Would you like to get an idea of the most beautiful attractions in Hong Kong and Macau? I present our favorites, which can therefore guide you in your planning towards this destination.
In 2009, we landed in Hong Kong to begin a journey in the Celestial Empire. At that time, Jessica was pregnant with Mateo and we were undertaking what we considered to be the last ” big ” trip of our lives… at least without children! It was without knowing that Mateo would be extremely docile, and that this “last great trip” would become the first in a long series. We were therefore already familiar with this agglomeration and its 1500 skyscrapers that mix tradition and modernity. We loved it so much that not coming back 10 years later as a family was out of the question.
The best tourist attractions in Hong Kong and Macau
During our first visit, the accommodation was already very expensive, and our budget allowed us to only sleep in a backpacker hostel in the infamous and scary Chungking Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui, on the popular Nathan Road. This place, which we had the pleasure of showing to the boys (only the first floor), is known to hide drug and prostitution networks between its floors. It’s full of immigrants, refugees and… backpackers. It’s the only place in the city where you don’t feel like you’re in Hong Kong.
We walked down the Avenue of Stars, which honors the celebrities of Hong Kong’s film industry. The Bruce Lee statue can be admired there as well. After 3 years of renovation, this promenade was completely new. We didn’t even recognize it! On the other side of Victoria Bay is Hong Kong Island.
To be able to enjoy the most beautiful view of Hong Kong, we took our courage with both hands and climbed the hill that leads to Suicide Cliff. This place is well named, as many people die there every year in pursuit of the perfect selfie. Don’t worry, we took great care by following the easiest route and by observing the most suicidal tourists from afar.
Have you ever heard of the Kowloon Walled City? It was also known as the “City of Darkness” and qualified as one of the greatest anomalies in history? This place captivated my imagination and we could not have left Hong Kong without setting foot in it, at least on the remains of this mythical place, because it has now become a superb park: Kowloon Walled City Park. If you don’t know this place, I invite you to look into it. In the meantime, here is his story, which I will briefly summarize.
For 800 years, the Citadel was used by the Chinese as a military fortress to defend Kowloon and its coastlines. During the 99 years of the British occupation of Hong Kong, the Citadel had never been under British governance, remaining a Chinese enclave in the middle of Hong Kong. Rapidly, the dramatic rise in property prices escalated to the Citadel, which saw hundreds of buildings built within its walls to accommodate the city’s poorest people. In the meantime, strip clubs, casinos, drug and prostitution networks and the mafia transformed the Citadel into a real city of darkness. Debauchery and crime were out of control. The authorities decided to demolish the Citadel in 1997. At that time, it was estimated that 50,000 people lived in its 0.026 square kilometers enclosures (260 x 100 meters). At no other time in human history had a population reached the density of 2 MILLION INHABITANTS PER SQUARE KM! Today, the magnificent Kowloon Walled City Park sits on the remains of the old Citadel, a megalopolis within a megalopolis that has become a symbol of anarchy and human barbarity.
A few kilometers away, Mong Kok, with “only” 130,000 inhabitants/sq km, is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet. The district is organized into sectors with different types of businesses: bird market (Yuen Po Street Bird Garden), flower market, goldfish market, electronics market, women’s clothing market (Ladies Market). What an enriching experience to walk down these streets full of all sorts of shops! Wow!
Hong Kong Island
On the other side of Victoria Bay, the Yick Cheong Building, or more commonly known as the Monster Building, became emblematic thanks to the Transformers movie (and also Instagram).
Man Mo Temple is one of the oldest temples in Hong Kong. The atmosphere inside the temple is extraordinary and super photogenic.
The tram to Victoria Peak was closed for renovation, so we had to take the bus to get there. The view of the entire city from the heights of Victoria Peak is magnificent! During the day, smog usually prevents you from being able to see far, but at night, the show is magical.
We went up to the observatory on the 55th floor of the Two International Finance Center to gaze at the skyscrapers on the island of Hong Kong.
We also had plenty to discover as we walk through the small streets of the island.
With its 7.5 million inhabitants and average density of 6300 inhabitants per km2, one would think that Hong Kong has little green space. But don’t be sceptical if I tell you that 75% of Hong Kong’s 1100 square kilometres is green, which confines the entire population to only 25% of the territory! And if urban parks, open spaces and roads were removed, only 15% of the area that is inhabited would remain.
We took the 5.7 km long cable car to visit the Great Buddha of Tian Tian Tian and the Po Lin Monastery on the island of Lantau. On top of its 34m and with its 250 tons, the Buddha would be the largest outdoor bronze sitting Buddha in the world. You no longer know what title to invent to attract tourists! One thing is clear, it has not changed since our last visit 10 years ago.
The Macau Peninsula
We took the brand new bridge from Hong Kong to Macao. The engineering marvel, consisting of a series of bridges and tunnels totaling 55km, is the world’ s longest bridge over the sea. Two border crossings (one in Hong Kong, the other one in Macao) later, we find ourselves in a completely new world.
Technically, we have not changed countries, but the reality is quite different. In Macao, the signs are in Portuguese, the currency is Pataca and you can feel the European influence on the city’s architecture. This is attributable to the fact that the Portuguese colonized and administered the territory for more than 400 years!
There was no blue sky but we were still able to visit the main attractions of the former colonial city listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the ruins of Saint Paul, Senado Square and the church of Saint Lazarus.
Thanks to its rapid economic growth, mainly thanks to its casinos which generate four times more revenue than those in Las Vegas, Macao will surpass Qatar in 2020 to become the world’ s richest “country” in terms of GDP per capita. We were able to see this when walking in Taipa, the southern part of Macau, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and around the canals of Venice.
For a better preparation
Itinerary & map
We spent 9 days in Hong Kong and 2 days in Macau.
In Hong Kong, thanks to our points, we had the privilege of staying for free in a beautiful room with a beautiful view at the Courtyard Marriott Hong Kong Sha Tin, with swimming pool, sauna and gym. Our Marriott status has rewarded us with an upgrade. For 9 nights, this category 2 room (12500 points per night) cost us 10,000 points per night, with the 5th free night promotion from Marriott. A valuation of more than 1800 USD!
In Macau, we spent the first night in the northern area of Macau, more specifically at the Rio Hotel and Casino, where we could visit the main attractions.
In Macau, we decided to sleep our 2nd night in Taipa, more precisely at the JW Marriott Hotel Macau.
Since the start of our world tour, we have been sleeping in many 5-star hotels of the Marriott chain thanks to our points, such as the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, the JW Marriott Ankara or the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay. But in Macau, luxury was beyond our comprehension! First of all, our Gold status from Marriott earned us an upgrade to one of the hotel’s most beautiful units: a 100 m2 executive suite on a corner of the building on the highest floor, with an exceptional view over the complex. The domotics were up to speed: the curtains were motorized, as were the toilet flaps, and there were built-in speakers in the bathroom. The outside of the windows were cleaned on a daily basis and rain repellent treatment was applied to the windows. On four occasions, we were graciously served hors d’oeuvres, fruits and small gifts. Even the boys were allowed to choose their own gifts. From our room, we had a view of the guest water park, which was located above a shopping mall and the casino of the compound!
Hong Kong’s metro and bus networks are particularly well developed and very cheap. The ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island is also very efficient, inexpensive and offers a magnificent 360 degree view of Victoria Bay. On Hong Kong Island, we took a ride on the century-old tram to admire the city from east to west, in the midst of the skyscrapers.
In Macao, free hotel shuttles connect the ports with the northern and southern parts of the country, which is very convenient.
Needless to say, we enjoyed Cantonese cuisine, one of the most popular Chinese cuisines: Dim sum, barbecue pork, lacquered duck, wonton and other noodle dishes… not to mention durian!
In Macao, egg tarts (pasteis de nata) are a popular specialty imported from Portugal!
As we slept in hotels with our points, we didn’t have to break the piggy bank to visit Hong Kong and Macau. As the Hong Kong dollar was accepted in Macao, currency conversion was not mandatory. The amounts below include all our expenses in both Chinese administrative regions. The cost of our stay for our family of 4 is:
- 9,694.00 HKD (1,248.12 USD);
- 881.00 HKD (113.43 USD) per day;
- 220.00 HKD (28.33 USD) per person and per day.
|Expense Category||Amount Spent|
|Flight||3,152.00 HKD / 405.82 USD|
|Accomodation||1,348.00 HKD / 173.56 USD|
|Transport||1,084.00 HKD / 139.57 USD|
|Eating out||2,350.00 HKD / 302.57 USD|
|Groceries||1,240.00 HKD / 159.65 USD|
|Activities||520.00 HKD / 66.95 USD|
|Total||9,694.00 HKD / 1,248.12 USD|
In a nutshell
|Dates||2019-04-26 to 2019-05-07|
|Number of days||11|
|Cities we visited||Hong Kong, Macau|
|Inbound||From Taiwan by plane|
|Outbound||To Malaysia by plane|
|Mode of transport||Subway, ferry, tram, city buses, taxi|
|Distance travelled (excluding flights)||435 km|
|Number of photos taken||4550 (414 per day)|
|Currency||The Hong Kong Dollar (1.00 USD = 7.77 HKD)|
We had nothing but pleasure in returning to Hong Kong and discovering Macau. Although we have been able to reconnect with a certain nostalgia for the past, Hong Kong is no longer the same as it was 10 years ago. And we had the opportunity to discover new facets of this extraordinary region, which now holds an even more special place in our hearts.
And now, let’s go to Malaysia!
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I would also like to take this opportunity to share with you the summary of our exceptional world tour as a family!
To learn some techniques to improve your travel planning skills, have a look at our our travel tips:
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