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!


Sunday Special – Siem Reap, Cambodia

If there was ever a town built around one tourist attraction it would be…Orlando, Florida. Because Disney World is huge. Things are built around it and cater to it. That is what I hear. And with that, what I say next may be considered sacrilege by many. Here goes:¬† I have no desire to visit Disney World. None whatsoever! There I said it (whew! that wasn’t so painful).¬† BUT…what does this have to do with today’s Sunday Special? Well Siem Reap in Cambodia is similar to Orlando in that it has one main draw – the grand Angkor Wat (Angkor Archaeological Site) And that IS a place I want to visit. Stretching out 400 square km / 155 sq miles it encompasses temples, old remains, and forested areas. I understand it takes several days to meander through it. I’m getting excited just knowing I’ll see it in the future!¬†But I know nothing else of what there is to see and do in Siem Reap. Kinda like Orlando.

So let’s find out what else this northwestern Cambodian city has to offer.

  • Food:¬†One of my favourite topics. Food tours and bountiful restaurants are plentiful. There are even some places where the adventurous foodies can taste¬† bugs, such as deep fried tarantulas.
  • Get Around: Rent a bicycle, moped, or e-bike (electric scooter) to see the area at your own pace. Alternately,¬† you can also rent tuk-tuks to get you from one place to another.
  • Markets: Siem Reap has a healthy selection of markets to peruse. Some of the popular ones are the Old Market, Angkor Night Market, and Central Market. If you would like to learn about buying ethical handicrafts, check out Angkor Handicraft Association.
  • Floating Villages: There are a few floating villages in the area that you can visit. Do your research as some are more authentic than others from what I have read online.
  • Angkor National Museum: Visit this museum to learn not only about the temples in the area but the history of the Khmer Empire and the relics and artifacts of Angkor.
  • Pub Street: A good place for restaurants and eateries during the day and the go-to place for pubs, street entertainment and bars at night. In fact after 5:00pm it is closed off to motorized vehicles.¬†
  • Cooking Classes: You’ve tried some of the food, why not learn how to recreate it at home. There are several cooking classes you can join up for in the area
  • Other Temples: Although Angkor Wat is the largest temple in Siem Reap it is by not means the only. There are plenty of others to see. Mainly Buddhist temples but there are a few Hindu ones as well.

Well, I am fairly certain I will enjoy Siem Reap once I make my way there in the future. I hope you do to should you decide to visit.


Puok Market in Siem Reap, Cambodia РPhoto credit: FRED, Puok.Market, CC BY-SA 3.0



Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia РPhoto credit: Ziegler175, ICAngkorWatH01, CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday Special – R√©union Island

A small island that is blessed with natural beauty is tucked away in the Indian Ocean in the shadows of Madagascar and Mauritius. This isle, known as Réunion Island, is located approximately 700 km / 434 miles east and 200 km / 124 miles southwest of Madagascar and Mauritius, respectively. As a French overseas island it is part of the European Union (E.U.) though it remains outside of the Schengen zone thus retaining its own immigration code.

Regarded mainly for its abundance of hiking trails for all levels (over 900 km / 559 miles) its mountainous and volcanic terrain draws outdoor lovers into its fold. With trails for all experience levels one can take in lush rain forests, peer into the crater of an still active volcano (Piton de la Fournaise), gaze at fields of cane sugar, and even learn about the flora, fauna and geology of the area with a discovery trail. In fact, the island has such incredible topography that 40% of it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Though there is more to Réunion than the volcanoes, cirques and calderas.  Stunning beaches, natural marine reserves, flowing rivers and more. Even though it is a French territory there is a mixture of cultures that add a vibrant element to the islands culture. Peoples from Madagascar, Africa, Europe, and Asia all flavour the culture, music, and the food. This place strikes me as a wonderful place to explore and unwind at the same time. 


Langevin Falls (also known as Grand Galet Falls) in Reunion National Park РPhoto credit: No machine-readable author provided. JoKerozen assumed (based on copyright claims)., Cascade Langevin, CC BY-SA 2.5



Crater of Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island РPhoto credit: User: Bbb at wikivoyage shared, ReU PtFournaise KraterDolomieu, CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday Special – Mykonos, Greece

Jutting into the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, south of Albania, Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria, and the mainland of Greece are the striking Greek Isles. They number into the thousands though only 227 are inhabited. The Cycladean island of Mykonos is one of Greece’s most popular. Recognized as having a cosmopolitan vibe, it is renown for its widely popular nightlife and amazing beaches. High season¬† (July – August) brings in a bountiful number of tourists who enjoy the multitudinous clubs, restaurants, and shops. Low season (late October – April) is less crowded though some shops and attractions may be closed, weather is much cooler, and there are less frequent ferry rides. Shoulder season (May, June, September, & early October) is a blend of the other two seasons with less crowds and pleasant weather.

Although recognized as a “party” island, Mykonos does have more to offer. It has retained its Cycladic architecture of the past, something very prominent in Ch√≥ra (Mykonos Town) due to stringent regulations. I imagine the whitewashed buildings and narrow maze-like streets add a charm to Mykonos Town just as I found charm in Oia, Santorini.¬† The white windmills are a common sight on Mykonos, a throwback to early days when the strong winds of isle were used to power them.¬† Wander outside of the main town to a quaint town of¬†Alefk√°ntra, often referred to as Little Venice. This seaside village is lined with colourful houses and they boast an incredible sunset (a wonderful reason for me to consider visiting). As mentioned, beaches abound on Mykonos¬†(Paradise Beach being one of the best known). And the winds make the island a great spot for water sport enthusiasts. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you may spot the island’s adopted mascot too, Petros the Pelican (second generation).


Streets of Mykonos, Greece РPhoto credit: Bernard Gagnon, Houses in Mykonos, CC BY-SA 4.0


Windmills near Little Venice, Mykonos РPhoto Credit: Zigomitros Athanasios РThor4bp, Windmills 2 Рview from little venice РMykonos, CC BY-SA 4.0


Petros the Pelican, mascot of Mykonos – Photo is Public Domain