Dinner. Food. Hong Kong is famous for good food. Why couldn’t I find somewhere to eat?!
This part of my story does not have a positive start. Usually I plan things. Like planning the best places to find food. Tsim Sha Tsui, where my hotel was, and where the Big Bus Night Tour started, is not a good place for cheap but tasty eating. Shops, yes. Expensive restaurants, yes. Small local restaurants and street food, no.
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I had just over an hour to find some food, after arriving by ferry back in Kowloon. I walked all over Tsim Sha Tsui and was very disappointed. Nothing. In the end I bought a sandwich and a drink from a convenience store and ate while waiting for the Night Tour bus to arrive. This is important information about TST – there is not much food. To eat well you need to go to Mong Kok, at the other end of Nathan Road. I did not find this out until I was half way through the Night Tour.
Tour Number Two – The Night Tour
Start time: 7 pm every evening
Finish time: 8 pm
Like all of the Big Bus Tours, you can get off the bus, but this tour only runs once every night. Most people just stay on the bus and enjoy the night scene. If you get off at any stage, you will have to find your own way back to your accommodation, as there is only one bus. The tour features five main areas of interest:
- ‘Elements’ Photo Stop
The tour bus stops for two or three minutes to allow those on the tour to take photos of the harbour. They advertise it as the best place to get a clear, unblocked view. I disagree. The bus was quite full on the night I took the tour and I couldn’t get a clear shot because everyone else was standing in front of me. I asked the man sitting next to me three times to move over a little. He’d let me take one photo before pushing back in again and taking 5-6 shots. I’m too polite, I think…
- Nathan Road
This is one of the longest roads in Kowloon and certainly the most famous. It’s worth driving down at night just for the neon street lights, the people watching and the atmosphere. Uninteresting by day, neon lights make this a must see when visiting Kowloon.
- Ladies Market
This market is open during the day and at night, unlike some of the other markets which are strictly either day or night markets only. Actually the market isn’t just for women – there are plenty of electronic good for sale, as well as women’s clothing, fake branded hand bags and accessories of all kinds. Men shouldn’t be afraid to come here! This is one of the places on the tour where you can get off if you want to. If you don’t want to go shopping this area is also famous for food – there are plenty of street cafes and cheaper restaurants, mostly Chinese food, but with other ethnic foods as well (Vietnamese, Thai and Indian being the most common).
- Temple Street Night Market
As the name suggests, this market is only open at night. It features all the usual things that you can expect to find at a tourist market, from t-shirts and cigarette lighters, to more expensive local goods like Chinese Jade jewellery. This would be a better choice for a couple to visit than Ladies Market. Like Ladies Market, the options for food are much better around this market than they are in Tsim Sha Tsui. In particular, there are many seafood restaurants.
- Symphony of Lights
The last stop on the Night Tour is also the highlight. In fact I rate it as one of the top things that anyone visiting Hong Kong should see. Passengers on the bus get off on the Avenue of Stars (like Hollywood Boulevard, but with Asian stars), to watch the show. The night view of Hong Kong harbour is thought to be the best in the world and the Symphony of Lights was created to emphasise this and make the view extra special. Every night at 8 pm, music starts playing through public loudspeakers and across the harbour, the lights on many of Hong Kong’s famous tall buildings turn on and flash in time to the music. This lasts for about ten minutes, finishing with a laser light show from the tops of the tallest buildings. It’s very well done.
Feeling very satisfied with my first full day in Hong Kong, I headed back to my hotel to rest in preparation for day two!