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
and
Vancouver’s Granville Island


Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

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Mickey Mouse’s House: Hong Kong Disneyland

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For fans of Walt Disney’s theme park, Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. Regardless of how many times they visit the famed park a sense of joy overwhelms them. The park’s ability to bring forth the inner child in adults and to captivate the minds of children makes Disneyland a special place to visit. In 1955 the original Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California, U.S.A. Since then Disney has built five more parks around the world, including Hong Kong Disneyland. Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005 on Lantau Island. Fans of Disney will find Hong Kong Disneyland a great addition to the roster of theme parks.

Mickey Mouse ears on the train for the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Line - Hong Kong, China

Mickey Mouse ears on the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Line train

Statue of Minnie Mouse on the train for the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Line - Hong Kong, China

Statue of Minnie Mouse on the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Line train

Arriving at Hong Kong Disneyland

The easiest and most convenient way for visitors to reach Hong Kong Disneyland is by using public transportation, Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR). Whether you are arriving straight from the airport or leaving your hotel on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon you will take the MTR to the Sunny Bay Station. Once at Sunny Bay Station you will board the Disneyland Resort Line bound for Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. On the Disneyland Resort Line train you will have your first chance to get into the Disney mood. The train’s windows are in the shape of Mickey Mouse ears and throughout the train are statues of various Disney cartoon characters. Sit back and enjoy the short six-minute ride journey to the Disneyland Resort Station.

Welcome sign for the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Welcome sign for the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

Fountain with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse located outside the entrance to Hong Kong Disneyland - Hong Kong, China

Fountain with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse outside the entrance to Hong Kong Disneyland

Once you’ve arrived at the Disneyland Resort Station’s immaculate platform you will walk towards the welcome sign and on to the ticket booth and entrance to the park. What you will notice is that signs display both English letters and Chinese characters. The signs within the park and the signs for rides are in English and Chinese. Attractions and shows have either English audio or English subtitles. Anyone who understands either English or Chinese will navigate the park with ease. To enter the park you will need to buy tickets. Tickets are available ahead of time on-line or at the park’s ticket booths. Ticket prices in 2016 for a 1-day ticket: General Admission HK$539 (US$69), Child HK$385 (US$50), and Senior HK$100 (US$13). The 2-day ticket price: General Admission HK$739 (US$95), Child HK$525 (US$68), and Senior HK$170 (US$22).

Those who have visited Disneyland in California will find the low admission price a welcome surprise. The Hong Kong Disneyland General Admission 1-day ticket price is a third cheaper than the same ticket in California. Keep in mind that the cost differential could relate to the size of the parks. Hong Kong Disneyland is not as large a park as the one in California. If you visit Hong Kong Disneyland on an off-peak day you can ride every attraction and see every show within one day. If your schedule is flexible you will want to visit the park on an off-peak day. A mid-week day during non-holiday, non-school vacations, is the best chance to visit the park with the fewest amounts of people.

Mickey Mouse flower bed in front of Hong Kong Disneyland's Main Street Train Station - Hong Kong, China

Mickey Mouse flower bed in front of Hong Kong Disneyland’s Main Street Train Station

Sleeping Beauty Castle (Top portion of the Castle was going through renovations when this photo was taken) - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Sleeping Beauty Castle (top portion of the Castle was undergoing renovations when this photo was taken)

Inside Hong Kong Disneyland

After you have purchased your tickets you will enter the park. As you enter the park grab a map and the Times Guide with up-to-date information on when the parade, fireworks, and stage shows start. Once you pass the entrance gate visitors first see a flowerbed of the familiar face of Mickey Mouse and the Disneyland Main Street Train Station. Continue past the flowerbed and you will find yourself on Main Street. This replica of a Main Street in U.S.A. has shops filled with souvenirs, clothes, and candies. Walk Main Street to the Sleeping Beauty Castle. This location is a great meeting spot for groups that may get separated at any point during the day. From this central location you can reach any of the six lands found within Hong Kong Disneyland. Each land has attractions, shops, and eating venues. Choose from starting your day at Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, or Toy Story Land.

Tomorrowland - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong Disneyland’s Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland's UFO Zone - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Tomorrowland’s UFO Zone

Tomorrowland

Hong Kong Disneyland’s Tomorrowland has four attractions that are found in California’s Disneyland. Rides include Space Mountain, Orbitron, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and Autopia. Besides those rides two other attractions are in Hong Kong Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. The UFO Zone is a place for kids to play with water. The other attraction is the Stitch Encounter, an interactive video featuring Stitch from Disney’s Lilo & Stitch. In 2016 Tomorrowland will open a unique attraction, the Iron Man Experience. The Iron Man Experience will be the first official ride by Marvel inside any of the six Disney parks. Details at a Disney expo showcased how the ride has you flying alongside Iron Man as you help save the city from a villainous attack.

Mad Hatter Tea Cups ride in Fantasyland - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Mad Hatter Tea Cups ride in Fantasyland

Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride in Fantasyland - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride in Fantasyland

Fantasyland

The land next to Tomorrowland is Fantasyland. Attractions include Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Cinderella Carousel, “it’s a small world” and The Mad Hatter Tea Cups. The Mad Hatter Tea Cups ride is similar in design in both the Hong Kong and California parks. Except the Tea Cups in Hong Kong is underneath a covered roof as opposed to under the open sky as in California. Another ride in Hong Kong Disneyland’s Fantasyland is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. This is the same ride found in Critter Country inside California’s Disneyland. A unique attraction to Fantasyland is “The Golden Mickeys”, a live action show celebrating Disney characters and movies. The show’s dialogue is in Chinese and large monitors on both sides of the stage display English subtitles.

Tarzan's Treehouse in Adventureland - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Tarzan’s Treehouse in Adventureland

Jungle River Cruise ride entrance with English speaker line in Adventureland - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

English speaker line for the Jungle River Cruise ride in Adventureland

Adventureland

From Fantasyland you will find yourself in Adventureland. Here visitors who’ve been to California Disneyland will find the familiar Tarzan’s Treehouse and Jungle River Cruise. As you enter the Jungle River Cruise attraction you will notice three different lines you can choose from to board the ride. The lines relate to what language the tour guide speaks on the boat you board. Choose the line for the language you know best, either English, Cantonese, or Putonghua/Mandarin.

Old West jail in Grizzly Gulch - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Old West jail in Grizzly Gulch

Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars ride in Grizzly Gulch - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars ride in Grizzly Gulch

Grizzly Gulch

After you’ve visited Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Adventureland the similarities between Hong Kong Disneyland and California Disneyland lessen. The land next to Adventureland is Grizzly Gulch. Grizzly Gulch is a recreation of an Old West town. The buildings are straight out of the Wild West complete with a bank, hotel, and a blacksmith. There is even a Grizzly Gulch Jail where you can have your photo taken as a wanted criminal poster. The main attraction is Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars, a ride that shares a resemblance to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in California’s Disneyland. Part of the ride has a mountain peak shaped as a bear. A similar peak is found in Disneyland’s other California park, California Adventure. The only other attraction in Grizzly Gulch is a zone set aside for water play.

Mystic Manor in Mystic Point - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Mystic Manor in Mystic Point

Three statues become one in the Garden of Wonders - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Three statues become one in the Garden of Wonders

Mystic Point

Mystic Point is the one land unlike any in California’s Disneyland but only has two attractions. One is the Garden of Wonders, with various sculptures that create 3D illusions. The other attraction is one of the best rides in the entire park. Mystic Manor is the ride you get from combining California Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion and Indiana Jones. The Manor is the home of Lord Henry Mystic and his monkey friend Albert. Riders board carriages that take them throughout the mansion. As you travel through the mansion you view various artifacts Lord Henry has accumulated on his journeys. Albert joins you on your travels and his hijinks cause a few commotions to keep you entertained. This lighthearted ride is super fun and worth riding multiple times since you won’t find this ride in any other Disneyland parks.

Sheriff Woody welcomes you to Toy Story Land - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Sheriff Woody welcomes you to Toy Story Land

Rex welcomes you to Toy Story Land - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Rex welcomes you to Toy Story Land

Toys and Games in Toy Story Land - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Toys and Games in Toy Story Land

Slinky Dog Spin ride in Toy Story Land - Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong, China

Slinky Dog Spin ride in Toy Story Land

Toy Story Land

The final land in Hong Kong Disneyland is Toy Story Land, based on the Toy Story movies. This land’s vibe resembles California Disneyland’s Mickey’s Toontown, but none of the rides or buildings in the two lands is the same. A gigantic replica of the Toy Story’s Rex welcomes you from one entrance to Toy Story Land and at the other entrance is a replica of Woody. Buildings are in the shapes of popular toys such as Lincoln Logs. Throughout the land you will see massive replicas of popular toys such as Tinker Toys, Dominos, Checkers, and Barrel of Monkeys. Attractions in this land lean more towards those found at traditional roller coaster theme parks. The Toy Soldier Parachute Drop is a ride where you sit in a carriage that is pulled up into the sky and then dropped at various speeds. The Slinky Dog Spin puts you in a carriage within Slinky Dog from the Toy Story movie. This ride goes around and around in a big circle. The final ride in Toy Story Land is the RC Racer where you race on a U-shaped track.

Dessert options at Hong Kong Disneyland - Hong Kong, China

Dessert options at Hong Kong Disneyland

Laksa and chicken satay at Hong Kong Disneyland - Hong Kong, China

Laksa and chicken satay at Hong Kong Disneyland

Food at Hong Kong Disneyland

Fans of Disneyland theme parks can buy their favorite snacks at Hong Kong Disneyland. On hot days you’ll still be able to cool off with a traditional Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar. Besides Mickey Mouse you can select Minnie Mouse Ice Cream Bar or a Sherbet Bar based on either Stitch or Lotso from Toy Story. Food carts sell churros, turkey legs, hot dogs, and corn on the cob. Within food halls you can buy hamburgers and other Western style cuisine. Food carts sell more localized cuisine such as red bean waffles, fish balls, and Hong Kong style tea. The food sold at Hong Kong Disneyland includes dishes from other Asian countries. For example you can buy a bowl of Laksa or chicken satay. Food carts even sell Korean squid and fish cake. The various dishes will keep you fueled up as you navigate the park.

Leaving Hong Kong Disneyland - Hong Kong, China

Leaving Hong Kong Disneyland (in the background on the left is the MTR Station)

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Hong Kong Disneyland

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Hong Kong Disneyland 22.315412, 114.039881 Mickey Mouse’s Other House: Hong Kong Disneyland

 

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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
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Star Ferry Pier, Hong Kong
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Central Piers
Hong Kong Transportation
Central Piers, Hong Kong

 

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Visiting Windsor and Eton

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Visitors to Windsor and Eton will find two charming English towns right next to each other. Windsor is famous for Windsor Castle. Windsor’s neighbor Eton is home to a prestigious boys’ boarding school. It is easy to visit both towns as they are within walking distance of one another. In fact, a seven-minute walk separates the two train stations that bring travelers to Windsor and Eton. If traveling from London, Windsor & Eton Central services travelers from London Paddington (via a platform at Slough). Travel between the two stations can take anywhere between 27-49 minutes depending on which train you catch. Travelers from London Waterloo will arrive at Windsor & Eton Riverside in one hour. Windsor & Eton Central is the train station closest to Windsor Castle, while Windsor & Eton Riverside is closer to the River Thames and Eton. Listed below are the main sights to visit in Windsor and Eton.

Windsor Royal Shopping

Upon exiting the train at Windsor & Eton Central you walk into the open air Windsor Royal Shopping center. The center was once a Victorian railway station and parts of the original architecture remains. A variety of shops and restaurants are at your disposal to cure your hunger or shopping pangs. If you are hungry and aren’t able to decide which restaurant to eat at try the Cinnamon Cafe. The Cinnamon Cafe serves pastries such as scones and other traditional English foods such as jacket potatoes. In addition to restaurants and clothing stores, Windsor Royal Shopping has candy and souvenir shops. Even more stores are found in the streets surrounding Windsor Royal Shopping. Both established English retailers and international brands are there to fulfill your shopping needs.

Windsor Royal Shopping - Windsor, England

Windsor Royal Shopping

Windsor Castle

The highlight of Windsor is Windsor Castle, one of the residences of the Royal Family. When the Royal Standard flag is flying above the Castle the Queen is home. If the British (Union) flag is on display the Queen is spending her time elsewhere. As Windsor is located near London many tourists flock to Windsor Castle via tour groups. If traveling without a group when you arrive at the Castle you may see a long line of people snaking along the street leading up to the ticket booth entrance. That long line is for tour groups and if you aren’t connected to a group you may go ahead to the ticket booth entrance. A Windsor Castle attendant will guide you to the line for non-tour group visitors. Admission to Windsor Castle includes a handheld device with a self-guided multimedia tour. Your ticket gives you access to the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, and St. George’s Chapel. Keep in mind that St. George’s Chapel is closed to tourists Sundays. If you plan on watching Changing the Guard be sure to check on the Windsor Castle website beforehand for up-to-date times.

Windsor Castle - Windsor, England

Windsor Castle’s Round Tower

Windsor Great Park

The easiest way to gain access to Windsor Great Park is by walking to the end of Park Street. There you will find the Park Street Gate. The Park Street Gate is closed during the nighttime but when open it allows you direct access to the Long Walk. The Long Walk is a three-mile tree-lined path through a section of Windsor Great Park. With Windsor Great Park stretching over 8 square miles of land, the Long Walk provides just a glimpse of the grounds. A view of a statue of George III rewards those who traverse the entire path. If the walking made you tired go to the pub right next to the Park Street Gate where you can grab yourself refreshment and recuperate.

Park Street Gate and Windsor Castle - Windsor, England

Park Street Gate (to the left) and Windsor Castle (center)

The Long Walk, Windsor Great Park - Windsor, England

The Long Walk, Windsor Great Park

River Thames and Eton

The River Thames separates the two towns of Windsor and Eton. Walk along the river to see swans frolicking in the water. You can watch rowing and motorboats sail the river. The river flows past the Alexandra Gardens. The gardens are open to visitors and are next to a parking lot if you drive to Windsor and need a spot to leave your car. Besides walking next to the river, several companies offer various boat trips along the river. You can cross over the River Thames by way of the Windsor & Eton Bridge, which connects the two towns of Windsor and Eton. At night Windsor Castle is lit up and the bridge provides a spectacular view. Across the bridge, on the Eton side, are several restaurants of which a few offer riverside seating. If you continue past the restaurants you will wind up on High Street. This street is lined with shops and leads you to Eton College, a boys’ boarding school. The architecture of the shops, restaurants, and boarding school are worth the stroll through the town of Eton.

River Thames - Windsor and Eton, England

River Thames and the Windsor & Eton Bridge

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Windsor and Eton Sights

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Windsor Royal Shopping: 51.482834, -0.609454
Windsor Castle: 51.483889, -0.604408
Windsor Great Park: 51.463062, -0.606337
Eton College: 51.495735, -0.604440
Alexandra Gardens: 51.484611, -0.613870
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Windsor Royal Shopping
Visiting Windsor and Eton
Windsor Royal Shopping, Goswell Hill, Windsor, United Kingdom
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Windsor Castle
Visiting Windsor and Eton
Windsor Castle, Windsor, United Kingdom
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Windsor Great Park
Visiting Windsor and Eton
The Long Walk, Windsor, United Kingdom
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Eton College
Visiting Windsor and Eton
Eton College, Windsor, United Kingdom
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Alexandra Gardens
Visiting Windsor and Eton
Alexandra Gardens, Windsor, United Kingdom

 

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Day Trips From London

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A week in London means a packed itinerary and a day trip to another town may be the furthest thing from your mind. Even so, you should devote a day to a city besides London. Visit other parts of England near London to allow yourself the opportunity to explore another side of the country. Day trips that offer a different experience than staying in London are Bath, Oxford, Reading, Stonehenge, and Windsor. Travel times listed in each heading are one-way train trips from London’s Paddington Station.

Bath – 90 minutes

Walk around London and you can’t imagine that Britain was once part of the Roman Empire. Travel to Bath and that evidence hits you smack dab in the face. The town of Bath is known for its hot springs and the Romans built bathhouses to harness the restorative water. Tourists can buy tickets for admittance into what was once a functioning bathhouse and learn the history of the town. Unlike hot spring locations in other parts of the world, Bath does not have public bathhouses open to visitors. Thermae Spa is the only place in Bath where you can pay to take a dip in water flowing from the hot springs. Before heading home stroll through Bath and admire the Roman architecture and quaint streets.

The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul - Bath, England

The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul – Bath

Oxford – 60 minutes

Tourists looking to explore England’s famed university towns choose between Oxford and Cambridge. Both are solid choices but Cambridge is a two-hour journey from London while Oxford takes an hour to reach by train. Oxford boasts over 30 different universities within walking distance. Just by being in Oxford one feels smarter as if intelligence is increased by osmosis. You will have the urge to duck into a library to crack open a book and study. When you arrive at the Oxford train station stop by the tourist information booth and buy the 2£ map that includes a walking tour. The walking tour will guide you past the top sites. Plan on the walk to take an hour to complete. The walk will take longer if you walk at a relaxed pace, explore the universities, and eat at one of the many restaurants in Oxford.

The Radcliffe Camera - Oxford University, England

The Radcliffe Camera – Oxford University

Reading – 30 minutes

Reading is not a town brimming with sites, but that’s the appeal. The streets from the train station lead you past various shops and to the Oracle shopping center. The Oracle provides a chance to shop in a mall without the same crowds that you find in London. Behind the Oracle is a riverfront reminiscent of a scaled version of the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas. Plenty of restaurant options around the river will replenish you during your shopping excursion. If you need a pause from the hustle and bustle of London consider Reading that break.

The Oracle Riverside - Reading, England

Reading – The Oracle Riverside

Stonehenge – 3 hours

Photos of the monument Stonehenge are recognizable around the world. Years ago tourists to the fabled grounds of Stonehenge could walk right up to the massive stones and place their hands directly onto the monument. Even though the experience of touching the stones is no longer allowed this prehistoric monument is a site to be seen. With a six hour round trip, this destination is the longest on this list to reach by train. The better plan is to tack Stonehenge along with another location such as Bath. Companies, such as Gray Line, have a bus tour that is nine hours and includes transportation to both Bath and Stonehenge. Travel with a tour group means that you will be on a schedule when at each location. At least you will visit both sites without having to spend six hours sitting on a train.

Stonehenge - Wiltshire, England

Stonehenge

Windsor – 35 minutes

The highlight of Windsor is Windsor Castle, one of the many residences of the Royal Family. If you see the Royal Standard flag flying above the Castle then you know the Queen is home. Tourists primarily descend upon Windsor by tour bus just to visit the Castle. Windsor is more than just the Castle and worth a few extra hours beyond the tour of the Castle grounds. If you arrive at Windsor & Eton Central railway station upon exiting the train are various shops and restaurants. Around Windsor Castle are more shops and restaurants. Next to Windsor Castle is Windsor Great Park that includes pathways such as the Long Walk. Another nice walk is across the River Thames to Eton College, a boys’ boarding school. The streets leading to Eton College are lined with shops and restaurants.

Windsor Castle - Windsor, England

Windsor Castle

 

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Day Trips From London

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Bath: 51.375801, -2.359904
Oxford: 51.752021, -1.257726
Reading: 51.454265, -0.978130
Stonehenge: 51.178882, -1.826215
Windsor: 51.481728, -0.613576
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Bath
Day Trips From London
Bath, United Kingdom
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Oxford
Day Trips From London
Oxford, United Kingdom
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Reading
Day Trips From London
Reading, United Kingdom
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Stonehenge
Day Trips From London
Stonehenge, Amesbury, United Kingdom
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Windsor
Day Trips From London
Windsor, United Kingdom

 

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Transportation Options in London

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A trip to London is expensive for a variety of reasons. Americans who travel to London will have a currency conversion rate that won’t be in their favor. As of November 2015 on average 1 British Pound equaled 1.50 US Dollars. The cost of the airline ticket runs high since flying into and out of London includes a slew of various taxes and fees. Your hotel and meals will be a big part of your budget. The need to pay for ground transportation on top of everything else is daunting. Fortunately, it is possible to save money when it comes to transportation.

From London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Express is one of the cheapest and fastest ways to get from Heathrow Airport into London. The Heathrow Express is a train that you board from terminals 2, 3, 4, or 5. Trains leave four times an hour. Depending on which terminal you board the train at it takes between 15 to 20 minutes to reach the London Paddington Station. From London Paddington Station you can connect to other parts of the city using London’s other means of transportation, such as the Underground. You buy tickets for the Heathrow Express online or at the station’s ticket office.

Heathrow Connect is a popular means of transportation for employees of Heathrow Airport because of its stops in nearby suburban districts. Heathrow Connect is a slower train alternative to the Heathrow Express, but it is useful for tourists. If you are not traveling into London but need rail connections to other parts of England then you might need to use Heathrow Connect. For example, you can buy your ticket at the ticket office and take Heathrow Connect one stop to the Hayes & Harlington Station. From there you can find a connecting train to Slough or any other train station that has multiple connections that can whisk you away to your destination.

Paddington Underground Station - London, England

London Underground

The London Underground, nicknamed the Tube, is an inexpensive and quick way to navigate London. Tickets available to ride the Tube include single ride tickets, day passes, multi-day passes, and a pay-as-you-go card. Two factors will help you decide which ticket to buy. The number of days you plan on staying in London and where in London you will be traveling. London is separated into various zones, the number of zones you cross using the Underground will help you decide which ticket you need to buy.

To save money you will want to buy either the Travel Card or the Oyster Card. The Travel Card is a paper ticket that can be used within the center zones of London for a set number of days. A seven-day Travel Card exists but is not available to buy in London and must be purchased before your trip. The Oyster Card is a plastic card that can be used in most zones. An Oyster Card has a balance that is deducted as you travel. A benefit of the Oyster Card is that it has a travel cap limit each day. This means once you’ve reached that limit any other journeys on that day are free. For that reason alone if your plans include many trips on the Tube you will want to buy the Oyster Card.

Transport for London is a UK government website with a plethora of information, including information on the various ticket buying options. Visit Britain, the “official shop of the British Tourist Board” has a page on their website with advice on which transportation ticket you should buy when in London. You can buy your tickets online through Visit Britain, including the aforementioned seven-day Travel Card.

Shard and Underground - London, England

Shard and Underground

Other London Transportation

The iconic taxis you can find throughout London are ready to take you to your destination. Each taxi driver must pass an intense exam to become licensed. The taxi drivers have memorized London’s streets and can navigate with ease without needing a GPS device. Besides taxis London has an extensive affordable public bus system. Additionally, various companies offer Hop on Hop off bus tours for a fee. Gray Line is a company that sells Hop on Hop off bus tours, specific tours of London, and day trips from London.

Taxis in front of Buckingham Palace - London, England

Taxis in front of Buckingham Palace

Destinations Beyond London

If your travels will take you elsewhere besides London you will want to consider purchasing a rail pass. It is pricey to buy just one-way point-to-point train tickets for multiple trips. With the right rail pass you can save money. BritRail Passes are not available to buy in Great Britain so you will want to be sure to buy them before your trip. Which pass to buy will depend on where you will be traveling. For example, if you will travel to popular tourist destinations such as Bath or Oxford then you will want to buy the BritRail South West Pass. If you plan on traveling through out Great Britain the best pass will be the BritRail GB Pass. Rail passes are bought for a specified number of days, used either on consecutive days or over a set number of days. The Visit Britain site has a visual breakdown of which destinations each BritRail Pass services. Besides Visit Britain, Rail Europe is another site with information on the various BritRail Passes available. You can buy the BritRail Pass through Visit Britain or through Rail Europe. During checkout the companies will ask what your departure date is to make sure that you will receive your tickets before your trip. Before boarding your first train be sure to visit a train ticket office to have your pass activated.

First Great Western train - England

First Great Western – one of the train companies operating in England

 

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