December 22nd, 2013 | By | 258 Comments

Wish We Were Here: Hong Kong A Travel + Packing Guide To Hong Kong by SWELL Photo Editor, Stephanie

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Travel envy sinks in deep when you hear that SWELL’s photo editor, Stephanie just got back from her fourth trip to Hong Kong. (Yes, we do Wish We Were There!). On her most-recent visit, she met up with a local friend explore some of the cities top sites and bites. Lucky for us, she was willing to share some photos and travel tips. Read on to check out Stephanie’s top tips on where to shop, explore and eat around Hong Kong…

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WHAT TO PACK?

Expect to do a lot of walking and travel via (crowded) public transportation. If you’re doing it right, you’ll be in constant motion. So bring clothes that are made to move, as well as some comfortable footwear. Don’t forget a jacket, because the nights can be cold. Here’s a list of essentials:
* Lightweight Jacket for layering | Pictured: BB Dakota Jacket
* Large day bag | Pictured: Raga Bag
* Leggings – great for layering | Pictured: Faux Leather Leggings
* Camera!
* Boots | Pictured: Steve Madden Boots
* Tunic – wear it as a dress or as a top over leggings | Pictured: Bold Floral Tunic
* Printed, Lightweight Pant – a go-to for long-distance travel | Pictured: Printed Harem Pant
* Heavy Shawl Style Cardigan or Wrap – again, great for travel and layering | Pictured: Striped Poncho Sweater
* Running shoes to explore the city by foot
* Travel Kit, including a pillow, pain reliever, headphones, lip balm, and snacks – it’s a looong flight (from LA its 15h ours going / 12.5 hours return)
* Travel Wallet – bring around only what you really need | Pictured: Herschel Wallet
* Passport

WHEN TO GO?

* If you can swing it, Autumn (October ­December) are some of the best months for traveling to Hong Kong. The days are typically sunny and warm and humidity levels are low.
* Winter (January ­ March) is cold but sunny, so is also a good option.

 
HOW TO GET THERE?
You can find direct flights from major airports. It’s about a 30-45 minute drive to the city from the airport. Most people take public transport here because of the cost of driving/parking/etc.
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HOW TO GET AROUND?
*
MTR (Subway) – you can take this to almost anywhere you want to go
* Double Decker Buses take you around the city

The Octopus card: put cash on it and use it for public transportation, grocery stores, some large chain stores, snack shops, etc. It’s a great alternative to dealing with cash.
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WHERE TO STAY?
A few fun areas for nightlife and shopping are Kowloon or Mong Kok or Central.

WHAT TO EAT?
*
Breakfast: Expect to eat fairly late (11am isn’t uncommon).  Breakfast foods vary from fried foods to cream of wheat-like porridge (called “congee”), to different sweet breads and buns.
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* Lunch: For lunch, I’d recommend eating at the street markets. One of my favorites is seasoned noodles in a bag.

* Dinner: Shared plates are the most popular type of food. Note: If there are two different colors of chopsticks, it is so you know which to serve with, and which ones you’ve used for eating. Genius. You may also notice two pots of tea being brought to the table: one of super strong tea and one of hot water to dilute it.

(Card used to mark what you'd like to order)

(Card used to mark what you’d like to order)

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WHERE TO SHOP?
* For great bargains – go to the outdoor markets. You’ll be able to bargain here for more or less anything you can imagine.
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* And the malls – just go. They will be crowded, but it will be an interesting experience.  A crowded, interesting experience.
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Large characters in the mall (3-7 feet tall!) to take photos with (in place of the mall Santa)

Large characters in the mall (3-7 feet tall!) to take photos with (in place of the mall Santa)

WHERE TO PLAY?
* Macau – You can take a day trip here (by boat) to this 7 mile-long island for shopping, gambling, and checking out the culture (z mix of Portuguese and Chinese)

* Temples – There are endless amounts of temples to explore (Wong Tai Sin is one I’d highly recommend). One experience that shouldn’t be missed at the temple is getting your fortune read.  While thinking about a topic you’d like to know about, you shake a can of numbered sticks until one falls out. Write down the number of that stick, and take it to one of several fortune tellers around the temple.
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At the fortune teller

At the fortune teller

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* Outdoor Markets – There are so many unique markets. Temple Street Night Market is one I love. You can get anything here. There are fortune-tellers here that use pet birds to help read your fortune!  Another great one is Stanley Market.

* Fish Market – (Sai Kung is one I’d recommend) – The fishermen bring their boats to the dock, where you can buy the fish directly off the boats. They’ll hand the catch up to you with a long stick and you can then take it to neighboring restaurants to get it prepped and cooked.
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* Foot Spas-  If it has yet to sink in, expect to walk. A lot. When you’re feet feel like they’re about to fall off, look for a foot sign and enjoy a well-deserved foot massage.

* Victoria Harbor (day or night, but I think night is better) for great views. You can take a cable car to the peak and see the entire skyline. You can also take the ferry here and see the buildings from a different vantage point here

* Lantau Island – Take the cable car for 360 views of the city. If you’re not terrified of heights, fork over the extra cash for one with a glass bottom. It’s well-worth it. It’s about a 45-minute ride to the island. There, you’ll get to see an 85-foot high bronze Tian Tan Buddha statue, once the world’s largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha statue. Go to the Monastery for a veggie meal prepped by monks.
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