I chose to begin my Asian Adventure with a Hong Kong layover. The flight options, that did not include 2 stops, included a 20-hour layover. My next closest flight option was $400 more, through Seoul, so even including a hotel stay, I still came out ahead. Unless you count the crazy airfare sales months after I bought my ticket 🙁
Later in the trip, I met an American living in Hong Kong, who described it as “Asia Lite” – and I can see what he meant. It was a great first day on this new-to-me continent.
Tourist Friendly! I wouldn’t feel safe crossing streets for the next 2 weeks!
My Cathay Pacific flight from Chicago landed around 8pm Hong Kong time, so I easily found my way through customs to the free shuttle to my nearby hotel, the Sky City Marriott. The location and shuttle were key points in choosing the hotel, and the price was reasonable, around $200. To ward off any jet lag, I took a couple of Tylenol PM and set my alarm for the morning.
The hotel also offered a shuttle to nearbyTung Chung station, which can hook you into public transportation throughout Hong Kong. My destination was the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. The cable car station happens to be right at Tung Chung, which was super convenient. A few days before leaving, I had pre-purchased a ticket for the first time slot available (9:30am) and enjoyed the ride up to Ngong Ping Village.
It was actually quite a long cable ride – about 25 minutes, I think – over water…eek!
From there, it’s a short stroll through the village to the stairs leading up to Tian Tan Buddha.
Po Lin monastery was also nearby
In all, I spent about 2 hours in the village before returning to the cable car. On the way back, I had the cable car to myself, and it was quite windy, so it was a bit of a crazy, swinging ride!
When I reached the cable car station again, the lines were up to 75 minutes long – I was so happy I’d bought my ticket ahead of time, and gotten an early start. Crazy crowds were my biggest worry about visiting Asia in the first place and with just a short Hong Kong layover, there’s no time for standing around in lines!
I found my way back to the hotel shuttle, checked out of my room, and made my way back to the airport for a 3 hour flight to Chiang Mai. Hong Kong was a great stop en route to Thailand and although I didn’t even see the “real” Hong Kong, I enjoyed what I saw and maybe I’ll visit again someday!
For all my Hong Kong photos, including about 100 of Big Buddha, click here!