Hong Kong is the heart of international travel in Asia. It is cheap and easy to get to from most places and is one of the most dense and vertical cities in the world. Its neighbor to the south is Macau, the Las Vegas of Asia! Hong Kong and Macau are China’s two “special administrative regions,” which basically means that they operate as their own countries (they have their own currencies and governments and you need to show your passport to get in), even though they are very small in size and are technically part of China.
We flew into Hong Kong for a short 3-day trip and took a ferry to Macau on the first day (about an hour trip each way). Macau truly is an Asian Vegas, and there is a lot to see and do. Almost every resort offers a free shuttle to and from the ferry terminal, so it’s easy to get around. There are two main casino areas, one on the northern peninsula of Macau and one on the southern Cotai Island. There are a few direct Vegas implants, MGM and Wynn (on the northern peninsula) and The Venetian (on Cotai Island), as well as many other Vegas-like casino resorts. The only free drinks you can expect while gambling are coffee and tea (and only at a few casinos), so it’s not quite the Vegas experience, but it was a great Asian substitute nonetheless! Macau was a Portuguese colony, so it has European influences and there are lots of cultural and historical sights that we didn’t have time to see.
Hong Kong Disneyland was our main destination for the trip, and it is really easy to get to once you get to the MTR since it has its own line. Our hotel was not very close to an MTR station, and if I would have known that, I would have chosen another because traffic in Hong Kong makes driving anywhere take about a million years. There are tons of public buses weaving in and out of the horrendous traffic throughout the city, though, so it’s pretty easy (albeit slow) to find a bus that can get you where you need to go. Hong Kong Disneyland is much smaller than Disneyland in California or Magic Kingdom in Disneyworld, but the size makes it really easy to navigate and walk all around the park in a short time. The lines were actually pretty reasonable, especially at the very beginning and very end of the day and during lunch time. Food and souvenirs are outrageously priced – a terrible combination of high-priced Disney and high-priced Hong Kong. The admission price was lower than Disney parks in the States, though – probably because of the smaller size. Space Mountain was closed for both days of our 2-day tickets, which was a big bummer! But overall, we had a lot of fun! Disneyland is Disneyland, no matter where in the world you are.
Because we spent most of the weekend in Macau and at Disneyland, we didn’t experience a whole lot of the city of Hong Kong (other than riding around it in buses, trains, and taxis), but we couldn’t leave without seeing the lights of the skyline at night. So, after our first day at Disneyland, we hopped the MTR to the Avenue of Stars, which is a promenade along the southern coast of the Kowloon City region of Hong Kong (the northern peninsula) that overlooks the Hong Kong island skyline across the river. It truly is the world’s “most vertical city.” The size and density of skyscrapers is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and definitely made for a great view!
Three days was enough to pack in the sights at the top of our priority list, but I would definitely recommend a longer trip for anyone that has the time. There is a lot to see and do in both Hong Kong and Macau, and they are must-see Asian destinations!