Adding Value in the Alleyways of Hong Kong

Building trust with your client is a critical piece of being a travel consultant. I’m happy to say that most travel agents I meet with get that. Extra “free” services that we can add to a booking that doesn’t cost anything but delivers value to our clients goes a long way towards earning a client for life.

In this edition, I’m going to give you some ideas that you can pass to your clients if they have a free day in Hong Kong. If it’s a client’s first time in Hong Kong or if they haven’t seen the top spots like Lantau Island, Victoria Peak, Aberdeen Village, or Stanley Market, obviously those stops are a must. Check out any of Goway’s many stopover ideas for Hong Kong. Adding a stop in Asia’s World City (yep, that’s what they call Hong Kong) en route to another Asian destination helps break up the flight. But many clients, having seen Hong Kong once, think it’s not worth another stopover. They are left wondering what to do.

Oh, how misguided! But that’s where you come in.

Hong Kong is a vibrant and lively city with so many avenues and alleys to explore. And what’s best, you don’t necessarily need a guide in tow although Goway can easily arrange that too for those who prefer that extra level of knowledge or personalized guidance.

Graffiti vs Street Art

For the art lover, a leisurely walk through SOHOFAMA, Shing Wong Street, Peel Street, and Hollywood Road will uncover some quirky pieces of art. As you stroll from street to street, you’ll notice the city walls have been revitalized by up-and-coming artists. Technically graffiti, these wall paintings have become an aromatic spice sprinkled on top of the meal that is the city’s architecture, leaving it more delicious than before, so to speak. One of the newest hotspots to check out is PMQ, which stands for Police Married Quarters. Once home to married junior police officers, the building had remained empty since 2000 before it was renovated into Hong Kong Central’s newest artsy area. Galleries and shops entice passersby to hang out and enjoy their wares.

Next Up: Enjoy a Cheese Tea

Yep, that’s not a typo: I said Cheese Tea. I appreciate that it sounds funky, but it’s become the new “must-have” afternoon refreshment. I had to sample the local brew to find out what all the fuss was about. After waiting in line behind a queue of expectant locals, I finally got a sip of the bizarre concoction. And I have to say it is… interesting. Insider tip: don’t stir it and apparently drinking through a straw is considered cheating. If you come away with a cheesy, white mustache, you score extra points. I’d order it again, and hence it makes my list of things you must try.

 

Hong Kong Central’s Mid-Level Escalator has been dubbed the “World’s coolest commute.”

You don’t have to be six years old to enjoy a ride on the world’s longest escalator. Travelling about 800m in distance and 135m in elevation, the moving walkway transports locals from their homes in the upper residential areas of Hong Kong Island to the financial district which lines Victoria Harbour. CNN called it one of the world’s coolest commutes. Hop on or off on a whim or if one of the many bars, shops, or restaurants pique your interest. Special note though: unless you love the challenge, plan your visit accordingly. The walkway moves downward from 6am to 10am and then reverses for the rest of the day.

Top Things to Explore by Foot on the Kowloon Side:
Locals flock from all over the city for a treat of soft bean curd.

Hong Kong is known for its cuisine. Goway offers foodie tours for those who want to sample as many of the cities yummy specialties as possible, but even if you don’t join one of these tours, you can still try loads of goodies on your own. Go to Kung Wo Soy Bean Factory along Pei Ho Street for the best soybean dessert the city has to offer. Don’t expect red linen tablecloths though; this place is the proverbial hole in the wall. Owned by the same family for generations, you’ll have to queue to get a foldout chair and a piece of tabletop to rest your pudding.

Is it Coffee or is it Tea?

You’ll probably be thirsty during your visit and you may not be sure if you are in the mood for a coffee or a tea. This is no problem. Hong Kong has an answer for everything. It is also famous for Yuanyang Tea. Served hot or cold, Yuanyang is a mix of coffee beans and tea leaves but don’t think you can try this at home. Local cafes have perfected the blend and anything but sampling an authentic brew would be considered careless. And hey, while you are at it, order Hong Kong’s famous pineapple bun or an egg tart to round things off.

A mid-century housing project reconstructed into a museum depicts a “day in the life”
A Journey Back in Time

Not far around yet another corner, in the area of Sham Shui Po, visit Shek Kep Mei Estate. Get a glimpse into what life was like for many residents of Hong Kong back in the 1950s. Real estate has been and always will be a luxury in Hong Kong, but these housing projects brought the idea of cramped living spaces to a whole new level. Typically, two families of five or six crammed into a 28-square-metre room. One fateful Christmas night in 1953, an unattended kerosene lamp left over 53,000 people homeless in the city’s worst fire. Famous Hollywood director John Woo grew up in the shantytown of Shek Kep Mei. Today, the estate has been reconstructed as a museum where travellers can learn a little more about the city’s history.

Behind the Scenes in Mong Kok

By this point, you’ll most likely be hungry again so head on over to Dundas Street in Mong Kok where you’ll find Hong Kong’s notable egg waffles along with bubble tea, cupcakes, and Japanese soft serve ice cream in a variety of fruit flavours. At which point, you’ll probably appreciate the evening walk back to your hotel.

Did I forget to mention Dim Sum? Maybe we should save that for the next stopover in Hong Kong.

The main thing to note about Hong Kong is that it is a very accessible city. The metro is clean and easy to use, and it’s cost-effective. If your clients get lost, so what? Some of the best experiences in life come from going left when you should have gone right.

Share this post with your clients who are wondering if Hong Kong is worth a second visit. The answer is an emphatic, “Yes!”

And in the meantime, check out Goway’s full complement of Hong Kong packages at www.goway.com.

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