Hong Kong and Macau are two countries that Filipinos consider for their first out-of-the-country trip. These Asian countries are infamous as touristy destinations in the world because of their theme parks and shopping centers. Frequency and availability of cheap flights from low-cost airlines also encourage travelers to visit these countries even just for a weekend. Here’s a Hong Kong and Macau itinerary more than Disneyland, Ocean Park, shopping malls, and casinos.
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THINGS TO REMEMBER
Filipinos don’t need to secure a tourist visa when entering Hong Kong and can stay up to a maximum of 30 days. Similar goes for Macau. This, however, makes the immigrations in the Philippines strictly monitor Filipinos heading to Hong Kong and Macau because Filipinos notoriously use these countries for “illegal work”. If you have no other intentions on your trip and your documents are complete; return ticket and accommodations, it will be a smooth one for you.
Being in the subtropical region, Hong Kong (and Macau) has four seasons: warm and humid from March to May, hot and rainy summer from June to September, sunny autumn from October to November, and cool and dry winter from December until February. The best time to visit Hong Kong and Macau is during autumn for a lot of sun until the Christmas season. Worst months would be May to September because of tropical cyclones and thunderstorms.
Hong Kong uses Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) that is widely available in the Philippine banks and even foreign exchange shops. On the other hand, Macau is using Macau Pataca (MOP) but the currency has the same value with HKD. You can even use HKD when in Macau, but can’t use MOP in Hong Kong.
Getting Around Hong Kong
Hong Kong is also recognized for its efficient massive transportation system. The extensive Mass Transit Railway (MTR) has eleven lines connecting major islands and centers of the megacity. It includes the Airport Express and the Disneyland Resort Line. Apart from the trains, you can comfortably go around the city on double-decker buses and trams. Ferries connect the main island to Hong Kong island. For a convenient transition from one transportation to another, avail Hong Kong’s Octopus Card. It’s a tap-card that you can use to pay trains, buses, convenience stores, and even vending machines. I purchased my Octopus Card from Klook and claim the card in a booth in Hong Kong International Airport on my arrival. Check Klook for cheaper options and preloaded Octopus Card.
Hong Kong International Airport to Kowloon, Hong Kong
The cheapest way to get out of the airport to the city is by hopping on a bus. Check your accommodation and ask the tourist desk before you head to the terminal. If your hotel is in Kowloon area, you can take an A21 bus for HKD33. The bus leaves every 10-20 minutes and travel time around an hour. If you arrived late, take the N21 bus.
If bus rides are not for you, another option is the Airport Express train and arrive in the city in just 24 minutes! Klook offers Airport Express train tickets to Tsing Yi, Kowloon, and Hong Kong, both single way and round trip.
How to Get to Macau from Hong Kong
I recommend getting a flight to Hong Kong and your return via Macau Airport. But if you got a return ticket via Hong Kong International Airport, don’t miss the chance of visiting Macau. Ferries to the ‘Vegas of China’ regularly leave the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal in Hong Kong island, near the Sheung Wan MTR station, take Exit D. There are two ferry terminals in Macau; Macau Outer Harbour and Macau Taipa. If you’ll be roaming around Macau’s city center, take ferries to Outer Harbour because Taipa Terminal is on the other island near the casinos, shopping centers, and airport.
Getting Around Macau
One of our discoveries, when we arrived in Macau Outer Harbour Terminal, is the free hotel and casino shuttle buses. At first, we were hesitant to try it because the drivers might ask for hotel reservations. But fellow Filipinos working in some hotels designated at the ferry terminals tipped to us that we can actually ride for free without reservations. Head out of the terminal and look for the shuttle buses.
Before your trip, we advise checking the hotels and casinos near your accommodation and target the attractions to explore. Macau has two islands and there are affiliated casinos and hotels for both islands and they offer free shuttles to the other side. They don’t check bookings or whatsoever, just hop-in and enjoy the air-con and free Wifi.
How to Get to Macau International Airport
The free shuttle services of hotels and casinos have limited reach within the entire country. But Macau has a seamless bus transportation network offering flat rates. When making your way to Macau International Airport, bus suggestions would be Bus #26 (MOP5), #36 (MOP2.8), AP1 (MOP4.2), MT1 (MOP4.2), and AP1X (MOP4.2).
Recommended Tourist Pass: 5-day iVenture Hong Kong and Macau
Before our Hong Kong and Macau trip, we tried checking if there’s a tourist pass that we could use for attractions and activities in these countries. We found out that iVenture Card offers all-inclusive passes loaded with top attractions on our destination. Upon checking the deal, the card for Hong Kong and Macau provides 13 experiences. The price for a 5-day pass is USD140. We were only able to redeem 9 out of 14 attractions. But checking the individual tickets accumulates a total of around USD250. Imagine the almost USD100 savings! In addition to the 13 attractions are 7 coupons for discounted dinings, data sim, and transfers. I’ll try to post a separate post on how we save a lot from using an iVenture Hong Kong and Macau pass.
Day 1 – Temples and Symphony of Lights
On my surprise, there are several interesting temples in Hong Kong that are not usually promoted alongside with the theme parks and shopping districts. Morning arrival in the city can provide you the rest of your first day to visit these temples. Consider sites like Ten Thousand Buddha Temple, Nan Lian Garden, Wong Tai Sin Temple, and Man Mo Temple.
During the late afternoon, take a walk along the Avenue of Stars and let the sculptures join you with your photos. Before sunset, proceed to the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade for the Symphony of Lights Show with the high-rise buildings on Causeway Bay dazzle and flicker with lights.
Day 2 – Sky100, Trick Eye Museum, and Peak Tram
Activate your iVenture Card on your second day and claim tickets for Sky100, a sky-high attraction that offers a 360-degree view of the city. The observation deck is on the 100th floor of the International Commerce Center in West Kowloon. It’s best to visit the skyscraper during sunset and wait for the whole city to come alive in the evening. But we visited around noon to make way for our planned late afternoon visit to Victoria Peak.
People usually watch the Symphony of Lights from Victoria Harbour but a different perspective of the light show can be availed at the Victoria Peak. A return ride on the Peak Tram, world’s steepest funicular railway, brings you to the rooftop of Hong Kong. The view is really captivating and sweeping if you visit the Sky Terrace 428, but with an additional fee. Trick Eye Museum, also included on the iVenture Pass, is located in Victoria Peak.
Day 3 – Ocean Park Hong Kong
We picked Ocean Park Hong Kong over Disneyland Resort because the first is included in the iVenture Card without any additional cost. The latter, however, requires an additional fee if availed via the tourist pass. I recommend purchasing a separate Disneyland Resort ticket from Klook than purchasing it on-top of the 5-day iVenture card to maximize one-day of the adventure card.
Ocean Park Hong Kong is loaded with thrilling rides and attractions making it a nice activity to try. The Ocean Park tour included in the iVenture card already includes a one-way shuttle service to the theme-park. Don’t miss rides like Hair Raiser, The Abyss, The Dragon, The Flash, and Cable Car and attractions such as Grand Aquarium, North and South Pole Encounters, Shark Mystique, and Sea Jelly Spectacular. End the day with the Symbio, a 360-degree water screen show at the park’s lagoon at 8 in the evening.
Day 4 – Ngong Ping Village, Tian Tian Buddha, Watertours Harbour Cruise
Probably the highlight of our Hong Kong – Macau trip is the Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride. The attraction was closed for several months and we were lucky on our visit because they just reopened the attraction. The ride itself was truly an amazing experience with the different landscape on the cable car’s route during the 25-minute ride. The ride connects Tung Chung and Ngong Ping Village where you can also marvel at the Big Buddha known as Tian Tan Buddha. In the village are other cultural sights like the Po Lin Monastery, Wisdom Path, and Bodhi Wishing Shrine.
Make your way back to the city around 4 PM before the pick-up time of the Watertours Victoria Harbour Cruise included on your iVenture Card. Cruise starts at Tsim Sha Tsui No.3 Public Pier near Hong Kong Clock Tower at 6:15 PM. Prepare to capture the astounding view of the city from the ship that will sail to the East Harbour, Wanchai, Causeway Bay, North Point, and Lei Yue Mun Village. An audio guide is played during the cruise to share information about the structures and landmarks along the way. Enjoy unlimited drinks while onboard the ship!
Day 5 – Casino Hopping, Broadway Macau, Macau Tower
Macau is infamous for gambling because of the dozens of casinos in this tiny country. It’s not the gambling that draws tourists to Macau but the impressive and grand hotel casinos and buildings. You can allot a day in your itinerary just hopping from one hotel to another. Of course don’t miss the likes of Grand Lisboa, Sands Macau, Venetian Macau, Wynn Macau, and Galaxy Macau.
In the afternoon, head to Broadway Theater in Broadway Hotel to avail and watch a spectacular live entertainment show. Viva La Broadway is part of the iVenture card and it showcases the latest and best Asian and international performances. It was actually my first time to see one and the laser light segment left me in awe. Before sunset, make your way to the iconic Macau Tower. The iVenture card again allows you a single-entry to the observation deck on the 58th level of the tower while the open deck on the 61st floor.
Day 6 – Macau Day Tour
I had a late night flight out of Macau International Airport so I was still able to spend the entire day on my last day in Macau. A full-day Macau tour is another inclusion on the iVenture card. It was tiring to have do-it-yourself city tour sometimes and it was nice to just hop-on and hop-off on your tour service while visiting interesting landmarks in the country. A lunch buffet was also included apart from the free sampling on some souvenir and bakery shops around Macau.
- In using this itinerary, if you want to experience Disneyland Resort on your trip, you can use the first day for the attraction just in case you wanted to purchase an iVenture Card. If not, you can just spend a day in Macau and use the other extra day for the Disneyland experience.
- Some passes and activities on the iVenture Card need to be claimed or picked-up at different offices. Consult the brand’s website for the pick-up locations. Most of the offices are located in Tsim Sha Tsui area.
- For food options, we tried some Michelin street-food like Block 18 Doggie’s Noodle, Kai Kai Desserts, Fatboy, and Mammy Pancake. Hong Kong is the country where I wasn’t guilty trying out food-chains like McDonalds and KFC. If your budget is a bit tight, consider Café de Coral for their hefty and shareable servings. They’re everywhere in the city.
- We were on a budget during our trip so we decided to avail shared accommodations in Yes Inn @ YMT and Yes Inn Causeway Bay. The hostel’s facilities and beds are comfortable for the rates offered. Their locations are also accessible from MTR stations making every destination reachable during the stay. For Macau, since we spend few nights, we stayed in Hou Kong Hotel, few hundred meters from Senado Square.
*No sample expenses for this itinerary because I forgot to note my expenses for our Macau stay. The following items are only for the tourist passes, transportation, and accommodations.
iVenture Card (purchased from Klook) PHP5,860 Octopus Card (purchased from Klook) PHP645 Yes Inn @ YMT (2 nights/pax) PHP1,816 Yes Inn @ Causeway Bay (2 nights/pax) PHP1,419 Hou Kong Hotel Macau (1 night/pax) PHP2,730 Hong Kong to Macau Ferry HKD200