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Sam takes on Hong Kong & China

 

LOCATION

Where did you travel to recently?

China and Hong Kong.

How many days was your stay?

3 days in Hong Kong and 14 days in China.

What inspired you to travel to this particular destination?

The culture has always interested me, ever since I was young.

Did you travel alone or with friends/family?

I travelled with my partner, Jessica.

What piece of advice would you give to a single traveller wanting to visit this destination?

For a shorter trip, you should go with a tour or at least a guide because they can help ease the issue any language barrier may pose for the small stuff, like train tickets and getting into museums etc. It makes for a much smoother trip.

 

GETTING AROUND

Was transport easy to access/readily available?

In the big cities the metro trains are pretty easy and very cheap, taxis are always an adventure – but mostly pretty good. But, always ask for the meter to be put on.

Did you mainly get around on public transport/taxi – or would you recommend a tour guide/driver and why?

I’d definitely recommend a tour guide as there can be a few complexities when buying train tickets, day tours and public buses.

What was your favourite experience within this country – what is the one thing you feel that travellers just cannot miss out on?

There were many, but The Great Wall out at Jinshanling (about 5- 6 hrs drive from Beijing) was spectacular and a much more remote spot. We hiked for about 6 – 7 hrs and it was different in every spot and the views of the Wall go on forever.

 

Great Wall 1500

Least favourite thing about this destination? Weather, customs, food, heat, cold, etc?

A tough one. I am pretty resilient, however I think you have to be prepared for crowds. It’s a country of 1.4 Billion people, so chaotic queuing is pretty common. In Hong Kong however, the people in the queues are reasonably polite.

If you weren’t a seasoned traveller, what piece of advice would you give to help make a trip more enjoyable or avoid a potentially stressful situation?

Relax, keep an open mind and try new things (sugar on roasted duck skin is actually delicious). You could always opt to stick to a tour to minimise any stress.

 

CUSTOMS/LOCAL CULTURE

What were the locals like? Were they friendly towards visitors? Did they know what experiences tourists are looking for?

The locals are friendly and ones that know some English, particularly children, will love to chat. Make sure you have a list of your favourite things on hand, as the questions tend to be, “What’s your favourite…….?”

Would you say this location is well set up to receive tourists?

Some more than others. Hong Kong is perfect for visitors and the major destinations in China are also great. Navigating some of the smaller attractions on your own can be a challenge.

 

Hong Kong 1500

Are there any special cultural rituals or customs visitors need to be aware of?

Not so much. I would say that it is not appropriate to ask a lot of political questions about the Chinese Government.

 

CUISINE

Was the cuisine for the more adventurous, or were there plenty of options available for the less adventurous also?

There are so many styles and lots of variety for the more adventurous traveller.

Any recommendations for the adventurous ‘foodie’?

There are a lot, but a real Peking duck meal made in Beijing is must. It’s not just the pancakes; in the end you’ll wind up eating everything but the “waddle and quack”.

Any recommendations for the more conservative palet?

You will find all the western staples are available, and in most Chinese restaurants you can usually find Cashew Chicken, Sweet and Sour dishes etc. Hong Kong has every type and style of food you could want, from fast food to Michelin star restaurants.

 

HOTEL/ACCOMMODATION

At which Hotel/s did you stay?

We travelled with Intrepid so we mostly stayed in 3 star accommodation and the hostels were all clean and safe. However, when in Hong Kong, we stayed at the Mandarin Oriental – so I’ll talk about this experience.

What was your overall experience at this Hotel?

The Mandarin Oriental is in a great location and within walking distance to Central Station on Hong Kong Island. The rooms are spacious and luxurious with lots of nice touches and a bed you sink into after a long day of sight-seeing. By far the best thing about this hotel is the service; they go above and beyond to make your stay special.

Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

Absolutely! When staying at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, you must consider a meal at one of their three Michelin star restaurants, or a drink at the Captain’s Bar listening to some live Jazz.

In your opinion what would this Hotel’s “Signature” experience would be? Is there something special about it that you can’t get anywhere else?

Several things. The Barber Shop is an experience in itself and their Michelin star restaurants and bars are amazing. Also, the concierge is very helpful and honest in helping you plan all your sight-seeing.

 

MUST SEES OR DON’T BOTHERS

Are there any absolute “must sees”? (If you go to this place, you absolutely can’t miss out on……..)

 

Hong Kong: The Peak, a Sunset cruise in a Junk on Victoria Harbour, a day on the Kowloon side to see all the markets and madness.

 

Kowloon 1500

 

China: The Great Wall, The Terracotta Warriors, a bike ride around the walls of Xian, the Emerald Valley, either the Shanghai or Beijing acrobats or definitely HongCun Village.

 

Terracotta Warriors 1500

 

HongCun Village for website1500

The Emerald Valley for website1500
Any “Don’t Bothers”? Is there an attraction or location that is hyped up or overrated in your opinion?

I can’t think of anything to be honest.

What main benefit would you say using a travel agent has brought to your experience?

I am the best travel agent. 🙂

 

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