Things To Do On A Long Layover In Hong Kong
A funny thing happened on the way to Hong Kong.
We had just completed a long layover in Beijing and checked in for our evening Dragon Air flight to Hong Kong when we were informed that our flight had been cancelled. Luckily, they were able to book us on an earlier Air China flight. We thought "Awesome! Now we'll get there even earlier, and maybe we can still make it to the Peak before it closes."
As we boarded the flight, the inevitable jet lag hit and we decided to put on our eye masks and ear plugs to nap on the plane. Two hours later, I woke up to a flight attendant tapping me on the shoulder and asking for our boarding passes. Flustered, I pushed my eye mask up and shook Dan to wake up and get out the boarding passes. Dan woke up just as red-eyed and confused as me, so seeing our panic, the flight attendant moved on.
Slowly, I began to take in my surroundings. The other passengers had finished the meal that had been served during the flight, so I knew we had been asleep for a while. But something odd stood out... we weren't moving! There were not many people on the plane who spoke English, so it was difficult to determine what was happening. Eventually, I understood there was a maintenance problem with the plane and we had never left Beijing.
It was close to midnight before another flight arrived to take us onto Hong Kong, so we didn't arrive until almost 3:00AM. I had booked a stay at the Marriott Skycity Hong Kong, which is a wonderful hotel if you are passing through Hong Kong International Airport. Since we arrived so late, we found no one at reception. After waiting in the lobby for some time, someone began vacuuming and setting up for breakfast, so I asked them about the reception desk. They immediately went and pulled the receptionist out of his office - he had been there the whole time!
We didn't make it to our room until close to 5:00AM, leaving us six hours until checkout and twelve hours until our next flight. Luckily, we had slept (on both flights) so we decided to shower, order a huge room service, American-style breakfast (with lots of coffee) and hit the ground running with our original itinerary.
There are a lot of popular tourist spots in Hong Kong, but my main objective was to hike the Dragon's Back trail. Notice how I am dressed in workout clothes. It is a beautiful trail along the coast with sweeping views of the vibrant green mountains, blue waters, and the bonus is that it ends at a beach where you can swim and cool off!
Unfortunately, we couldn't find a taxi to take us there and the combination train and bus route was going to cut our timing a little too close. We talked to the concierge and he urged us to go into Hong Kong instead.
We found the city to be exceptionally beautiful. The skyline is packed with gorgeous skyscrapers set between the clear blue water and a vibrantly green, mountainous backdrop. The transportation system is very clean and efficient with great views.
After arriving in the city, we happened upon a market at the ferry terminal and grabbed some lunch. Then we boarded the Star Ferry for the quick trip to the other side for even better panoramic views of the city. Next, we decided to try and see The Peak. However, the line for the tram up to the top was very long with over an hour wait...so as with most tourist attractions, I recommend going first thing in the morning or on the last tram at night.
Instead, we just walked around the city taking in the local scene. One thing that stood out to us is that although the city is beautiful, there is very little park space. At first I thought I had walked into an alley of homeless people where many groups of people were sitting on cardboard boxes.
However, as I got closer, I noticed that they were not homeless, and instead they were all picnicking and sharing local foods that they had bought in the market. We take our personal space for granted in the US, but it is quite the luxury in some cities.
Finally, after admitting partial defeat, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for our next flight to Thailand. Based on what I've learned, though, here is what I'll do next time on a longer trip.
- Dragon's Back trail + swimming/refueling at Big Wave Bay Beach
- The Peak for the best view of Hong Kong
- Food Tour (Dim sum, high tea, among other culinary highlights)
- Symphony of Lights to see the skyline come alive at night