What Surprised Me Most About My First Visit to Hong Kong

Top 5 in One Minute – What Surprised Me About Hong Kong

Bryan Snider Hong Kong, Top 5, Travel, Video

Last October, my wife and I took advantage of a great deal on Cathay Pacific out of Los Angeles and took a trip to Hong Kong.  This was not only our first trip to Hong Kong, but our first time on the Asia continent as well.

While we didn’t have many expectations for Hong Kong, there were a few things that immediately stood out to me when it came to the city.  They were the kind of things that resonate with you, and give you something to look forward to the next time you get the chance to visit such an awesome place.

On this list, are five things that really surprised me about the city of Hong Kong.  These are not the only five things, just the ones I felt made the most impact on me.

Watch this Top 5 in One Minute
 1: Cheap Public Transportation

It’s quite possible that this may be one of the things that surprised me the most.  Before going to Hong Kong, I kept hearing from many people how expensive the city is.  However, after taking multiple rides on the MTR, ferries, and buses, I realized that the city public transportation system is cheap!  Not only is it cheap, but it is well organized and easy to use, especially with the Octopus Card.

Example Fares: (As of May 2019)

  • Ferry:
    • Upper Deck: $2.70 HKD ($0.34 USD) weekdays and $3.70 HKD ($0.47 USD) on Weekends and Holidays
    • Lower Deck $2.20 HKD (($0.28 USD) weekdays and $3.10 HKD ($0.39 USD) on Weekends and Holidays
  • MTR:
    • Diamond Hill to Central $14.70 HKD ($1.87 USD) with Octopus Card
    • Tsim Sha Tsui to Central $10.00 HKD ($1.27 USD) with Octopus Card
    • Central to Tung Chung (Big Buddha / Ngong Ping 360 Cable Card) $22.90 HKD ($2.92 USD)
  • Airport Express:
    • To/From Kowloon $100 HKD ($12.74 USD)
    • To/From Hong Kong (Island) $110 HKD ($14.02 USD)
  • Bus:
    • Number 15, and very popular, (Central Pier 5 to The Peak) $10.30 HKD ($1.31 USD)
2: Hong Kong is Clean

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting Hong Kong to be dirty by any means.  Instead, what surprised me was how I virtually saw no trash on the streets.  They really go above and beyond most cities I’ve experienced.  For example, there were signs everywhere (especially in public places) like the one below, that showed you how to properly clean up after your pet.  This included bringing some water to wash off the sidewalk, path, or street after your pet relieves itself.

I think a big reason for the clean streets is the stiff penalties for littering and spitting.  Hong Kong seems very clean conscious and it’s apparent by a pretty stiff fine for an offense $1500 HKD ($191 USD)

For more information about the strict littering laws and fines please visit.

Hong Kong Littering Fixed Penalty

3: Hong Kong Has Lots of Green Spaces to Escape the Urban Jungle

It’s hard to believe that in a city with as many skyscrapers and density as Hong Kong, that one can find ways to escape the sounds and stress of the city.  However, this is far from the truth.  Hong Kong has a lot of green space within and around the city.  In fact, the urban area is surrounded by large temples, gardens, parks, hiking trails, and even nature preserves.  One can also escape to one of many neighboring islands within the Hong Kong SARS area.

For my wife and I, we were able to escape a few ways.  One way that really surprised us was the Chi Lin Nunnery and neighboring Nan Lian Garden.  When we entered, the sounds and smells of the city simply disappeared.  I honestly do not know how they do it.  It was so peaceful and a nice break from the sensory overload that one can experience, especially in the heart of Kowloon.

Another place I loved was Victoria Peak.  It’s worth it, but you have to be willing to venture away from the main touristy area and skip the urge to go on top of the observation deck.  Instead, move to the left side of the main area and look for Lugard Road.  Take this old road (now more of a pedestrian pathway) a bit until it opens up.  You’ll get an amazing view of the skyline and one that feels less touristy and crowded.  I was able to time lapse from there and got an awesome day to night transition (holy-grail time lapse seen in the video above) with little worry about getting my camera bumped by another tourist.

While you are up there consider venturing up the peak a little further to the Victoria Peak Garden.  At the top is a beautiful garden, as well as an awesome viewpoint near the pavilion that has a great view looking west.  If you’re feeling even more adventurous, hike down via “The Governors Walk.”  This will bring you right back down to Lugard Road where you can turn right and follow the path to the “The Peak” main tourist building.

4: Foodie Paradise

If you are worried about finding good food in Hong Kong, your worries should stop here!  I had this same fear myself.  Thankfully, I realized that you can find about any kind of food you could ever imagine in Hong Kong.  Honestly, I’m not big into seafood and gave the local Cantonese food a try, but it really wasn’t my thing.  Instead, I found some of the best Japanese food I’ve ever had, Korean BBQ, Indian, and Italian.  In fact, some of the best French take-out food I’ve ever had was in Hong Kong. Seriously, whatever you’d like, you’ll be able to find in Hong Kong.

That being said, here are a few quick eats we were able to find that we really liked.  For a quick lunch, consider trying “Hot Star Chicken”. It’s a local chain of very good fried chicken.  Another place we really liked and frequented was Mammy Pancake.  My wife and I came across this by accident and indirectly discovered the Michelin Star  “eggettes” which are pretty much Hong Kong’s very good take on waffles.  Finally, if you’re in the mood for French take-out, consider trying “Rotisserie.”  My wife and I got this on our last day and carried it to the pier on Victoria Harbour.  This ended up being one of the more memorable meals and made for a nice picnic with a great view!

5: Impressive Skyline

Speaking of views, the Hong Kong Skyline is simply stunning!  No pictures can describe how amazing this skyline really is.  It took my breath away and something I couldn’t stop staring at!  It really should be a modern wonder of the world (no other city has more skyscrapers).  In fact, Chicago has about a third of the skyscrapers that Hong Kong does.  The skyline on Hong Kong Island seems endless.

Some of my favorite places to view the skyline are as followed:

As viewed from Lugard Road as mentioned above.  The views from on top of Victoria Peak is some of the best in the world.  On a clear day, you can see for miles and get a great view of not only the buildings but the beautiful Victoria Harbour.

Another great place to view the skyline and, maybe most popular, is from Tsim Sha Tsui.  However, if you have time, take the opportunity to view the skyline away from the platform near the clock tower.  This place is often crowded especially for sunset and during the light show.  Instead, walk to the Ocean Terminal (shopping mall) and make your way all the way to the back and take the elevators up.  The top floor is a parking garage, but it’s also an observation deck on the far end.  This deck was significantly less crowded than the platform near the clock tower.  While you won’t hear the music of the sound and light show, it offers a more relaxing and intimate place to view the magic of Hong Kong’s skyline.

The Purpose of Top 5 in One Minute

Travel is one of my passions and I love all aspects of it.  I also enjoy reading and watching videos of peoples’ experiences and tips.  However, many of the videos I see on websites like YouTube are way too long.  They either have long openings or spend way too much time off topic.  I end up clicking out of the video, or skipping ahead trying to filter out the fluff.  I find it unfortunate because many of the videos are very visually appealing and could potentially have useful content, but…like I said, way too wordy.

In my opinion, many travelers are looking for videos that get to the point, and are given the bullet points right away.  Then, if I want to know more about a topic, point them to other resources including your blog or another video where the topic can be discussed in a more in-depth way.

This was the inspiration that gave birth to my new “Top 5 in One Minute” series.  I wanted to make videos that I get straight to the point without wasting your time.  To do this, I need to make sure the video’s main content is limited to one minute. Next, I have to keep the intro short so that I can get you directly to the cornerstone of the topic and keep the content short by keeping the list short.