unwinding & leisure
It’s your first trip to Hong Kong and you are very excited about it! You are thinking what you should be preparing for the trip. If you’re a mom like me, for sure you are a detail-oriented planner. If you are single, well you still need to know how to prepare for your first Hong Kong trip. I bet you are researching this topic now because you would like to be fully prepare for this trip, am I right? Then you don’t have to search more because I will help you how to do it right and with less hassle, with my seven important tips for your first Hong Kong trip, and with my own experience and preparations. Anyway, this is all we wanted – to make our vacation a relaxing one – so we have to equip ourselves with helpful information and tips that we really need to make this trip a memorable one.
MY OWN PREPARATIONS
Last year of December my mother like to travel to Hong Kong with us, her children and grandchildren, where airfare, accommodation and Disneyland tickets were all paid by hers! That’s great news for us! As her responsible daughter, and because this is our first trip abroad, I research about it and concluded that I needed to plan it ahead on my own to get the best value of our money and our time that we will be spending there. I’m saying this because a lot of people are giving this preparations and this great responsibility to travel agencies out there. But for me, after weighing things out I believe that do-it-yourself preparations are much more amenable and cost-effective than having a scheduled day-to-day itinerary with travel agencies. I will tackle this more in my future articles.
Now let’s talk about the seven important tips you need to prepare for your first Hong Kong trip.
1. YOU NEED TO BOOK AHEAD YOUR AIRFARE TICKETS
This is the first important thing you need to do for your first Hong Kong trip – booking ahead of time your airfare tickets. The earlier you do this, the better. I searched our airfare three months before our desired date. The benefit? It’s cheaper than late bookings. A month’s booking is still late for me, you missed many low airfare deals if you will wait for that longer before doing something.
I searched every airfare prices in several airfare intermediaries like Trip Advisor, Expedia, and others but I’m still not convinced. So I contacted several travel agencies that I saw on Facebook and ask their airfare promo tickets, then I go for the lowest one that has been given by Metro Wanderer Travel Agency. They proved their legitimacy since we were able to take our flights and completed our journey. When transacting with travel agencies online you need to read its reviews, try to call their given contact numbers and follow your guts because you will have to pay the whole amount by depositing it to their company’s bank account. Always do your homework and double check everything, even if it means you repeatedly message or call them. Their way of handling their customer’s concerns shows their true colors and with that it will give you some comfort knowing that you chose the right travel agency.
Now that you have your airplane tickets let’s go to the second important tip you need to know for you first time Hong Kong trip.
2. YOU NEED TO BOOK AHEAD YOUR ACCOMMODATIONS
My second tip for your Hong Kong’s first trip is to book your accommodations. Once you have your flight dates for your Hong Kong trip, you can now search for your family’s accommodation. Where would you like to stay? Do you prefer premium hotels or in affordable inns? There are some factors to consider first before you choose your accommodation. These are:
- Do you have kids with you? – Since we have three kids in our group I chose a hotel, because as what I searched, inns in Hong Kong are very small and the cleanliness is questionable. I can’t just choose randomly, I need to make sure that somehow, our accommodation is safe, clean and kid-friendly.
- The distance of the accommodation versus the tourist spots – some of the hotels are far from Hong Kong’s central district or the main town, where most of the tourist spots are located. Though Hong Kong has a marvelous MTR system it would still take time, so you better balance it.
- Do you like thrifty accommodation or money is not an issue for you? – Plain and simple.
With these pointers you will know more or less the best option for you. And where will you find great accommodation deals? I suggest you check out Trip Advisor’s list. For me, they have the best deals from the different intermediaries like Agoda and Expedia, with matching user reviews so you will never have to choose the lesser ones. Trip Advisor is a really helpful app for travelers. I chose mine from them, and it’s Silka Tsuen Wan Hotel, my best choice for my family. You will read my review on it in my next articles.
So after you got your accommodations then what’s next?
3. YOU NEED TO PRE-BOOK YOUR ITINERARIES
The third tip is to pre-book your itineraries or activities for your first Hong Kong tour. I’m not saying you have to pre-book all of your day-to-day activities in Hong Kong. Just pre-purchasing some is enough because, like airfare costs, it is much cheaper if you book your activities ahead of time. I pre-booked our Disneyland tour on Klook and I never regret it. It was the best deal! What I regret is it’s the only activity that I pre-booked. Because I thought I could book more when we will be in Hong Kong. But you cannot. You cannot book activities on Klook on the same day that you will use it. Instead, you can pre-book your activities two or three weeks before the date of the activity. So you really need to plan ahead of time. You purchased deals earlier for your future itineraries to save money and to save your time, because when you travel you want to make the most out of it, right? So the next time we will visit Hong Kong I will surely pre-booked the right amount of activities for my family.
4. YOU NEED TO HAVE A HANDY WI-FI IN HONG KONG
My fourth tip for your Hong Kong first tour is to rent a portable Wi-Fi. Yes, you need internet connection when travelling first time in Hong Kong, because literally, you will roam there without knowing where to go, can you do that? You need a map to know where will you go first. To know where and what station of MTR you will go to get to your destination. You have to know the nearest route to get to the Ladies Market. And you will accomplish all of this without asking someone out there if you have a portable Wi-Fi! You will understand this when you get there. What’s cooler is there’s an application called CityMapper where you will know where in Hong Kong exactly you are. It will guide you to your chosen destination by giving you your next steps to take, as in literally steps I can say, to avoid confusion. You’re in a foreign land but don’t fret because these tools will help you to find your chosen spots.
5. YOU NEED TO PREPARE YOUR SWEATERS
My fifth tip for your first Hong Kong getaway is to bring the right clothes for Hong Kong’s cold weather. Hong Kong has a cool air for the whole day and colder in the evening. The temperature is around 17 to 21 degrees Celsius all throughout the day. You don’t like your kids or you to get chilled. You can bring sweaters or layers for you and some jackets for your kids. I personally bring long sleeves for my outfit because I don’t want to bring another item as we roam Hong Kong. I bought light-textured and cottoned-fabric long sleeves for me. Hubby and I also bought new pairs of rubber shoes for us and for our kids because we know that long walks and long strolling are awaiting for us in Hong Kong, especially in Disneyland, so we need to be prepare for that.
6. YOU NEED TO EXCHANGE YOUR MONEY TO HONG KONG DOLLARS
My sixth tip for your Hong Kong trip is to exchange your money to Hong Kong Dollars a week before the trip. Of course, you need to do this beforehand, exchange your local cash to Hong Kong Dollars before taking your trip, though you can do this upon landing in Hong Kong International Airport. But it is still wiser to go to your local money changer and have your money exchange there, to save time and energy. When you’re in Hong Kong already you will be buying your food and everything in Hong Kong Dollars only, so better prepare your pocket money beforehand. So how much will you have to bring? I will tackle it in another article, so stay tuned.
7. YOU NEED TO HAVE AN OCTOPUS CARD
My seventh and final tip is to buy an Octopus Card upon arriving in Hong Kong. What is an Octopus Card? It is Hong Kong’s stored value card where one can use for at least everything when travelling in Hong Kong. Whether you are riding an MTR or a bus or cruising in a ferry, just as a swipe your Octopus Card and you already paid. You can also use this in buying foods in supermarkets or dining in restaurants. Very convenient right? And advanced! You can buy one in MTR Stations in Hong Kong, I bought mine in 7-11 Convenient Store. A child ages 3 and up needs to buy his own card for his own fare.
Upon buying Octopus Card you will also have to buy credits to be loaded in the card. For every transaction you made it will be deducted to your money credits. You can refund your card credits or you can still use its balance for your next Hong Kong escapade.
So there you have it, my seven cents of advice or tips to you if you ever plan to travel in Hong Kong for the first time. There are many things to prepare for, but these are very specific tips that you really need to know. This list can be a time-saver and a life-saver for you and for everyone who wants to have a stress-free Hong Kong trip. What other things do you need to know about Hong Kong? Comment it down and let me help you! – Lai
We all love travelling, who doesn’t?
For most of us travelling is an exciting event, full of new surprises and fresh sceneries to look forward to. It makes our heart yearning in anticipation of what will happen next and makes our mind imagining what experiences we could have on the trip. We love it so much to the point that we make sure we are really prepared for it.
When I and my husband were still newly-wedded couples ten years ago, a spur-of-the-moment trip is great and desirable but now that we have two kids I don’t know if unplanned excursions are still amenable or acceptable! Haha! How can it be? Having your own children when travelling is not easy, most especially if it’s a long road trip.
Here in the Philippines there are a lot of beautiful places where you could visit just travelling by land. The longest travel that our family experience is around eight hours. The itinerary – we were going to Baguio, the Summer Capital of the Philippine. It’s in the Mountain Province so basically it’s lush greenery and slopes. Very beautiful and chilly place. The eight hours of travel time has a catch. We stop over and stay in a hotel in Pangasinan, a four-hour drive, so we were able to rest and travel again on the next day. We completed the eight-hour journey non-stop when going home. I will share with you our whole Baguio story on my future articles.
So my family made the long road marathon, right? And I can say we always made it. Because we love to travel, though we have a toddler and a kid there’s nothing can stop us from doing it! Of course except only when kids are sick. For you to prevent these undesirable circumstances and have great travelling memories I will share my own Do’s and Don’ts while having long road trips with your little kids.
1. Bring Your Kids To Their Pediatrician A Week Before The Trip
This is an SOP for us as parents. Before going anywhere else have your children visit first their doctor and check their health stats. Ask their pedia if they need a vaccine for flu or other viral illnesses for them to be protected when going vacation. If you’re your kids have coughs and colds this is the right time to get medications and you still have time to treat it.
2. Do Prepare Your Kid’s Essential
Since you have kids now this is the best time to be more systematic and be more organize (somehow hehe..) As their mom and their parent you have the responsibility to prepare for their needs, you don’t want to neglect these things and just hurriedly pack and go with your family. Believe me, it will ruin your vacation and could give you more than just a headache. Of course, we want to enjoy this kind of rare moments but you can’t fully enjoy it if you cannot do some preparation and assistance for your kid’s needs.
Is this true Lai? You may say.
Of course, this is true! How can you be happy on your vacation if you didn’t do your mommy duties first by preparing your kid’s things? Your ‘mom motto’ should be “Kid’s First Before Yourself” and not “Me First Before Kids”- always think this way in everything you do for you to have a total enjoyment and happiness on your planned trip. Although we want to ‘escape’ somehow in our daily mom routines, yes I know the feeling, but you can’t overlook this part just for your own convenience.
LAI IS A METICULOUS PLANNER
In preparing things for our family travels I can say that I am a completely meticulous planner and a thorough organizer. I got these skills from my late father and I am proud of it. He taught me to prepare things ahead of time and anticipate future events by packing enough clothes and needed accessories when vacationing. Until now that I have my own family I do this. So for my kids, these are the things that I prepare for them if we will have a two-night vacation:
What can you say on my kid’s essential list? Is it long? Hahah! I told you so! Usually I only use one big bag for my own clothes and my kid’s stuff but as time goes by and kids grow up so fast I think one bag will not be enough! So are we done? There’s more!
3. Do Pack Your Family’s Needs A Night Before The Big Date
After you already complete your kid’s things you will now focus on your family’s need on the general view. These are but not limited to:
4. Do Make Sure The Car Is In 100% Condition
To succeed in long drive trips a well-conditioned car is a must. You don’t want to have any disturbance or lag because the car’s engine is overheated. No, you don’t want to have that kind of problems when travelling with your kids. Remember when something is wrong on your car you have to shut down its aircon thus making the kid’s irritated and more difficult to manage. So tell to your husband to start conditioning your car a week before the trip.
1.Don’t Stress Yourself Too Much
I know you, mom, with your hands (and shoulders) full you feel stress and agitated for all of the things that you should do and prepare. It’s natural but as I say on my blog’s second article you can control your emotions. You can and you have to. So much stress will bring you no good. You only get stressed on packing when you didn’t prepare ahead of time and you hurriedly do things the night before the travel or worst you are just packing on the same day! Wooh! It’s all in your hands mom I will leave it all to you.
2. Don’t Overdo It!
I know I said you should prepare but I didn’t say you overdo it and put everything you see in your house. There is a balance for everything. You can’t carry unnecessary items like a ceramic mug or more clothes inside your baggage since it will just put more weight on your car. Be meticulous but not in an exaggerated way. You want to leave your house for a day or two so don’t make it look like you didn’t leave at all.
3.Don’t Be Too Negative
Your outlook will have a great impact on the outcome of your family’s road trip. If from the start you think your kids won’t be cooperative or will not behave the way you want them to then you already dictate the ending scenario even before it happens. Just go with the flow and do your part to make it will be truly memorable to all of you. Children are children, they will do things that will make you frown, but when they see new places like long highways, green pastures or animals taking shelter under trees, you will see amazement and joy from their eyes you would whisper to yourself that “I’m glad they’re with me right now”.
So basically these are my two cents of advice for you and I hope you learn a lot from my tips. There’s many more of it but these are the basic things that you should remember for your family to have a cheerful and memorable long road trip.
Going back to my promise (you thought I forgot it already hehe..) here is my own list of items that I personally prepare and take ‘inside the car’. Of course, all of the baggage will be placed in the car’s trunk and as a mom, I only take the important items inside. So here it is:
I will be sharing more of travelling tips and ideas as I go along my site and create a journal of our lives. Stay tuned and subscribe at my newsletter for me to inform you my latest info about family and life. Thank you! – Lai
Are you thinking if BSA Mansion Condotel is good value for your money? Here’s my review.
This is my first ever article for my Hotel Review Truths Section under the Travelling Category.
I began writing this article since yesterday when we are staying at BSA Mansion Condotel. We family usually have these ritual hotel accommodations every December 31st of the year since me and my hubby would always want to shield our kids from the smell of the firecrackers during New Year’s Eve. Its a dual purpose for us, first for our kids’ health and second for our family bonding time. So let’s start this review now.
BSA Mansion Condotel is not on a modern hotel side. It shows its age through its outside and inside looks. The building’s corridors, reception desks, and elevators show proofs that it is indeed aged through time. But who needs a new building facade if you want to get the lowest price with a good amenities right? MY TRUTH: I am a thrifty and a practical mom. As long as the establishment meets my own set of criteria and budget its a gold one to me. I will share to you my own set of hotel qualifications in my future posts. Anyway, let’s go back to BSA Mansion Condotel. Though it’s surely worn out and has an outdated exterior the room itself is not. Inside the room, you will get the feeling that it’s well taken care of. I will explain it further in the next subparagraph.
We advanced book last November 2018 since we know that during New Year’s Eve all of the hotels will hike their prices if you didn’t book early due to its peak season/holiday period. We booked 1 Room for 4 Pax. When we get there this is where the surprise came – they gave us two bedroom suite that could accommodate 8 heads! Wow! We were only 4 adults and 3 kids to be exact so basically, the room is huge for all of us, we could have 1 bed each! The beds are in doubled decks style. I simply love it since this is my first time to have this kind of bed in hotels because it’s usually just single or twin beds in others. Pillows and bed sheets are neatly placed in each bed with towels. Though the room has four double decks it doesn’t feel cluttered, it still has enough room for movement and space.
The room has a dining table, a refrigerator, two flat screen TV, one comfort room and a small terrace outside. It also has kitchen utilities like an electric stove, a microwave oven, and cooking wares. In our room, it has a lovely black-laced lampshade. The design of our room is sleek and modern as you may say. Now we are going to the downside of this place.
BSA Mansion’s service I can say is not so good. First is everything you do here has an equal charge for their customer. Small things like a sachet of sugar costs 10 pesos and an outside call cost 20 pesos. They didn’t inform us about it from the moment we checked in. We thought those trivial things are free but sadly it’s not. I think the hotel’s management just wants to get more income from their customers because the hotel itself is not popular anymore.
And for the second downfall is about the breakfast arrangement. Since we booked for 4 heads we thought that the inclusive breakfast is for 4 heads also. In Agoda’s booking confirmation it stated the room is for 4 pax and the breakfast is inclusive. It doesn’t specifically express if it’s for 2 or for 4 heads. So we assumed and we booked it based on the posted hotel room offerings of Agoda. I thought BSA could help us with it but no. So we just end up ordering for 1 additional breakfast and we four share the 3 breakfast and other foods that we have. The breakfast is plated and delivered to our room, food tastes good especially the beef tapa that I chose. It comes with egg, rice, and drinks.
Yes it has! And the pool is crystal clear but very cold (grrr…) but all of us dip in it because there are no other people in there but us! Hahah! The pool locates in their penthouse at the rooftop. We enjoy the scenery of Makati’s tall buildings.
Room’s overall cleanliness is acceptable. Bed linens and towels smell good. But one negative note is we saw a dead cockroach on the bathroom floor. We are responsible guests so we call housekeeping dept. to borrow a broom and dustpan and we sweep the floor whenever there’s dirt.
Though BSA Mansion Condotel is an old hotel it can still serve well by giving its clients an excellent service that is expected to every hotel all over the world. It’s not the hotel appearance or the style that matters but most of all the good service that the hotel could give. If the hotel could be more adaptable to their customer’s needs then it means something or everything to the customer’s satisfaction. After all, a good hotel experience translates another customer booking in the future, right?
Do you have other hotel experiences that you want to share? Put it in the comments section!