My So Called Travel Life

Exploring the world one day at a time

Livin’ Like a Local in Hong Kong

Because of its proximity to the Philippines, Hong Kong has been a go-to destination for many Filipinos.  Its close to 2 hours flight time is actually a bit shorter than the flight from Manila to Davao. Which explains why Hong Kong has been a playground/ shopping mecca/ tourist spot even for an overnight stay for us.

So what exactly is the allure of Hong Kong which makes everyone come back to this (not so) little island?  Let me break it down per area – Lantau, Hong Kong, and Kowloon.  I would love to include New Territories but I’ve never explored the place, so maybe on my next visit, I’ll update this post.

LANTAU

The part of Hong Kong where you’ll see modern architecture – Chep Lap Kok Airport is located here, and scenic nature spots to calm your body and give you peace.

Chep Lap Kok Airport Pre-departure area

Chep Lap Kok Airport Pre-departure area

Must visit:

1. Ngong Ping 360/ Po Lin Monastery/ Giant Buddha – Accessible via cable car with terminal near Citygate Outlet or bus in Tung Chung MTR Station, it’s popular to tourists and locals because of its calming effect.  The site is surrounded by mountains and water so it really is a springboard for your sky-land-sea adventure.

Big Buddha

Big Buddha

2. Hong Kong Disneyland – For kids, this is at the top of their list.  A trip to Hong Kong will never be complete without saying hello to Mickey Mouse and his friends.  Get off at Sunny Bay and take the Disneyland Resort Line to start your magical adventure.

Surfin' Mickey Fountain

Surfin’ Mickey Fountain

3. Discovery Bay – Honestly, I’ve never visited this place as there’s always not enough time.  Although I’ve heard that this is the place to go if you want to feast on gourmet meals while enjoying a peaceful ambience.  Maybe next time I’ll drop by for a visit.

4. Tai O Fishing Village – Again, another place I’ve never visited but heard so many good things about.  In fact, I think we’ve passed by this village on our way down via bus from Ngong Ping.  They said that to truly understand how the locals used to live, it’s a must to visit this place as it showcases the life that was.

5. Tsing Ma Bridge – It’s the longest suspension bridge with rail and land traffic in the world, the bridge is a sight to behold during the day and especially at night.  I’ve passed this bridge quite a number of times but never got the chance to go down and explore.  There’s a park in Tsing Yi where you’ll get the best views.

HONG KONG

This is the area where you’ll get the cosmopolitan vibe and you’ll know you’re really in Hong Kong.

Must visit:

1. The Peak – want to get stunning view of Hong Kong, head on over to the Peak via tram (which is recommended) or by bus.  It could get windy and cold when you’re up there, which makes the trip more exciting.  Going up could also be a celebrity-sighting as the road leading to the Peak is where Hong Kong movers live as evidenced by their big houses (you know how land could be expensive here, right?)

The other side/ view from the Peak

The other side/ view from the Peak

2. Repulse Bay – Remember the days when your visit to Hong Kong won’t be complete without the photo plates?  I can vividly recall that on my first visit, I posed with my hand on Buddha’s belly 🙂 I don’t think they make the same now though.  This place gives visitors the beach experience without the crowds.  What makes me like it more is that you get to have your chill time while listening to the waves without you fearing you’re alone.  There are people but not the noisy bunch.  It can be accessed via bus in MTR Hong Kong Station.

Buddha at Repulse Bay

Buddha at Repulse Bay

3. Stanley Market – I haven’t visited this place for many years and all I can remember from my only trip was that it’s the best place to shop for silk ties and jade bracelets. Maybe I’ll make time when I go for another visit.

4. Jumbo Kingdom – Again, I only visited this once and it’s not even open yet at that time.  This is a floating restaurant and would be lovely to watch the Symphony of Lights here.

5. Causeway Bay – This is my favorite MTR stop as this is where my retail therapy begins.  The place is a shopping paradise.  Enough said.

6. Lan Kwai Fong – Hong Kong never sleeps and this is where everything seems to happen.  If you’re looking for a place to hang out with friends for clean fun and get some booze, don’t miss out this street.  It houses restaurants, clubs and pubs which is perfect for night owls.  Get off at MTR Central Station.

KOWLOON

Must visit:

1. Avenue of Stars/ Symphony of Lights – Like Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, there are stars in the walkway.  Spot Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li 🙂  The sounds and lights show starts at 8PM (depends on weather) and grab a seat to enjoy the scene.

Avenue of Stars

Avenue of Stars

2. Clock Tower – Have your photo op near the Star Ferry Terminal.  This is another Hong Kong site you should never miss.

3. Mongkok – Another shopping haven for bargain hunters.  Check out the Ladies’ Market and the IT stores for gadgets and gizmos. Alight at MTR Mongkok Station

Ladies Market

Ladies Market

4. Temple Street – Get off at MTR Jordan Station and get a glimpse of Hong Kong’s night market.  Take your pick from the many stalls on the street selling trinkets, souvenirs and anything and everything under the sun.

Must eat:

Aside from the sites, another reason to visit Hong Kong is the food!  Personally, I don’t go to fancy restaurants but take the risky route of tasting street food.  But for foodies out there, you might want to check this out.

Street food!

Street food!

Must try:

For those whose main reason for traveling is shopping…I’ve always said that Hong Kong is like a big shopping mall.  You’ll find a store/ shop/ boutique as soon as you step out of your doorway.

In Citygate Outlet

In Citygate Outlet

It’s best to explore Hong Kong walking.  You won’t notice the time as there are many things to see and gawk at.  But for those with weary feet, other modes of transport are available and they are all reliable – MTR, buses, trams, cabs.  All you need is this –

Octopus card

Octopus card

Have fun in Hong Kong!

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Sky Fun in Tagaytay

Who would have thought that the tallest ferris wheel in the Philippines will be found in Tagaytay City?  Not me.  But one lazy afternoon, we trooped to see just that.

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Sky Fun is an amusement park currently being developed by SMDC.  It’s right beside Taal Vista Hotel so you won’t miss it.  Plus of course, you’ll already see the ferris wheel from afar.  But the nice thing about it is that the park has quite a number of rides to offer already even if construction is still underway.

To enter, there’s a fee of PhP100 (50% off until May 31).  Then individual rides are sold separately when you enter the park, which range from Php50 to PhP150.

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Kids would have a great time riding these –

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Wonder Flight

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Red Baron

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Nessie Coaster

And of course, the main attraction – Tagaytay Eye!

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There are still other rides in the park but didn’t get to try anymore as we were in a bit of a hurry. They also have an inflatable slide which you can enjoy for only PhP50 for 15 minutes.

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Since the area is still under construction, there are only food stands available – Master Siomai, Potato Corner etc.  But I’m guessing that the buildings near the parking (btw, parking rate is PhP50) will be made into a row of restaurants soon.  They are also expanding the area and more attractions will be made available.

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Some people may say that this isn’t the best time to visit the park yet as there are not that many rides open yet.  But it doesn’t hurt to see and enjoy it while there are still few people who knew about it.  Wouldn’t be surprised that very soon people will be flocking to the park and you won’t even have time (and space) to enjoy this view again.

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 Sky Fun Amusement Park

Beside Taal Vista Hotel

Km. 60 Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City

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Going North – Isabela and Tuguegarao

Isabela and Tuguegarao are provinces often skipped by tourists because it seems there’s nothing to see – and boy, we’re all wrong! Yes, temperatures on these places reach fever pitch during summer but that just adds to the allure of these hot places.

Isabela and Tuguegarao have a lot to offer different types of travelers. For those whose idea of a trip is doing the heritage route, Cauayan and its nearby town, Alicia have old historic churches.

Church in Cauayan

Church in Cauayan

Church in Alicia – Our Lady of Atocha

For those looking for outdoor adventure, head on over to Ilagan Sanctuary. Ilagan is 1 hour away from Cauayan. It may be reached via van, which costs PhP35 per pax or by airconditioned bus, which costs PhP50. But since the sanctuary is off-the-main-road, you have to hire a tricycle to/ from. Packaged rides cost PhP400++ (your charming and haggling skills will be used here).

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And of course, one shouldn’t miss Callao Caves in Penablanca. This is more or less 4 hours drive from Cauayan. You may ride a bus, PhP140 per pax until you reach Tuguegarao then haggling skills again for a tricycle that will take you to Penablanca. PhP500++ is a good deal for a roundtrip.

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Where to Eat:

1. Kusina Kawayan – Meals range from PhP70 to PhP200 – serves Filipino food

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2. Jambalaya Grill – Food ranges from PhP100 to PhP250 – serves Mexican food

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3. Cafe Andrea – Food ranges from PhP150 to PhP400 – serves Chinese and American food

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Where to Stay:

I’ve only heard of 2 decent hotels in  Cauayan – Hotel Andrea or Queen Jennifer.  Contact them below for more details –

Hotel Andrea

Don Jose Canciller, Brgy. District I  Cauayan 3305

Tel. No. (078) 652 2023 / (078) 652-2023

Email: info@thehotelandrea.net

Queen Jennifer

Talavera Square Compound

Tel. No. (078) 652-0066/652-0077

Email: queen_jennifer_hotel@yahoo.com

Truth be told, I was also surprised that these places have quite a lot to offer, I was expecting less.  Traveling to new places is really a wonder.

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