What exactly is it like to solo travel to Hong Kong? I thought I would ask my good friend, Elissa. If there is one person I met who defines wanderlust, it would be her. After growing up and graduating from a university in southern California, she made her way to Washington, D.C. for one year before deciding to live in Seoul, South Korea. She’s spent her childhood camping all around the western United States and even a semester studying in Madrid and using her weekends to visit France, Italy, and Belgium, but until her move to South Korea, she hadn’t had a chance to travel around Asia. Since her mini-vacation days did not align with anyone else she knew, she decided to dedicate her first solo experience to travel to Hong Kong.
On her reasoning for why she wanted to travel to Hong Kong, Elissa said, “I was first introduced through a Chinese language film class I took in college. Ever since then it has been on my list of places to visit. I also knew I would be making this trip alone, so I wanted a place I knew was relatively safe.”
Passport in hand, bag packed, and ready to see the sites she had only seen in cinema until this point, Elissa headed towards a little hostel in Hong Kong called Check Inn HK. While figuring out transport from the airport to the hostel seemed to be an anxious experience, she was able to successfully navigate her way. She was thankfully met with a friendly and helpful staff, and her hostel was centrally located.
After days exploring, including a day trip to Macau, she couldn’t help but compare Hong Kong to her current home city. “Both are Asian metropolises, but they couldn’t be more different. Hong Kong had a much more international and diverse feel. Even though Seoul has a larger population, Hong Kong is much more crowded. The layouts of the city were extremely different as well. I got the feeling that everything in Hong Kong was built up on top of each other, which made for an interesting effect. I loved it!”
She also enjoyed her day trip to Macau. “It’s a former Portuguese colony, and it’s an easy day or weekend trip. You’ll feel like you’re in Europe If you want a change of scenery and to learn more about the history of the region, check it out.”
However, her biggest piece of advice concerning travel to Hong Kong is to avoid going when she went. “Do not go in the summer if you can help it (or the winter for our Southern Hemisphere readers). I went right during the rainy season. Since the city can be crowded normally, it feels congested on a rainy day. It’s not fun bumping your umbrella into everyone else’s, and the humidity makes it stuffy down in the subways.”
She also said, “I wasn’t able to see everything I wanted to because of the rain, and I was sweaty and wet the entire trip.”
In terms of traveling to Hong Kong by herself, she has a positive reflection with a few lessons learned. While she would definitely choose to travel again and enjoyed living by her own schedule and whims, she does warn it can get a bit lonely, especially if torrential downpours keep you inside a lot.
“It was an empowering experience. I was able to navigate a foreign city and nothing bad happened! I also ate in restaurants by myself, and once I got past how weird it can be, it was fun. However, I would make future trips shorter or make sure I was moving locations and cities frequently. By my fourth day I had run out of things to do because of the rain, and since I was alone, I got pretty bored.”
And her final piece of advice for traveling alone?
“Find out how safe and easy it is to navigate. Figure out how to get from place A to B before your trip because there may be no one to ask. Also, send someone your tentative itinerary and give them information of where you’re staying so someone knows where you are. I would also recommend registering your trip at your embassy or consulate. For the US, it’s called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Additionally, tell your banks that you’re traveling. You don’t want them to block your credit card. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask the locals for help. In my experience, they’re usually more than happy to point you in the right direction or give you a recommendation.”
Written by Samantha, Photographs by Elissa