When spending an extended length of time in a foreign country, a visa run is inevitable. This was the case for me after nearly 90 days in Taiwan, after which I had to leave the country or face the consequences. (We’ve overstayed visas before, but since this is a partial home base for us it is best to follow the rules)
There are many short flights to nearby countries… the Philippines, Japan, Thailand… but I settled on Hong Kong for a few reasons: flights are cheap, Hong Kong has great food, and it is the home of a good friend I haven’t seen in a few years
Many Taiwan expats do an overnight Hong Kong visa run, and this is the general advice that I found on blogs and forums. I chose to ignore this advice…
A single day visa run offers a few advantages:
- A same day departure from the Hong Kong airport eliminates the HK airport tax, resulting in lower airfare
- The MTR train to downtown HK offers a free same day return to the airport.
- There is no need to pay for a hotel in HK.
- Most importantly, you can return home and spend time with your family instead of hanging out in an HK bar
The only real disadvantage is a long day of travel, which I turn into a positive by bringing the Kindle
My day started around 6 am with a taxi ride to the airport. There is no traffic at this time and the ride only takes 30 minutes, so I had some time to enjoy a vanilla latte at the airport Starbucks.
The 1.5 hour flight to HK was uneventful, I think I fell asleep. Immigration was quick and easy, and then I was on the 24 minute train ride to downtown HK. Upstairs from the Central MTR station is a branch of the Ho Tim Wan dim sum restaurant, the cheapest Michelin star rated restaurant in the world. They don’t take reservations and lines can be an hour or longer
I caught up with my buddy over pork buns, which by themselves make the trip to HK worth it.
Afterwards, his girlfriend, a life long HK resident, gave us the insiders view of the waterfront. It was at the yacht club that I learned not only is it OK for a man to wear knee high socks while wearing shorts, but it is required. Unfortunately I don’t own such a wardrobe option, although we were able to grab a quick photo
A few hours later at 11 pm or so, I was back at home in Taipei with a fresh 90-day entry stamp, a little tired but no worse for wear
Hopefully next time we leave the country will be to move on to bigger and better things. Or at the very least, the GCC resident photographer can join the trip
Flight to HK: 5760 TWD (~$190)
Taxi to Taiwan International Airport: 800 TWD (~$26)
(The bus option costs 150 TWD, ~$5)
MTR train from HK airport to Central HK: 100 HKD (~$13)
Lunch for 2 at Tim Ho Wan: $16