HONG KONG Big Bus Tour Review

On April 8-10, 2019 I went to Hong Kong. It was a fantastic trip. Hong Kong is an immensely dense place, with apartment buildings and skyscrapers creating insurmountable walls along every street you walk. Streets are always bustling with young businessmen in suit and tie scavenging to get to their next meeting, with young couples trying to enjoy the little free time they have together, and with the wealth of luxurious sportscars that casually roam the mighty streets. Despite this craziness, there were incredible views of the ocean, juxtaposed against breadths of greenery and history. But I don’t think I would have been able to see as much as I did in such a short period of time if it weren’t for the Big Bus Tour.

BIG BUS TOUR

When a family friend first told me about the Big Bus Tour, I tried to look up people’s thoughts and opinions on the trip, but didn’t have much success. So here I am trying to provide my honest perspective. This post will be a review of the tour package. What I did, the pros, the cons, and what I like to think of as some tips.

Overall I really enjoyed this tour package. It simplified and streamlined my travel experience, while allowing me to visit the major landmarks! I do not enjoy trip planning. In fact, I find it incredibly annoying and time-consuming. So when I found out about this package, I was thrilled. It removes the need to plan transportation or routes, and the map they provide you with is great for getting a perspective of how Hong Kong is laid out.

I saw families, couples, friends, and even people travelling solo! It was great for all types of people, anyone who wanted to do their own thing!

What I did

  • As you’ll see though, if I were to do it again, I would just do the Premium Ticket! For $10 USD, I didn’t think the Harbour Tour and Night Tour were really worth it? Both are time-consuming activities. I’d rather spend more time really exploring the different spots, rather than go on the night and harbour tour!

Pros of HK Big Bus Tour:

  • Free earphones available on each bus! So do not fret if you’ve forgotten yours! You can grab a fresh pair at the front by the bus driver.
  • Double decker bus. First deck is air-conditioned, which is an incredible break from the hot and humid weather of Hong Kong in mid April. But the top deck is open and feeling the breeze against your face as you drive past high rises in the core of the city and trees on the green route feels remarkable. My brother and I personally chose to sit up top.
  • Freedom to explore various touristy locations at your own pace!
  • Freedom to be selective in the spots you explore.
Top deck of one of the Big Buses. You can see the red earphones the man sitting in front of me is using to listen to the pre-recorded tour.

Cons of HK Big Bus Tour:

  • Communicating with the salespeople might be slightly difficult depending on who is working.
  • Staff are only available at the intersecting stops (Central Station, Peak Tram, Tsim Sha Tsui). Things are pretty straightforward on this bus tour so it’s rare you’d have an urgent question, but keep this in mind if you are the type that has a lot of questions!
  • The tours end relatively early – 4:45 to the absolute last bus at the last stop being at 7:10.

Overview of What I did (More Details Below)

  • Started with the Green Tour on Day 1, and followed up with a skim through the Red Tour. On Day 2, did the Blue Tour. There were three main reasons why I chose this particular order.
    1. A tip I saw on another blog to start on the Green Tour.
    2. The Blue Tour (on the Kowloon Peninsula) is isolated from the other two tours which are on the Hong Kong Island.
    3. The Night Tour, which is exclusive for the Deluxe Ticket, takes place around the Kowloon area, so it just made sense for us to time the conclusion of our Blue Route with the start of the Night Tour.

Tips

  • Familiarize yourself with the stops and know which ones you want to stop at! It’s impossible to stop and do a lengthy tour of each one! You have to be selective! But do remember that you can stop by the select spots later in the evening on your own time!
  • If you have data in HK, DOWNLOAD THE BIG BUS APP. It tracks where each of the buses are on the route, which is helpful in timing when you need to be at your stop by. The brochure tells you the rough time intervals, but oftentimes the times vary. It is better to be able to refer to your app so you don’t waste precious time waiting at a stop thinking that a bus is 5 minutes away, when instead you missed a bus that left 8 minutes earlier. The app also helps you find out where the stops are, as they are sometimes not by major landmarks.
  • Start with the Green Route! I saw this tip on another blog post, and I’m glad I took it!
  • The Peak Tram is on two routes, so you can choose to do it on either one, if you choose to go on it at all.
  • For the Premium and Deluxe tickets, you must CHOOSE between a ride on the Peak Tram or entry into the sky100 Observation Deck, but the choice is up to you.
  • If you’re looking for food on your routes, try the Tim Ho Wan! It’s Michelin Starred-dim sum – and often referred to as ‘the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurant in the World’ — located right in Central Station (aka stop 1 on the Red Route, and stop 17 on the Green Route).
  • Wear sunscreen. We got burned like crazy.

The stops we made

Day 1

  • Green Route:
    • Peak Tram
      • Our family friend told us that it was best to go at night, so that was our plan, but the tickets included as part of the tour are only valid until 7pm. So once we realized this, we took the Peak Tram as part of the Red Route.
    • Ocean Park
      • Neither my brother nor I are into amusement parks so this one was an obvious “no” for us.
    • Repulse Bay & Tin Hau Temple
      • Repulse Bay Beach. MUST GO. ENOUGH SAID.
      • Temple – MUST GO AS WELL. Take a nice stroll along the beach and you’ll reach a very vibrant temple. My brother gave me crap for making him walk up and down a hill to get there. Enjoy the beach walk instead.
    • Stanley Market
      • What we saw was a strip mall type of thing… nothing out of the extraordinary, quite underwhelming actually. But now looking up Google Images, I’m realizing we may have missed the main market.
    • Aberdeen
      • Sampan Ride to see the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. Quite cute. We got onto what appear to be a ragged little motor boat, but the ride was quite pleasant. The Sampan Ride takes you close up to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, shows you a glimpse of the cemetery hidden in the mountain, shows you the parked boats and the lifestyle of the fishermen. I’d think that this ride would be hit or miss depending on your guide, but we were fortunate to have an enthusiastic driver who very clearly knew the ins and outs of the place.
      • The bus waits for you to end your ride, so there’s not rush to run anywhere.
  • Red Route:
    • Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
    • Causeway Bay SOGO
      • We ended up going the night before with a family friend, so we decided against this, but almost everyone recommends going, so be sure to make a stop!
    • Park Lane Hotel
    • Wan Chai Computer Centre
    • Peak Tram
      • HIGHLY RECOMMEND! The name ‘Peak Tram’ pretty much says it all once you’ve taken it. The Tram takes you up to Victoria Peak at unbelievably steep angles. It gets scary once you realize how old the tram is, how many people are in the tram, and yet how steep the mountain is, but the view at the top of the Peak is completely worth it. You get a breathtaking view of Hong Kong and for once, get to be above what can sometimes seem like the suffocating height of the thousands of tall buildings.
    • Mid-Levels Escalator
    • Man Mo Temple
    • Lan Kwai Fong & SOHO
      • This was our last stop on Day 1 of the tour. The highlights were the nightlife and the busy-ness, but we didn’t stay too long as we were exhausted by the end of the day.

DAY 2

Victoria Harbour Ferry Ride

  • The Ferry Ride commenced Day 2 of our tour on the Big Bus. We had gotten off to a late start as we needed to pack and sort out the logistics of checking in for our flight later that evening. We started at Central Station and took the Star ferry (included with your Classic, Premium and Deluxe tickets) to the Kowloon Peninsula, where we waited for the Victoria Harbour Ferry Ride. Got some icecream, a pleasant treat, whilst awaiting our ferry.
  • The Ferry Ride took us around the harbour, showing us the glamour of the Hong Kong skyline. The roofed areas are very well air-conditioned, but what’s a ferry ride if you don’t enjoy the sun and the breeze, right? It was an hour long, however, so staying in the sun for that long was tiring. The beginning was fun, but by the end of it, I was ready to get off. Maybe boats just aren’t my thing?
  • Blue Route:
    • The Peninsula
      • Initially just thought of the hotel as a starting point for the tour, but since it was still hot and humid, we went inside and it turns out to be a luxury shopping centre as well!! Great way to kill time while waiting for the bus to arrive.
    • Langham Place
      • Ladies Market – knockoff market – great to go see! The stop is a 10ish minute walk away from the Market though, so keep that in mind when planning your journey back to the stop!
    • Temples Street
    • Sky100 HK Observation Deck
    • Hankow Road
    • Mody Road
  • Night Tour:
    • To be honest, the night tour was underwhelming. It went over a lot of similar paths through the Kowloon Peninsula, playing the same scripts as from the Blue Route. The Night Tour wasn’t “bad”, by any means, but I had hoped for something more original, as opposed to what seemed to be a copy-paste of the Blue Tour in the dark. The one part that I loved, however, was the light show on the pier AFTER the Night Tour. The show was absolutely stunning. Lights dance to the music that pervades the surrounding space and bounce on beat across the Victoria Harbour and between the Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula. The light show is a mesmerizing experience and was a great finale to our tour.

Conclusion

Overall, my brother and I enjoyed two incredibly jam-packed days full of activities, soaking in the beauty of Hong Kong. Would definitely recommend the HK Big Bus Tour to any one who wishes to explore this incredible country.