Traveling from Beijing to Hong Kong
Hong Kong, a popular tourist destination, is an obvious choice of places to travel to when living in Asia. Due to the heavy British colonized influence, Hong Kong can feel a world away from Mainland China. However, you will find the same charm walking down many of the busy streets in Hong Kong. Whether you are switching from a tourist to working visa, or simply need to renew your visa, sometimes a trip from Beijing to Hong Kong becomes more of a necessity than a casual vacation.
When traveling from Beijing to Hong Kong, whether for pleasure or not, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Though Hong Kong is officially a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, when it comes to traveling, entering Hong Kong is the equivalent of leaving China. This means that before you plan your trip to Hong Kong, you will need to make sure that you have a multiple-entry visa. Otherwise, you will not be able to return to China without applying for another visa.
If this is an issue, you can always plan your trip at the very end of your stay in China. Even if your flight is out of Mainland China, you can come back and take advantage of the relatively new 72-Hour Visa Free Transit Policy. Not only in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, there are seventeen cities that now take part in this policy, and as long as your passport is from one of the 51 countries involved, you can return to your city for a little over two days before heading home.
Hong Kong is also the place to go for those who do have multiple-entry visas but need to renew their amount of days by leaving the country. Since it is relatively easy to get to from Mainland China, it is one of the most convenient locations and also can help save on costs as well.
2. Currency & Language
Most people in Hong Kong will be able to speak Chinese, Cantonese, and English. Almost everything will be written in Traditional Chinese, but if this proves to be a problem, there will be a lot of English and simplified Chinese writing as well.
The currency is the Hong Kong Dollar, and if you are coming from China, the current exchange rate is around .84. This means that 100 Hong Kong Dollars will be around 84 Chinese Yuan. However, you may feel your money go by much faster in Hong Kong. The average living cost in Hong Kong will be much higher than in most major cities in Mainland China.
Of course, it will highly depend on your own standard of living and way of spending, but in general, even the little things will be more expensive in Hong Kong. For example, in most parts in Beijing, you can get a bowl of noodles at a small restaurant for anywhere from 12-25 Chinese Yuan. However, in Hong Kong, this price might go up to 40-60 HKD. Even a bottle of water at a local convenient store in Hong Kong will be twice to three times the price as one in most cities in China.
3. How to Get There
a. Subway or Ferry
If you are coming from Mainland China like I was this past month, there are plenty of ways to get there. Depending on how much time and money you are willing to spend on the trip, there are countless ways to get to Hong Kong. In all forms of transportation, if you are looking to save some money, it can always be helpful to check to see if you can first go to Shenzhen. From Shenzhen to Hong Kong, you can simply take the subway or the ferry. The ferry offers a great view of the famous city skyline, whereas the subway can be a faster and more direct route into the city.
The most obvious choice is by plane. There are countless flights that will leave by the hour, and you will almost always be able to find something either going to Hong Kong or Shenzhen.
However, if you are looking for a more scenic route, you can try taking the train instead. There are always trains that go to Guangzhou or Shenzhen that you can take, and the high speed train only takes eight hours or so. However, for slightly cheaper you can opt for the train that goes from Beijing directly into Kowloon. You will have to go through customs in Beijing, but besides that, it is a straight shot to Hong Kong.
The only disadvantage is that the schedule will leave every other day, so you will need to do your research beforehand. It is also a twenty-four hour trek, which can be hard on the body. For just a few hundred Chinese Yuan more, the high-speed train may be a better option depending on what your goal is. Train travel in China is also a part of the experience, and it may be something that you are keen on trying out during your time here.
You can always get your tickets directly at the station or you can order them online at http://english.ctrip.com/trains/. Ordering them online can save you some time waiting in the long lines at the train station.
4. What to Do
If you are like me and only had a few days in Hong Kong, you really want to take advantage of everything. Each time I have been to Hong Kong, it has been because of visa issues. Even though I have never specifically planned a trip to the city, I took advantage of the weekend I had to see all that I could.
Some recommendations I would give to first-time visitors is to take advantage of the ferry, as it is cheap and also offers a great view of both sides of Hong Kong. Head over to the Avenue of Stars and sit awhile. I went just in time as the sun was setting and captured some awesome views. The skyline is breathtaking, and even the most amateur photographer will find some great shots here.
B. Skyscraper views
Since Hong Kong is such an iconic vertical city, the skyscraper views are an attraction in itself. Another destination that can be done in a few hours is Victoria Peak. The peak tram is an adventure in itself, and when you get up there, there are plenty of restaurants and shops for you to wander. The Peak Tower is Hong Kong’s top tourist destination, and there is no doubt why with its iconic view.
If you do have more time to spend in the city, you should consider heading for a hike to see the 10,000 Buddha’s Temple or Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha. You can easily get sucked into the consumeristic heaven of Hong Kong, and this can be a welcoming change.
No matter how you choose to spend your time, just simply being in the bustle of Hong Kong can be an adventure in itself. Even if you only have a few days in Hong Kong before you head back to Mainland China, I am sure that you will not have a dull moment!
Have you ever been to Hong Kong? What was your favorite thing about the city? Let us know in the comments below!