Hong Kong can be a daunting location to visit, as it presents many logistical challenges, especially for Westerners, as many Asian countries do, but one need not be intimidated by the language and cultural barriers visitors expect to encounter. Hong Kong’s population is predominantly Chinese, as the mainland is a mere bus ride away from Hong Kong’s northern regions. As an Asian who resides in Manila, Hong Kong has always been an easy destination, as it is only three hours away from the Philippines, and is a relatively easy country to get used to. This is especially true for Hong Kong’s primary tourist destinations and transportation hubs, Hong Kong Disneyland and Hong Kong Island.
For the purposes of this article, I would like to talk about one of the less-known destinations in the country, Hong Kong’s New Territories. I have always been a vocal supporter of solo travels, as well as exploring the world with no checked-in luggage, and I have found that my trip to Hong Kong’s New Territories have allowed me to do so without as much trouble as with experiences travelling elsewhere. The country has reliable transit systems, which every tourist should take advantage of.
Hong Kong’s New Territories are a collection of what can be considered as counties or regions bordering China’s southernmost region of Shenzhen. It is full of parks and is a relatively new place for tourism. My New Territories experience was a very good one, as I found the region as one that suited whatever needs or wants stroke my fancy. It was surprisingly urban, with a bay-side area that was reminiscent of Rodeo Drive, albeit to a smaller degree. A portion of Tsuen Wan’s coastal road showcased malls and storefronts with upscale brands; it also had spectacular views of Rambler Channel against the backdrop of Castle Peak, one of Tai Lam Country Park’s hills.
Accommodations in the area is pretty easy and was surprisingly inexpensive, especially considering different financial capabilities of today’s modern traveler. While the region might appear to be sparsely dotted by hotels, there are a number of accommodations in the area, including AirBnb options. I was traveling alone, and wanting to experience staying in a common living space, I booked a few nights’ stay at Campus Hong Kong Hostel, which is found in the same compound as Bay Bridge Hotel. Campus Hostel turned out to be a quiet and easy option, as it had a regular shuttle service to and from the nearest MTR station, Tsuen Wan. That made it very easy for me to go out and about, as I did not have to worry about finding the right minibus.
Campus Hong Kong Hostel had excellent accommodations, from a 24-hour gym to buffet breakfast options. It did not have too many amenities, but served an excellent purpose for staying the night. I must have spent a mere $15 per night for a dormitory stay, which I shared with 3 other travelers. The dormitory setup was very nice, as it essentially provided ample room for each person without one’s space being obtrusive with another’s. Each dormitory had four bunk beds, with a desk and small living space under each. Bathrooms were shared.
As for attractions, the location essentially was an easy option as a starting point to anywhere in Hong Kong. Causeway Bay was a 90-minute train ride away, while Hong Kong Disneyland was 30 minutes away by MTR. New Territories also featured attractions such as the Tian Tian Buddha, Ngong Ping 360, several parks and wildlife reserves, and an access border to Shenzhen. The hotel staff was very accommodating, and in my experience, were more fluent in English than any other local hotel staff I encountered across their islands.
Hong Kong’s New Territories is a very good place to quietly acquaint with Hong Kong’s history and culture, as it is in my opinion one of the closest locations to ancient Chinese heritage. It was not difficult to get sucked into contemplative, pensive mornings in the area, as it simply eschewed the atmosphere of thoughtfulness. The locals were also surprisingly accommodating, and it felt safe enough to venture out alone to discover its hidden treasures.
I particularly enjoyed the quiet walks I did alone, which felt safe enough to do even at night. The Bay Bridge is a spectacular sight, and the Rambler Channel, full of activity during the day, is a nice view on its own. The town of Tsuen Wan, a 20-minute shuttle ride from the Campus hotel complex, is a place bustling with activity and culture, albeit at a pace slower than Causeway Bay or Central; to my great pleasure, I came across some excellent quick-service restaurants in this area like Yoshinoya, as well as a lot of western brands like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, which meant to me that I could pick the pace by which I intend to immerse myself with local cuisine. It was pretty comfortable, although there was quite a lot of walking involved.
Even the Tsuen Wan MTR station was enough of a place to explore; I ran across some local foodstuffs in here such as duck pies and other simple Chinese street foods.
New Territories: Solo Travel Tips
- Be patient. The journey is almost always more rewarding than the destination itself. As with New Territories, it is important to understand that the pace here is slower, which means that the locals are more likely to be patient with you as well.
- Slow down. The best parts of New Territories are its quiet parks and wildlife reserves, and these places will definitely allow for some serious nature recharging and even soul-searching. Embrace its quietness.
- Be confident. As many solo travelers will attest, travelling alone can get nerve-wracking to a certain extent. This is because most of the time, your only fallback will be yourself. Always be mindful of places that can be considered safe zones, such as MTR stations, tourist locations, and large malls, as they will always have some form of security personnel in duty. Be confident and do your best to never appear distracted or lenient with your surroundings.
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