Need a two-week Asia itinerary that isn’t a mishmash of attractions? Something that wasn’t smashed together by some travel agency’s unpaid intern? You’re not the only one. Jeff and I did a sh*t ton of research on Asia travel for the best sightseeing in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and South Korea. We planned it, personally put it to the test, and now proudly present it to you: 15 days across East Asia.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS > Click to open
- Our Route Through Asia
- Hong Kong
- Taipei, Taiwan
- Seoul, South Korea
- Seoul to Hong Kong
Our Asia Travel Route
Before we dive in, here’s a quick outline of our trip. Don’t feel like you have to copy it day-for-day – instead, use it as a guide or baseline for your own vacation. Feel free to add days or take days out, rearrange cities or whatever you like, according to your tastes. Use it as a loose travel guide for these destinations.
- Fly to Hong Kong. Tour a couple days.
- Day trip to Lantau Island. Return to Hong Kong.
- Ferry to Macau. Tour for one day.
- Fly to Taipei, Taiwan. Tour a few days.
- Day trip to Taiwan’s Northeastern Coast. Return to Taipei.
- Day trip to Wulai. Return to Taipei.
- Fly to Seoul, South Korea. Tour a few days.
- Half-day trip to the Demilitarized Zone. Return to Seoul.
- Fly to Hong Kong.
- Day trip to Lamma Island. Overnight in Hong Kong before return flight.
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Welcome to the Stunning City of Hong Kong!
From the Airport to Downtown
There are a few different ways to get to your downtown hotel from the airport, but the two most straightforward methods are:
- Booking a shuttle at the Commercial Services counter (Arrivals Hall B, Terminal 1)
- Airport Express Train
Getting around the City
Once you’re actually in the city, you have no end of options in terms of transportation. Don’t think that just because it’s Asia travel that it’s all going to be in a foreign language. Hong Kong is pretty English-friendly. Some points of note:
- There’s a tram that goes from Hong Kong Park to Victoria Peak, HK$52 roundtrip for an adult.
- Metro goes everywhere, and can be easily paid for using an Octopus Card.
- Central-Mid-Level Escalators are free and count as both sightseeing and transportation.
Where to Stay in Hong Kong
We stayed at The Langham Hong Kong, a sweet dash of luxury after a long flight and being on our feet all day. Not badly prices at all. Highly recommend.
PHOTO CREDITS: THE LANGHAM HONG KONG VIA HOTELS.COM
Hong Kong Sights
There is a lot to see. I’d recommend skipping the Instagrammable estates—they’re not good sightseeing, they are literally just people’s homes. And going around taking photos in these pretty impoverished areas felt super exploitative.
As for places you definitely want to see, I’ve got a whole list. These range from street art to markets, and island villages to mountain views. We spent two days in Hong Kong (not counting the trip to Lantau Island on day 3) for the first part of this trip. Here are some of my favorites:
|• Yau Ma Tei Flower Stairs||• Graham Street|
|• Yuen Po Bird Garden||• Temple Street Night Market|
|• Victoria Peak||• Jordan Road Neon Lights|
|• Man Mo Temple||• Kowloon Waterfront|
|• Hong Kong Walls||• Symphony of Lights at 8 pm|
Day Trip to Lantau Island
Board the Star Ferry Harbor Cruise to Lantau Island, where you’ll find a central plaza. It’s basically the base for All Sightseeing on the island. Take the 20-minute cable car to the Big Buddha Village, a touristy little hub with a bunch of statues, hikes, and either a museum or a temple. Finally, there’s the Tian Tan Buddha at the top of an unreasonably long staircase. This buddha statue is massive, even from far away.
Afterwards, head over to Ngong Ping Village and take bus 21 to get to Tai O Fishing Village. Taxi is also an option since seats fill up pretty quickly.
When all is said and done, board the ferry back to Hong Kong.
Gamble Your Life Savings Away In Macau (Or Don’t)
Travel between Macau and Hong Kong is pretty easy, since it’s just a boat ride away. In my case:
- Took metro to the China Ferry Terminal in Hong Kong’s China City shopping mall
- Booked a ride to Macau Outer Harbor
- Free hotel shuttle
As for transportation within Macau, we mostly relied on walking and the extensive bus system.
- From the Outer Harbor Terminal, you can hope onto Bus 25 or 50 to get to Coloane Village.
- Bus fare costs MOP$6, and you need exact change.
- From Coloane to Taipa, use Bus 15 (unless it’s changed since I was last there).
Where to Stay in Macau
For Macau, we stayed at the iconic Grand Lisboa. This place had some gorgeous rooms, plus a casino and a three-star Michelin restaurant. Did I mention the killer prices?
PHOTO CREDITS: GRAND LISBOA MACAU VIA HOTELS.COM
What to See in Macau
We only spent a day in Macau, so we didn’t have time to do too much. Much like Las Vegas, Macau is a bit of a casino town, so if you’re not into gambling, you don’t really need more than a day for sightseeing. There are some high points during this part of our Asia travel, though:
|• Sonada Square||• Coloane Village|
|• Ruins of Saint Paul||• Taipa Village|
Get Off-The-Beaten-Path In Taipei, Taiwan
To keep things simple, we took a taxi from the hotel to the airport. After we touched down, we looked for the ride we booked ahead of time with Edison Travel Service. They waited near the exit to the baggage claim while holding a sign board with our name. That’s not the only way to get out of the airport, though.
- Private travel service (like Edison Travel Service noted above)
- Metro – easiest way to pay is with the Easy Card, which can be bought at stations or pretty much any 7-11
- Taxi – bit pricier, but reliable
- Charter bus – a little inconvenient, but a good way to get to more rural parts of Taiwan
Where to Stay in Taipei, Taiwan
As to where to lay your head, we chose Leofoo Residences. It was decent. An apart-hotel with okay prices in a good location, a kitchenette and a washing machine. (Which we desperately needed at this point.)
PHOTO CREDITS: LEOFOO RESIDENCES VIA HOTELS.COM
Taiwan’s history has quite a bit of conflict in it – not surprising, given how it only won its independence from China this past century. You can see this play out in some of its sights, like the peace park and the memorial hall.
|• Dihua Old Street||• 1914 Creative Park|
|• Longshan Temple||• Taipei Tower 101|
|• 228 Peace Park||• Raohe Street Night Market|
|• Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall||• Shilin Night Market|
Day Trip to Taiwan’s Northeastern Coast
When we went last, we booked Viator’s small group tour to Jiufen, Yehliu Geopark, and Shifen. Yehliu was overcrowded, but I’d still say it was worth it for Jiufen and Shifen. The waterfall was pretty spectacular (even though I was not a fan of the suspension bridge), but the village especially made the whole thing well worth it.
Day Trip to Wulai
All-day trip to Wulai! Any kind of Asia travel in a rural area is going to be a headache. Here’s how to get there: take the metro (MRT in Taiwan) to Xindian Station and board Bus #849 at the Wu Lai (烏來) bus stop. It’s in front of the station behind the information counter. It takes 40 minutes and costs NT$15, with Wulai being the last stop.
Our Asia Travel Continues With Seoul, South Korea
Check out of your hotel and board a flight to Seoul, South Korea. How you get to your hotel will vary, obviously. Some suggestions:
- Book a bus ticket while at the airport. Indoor ticketing offices in Terminal 1 are close to Exit 4 and 9 in the Arrivals Hall, or outdoor near Exits 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13, and 9C. In Terminal 2, the office is in the Traffic Center (B1). The bus terminal itself is Terminal 1, A to F, or Terminal 2, gates 1 to 6.
- Seoul Metro, the very extensive subway system.
Where to Stay in Seoul, South Korea
We stayed at Aloft Seoul Meyongdong (yes, same name as the shopping district). Very nice place, plus some great background music playing in the common areas.
PHOTO CREDITS: ALOFT SEOUL MEYONGDONG VIA HOTELS.COM
I really enjoyed my stay in Korea. We spent 3 days here as part of our Asia travel and it still didn’t feel like enough. These are some of the places we went:
|• Shopping paradise Myeongdong||• Seoul Tower|
|• Johyesa Temple||• Dongdaemun Design Plaza|
|• Bushon Hanok Village||• Ihwa Mural Village|
|• Gyeongbukgong Palace||• Cheonggyecheon|
|• Insadong shopping district|
Guided Tour of the DMZ
The DMZ, for those who don’t know, is the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Book a tour ahead of time (we used Viator again) to get there. It’s possible to visit without a guide, but honestly? Just don’t. It’s one of the most heavily armed borders in the world, not Disneyland.
Circling Back to Hong Kong From Seoul
What better way to conclude your Asia travel experience than with Hong Kong 2: Electric Boogaloo? By this point, we were on day 13 of our trip, so we just took it easy until our trip to Lamma Island the next day.
Where to Stay in Hong Kong (Part 2)
As much as we enjoyed the Langham Hong Kong, it was a wee bit expensive. So, for our second stop, we chose The Putman. It’s an apart-hotel, nothing super fancy, but a good deal in a solid location.
PHOTO CREDITS: THE PUTNAM VIA HOTELS.COM
Day Trip to Lamma Island
Lamma Island is a quaint little fishing village with lots of markets and restaurants. To get there, board the ferry from Central Pier 4 to Yung Shue Wan or Sok Kwu Wan. Be sure to load up your Octopus Card at a convenience store beforehand to make buying tickets easier! Also, pay attention to the return schedule since ferries back to Hong Kong are more sporadic.
So Long, Hong Kong—Our Asia Travel Comes to an End
On the final day, head to the Hong Kong Station and take the MTR Airport Express. You’ll be on your way to the airport and your flight home in no time.
Did I not tell you we did some Asia travel? We covered a lot of ground considering Asia is the world’s largest continent! As I mentioned at the start, this itinerary is tailored to Jeff’s and my personal tastes, but you can use it as a springboard for your own bucket list trip. Thanks for reading!
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