My Hong Kong adventure had a, uh, eventful start (note to self: always check that your card will work overseas, don’t just take other people’s word for it!), but once everything was sorted out, I had two days to explore the hectic, intense and wonderful sprawling Hong Kong. Given my limited time and funds, I made a plan to hit all the cliche, tourist spots this time around, and then make another stop at some point, maybe not in the middle of a cold snap, to really explore the hidden gems and hunt those amazing, gritty Instagram worthy pictures you see all the time.
Have you ever had one of those dreams where everything is running at twice the normal speed, nothing anyone says makes sense, and you don’t recognise any of your surroundings?
That’s been the last 50+ days of my life, non stop. And I’ve been loving (almost) every second of it. Packing up and leaving for the other side of the world is easily the most stressful thing I’ve ever done (doesn’t even touch moving in the UK, or getting a degree, or buying Christmas presents for awkward family members), but it has been life changing already.
Travelling to a country so far and so different from home can be quite a shock to the system, no matter how prepared you think you are! China is like a whole other world compared to England, filled with exquisite food, magical places and thrilling experiences – but it’s definitely worth doing your homework before you hop on that (long-ass) flight. If you’re just visiting for a week or two, here is a quick run downs of the ultimate best haves for your trip.
Think London’s Camden Market meets Brighton’s laines, stick it in the middle of Shanghai, and you have Tianzifang. Whether you’re after cute lil’ nic-nak presents to take home, picking up some boutique fashion finds or just a looking for a hip place to grab a drink, this is the place for you. I mean, sure, the place is absolutely heaving at the weekends and the early evenings, but if you time it right you can have a good mooch around without too much difficulty, as long you don’t mind the odd elbow here and there.
If you search “things to do in Shanghai”, I guarantee The Bund (known as Wàitān in Chinese) will be pretty high up, if not top, of the list. But, as with many tourist attractions around the world, sometimes the actual place doesn’t quite live up to expectations. The Bund is not one of those, it’s the real deal. For me, standing along the river looking over at the sparkly skyscrapers soaring above the water and reaching into the sky, that’s what really cemented in my head that ‘oh my gosh, I’m actually here!’.
China certainly doesn’t lack in spectacular and majestic monuments, many steeped in history dating back through multiple dynasties. The Forbidden City, or 紫禁城 (Zǐjinchéng), is no exception. Read on for the ins and outs and a bit of the history, or check out my quick, at-a-glance guide to visiting at the bottom of this post!