My plans for 2017 have been set for a few months, so unfortunately I can’t claim this was a New Years Resolution!
Hong Kong: Booked!
I had planned Australia for 2016, but due to money for visa requirements, and me taking a second trip to Thailand, I pushed it back for 2017. This meant I had a bit more time to plan and save. After doing some research, I worked out it was a lot cheaper for flights, to book them separate, rather than booking London, straight through to Sydney. I’m not the best of fliers, and jet lag makes me a vile human being, so I decided to book a few days in Hong Kong. It’ll give me chance to adjust to their time, explore a few things, then move onto Sydney. Rather than jumping 12 hours ahead of time in one go!
Why Hong Kong?
I was looking at stopping over in Bangkok for a few days, adjust to their time, then move onto Sydney. Although there are places I still want to see in Bangkok, I’ve already spent a good chunk of time there in 2016, so wanted to explore somewhere new. I’ve heard great things about Hong Kong, and China is a country I’ve always wanted to explore. Although I’ve not got the time or money to explore more of China, Hong Kong is a great starting point.
A great thing about Hong Kong is the visa requirements are a little different to the rest of China. British Nationals don’t need a visa for Hong Kong (or Macau), as they do for the rest of China. I can stay up to 180 days without a visa, as long as I don’t plan to work. The visa process for the rest of China is a little more tricky, and you need to apply beforehand.
My flight to Hong Kong was booked back in October 2016, and I plan to leave on May 1st 2017. This allowed me to get a pretty cheap deal. I booked through STA Travel, and the flight cost me £200 for a one way flight from London Heathrow to Hong Kong. It’s with Virgin Atlantic, and it’s a one 12 hour flight. No changeovers. Can’t complain with that! Always try booking flights well in advance, as it really does make all the difference! I’ve just looked at the same flight on STA, and it’s now £250. It’s not a lot more, but chances are the closer it gets to May, the higher that price is going to get. That £50 I’ve saved has gone towards paying for my hostel. So every little helps!
I’ve already booked my hostel in advance. After a 12 hour flight, the last thing I want to be doing is hunting around a city I’ve never been to before, for somewhere to stay. After researching prices, it turns out Hong Kong is quite expensive for accommodation. The amount I’ve paid for a hostel, would get me a decent hotel in Thailand. I’ve been warned the hostels are quite tiny in Hong Kong, so I’ve tried to my best to look at reviews, and tried to get somewhere that is meant to be pretty good. I’ve booked Urban Pack hostel, which for an 8 bed dorm has cost me 710 HKD, roughly around £75 for 4 nights. I was spending less than £5 a night for accommodation in Thailand, so it’s a lot more than I’m used to! It’s centrally located, near a metro station, and the hostel do group activities, so hopefully paying a little more is worth it!
Hong Kong booked for 2017: Photo by Viator.com
After 5 days in Hong Kong, I’m moving onto Australia. I’ve applied for a working holiday visa, so I’m quitting my job back home, and starting a new life down under for a little while. I’m doing this alone, so it’s a scary thought. But I have a few friends over there, who love it, and have all said it’s the best thing they ever did. So I have no doubts, or worries that it’s a huge mistake!
Quite a few people have asked me why I’m leaving everything behind to move to a country I’ve never been to before. It’s a big risk, I know. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to go see the “big red rock” in Australia. AKA, Ayers Rock. I used to watch Steve Irwin as a child, and used to say I would go there, thinking Australia was down the road. I thought people were having me on, when they said the flight was 24 hours. (I would have around 9/10 at the time!) I’m finally doing it, just 15 years later.
As I pointed out before, it worked out cheaper for me flights wise, to book separately. From Hong Kong I have a flight booked to Sydney. This was booked in December, so a little later than I had booked Hong Kong. It’s cost me £220. So altogether to get to Sydney from London, it’s cost me £420. If I had booked a one way flight from London to Sydney in one go, the cheapest I could find was £550, for a decent flight. So it’s saved me over £100 doing it separate. Which is going towards a few days in Hong Kong, and crossing off another location on my bucket list! Some people will argue I haven’t really saved over £100, as I’ll easily spend that, if not more, in Hong Kong. But as I pointed out at the start, the benefits to doing it separate are a no brainer. Hong Kong is only 8 hours ahead of London, the same as Thailand, so I can easily adjust. From there, Sydney is 4 hours ahead of Hong Kong, so the jump won’t be as big…or as painful! (I hope!)
As I’m planning to spend a year, if not longer, in Australia, I’ve had to apply for a Working Holiday Visa. I’m going to need to work as I go along, as I can’t do a full year with my savings. The money I have saved is going to last me around 3 months (hopefully). My visa cost me around £250, then I need to have £3000 saved up, for visa requirements. I have my first week accommodation booked, which is going to be at Base Backpackers hostel in Sydney. Again, it’s worked out more than hostels were costing me in Thailand. It’s roughly costing me £15 a night.
So I have a lot to forward to for 2017. I’m not sure where I’m going after my first week in Sydney. I’m hoping I’ll meet people, and go from there, so I’m not doing the whole year completely alone. I plan to do 3 months farm work, so I can apply for my second year visa. Ideally I want to do this as soon as possible, as May – October are the cooler months in Australia. I don’t want to be doing farm work in 40 degree heat! I have plenty of places I want to see in Australia, but how I see them, and in what order, I literally have no idea as of yet!
Any tips/advice would be greatly appreciated. I also love to hear people that have done a similar route before!