Last year my parents and I spent our New Year’s celebration in Hong Kong and Macau. Months before that we looked at different destinations that we could potentially go to but ultimately stuck with the closest one we could possibly visit without a visa.
While we were waiting to board the plane, my parents reminisced on their first trip to our country’s northern neighbour (…they had their honeymoon there). They talked about how they took a tour for a few days at that time and exclaimed how they were always rushed to follow the schedule that everything was just a blur. Luckily this time around, I, coincidentally the fruit of their honeymoon, fixed up the itinerary and made sure that it was parent-friendly (meaning it had a good balance between tourist attractions and rest breaks).
Day 1 – Getting Lost in TST
Tsim Sha Tsui is known to be a popular city center destination to stay in (especially if you are on a budget) the busy city of Hong Kong. Given the numerous tips and advice online, it seemed to be the best location choice as well.
Once we got off the bus express from the airport, we got off a street along Nathan Road and walked to the Best Western Grand Hotel – Tsim Sha Tsui. We got in an hour before check-in so the front desk told us to wait at the lobby’s sitting area… but then that hour turned into two hours of waiting.
I, being very patient and gentle, followed up a good number of times before it got really annoying. The staff kept telling me to wait 15 minutes each time I’d ask. My mom, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. It got her so irritated that she went to the front desk herself and demanded that we get the key card to our room immediately. I guess scared by my mom’s fury, they didn’t hesitate to give her the card – I wouldn’t test her if I were them.
Unpacked and settled into our room, we got hungry and had some famous hand-pulled noodles for a late lunch nearby before strolling the rest of Nathan Road.
We walked to the Garden of Stars where my parents took some photos with famous icons’ statues, like Bruce Lee. Afterwards, we moved to the TST Promenade where we spent some time admiring the Victoria Harbor and the famous skyline of the city.
Tired from all the walking, I took my parents to a mall across the promenade to sit down and relax before heading for dinner.
Going to Hong Kong would not have been complete if my parents and I didn’t try one of the best Peking duck joints in the city called, “Spring Deer Restaurant” (I know, weird name for a restaurant that serves duck). We ordered some fried spring rolls, sweet and sour chicken, and Chines noodles along with the main course; and as expected, the duck was crispy and mouthwatering that it left us wanting more.
We went back to the hotel and prepared for the next day with happy tummies.
Day 2 – Exploring Old & New Macau
My parents and I woke up early to catch the 9:00 A.M. Turbojet to Macau at the China Ferry Terminal (which was a 20-30 minute walk from the hotel). The high-speed ferry took us about an hour and a half to reach the renowned, ‘Vegas of China’.
At a parking lot located opposite of the ferry terminal, we took a free shuttle bus to The Venetian Macau where we took some photos and got some Lord Stow’s Egg Tarts to munch on while roaming around its grand interior.
Eyes full on what had to be Macau’s hottest casino scene, we then took a taxi to Taipa Village in search for some infamous Pork Buns to eat for lunch. Considered to be the ‘Old Macau’, we enjoyed looking around the Portuguese-influenced stalls of food and goods for some souvenirs to bring back home.
Senado Square was our stop right after. My parents and I took a taxi and then walked the crowded plaza and its inner streets ultimately heading for the Ruins of St. Paul’s. The renowned tourist attraction didn’t disappoint – in both expectations and amount of tourists – for that matter. After taking photos, we bought some tickets to the Macau Museum (15 MOP for adults) to take in some history and views overlooking the city at its outdoor rooftop garden. On the way back to Senado Square, we bought some fruit for the New Year (traditions) and had some durian-flavored ice cream (which was not bad at all!).
Not wanting to ride the seas at night, we took the last ferry before sunset reaching the Hong Kong Harbor with just enough time to get back to the hotel and prepare for the New Year.
We decided to have the countdown at the TST Promenade where we waited 4 hours for the New Year’s fireworks display. Waiting that long for it in the 17-degree weather and getting backaches & leg cramps with hundreds of other strangers at your side was definitely an experience we would never forget.
Day 3 – Hong Kong Disneyland
After having breakfast at a Mcdonald’s near our hotel, my parents and I hopped on the metro that would eventually lead us to Disneyland’s own metro line (yes the one with the Micky Mouse-shaped windows and handholds).
We got off the train and straightaway took photos together in front of its well-known archway before heading in to purchase tickets. It’s a good thing that we came almost an hour before the opening (on New Year’s Day at that); not a lot of people were there to beat us to the lines.
Aside from being able to visit each ‘land’ in the park, we were able to enjoy the following:
- Cinderella Carousel
- Mickey and the Wondrous Book
- Rafts to Tarzan’s Tree House
- Tarzan’s Tree House
- The Jungle River Cruise
- Festival of the Lion King
- Star Wars Command Post
- Flights of Fantasy Parade
- Fairy Tale Forest
- Mystic Manor
- Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars
- Hyperspace Mountain (Star Wars Edition)
- Disney Paint the Night Parade
Our Disneyland day closed with its outstanding fireworks display that featured my Disney favorites like Mulan, Belle, and Pocahontas.
Let’s not forget the pricey food they had in the park that included me eating some Space Chicken Wings at Starliner Diner and the infamous turkey leg.
We got home before midnight and slept for my last full day in Hong Kong the following day.
Day 4 – The Peak Trams and Mongkok
My last day was pretty relaxed since the coming evening I would be heading back to Abu Dhabi while my parents’ had one more day to explore Hong Kong. I packed my belongings the night before so that I wouldn’t rush that morning. We got a quick breakfast and headed for our first destination for the day, the Peak.
We took the metro to Central Station and walked 10-15 minutes to the Peak Trams. We came a bit later than we initially wanted (7:15 A.M.) and by the time we got there the line was really long. We waited an hour and a half before we got on the trams that would take us to The Peak.
I was surprised how commercialized the top was. We entered through a mall that had escalators leading to the observation deck that gave us the a great view of the spectacular Hong Kong skyline.
After the Peak, we visited the Mid-level Escalators where my mom and I had a debate if it really was the world-renowned attraction. She remembered it being longer twenty-five years ago, while I was showing her the Wikipedia page to prove my point.
Once that was settled, we headed for Mongkok for another late lunch and did some souvenir shopping at the Ladies’ Market and Sneaker Street. These places were also crowded with tourists and locals, but it was a great place to make most out of your shopping budget.
We ended the day with our last serving of Chinese food and then my parents dropped me off at Hong Kong Station for the Airport Express.
If you are planning to go Hong Kong anytime soon, making a side trip to Macau is definitely a must because both countries compliment each other’s quirks. Hong Kong’s energy was electric whilst Macau’s was a bit more laid back with a side of extravagance. A year later my senses could still remember the cold air hugged by the aroma of noodles and dim sum, the lively street scenes, and the accommodating people we got to encounter.
The trip would’ve been perfect if my brother was with us; but since he’s in the United States studying we had to deal with the ‘always mentioning him every single time we could’ syndrome the whole trip (we missed you little bro!).
I was only there for four days and we only got to visit only a few of the main sites, but this just means that I’ll be back to pick up from where I left off.
Check out my Fam & I’s adventure below: