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Cruise Port: Hong Kong

There are two cruise terminals in Hong Kong. The one for large mega-ships like the Queen Mary 2 is the Kai Tak Terminal located on the east Kowloon waterfront, the site of the old airport.

 

It is a considerable distance from the major attractions of Hong Kong but has a number of tourist amenities including rest rooms, a cafe, drink machines, a large waiting area, a money exchange and free wifi.

Security is tight and officials are on the look out for those with health issues.

Passengers are also warned about possessions of drugs.

Cabs and mini buses are available for the journey into town and your ship might provide a free shuttle to the other cruise terminal, Ocean Terminal in Victoria Harbor, in addition to having all the same amenities that the Kai Tak Terminal has, it is very near the MRT, bus stations, and the Star Ferry so going there is a good idea. The Ocean Terminal is a giant mall featuring a Tourist Information booth with maps and very helpful personnel that will get you started on a day of site seeing or shopping plus two stories of upscale stores.

Be sure to get a map showing the location of subway stops, Star Ferry routes, as well as tourist sites, In addition, get a map of the subway system.

Public transportation is abundant and cheap. The MRT system is especially efficient, clean, and easy to use and is the best way to get to most places. The subway can be identified by this sign.

The entrances to the subways have a variety of looks such as:

The underground portions of the subway are huge and many have multiple exits far from each other. You may have to walk a considerable distance underground to find the train or exit you want. Have no fear; the MRT is so well organized and signage is so good that you will find your way easily. Signs will direct you to the trains but once you have reached a new location on a train you will need to determine the exit that is closest to your destination. Using a map (in the subway or that you carry with you), find the place you want to go and notice its letter and label, for example L6.

Begin following the L signs until the L’s take on the number that you want. Go out that exit and you will be at your destination.

Buses are also excellent and are especially good for going to some of the outlying areas like the markets at Stanley. They are very well marked with final destination and numbers, and have easily identifiable bus stops, but you will need exact change unless you purchase an “Octopus” card (see below).

The Star Ferry is an inexpensive, easy and quick (7 minutes) to get across Victoria Harbor to Hong Kong Island where you will find numerous sights worth visiting.

You will probably find that you want to use a combination of Star Ferry, MRT, and bus so consider buying an Octopus card. For HK$50 (US $6) you get a card which allows you to add money (you decide how much) for fares on the bus, Star Ferry or MRT. The fee and unused fares are all refundable when you are done with your trip. If you are a senior citizen you get a discount and rides cost about US $.25. In addition to cheap fares, the card allows you to pass quickly through MRT and Star Ferry turnstiles so you don’t have to wait in line to buy single tickets. In addition, you don’t need exact change for the bus. The Octopus card can be purchased, redeemed, or topped up at the Customer Service desk in any subway. Cards can also be topped up at the numerous 7/11 stores that are ubiquitous in Hong Kong and can be used for purchases at the 7/11 stores and some other shores. The convenience of these cards is reason enough to buy
them.

Cabs are available and reasonably priced but the traffic can be horrendous so the MRT is the best way to go if your destination is on its route.

Outstanding Sites

Hong Kong has many outstanding sites and the time a typical cruise ship spends there is not enough to do them justice. You will have to pick carefully but all of those mentioned below are accessible via public transportation. The sites are listed by area: Kowloon (mainland) and Hong Kong Island.

Kowloon

Nathan Road
Near the cruise terminal, this busy thoroughfare is also called Hong Kong’s ‘Golden Mile’ because of its shopping, restaurants, hotels, and night-life.

Nan Lian Garden/ Chi Lin Nunnery
Only a 2 minute walk from the Diamond Hill MRT station, this amazing garden is open to the public and free. It has water features, Chinese bridge, extensive and unusual plantings, and a vegetarian restaurant.

Hong Kong Museum of Art
At 10 Salisbury Road, the museum features historical and contemporary Chinese art and antiquities. Open daily except Thursdays 10am-6pm; open Saturday 10am – 8pm

Jade Market
Held on Canton Road every day from 10am to 4pm, 450 stalls sell jade at a variety of prices.

Hong Kong Island

Central
The business district including upscale mall

Wanchai
District famous for its night clubs and bars

Causeway Bay
District featuring good restaurants and excellent shops

Mid-Levels
A system of escalators that moves commuters up and down the seep slope of the Central District.

Victoria Peak
Can be reached via 7-minute tram ride from Terminal Garden Road; offers spectacular views, scenic walks, shopping and good restaurant,

Hong Kong Park
With an entrance near the Admiralty MRT entrance this splendid park has fountains, pools, lush foliage and a huge aviary, Free

Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware
A collection of ancient Chinese tea ware is housed in the oldest surviving colonial building in Hong Kong in the Hong Kong Park.

Upscale Shopping Malls
Landmark (Central)
Pacific Palace (Admiralty)
Times Square (Causeway Bay)

Hollywood Road
Antiques

Zoological and Botanical Gardens
See monkeys, jaguars, and jungle birds, many of which are endangered. Open 6am-7pm. Free

Stanley Market
On the far side of Hong Kong Island, over an hour ride on a bus, the markets at Stanley offer all sort of items from souvenirs to clothes and jewelry with some bargains possible. Even if you don’t buy anything there is ride over the mountains is memorable and worth the trip.

Background

Hong Kong consists of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, Lantau Island and the New Territories which connect it to China. In addition there are 260 other islands and a total land area of 424 square miles. The name “Hong Kong” means “fragrant harbor” is comes from the fact that the area around Aberdeen, on Hong Kong Island, traded in fragrant wood products and incense.

Although inhabited as early as the 3rd millennium BC, Hong Kong was underdeveloped until Britain occupied it in mid 19th century to serve their trade interests. Problems arose between the emperor of China and the British over the opium trade and Britain seized Hong Kong in 1842. The opium trade continued to flourish until 1907 when it stopped. In 1997 Hong
Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China was established. Hong Kong’s capitalist system will continue unchanged for at least 50 years and the area will have its own political, social, and economic systems but will defer to China in matters of foreign and defense.

The local currency is the Hong Kong dollar HK$ which is divided into 100 cents. US$1 equals about HK$ 7.75 . US dollars are not widely accepted but banks and ATMs are widely distributed. Prices in large shops are fixed but those in small shops are not and bargaining is customary. Bank hours are Monday-Friday 9:30am-5:00pm.

To buy books about Hong Kong from Amazon.com click here.

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