Hokkaido: living Sakura

Hokkaido is the second largest island in Japan. The Tsugaru Strait separates it from the great island of Honshu although they remain united through the Seikan tunnel. The largest city of Hokkaido is Sapporo, its capital.

Hokkaido has several seasons for tourism: winter to enjoy its ski slopes, July to see the fields booming, or as in my case, early May to see the cherry blossom. Hokkaido is not the most popular or desired place to see the Sakura trees but I must admit it was worth it. There were hardly people, low season, pleasant temperature, sunny days, although sometimes the air rose with small rains. But it has been one of my best trips ever made alone along with my camera.
The time needed depends on how you are going to move around and if you are only going to see cities or not. In my case, were 8 days.
The chosen route was: 3 nights in Sapporo, 2 nights in Hakodate, 1 night in Sapporo (transit), 3 nights in Asahikawa. Maybe if you move by car you don’t need so much time, so it depends a lot on transportation
What places to see in Hokkaido no matter is Sakura season or not?

  1. Sapporo
    • Maruyama Park
    • Mount Moiwa
    • Nakajima Park
    • Sapporo TV Tower
  2. Otaru
    • Otaru Canal
    • Fukamizaka
    • Ryugu Shrine
    • Temiya Park 手宮公園
  3. Hakodate
    • Bay Area
    • Motomachi Park
    • Catholic Church Hakodate Motomachi
    • Hakodate Orthodox Church
    • Mount Hakodate
    • Cape Tachimach
    • Goryōkaku Park
  4. Asahikawa
    • Tokiwa Park
    • Asahikawa Forest Park
    • Furano & Biei

Sapporo

1. Walk at Maruyama Park

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/26Qk6gZSdjNipf5X6

Perfect place to walk and see its Shrines and highly recommended if you want to see Sakura trees! Great to spend a couple of hours and relax. To get here take the metro line Tozai to Maruyama Koen Station, exit 1

2. Go up to Mount Moiwa

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Location: https://goo.gl/maps/nbZex9mefAA8wpsw6

If you visited Maruyama Park before, this small mountain is about 40 minutes walking distance or also accessible by tram.
The views from the top are incredible, you can see almost all Sapporo city.
To get here, you must take the tram to Ropeway Iriguchi and follow directions to the cable car to buy the ticket to the cable car. The cable car leads to two different destinations and the price of the ticket varies depending on each one. The first stop is Moiwa Chufuku Station and the second is Moiwa Sancho Station. Sancho Station can also be accessed by walking through a small path at the top of Chufuku Station.
During this season the queue to get the ticket was quite short!

3. Walk in Nakajima Park

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/ECrxgfTwKBwiMm7EA

Another park located in the city center for a walk or boat ride.

You can get to this park by metro Namboku line to Nakajimakoen Station or get off at Susukino Station and walk to enjoy its traditional streets.

Near this park there are hundreds of restaurants. You cannot miss to try the Miso Ramen, typical dish of Sapporo!

So if you are still around and it is time for lunch, this local restaurant is really great and is about 10 minutes walking distance from the park up to the North

Recommendation: https://goo.gl/maps/c7b2zPnD9S6DBuJA8

4. Enjoy the views from the top of Sapporo TV Tower

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/33XnwJCAuJWsAVie8

Famous TV tower built in the 1950s, with an observation deck offering panoramic views of the city.

To get here you can by subway Namboku, Toho or Tozai lines to Ōdōri Station.

Opens every day from 9am to 10pm

Otaru

If you are staying in Sapporo, you can get to Otaru by train JR Hakodate Line departing from Sapporo Station. Cost: ¥740

1. Walk along Otaru Canal

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/H4J48gdA7JmrnZKd8

Perfect for a walk along its canal or boat ride. This canal runs through the entire town until almost reaching the Temiya park surrounded by bars, restaurants and shops.

From the Otaru Station you can reach here by walking

If you are looking for places to eat, there are some alleys near the canal that are quite popular! It is worth taking a look at the risk of queuing to get seated!

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/PYfdcKJMN8tXYPJC8

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2. Visit the popular street of Fukamizaka

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/nEkrmvLV1RYYBh6u9

This street is quite popular for the Love Letter movie. Highly recommended to pass through here in winter with the snowy streets. The rest of the year you don’t see anything in particular

3. Visit Ryugu Shrine

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Location: https://goo.gl/maps/wJBqi5eSdxM5MpP66

This Shrine is found only few meters away from Fukamizaka Street

4. Visit the Temiya Park 手宮公園

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/6tDD2PD2uH9vxB877

Personally, one of the pearls of Otaru and not so popular. The Sakura are incredibly beautiful in this park. To get here you have to walk along the canal and climb a hill. It takes roughly 30 minutes but it is totally worth it. From the top of the park there are views of Otaru and is full of picnic areas. Ideal place to come with family or couple or even for photography!

Hakodate

To get to Hakodate from Sapporo, you can take the JR Train from Sapporo Station or take a bus. The journey takes about 4-5 hours and reaches to Hakodate Station. The bus Station is right in front of the Train Station. You can get the train tickets directly from the vending machines or in case want to travel by bus you can book a bus ticket through this website. The buses are more affordable, provides big and comfortable seats and are individual! The seats are all separated from each other.

Once you arrive in Hakodate, is recommended to buy a ticket for 1 or 2 days for the tram. This would save us time and money when using this service, since the tram is quite traditional.

1. Stroll & eat at the Bay Area

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/8GXsE4Z8aTqAMiPY6

Popular place for food, snacking and stroll through the harbor. From here you can walk to the Midori no Shima park to have fantastic views of the Bay.

2. Walk to Motomachi Park

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/kmZQ8WK4DmJiweqKA

Popular place for its picturesque streets and houses/shops

3. Visit the Catholic Church Hakodate Motomachi

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Location: https://goo.gl/maps/ERSWS1PcvH342MZD8

Small, historic Roman Catholic church featuring Gothic architecture & a bell tower.

4. Visit the Hakodate Orthodox Church

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Location: https://goo.gl/maps/5VvmQot8VvaR9QiP9

Right next to the Catholic church is this circa-19th-century Russian Orthodox church with dramatic night lighting & a bell tower.

5. Go up to Mount Hakodate for Stunning Sunset

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Location: https://goo.gl/maps/zEneqoSvFbsXhApJ9

Place that cannot be missed if you visit Hakodate. The views of the city are stunning. Is recommended to go up an hour or even more in advance before the sunset as it is incredibly crowded and barely are free spaces. You can buy tickets from the cable car station

6. Visit Cape Tachimachi for another stunning Sunset

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/zMuLBvUFqFKmfbti6

Very unpopular place among tourists and well known among locals, a hidden pearl! The place is quite remote but easily accessible by tram. To do this, get off at Jujigai Station in case your tram has no destination Yachigashira Station
Once you arrive at Yachigashira Station, walk about 15 minutes to here as shown in the image below.

Likewise, if hunger calls you, there is a Lawson next to Yachigashira station!

Cape

7. Walk in Goryōkaku Park & Go up to its Tower for 360 Views

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/Xt4qtJqqZ1PhXtph7

100% recommended place to enjoy a beautiful day in the park. The sakura trees here are amazing and cover practically the whole park.
It is also recommended to climb the park tower, as it offers fantastic 360º views of the area

To get here, just take the tram to Goryokaku-Koen-Mae Station and walk to the park. There are indications along the way.
And in case hunger calls again, there is a fantastic restaurant right next to the park called AJISAI. Normally it is always full but the queue is quite fast. Shio Ramen is the typical dish of Hakodate! Must try!

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Asahikawa

To get to Asahikawa from Sapporo, it is possible by JR train Lilac-Kamui (express train) at about ¥ 4,810. The journey takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes and the views from the train are amazing.
The final destination is Asahikawa Station, right next to it there is an AEON mall that will be your best friend if you are here for a couple of days.

Right in front of the mall is the busiest and most popular street in the area, full of restaurants, shops, cafes … impossible not to find food here!

This city doesn’t offer many things to visit but it’s a great area to visit Furano & Biei! If you do not have a car, the train is your best transportation and Asahikawa is the best place to stay and move around

1. Relax at Tokiwa Park

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/s7kUsLwrmnRZvD1f6

This spacious, serene park with 2 large ponds, swans & cherry blossoms is a popular place to walk.

2. Walk in Asahikawa Forest Park

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Location: https://goo.gl/maps/1PoQyEbRsh4kpccC6

Ideal to spend a morning if you have no more plans to do. The sakura trees are really amazing at this park!

3. Explore Furano & Biei

If something is really worth seeing, it is Furano & Biei and their incredible fields and flowers. Although during the Sakura season the flower fields have not yet blossomed, the views and landscapes are really amazing.
To visit these two places by train, I would recommend visiting Furano first and not missing Tomita Farm. This farm offers beautiful lavender fields that bloom from June.

Furano

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/azbj2VstSSMUX1Va9

To get here, take the train and get off at Lavender-Farm Station or Naka-Furano Station. You can pay directly to the driver or buy tickets at Asahikawa and Furano station.

Biei

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/SmSQGt3J8eAdgFFCA

Once you finish watching Furano, take the train to Biei Station.
In this place there are several places to visit, such as Mild Seven Hills, Zerubu Hills or Hokusei-no-oka Observatory Park. To move around is recommended to rent electric bicycles or motorcycle/car. There is a rental shop right next to the station at this location.
If the night is not coming yet, I would recommend visiting Mild Seven Hills and Zerubu Hills. If you have lack of time as was my case, Mild Seven Hills is the perfect choice.

Along the road on the way to Mild Seven Hills there is a farm where you can taste very popular ice creams!

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Mild Seven Hills offers several points with incredible landscapes. Simply walk or move around and enjoy the nature

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Guangzhou

Guangzhou is a city in the south of the People’s Republic of China, capital of the province of Guangdong.

It has an international airport and communicates with Hong Kong (at a distance of 120 km) by trains, buses and a ferry service.

Easily accessible if you fly to Shenzhen or Hong Kong since it has trains every 15-20 minutes and it takes about 30-40 minutes from Shenzhen and about 1 hour from Hong Kong

What to see in this overcrowded city?

Although almost all cities in China look similar except for large cities, Guangzhou has its peculiarity. Likewise, I would not recommend staying more than 4 days unless you’re visiting the surroundings. A good area to choose hotel is the Kecun area, since it is central and moving around is not very expensive via taxi or didi

1. Canton Tower

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Location: https://goo.gl/maps/YsLkzyGPgbLKUJ6K6

If you have chosen the Kecun area to spend your nights, Canton Tower is just few minutes walking distance away. Recommended to visit during night time since this tower is the emblem of the city

2. Nightlife at Party Pier Plaza

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Location: https://goo.gl/maps/gvgRdF4Ro244foLm7

Both for nightlife and for enjoying its views or for a walk, this area is highly recommended. Great views of the city from the bars entrance area next to the taxi stops

3. Visit the Sacred Heart Cathedral

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Location: https://goo.gl/maps/vvf9A15bwKtBzb7M9

Soaring 1888 Catholic cathedral, one of only a few in the world constructed completely of granite.

Open from 8.30-11.30 and 14.30-1700 on Tue-Fri. 8.30-17.00 on Sat-Sun. Monday closed

4. Visit the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/dKfo15h2yQFxHVPP6

A few minutes walking distance from the cathedral is this temple. Recommended to stop by!

Open Monday to Sunday from 8am to 5pm

Entry fees: 5RMB

5. Visit the Guangxiao Temple

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Location: https://goo.gl/maps/7ifdUPGCkNyi5Bwq7

Ancient Buddhist temple complex known for its numerous iron towers, statues, gardens & bodhi tree

Also just a few minutes walking distance from the temple mentioned above is this temple. Perfect for families!

Entry fees: 5RMB

6. Stroll at Xiaozhou Ancient Village 霞洲村

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/cNevxeRTM9umwJwR9

This ancient town is located on the outskirts of the city about 40 minutes by car. Highly recommended to spend half a day and enjoy of its traditional alleys and complexes.

To locate this site once arrived to the area, simply enter the market area or follow the signs. It is also easy to find since the difference between modern and old streets is obvious

7. Explore the Huangpu Village 黄埔村

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/P7QMfHuMq5TuG7kX9

One of the most beautiful traditional villages of Guangzhou. Perfect to spend a day among its alleys. Full of markets, restaurants, temples, shops … and is not very popular yet!

The town is located on the outskirts but easily accessible by car. Taxis in Canton are not relatively expensive and will save us a lot of time that could be used to visit new sites

8. Stroll at TIT Creative Industry Zone

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/BMaCK8GJody53hCC8

Industrial zone transformed into business, coffee shops and art. Perfect place to walk, relax, have breakfast, night photography…

9. Walk by Zhujiang River Promenade

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Location: https://goo.gl/maps/u9a2tGph6NrrrAmC6

Great promenade that goes along the river with views of the city. The end of this promenade leads to the party area

10. Hike up to Baiyunshan

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/ZxkbDgbzNth7suKa9

This mountain has several entrances and routes. The roads are usually through the road, so there is no difficulty at all. Within the area there are food stalls and restaurants. The views from the top are decent but unfortunately the pollution usually covers the views a bit.

Along the way there are several points of interest, such as temples and monuments

 

Nha Trang

Nha Trang is a coastal city and capital of Khánh Hòa Province, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam. It is bounded on the north by Ninh Hoà district, on the south by Cam Ranh town and on the west by Diên Khánh District.

If you plan to visit this city, it is not necessary to be more than 3 or 4 days unless your purpose of the trip is scuba diving or just enjoy all day at the beach

What to see here?

1. Cathedral of Christ the King

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/XufeEH5ZNX1iJZQ58

Visit this church founded in 1886 by French missionaries. The best way to get there is by taxi. Highly recommended to download Grab app to move around. Taxi costs in Nha Trang is quite affordable.

Entry fees is about 20.000VND. Women can’t wear “too short” clothes

Opened every day from 7.30am to 11.30am & 2pm to 5pm

2. Long Son Pagoda

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/PNAAFpwRpabNCVDv7

Near the cathedral is Long Son Pagoda. From the top there are views of the city but not so spectacular!

Opened Monday to Saturday from 7.30am to 11.30am & 2pm to 5pm.

3. Alexandre Yersin Museum

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/xonYhbBa7mDZjarR6

Museum not very spectacular. For the price of the ticket doesn’t worth at all unless you have no other plans to do

Entry fees: 20.000VND

Opened every day from 7.30am to 11.30am & 2pm to 5pm

4. Ponagar Tower

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/aAsCYvY6yy3Hh59E9

One of the most popular and highly recommended sites. As I mentioned earlier, the best way to get here and by taxi or Grab

Entry fees: 22.000VND

Opened every day from 8am to 6pm

5. Hike up to Ba Ho Waterfalls

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Location: https://goo.gl/maps/273VdEavCCKBu95X7

One of the most recommended activities and the one I really enjoyed. To get here you can hire a driver through your hotel since is a bit remote. Normally hotels have this kind of services. The price varies depending on the hotel. In my case it was 600,000VND per person. The driver waits for you until the time you negotiate with him previously

The hike can last depending on how far you want to go. There are 3 waterfalls in total, and the last one has a medium-high level of risk, since the path of this hike is basically climbing rocks. It is recommended to wear good shoes if you want to reach the third waterfall. Some rocks may be slippery!

Once you get to the waterfalls by taxi, you have to cross a resort and follow the indications. The rocks have signals to follow so be aware for those dangerous paths not suggested to take by the signs

Opened every day from 8am to 4.30pm

6. Snorkel in Nhat Trang Bay

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Another recommended activity even if the seabed is not the most optimal in Nha Trang, or at least in tourist areas. You can hire this tour through your hotel
Normally there are 3 islands open for tourists, although depending on the hotel or services you can choose among them

7. Relax at the beach or enjoy the night life

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Relax on the immense beach of the city or simply enjoy the nightlife. The atmosphere is not spectacular but it is worth visiting!

My personal vision of Nha Trang is that it is not very spectacular. For 3 or 4 days it is enough as long as good weather accompanies you. There are more activities on the outskirts of the city, but for this you have to hire taxis or drive and mainly these places are a bit neglected and do not attract too much the attention if you have already visited similar places in Thailand!

Macau

Macau was formerly a colony of the Portuguese Empire, after Ming China leased the territory as a trading post in 1557. Macau is the gambling capital of the world. Its economy is heavily dependent on gambling and tourism, with the largest gambling revenue since 2006

Since Macau is the gambling capital of the world, the whole place is full of Casinos & Hotels which provide FREE shuttle buses to different destinations. So if you are not in the rush, this transportation system may make you save a lot of money

1. The Venetian

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One of the most popular hotels & casinos, people visit this place especially for The Grand Canal Shoppes

To go there, take The Venetian Shuttle Bus from the Ferry Terminal directly

2. Taipa Village

Taipa Village is a well-preserved non-gaming destination which offers a perfect alternative to the city’s casino resorts. Perfect for dining & souvenirs shopping.

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Through its streets you can easily find a lot of Portuguese restaurants with a really great food quality. Try there bacalhau à brás is a must!

To go there you can walk from The Venetian. The journey takes about 20 minutes and there are indications along the way

3. Taipa Houses-Museum

At the East of Taipa Village is located these colonial houses. Along the path to the south is located Our Lady of Carmel church & the Wetland

4. Senado

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Senado Square is a paved town square in Sé and part of the UNESCO Historic Centre of Macau World Heritage Site. Worth to have a look since it is on the way to the Ruins of St. Paul

To go there walk from Taipa Village to City of Dreams and take a shuttle bus to Grand Emperor Hotel & walk

5. Ruins of St. Paul

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The Ruins of St. Paul are the ruins of a 17th-century complex in Santo António. This place is a must too see but is often packed with thousand of tourists. However, worth to have a look

To go there walk from Senado to the Ruins. The journey takes about 10 minutes and there are a lot of shops along the way

6. Monte Fort

On the right side of the ruins is located the Fort. The top of the fort offers great views of the north of Macau

Hong Kong

As a Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong is situated on the southeast coast of China and offers plenty of places to visit inland and city outskirts

For nature & hiker lovers, Hong Kong is surprisingly amazing for these purposes despite is really an overcrowded city.

What to see in HK? I will number some recommended places accordingly to my own criteria and experience. I’m still exploring Hong Kong nowadays and I will continue updating my list

Please note that the list below is not sorted by relevance 🙂

1. The Peak

Victoria Peak is a mountain on the western half of Hong Kong island. Highly recommended for stunning views of Hong Kong, especially at night! To get there take the bus 15C from Central Pier 8 or take the Peak Tram from MTR Central Station exit J2. Alternatives, bus 15 from Exchange Square bus terminus near MTR Hong Kong Station Exit D or Minibus 1 from the public transport interchange at MTR Hong Kong Station Exit E

2. Quarry Bay

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One of the most popular places in Hong Kong for photography lovers, worth to take a look! To get there take the MTR to Quarry Bay Station and walk along King’s road towards Tai Koo until finding Montane Mansion (left side of the road). Further ahead on the road is located the other mansion with the red & yellow colors.

3. Ngong Ping

Ngong Ping is a highland in the western part of Lantau Island. It hosts Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha. Besides these 2 popular places, Ngong Ping Village is worthy to see and several meters away The Wisdom Path.

To get to the Big Buddha platform you have to climb its 270 stairs!

To get there take the MTR to Tung Chung Station. Once you reach to Tung Chung Station, take the exit B towards the bus station and grab the Bus 23. You will see some indications along the way to the bus station. The journey will take around 40 minutes and it costs around 17.20HKD (during holidays 27HKD). Alternative is by cable car on the way to the bus station (exit B and walk straight ahead)

More info here

4. Explore Tai O

Located in Lantau Island, Tai O is a fishing village in the western coast of Lantau island. With its unique design and traditional stilt houses, is one of the last authentic places in Hong Kong that still remaining.

To get there take the metro to Tung Chung Station. Once you reach to Tung Chung Station, take the exit B towards the bus station and grab the Bus 11. You will see some indications along the way to the bus station (Tai O direction). The journey will take around 50 minutes

More info here

5. Hike Lantau Peak

Lantau Peak or Fung Wong Shan is the second highest peak in Hong Kong and the highest point on Lantau Island, with a height of 934 meters above sea level.

The hike takes about 5 hours to complete and starts at Pak Kung Au and ends in Ngong Ping. To get there take MTR to Tung Chung Station exit B and grab the bus 3M. The bus station is passing by the cable car station. You have to get off at Pak Kung Au after 15-20 minutes of bus ride.

More info here

6. Hike Sunset Peak

Sunset Peak (Tai Tung Shan 大東山) is the third highest peak in Hong Kong located in Lantau Island and stands at a height of 869 metres (2,851 ft) above the sea level. The second highest peak is Lantau Peak located right in front of this mountain.

The hike takes about 4 hours to complete and starts at Pak Kung Au and ends at Nam Shan. To get there take MTR to Tung Chung Station exit B and grab the bus 3M. The bus station is passing by the cable car station. You have to get off at Pak Kung Au.

More info here

7. Visit Lamma Island

Lamma Island or Pok Liu Chau (博寮洲) is located to the southwest of Hong Kong and it is the third largest island. The main village is Yung Shue Wan with plenty of shops and restaurants. This village is perfect to spend few hours strolling around, to enjoy the local food or just to walk from Pak Kok San Tsuen 北角新村, Pak Kok Kau Tsuen 北角舊村 to Yung Shue Wan crossing by Tai Peng San Chuen. This walk is really pleasant and easy to finish within 1.5h hours

To get there take the MTR to Central pier 4, and grab a boat to Yung Shue Wan. The other side of the island is Sok Kwu Wan which is so far unexplored for me. There is a boat every half an hour and costs about 16HKD. The ride takes about 30 minutes and the approaching views of the island are really nice

More info here

8. Visit Sharp Island

One of the most popular island and famous for the BBQ activities, fishing, swimming and kayaking. There is a hiking trail from Kiu Tsui Port that cross the whole island to Hap Mun Bay Beach

To get there take MTR to Diamond Hill Exit C2 and then take the bus 92 to Sai Kung town. Once arrived, take a boat at the Public Pier to the island. Alternative, from Sha Tin Bus Terminus take the bus 299X to Sai Kung Town and then take a boat. Alternative B, from MTR Choi Hung Exit B take the bus 1 to Sai Kung town and then the boat to the island

9. Visit Cheung Chau island

Little island full of seafood restaurants and a good beach. The streets are packed with little shops, stalls and souvenirs. Worth to have a look and try its famous Mango Mochi!

To get there take the MTR to Central and get a ferry from Central Pier 5. The fast ferry takes about 40 minutes and the slow one takes about 1 hour

10. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park 中山紀念公園 is located in Hong Kong Island, facing Victoria Harbour. This Park is one of the main checkpoints for many locals and foreigners to enjoy peacefulness. Great pace to read a book or do outdoor exercises

To get there take the MTR to Sheung Wan Station Exit D. Turn right and walk about 5-10 minutes.

More info here

11. Nan Lian Garden

This garden was designed with hills, water features, trees, rocks and wooden structures and it’s an ideal place for a walk, photography and relax. Its design is really beautiful and well conserved, surrounded of greenery and peace.

To get there take MTR to Diamond Hill exit C1. Then simply follow the indications towards Nan Lian Garden.

More info here

12. Hike to Lion’s Rock Hill

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Lion Rock Hill is a mountain located between Kowloon Tong and Tai Wan of the New Territories in Hong Kong

If you want to have one of the best views of Hong Kong island, can’t miss to hike this mountain! To get there take the MTR to Won Tai Sin Station exit B. From there, you can start the trail towards Sha Tin Pass Rd until reaching to Lion’s Pavilion.

More info here

13. Hike Kowloon Peak

Kowloon Peak or Fei Ngo Shan 飛鵝山 is a mountain in the northeast of New Kowloon, Hong Kong. The height of the mountain is about 600 meters and it’s situated in Ma On Shan Country Park

The ascent is pretty easy and the path is rocky with steps. The hike takes no more than 2-3 hours and from the top you will have stunning views of Hong Kong

To get there take the MTR to Choi Hung Station exit C1/C2. From Choi Hung Station there is a long way to the starting point of the ascent, so you can grab a taxi to Fei Ngo Shan 飛鵝山, which costs about 35HKD and 10 minutes.

More infor here

14. Hike Plover Cove Reservoir

Within this reservoir there is a hiking trail that starts at Wu Kau Tang Village next to Bride’s Pool Nature Trail and ends at Tai Mei Tuk village. There are several sections within Wu Kau Tang but the longest trail is thru Ma Tau Fund > Tai Tung > Luk Wu Tung > Tai Mei with a total duration of 7-8 hours and 18km though uphills & downhills. The last 5km are on road and takes about 2 hours, so basically are 13km of uphills and downhills. So if you are fit, this hiking trail is really great with stunning views of the Reservoir and Sai Kung

To get there take MTR to Tai Po Market and exit B to Tai Po Market Station Public Minibus Terminus. Take minibus 20R for around 20 minutes to Bride’s Pool Nature Trail on Bride’s Pool Road. It is the last stop
Also from Tai Po Market Station Bus Terminus, take 275R to Bride’s Pool Bus Terminus on Sunday and public holidays.

Return: In Tai Mei Tuk can take the minibus 20C or bus 75K to Tai Po Market

More info here

15. Hike Dragon’s Back

The difficulty of this hike is pretty low and may take about 3-4 hours, so is not a bad choice to spend a day in family here and enjoy of one of the most stunning views of Shek O, Tai Long Wan, Stanley, Tai Tam, and the South China Sea.

To get there take the MTR to Shau Kei Wan exit A3. Right in front of the exit there is a bus terminal. Take the bus 9 towards Shek O Road. The cost of the journey is about 7HKD and takes 20 minutes. Once you can see the people alighting, just follow them!

More info here

16. Victoria Harbor

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Victoria Harbor is the most popular attraction in Hong Kong where you can enjoy the views of the harbor, skyscrapers and the avenue of stars. Highly recommended at night with the price of overcrowding.

To get there take MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui exit E and follow the indications to Victoria Harbor

17. Walk up to Gardens Hill

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Located in Shek Kip Mei, the top of this little hills offers you stunning views of this neighborhood as the image above. Highly recommended to walk up during sunset time and wait for night views

To get there take the MTR to Shek Kip Mei exit A or Sham Shio Po exit D1 and find the indications to Gardens Hill

Enjoy your time in Hong Kong! 🙂

Shifen

Shifen is located in Pingxi district and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the north of Taipei that can’t miss to visit. The Old Streets are famous for its sky lanterns and the railway track across the town, as well as for its Waterfalls!

The easiest way to get there is by taking the bus 795 from MRT Muzha Station. Once getting out from the MRT Station, cross the main road and get to the bus stop (the one with red bus info). The bus stops at Shifen Old Streets and Shifen Waterfalls. Can use EasyCard!

Within Pingxi district can find the following spots that should be visited once! Please note that these places are accordingly to what I visited, I am sure there there will be more places within Pingxi district 🙂

1. Shifen Old Streets 十分老街

A must see! Very popular for its sky lanterns and the railway track across the town. Through its streets can find many souvenir shops, groceries stores, street food,…

One of the most popular attractions there is to fly a lantern! Simply buy one, write down your wishes and the vendor will help you giving instructions on how to hold it and let it fly!

2. Shifen Waterfalls 十分大瀑布

Shifen Waterfalls are about 15 minutes walking distance from the Old Streets. Another way is to take the shuttle bus to get there.  The place is really great if you are lucky to don’t find crowds. The path towards the first waterfall is chilling once you cross the first suspension bridge. Unfortunately for me was impossible to get a little space for the famous waterfalls. This location is a main attraction for schools and tour agencies…so don’t be surprised if you find them out there!

On the way back to Taipei may stop at Pingxi and have a look as well which is also highly recommended!

Jiufen 九份: a Golden Village

Jiufen is a mountain town in northeastern Taiwan, east of Taipei. It’s known for the narrow alleyways of its old town, packed with teahouses, street-food and souvenir shops.

This village is quite popular so it’s not a surprise to find crowds and waits to take decent photos. As suggestion, the best to visit this area is during weekdays to don’t get stuck into the crowds and have a decent walk through its narrow streets. Although during weekdays still a bit crowded but is bearable

The easiest way to get there from Taipei is by taking the bus 1062 (Keelung Bus) to Jinguashi and alight at Jiufen. The bus station is located outside of MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station (忠孝復興), Brown Line BR and Blue Line BL interchange at Exit 2. The ride is about 1 hour and the fare is NT$98

The other way is by train north to Ruifang Station and once there take the Keelung Transit bus towards Jiufen/Jinguashi. You can use EasyCard for both ways!

Which places can visit in Jiufen? I did the following!

1. Jiufen Old Streets

The most popular place that can’t be missed! Walk through its streets, try its food, snacks, bubble milk tea…stinky tofu..!

2. Hike Keelung Mountain

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Hike Keelung mountain for a stunning landscapes of Jiufen and its surroundings. The Keelung Trail is about 10 minutes walking distance from the Old Streets and the hike takes about 30-45 minutes

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3. Golden waterfalls 黃金瀑布

Since you are here, worth to have a look to these waterfalls. There is a shuttle bus from Jiufen to these waterfall every hour. Another way is by walking to this place. The walk takes about 40 minutes road down

4. YingYang Sea

Continuing road down you will pass by an old village and abandoned factories. The Yingyang Sea is about 5-10 minutes walking distance from the Golden Waterfalls and also worth to have a look since you are there! There is a bus station next to the road and the shuttle bus pass by there every hour. Please note that the bus has to be taken on the road way up! Can use EasyCard!

Enjoy your trip! 🙂

Note: As told by Taiwanese friends, this place is really beautiful at night, so if you have the chance to stay till late night, find a spot for landscape views and walk through the streets!

Taipei

Capital of Taiwan, Taipei City has a large number of places to explore and admire. As personal perspective, the city is clean enough if you compare with any other country/city in Asia that I have already visited. People is surprisingly civilized and respectful and I had no problem at all during my visit to this awesome city

So if you are planning or considering to visit Taipei, I will strongly recommend it. At least once. But..where to go and when?

The best time to visit Taipei is between October to December, taking in account that Typhoon season may ends in September or even October.

As many websites tell, the best month is November with pleasant temperatures.

I have visited Taipei the first week of October and fortunately I could avoid 2 typhoons. So the weather is a bit unpredictable

What to visit in Taipei?  Below I will number all the places I could visit in 1 week

1. Xiangshan 象山 – Elephant Mountain

Despite is one of the most tourist and crowded places, it’s a must to climb its stairs for an amazing views of the City. Climb up won’t take more than 45 minutes and I would recommend to climb it up before sunset

To get there, take MRT to Xiangshan station (象山) Red Line 2, leave from Exit 2 and continue walking alongside the edge of the park. Easiest way is just to follow Xiangshan Hiking Trail 象山登山步道 indications along the way

2. Confucius Temple 台北市孔廟

The temple is located near Yuanshan Station (圓山) and next to Bao’an Temple, so you can visit both temples within few minutes

To get there, take MRT to Yuanshan Station (圓山) and leave by Exit 2. Walk down by Kulun St (庫倫街), take a right at the intersection of Dalong St (大龍街)

3. Bao’an Temple 大龍峒保安宮

Located next to Confucius Temple 台北市孔廟 is also a must to visit

4. Martyrs’ Shrine 國民革命忠烈祠

Also one of the most visited places, Martyrs’ Shrine is a good spot to have a look if you are really interested to see the Changing of the Guards. The location is slightly remote, therefore you have to take MRT + bus

To get there, take MRT to Jiantan station (劍潭), leave Exit 1 and go to the bus stop to the right side. Take bus 267, 556, 902, or 紅3區 to Martyr’s Shrine 忠烈祠

Is this place avoidable? I think yes

I reached to the Shrine by walking from Dazhi Station (Line 1 Brown) and on the way I could visited a local market. Yet the walk is pleasant and won’t take more than 30 minutes

5. Tamsui 淡水 – Danshui

Also despite is one of the most tourist and crowded places, Tamsui is a must to visit especially during sunset time. The landscape is really awesome and the sunset may be breathtaking like the one I could experienced

The area is full of cafes, hawkers, shops…so can spend half day here if you don’t mind the crowds

To get there, take MRT to Tamsui (淡水) Red Line 2 and exit on the left

6. Yangmingshan National Park 陽明山

Yangmingshan is located in northern Taipei city. The area has a large number of hiking trails, parks, wildlife…so unless you dedicate several days to this park, is going to be impossible to visit it entirely. As suggestion, focus on 1 or 2 places and visit them. Depending of your visit purposes (hiking, photography,…), you have several choices.

I only could visit Qingtiangang Grassland and its 6-7km trail towards Fengguikou through Dingshan Shitiling Trail . The views on the top are really stunning but the hike itself may be a bit boring. The end of the hike is in the middle of nowhere and there is only one bus stop road down to Fengguizui. As I per read, there is a bus passing by there every hour and the last bus is about 5-6pm

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To get to Qingtiangang Grassland Trails, take the bus 108 or S15 to Qingtiangang (擎天崗) from Yangmingshan bus station and then transfer to another bus to the destination you want to visit, such as Xiaoyoukeng (小油坑), Lengshuikeng (冷水坑), and Qingtiangang Grassland Trails (擎天崗). To get to the bus station, take MRT to Jiantan station (劍潭) and leave Exit 1. You can use the EasyCard to pay all buses to Yangmingshan!

7. Maokong 貓空

Maokong is a village located on the top of the mountain with nice views of Taipei City. The area has many spots to have a look, as well as shops and tea shops as it’s truly popular this place.

To get there, take MRT to Taipei Zoo (動物園). Transfer to the Maokong Gondola, a cable-car service that climbs up the mountain to the peak at Maokong. Alternative, take the bus S10 that operates between Taipei Zoo Station and the peak at Maokong. As suggestion, take one way by cable car and another way by bus. The way down by cable car is less crowded that the way up. I was practically alone in the cable car during by way down so I really could enjoy of an amazing views quietly. You can use EasyCard for the cable car and bus!

Once on the top, I recommend to walk through Zhangshu Trail. It’s really stunning and relaxing.

There is another unusual trail on the way to Zhinan Temple towards Caonan Bridge and its surroundings. If you have enough time, can have a walk or bus. The road ends at the bridge with a little river and another trail continues road up

8. Dadaocheng Park 大稻埕碼頭

Not as popular as Tamsui, Dadaocheng Park offers stunning sunset landscapes and the place is surprisingly emptier than expected. Perfect place for a walk, cycling or just enjoy of a beautiful sunset.

To get there, I would recommend to take MRT to Beimen Station (塔城街), leave Exit 3 and stroll to the north firstly before go to Dadaocheng Park. The streets on this area are really beautiful and traditional. Full of shops, cafes and markets, you can feel the old Taipei on these streets

9. Longshan Temple 龍山寺

The most popular temple in Taiwan is a must to see. In the right side of the entry there are 2 stunning waterfalls that can’t skip them.

To get there, take MRT to Longshan Temple (龍山寺) and leave by Exit 1 and continue walking a bit after exiting.

10. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall 中正紀念堂

The most important landmark in Taiwan can’t be missed! Besides the main hall, the large complex includes the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park (中正紀念公園), National Concert Hall (國家音樂廳), and the National Theater (國家戲劇院)

To get there, take Red Line 2 or Green Line 3 to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂)

11. Treasure Hill – Taipei artist village

Not as popular as it should be, this place is really beautiful and artistic! Perfect for chilling, photographers and a pleasant walk. It’s full of spots for those photography lovers. Worth to visit if you have 2-3 hours

To get there, take MRT to Gongguan Station (公館) and leave Exit 3. Then you have to walk through Gongguan Night Market, turn right on the crossing towards Keelung Road . The place is indicated along the way so is not easy to get lost

12. Raohe Night Market 饒河街觀光夜市

For foodie lovers, this market is really great and easy to get there. Just take MRT to Songshan Station and leave Exit 3 or 5

13. Shilin Night Market

One of the most popular and largest in Taiwan is a must to see for food lovers. To get there, take MRT to Jiantan Station (劍潭) and leave Exit 1

14. Ningxia Night Market 寧夏夜市

Another night market but this is mainly to enjoy Taiwanese snacks. To get there, take MRT to Shuanglian Station (雙連) and leave Exit 1

This website provides further info about more places and transportation details! Good to have a look

Hope you enjoy your trip!