Archive: Hong Kong

Train from Hong Kong to Beijing

We purchased our ticket from Hung Hom train station in Hong Kong a few days before we wanted to depart. There were only a few tickets left at this point, so I would suggest trying to book your tickets at least 1 week before, especially if there is a big group of you wanting to be sat together.

There were three different ticket types: Hard Sleeper, Soft Sleeper and Deluxe Soft. The hard sleeper, sleeps 6 people with  a three tier bunk bed on each side of the room. This is the ticket we went for. Our tickets cost us 574 HKD each (£50 each). If you are on a budget you must book at the train station and book a upper hard sleeper bed, this is the cheapest option.

Hard sleeper consists of open bays of 6 bunks (upper, middle & lower) on one side of an aisle. In spite of its name, berths are padded, bedding is supplied, and many budget western travellers prefer it.  There are fold-out seats in the aisle either side of small tables.

The train corridor

The train corridor

Soft sleeper consists of spacious carpeted & lockable 4-berth compartments, with toilets & washrooms at the end of the corridor.  Note the lacy decor & flower in a vase on the tablecloth!  Some trains even have personal TV screens for each berth.

Deluxe Soft Sleeper 2-berth deluxe soft sleepers have upper & lower berths on one side of the compartment, a wardrobe and armchair on the other side. This room also has a private toilet and washroom.

Train T98 runs from Hong Kong to Beijing on odd dates in Jan, April, May, Aug, Nov, Dec 2010 & even dates in Feb, March, Jun, July, Sep, Oct 2010. It runs at 3.15pm and arrives at Beijing West station at 14.50pm the next day.

Check for up to date train times and fares.

We got to the Hung Hom station 1 hour before we had to depart. We were told to give ourselves plenty time as you have to go through security and go through passport control. You will need to show your passport with your China Visa and also your departure card for Hong Kong.

Once we went through security we had to find the room with our train number on. It’s lay out was similar to an airports departure hall. All the announcements for the trains were called out in Chinese, so make sure you ask or look out for your train number, on a board that they hold up. One guy missed his train, even though he’d been sat there the whole time, he just didn’t realise his train had been called. You have to wait in the waiting room like you do in an airport, for your train to arrive and then you board about 30 minutes before. The gates close 10 minutes before departure and you will not be allowed on if you are late.

We got onto the train and found our beds. We were in a room with 4 other Chinese locals. There is luggage space under the bottom beds and also near the upper beds. There were two seats outside everyone room, for you to sit on whilst you weren’t sleeping. The problem is there are 6 people in each room, so it’s not also easy to get a seat. Further more only some seats had plug sockets beside them, which caused quite a fight between people wanting to charge phones and lap tops.

The journey was comfortable although it was very long! It is good because there is plenty space on a train for walking around to stretch your legs. I also sat and enjoyed the many things we passed on the way and used the time to catch up  writing in my journal and plan our time in Beijing.

We arrived in Beijing at 14.50pm on Friday 11th June. When we got off the train we had to go through passport control again and we got a stamp in our passports, showing us we had 30 days in China. We had our reservation at the hotel booked and planned on getting a taxi to the hotel. This was not as easy as we had hoped! We had the address written down in English, but none of the taxi drivers could read it. This was very frustrating as we were tired, but it was our own fault for assuming they would be able to read it. We managed to get onto the lap top and find the hotel phone number and we finally gave that to a taxi driver. This was 1 hour after we had arrived at the train station.

Nothing is written in English at the train station so it is difficult to understand what to do and where to go. When we came out of the train station Taxi drivers were coming up to us trying to get us to get in a taxi-they tried charging us 150 HKD (£15) for the journey. Paul finally noticed a sign for a taxi rank and we realised that we were in the wrongplace to get taxis. That’s when we decided to go down to the taxi rank. All the taxi’s here have meters and charge you 2Yuan (20p) per km with a minimum of 10Yuan. Just remember if you don’t see a queue then it’s probably not a taxi rank also make sure they use the meter.

Well we finally got to our hotel. We are staying in the 1 Hai Inn (also known as the Candy Inn), located near the Lama Temple in Beijing. The hotel is really nice. There is a bar and lounge area and the staff all speak English and are very helpful. We are central and close to a subway station, so it is great for getting around the city.

1 Hai Inn Hotel Beijing

1 Hai Inn Hotel Beijing

We will write about our time here in our next blog.

Ruth and Paul 


China Visa in Hong Kong

China Visa in Hong Kong

On Tuesday we picked up our China Visa in Hong Kong. As a UK citizen I am allowed to be in Hong Kong for 180 days, Paul as an Irish Citizen is able to stay for 90 days, but in order to go to the rest of China we had to obtain a China Visa. This can be done within Hong Kong, if you are heading there first. If you want to go to another part of China first, then you will have to obtain your China Visa in your home country or in other nearby countries whilst you are travelling, ie in Bangkok.

Chinese Embassy


Ministry of Foreign affairs

7/F Lower Block

China Resources Building

26 Harbour Road

Wan Chai

Hong Kong
View Larger Map

Opening times:

9am-12 2pm-5pm


What to take with you

  • 1 passport sized photo
  • Passport (must be valid for 6 months more)
  • Flight confirmation for your exit out of China (we were not asked for this however)

You have to fill out a visa form when you get to the embassy, or you can download it online and fill it in before, to save time.

When you get to the embassy, there will be two queues outside, one for people applying for a visa and the other for people who are coming to collect their visas.  The line can get quite long, so I suggest you arrive early and remember they close from 12-2pm for lunch.

When you get inside you will find a form that has to be filled in, there are desks for you to do this on, and computers that take you through all the questions, to help you with your answers. Then you will be given a number, which you have to wait to be called, before you take your form and passport up to the desk. It took us about 40 minutes to get our number called.

Once our number was called we went over to the desk and it was very straight forward from then on. We just handed over the forms and our passports and we were asked did we want the express service or normal service. The normal service is the cheapest and takes 4 days to process. This is what we went for, but if you are in a rush to get your visa you can pay for next day service.

The fee for a UK citizen is 450 HKD (£40) and for Irish Citizens it is just the standard fee of 150 HKD (£13). So thank goodness Paul is Irish, as it made it a lot cheaper for us!  To see all the prices for different countries, see the link below.

You are given a receipt and told that you can pay when you pick it up, 4 days later. Your passports are left in the office, as they put your visa on a whole page inside.

The process for getting a China visa in Hong Kong is very straight forward, but remember if you are not planning on heading to Hong Kong first, then you must obtain your visa before coming to China.

We are heading to Beijing today (10/06/10). We are getting the 3.15 pm Train from Hung Hom Station in Hong Kong to Beijing. The train journey will take 24 hours. We purchased our tickets 3 days before from the Hung Hom station. There were not many seats left, so I guess it is always best to book your ticket at least a week in advance.

We have to get going now, so we will update you all when we arrive in Beijing,

Ruth and Paul

Giant Buddha Hong Kong (Lantau Island)

Saturday 5th June we went to Lantau Island to visit the ‘Big Buddha’. To reach this we took the MRT from Kowloon Station to Tung Chung Station and then we took bus number 23 to Po Lin Monastery (costing us 17 HK each-about £1.50) The other option is to take a cable car from Tung Chung Station to the foothill of the giant Buddha. This is a more expensive option but it is meant to be very scenic.

The bus journey took us on a steep, windy hill-the view was beautiful, looking over to the many little islands of Lantau  Island. We could see lot’s of little beaches on the many islands and a backdrop of mountains all around. The journey took around 30 minutes, then we arrived at the at the village where the Giant Buddha is.

Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is a large bronze statue of a Buddha, completed in 1993, and located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, in Hong Kong. The statue is located near Po Lin Monastery and symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and religion. It is a major centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong, and is also a popular tourist attraction. (Wiki)

The Buddha is 34 metres (112 ft) tall, weighs 250 metric tons (280 short tons), and was the world’s tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha prior to 2007.

We had to climb 268 steps in order to reach the Buddha.

268 steps to the top

268 steps to the top

When at the top we were able to walk around the Buddha and see the view all around. In the distance you can see Lantau peak, which is the 2nd tallest peak in Hong Kong, 934 m above sea level. We wished we had got there earlier to climb to the top-but the sun was already starting to set by this time! A lot of people climb up the peak early morning, to watch the sunrise from the top.

View from the top

View from the top

After taking lots of photos and enjoying the view from the top, we started to walk back down the 268 steps. Then we took a walk on the ‘Path of Wisdom’. I’m sorry to say that we don’t feel any wiser after this, as all the words of wisdom were written in Chinese on tree trunks!

Paul climbing the path of wisdom

Paul climbing the path of wisdom

You could easily spend a whole day here as there are lots of things to do including seeing the Giant Buddha, taking lots of walks, including climbing Lantau Peak and there is also a small village with lots of shops to look around.

View of the Giant Buddha from the village

View of the Giant Buddha from the village

Will write more soon. We are going to pick up our China Visa today-it takes 4 days to receive. Hopefully everything has gone ok with it-if so we will leave Hong Kong on Thursday. We have decided to go to Beijing next. We have a booked a train from Hong Kong to Beijing, costing us 517 HKD each (£45), the journey will take us 24 hours.

Speak to you all soon,

Paul and Ruth

Arriving in Hong Kong

We arrived in Hong Kong Tuesday 1st June around 9pm. We decided to sleep in the airport, as we didn’t want to start looking for accommodation in the city whilst it was dark. Hong Kong airport is a great airport to sleep in-there are loads of places in the departure and arrival lounge where you can get plenty rest. There is also the Plaza Premium Lounge where you can pay to get a private space to rest, there are also showers that you can pay to use.

Terminal 2 is the best place to rest, as it’s quiet and there are lots of benches and chairs to sit on. Also the announcements don’t come over the speakers, to disturb you:)

Paul in Hong Kong airport

Paul in Hong Kong airport

The restaurants and food places close around 11 pm, but the 7/11 shop, which can be found on the 5th floor terminal 2, stays open all night. We finally found a spot to sleep. Although it wasn;t the most comfortable night ever-it was worth it for one night-and it didnt cost us a penny! :)

The next morning, we got our bus to the city. There are several ways of getting to the city. You can take a taxi, airport express (Mrt) or there are local buses directly outside the airport. We decided to take the bus, this is the cheapest option, costing us 33 hk Dollars each (£3), for the journey which is about 30km. Hong Kong Airport is on a small island of it’s own, connected to the other islands by bridges.

Map of Hong Kong

Map of Hong Kong

We are staying in Kowloon, just of Nathan Road. We are close by to Victoria Harbour, where we can see the stunning Hong Kong skyline. (see the yellow star of the map for location) We were shocked at the prices of hotels, compared to the rest of  Asia. So far we had been paying around £10 a night for a nice spacious room, now we are paying £40 for a box room, that only fits a bed and a small bathroom. I guess this is just preparing us for our return home, as you do not find hotels for £10 a night in Ireland or England, or meals for £1!

Hong Kong is a very exciting city, with a similar feel to New York. The city doesn’t sleep, the lights on all the buildings make the evening look like day time!

We took a walk down to Victoria Harbour last night to the Avenue of Stars. The Avenue of stars is found along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade in Hong Kong, and features hand prints of stars and sculptures, including a two metre tall statue of the legendary kung-fu action star, Bruce Lee. Every evening there is a light show at 8pm.

A symphony of Lights, is the largest permanent light and sound show, recoded in the Guinness World Records. It covers more than 40 buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbour. This looked spectacular! Here is a short video we recorded.

We will add the pictures soon

Ruth and Paul