Monday, September 16, 2013

Dad's Review - Hong Kong or Singapore?

Which place should your family visit: chilly Hong Kong or tropic Singapore? Disneyland or Universal Studios? This is a question most commonly asked by a Dad to his family or vice versa. I remember asking this question to my family before and both places never got a 100% vote. Nevertheless, my family who has been in wanderlust in the past several years will definitely pack their things in a moment notice once they see an opportunity to visit either of these two.

Let's make a face-off between these two Asia's must see places. Let us discuss the 4 categories that a Dad considers essential during the planning stage:

Budget / Places / Food / Shopping


Plane ticket:  Coming from Manila/Clark Airports, plane ticket to Hong Kong is cheaper than Singapore if you compare them on the same standard rate or promo fares. In fact, a few months ago, our family of five was able to purchase a Tiger Airways return-ticket for almost 21,000 pesos only whereas for Singapore trip the price was more than 30,000 pesos for 5 of us.

Hotel Fare:  In this regard, Singapore outweighs Hong Kong. At Geylang area, one can find a standard rate for a decent double room hotel for 60 USD per night, amenities included. For the same price, it will be very difficult to find the same room standard and size in Hong Kong. I was able to find one actually but it was a twin room at Wang Fat Hostel but the room size, amenities and service was not as par with Singapore hotel. More so, there are plenty of backpackers' hostels in Singapore than in Hong Kong.

Transportation:  Both of them are in the same level. Their LRT/MTR's are so efficient and comfortable in such a way that you will even enjoy using them. The fares are almost the same. However, Singapore Airport has a slight advantage since its train (MRT) is accessible inside whereas in Hong Kong Airport, the only train you can use is the Airport Express which charges each passenger 100 KHD one-way. However, you can easily find the city bus station just outside its doorway.

Verdict: TIE


Universal Studios or Disneyland? Well, I can't be very specific about these two since my family and I love both of them. Hence, I will remove them from the equation.

Let us start with Singapore; by merely visiting Sentosa Island, anyone can be entertained the whole day without leaving the island. Aside from Universal Studios, you can spend your time strolling around the island and enjoy its different attractions such as zip lines, 4D cinemas, beaches, IFly, Songs of the Seas, among others. You can also climb the biggest Merlion. In fact, if you spend most of the day inside US you won't have remaining time to enjoy the other attractions inside Sentosa Island. See: Conquer Sentosa Island for 1 dollar

For night life, pay a visit at Clarke Quay along Singapore River where countless of bars and restaurants remain open until early morning. This place is ideal to visit from dusk to dawn. You can see drunk and partying tourists every night. More so, this place has its own attractions as well such as G-Max Reverse Bungee. See: Clarke Quay

Another place worth to visit is the Merlion Park. The sight around this area is simply awesome especially during the evening laser show at Marina Bay Sands. See: Merlion Park

If you prefer off-the-beaten-path scenery then you can visit the MacRitchie Reservoir or the "Tiger Balm Gardens" for free. See: The Tiger Balm Garden (How Par Villa)

While in Singapore it is quite easy to visit Kuala Lumpur by land (bus or train) travel and Batam, Indonesia by cruise. Better yet, visit Genting Highlands in Malaysia. See: Singapore to KL by train


Aside from Disneyland, Hong Kong has another ace on its sleeve, The Ocean Park. Actually, more visitors are flocking to Ocean Park compared with the famous Mouseland. Aside from these two, another place that is worth to visit is Ngong Ping at Lantau Island. You can come to this place by bus, taxi or cable cars. If this is your first time to visit NP then I suggest that you avail the Ngong Ping 360 cable cars. Trust me, you won't regret it. On top of the lush mountains you will be able to stroll at the old NP village and Po Lin Monastery and see the 85 ft outdoor bronze Tian Tan Buddha. See: Ngong Ping

A stroll at Avenue of the Stars up to the Old Clock Tower during evening is truly a memorable experience; if you have spare tine then I suggest that you watch the Symphony of Lights at around 8 PM as well. More so, if you are curious about the locals daily routine then ride the Trams in Hong Kong then board Star Ferry and disembark at Kowloon; you'll be crossing one of the busiest sea lane in the world. I highly recommend this experience for any first timer in Hong Kong. See: Tram & Star Ferry

Hong Kong has its own share of off-the-beaten-path places such as The Nan Lian Garden and Ten Thousand Buddha. See: Nan Lian Garden & 10K Buddha

When planning to visit Hong Kong, better spare a day to visit nearby Macau or travel by train to Shenzhen, China where you can visit Windows of the World and Splendid China. See: Day Tour in Shenzhen, China

Verdict: TIE


In Hong Kong you can easily dine in any authentic Chinese Restaurant. They even have fast food joints that offer Chinese cuisines Cafe De Coral and Maxims. Due to limited space, many hole-in-the-wall type food spots can be found at downtown Mongkok. There is even a Jollibee outlet at the back of Worldwide Plaza where most of our kabayans are staying during their free time. You'll find inside this Plaza several eateries that cater to Filipinos. Anyway, I believe that you won't visit Hong Kong just to eat Adobo.

While in Hong Kong I have observed that diners immediately leave the place after eating since most dining places are small and crowded; it is not unusual to see many people waiting or searching for vacant seat. You will feel awkward to have an after meal chit chats since the cleaners will immediately remove your plates upon seeing that they are already empty. See: Cafe De Coral


In stark contrast, Singapore is known as haven for food-trippers. In almost every block you will find hawker centers such as Maxwell Food Center, Chinatown, Bugis and nearby Waterloo among others. You can easily find cuisines from every culture. In fact, when I stayed at Tresor Tavern Hostel, within 500 meters I can easily dine in Thai, Indian, Singaporean and Chinese dishes. The price is affordable. I can have a decent and sumptuous Thai meal for around 4 USD. Half of that price I can have a yummy Paratha with curry sauce and milky tea at nearby South Indian Restaurant. Beside our hostel is another authentic Singaporean Restaurant that specializes on meals with curry sauce. See: Singapore Food Trip - Part 1

When travel ban was imposed to Yemen, I was forced to spend my vacation in Singapore. During my vacation, whenever I longed for Filipino foods I frequented Lucky Plaza along Orchard Road. This is where most of our fellow Filipinos working in Singapore gathers during their day-offs. I usually dined at Lutong Pinoy at the basement food court. It is owned by a friend and fellow Bosconian. I loved their Bulalo.

I grew up exposed to Chinese dishes, my late Chinese Grandpa was even offered a job as Chef in a Chinese restaurant, thus whenever I am in Singapore I frequented Chinatown and dined at their Food Street. The place is fantastic for those who love to eat alfresco style. Just a stone throw away is the Maxwell Food Center where you can select your meal from myriad of hawkers. See: Maxwell Food Center

Chilly Crabs, Nasi Lemak, Hainanese Chicken are some of the famous dishes you should try when in Singapore. Even when in malls such as Vivo City, you can delightfully select your meal at Food Republic that offer authentic Singaporean, Indian, Malay and Thai dishes See: Food Republic

Verdict: Singapore


Well, both places can provide great shopping experience for high-end fashion brands such as LV, Bulgari, Chanel, to name a few. Just stroll at Orchard Road in Singapore and you will be amazed in seeing great fashion brands along this road whereas in Hong Kong you will find these fashionable items from Causeway Bay to Central. In fact, these two places are great alternatives in case you can't shop in Milan and Paris. Anyway, since I don't expect the class A tourists to view my page I would focus on mainstream shopping such as apparels, shoes, electronics, etc.

A visit to Bugis should be included in your itinerary in case you plan to do some shopping. This place boasts a high-end mall and a street market. The price at the street market is quite competitive but the items being sold are limited. You can also visit Chinatown for souvenir items and other knick-knacks. Otherwise you can shop in any malls for trendy clothes and shoes but be prepared to shell more dough. See: Bugis

For Electronics items, drop by at Lucky Plaza and try to haggle. I bought my Tamron 70-300 mm DSLR lens with Macro for 300 USD after haggling. I bought it during my first visit in Singapore. I learned later that the price was a bit expensive. Hence, be aware that you might be ripped off by some touts or sales person in case you get intimidated by their sales talk. Cameras are cheaper here but it seems some of the shops are passing second hand items as brand new. In addition, you can also visit Mustafa Center; it is open 24 hours. On my second visit to Singapore, I bought from here my eldest son's Sony mobile phone with 16 GB memory for around 10,500 pesos. The price of the same phone in Philippines with less memory was more than 12,000 pesos at that time. The price was indeed cheaper but they offered 1 week warranty period only since their mobile phones were bought directly from Russia. See: Mustafa Center


Shopping in Hong Kong? Prepare your dough and you should have sturdy legs.

In downtown Mongkok only, they have the Ladies Market for souvenir items and knick-knacks while along Fa Yuen Street you will find rows and rows of shops selling new and old model shoes. The price is indeed cheaper and lots of models and brands are available along this street. Moreover, plenty of other boutique shops can be found within this area too. See: Roaming around Mongkok

Planning to buy apparels in wholesale quantity? You can drop by at Hong Kong Industrial Center where Korean trendy clothes are available in block A while Japanese fashion apparels can be found in Block B & C. If you have sturdy legs then roam around Sham Shui Po area where countless factory outlets can be found. Be aware though that in this area, many shops are selling their merchandise in wholesale quantity only. Hey wait, why am I divulging these places to you? This is one of Happy Stripes' trade secrets, lol.

If you prefer a relax atmosphere when shopping then you can drop by at Citygate Outlets Mall before going to Ngong Ping where many global mainstream brands have established their outlets or shops. Moreover, you can stroll along Causeway Bay and visit the "little Japan." See: Roaming around Causeway Bay

For electronics items, just hike along Nathan Road where plenty of electronic shops are located. Again beware of unscrupulous sales strategy of some sales person. You can search the net to know more about their modus operandi. Nevertheless, there are specialty shops where global brands can be bought cheaper like Apple and other Chinese brands as well.

Verdict: Hong Kong

In my point of view as a Dad, both Singapore and Hong Kong are definitely worth to visit. Both of them offer some advantages over the other.

At the end of the day, though a Dad makes the decision regarding which place to visit he should also consider "The Mom." My wife swears that she won't again set foot in Hong Kong during winter. I can't blame her; we celebrated Christmas in Hong Kong a few years back and most of the times my wife was shivering due to chilly weather. The second time I brought my family in Hong Kong last April, my wife was a different person. The same thing last June when we bought merchandise for our online shop; my wife's battery was always fully charged, lol. On the other hand, she will prefer other Asian cities rather than Singapore during summer season.

For more details about these two places just click the "Travel" tab on my blog site.

No comments:

Post a Comment