Hong Kong – Travel Tips

hongkong

Attractions

The Harbour
See the best skyline in the world light up and take a stroll down the Avenue of Stars. Nightly music and light shows at 8pm.

The Peak
A mountain to the South West of the Island and the biggest tourist attraction in Hong Kong with spectacular views of the city and bay. The Peak Tram is worth the visit alone, though be sure to skip the official viewing platform in favour of ‘Governor’s Walk’, which – after 10 minutes – will bring you to a magnificent clearing with the best view of the city. The Peak also has a branch of Madame Tussards and several restaurants.

Lamma Island
Peaceful and tranquil, a small chilled out outlying island (one of Hong Kong’s 248 islands) with no cars or multinationals – just small shops, restaurants, clean air and a beach.

The Big Buddha
The famous monastery on Lantau Island features the biggest bronze, seated outdoor Buddha in the world. Free to see, and great for an afternoon trip. Accessible by ferry, cable car or MTR – reserve at least half a day to get there, explore the complex and return.

Laos – Travel Tips

laos

  • See the Laos Wikitravel Page
  • Hardcore bargaining is not necessary in Laos and may cause embarrassment. Decent medical facilities are near non-existent in Laos, you’d need to go to Thailand.
  • The local currency ‘kip’ is used for cheaper items, ‘Thai Baht’ for more expensive things and US dollars are the top tier currency. It’s best to travel with a stash of all three, but try and support the local currency, you’d be doing a favour to the economy.
  • Vang Vieng – Backpacker slum, all your guidebook says about it is true, it’s a Westerner’s party town and little else, go ‘inner-tubing’ on the river.
  • Luang Prabang – Gorgeous place, adventure sports available, see the waterfalls and beautiful temples – some of the best tourist tat for sale here at great prices. Do your shopping here; they have some lovely handmade things on sale.
  • Vientiane – Great food, a sleepy riverside capital, check out the museums and temples, perhaps hire a scooter.
  • Savannakhet – Last stop before Vietnam, a very chilled out riverside town with amazing crumbling French colonial architecture. See the Dinosaur Museum and temples.

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Vietnam – Travel Tips

vietnam

  • See the Vietnam Wikitravel page
  • To cross the roads in Vietnam, slowly walk into the traffic allowing it to flow around you – if you move too fast or hesitate, it’ll confuse the drivers. I hired a scooter for 75,000 Vietnam Dong per day, but you may not share my death wish.
  • The quickest overland route between Hanoi in the north, and Ho Chi Minh City in the south, is by train and it takes over 17 hours. Most tourists take the bus and stop along the way. If you’ve only a couple of weeks, consider sticking to either the north or south. Hanoi is a good base for visiting the attractions up north, and is generally preferred to the south.

Cambodia – Travel Tips

cambodia

  • See the Cambodia Wikitravel page
  • Siem Reap/Angkor – Home to one of the wonders of the world, Angkor Wat. Find a hostel around Bar Street. The Landmine Museum is a must-see. And it may not be in your guidebook, but research seeing the temples by electric bike – it’s the best way. They’re available about 100 metres before the main entrance. Save your money and go for the Angkor day-pass – guidebooks suggest this is a crime, cramming into one day what should take 3. However, I and many fellow travellers found that 2 days was too much and 1 full day would’ve been fine – particularly as 90% of the very-expensive ticket price goes to a Vietnamese oil company, rather than to conservation. Also, the people who live amongst the temples do not see any of this money, so support them (however much they hassle you)!
  • Phnom Penh – Check out the last of the Cambodian trains and go on the one remaining (if it’s running) – it’s a unique experience. Also, see the S-21 Torture Museum and the Killing Fields – prepare to be horrified. Avoid any ‘shooting ranges’ and stay at a cheap hostel on the riverside.

Hong Kong – HK to Vietnam Overland

hongkong

It’s a great adventure and according my calculations, you’ll save 0.84 acres of forest by not flying! There are three main legs of the journey which should take around 30 hours
1) Hong Kong to Guangzhou
2) Guangzhou to Nanning
3) Nanning to Hanoi

You don’t need to book anything, but try to arrive at the Guangzhou and Nanning at least two hours before departure. Remember that travel during New Year or Golden Week is likely to be impossible considering.

Print some currency converters from oanda.com

1) Hong Kong to Guangzhou

  • Take the special Guangzhou train from Hong Hom KCR station (next to Tsim Sha Tsui). The immigration process can take over an hour. Ensure you have your HK ID on hand.
  • There are cash points on the China side of the station.

2) Guangzhou to Nanning

Below are the schedules at the time of writing…

  • Leave Guangzhou 7:05, Arrive Nanning 18:54
  • Leave Guangzhou 14:30, Arrive Nanning 1:45
  • Leave Guangzhou 16:02 Arrive Nanning 5:50
  • The latter is the one to aim for – there will be a counter catering to ‘foreign tourists’.