Everything I Was Ever Told About Hong Kong Was A Lie!

Everything I was ever told about Hong Kong was a lie!!!!

Yes you read that correctly. I was lied to! LIED TO! 

Alright, melodrama aside – I wasn’t lied to, however, what I was told over the years by many is not the Hong Kong that I discovered through both research and on my recent memorable trip. Some of the things that were relayed to me were along these lines:

  1. There is not much to do in Hong Kong 
  2. It’s just urban sprawl, nothing but a concrete jungle
  3. You can see everything in 2 days 
  4. It has great designer shopping and fabulous food but that’s about it
  5. Everything is super expensive
  6. It’s so crowded, so many people (okay – that one is true though things run quite smoothly in Hong Kong it seems)

Hearing this is what that had me overlooking Hong Kong as a destination. Until recently I viewed it as place where I would pass through, staying only a few days while en route to another destination. It wasn’t until I decided to go away for a week in February that I even decided to look at it. I wanted to go somewhere that I could explore in a week without feeling like I was missing out on going elsewhere in the country.  A week in Japan seemed to rushed. Same with Cambodia. Maybe a European city? Nope. Not in mid-winter. And no resort sun destinations where I would inevitably have to fork over extra money for a single supplement, punishment for travelling solo. So on a whim I looked at some YouTube videos about Hong Kong as it met my initial criteria. I was surprised! There were many activities and sights that piqued my interest. I did further research and realized I was misinformed! I decided that Hong Kong was my next destination!!


Hong Kong’s skyline at night – Photo taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

So let’s address these misleading ideas that I had. Please note that this is based on my experience in Hong Kong.  I know others have different accounts and some have similar ones.  I will make another post of many of these places that I visited in a future post.

  1. There is not much to do in Hong KongNot true!! Museums, theme parks (Disney, Ocean Park), nightlife, hiking, markets, shopping, temples, discovering street art, sensational views, wandering neighbourhoods, dining, historical sites. So much!
  2. It’s just urban sprawl, nothing but a concrete junglePartly true! Hong Kong is a big city with a population of almost 7.5 million. It has a numerous skyscrapers, buildings of all types, an impressive public transit system, and all of this in an approximately 1, 100 sq km / 424 sq mile area
    1. What you may not know is that 40% of Hong Kong is parks and nature reserves. There are areas where you do not feel like you are in a city. Hong Kong is comprised of numerous islands with a substantial area that is separated from mainland China simply by the border. Not all of it is developed. Hiking and walking has become quite popular with several trails set up for all levels and nature is close by.
  3. You can see everything in 2 days No, you  can’t! You can see many of the major sights in 2 days especially if you plan well. But to see and do more you do need extra time. I had 6 full days and I did not see everything I had hoped to (I also went to neighbouring Macau for a day trip so more like 5 days)
  4. It has great designer shopping and fabulous food but that’s about itThere is more!! So much more. Yes, Hong Kong is a shopping haven and has even better food of every style of cuisine. No doubt about it yet there is so much more to this city.  Explore more! Isn’t that what travel is about? =)
  5. Everything is super expensiveMostly true! Hotels, designer shopping, drinks, some food, some tours and entrance fees can add up very quickly. Very quickly. Though there are hacks and ways to save money. Hostels are comparable to Europe though far less expensive than hotels. I don’t know about AirBnB or other options but worth a look. Shopping at markets is cheaper and you can find knock offs there too. Street food and some ‘mom and pop’ restaurants are more affordable and very tasty. The MTR (subway system) is inexpensive and runs like a well-oiled machine. I love the MTR! Star Ferry is even cheaper!
  6. It’s so crowded, so many peopleTrue! Very true though I put it on the list because despite the sheer density of the place I found it to run quite smoothly. Yes, traffic is heavy but which large city is it not? The MTR was crowded but it got me where I needed to go with great ease. Walking around I noticed places well marked. If I got lost it was due to my own horrible (and I mean horrible) sense of direction. If you can get used to being bumped into strictly due to the sheer volume of people then you can manage Hong Kong. And taking advantage of Skip The Line tickets and arriving EARLY can get you to the major sites with relative ease (otherwise expect to wait). 

Nature along Lantau Island’s Wisdom Path and Lantau Trail – photo taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

I have to say that Hong Kong did not disappoint. I was excited to see what I had learned in my research and discover on my own as well. Soon, after telling people about my forthcoming trip I was given some useful tips. Some by fellow travellers, others by expats. Bonus! I found it to be a city that was so easy to travel in. I know I’ll go back there as it still holds places that are undiscovered for me. 

Oh and guess what? There is a growing and tasty craft beer scene! Yay!! Good beer!


Hong Kong Highlights

Hello from Hong Kong. I’ve been here four nights and have a precious two more left. This has been a trip like no other. Two hours before leaving to come here, after clearing security at Vancouver, I received some very worrisome news. Needless to say trying to enjoy myself was weighed down with concern. Though the newness of this destination proved to be a good distraction albeit slightly tainted. Fortunately the best possible outcome occurred and I have relaxed and enjoyed this world class city. And for someone who is not fond of hot humid weather coming here in winter has proven to a bonus for me. I had hoped it would have been sunny as in weeks prior but the clouds decided to stay. The rain fortunately has been staved off.

Once at home I will write about my impressions of Hong Kong. In meantime, here are some photos of my time here.

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders the World

View from Victoria Harbour

View of Victoria Harbour (Kowloon side)

Victoria Harbour


From Victoria Peak

View from the Sky Deck at Victoria Peak – a stunning view despite the clouds

Incense burning at Man Mo Temple

Offerings of incense at Man Mo Temple

Incense coils at Man Mo Temple

These are coils of incense hanging from the ceiling at Man Mo Temple

Crystal bottom cable car enroute to Lantau Island

Glass bottom cable car taking me up to the Big Buddha on Lantau Island

Arch at Lantau Island

Archway by Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island

Big Buddha on Lantau Island

The Big Buddha on Lantau Island

Temple at Po Lin Monastery

One of several temples at Po Lin Monastery

Clock Tower

The Clock Tower at Victoria Harbour (Kowloon side)

Star Ferry - a longtime icon of Hong Kong

Star Ferry – I took a harbour tour with them

Trams a.k.a Ding Dings

I took a ride on one of Hong Kong’s tram cars – referred to as Ding Ding’s by the locals

Pottinger Street

Pottinger Street

Market stalls in Mong Kok neighbourhood

Fa Yuen Street Market in Mong Kok neighbourhood

Fish for sale at the Goldfish Market

Goldfish for sale at the Goldfish Market in Mong Kok 

One stall of numerous ones at the Flower Market

Mandarin plants for sale at the Flower Market in Mong Kok


Bruce Lee statue at the Garden of the Stars

Bruce Lee! One of the statues at the Garden of the Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui neighbourhood


Tomorrow I am off to Macau!

My Top 5 Cities to Wander

The Internet is riddled with Top 5 lists or whichever number is trending so I figure I will post one too. Where does this wanderer like to wander? Aside from just about everywhere I do have some faves. As I continue to traverse the globe I suspect this list will change though this is the list currently. 

It’s all about the cities. I have to say I prefer cities and the energy found within them. Of course small towns and nature are phenomenal and even entire countries I find amazing, though today it’s about the urban landscape. 

Here they are:

  1. PARIS – Paris! Paris! Paris! Arguably the most beautiful city on the planet, I always find wandering in Paris a joy. The art, the history and vibe. 
  2. ISTANBUL – An extremely close second, Istanbul took my breath away with its history, architectural beauty and culture.
  3. CHICAGO – Not only did I have a fab time in the Windy City I adored its arts, buildings and that deep dish pizza
  4. BUDAPEST – Not only does Budapest offer a gorgeous and clean city there is much to do.  Caving nearby, history, ruin bars & thermals baths makes for a very fun city!
  5. GEORGETOWN (a.k.a. Penang) & BELGRADE – tied for 5th as I was unable to decide. Both so different yet equally cool. Penang’s street art and street food within a chill atmosphere compared to Belgrade’s history, great people and fun nightlife made it a definite tie. 

There you go. My current top 5 cities. Next up will be my fav countries. 

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders the World 


Top row (L – R): Paris, Istanbul, Chicago
Bottom row: Budapest, Belgrade, me on boat in Belgrade, Georgtown (Penang)



Liebster Award



I am glad to say that I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by fellow blogger Linda at Draw My Map. Thank you for the nomination. I do apologize that it has taken me so long to post but better late than never!  So here goes.

Remember to check out below to see which 11 bloggers I nominate!

My answer’s to Draw My Map’s questions:

  1. Describe your blog in 5 words
    About me and the world.
  2. What would your ideal weekend look like?
    A quick getaway to a new destination or a re-visit a favourite. If I have to stay in town then I would like to go to yoga, go out with friends for an evening and then relax at home on Sunday with some cooking.
  3. Which has been your favourite destination so far?
    Oh that’s a tough one. By far my favourite country is Ireland. The people are so friendly and likable and the landscape is stunning. It’s a unique shade of green. However, for cities I would say my favourite is Paris with Istanbul and Belgrade close behind. Oh but India was amazing too. And Budapest. And Prague…and… and…
  4. Would you rather go skiing or lie on a beach?
    I hate snow so I’d pick the beach but checking out a city would usurp the beach.
  5. What made you want to start a blog?
    To share and write about my travel plans and to keep me focused on reaching my goal of extended travel. I was also encouraged to start one from a few people. The power of suggestion!
  6. Is there anywhere you have been that you would never visit again? Yes. I never want to go to Athens, Greece again. It’s chaotic, in disrepair, smoggy and uncouth.
  7. Name the top three destinations on your travel wish list.
    1. Re-visit Ireland + add Scotland
    2. Easter Island (Chile)
    3. Vietnam & re-visiting India (tie)
    Though these tend to change often – LOL
  8. In which country have you met the friendliest locals so far? Ireland by far.
  9. City or small town? I’m a city girl, well, medium-sized city.
  10. Do you like to spend time in nature? Some. I love trees and being around them, going for walks and enjoying fresh air. I want to start hiking. I’ve never gone camping and don’t really have a desire to do so.
  11. Do like to have everything organised, booked and planned before you leave for your trip or do you like to wing it and see where the wind takes you? About 70% organized and 30% winging it. I like to know where I’m gonna go and what I want to see but also leave some room for spontaneous events.

How the Liebster Award nominations work:

  • each nominee must link back the person who nominated them
  • answer the 11 questions
  • nominate 11 other bloggers for this award who have less than 500 followers
  • create 11 questions for your nominees to answer
  • you can’t nominate the one who tagged you
  • let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them

My nominations for The Liebster Award are as follows:

  1.  Wandering Dragon
  2.  Love The Fold
  3.  Robin T Photo
  4.  Sdoonthego
  5.  Going Around The World
  6.  World Travellerz
  7.  Vegucated in Vancouver
  8.  WellEmma
  9.  Mexico: Live it, Love it
  10.  Where is Noodles?

My questions for the nominees are:

  1. If you could visit one destination in the world, where would it be?
  2. Which book is your favourite and why?
  3. Can you speak another language(s) and if so, which one(s)?
  4. What is the most bizarre food you’ve eaten?
  5. Would you travel solo?
  6. What are your 3 essentials you take with you when travelling?
  7. Do you prefer sweet or savory foods?
  8. Is your preference beers, wines or cocktails?
  9. How did you start blogging?
  10. How many languages can you say “thank you” in?
  11. Where have you experienced the most extreme culture shock?