I had got a free voucher for 2 nights at Kochi. Was checking flights from Mumbai to Kochi. Happened to check flights from Kochi to the outside world. I saw fares Kochi - Hong Kong for 8K (One way obviously). And slowly plans started falling in place. You can read in detail how I planned my first backpacking trip here https://www.outofofficedaku.com/blog/planningmytrip
Do read the above article and come here if you looking for backpacking tips and travelling across Asia. If it's just Hong Kong read on and later see the other article for tips :D
Mumbai - Kochi with Jet Airways
Had booked my flight to Kochi. While on the check-in counter I always follow the mantra "Puchne me kya jata hai" Loved this slogan by Tata Sky. Don't know what I am talking about? Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EauDwXgJRY0 Lets be on the same page.
Make this your mantra when travelling. Ask politely for upgrades. You never know if it's your lucky day
On my Mumbai - Kochi flight, I asked for a upgrade. Told them I had no check-in luggage and was about to start my backpacking trip across Asia. BOOM !!!!
Upgraded to business class. All it took me was asking them politely. Enough show off, let's move on.
Kochi - Kuala Lumpur - Hong Kong with Air Asia
First time flying Air Asia. Hassle free travel if you read the terms and conditions properly.
As its a low cost airline food and drinks on board are chargeable. Make sure you carry food if you don't want to spend on board.
No entertainment screens are available on board. Download enough content on your device to keep you occupied. Or just doze off.
Tip: Check which is the best seat on any aircraft at www.seatguru.com Thank me later
Did not take visa for Malaysia as it did not appeal me for visiting the country with the high visa costs. Wanted to transit and be on my way to Hong Kong. Had read about Malaysia randomly giving free visa for intransit passengers. At immigration I said the same reason as mentioned above and got a Malaysia visa for free. "Puchne me kya jata hai Moment" But of no use as I had a flight in few hours.
I think there was some rule for free visa to intransit passengers which I did not know. Kya pata...
Hong Kong (This is where is all starts)
Money (Paisa Babu Bhaiya Paisa)
Search for "Currency Exchange"shop in Hong Kong Airport. Nope don't exchange money here. How to carry money on your trips? Read it here https://www.outofofficedaku.com/blog/planningmytrip
Next to this shop you will find bank ATMs from where you can withdraw HKD
Once done, head to the Currency Exchange. Confused. Read on
As you land in a new country you will need internet to search stuff etc. Sometimes it's cheaper to buy a sim from the city than the airport. But I just buy it from the airport. (Need to change this habit and save money)
Buy a 4G sim from the Money Exchange in cash. Ask for more data and less calling sim. I do the same. Finally its based on your usage patterns.
Tip: Keep copies of passport and visa handy so you don't have to hand over your passport
Get it activated and check if all services are working
Tip: If you have capping on free internet, make sure you set your counters to zero
The lifeline for your travel in Hong Kong. Get a Octopus card as soon as you land here. It's a smart card for all modes of travel. It can also be used at most departmental stores, supermarket, fast food stores etc
Airport to city
Now that you are set on money and connectivity head to the board that reads "Free shuttle bus (hotel connection)" Yes you read it right "Free"
Why spend on Airport express metro when you have this service. I stayed at a hostel but still availed this service. Search your place on Google Maps. Search for the nearest hotel with free drop service. Just get a drop till that listed hotel
They don't check booking details or any other stuff. Just flash your boarding pass and get in
I got a drop 350 meters away from my hostel
Alert: Don't mistake it for the Hong Kong Airport Shuttle Service. That service is charged @ 19 HKD
The free shuttle bus is air conditioned and quite comfortable
Alert: Please keep your bags in the space provided on the bus. Don't be a douchebag and hoard your luggage with you
Alternative option from Airport to City
Take the MTR to your nearest station from airport. If you plan properly you can also travel free for the rest of your journey and reach your destination with the airport express pass
Check details of free MTR connections here http://www.mtr.com.hk/en/customer/services/complom_connections.html
Hong Kong hostel
I make it a point to reach my new destination by night. That way I get the full day to myself all refreshed and settled in the new city.
I stayed at Yes Inn@causewaybay. Paid approx 5000 Rs for my 4 night 5 days stay here.
Nice hostel with air conditioning and near to the metro station. I will write a article separately on do and don'ts for booking a hostel/hotel. If you're reading this and there's no link which means I have not written it yet
I have a habit of finishing outstation day trips if any in the beginning so I can remain within the city and explore. You can interchange and plan each day as per your preference
Tip: Hong Kong visa is on a A4 paper. Don't forget to carry is with your passport.
Took metro to MTR Sheung Wan Station
Cotai Jet and TurboJet are two ferry services that take you from Hong Kong to Macau for 165 HKD. They run 24 hrs with 30 mins gap.
Check for offers before buying the tickets. I got a free casio voucher on buying the tickets via mastercard. There was also 1 on 1 free offer on mastercard.
Tip: Buy return ticket of the ferry for late in the night. You can board the ferry early if you have a later time ticket but cannot extend your time if you have a earlier one. Comes handy in case of change of plans.
Note: Want to go early then you will be allowed to board once the passengers of the said time have boarded. So stay calm
Update: With opening of the bridge bus services have also started from Hong Kong to Macau. Will add details soon
Once in Macau you will greeted by free shuttle buses of major casinos. Free travel from Ferry terminal to their casino. I did not use any taxi while in Macau. (Involves walking ) You will have to do some homework here.
All shuttles are free from Ferry terminal to casino and back. So plan your trips with listing casinos on map and getting down at each casino.
Tip: Pick up all the free pamphlets from respective casino counters. Some good freebies get included in them. Will mention "#FerryFreebies" during course of my article
Stop One: The Venetian Macau
Make sure you pick up the below shown pamphlet from the Ferry Terminal. You get access to the Parisian Macau terrace for free #FerryFreebies
Stop two: Galaxy Macau
Stop three: Wynn Palace Cotai
Stop four: Grand Lisboa Casino
Stop five: Old Macau
Walk for 15 mins and you come to Senado Square. Many attractions are clubbed around this area. Check them on the internet and add to your itinerary
St. Domingo’s Church
Ruínas de S. Paulo (Ruins of St. Paul’s)
Tip: Many walking tours are available. Check the same with the local tourism office. Many mobile apps also offer self guided tours
Do try the The Margaret Egg Tart while you are here
Stop six: Grand Emperor Hotel 英皇娛樂酒店
Stop seven: City of Dreams Macau
Stop eight: The Venetian Macao (Back to base)
The whole place is so huge it takes time to see all of it. Have your snack or dinner here as by now it would be the end of the day
Discounted dinner sponsored by McDonalds #FerryFreebies
Power bank from casino, courtesy of #FerryFreebies (Note: These power banks won't be allowed in cabin on your flights as most do not have the necessary certification or are non branded. Good to use during your journey and dispose. I had to give away mine while taking a flight in China)
Gambling at Casinos
Most casinos have a counter where they teach you how to play. By the end of the learning session few casinos hand you credit vouchers. Not bad.
Tip: Most casinos have self service counters hidden away."Puchne me kya jata hai" and they will show you. They serve you on on table if you are playing. If not go grab yourself a drink and chill around
Tip: I could get in the high rollers club by requesting them. Told them I wanted a sneek peek and wont click pictures. "Puchne me kya jata hai"
Back to Hong Kong
Get back on the free shuttle ride to Ferry Terminal. Sit on the right side of the ferry for some nice views on your way back
Our hostel was in a residential building. Early in morning I used to meet kids going to school. They walked till metro and then off to their respective trains. Start off early and have breakfast on the way from the shops. Skip the free hotel breakfast somedays and try out the local street options.
Alert: Obey rules and do not eat or drink in the metro
Day two was visiting local markets. Weather forecast showed little drizzles and not heavy rains
Off to the metro station near my hostel
Stop one: Mong Kok
Shops and more of shops. They start setting up thier shops in the morning. Visit it early to avoid crowds.
Tip: Find something interesting, don't just buy. Go deeper in the lanes and see the prices drop for the same item. Get your Indian negotiation skills to use but make sure you do it in a healthy way. Buying more than 10 items from a shop ask for wholesale discount "Puchne me kya jata hai"
Many shops are hidden away on the upper floors of the buildings around you. Lego, game characters, soft toys, collectible items etc. Keep exploring
Stop two: Mong Kok Computer Center
The name says it. Even if you don't have any purchase plans do visit this place if your love tech. You never know what may catch your eye.
Stop three: Sneakers Market
Joota bazaar of Hong Kong. From the basic white canvas sneakers to some of the rarest collectible shoes can be found here. Do check out your favourite brands of shoes if you need to buy any. I was there for a hour just to get the feel of the place
With offers given by Indian e-commerce website you will find the shoes costly here
Stop four: Ladies Market
I was loving these market name. To the point. No Shri Kumar Kumar Market etc. So again as the name suggests the markets has shops for ladies stuff. If travelling with your soulmate time to go grab a beer while she wanders around in the market.
It would be noon by now. Check the menu options and get inside one of these restaurants in the neighbourhood. I am not much of a foodie when backpacking so I just grab something on the move.
Stop five: Shanghai Street
This area has shops with all kitchen equipment. Steamer baskets, bowls, spoons, chopping boards, knives etc. You can find some really beautiful hand crafted kitchen items. Some shops date back to 1930s. English is not spoken here but sign language is just fine. The shop owners are humble and will help you.
Tip: Good place to buy chopsticks to be given as souvenirs back home
There are the other markets too nearby in case you want to visit them. Do check them out
Stop Six: Tin Hau Temple
Hidden between the markets is the temple of Goddess of the Sea
Once done with the markets head out on the main street
Tip: Do try and visit the store in the below pic. It's a tech stuff store. You will find all sorts of chargers, cables, connectors, convertors etc at reasonable rates
Stop seven: Mira Place 1
This shopping mall is on the way to our next destination. I skipped it
Stop eight: Kowloon Par
Grab some snacks and soft drinks and head over to the park. Its peaceful after been in all the chaos of the city. There are some exhibitions inside the garden. Take time to stroll around and click pics or just relax. I took a quick power nap here.
Stop nine: Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
Walking from Kowloon Park to here is approx 1.5 kms. Take a bus or taxi if the distance is too long for you to walk.
Here you can see the famous Garden of stars, Hong Kong cultural center and Hong Kong Space Museum. Head first to the Garden of stars. When I visited in 2017 they were making some changes so the statues were shifted nearby. Should be back to their original place by now.
Stop ten: Hong Kong Cultural Center