On Horses, Stars, and Grilled Squid (Hong Kong Day 1)

Magical. Best Day Ever. Awesome. Worth every peso. Truly memorable. If you ask my family to describe their 5 days, 4 nights in Hong Kong, those are how they would describe it.

I was just supposed to upload all photos on Facebook and create a very long and boring album description but I feel like I owe this to all the blogs that I’ve read and that have helped me plan this really amazing trip for our family.

Some things to take note of:

1. We were 5 in our group. Me, my husband, my aunt, my 8 year old M, and my 3 year old N.

2. We stayed for 5 days and 4 nights. We transferred hotels on our 3rd day.

3. We opted to ride a cab or the resort shuttle all throughout the trip. We are more for convenience especially with two kids and an almost senior citizen in tow. So I cannot really help you if you are looking for reviews or tips on MTR and such. Hong Kong has a very efficient public transportation system though. What I know is you can buy an oyster card to help you get around. This oyster card can also help you purchase stuff at convenience stores such as 7-11 and Wellcome.

So let me share with you our Hong Kong Day 1 experience.

Departure. We booked our flight months (I think around July) ago when Cebu Pacific had their piso fare seat sale. We added luggage allowance for my husband though and we chose our seats in advance so we ended up paying Php7000.00 per person. It was still a good deal,really. Considering that it was a round trip ticket and we were in comfortable seats and we were not forced to bring just one pair of pants each for the whole duration of the trip.

Upon arrival at Terminal 3 of NAIA, we paid the travel tax for Philippine Passport Holders. If you’re not then you don’t need to pay this. Also, the kids’ travel taxes are cheaper by a few hundreds. We then paid for our terminal fee at Php550.00 each.

2015-03-06 16.22.11Travel Tax

Our flight was bound to leave at 7:55 in the morning. Fortunately, boarding was not delayed. The crew were very helpful and pleasant as it was also their first flight for the day. The kids were very cooperative in the course of the flight. N was asleep until we landed while M just woke up during the trivia game hosted by Cebu Pac.

20150301_072721See you on Friday, Manila!

Arrival. We arrived at Hong Kong at 10:05am. There was a 10 minute delay (we were supposed to land at 9:55am) due maybe to the fog/ mist. It was 18degrees when we landed and it felt like it got colder as the day progressed.

We had to take a coaster from the plane to the immigration and customs area. Immigration interview was short. Actually, they were just checking if we were really the ones on the passport. They also just did a quick thermometer check on N.

By the way, for tourists, Hong Kong does not stamp passport anymore. They just give landing slips instead. I do not know what will happen if you lose that piece of paper but I guarded mine with all my might. Takot ko lang hindi makauwi ng Pilipinas. 

2015-03-06 02.07.57My landing slip

We just had a little mishap when we were claiming our luggages in the carousel area. It seems like the airport officials got it from the carousel themselves to make way for the luggages of the other three flights that we were sharing the carousel with. We were just lucky that we heard someone spoke in Tagalog that “Ayun! Binaba lang nila sa gilid!” 

And true enough! I saw N’s stroller on one side, two bags on the other side, and our last bag in the middle of nowhere. Saya. Haha.

So tip no. 1Kapag hindi ninyo makita bagahe ninyo, hanapin na ninyo sa gilid gilid. We passed on the good deed by telling the other Filipinos who were also waiting for their baggages to check the other side of the carousel if their luggages were one of the “casualties”.

20150301_105101Haller, Hong Kong!

The next thing we did is to exchange some of our US dollars into Hong Kong dollars. We decided to do this at the airport as we arrived on a Sunday and we were not sure if the foreign exchange places in the city are open. And besides you need Hong Kong dollars for taxi fare, etc.

If you are arriving on a weekday, consider just exchanging a few dollars for taxi fare plus a few stuff and then go to Tsim Sha Tsui and look for foreign exchange places there. You may also check any Hang Seng Bank as I’ve heard that they have good exchange rates. Since it was a Sunday, there was no commission fee. The exchange rate is at 1USD to 7.07HKD.

20150306_103254-1 Exchange Rate at HKIA

We had a quick lunch at Mcdonald’s, where Husband had a yummy Grilled Chicken Burger. I was also fascinated that their Happy Meals are served with either juice or fresh milk. Healthier option than soda for the kids.

My main agenda as soon as I arrived at the airport is to look for China Travel Service or CTS to buy our theme park tickets. It’s not that difficult to find as it is one of the first things that you will see as soon as you’re done with the foreign exchange booth. It’s near the place where you get tickets for the MTR and other public transportation.

Why was it on top of my to-do list? 20150306_103423

These are what we paid for our Ocean Park tickets. Regular adult tickets are at 345HKD each and regular child tickets are at 173HKD each. See the difference? You can also save around 40HKD dollars each for your Hong Kong Disneyland tickets.

So for tip no. 2, if you want to save a few dollars, go buy your theme park tickets at CTS! Just do it! Just. Do. It! 🙂

Going to the Hotel. We booked a cab at the airport. Do take note that you have to pay 5HKD for every baggage that you will put in the compartment. Also you have to shoulder the toll fee. Cab’s normal capacity is 5 pax. Since the airport is in Lantau and our hotel is in Wan Chai, it took us about an hour to reach the hotel. Our taxi fare amounted to about 320HKD.

20150302_103531Taxi Rules

On Horses. We were booked at Cosmopolitan Hotel in Wan Chai for 3 days, 2 nights. We chose this hotel as this was near Ocean Park Hong Kong, our target on Day 2. The hotel is located near the Happy Valley race track.

20150301_150111The room numbers are adorned with horses.

We booked a family quad room.

These are some of the benefits that we got (as promised on their website):

“Exclusive benefits when booking on Cosmopolitan.com

  • A welcome gift for kids upon check-in
  • Free upgrade to Grand Deluxe Family Quad Room (subject to availability)
  • Free Premium WiFi (up to 200 Mbps and 10 devices at a time)

Additional facilities:

  • Amenities for 4 persons
  • Kid-sized bathrobe and slipper
  • Dental kit for kids
  • Baby body care or childcare toiletries
  • Mobile storybook library filled with reading materials for all ages
  • Free use of baby cot and child bed rails (upon request)
  • Complimentary use of smart phone with free 3G Internet and personal hotspot for multi-device connectivity, local calls and IDD calls to Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, UK and US
  • Bathroom with bathtub or walk-in shower
  • Quality bedding with duvet cover and mattress topper
  • 11-choice pillow menu
  • Kimono
  • Free tea and coffee making facilities
  • Fully stocked minibar
  • In-room safe
  • Individual thermostat control
  • Hairdryer
  • Executive work desk”

I like how friendly the staff are. The guest service manager speaks really good English and was kind enough to accompany us to our room while explaining all the benefits that we will be enjoying. We can borrow a smart phone while we are staying there. The wi-fi is free for up to 10 devices.

The hotel despite being in a business district is very family oriented and kid friendly too. The kids get a free toy and a snack box. There’s a mobile library and a DVD library. And the ultimate benefit for the kids – THEY HAVE A BATH TUB.

10360616_10205516733931817_4332540986142308972_nSnack box, Free Toy, and Free Smart Phone

20150301_134552

20150301_134539

20150301_141941This was such a sweet gesture. Miakka found this in one of our drawers. 🙂

On Stars. After resting for a while, we rode a cab to Tsim Sha Tsui. Again, since we are based in Wan Chai and TST is in Kowloon, we had to pass by the Cross Harbour Tunnel. We paid around 70HKD to cross the tunnel. This is on top of our cab fare.

We asked our cab driver to drop us at Harbour City because the kids really want to go to Toys R Us. I promised them that they can buy one toy each.

Harbour City is big. We had to use a map in order to get to Toys R Us.

Nikko bought a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Playset. It was on sale at only 499HKD. It was really big and so we had to remove the toy from the box immediately and leave the box at the hotel. Miakka bought a Crayola Marker Maker at 250HKD.

20150301_205759Nikko’s toy

From Harbour City, we walked to the Avenue of Stars. It’s pretty close, a 10 minute walk, from the exit nearest Toys R Us.

At the Avenue of Stars, we walked, and walked, and walked, and walked kakahanap ng pagkain. Ang kaso bigo kami. Waley! However, we enjoyed the view and we had fun taking pictures.

20150301_165600Ang aming turista pose. Ehem.

20150301_171828

20150301_172004

On Grilled SquidBut wait, hindi naman kami talaga totally bigo. 🙂 There were two food stalls that sell grilled squid at 30HKD. It tastes nice despite na parang mababali lahat ng ngipin ko sa pagnguya sa kanya or baka talagang tom jones na lang ang lola mo by this time kaya kahit anong ipakain mo sakin magiging masarap. 

20150301_172658

20150301_172705

We waited for the Symphony of Lights, which they have everyday at 8pm. The kids were dead tired at this point plus I guess it doesn’t help that it is not in English so we left early and did not finish the show.

We took a cab back again to the hotel. Tip no. 3: Make sure that your taxi crosses borders. We had a little problem with our cab as it turns out that he does not cross borders. He is not familiar with the hotel and he doesn’t speak English. Sakit sa bangs! 

But infairness kay Manong, hinatid niya kami sa taxi line kung nasaan yung ga taxi na nagcocross ng borders. Na 22 HKD flag down rate nga lang ako.

Anyway, the toll fee back to the hotel is just 25 dollars. Again, this is on top of your cab fare.

Ending Day 1. After we all enjoyed a good long bath in the tub (hindi kami sabay sabay. Wag mag-OA. 20 minutes each. Nakatimer.), my good friends from college visited me in the hotel and played with the kids. 🙂

Had so much fun catching up with them. 🙂

Will blog about our Day 2 next – all about our Ocean Park adventure.

-Nikz-

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