Sunday, March 28, 2010

Side trip to Hong Kong from Tokyo

I%26#39;m going on a business trip to Tokyo (my first time) in mid-May. Staying for a week, with 2-3 days completely on my own. I%26#39;ve never been to the Far East, and there%26#39;s a good chance I won%26#39;t be back.

Would I be taking on too much to take a side trip to Hong Kong for 3 days? I hear it%26#39;s over a 4 hour flight, and because of my arrangements, I%26#39;d have to return to Tokyo airport to catch the flight back to the US (i.e., can%26#39;t go on from Hong Kong direct to US). Some tell me Hong Kong is fun and worth the side trip; others say why not spend more time in Japan.

I have to say, I probably wouldn%26#39;t go to Japan on my own dime, and thought the more english speaking Hong Kong might be fun after a week in Tokyo. Not sure I%26#39;m up for much touring outside Tokyo for an extended time. But, would like others%26#39; views.

Side trip to Hong Kong from Tokyo

IMO, a week in Tokyo + 3 days in Hong Kong is doable. Try to coordinate your flight back from Hong Kong to have a minimal layover at Narita. On the other hand, you could easily spend the entire time in Tokyo. Do some research at -

Hong Kong is not like Tokyo. There%26#39;s no comparison.

Side trip to Hong Kong from Tokyo

Do you mean, you%26#39;re going to be in Asia for one week, with 2 -3 days of that up for grabs? Or one week, plus an additional 2 - 3 days?

You%26#39;re going to get a lot of answers that say go to Hong Kong and a lot of answers that say stay put.

I love Hong Kong, I don%26#39;t like Tokyo, guess what I%26#39;m going to advise. What I like about Hong Kong is that it is packed with people rushing around making deals, packed with cheap stuff to buy and wonderful restaurants and it%26#39;s way more English-friendly, and there are actually people raising their voices and pockets of food markets and a beautiful harbor.

What I don%26#39;t like about Tokyo is that it seems overly modern, overly sprawling, and overly mannerly. There are cool things to see but nothing that wows me, quite frankly. But cruise through this forum and you will see lots of people getting thoroughly wowed.

Keep in mind if you were planning to rush over to Hong Kong is that the flight itself is only part of the trip. You%26#39;ll have to get from Tokyo the city to Narita the airport, ahead of time, then in Hong Kong run around through Immigration and Customs and then get to the city. It%26#39;s an easy trip from the airport to the city but you can%26#39;t make it take any less time that it does. An hour? At least?

U.S. airlines leaving Narita for HK have lousy schedules, most leave around six p.m. and get in to HK around ten or eleven at night. That may work in your favor if you can get off work early enough on the day of departure. The Japanese airlines and Cathay Pacific offer earlier departures from Narita.

The HK vs Tokyo debate always ends in a draw. In the end you%26#39;re going to have to jump one way or the other on your gut feeling.

I have a week in Tokyo, plus 2-3 more days for a side trip. I%26#39;m beginning to think that HK might be a bit too much, though, like you, I%26#39;m thinking that Tokyo is going to be one big sprawl and HK would be easier (English signs) and more interesting overall. But, I%26#39;d have to fly from HK back to Narita and then immediately go on to the US. It%26#39;s a 4 1/2 hour trip from Tokyo to Hong Kong, not counting the time it takes to get from Tokyo to the airport.

Alternatively, thinkin of a ryokan (traditional Jap hotel) in Hakone, or a trip for a night or two to Kyoto, or other day trips around Tokyo. MIght be more enjoyable. Try to do HK some other time if I ever get back in this part of the world.

Thanks for your advice.


Stay in Japan.

If you have 2-3 days, you could go to Kyoto and Nara. You%26#39;ll get to see the landscape from the bullet train and it%26#39;ll be whole different world -- a beautiful world. There are plenty of signs in English.

Hakone, Nikko, Kamakura..........even within Tokyo there are many side streets that are fun to trip around. Bring your walking shoes!

There used to be lots of English signs in Hong Kong prior to 1997. Not so many anymore. You%26#39;ll probably see more in Tokyo.


While HK could be a nice side trip, I suggest you stay in Japan and not necessarily in Tokyo for those extra days. There are lots of other things to see in Japan besides the modern city.

My recommendation is simply based on being practical as it seems you do not want to deal with the additional travel time. Otherwise, Hong Kong would be worth every minute for 3 days.

mamajelli, Hong Kong still has biligual signs everywhere so I am puzzled as to where you think there is less English signs than before? All subway stops are announed in three languages (Cantonese, Mandarin and English), and most people have a solid understanding of English to help visitors, which is not the case in Japan.

%26lt;mamajelli, Hong Kong still has biligual signs everywhere so I am puzzled as to where you think there is less English signs than before? %26gt;

Hi, Sammyfloyd,

I was in HK a couple of times during the British era, checked it out in 1997(before and after), and then went a couple more times a few years afterwards. It was, to be honest, rather disappointing to see all the billboards written in English disappear after 1997. Coming in from KaiTak airport, there used to be several billboards that said ';Smoking Kills'; -- but after 1997, they were all gone. The buses still had English signs, as did shopping centers/centres, but in general I noticed a large depletion of English. Many of the ';locals'; seemed like ';newbies'; and didn%26#39;t speak much English, either. Maybe it%26#39;s picked up again as I haven%26#39;t been back since the early 2000%26#39;s. Trying to get a visa from the Chinese embassy in Tokyo was a nightmare the last time I did it, so I haven%26#39;t been adventurous since.

I%26#39;m glad to hear that the signs are bilingual/trilingual now, versus monolingual. That%26#39;s a good sign. :-)

Just an observation.


Not that this is answering jim19130%26#39;s question but I%26#39;ve went to Hong Kong yearly from 89 - 92 and then have been going yearly since 2004 and there is still a zillion signs in English....even from the new Airport. I think the city is way more crowded and I have been amazed at the development of areas like Causeway Bay, which used to be kind of a non-happening place, but all in all it%26#39;s still one of my favorite cities. You can count on getting menus in English everywhere except tiny local hangouts, which is not the case in Tokyo.

I think one of the best things about the handover was the new policy of permitting colored lights on the buildings of Hong Kong (British only allowed white). The skyline used to be pretty, but now it%26#39;s a riot of color and light.

More to the point, with a few extra days in Japan in mid-May I%26#39;d go on up to Takayama. The cherry blossoms will probably be past their prime there but it will be greening up nicely. Might still be a tad chilly.

But you could also check out heading north to still catch some cherry blossoms. Other people here savvier about the schedule might be able to recommend a location. I hear Hirosaki is very nice.

Sadly though, it%26#39;s true that the newer generation of HK%26#39;s youth seem to have a lower level of English proficiency than before. The government couldn%26#39;t stop tinkering with the education system, and language proficiency (both Chinese and English) have gone down as a result.

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