#PayMayaMoNow: Why My Second Trip To Hong Kong Is Better Than the First

It was three in the morning. We were flying to Hong Kong via NAIA Terminal 3. Living on the east side of Metro Manila, we needed to travel an hour or so to reach the airport. It is always nice to travel during the wee hours of the morning. There is no traffic. However, it is such a hassle to travel out of our village to hail a cab. With lots of taxi horror stories, it’s more scary to travel in the dark.

Good thing, we have Uber now. Even better, I already activated my account a few days back with the help of PayMaya. I didn’t need a credit card to do so.

Uber also has a cash option payment but you’d still need a credit card to activate it. Without a credit card, PayMaya came in handy.

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I just made a few clicks here and there on the app, and our Uber was on its way to pick us up. So far, I never had any bad experience with Uber. For now, it is still my go-to ride-sharing app.

Then, we were headed to the airport.

At NAIA, check-in was quite smooth. After checking in our baggage and getting our tickets, we waited to board our plane at the departure area.

Touchdown Hong Kong!

We were flying from Manila to Hong Kong for a five-day vacation.

As the plane began its initial descent, we were overwhelmed with excitement. We were in high anticipation to try authentic Chinese food (well, it’s just “food” in Hong Kong). We can’t wait to explore the city again. We were like kids excited to see Mickey Mouse.

After deplaning and passing through immigration (they don’t stamp on your passport anymore), we had to buy an Octopus card. For the uninitiated, the Octopus card is a very useful card to have when in Hong Kong. You can use it when traveling on trains and buses, and even to buy some stuff from the local convenience store.

That’s the great thing with Hong Kong. Credit card terminals are almost everywhere so we can make purchases using PayMaya even from the Mass Transit Railway Corp. without converting money to HKD (Hong Kong Dollars).

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With Octopus cards with us, we boarded the Airport Express train and headed to the city.

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Amazing PayMaya feature is it instantly sends a text message whenever you make a purchase.

Touristy 101

When in Hong Kong, you do several touristy things like going up to the Victoria Peak by riding the Peak Tram, taking a cable car up to Ngong Ping, and visiting Disneyland.

We did all those and we managed to avoid long lines of buying tickets on-site by buying them online. (Tip: we used Klook and sometimes you can get discounts) PayMaya can be used to make online purchases. We used it like we how normally use a credit card. Purchase was seamless.

If you haven’t been to any of these touristy places, here are what to expect, what to prepare, and what not to miss.

Victoria Peak

What to expect: See panoramic view of Hong Kong across Victoria Harbour with the skyscrapers lined up along the harbor.

What to prepare: Can be very hot so apply sunscreen and bring an umbrella.

What not to miss: Selfie with the beautiful view. If you love wax sculpture, visit Madame Tussauds.

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Ngong Ping 360

What to expect: 25-minute cable car ride to the top with an amazing view of Lantau Island.

What to prepare: Can be very hot so apply sunscreen and bring an umbrella.

What not to miss: Go up and have an up close and personal encounter with the Giant Buddha.

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Hong Kong Disneyland

What to expect: See Mickey Mouse and friends, try different rides.

What to prepare: Can be very hot so apply sunscreen and bring an umbrella.

What not to miss: Flights of Fantasy Parade in the afternoon, fireworks display before the theme park closes.

Foodie Trail

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There are lots of amazing food to try in Hong Kong aside from dim sum. We highly recommend you go to the off-beaten path and try something from the many dai pai dong (open-air food stall in Hong Kong) scattered on the streets of the city.

We lined up for the “most delicious beef brisket” in Hong Kong island. We had a hard time finding it but it was worth it! Thank you GMaps and Waze! If you want to try it too, it’s Kau Kee Restaurant somewhere in Central Hong Kong. The restaurant is a typical Chinese resto (like our “turo-turo”) but don’t let it’s humble looks fool you. Their food is great!

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We also tried eggette, an egg-based waffle popular as a street food in Hong Kong. But this is no ordinary eggette because it was a level higher with the ice cream and other toppings that came with it.

We also hunted the “not to miss” pineapple buns. They are widely popular in Hong Kong. The best way to eat them? Hot with iced butter inside.

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Most of the establishments in Hong Kong accept the Octopus card for payment. And most of them also have credit card terminals where you can use PayMaya. You don’t have to bring a lot of cash and can simply bring a few HKD, just in case.

Buy Me That

Hong Kong is a popular shopping destination. If you’re in search for branded items at a discount, there are outlet stores you can hunt down. If you’re in for cheaper buys, there are many street markets.

Tsim Sha Tsui, the shopping mecca in Hong Kong, is lined with high-end stores. On the side, you can also spot shops that sell cheap knock-offs.

One of my favorite shopping malls in Hong Kong is Citygate Outlet. It is conveniently located near the airport so you can just drop by here before flying out. You can buy clothes, shoes, watches, chocolates, and almost anything you need as “pasalubong.”

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It’s easy to overspend and buy things you might not even need when you see many large “SALE” signs almost everywhere. To help you spend within a budget, you can simply load up your PayMaya card with how much you can spend like I did. This really helped me not buy a lot of stuff that I might end up regretting after.

In terms of safety, PayMaya is safe to use. Again, it sends a text message every time you buy using it. It also instantly update the details of spending and balance on the app.

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When I used PayMaya in Hong Kong, it looks like there are no hidden service charges even if I made the purchase abroad. That’s what I like about it, the use of the card is so transparent that you can monitor each and every spend.

Reflections

This is my second time in Hong Kong, and honestly, it was way better than the first one.

Weather-wise, traveling in September proved to be better than in February (my first visit in Hong Kong). It was super cold during my first visit and it rained most of the time. For instance, I didn’t enjoy Disneyland before and the Flights of Fantasy Parade was cancelled then because of the strong rain.

I went to Hong Kong four or five years ago. Internet connectivity wasn’t as widespread as it is today. Going around is a lot easier because many stores offer good Internet connection. Also, our hotel provided a phone that has unlimited data so that was a real big help. You can simply open Google Maps or Waze when in search for almost anything in the city. Exploring has becoming a lot easier. Uber is also popular in Hong Kong and you can easily book one virtually in an instant.

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Traveling cashless with the Octopus card and PayMaya on hand is really convenient. We didn’t have to worry about bringing cash wherever we go or over-converting to HKD that we might just end up re-converting to PHP. There are some losses in conversion.

Also, PayMaya is a very nifty card to have. Aside from sending texts whenever we used it (even if we were abroad), the PayMaya app is very intuitive. Moreover, PayMaya can be used to make online purchases. Plus, it is actually a debit card so it helps you prevent overspending. You can just load up the amount that is within your spending limit.

After five days of exploring and enjoying Hong Kong, I had time to think of the trip overall and evaluate it with the first one I had. I found myself super impressed with the second time (despite still getting lost a lot of times). It’s not just because of the better weather and better Internet connection.

No, instead, I am super impressed with PayMaya. That card save me a lot of times during our entire Hong Kong escapade.

Do you have PayMaya? Share with us your experience with it!






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