Visiting Picturesque Miyajima Island

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Miyajima Island has long been a draw for tourists and locals alike for its serenity, nature, and shrines.  Visitors are consistent in voting Miyajima Island one of the top scenic spots in Japan. A quick look on a map and you’ll find that Miyajima’s actual name is Itsukushima.  In Japanese Miyajima means Shrine Island, and the nickname has stuck. With easy access by boat, Miyajima Island makes for a perfect day trip when visiting nearby Hiroshima.

Sunset on Miyajima Island - Itsukushima, Japan

Sunset on Miyajima Island

Traveling to Miyajima Island

You’ll find Miyajima Island in Hiroshima Bay.  Travelers visiting Hiroshima can add an extra day in the region to visit Miyajima Island.  It is easy to reach Miyajima Island from Hiroshima.  The trip is less than an hour and makes for a perfect day trip.  Visitors will reach Miyajima Island from Hiroshima by train and boat.

To reach Miyajima Island most visitors in Hiroshima will board the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station.  The JR Line is the fastest way to reach Miyajimaguchi Station.  The popular Japan Rail Pass that many tourists use to travel around Japan covers the JR Sanyo Line.  Those that did not buy a Japan Rail Pass have two options to reach Miyajimaguchi Station.  The fastest route is to buy a round trip ticket for the aforementioned JR Sanyo Line.  The cheaper, and slower, alternative is to take the Number 2 Tram Line from central Hiroshima bound for Miyajimaguchi.

Upon reaching Miyajimaguchi Station follow the signs to the Miyajimaguchi/Miyajima Ferry Port.  This short walk leads you to the boats sailing to Miyajima Island.  At the Port, Japan Rail Pass holders may use the entrance marked JR and board the next available boat bound for Miyajima Island.  Those without a Japan Rail Pass will need to buy tickets at the nearby kiosk for the next available sailing.

Travelers without a Japan Rail Pass can reach Miyajima Island without boarding a train.  Two other docks, at Hiroshima Peace Park and Hiroshima Port, offer direct boat rides between Hiroshima and Miyajima Island.

Arriving at Miyajima Island

Regardless of which boat you take to reach Miyajima Island you will disembark at Miyajima Pier.  From the Pier turn right and walk along the path next to the waterfront.  As you walk along the path, and throughout Miyajima Island, you may come upon deer roaming free.  These deer appear tame and comfortable around humans, as long you do not bother them.  Visitors enjoy taking photos with the deer, but be sure to treat the animals with care.  Remember, the deer are wildlife.  Approach the deer with caution, stay at a safe distance, and do not touch or feed the deer.  The deer will eat paper tourists are holding in their hands.  Be mindful if you are holding maps or brochures near the deer.

To the left of the waterfront pathway you will find local owned businesses on the streets of Omotesando and Machiya.  Miyajima artisans are fond of using wood to create everything from trays to containers.  You can even find pieces of woodwork with etchings of various Miyajima sights.  Rice scoopers are one popular item the wood makers craft.  As you walk among the stores keep an eye out for a display featuring the largest rice scooper in the world.

Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

At the end of the streets with stores and restaurants you will come upon Itsukushima Shinto Shrine.  The Shrine’s buildings, along with the nearby Five-Storied Pagoda and O-Torii, have the honorable designation of being a UNESCO World Cultural Site.  Most visitors are familiar with Miyajima Island because of the O-Torii, or Grand Torii Gate.  The O-Torii is first visible from the boat one takes to reach Miyajima Island.

Viewing the O-Torii is a different experience depending on whether you visit during low tide or during high tide.  Upon disembarking from the boat that brought you to Miyajima Island visit the nearby Information Booth for a posted sign with times for low and high tide.  Pre-planners can find tide times posted online if you need to know the times before your visit.  High tide is the perfect time for photos as the O-Torii sits surrounded by water.  Low tide offers visitors the chance to see the O-Torii up close as you may walk up to the Gate.  The ground is wet, muddy, and slippery, so wear proper shoes for the walk to the O-Torii during low tide.

Mt. Misen (the Sacred Mountain) and Observatory

Included in the World Heritage designation is Mt. Misen, known as the Sacred Mountain.  The landscape of the Island has drawn many spiritual beings to Miyajima.  As you hike Mt. Misen, you will find large rocks and trees amidst temples and religious statues.  To hike any part of Mt. Misen requires being in good physical health.  It is possible to hike from the base of Mt. Misen to the top.  Most visitors will ride the Miyajima Ropeway, which will allow you to bypass a large part of Mt. Misen.  From the waterfront follow the signs to the Momijidani Station and use the Ropeway to reach either Kayatani or Shishiiwa Station.

Even taking the Ropeway to the furthest point, Shishiiwa, still leaves hikers with a strenuous trail to the top most observation deck.  The reward in reaching the observation deck is stunning views of Seto Inland Sea and the surrounding Islands.

 

Daishoin Temple

With its deep connection between nature and spirituality, Miyajima is home to many temples.  One in particular, Daishoin Temple, is one of the grandest on Miyajima Island.  The grounds for Daishoin Temple makes it one of the larger temples to explore on Miyajima Island.  The easiest way to locate Daishoin is if you position yourself with the Miyajima Ropeway behind you, and the O-Torii Gate in front of you.  At that point turn left to reach Daishoin.  Take your time walking and admiring the serene grounds, various halls, and thousands of religious statues.

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Miyajima Island

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Miyajima Pier: 34.302092, 132.322270
Omotesando Street: 34.299070, 132.321860
Machiya Street: 34.298441, 132.322490
Itsukushima Shinto Shrine: 34.296083, 132.319915
Five-Storied Pagoda : 34.297129, 132.320752
O-Torii Gate: 34.297253, 132.318134
Miyajima Ropeway: Momijidani Station: 34.293247, 132.326782
Mt. Misen Observatory: 34.279436, 132.319529
Daishoin Temple: 34.291864, 132.318628
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Miyajima Pier
Visiting Picturesque Miyajima Island
Miyajima, Japan
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Omotesando Street
Visiting Picturesque Miyajima Island
Miyajima, Japan
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Machiya Street
Visiting Picturesque Miyajima Island
Miyajima, Japan
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Itsukushima Shinto Shrine
Visiting Picturesque Miyajima Island
Itsukushima Island 広島県, Japan
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Five-Storied Pagoda
Visiting Picturesque Miyajima Island
Miyajima, Japan
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O-Torii Gate
Visiting Picturesque Miyajima Island
Miyajima, Japan
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Miyajima Ropeway: Momijidani Station
Visiting Picturesque Miyajima Island
Miyajima, Japan
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Mt. Misen Observatory
Visiting Picturesque Miyajima Island
Miyajima, Japan
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Daishoin Temple
Visiting Picturesque Miyajima Island
Miyajima, Japan

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Spending the Day in Victoria, Canada

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Canada’s city of Victoria makes for a wonderful day trip with multiple daily sailings by ferry from Vancouver and Seattle, Washington. Tourists can board a ferry in the morning, enjoy the majority of the day exploring Victoria, and sail back in the evening. Spend your day wandering the streets of Victoria, taking in sights such as the Fairmont Empress, Chinatown, and BC Legislature. Visit Victoria for yet another slice of what British Columbia has to offer visitors.

The Start of Your Day in Victoria

A good spot to begin your day at in Victoria is at the British Columbia Legislature. These impressive buildings house the Parliament for this region of Canada. The buildings are open to the public during the weekday. Walk into the building to admire the ornate stained glass windows and colorful murals adorning the inner lining of the rotunda. Inside the building you will see artifacts such as the Coat of Arms of British Columbia and a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Once back outside walk around the grounds in front of the BC Legislature for various statues and a Totem Pole.

From the BC Legislature, museum and history buffs will want to visit the Royal BC Museum. This museum is known for its extensive collection of artifacts from the First People of Canada. Behind the main building for the Royal BC Museum you will find a grove of Totem Poles. Near the Totem Poles are the historic sites of Helmcken House and St. Ann’s Schoolhouse, both managed by the Royal BC Museum. Helmcken House was home to a prominent politician in Canadian history, Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken. Within the Helmcken House you’ll see colonial age furniture. Next-door to Helmcken House is St. Ann’s Schoolhouse, one of the oldest log cabins in western Canada.

After visiting BC Legislature, the Royal BC Museum, and the other historical sites nearby, walk three minutes on Government Street to the Fairmont Empress. Ever since opening in 1908 this fancy hotel has welcomed guests to stay in their ornate rooms or spend time enjoying afternoon tea. Across from the Fairmont Empress you will find the official tourism office for Victoria. The Victoria Visitor Centre is a good place to pick up maps and specific information on sights found in Victoria.

Downtown Victoria

The Fairmont Empress is next to the Downtown district of Victoria. You’ll reach the main section of Downtown by staying on Government Street. Around Government Street and the surrounding streets you will find different types of artwork, statues, and historical buildings such as St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Besides the sights Downtown is home to many restaurants and shops and is a great place for souvenir shopping. Among the shops and restaurants you’ll find Canadian specific brands, such as the clothing store Roots and the fast food restaurant Tim Hortons.

When you’re ready for a food break if you are by the water head to Red Fish Blue Fish. Fans of seafood will find this shack off Wharf Street a great place to eat. Order from a menu that includes fish and chips, fish sandwiches, and tacones. For the uninitiated tacones are hand rolled tacos made with fresh tortilla and your choice of seafood such as salmon or tuna. The fish sandwiches center around a bread roll reminiscent of a hot dog bun, filled with your choice of salmon, fried oysters, tempura cod, or tempura salmon. While you eat your scrumptious meal enjoy the view of the water, boats, and wharf.

Chinatown

Stretching back as far as 1858, Victoria is home to Canada’s oldest Chinatown. Located north of the Fairmont Empress, Chinatown centers on Fisgard Street. Here you will find more shops and restaurants to explore. A popular tourist sight in Chinatown is Fan Tan Alley. Between Fisgard Street and Pandora Avenue, Fan Tan Alley is the narrowest street in Canada. Tourists enjoy walking through Fan Tan Alley and taking photos of themselves and others touching both sides of the Alley’s walls. Besides shops and restaurants you’ll find many coffee and tea houses to choose from if you’re ready for a drink and a break.

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Victoria - Canada

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BC Legislature: 48.419617, -123.370285
Royal BC Museum: 48.419811, -123.367450
Helmcken House: 48.419630, -123.367024
St. Ann’s Schoolhouse: 48.419952, -123.366691
Fairmont Empress: 48.421667, -123.367847
Victoria Visitor Centre: 48.422834, -123.368810
St. Andrew’s Cathedral: 48.425384, -123.363310
Red Fish Blue Fish: 48.424363, -123.370325
Fan Tan Alley: 48.428543, -123.367918
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BC Legislature
Spending the Day in Victoria, Canada
British Columbia Legislature, Belleville Street, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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Royal BC Museum
Spending the Day in Victoria, Canada
Royal BC Museum, Belleville Street, Victoria, BC, Canada
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Helmcken House
Spending the Day in Victoria, Canada
Helmcken House Pioneer Doctor's Residence, Victoria, BC, Canada
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St. Ann’s Schoolhouse
Spending the Day in Victoria, Canada
Helmcken House Pioneer Doctor's Residence, Victoria, BC, Canada
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Fairmont Empress
Spending the Day in Victoria, Canada
Fairmont Empress, Government Street, Victoria, BC, Canada
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Victoria Visitor Centre
Spending the Day in Victoria, Canada
Visitor Centre - Tourism Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
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St. Andrew’s Cathedral
Spending the Day in Victoria, Canada
St. Andrew's Cathedral, View Street, Victoria, BC, Canada
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Red Fish Blue Fish
Spending the Day in Victoria, Canada
Red Fish Blue Fish, Wharf Street, Victoria, BC, Canada
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Fan Tan Alley
Spending the Day in Victoria, Canada
Fan-Tan Alley, Victoria, BC, Canada
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Vancouver’s Granville Island

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Granville Island in Vancouver is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Set along the waters of False Creek, Granville Island offers visitors scenic views. Spend the day shopping or eating at the various stalls within the Public Market or in the surrounding buildings. Unwind while perusing galleries or drinking beer at the Granville Island Brewery. Enjoy the waterfront while strolling along nearby Island Park Walk. Granville Island has so much to offer that tourists will find it one of the top highlights of their trip.

Getting to Granville Island

Tourists planning to visit Granville Island will arrive either by car, bus, or boat. Granville Island is accessible by car but you will be fighting with other drivers for the few parking spots available. The better plan is to arrive at Granville Island by bus or by boat. To get from Downtown to Granville Island you will board the #50 bus. The route for bus #50 runs through various Vancouver districts. Visitors staying in and around Gastown, Chinatown, Downtown, or Yaletown will take bus #50 southbound. Hop on the #50 bus labeled False Creek via Granville Island and exit at the W 2 Ave at Anderson Street stop. From the bus stop it will be a four-minute stroll to Granville Island via Old Bridge Walk.

A unique way to reach Granville Island is via boat on the waters of False Creek. Two boat companies sail along False Creek, Aquabus and False Creek Ferry. Both boat companies have eight docking locations along the waters of False Creek. You can catch one of the boats in popular tourist locations such as Yaletown or near BC Place at the Plaza of Nations. Boats land at each of the docks every 15 minutes so you won’t have to wait very long to catch the next boat. The simplest thing to do is arrive at the dock and hop on to whichever boat company arrives first.

Once on board you’ll pay the driver the fare to ride the boat. The boats hold between twelve and twenty passengers at a time. Passengers sit on benches next to windows so everyone has a view during the ride. The boats sail quietly along the waters of False Creek and offer a relaxing journey while sailing past the buildings of Vancouver. Exit the boat at the Granville Island dock. From the dock you are steps away from the main building for the Granville Island Public Market.

Granville Island Public Market

The most popular place to visit on Granville Island is the Public Market. Inside this building you will find a vast array of vendors. You can buy baskets of various fruits or bouquets of flowers. Other vendors sell pastries and bread still warm from the oven. Locals decide between fresh pasta and ravioli to bring home to cook later. It’s easy to check off your grocery list at the Public Market.

A few vendors at the Public Market sell food products you can eat on site. Lee’s Donuts is a must for those with an inclination towards fried dough. The Honey Dip Donut is a popular choice and tastes delicious. Enjoy your food with a cup of coffee from either JJ Bean or Petit Ami. If you are in the mood for more pastries and heartier fare stop at Laurelle’s Fine Foods. Laurelle’s is a bakery deli that sells meat pies and muffins. The dough on the meat pies flake right off and melt in your mouth.

Next to the Public Market are more buildings full of shops, galleries, and other food options. Those who wish to sample a local beer will want to swing by Granville Island Brewing. To maximize your tasting opportunity order a flight which allows you to sample up to four different beers. The Island Lager is their original beer and a fan favorite. For a true Canadian experience be sure to sample the Maple Shack Cream Ale. In addition to beer Granville Island Brewing offers a food menu with dishes such as poutine.

Island Park Walk

After you’re finished with Granville Island head to nearby Island Park Walk. This path just on the other side of Granville Island offers views of Granville Island plus residential homes and boats docked at the harbor. The path is especially stunning in the fall time when the leaves have changed colors. Here along the path visitors can dream of living next to Granville Island. Imagine waking up on a weekend morning and heading over to pick up items for brunch at the Public Market.

If daydreaming leaves you famished, at the end of Island Park Walk you will find Go Fish. This popular eatery sells quality seafood dishes from a simple shack. For fried golden perfection order the classic fish and chips. Or try the fish sandwich with either seared ahi tuna or salmon. Afterwards take Island Park Walk back the way you came towards either the #50 bus or to the Ferry Creek docks to catch the next boat home.

 

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Granville Island

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Granville Island 49.270622, -123.134741 Overview of Vancouver, Canada and Vancouver’s Granville Island

 

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Overview of Vancouver, Canada

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Ask ten different people what their favorite thing to do in the Canadian city of Vancouver is and you are likely to get ten different answers. The reason you get varied responses stems from the fact that few places in the world compare to Vancouver. To the casual observer Vancouver is just another metropolitan city. Yet Vancouver differs from other major cities because it embodies diversity. In one day visitors can hike Stanley Park in the morning and then shop Downtown among the masses in the afternoon. Foodies buy produce at Granville Island one moment and enjoy fine dining in Yaletown the next. Convention goers attend meetings at Canada Place and then lounge waterside at English Bay Beach. Tourists walk historic Gastown before slurping noodles in Chinatown. These dichotomies exist in harmony with the diverse people of Vancouver.

With something for everyone Vancouver as a tourist destination appeals to even the most discerning of travelers. First time travelers looking at a map of Vancouver might notice that the city looks like an oyster shell. As anyone who loves oysters knows, you’ll want to crack that shell open and dig into what Vancouver offers. Vancouver isn’t a difficult city to navigate but the easiest way to get oriented is to begin somewhat in the middle of the city in the Downtown district. Downtown is home to the financial and business districts of the city. Among the skyscrapers you will find the Vancouver Central Library. This stunning building is an architectural contrast to the stark skyscrapers. In Downtown you’ll want to make your way to Robson Street. This is one of the main thoroughfares in Vancouver and stretches the length of the city.

On one end of Robson Street is BC Place, a stadium where one can catch either a sporting or musical event. Continuing on and around Robson Street you’ll find a variety of shops. A number of the stores are global brands but a few, such as Roots, are Canadian brands. Few tourists will walk the entirety of Robson Street, but those that do wind up at Stanley Park. If you don’t wish to walk, or don’t have a car, you will reach Stanley Park by bus. Stanley Park is a massive public space with paved paths for bicyclists, roller bladders, and walkers. Here visitors enjoy trees, totem poles, and the waters of the Vancouver Harbour.

To the east of Downtown you will find Canada Place. If you arrived by cruise ship, you will have most likely disembarked at this spot. Besides being a cruise ship terminal, Canada Place is home to a convention center and hotel. Near Canada Place is the oldest neighborhood in the city, the historic Gastown. First time tourists visit Gastown at least once, to see the Steam Clock and a chance to shop for souvenirs. Next to Gastown is Canada’s largest Chinatown. Vancouver’s Chinatown traces its history back to 1885 and to this day is full of shops and restaurants. While in Chinatown you will want to visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This tranquil spot is a wonderful place to recharge and center oneself.

West of Downtown, in simplest terms, is synonymous with food. The regions of the West End and Yaletown are quintessential foodie neighborhoods. Here you will find well-established diners among up and coming restaurants. Further west, across the waters of False Creek, is Granville Island. Here at the Granville Island Public Market are vendors galore. Visitors can buy fresh produce, straight out of the oven breads and pastries, and a plethora of other food products.

Regardless of how you spend your time in Vancouver you will find navigating the city easy. Those who enjoy walking will find wide avenues and flat surfaces. Bus routes traverse throughout the entire city. Ferries sail to Granville Island or further afield to places such as the city of Victoria. Vancouver’s rapid transit system, SkyTrain, runs through parts of Downtown. The SkyTrain connects Vancouver to the cities of Burnaby, New Westminister, Surrey, and Richmond. For those arriving in Vancouver by airplane, the SkyTrain’s Canada Line will get you from Vancouver International Airport to your destination in no time.

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Vancouver

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Vancouver Central Library: 49.279754, -123.115679
Robson Street: 49.284605, -123.124824
BC Place: 49.276750, -123.111999
Stanley Park: 49.298319, -123.137684
Canada Place: 49.289124, -123.116498
Gastown: 49.282808, -123.106688
Chinatown: 49.280600, -123.100553
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden: 49.279649, -123.103913
West End: 49.285646, -123.130621
Yaletown: 49.275702, -123.119907
Granville Island: 49.270622, -123.134741
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Vancouver Central Library
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver Public Library- Central Branch, West Georgia Street, Central, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Robson Street
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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BC Place
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
BC Place, Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Stanley Park
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
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Stanley Park: Vancouver’s Urban Park

Stanley Park Drive, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Canada Place
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, Canada Place, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Gastown
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Gastown, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Chinatown
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Chinatown, East Pender Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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West End
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
West End, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Yaletown
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Yaletown, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Granville Island

Overview of Vancouver, Canada
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Vancouver’s Granville Island


Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

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A Hong Kong Day Trip

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A great Hong Kong day trip is one where the experience differs from that of the districts of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Hong Kong is more than just city escapades through skyscrapers and shopping malls. Allocating part of your trip to visiting other districts of Hong Kong allows you the opportunity to see another side of Hong Kong. A Hong Kong day trip means seeing first hand a bustling fishing village or hiking lush green hills. You can pay homage to a gigantic Buddha or soak in Portuguese influence. These Hong Kong day trips give you a glimpse into how locals live on outlying islands. Four unique Hong Kong day trips are those to Cheung Chau, Lamma Island, Lantau Island, and Macau.

Boats in Cheung Chau's harbor - Hong Kong, China

Boats in Cheung Chau’s harbor

 

Cheung Chau

Cheung Chau is part of Hong Kong’s Island Districts. You reach Cheung Chau by boat in under an hour from Hong Kong Island’s Central Ferry Pier 5. Unlike Hong Kong Island or Kowloon, Cheung Chau is a bustling fishing village. The harbor is full of fisherman working on their boats. At the waterfront vendors sell fish at markets while restaurants serve up fresh seafood dishes. Besides seafood tourists will enjoy Cheung Chau’s narrow streets with their shops, bakeries, and food stalls. Cheung Chau may translate from Cantonese into “Long Island” yet the island itself is small enough to entice visitors for a few hours. This makes Cheung Chau a perfect island for those tourists on a time crunch but still wanting to explore one of Hong Kong’s outlying islands.

Check out our article on Cheung Chau for more on visiting this island: Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island

 

Part of the Lamma Island Famly Walk Trail - Hong Kong, China

Part of the Lamma Island Famly Walk Trail

 

Lamma Island

Lamma Island is one of Hong Kong’s largest islands and one of the closest to Hong Kong Island. The island’s proximity and size is why Lamma Island is a perfect day trip for those visiting Hong Kong. The lush green hills of Lamma Island and lack of vehicles makes this Hong Kong day trip a peaceful change of pace from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Lamma Island has two main villages, Sok Kwu Wan and Yung Shue Wan. These villages connect to one other by a concrete trail that takes 1-1/2 hours to walk. The trail has amazing views of the island and the surrounding waters. Besides the trail, Lamma Island has beaches that are great for hot days and restaurants that serve delicious seafood. Visitors will reach Lamma Island by boat in under an hour on direct sailings from Hong Kong Island’s Central Ferry Pier 4.

Check out our article on Lamma Island for more on visiting this island: Hong Kong’s Lamma Island

 

Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island - Hong Kong, China

Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island

 

Lantau Island

Lantau Island is Hong Kong’s largest island and one of its least populous islands. What draws visitors to Lantau Island is the giant Tian Tan Buddha. Located at the Po Lin Monastery this bronze Buddha is one of the largest seated outdoor Buddha statues in the world. Visitors can get closer to the Buddha by climbing a staircase consisting of 268 steps. Travel to the Monastery and Buddha begins by reaching Lantau Island using either MTR (Mass Transit Railway) or by boat. The MTR Station you need to arrive at is Tung Chung Station, Exit B. If you are traveling by boat you will leave from Hong Kong Island’s Central Ferry Pier 6 to Mui Wo. Once on Lantau Island you will travel on a gondola (Ngong Ping 360) or bus to the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha. The gondola ride leaves from the MTR Tung Chung Station and is a 25-minute ride. Buses from either MTR Tung Chung Station or Mui Wo Ferry Pier will get you to your destination in 40-minutes.

 

St. Paul Ruins - Macau, China

St. Paul Ruins – Macau

 

Macau

Of the four destinations listed in this article Macau is the only one not part of Hong Kong’s Islands District. In fact Macau isn’t part of Hong Kong but its own city. As Hong Kong was once under British rule, Macau was once part of Portugal. The mix of Portuguese and Chinese influence makes Macau an interesting Hong Kong day trip. To visit Macau from Hong Kong visitors must leave from the Macau Ferry Terminal on Hong Kong Island. The trip takes an hour by boat. Tourists will want to visit the ruins of St. Paul and the Kun Iam Statue and Temple. Besides the sights enjoy walking the mosaic-tiled streets amid buildings painted in calming shades of yellow, orange, and red colors. Take your time exploring the neighborhood’s shops and restaurants. A quirky spot to visit is the Macau Fisherman’s Wharf Convention and Exhibition Centre. The Centre’s buildings are replicas of ancient Greek and Chinese architecture. Visitors who gamble will enjoy Macau’s status as the Las Vegas of Asia. There are plenty of casinos to gamble at such as the Sands Macao, Wynn Macau, Venetian MacauMGM Grand Macau, and Casino Lisboa.

 

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Hong Kong Day Trips

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Cheung Chau: 22.201618, 114.026501
Lamma Island: 22.200006, 114.135017
Lantau Island: 22.253985, 113.904984
Macau: 22.198745, 113.543873
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Cheung Chau
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island

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A Hong Kong Day Trip

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong
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Lamma Island
Hong Kong’s Lamma Island

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A Hong Kong Day Trip

Lamma Island, Hong Kong
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Lantau Island
A Hong Kong Day Trip
Tian Tan Buddha, Hong Kong
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Macau
A Hong Kong Day Trip
Macau

 

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Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island

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Cheung Chau - Hong Kong, China

Cheung Chau

 

Cheung Chau is part of Hong Kong’s Island Districts. Located less than an hour away from Hong Kong Island, Cheung Chau allows visitors a chance to glimpse a different side of Hong Kong.   Here in Cheung Chau is a bustling fishing village. The harbor is full of fisherman working on their boats. At the waterfront vendors sell fish at markets while restaurants serve up fresh seafood dishes. Besides seafood tourists will enjoy Cheung Chau’s narrow streets with their shops, bakeries, and food stalls. Cheung Chau may translate from Cantonese into “Long Island” yet the island itself is small enough to entice visitors for a few hours. This makes Cheung Chau a perfect island for those tourists on a time crunch but still wanting to explore one of Hong Kong’s outlying islands.

Central Ferry Pier 5 - Hong Kong, China

Central Ferry Pier 5 – Hong Kong Island

Cheung Chau Ferry Pier - Hong Kong, China

Cheung Chau Ferry Pier

 

The Ferry to Cheung Chau

Ferries to Cheung Chau leave from Hong Kong Island’s Central Ferry Pier 5. Departures are daily and either on the ordinary or fast service ferry. Ordinary service will get you to Cheung Chau in an hour while fast service will get you there in half an hour. Ticket prices vary depending on which ferry you board and if you travel Mondays to Saturdays or Sundays and public holidays. The most expensive fare is the adult fare on the fast ferry on Sundays and public holidays at $37.20 HKD ($4.80 USD). Ferries that leave from Hong Kong Island’s Central Ferry Pier 5 sail direct to Cheung Chau Ferry Pier.

Boats in Cheung Chau's harbor - Hong Kong, China

Boats in Cheung Chau’s harbor

Fisherman heading to his boat - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

Fisherman heading to his boat

Bicycles along Cheung Chau's waterfront - Hong Kong, China

Bicycles along Cheung Chau’s waterfront

Dried Seafood - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

Dried seafood for sale

Egg custard from a food vendor in Cheung Chau - Hong Kong, China

Egg custard from a food vendor

San Hing Praya Street - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

San Hing Praya Street

 

Arrival in Cheung Chau

The moment you disembark the ferry on Cheung Chau the famous golden arches of McDonald’s will greet you. This fast-food restaurant is on the main road called San Hing Praya Street. If possible resist this American temptation and look back towards the water where you will see an overabundance of boats and fisherman. There aren’t many docks along the waterfront and fisherman make their way back to land on floating platforms attached to shore by ropes. Cheung Chau is an active fishing village and if you are a fan of seafood you will want to save your appetite for dining options other than McDonald’s. Along San Hing Praya you’ll notice rows of bicycles belonging to the hard-working people of Cheung Chau. Cars are not allowed on Cheung Chau so locals use bicycles or small-motorized carts to travel around the island. Continue your introduction to Cheung Chau by exploring San Hing Praya Street. Here you will find shops with souvenirs and food stalls where you can buy dried seafood or desserts such as mochi or egg custard. At the end of San Hing Praya Street is Pak She Praya Road. This road is full of restaurants selling seafood and this section of town is a great place to eat a meal at if you are hungry.

Pak Tai Temple - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

Pak Tai Temple

An altar inside the Pak Tai Temple - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

An altar inside the Pak Tai Temple

 

Cheung Chau Temple

From the Cheung Chau Ferry Pier turn left on San Hing Praya Street. Turn right past the playground at Pak She Third Lane. This street will take you to one of the main temples on the island, Pak Tai Temple. Walk Pak She Third Lane until you reach Pak Tai Temple on the right-hand side. The temple is open to the public but remember, be respectful inside this holy place of worship. Dedicated to the Taoist God of the Sea the temple has four stone lions that great you as you ascend the steps to the shrine. Before entering the temple notice the ornate statues of dragons at the top of the temple. Throughout the temple you will see various figurines and murals such as that of a tiger and their cub.

Steamed buns sold by a street vendor in Hong Kong, China

Steamed buns sold by a street vendor

Tung Wan Beach - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

Tung Wan Beach

 

Tung Wan Beach

From Pak Tai Temple you will walk towards the direction you came, but this time on Pak She Street and San Hing Street. These streets include bakeries selling various steamed buns and food stalls selling different flavored fish balls. From the food stalls and stores take either Kwok Man Road or Tung Wan Road towards Tung Wan Beach. This beach is popular with tourists and locals alike on hot days.   After you’ve enjoyed the sun, water, and sand continue exploring the various streets around Tung Wan Beach. Along these streets are stores used by locals such as apothecaries, grocery stores, and stores selling household goods. As you walk among the streets notice the small altars dedicated to various deities.

A street in Cheung Chau - Hong Kong, China

A street in Cheung Chau

An altar in the streets of Cheung Chau - Hong Kong, China

An altar in the streets of Cheung Chau

 

Tai Hing Tai Road

Make your way through the various streets, heading past the Cheung Chau Ferry Pier and on to Tai Hing Tai Road. On Tai Hing Tai Road is Cheung Chau Market. Inside are various vendors selling meats, seafood, and fruits to locals. Around the market are hawker style food stalls and restaurants. Pick any of the restaurants to eat at and enjoy fresh seafood dishes such as salt and pepper crab or seafood combination fried rice.

Cheung Chau Market - Hong Kong, China

Cheung Chau Market

Salt and pepper crab - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

Salt and pepper crab

Seafood combination fried rice - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

Seafood combination fried rice

After your delicious seafood meal continue to explore the various streets before heading back to Cheung Chau Ferry Pier. Here at Cheung Chau Ferry Pier you will catch your boat ride back to Hong Kong Island.

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Cheung Chau

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Cheung Chau Ferry Pier: 22.208517, 114.028364
San Hing Praya Street: 22.209453, 114.028527
Pak Tai Temple: 22.212387, 114.027883
Tung Wan Beach: 22.210419, 114.029939
Tai Hing Tai Road: 22.205559, 114.026941
Cheung Chau Market: 22.206856, 114.028119
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Cheung Chau Ferry Pier
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island
Cheung Chau Ferry Pier, Hong Kong
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San Hing Praya Street
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island
San Hing Praya Street, Hong Kong
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Pak Tai Temple
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island
Pak Tai Temple, Cheung Chau, Hong Kong
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Tung Wan Beach
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island
Tung Wan Beach, Hong Kong
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Tai Hing Tai Road
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island
Tai Hing Tai Road, Hong Kong
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Cheung Chau Market
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island
Cheung Chau Market, Hong Kong

 

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Hong Kong Transportation

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A key to being a world-class city is having accessible transportation. Hong Kong transportation doesn’t disappoint with a variety of options that will get you to where you need to go. From the moment you land at the airport to the end of your trip you’ll have made it around Hong Kong with ease.

Please note that any times, prices, and currency conversions listed below are only correct for February 2016. For up-to-date pricing visit the Hong Kong transportation websites.

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)

You’ve landed at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), gone through customs, and retrieved your baggage. Now you’re wondering how you will get to your hotel. Just as you leave baggage claim you will find a helpful desk that sells tickets for the Airport Express. The Airport Express is a train that runs on a track with station stops at Asia World Expo, Airport, Tsing Yi, Kowloon, and Hong Kong. Travelers with hotel reservations in either Kowloon or Hong Kong Island will want to exit at the corresponding station stop. The best Airport Express ticket for tourists that are staying in Hong Kong for three or more days is the Airport Express Travel Pass. This pass allows for round trip passage between the airport and either Tsing Yi, Kowloon, or Hong Kong Stations. In addition, the pass includes three consecutive days of unlimited travel on the Mass Transit Railway (MTR). This pass is only available to tourists and the round trip passes costs $350 Hong Kong Dollar (HKD). With currency conversion that equals $45 United States Dollars (USD).

Once you have your Airport Express Travel Pass you will walk within the airport from baggage claim to the Airport Station. This short walk has you on your train in no time. Trains leave from the airport every 10-12 minutes and will have you in Central Hong Kong within 24 minutes. Another perk is that once you have arrived at either Kowloon or Hong Kong Station you can board free shuttle buses that will transport you to your hotel. Just read the signs for which bus line goes to your hotel, board the corresponding bus, and you are on your way. This same hotel shuttle is available for you to return to the train station to catch your return trip on the Airport Express.

Airport Express - Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong’s Airport Express

Station sign for MTR, Mass Transit Railway - Hong Kong, China

Station sign for MTR

Mass Transit Railway (MTR)

Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is fast, clean, and efficient. You will find stations throughout the city labeled in English and Chinese.  With only five dedicated (color coded) subway lines the MTR makes it easy to get around Hong Kong without having to rely on taxi drivers.  Signs posted throughout the MTR stations make it easy to decipher what direction you need to head to find your next train. For long distance destinations you transfer between train lines and walk to the correct platform. Station stops broadcast over loudspeakers within the trains in both English and Chinese so you won’t miss your stop. The only cautionary thing to keep in mind is that if possible avoid the MTR during peak commute times. During commute times so many people ride the MTR that you might be squished into trains. If you did not buy the Airport Express Travel Pass to ride the MTR you can buy tickets at the various MTR stations. If you plan on riding the MTR multiple times you can buy a one-day Adult Tourist Day Pass. The Adult Tourist Day Pass costs $65 HKD ($8.35 USD). A single ride ticket fare depends on the distance traveled and the cost ranges anywhere from $4 HKD ($0.50 US Cents) to $8.50 HKD ($1.10 USD).

Star Ferry

The Star Ferry has just one purpose. It takes passengers between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon by sailing over the Victoria Harbour. Tourists will want to ride the Star Ferry at least once during their trip for the magnificent views offered crossing the harbor. Ferries run every 8-20 minutes depending on the time of day. A one-way adult ticket is $2.50 (HKD) on weekdays and $3.40 (HKD) on weekends and public holidays. Converted into USD the fare costs 32 Cents or 44 Cents. This low fare makes the Star Ferry one of the cheapest modes of Hong Kong transportation, and the cheapest way to get between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Keep in mind that the Star Ferry can get packed with locals and tourists alike during commute hours.

Star Ferry with Kowloon in the background - Hong Kong, China

Star Ferry with Kowloon in the background

Star Ferry with Hong Kong Island in the background - Hong Kong, China

Star Ferry with Hong Kong Island in the background

There are three main piers for the Star Ferry. The Star Ferry runs between the piers of Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui and between the piers of Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. Kowloon’s pier of Tsim Sha Tsui is within walking distance to Nathan Road and various shopping opportunities. The Hong Kong Island pier of Wan Chai is near the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. From Wan Chai Pier you can walk twenty-minutes to the Wan Chai District, where you will find many great restaurant choices. The Central Pier on Hong Kong Island is a short walk to the MTR Hong Kong Station if you need to get to other parts of the city. In addition, the Central Pier is where you will catch other ferries to any of the neighboring islands.

Central Ferry Piers - Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong, China

Central Ferry Piers on Hong Kong Island

Island Ferry - Hong Kong, China

Island Ferry for Hong Kong

Island Ferry

If time permits you may take one of the various Island Ferries to nearby islands. Passengers embark on these Island Ferries at the Central Piers (accessible from either Central or Hong Kong MTR Stations). Many of these boats take travelers to outlying islands where locals live. Islands of note that tourists may find interesting to visit include Cheung Chau and Lamma Island. The cost of a one-way adult fare depends on two factors and the first is the ferry you take (ordinary, deluxe, or fast). The second is if you travel Monday to Saturday or on a Sunday and Public Holiday. Regardless of the ferry or day you select, fares are still cheap. One-way fares range from $13.20 HKD ($1.70 USD) at the low-end and $37.20 HKD ($4.77 USD) at the high-end. One of the 10 piers serviced by Central Piers is the Star Ferry service to Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon.

Taxis

There are many taxicabs available to use as Hong Kong transportation.  Depending on your destination taxi fares are cheap. With cheap fares you may find cab drivers won’t take you to your destination if isn’t far enough or worth their time. Short distances are best traveled by the MTR. If you plan on taking a taxi have your destination written in both English and Chinese characters. Many taxi drivers are not fluent in English so having the place written in Chinese will make it easier for you to get to your destination.

Line of taxis - Hong Kong, China

Line of taxis in Hong Kong

 

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Hong Kong Transportation

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Airport Station at HKG: 22.316058, 113.936503
Kowloon Station: 22.304306, 114.161475
Hong Kong Station: 22.284681, 114.158177
Wan Chai Pier: 22.283391, 114.176217
Tsim Sha Tsui Pier: 22.293810, 114.168227
Central Piers: 22.287843, 114.157384
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Airport Station at HKG
Hong Kong Transportation
Airport Station, Hong Kong
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Kowloon Station
Hong Kong Transportation
Kowloon Station, Hong Kong
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Hong Kong Station
Hong Kong Transportation
Hong Kong Station, Hong Kong
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Wan Chai Pier
Hong Kong Transportation
Wan Chai Ferry Pier, Hong Kong
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Tsim Sha Tsui Pier
Hong Kong Transportation
Star Ferry Pier, Hong Kong
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Central Piers
Hong Kong Transportation
Central Piers, Hong Kong

 

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