Colonial Legacy On The South

As one of the top tourist destinations in the world, Hong Kong can offer plenty of reasons to visit and spend time there. And what’s more, living in Dongguan means it couldn’t be easier.

One simply has to begin with Hong Kong’s history and why it is even there at all. Nowadays a remnant of the British empire, the occupation of Hong Kong was originally agreed over two separate surrender terms relating to the opium wars during the 1800’s, way back in the Qing dynasty and long before the PRC was even conceived at the time of Queen Victoria’s reign; hence the aptly named “Victoria harbor.” The 99-year lease expired in 1997 resulting in an unprecedented event that was to be the handover from British control to the Chinese mainland.

Politics aside, Hong Kong is still one of the top tourist destinations in the world and an integral flight hub connecting the east and west. With duty free status and known by many as “the shopper’s paradise,” it’s not hard to see why the city is still frequented by millions of tourists annually. For us Dongguaners this presents the opportunity to indulge in the city’s many attributes with ease and even be home in time for supper, should we so wish.

With duty free status and known by many as “the shopper’s paradise,” it’s not hard to see why the city is still frequented by millions of tourists annually.

Getting to Hong Kong from Dongguan ultimately depends on where your destination is. If you need to get to the airport, there are several high-end hotels throughout the various Dongguan townships that offer “sky limos,” which are essentially shared minivans that will transport you (usually) to the border crossing of Shenzhen Bay, where you will then switch cars after passport control, before continuing to the airport. This takes three to four hours depending on traffic.

Personally, if I’m going to the airport, I prefer to utilize the ferry from Humen. There are available transport links from Hadi metro station and although this works out slightly more expensive than the sky limo at around 300 RMB per person, I believe it is worth it for sheer convenience. The main difference is that you arrive at the sky pier departure platform, which has a completely separate check-in area from the rest of the airport, which guarantees less passengers and you even get a 120 HKD rebate. Note however that the Humen ferry only goes to the airport exclusively and flight tickets are needed when confirming purchases. Other than that, many Dongguan bus stations have services to the border for around 50 RMB.

Alternatively, you can facilitate train options from Shilong at the far north end of Dongguan’s metro line to Luohu, or Humen at the far south of the metro which goes to Futian, requiring a further transition on the Shenzhen metro to the Futian checkpoint border crossing. Incidentally the high-speed line is due to extend directly to Kowloon in Hong Kong mainland later this year. I strongly recommend acquiring an “octopus card” on arrival in Hong Kong as this can be used not only for public transport, but just about anything that requires payment there.

So now you are in Hong Kong, where to go first? Personally, I think it’s worth getting down to Victoria Harbor to appreciate the grandiose skyline before anything else and from there the options are seemingly endless. Possibly take the renowned star ferry over to central and perhaps then take a train ride up to the “peak” and drop in Madame Tussad’s while there. If it’s a sunny day you could head down to the south side of the island and hit the beach at Repulse Bay or go further down to Stanley. Feeling more adventurous? Climb the steps up to see the Big Buddha on Lantau island or get away from all the traffic with a short boat trip to Lamma island where there are no cars. The list goes on.

Ultimately whatever you decide to do in Hong Kong it’s always worth checking out the visa conditions for your individual country. The vast majority of places have lengthy visa-on-arrival terms, so it isn’t usually a problem. It’s also worth trying to book accommodation in advance as much as possible. Hong Kong is in the world’s top five for real estate value and if you leave it to the last minute you may find yourself with some hefty bills. Even in advance, if you find a reasonable place for 500 HKD per night you are doing well.

The cost of living therefore is naturally high, so it is advisable to work out your budget beforehand and try to get the best exchange rate for that hard earned RMB. As of May 2018, the rate is at 0.81 RMB = 1 HKD, so spend it wisely. It’s very easy to lose track of spending in Hong Kong, but if you are savvy, a few fun-filled days in a city that never sleeps are at your disposal on a reasonable outlay. Enjoy!