Hong Kong layover – what to do on a quick trip!

Recently, we planned our way home from Sri Lanka with a Hong Kong layover of 16 hours.  Hong Kong is a great place to spend a day, as they issue a visa-free entry to holders of most passports.  With a clean and highly efficient transit system, you can easily get yourself around the city and back to the airport. 

The immigration entry process was super fast, only taking about 15 minutes.  Comparing that to our several hour wait time to enter mainland China in nearby Gaungzhou, we were quite happy to get an early start to our explorations. 

Here’s the vlog all about our quick Hong Kong adventure!

Our first stop on our Hong Kong layover was the Tian Tan, usually referred to as the Big Buddha.  Normally, you can take a cable car directly to Big Buddha from near the airport, but it was down for maintenance for three days so we had to take a bus.  This was ok though, as it only took around 45 minutes.  To get thier by bus, take the bus from the airport to Tung Chung, then change to the Ngong Ping bus.  It’s not super easy to find this second bus, but after looking around for about five minutes we saw the line of tourists waiting and new we were in the right spot.

big buddha hong kong

The ride to Tian Tan Big Buddha was really pretty, winding it’s way through the foggy mountains.  The ocean would pop up every now and then, and before we could soak it all in we were at the Big Buddha.

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The Big Buddha is a 34-meter high bronze statue on the top of a 268 step structure.  You have to pay to get inside of the Buddha, but the fee is worth it, especially since you get lunch included.  We opted for the “snack” price and we’re glad we didn’t get the full meal because the snack was a lot of food.  The Buddha was really impressive and we spent about an hour exploring the grounds around it.  The adjacent temples and monastery buildings were very beautiful as well and it was amazing to see the difference in style from temples in other parts of Asia.

big buddha food hong kong
Our “snack”.

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After the Buddha we had to venture back to the metro which passed near the airport.  From there we made a couple stops that were not so interesting before finding our way to Causeway Bay.  This was what we were looking for!

We had the great opportunity to meet up with a friend who we had met many years ago through Couchsurfing.  She was one of our favorite Couchsurfers, so it was a real treat to see her in her home element. 

Reunited with our Couchsurfing friend Pinky!

We got a ferry across to the main land.  This was referred to as “the dark side” because things were cheaper there and it lacked the super extravagance of old Hong Kong.  It was still extremely modern though, and safe at all hours, apparently.  The view from the ferry was something out of a sci-fi film, with buildings reaching the clouds surrounding us 360 degrees.  The lights on the buildings were also impressive, with Christmas already the prominent theme in mid-November. 

hong kong skyline
Make sure you watch our vlog to catch these views on video!

hong kong skyline

We ate at a very busy local spot in a basement that I could never locate again if I tried.  Our friend’s boyfriend joined us to eat, and they enjoyed ordering strange things for me to eat.  Cow fallopian tube, for example.  It was a fantastic meal that we had to eat fast at the end because, even though we had just gotten there, our time in HK was running short.  

Hong Kong food

The city had the rushed New York City-esque thing going on, but without being rude, dirty, or as in-your-face.  We took the bus back to the airport, our friends anxiously hurrying us so we wouldn’t be late.  We really couldn’t have had half as much fun without their help, and it really puts a smile on our face when we get to hang out with such truly friendly people. 

Tired and stuffed with Chinese food, we pushed our way through the security lines into the airport departure area.   We had seen so little in this Hong Kong layover, but it was really as much as we could have done.  It’s nice to hang out in new cities for a day, getting a feel for it just in time to leave.  We always hope that it will make it easier the next time, and sometimes that’s true.  Until next time Hong Kong.  We’ll be back.

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