Hong Kong – The Traveling Dutchman

Hong Kong – The Traveling Dutchman

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In Hong Kong Asian and Western culture clash, creating a unique mix. After spending two months in this city this year, I consider Hong Kong definitely one of my favorite cities in the world.

You would think with millions of people stacked on a little island, getting around could be difficult. Surprisingly, it’s not. The city center is quite walkable and Hong Kong has one of the most efficient and affordable public transport systems in the world. In addition, taxis can be found everywhere.

Getting around by foot

Hong Kong is built on a hill. That’s bad news if walking is your preferred means of getting around. But the Hongkongese have come up with a very creative solution: they’ve built a series of escalators, cutting right through the center of town. They are raised, so you don’t have any crossings. And, you’re shielded from the rain, which is great coz it does rain a lot in Hong Kong.

Most of the big office buildings in Hong Kong are connected by walkways and skyways. Around Central Hong Kong you can almost get everywhere without even touching street level.

The subway system (MTR)

The MTR is the Hong Kong underground. It’s network is extensive, reaching all the way to mainland China. It’s an easy and cheap way to get around. You can cross Hong Kong Island for HK$7 ($1). A trip to Lok Ma Chau (border with China) from downtown Hong Kong will set you back around HK$50 ($8). A pfd with an overview of all the MTR stops and different fares can be downloaded here.

Taking the tram

Hong Kong is the only city in the world that has double decker trams. The trams serve most parts of Hong Kong island. They are slower than the MTR, but it’s a nice way to get around if you want to see some of the city. It’s very cheap, at HK$2.3 ($0.40) per ride (no matter how far you go). You just hop on the tram and pay when you get off. For HK$200 ($26) you can use the tram a full month. See the website of the Hong Kong Tramways for more information.


Hong Kong has an extensive bus system. It’s more complicated than the MTR or tram system because there are several private bus companies operating hundreds of different routes. Busses are very cheap but can get quite crowded and as opposed to the tram and MTR you can get stuck in traffic jams.


It’s easy to find a taxi in Hong Kong and they are quite reliable. Fares start at HK$20 ($2.50) for the first two kilometers after which HK$7.5 is added for every extra kilometer. This basically means that you can get around the central areas for $2.50 and to most places on the island for less than HK$100 ($13).

Extras are charged for using the tunnels and luggage. You can flag a cab down or find one at a taxi stand. Sometimes the stands are exclusively for certain destinations. For example, in Kowloon you often find a separate line-up of taxis to go to Hong Kong island and one for Kowloon side. See the website of the Transport Department for more information about taxi services.

The Airport Express

The airport express is the best way to get from the airport to Hong Kong central. It’s convenient, fast and affordable. It costs HK$100 ($13) and takes about 40 minutes. Trains run every 10 minutes. A nice added bonus is that if you buy a ticket from central to the airport, you can use the check-in service at Hong Kong station.

The Star Ferry

To travel from Hong Kong island to Kowloon you can take the Star Ferry. It’s only HK$2.5 ($0.40) and it’s a better option than the taxis as you’ll have to pay extra for using one of the tunnels. The view of the Hong Kong skyline is a nice added bonus, especially at night. Ferries run every 10 to 15 minutes.

The Octopus card

If you are planning on using public transport in Hong Kong, make sure you get an Octopus Card. This card can be used in all public transport and it’s actually cheaper than paying cash. In addition, you can use it to pay at convenience stores and many other places. In fact, even if you’re not going to use public transport, it’s still worth getting one just for that reason.

6 August 2013 Jasper

Hong Kong is known for it’s amazing mix of international cuisine. I’ve spent two months in this vibrant city and I have had some of the best food in my life here.

Pretty much every cuisine is represented in the city and there is an excellent choice for every taste and cuisine. Creating this list of top five picks wasn’t easy. That’s why I’m very confident that you’ll enjoy every single one of my picks!

1. Yardbird: Trendy Japanese Yakatori

Japanese Yakatori at it’s best. This place doesn’t take reservations; they don’t need to, it’s always full anyway. And for good reasons. Their butter tender chicken thighs will melt in your mouth.

A must order dish is the KFC: Korean Friend Cauliflower. Make sure you make this your final dish as it has a very dominant taste. They also have a great selection of beers and sake’s. The Hitachino Nest Weizen is my favorite!

2. Le Souk: Casual Traditional Moroccan

In the heart of Soho along the escalator lies a little piece of Morocco. The dimmed lights and tinkling music make for a nice romantic atmosphere. Great place to treat your better half to some great food.

Start off with the chicken hummus and get either the lamb or their signature dish, Cous Cous Le Souk. The portions are quite big, so if you’re not big eaters, I suggest order the hummus and one main to share, it should be enough for two!

3. Brickhouse: Bohemian Chique Mexican

Tugged away in a small alley off the main bar street in LKF, this place is a little hard to find but well worth the search. The unfinished looking decor, the graffiti paintings and location gives the place a very unique, homey feel.

Start off with the chips, they come with four tasty sauces. Continue with the Witches Brew, Mixed Tacos and Mexican Street Corn. The latter is coated with lime, chili and cheese. A good selection of cocktails is available,

4. La’Taste: Bomb Vietnamese for great value

A sister restaurant of the famous award winning Nha Trang, this place serves the same amazing Vietnamese food but without having to wait in line. This makes La’Taste an authentic, relaxed place that stands out in terms of value for money.

An obvious choice is the Pho, the most famous Vietnamese dish. Other good choices are Mango Beef, Shrimp Eggplant and Satay Chicken. Goes down well with an ice cold beer!

5. Tapeo: Basque quality in central HK

Excellent Spanish tapas for a very reasonable price. In my opinion, this place has the best lunch deal in town: a bowl of Gazpacho to start, two tapas your choice and Churros for dessert. All that for HKD 100.

My favorites are the Grilled Chickem and the Spinach Chorizo Tortilla. If you have a big appetite, add the Pan con Tomate or the Ham Croquettes.

14 June 2013 Jasper

When traveling to China, a visa is always required. The easiest option is to apply for a visa in your home country before you leave. But there is an alternative available: you can get your China visa in Hong Kong. This is very handy when you make the decision to visit China while already traveling abroad.

Getting a visa for China is actually very easy in Hong Kong. There are two ways to get your visa: apply yourself at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or have a visa service agent do if for you.

Option 1 : Do it yourself

Go to the “Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.” This is the cheapest option, but expect to wait in line for a while. You’ll have to fill in two forms (A and B) and bring a colored passport photo.


7th Floor, Lower Block, China Resources Building
No.26, Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong SAR

Easiest way to get there is to take the MTR to Wanchai station or take a cab. All cab drivers know this place so if you say “26 Harbour Road China Visa” they will understand.

Office Hours

Monday to Friday (except Hong Kong public holidays,)



Three Day Service

Single Entry Visa HK$150 (USD19)
Double Entry Visa HK$220 (USD28)

Extra Charges

Two Day Service HK$150 (USD19)
24hr Service HK$250 (USD32)

See their website for more info.

Option 2 : Use a visa service agent

You can also apply at one of the many visa agents. Advantages are less waiting in line and you don’t have to fill in the forms yourself. Drop off your passport and pick it up when it’s done. Of course, it’s more expensive.

The one that I found very reliable and fast is Sunrise International Travel.


Room 4008, 40th Floor, China Resources Building No. 26 Harbour Road, Wanchai, H.K. TEL:(852) 2890 9698

FAX:(852) 2895 3892

You need to enter the white building along the main road, just around the corner from the entrance to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Go up the escalator and take the elevator to the 40th floor. Turn right twice to find the office on your left.

8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Monday-Friday)
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Saturday)

Single Entry Visa HK$350 (USD45)
Double Entry Visa HK$450 (USD58)

24 h Service: HKD$300
Same day Service: HKD$900

The only thing you need to bring is a passport. Passport photo can be taken on the spot for a small fee.

China uses a “tit for tat” policy for pricing visas. This means they charge the same as what the applicant’s country charges for a Chinese national. Expect to pay more than the standard rate if you are from one of the following countries:

1. U.S.A. 2. Brazil 3. United Kingdom 4. Belarus 5. Panama 6. Ukraine 7. Uzbekistan 8. Kazakhstan 9. Armenia 10. Iran 11. Ecuador 12. Angola 13. Ethiopia14. Congo 15. Gabon 16. Cameroon 17.Cote D’Ivoire 18.Macedonia 19.Bolivia 20.Venezuela 21.Chile

China changes their visa policy quite frequently! Although I will try to keep the information updated, the best way to make sure the information is correct is to call the respective offices.

Some parts of China (the so called Special Economic Zones) can be visited by visa on arrival. This is true for Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hainan and Shanghai. Conditions apply and policies can change so make sure to check before you arrive. See for more information the China Travel Guide


Hong Kong is well known for its unlimited variety of foods. From little roadside stalls to high end restaurants and everything in between, Hong Kong has it all. Its food is heavily influenced by Cantonese cuisine as well as other regions of China, Japan, and South East Asia. Due to its past as a British colony, Hong Kong also hosts a wide variety of international restaurants as well.

Over the next two months, I will have 15 hand picked dinners.  Each one will be documented in this post. While it will be impossible to sample every available cuisine, I will do my best to get a good representation.

Day 1: Japanese Bean Sprout Ramen

Dish……….: Japanese Bean Sprout Ramen Price……….: HKD 85 ($11) Cuisine……: Japanese Restaurant: Zabon Ramen Ambiance..: Classic Ramen Shop Location….: 39 Hollywood Road

More info…: Zabon Ramen on Foursquare

This famous Japanese noodle dish originated in China. There are many variations of this dish, but the one I ordered consisted of Chinese-style wheat noodles, a pork fillet, Japanese bean sprouts, egg, spring union, and fried onion served in a meat broth. It was very tasty and left me feeling satisfied but not stuffed.  The broth was salty with a hing of sweetness, and the meat was tender and well seasoned.  It combines well with a cold Kirin beer.

Day 2: Moroccan Lamb Stew

Dish……….: Moroccan Lamb Stew Price……….: HKD 150 ($19) Cuisine……: Moroccan Restaurant: Le Souk Ambiance..: Middle Eastern Location….: 4 Staunton Street

More info…: Le Souk on Foursquare

My favorite meat is lamb and they have a lot of that at Le Souk. There were an abundance of tantalizing options on the menu, but after a few minutes of quiet dliberation, I ended up going for the lamb stew.  It was absolutely yummie! Tender pieces of lamb mixed with potato, carrot, olives, dried abricots, and dates topped with almonds in a tangy sauce. Definitely the best Moroccan food I’ve ever had. My friend ordered their signature dish, Cous Cous Le Zouk, which looked amazing as well… I’ll have to go back and try that one soon :).

Day 3: Hotpot

Dish……….: Hot Pot Price……….: HKD 200 ($25) Cuisine……: Chinese Restaurant: Spring Trinity Ambiance..: Traditional Chinese Location….: Shop 4, G/F, Gain Yu Building, 96-110 Wharf Road

More info…: Spring Trinity on Openrice

A must-eat when visiting China, the traditional Hot Pot has a tradition of over 1,000 years. A simmering pot with a stock is placed in the middle of the table and is heated throughout the dinner. A range of ingredients can be added to the pot, including chicken, thinly sliced meat, vegetables, mushrooms, seafood and noodles. Just order what you like and throw it in the pot! As we opted for a spicy stock, I had to pause a few times during dinner to let my mouth cool down as it felt it was on fire. Food was good though, very fresh. All in all very good value for money as the price included several beers.

Day 4: Vietnamese Beef Mango

Dish……….: Vietnamese Beef Mango Price……….: HKD 108 ($14) Cuisine……: Vietnamese Restaurant: La’Taste Ambiance..: Trendy Location….: 1/F, 34-38 Stanley Street, Central

More info…: La’Taste on Openrice

La’Taste is the sister restaurant of the better known and award winning restaurant Nha Trang. The food equally good, but you don’t have to wait in line at La’Taste. I opted for the Beef Mango: beef cubes with mango, pineapple red wine sauce topped off with a few mint leaves. I had never tried this dish before and I was quite content with my choice! Very tasty, just like all the other dishes I’ve tried at this place. Recommended!

Day 5: Italian Gnocchetti

Dish……….: Italian Gnocchetti Price……….: HKD 190 ($23) Cuisine……: Italian Restaurant: La Piola Ambiance..: Classic Location….: G/F + 1/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central

More info…: La Piola

The restaurant only uses authentic Italian products, flown in from Italy by air. It was recommended to me by an Italian person as “the best Italian restaurant in town.” I choose a pasta dish that I wasn’t familiar with, but certainly sounded delicious: “Sardinian style gnocchetti pasta with spicy luganica sausage ragu.” It definitely tasted as good as it sounds. At HKD 190 it’s a bit pricey for the amount you get though.

Day 6: Nepalese Duck

Dish……….: Nepalese Duck Price……….: HKD 88 ($11) Cuisine……: Nepalese Restaurant: Nepal Restaurant Ambiance..: Cozy Location….: G/F, 14 Staunton Street, Central

More info…: Nepalese Restaurant

This was the first occasion I ever tried Nepalese food. The dish I had was called “Haas-Ko Chhoila”, which translates to “Warm fillet of barbecued Duck flambé with Fenugreek Seeds.” The dish was medium spicy and came with unions and coriander leaves on top. I really enjoyed this dish and at HKD 88 it’s reasonably priced, giving the location of the restaurant in the heart of Soho. Will come back to try the other dishes for sure!

5 April 2013 Jasper