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January 6, 2012 4:38 PM   Subscribe

Where shall we stay and what shall we do in our two days in L.A and Hong Kong?

Me and my partner are travelling around the world to attend a wedding in NZ and were stopping off on the way for 2 nights/ 3 days in both LA (21-23 MAR) and Hong Kong (3-6 APR).

LA FACTORS
- We have rented a car. Therefore we can stay a little further out, but not too far out.
- I want to spend around £100/$150 for our accommodation. Bonus if there is some kind of breakfast.
- We have a cash 'spending, eating and doing' budget of about $300. What should we spend, eat and do?

HK FACTORS
- I have no idea where to stay, I think central is better but is it?
- We want to spend about £200/$300 max but we are tall; we dont mind a small room but cant deal with a small bed.
- I have no idea how much money to put aside for 'spending, eating doing' and no idea what to do with it.

OUR FACTORS
- Mid twenties British couple.
- Interests - We're geeks, he loves computers, I love art and shopping. We both enjoy culture, history, science and food.
- We are probably not coming back to these places and want to do the kind of standard or famous sights, i.e. the hollywood sign, Victoria peak... as well as anything else that might pique our interests.

Any help would be awesome, I really love to make a plan and our time is limited in each place so I want to experience as much as possible!
posted by Neonshock to Travel & Transportation around Saltillo, Mexico (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Los Angeles:
* Visit Hollywood/Highland
* Griffith Park Observatory (great view of the city day or night, night is kinda nice)
* Santa Monica 3rd st Promenade and Venice Beach Boardwalk
* The Getty Museum (try to get a reservation at The Villa, it is free)
* The Huntington Gardens

Hong Kong
* Lantau Island and Buddha, take the cable car to Ngong Ping and get the Crystal Cabin (glass bottom)
* The Peak, take the tram all the way up
* Times Square
* hang out in Mong Kok, lots of electronics shopping everywhere
* take the Star Ferry across Hong Kong and Kowloon
posted by xtine at 5:28 PM on January 6, 2012


Hong Kong
* I stayed at the Baden-Powell International House in Tsim Sha Tsui (on Kowloon), and it was pretty great. Relatively inexpensive. Tsim Sha Tsui has a number of good hotel options.
* I'd avoid Central, as it's just more expensive and you're not doing business in the financial district or starring in MI:3. Stop by Central, but don't stay there, IMHO.
* Wandering around Tsim Sha Tsui's general area is pretty cool. In my limited experience, Kowloon as a whole was quite affordable and full of excellent food. You could just wander into a seemingly random-looking restaurant and assuredly get a great value. Plenty of interesting markets, including the Ladies' Market and the Bird Market.
* Lamma Island is a great place to explore, and what's even better, the Rainbow Seafood restaurant is both amazing and affordable.
* Lantau Island is also very cool. Seconding the cable car and the big Buddha.
* I would say in general that Lamma and Lantau Islands are both must-sees.
* Hong Kong Disneyland, on the other hand, is a must-avoid.
* The Central-Mid-Levels escalators are pretty cool. Walk up the escalators and explore. Good bars here, good shopping too, but the food is somewhat less impressive.
* Electronics shopping in HK is lame. The prices are not better than in America.
* HOWEVER, clothes and eyeglasses are indeed extremely cheap and high quality. Get suits, tailored shirts, etc.
* If you are at all interested in film photography, check out David Chan's shop. It's a glut of awesome.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:53 PM on January 6, 2012


I have been corrected by my girlfriend: Central is not necessarily more expensive than Tsim Sha Tsui. But, bear in mind that Central has less to do - it's the financial district.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:57 PM on January 6, 2012


HK:

- I love doing the Symphony of Light extravaganza. This is where HK's famous vista lights up at 8pm, nightly. It's also near the Avenue of Stars, which is HK's version of LA's Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- Eat dim sum. Just about anywhere is good.
- Try street food. It will not kill you, and it is awesome. I particularly love the fried squid tentacles--they are just not as good outside of HK. At Tung Choi Street in Mongkok, near the Fa Yuen Market, is a whole bunch of street food stalls, including one of the best fresh soymilk places around. (At least I hope it's still there, the street changes quickly.)
- Visit the street markets! Ladies Street, Temple Street, Fa Yuen Market, etc...
- Unfortunately, I cannot give you a rec on where to stay since I stay with my family when I go, but you could always try the notorious Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui. I've heard from others who have been that most of the hostels inside are quite reasonable and decent, but I'd take a look at online reviews beforehand to get a sense of what's going to be okay. Bonus points: One of the largest branches of Sasa (cosmetics chain) right below.
- Eat wonton noodles. You can eat a pretty good bowl most places.

LA:
- Olvera Street! Eat a churro while you are there.
- Grauman's Chinese Theater
- I think it's well worth it to visit one of LA's many fine ethnic neighborhoods: Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Little Ethiopia, etc. and eat great food!
posted by so much modern time at 6:02 PM on January 6, 2012


- I love doing the Symphony of Light extravaganza. This is where HK's famous vista lights up at 8pm, nightly. It's also near the Avenue of Stars, which is HK's version of LA's Hollywood Walk of Fame.

worth it mostly for the bruce lee statue
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:32 PM on January 6, 2012


LA:
For $150 a night, you're probably going to get something pretty basic. Here are two ideas both with breakfast: one in Hollywood and one in Marina Del Rey. The advantage of staying in Hollywood is that you are pretty central to downtown, all the sites in Hollywood, West LA and not too far from the beach. Marina Del Rey itself is pretty boring but you're 5 minutes from Venice and Santa Monica and I think it feels nicer/more relaxed to to stay by the beach and venture out from there (but that's just me...it depends on your itinerary).

Places to go:
The Getty (or the Getty Villa in Malibu)
Venice canals and Venice Abbott Kinney area
If it's nice rent bikes and ride the bike path along Venice and Santa Monica
You could see a concert at Frank Gehry designed Disney Hall downtown
A drink at the Standard Hotel rooftop bar
Downtown historic building walk --Angel's Flight, Grand central Market, Bradbury Building, The Biltmore, LA Central Library. (Downtown can be a bit confusing and sketchy so it helps if you know someone to take you around.)
posted by biscuits at 9:43 PM on January 6, 2012


In Hong Kong, is your budget $300 total, or $300 per night?
posted by milquetoast at 5:08 PM on January 7, 2012


Well, let's assume $100 per night. Right now the Cosmopolitan has a standard with free Internet access for $97 per night. I think that's your best bet. I've stayed there a couple times and, while not the ultimate HK hotel experience, it beats other hotels in the $100-$150 range by a country mile. It's at the border of Wan Chai/ Causeway Bay/ Happy Valley, so you're well positioned for exploration.

If your budget is $300 per night, I've got better advice.

The big sights in HK have been covered, so let me give you a couple strategies for enjoying them.

1. THE PEAK: Take the Peak Tram up, take the #15 Bus down. (Sit in the upper deck front left seats of the bus for maximum harrow.) At the Peak itself, ignore the throngs clamoring for a look under the Deco Cafe and instead take the 45-minute Peak Circuit walk. The trail head is next to the The Peak Lookout, and it offers arresting vistas of both the north and south sides of the island. (This is actually the first stage of the Hong Kong trail, a 50km ramble from the Peak to Big Wave Bay, so watch the signs lest you end up in the wilds of the Pok Fu Lam Reservoir.)

2. DIM SUM: Everyone recommends Maxim's for first-timers, and that's fine. It has a bit of the old HK charm, is English-friendly, and positions you well for a walking tour of Admiralty/ Central architecture (which should always start with the Norman Foster-designed monstrosity The HSBC building). If you like dim sum, you might try it as a baseline, and then branch out to the storied Tim Ho Wan (cheapest Michelin starred meal on the planet, long lines), the ancient Luk Yuu (can be crowded, pricey), or the local favorite Lin Heung (bustling, be prepared to be jostled). (Those links all go to OpenRice, a trustworthy resource.) Anyway, it's hard to go wrong in this department; any restaurant with "Seafood" in the title most likely has dim sum. Ask for the English menu (YING-mahn is "English" -- saying it with hopeful eyes will work in most situations) and go nuts.

After all these you might try ABC Kitchen, a gem hidden in the Sheung Wan Cooked Food Market. It's continental European staples served dim sum-style -- last time I was there, we had beef wellington, rack of lamb, rabbit terrine, and then some. Better with a large group, but worth peeking at the setup if you're in the neighborhood.

There is so much more to say about food in HK, but in the interest of space, memail me if you want recs.

3. SYMPHONY OF LIGHTS: This starts promptly at 8pm and lasts about 10 minutes. It's hokey, but you have to do it. Watching it from the Avenue of Stars (Kowloon side promenade behind the Intercontinental hotel) nets you the music and narration (English on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). To rise above the rabble, throw on your finest and head to the Peninsula for standing room at the Felix upstairs bar, where the Singapore Slings will set you back something like 10 quid but the view is something else.

But this means you only get to see the Hong Kong buildings introduce themselves; to watch the Dark Side buildings reciprocate, stake out a place at Red (outdoor roof deck in the IFC complex) by 7:45 and help yourself to a couple giant Hoegaardens while the Kowloon side does its thing.

GEEKERY, SHOPPING: Shopping is a competitive sport in Hong Kong. There is not enough space here to offer a comprehensive introduction; suffice it to say it depends on what you're after. Luxury brands? Fashion? Local stuff? Bargains? Spices? Antiques? There are, to put it mildly, options. Some general things:

* G.O.D. is a good bet for well-designed gifts.
* If you're headed to the Temple Street Night Market (the best part of which is the janky sex toy booths near the park), make an early detour to Shanghai Street -- there's a shop at 316-318 that sells the locally-made Chan Chi Kee cleavers, which no kitchen should be without.
* I find the brick-and-mortar shops more interesting than the stalls at the various night markets.
* I'd skip Stanley Market, though Stanley itself is a great mini-bus trip.
* Tung Choi Street, Mongkok, is home to Ladies Market, which is OK -- but keep going north till you hit Goldfish Street.

There is so much more. Let me know if you want specifics.

GEEKERY, ART: What HK has in shopping, it has not in art, unfortunately. But this is changing. Sheung Wan hosts a number of small galleries; winding your way around the uneven concrete surfaces to see local up-and-comers can make for a fun afternoon. The HK Museum of Art (right on the Avenue of Stars) is compact, cheap, and quite thorough, depending on the exhibition. If you were there longer, I'd recommend a hike out to Fo Tan and the Blue Lotus Gallery, which can facilitate visits to artist studios in old industrial buildings. But that puts you halfway to China, and I don't think you have the time.

I'm a fan of the Museum of Coastal Defense, which, while not art-focused, really gives you a sense of HK's place in history. My favorite way to get there is to take a nice leisurely ride on the Ding Ding (the double-decker Victorian-era trams) to the end of the line in Shau Kei Wan. Sure it takes about 90 minutes from central, but that just means you can fit in a strategic jetlag nap. You can always taxi or MTR out there as well.

GEKERY, COMPUTERS: In Central, visit Wan Chai Computer Center and 298 Computer Zone just down Hennessy Road. In Kowloon, a trip to Golden Computer Arcade is a must. And a couple blocks from that is Apliu Street and its tech-focused market, where you can buy any electronic device known to man -- past, present, or future.

IN GENERAL:

* Pick up an Octopus card for each of you on the Arrivals level of HKG. HKD200 is a good starting value. (I'd ignore the Forex and get HKDs out of the ATMs next to the 7-11 just after the Arrivals gate.) You can use it for transportation as well as payment at every convenience store. Return it upon departure to get your remaining funds/ deposit back.
* Taxis are efficient, safe, and cheap, and the drivers generally speak English.
* Your hotel will have a name card; keep it with you to show to Taxi drivers.
* Not sure about your current roaming plan, but if you want cheap local 3G, pick up a 3HK Super Value SIM. This gives you unlimited local mobile broadband for £2.50 per day. You can even have the dour teenagers set it up for you if you buy it at the 3 Shop on the Departures level of HKG.
* The escalator (officially the Central to Mid-Levels Escalators and in Some Cases Travelators) runs downhill during the morning commute; hit it after 10:30am if you want to go up the mountain. The area right around the escalators (Soho and Mid Levels) is good for Western food and pub grub.
* Lan Kwai Fong is where expats drink. Go to Dragon-I on your Monday night, sit outside amongst the bird cages, order a bottle of wine, and watch wannabe moguls hit on supermodels.
* I'm not sure about Lamma being a must-see, but if you do go, the trail connecting Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan is awesome -- and strenuous! Other destinations worth considering are Tai O (HK's Venice), Mui Wo (great hikes), and Peng Chau (great seafood, feels like a different place altogether).

Have fun!
posted by milquetoast at 10:46 AM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


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