The City of Life is something everyone must visit once in their life
Let yourself be driven in the early morning – maybe by Patrick – in one of the hotel´s 13 Rolls Royce or in a limousine from “The Pen” to the temple of the 10.000 Buddhas and then to the valley station of the Ngong Ping cable car. After an eventful day, you can relax in the Peninsula Spa in the late afternoon or you stroll through Nathan Road.
The Wan Fo Shek (also known as the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery or the temple of the Ten Thousand Buddhas) is located in Sha Tin in the New Territories and it is a real insider tip.
Unfortunately, you have to walk up 431 steps! However, the path leads you past around 500 life-size, partly gold-plated Buddhist saints.
Your hike is finally rewarded by an astonishing view at the district Sha Tan and the surrounding green valley. Furthermore, there are a pagoda, colorful plaster figures and other temples, such as the temple of the 18 most important disciples of Buddha. I recommend a visit of the main prayer hall with 12.800 Buddha figures in small niches. They are donations from believers.
There is also a cemetery in the complex, which has been renovated and restored several times. You have to keep walking up along the gilded Buddha figures and finally you get to PoFuShan.
Big Buddha, also known as Tian Tan Buddha, is the most iconic attraction of Lantau. The Ngong Ping 360 cable car connects the city of Hong Kong with Lantau Island and the Ngong-Ping-Plateau in an 25-minute ride. You must book in advance one of the 36 exclusive crystal cabins with glass bottom. So, you have a clear bird´s eye view of the deep blue water below you, followed by lush green mountain slopes. Don´t miss this experience!
At the top, I recommend you to walk up the 268 steps to the second largest outdoor bronze seated Buddha. Sitting next to Po Lin Monastery (we personally liked other monasteries in Hong Kong better), is just an 8-minute walk from Ngong Ping Village.
The majestic outdoor bronze Buddha sits – South and facing North towards Beijing – atop the peak of Mount Muk Yue. The statue´s body is about 26,4 m tall and 34 m in total measuring from the lotus throne and the base.
If you have the desire, energy and mood, you can visit the Golden Mile of the popular Nathan Road after your return to “The Pen” and relax in Kowloon Park, located west of the well-known shopping street.
After a hearty breakfast in the prestigious lobby, get back into the Pen´s limousine. The chauffeur will drive you to Chi Lin Nunnery in Diamond Hill, Kowloon, at the east end of Fung Tak Road. It is one of the most impressive monastery complexes in Hong Kong. You must pay a visit to this nunnery, which was rebuilt in 2000 without a single nail in the style of Tang Dynasty. It is considered the largest wood complex in the world. You should also take your time to visit the Lotus Pond Garden.
After this visit, your driver will take you to the most visited temple in Hong Kong, located in north Kowloon. The Wong Tai Sin is also surrounded by high-rise buildings. This Taoist temple is dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, also known as the Great Immortal Wong. Then you can follow the Hollywood Road – known for its galleries with antique art objects – and you will get to the world´s longest outdoor covered escalator. The Central-Mid-Levels-escalator covers over 800 m in distance and takes you over 135 m from bottom to top. In order to cope with the daily masses of people, this gigantic staircase goes down from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and up from 10:30 a.m. to midnight.
If you fancy a half-hour private sampan ride, then let yourself be driven to the former junks-town, Aberdeen, in the southwest of Hong Kong Island. A motorized plank boat is certainly not luxurious, but authentic. I loved the ride unlike my husband. But you have to avoid the Jumbo restaurant. It is a tourist trap. Pure rip off, like all other floating restaurants!
At the end of today´s day, I recommend a leisurely stroll along the famous Victoria Harbour waterfront, across from the Peninsula. The Avenue of Stars is a film-themed promenade showing hand prints and statues of famous Cantonese film stars and directors.
Half day excursion
From the Mandarin Oriental by foot or from the Peninsula by limousine.
The Peak Tramways, a funicular railway of Hong Kong Island, carries you to Hong Kong´s most popular attraction: The Victoria Peak, the local mountain of the Cantonese (552 m above sea level). It is one of the best vantage points for magical views of Victoria Harbour, Knowloon and the “City of Life” – especially at dusk. Make sure to sit on the right side uphill, then you can enjoy the best view of the booming city. At the top you should do the 60-minute walk around.
Day trip to Macau
Since autumn 2018, you can drive from Hong Kong to Macau – but only with special permission. The concierge will organize for you a limousine with special permission. The trip over the 55-kilometer three-lane Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau-bridge including a 6,7 kilometer underwater tunnel is an experience. However, a crossing from the Macau Ferry Terminal with the Turbo-Jet in a VIP cabin also has its charm, because you can use a four- person compartment for yourself. You cross the Pearl River estuary in just under an hour. I would only go with Turbojet (www.turbojet.com) and avoid Cotai Strip´s hydrofoils.
In the historic center of the former Portuguese overseas province, you can admire Macau´s landmark – the Renaissance facade of the Catholic church that remained after the devastating fire in 1835.
After your visit of the ruins of St. Paul´s, you can still stroll through the pretty streets of the old town and the Largo Senado, and you can visit the Lou Lim Ioc garden. You have a lot to see.
Of course, you can also visit the Macau Tower and dare the skywalk at a height of 388 meters. The Ma Kok Miu (also known as A-Ma-temple) is worth a visit. It is one of Macau´s oldest and most famous temples (1488).
A lot of tourists visit Macau, the Las Vegas of Asia. Many luxury hotels seduce their guests with gambling and outdo each other with huge casino areas. “The Venetian Macao ” (www.venetianmacao.com) with about 850 gaming tables and slot machines specifically designed for the Asian Market is the biggest casino in Macao and it has the world´s largest casino floor.
For a short trip, I would fly again from Frankfurt or Munich to the “City of Life” with Lufthansa on First Class (as long as it still exists). Let´s hope that the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt doesn´t fall victim to the Corona crisis! Thanks to the night flight, you arrive well rested in the morning in Hong Kong and can enjoy the whole day. My husband and I were very lucky, we were the only passengers in the First in the “Queen of the skies” (B 747-400) and we felt like we were in the seventh heaven. If you have more time, I recommend the Emirates First Class Suites. I will soon introduce you to the old and the new First Class. Here are some pictures in advance from the Lounge in Dubai and from the A 380-800 with 2 bathrooms for the 14 passengers on First Class. But I have never seen a fully booked First Class. Normally there are 6 to 8 passengers on board and sometimes only 2 – my husband and me.
If you like to see the pictures of the Lufthansa First Class, then take a look at my German blog. I have designed this one slightly different, so that you can get a multi-faceted view of Hong Kong.
March and April have an average of 20-24 degrees as well as 8 hours of sunshine per day. From May onwards, the temperature rises as well as the daily hours of sunshine, but the rainy days also extend to October – not to forget the Typhoon season from May to October. So far, we´ve only ever flown to Hong Kong from the end of March to mid-April and had postcard weather.
Most taxi drivers don´t understand English. You must have your destination written in Mandarin beforehand and you must always have the name of your Hotel with you, also written in Chinese. But the perfectly trained drivers of “The Pen” understand English well. So, book a private limousine and let yourself be driven in style from one sightseeing tour to another. If you wish, the concierge can also organize a guide for you.