip. So why not make it a pleasant experience, by using a stopover to see a whole new city?! Not only do you get to experience a new city and country, it’s also a good way to slowly adapt to the time zone you’re going to be in. When I was traveling to Indonesia, I planned a 48 hour stopover in Hong Kong, the Pearl of the Orient. A perfect opportunity to discover this amazing city.

Hong Kong

Credit: Latoya Rafaela

Hong Kong is an autonomous territory in China that consists of 261 islands and is officially named The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s republic of China. A nickname for the city is The pearl of the Orient and for good reason. Its location is right on the intersection of so many different cultures and that shows in its diversity of modern architecture combined with the traditional temples, busy street markets, beautiful beaches and nature. Even though Hong Kong is densely populated, it has a very lively, welcoming and unique atmosphere.

It’s a large city, divided over several islands and if you want to see more of it, 48 hours will not be enough! But even if you’re only there for a short stopover, there are still plenty of great sightseeing you can fit in! These are the things you really don’t want to miss.

Buddha

Credit: Latoya Rafaela

Big Buddha

Even if you only have a few hours in Hong Kong, this is a must see! The Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is located on Lantau Island. The statue, solely made out of bronze, is the largest seated Buddha in the world. You can spot the 34 meter high statue from a far distance and even from the plane or from Macau.

To get all the way up to the statue, you have to climb a few stairs, 268 to be exact. Don’t worry, it really is worth it!
The best way to visit the Big Buddha is by cable cart: Ngong Ping 360. This will bring you up to the entrance, while you can enjoy a 30 minute trip through the mountains and enjoy a wonderful view of the surroundings.

There’s an option to book a “Cristal Cabin”, a cart with a glass floor. This way the experience gives you an amazing view on every angle! If you’re afraid of heights, this might not be the best option for you.

Tip: If you have enough time, also visit the Po Lin Monastery, that is situated not far from the Big Buddha.

Credit: Latoya Rafaela

Victoria Peak

Credit: Latoya Rafaela

Also known as Mount Austin or The Peak, is the highest mountain on Hong Kong island. The easiest way to get there is by taking the Peak tram. The Peak tram will take you from Garden road up to Victoria Peak in just a few minutes. While you’re on the tram, you can already enjoy a beautiful view, that will only be a preview of what’s yet to come. Once you’re there, you’ll need a few more escalators to get to the Peak. But I can ensure you, it will all be worth it, as the view from the Peak is breath taking!

You can enjoy the amazing views over the Victoria Harbour, the city, the waterfront and the surrounded islands. There’s more than just a great view up there, you can have your picture taken as a souvenir, have some food or a refreshment in one of the bars or restaurants, shop in one of the many shops inside the building or visit the museum Madame Tussaud.

The Victoria Peak is definitely one of my highlights of Hong Kong. Remember though, that the Peak and its tram are a big tourist attraction and therefor it’s wise to visit it first thing in the morning. This way you avoid the crowd and standing in a line for the Peak tram.

Credit: Latoya Rafaela

Credit: Latoya Rafaela

Star ferry

The Star ferry boats transport passengers from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and back. Even though the two sides of the Victoria harbour are connected by roads and rail tunnels, this is still the most beautiful way to cross the water. A single ticket (a token) can be bought at the terminal for as little as €1,- for the lower deck.

Of course there’s the option to get the tourist round tour on one of the other star ferries. This will cost around €10,- which is still cheap, but I would recommend you to just cross the water with the star ferry like all the locals do! It’s a lovely way to see Hong Kong in another way and to enjoy the wonderful panoramic views over the harbour and the many skyscrapers.

Credit: Latoya Rafaela

The Temple street night market and Ladies market

There are many markets in Hong kong, that really show you a whole other side of this city. My two favourites are the Temple street night market and the Ladies market.

The Night market is a typical Chinese street market, where you can find anything from electronics to antiques, jewellery to fortune tellers and some of the best food to be found in Hong Kong! Many people visit the market for dinner. And even though doesn’t always look like a place where tourist should eat, many tourists do and it usually doesn’t cause any problems. Just make sure you pick a stand where it’s crowded. If it’s good enough for the locals, it must be amazing!
Best time to visit: between 5pm en 10pm

The ladies market is probably the most famous street market in Hong Kong. It’s kind of a Chinese local market that sells many products such as clothing, shoes, bags and electronics.
Even though it’s very busy, there’s a nice buzzing atmosphere.

tip: Best time to visit is between 7pm and midnight.

Credit: Latoya Rafaela

Symphony of lights

This spectacular sound and lights show projected at 40 skyscrapers at the Victoria Harbour, is definitely one to watch. It’s the world’s largest permanent Laser show according to Guinness World Records. The show is free of charge and starts daily at 8pm.

The best places to watch, is at the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade or at the Golden Bauhinia Square. Many people want to see this spectacle, so make sure you be there in time to get yourself a nice spot to enjoy the show. Also: There a some lovely restaurants in de area around the promenade, a perfect place to have dinner before or after the Light show.

tip: Have a nice stroll down the promenade before the show starts and visit the Avenue of the stars.

Credit: Latoya Rafaela

If you have more time in Hong Kong, I can recommend you to visit one of the many shopping malls. Such as: The Landmark, Time Square Shopping mall or Ngong Ping Village (which is great to combine with a visit to the Tian Tan Buddha).

Another place to visit if you have an extra day is, Hong Kong Disneyland! I didn’t get a chance to visit it myself this time, but I sure will when I return!

As you can read there are plenty of places to see in this beautiful city. And even if you only have a stopover of less than 48 hours, all of the highlights I mentioned are doable. The metro system, that will take you to all the urban destinations, works really well and even taxis are relatively cheap (just be aware of the Hong Kong traffic during rush hours). Hong Kong might not have been on your bucket list, but I definitely should! It has everything you need for a few days in a city: from big shopping malls, to

typical Chinese street markets, from old traditional temples to futuristic skyscrapers, from high class restaurants, to food stands on the streets. Hong Kong has a perfect combination of two different worlds that came together.

Have you ever been to Hong Kong, or do you wish to go here? Let me know in a comment below what you favorite place is, thank you so much!

Book your next trip and visit Hong Kong, the Pearl of the Orient!

Safe travels,
Latoya Rafaela

For more photos of my trip, visit my website:
www.latoyarafaelaphotography.com/blog

Or Instagram:
@latoyarafaela.photography

 

Asia Travel

10 Things You Must Do In Bali

So, you’ve set your New Year resolution to travel more this year, and you are currently planning your trip to a popular bucket list destination: Bali! There is an insane amount of information about Bali on the internet, which is why we’ve narrowed it down to the top 10 things to do in Bali! These 10 activities will help you get the most of your Bali trip!

HIT THE BEACH

Bali is known to be an excellent beach holiday destination. What’s better than a leisurely day by the beach, getting sun-tanned, drinking coconut water and slashing around in the deep blue sea? Whether you like a tranquil time listening to the soothing waves or want to have a blast at a beach club, there is something for everyone in Bali.

WATER SPORTS

Bali is a great destination for surfing, with surf breaks for all levels. There are surf schools along the beach where you can take lessons from experienced trainers. Seasoned surfers will fall in love with Echo beach – the surfer’s paradise. If you are into diving or snorkelling, Bali offers some magnificent spots to explore marine life.

LOCAL FOOD

There’s plenty to explore in Bali, from fining dining to street food. There are many warungs (local food stalls) which offer amazing dishes at a budget-friendly price. If you are looking for something different, there is an abundance of restaurants which offer an international fare. The renowned ‘Eat Street’ in the chic Seminyak, Bali’s tourist hotspot, has a collection of awesome restaurants, bars and cafes to satisfy your palate.

SUNRISE AT MOUNT BATUR

Active travellers should not miss the opportunity to catch one of the most magnificent dawn in on the island. You will have to climb up Mount Batur to catch this glorious scene. The trip starts at 2am, and you will have to hike in the dark. However, the scene at the top is definitely worth the effort.

BALI TREETOP PARK

If you are travelling with friends, this is a great team activity for the group. Challenge yourself with ziplines as you climb from one tree to the other. Tough as it is, it’s a great way to spend the day.

UBUD MONKEY FOREST

Ubud is Bali’s cultural heart, where you can learn about the culture and history of the island. Apart from that, you would also be able to get close to nature, explore rice paddies and have fun with monkeys. Watch out for your belongings, though.

TEMPLES

You can’t say you’ve visited The Island of Gods without visiting the temples. Religion is an essential part of Balinese life, and you will be able to see how locals pay their respect to the Gods. There are plenty of temples for you to visit, the most notable ones being Uluwatu Temple and Tanah Lot.

VILLAS

Villas are a part of the Bali tourism scene. In recent years, there are more and more people who choose to stay in a villa than in a hotel, and for good reasons. Unlike in other countries, villas in Bali are much more affordable while the level of service is top-notch. You will be able to get a private pool, customised service and your own space and freedom to do whatever you like.

GET A MASSAGE

Getting a massage is part of “Bali experience package”. What’s better than a relaxing massage after a long day discovering the island? There are different styles for you to try: Fish massage where you will have little fish therapists nimble away dead skin cells, leaving your feet clean and smooth. Sounds scary and painful, isn’t it? In fact, it is a little bit tickling and can be a very interesting experience if you have not tried it before. The Balinese are also known for their traditional massage therapy. If you are not into massage, try a spa session instead. Professional, luxurious yet affordable, these sessions will make you relax.

SUNSET

Last but not least, a magnificent sunset by the beach or at the villa is an experience you should not miss. It’s a great moment to slow down, take a breath, unwind, appreciate nature and let go of all the worries. It’s also a great time to take some insta-worthy photos too! No filter needed!

Asia Travel

10 Things To Do In Chiang Mai Thailand

Heading to Chiang Mai on your trip in Thailand and wondering what to do? Don’t look any further and check out these 10 great things you can do in Chiang Mai!

1. EAT A HUNDRED YEAR OLD EGG

A century egg, also know as a thousand or hundred year old egg is an Asian tradition in which an egg is preserved for several weeks or months using a process that combines, clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls. You can typically find them in the food markets around Chiang Mai, I tried mine at Somphet market just off of Moonmuang Road. The century egg smelled like ammonia and boasted a moldy green color, though tasted like a warm, old hard-boiled egg.

Read > Eating a Preserved Century Egg at a Thai Market.
Century Egg (aka: hundred year old egg) in Chiang Mai

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Asia Travel

Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Cambodia

Cambodia is slowly recovering from the horrors of the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror. Major problems still exist: land mines, poverty and a devastated infrastructure. But the reconstruction and healing process is now well under way and increasing numbers of tourists are rediscovering Cambodia’s attractions. The stunning temples of Angkor are the obvious draw for most tourists, but the country has much else to offer: tropical beaches, colonial buildings and an abundance of natural attractions.

10. Preah Vihear

Preah Vihear

Preah Vihear is a Khmer temple situated atop a 525 meter (1,722 ft) cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains, on the border between Cambodia and Thailand. It has the most spectacular setting of all the Khmer temples. Most of the temple was constructed in the 11th and 12th century during the reigns of the Khmer kings Suryavarman I and Suryavarman II. It was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Preah Vihear is the subject of a long-running territorial dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, and several soldiers were killed in clashes in 2009.

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