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Wednesday, July 17, 2019 Hong Kong

Hong Kong Part II: Hong Kong Island

After spending two nights in Kowloon, we moved on to Hong Kong Island, just a quick ride on the metro or drive through the tunnels under the water. Hong Kong Island had a bit more of a modern flare to it, many expats, more offices, etc. We transferred from Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel to Island Shangri-La, ventured out to Montane Mansion, had dinner in Soho, and then just did a lot of relaxing while over on this side.

WHERE WE STAYED:
Island Shangri-La is a beautiful property that is situated in Central. It sits above Pacific Place mall which made it very convenient for me to do a little "window-shopping" while Marco wanted to nap in the hotel room. The property boasts 56 floors and 565 rooms and suites. Our room had a great view of the harbor and I loved the high ceilings and ornate bathroom.

There's a stunning work of art along the central part of the building which you can see from all of the hotel room floors as well as a central elevator. You can see this on my vlog that's up on my YouTube channel! The hotel also has an outdoor pool and is in such close proximity to Victoria Peak that it was so easy and quick to get to. We also had the chance to enjoy breakfast at Petrus, their restaurant on the top level that has an incredible view of the city. During all our other mornings, we enjoyed the breakfast buffet where we had the most delicious congee from the "make-your-own congee" station.
Our itinerary for the trip and splitting up our time between the two Shangri-La properties was a perfect way to see both sides of the city and I highly recommend it for anyone else that wants to visit Hong Kong!

WHAT WE DID ON ISLAND: We were definitely a bit slower by this later half of the trip. We didn't do as much aimless walking like Kowloon, but we did manage to cross some things off our to-do list!
  • Victoria Peak has a great view of the city, and it's definitely worth checking out both in the day and at night. My friend recommended Lugard Rd. and it did not disappoint.
  • Pacific Place is a beautiful shopping mall located beneath the hotel. If you're into luxury shopping, definitely check it out. Again, there is no tax on the goods there. Picked up a pair of Chanel earrings at the boutique there.
WHERE WE ATE: Our hotel reservation included breakfast at the buffet, so we made sure to have that during our stay. This is something I love when booking hotels. Buffets tend to be open around 6AM, so because of our jet-lag, we were able to get breakfast right when we woke up and then were able to head back to the room to get ready for the day.
  • Ho Lee Fook is a delicious Asian fusion restaurant located in Soho. Marco and I went here when I reconnected with a High School friend that now lives in Hong Kong. She ordered for the table and everything was so good. I still think about the shrimp toast, sooooo good.
  • Maxims Palace City Hall is a popular destination for dim sum so if you're looking for a solid place to try out, it's a safe bet! Not sure if it's because I've been going to a particular dim sum restaurant in NYC for years, but I will say that Ping's in Chinatown may still be my favorite.
  • Hysan Place Food Court is in Causeway Bay and it's got this awesome foodcourt where Marco and I were able to see so many different food options all in one place. Great place to go if you're unsure of what you're craving because as you walk by the stalls, you'll smell the food and be able to figure out exactly what you could go for.
SHOOT: Our photoshoot with Sweet Escape also took place on Hong Kong Island for the later half of it. We took the metro from Kowloon, where the first half of our session took place, and headed out to Quarry Bay. We took photos at Montane Mansion and then took the streetcar from Quarry Bay to Causeway Bay.


And that's a wrap on my Hong Kong recap! Hope you guys found this helpful even though my guide isn't too thorough, it is what I was able to check out on my trip. I'll definitely have to come back so that I can discover more of the city, perhaps during a less humid time. The weather definitely confined us indoors at times, or had to cut the day short because we just needed to head back and shower because walking would make us sweat so much in the humidity. Sharing some other things below that I would want to check out on my next visit, but maybe you guys will be able to cross it off for your trip!
  • Day trip to Macau
  • Mak's Noodles
  • Cable Car on Lantau Island
  • Ride the Ferry
  • Sam Hui Yat Dim Sum
  • Yardbird
  • Mott 32
  • On Lee Noodle
  • Master Low Key
A special thank you to Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong for hosting us.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019 Hong Kong

Hong Kong Part I: Kowloon

Hong Kong has finally been crossed off the list! When planning our trip to the Philippines for a wedding, we saw flights that had a quick layover in Hong Kong. And then we thought, why not spend a few days exploring the city too. We booked our flight to HK where we would spend 5 days and 4 nights. In this post, I'll share with you guys what we did, where we stayed, places we took photos, where we ate, and more!

Over the years, my traveling style has shifted. I used to be such a detailed planner with a lot of to-do's per day, but now, I have a few places bookmarked and a lot of exploring and walking on foot in between.

GETTING TO HONG KONG

The direct flight to HK from EWR is 15 hours and 50 minutes. Rough. We flew with Cathay Pacific and in general had a good experience, except for our luggages and a weight restriction that made traveling with our carry-ons very difficult. I'm used to a weight limit of 25-26 lbs. for a carry on, but Cathay had us limited to 15 lbs. per carry on. Difficult considering my suitcase is probably 10-11 lbs. on its own. Just something to keep in mind if you plan on traveling with them. Also, upon arriving in Hong Kong, our luggage did not. It was placed on a later flight for the entire aircraft and it seems like this was planned prior to take off since no one had luggage when we arrived. 

Our first day in Hong Kong was rough in terms of not being able to fully freshen up because of our missing luggage, and the fact that I had to move my skincare and emergency bonus outfit to my checked luggage because of the carry-on weight restriction. But enough about the luggage drama, we had our suitcases delivered to us that evening, but it definitely put a damper on our first day in Hong Kong.

PART I: KOWLOON
WHERE WE STAYED


We landed in Hong Kong around 5:30 in the morning and took a taxi to our hotel from the airport. Luckily for us, despite the luggage mishap, we were staying at Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong for the first half of our trip. We were able to freshen up, rest, and settle in while waiting for our luggage. We had an incredible view of the harbor and Marco and I loved being within walking distance to a lot of things on the Kowloon side.

Our room was spacious and was right on the water. Marco and I enjoyed our breakfasts at the hotel, a buffet that was well stocked with both western and Chinese dishes. Because Hong Kong was very humid during our trip, we often found ourselves diving the day in 2 or 3, often going out then coming back to the hotel to rest and refresh. Also whenever I stay in a Shangri-La hotel, it somehow just always feels like home.

WHAT WE DID ON THE KOWLOON SIDE
As I mentioned, we did a lot of walking. From the hotel, we walked the harbor towards Tsim Sha Tsui. I did a little shopping the first day at Harbour City. Snagged an outfit on sale at Zara just so that I could change out of my sweatpants and shirt that I had already been in for nearly 24 hours on a 90 degree and humid day.

SHOPPING: There is no tax in Hong Kong, so this was a benefit to the shopping I did on my trip. I did snag a Bottega Veneta bag and Chanel earrings on this trip. There are also a lot of family owned shops in the area, was tempted to take a look at some second hand pieces, but only did so through the windows.

FOOD: For breakfast, and due to us waking up at very early hours, we stuck with the buffet at the hotel. For the rest of our meals, we just wandered around the area and popped into whatever looked/smelled good to us in the moment.
  • We ate at DimDimSum in Jordan. 
  • I had The Alley every day that I could, my favorite bubble tea. 
  • Shangri-La hosted us at their restaurant, Shang Palace, for a very delicious lunch. It's on the fancier side but we had some really memorable dishes there!
  • You guys gotta go to Australian Dairy Company. It's a little intimidating because it's rushed, it's fast, and you can tell there are a lot of locals that go there, but that egg sandwich is bomb and I highly recommend checking it out.
  • I enjoyed being able to grab %ARABICA coffee in Hong Kong as well.
If you're a big foodie, there are a ton of lists out there that include dim sum spots, noodle bars, where to get egg waffles, try the stinky tofu, etc.

SHOOT: My one bookmarked site that I definitely wanted to check out was Choi Hung Estate. It was fairly cheap to Uber there and back. Definitely a dope site and place to shoot. We got there on a somewhat drizzly morning, which worked out in our favor because it was pretty easy getting a shot without a lot of people in the background.

Other places I took photos in were just the Hong Kong streets that we discovered while walking around! We also booked a photographer through Sweet Escape and got some really great shots along the harbor and in the Tsim Sha Tsui area. If you're interested in booking a photographer, you can use my code "ALYSSA" to get $50 off your session as well as 30 additional images!
TRANSPORTATION: It's really easy to get around in Hong Kong! The metro is air-conditioned and very clean and organized. Would definitely suggest making sure you carry HKD with you to purchase your passes. If not, Uber is available in the city and fairly affordable compared to NYC prices.

OTHER THINGS WE DID: There's definitely a ton of things to do and check out on the Kowloon side. We rarely had a precise plan, just wanted to walk around but then took detours into the malls to cool down from the humidity.

  • At night, make your way to Victoria Harbour and check out the light show which starts at 8:00PM on the dot and lasts about 10 minutes.
  • Check out Temple Street Night Market or Ladies Market. We were told they have similar things so we only went to Temple Street Night Market.

That's it for Part I of my Hong Kong posts! Part II will consist of what I did and where I stayed on the Island side of Hong Kong. If you have any questions, please leave them down below!

A special thank you to Kowloon Shangri-La for hosting us during our stay.