Hong Kong is one of the great cities of the world and today is a top destination for travellers from within Asia and around the globe.
The unique heritage of the city, with its British Colonial past and current connections with the booming Chinese economy, makes it a fascinating place.
The unusual geography of the city spread out over a peninsula and many small islands in the Pearl River Delta leads to some great opportunities for sightseeing.
Read on to learn about the top things you need to know when visiting Hong Kong.
Where to stay
Hong Kong has multiple options for finding a cheap or expensive place to stay, could be expensive but you can fit also on a budget. If you don’t have worry about your budget can book plenty of hotels rooms and hostels on www.booking.com or www.agoda.com.
If you are looking for a really cheap hostel we recommend HK Downtown Backpackers where prices can be as low as 15$ for double bed.
For a 4 star hotel we recommend Bay Bridge Retreat for only 85$/night for two , but if you are looking for a 4 star hotels with all inclusive we highly recommend The Salisbury Hotel where price goes for about 200$/night.
It’s a huge city and must consider how much you will to walk, how close to the city center it is your place. If you like to hang out with a local you can book a room on www.airbnb.com and you can find a good price for your accommodation.
Also if you can stay with them for free using Couchsurfing app. You can use it also only if you want to meet with them. If you are traveling on a budget or not couch surfing seems to be a good idea.
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, which means that while it is technically part of the People’s Republic of China, it is self-governing and follows a lifestyle and laws that are a blend of Chinese traditions and remnants of the British Colonial history.
Located on the south coast of China it is situated on the east coast of a river delta and faces the South China Sea. This access to the sea is a major influence on the city.
It started as a transhipment port for incense wood, from which the city gets the Chinese name which literally translates to “Fragrant Harbour”.
Today it remains a major world port and, like all big ports is multicultural, with people from all over the world living and doing business in the city.
Hong Kong consists of Hong Kong Island, holding the main business district known simply as “Central”, the Kowloon Peninsular where you will find many tourist facilities, the more rural “New Territories” plus the Outlying Islands which number over 200, though only four are often visited.
A direct flight of around 12 to 15 hours will take you to Hong Kong from most European capitals or from the west coast of the USA. Even if coming from another part of China flights are the usual way to arrive. All aircraft land at Chep Lap Kok on Lantau Island, which is 25 minutes by Airport Express train to the city.
There is a busy calendar of holidays and events in the city as it combines European traditions such as Easter and Christmas with those from the east including Chinese New Year and the Buddha’s Birthday.
The Chinese New Year festivities include three days of public holidays when banks and offices are closed, as well as large amounts of decorations in the streets that are great to see. As it is a lunar calendar event the dates vary from year to year but in 2019 will be on the 5th of Feb.
Dragon Boat Festival happens during the summer and puts on a great if
Christmas in Hong Kong is widely celebrated as a family and gathering event despite it not being a majority Christian city. Decorations in shops and hotels can be just as elaborate as many European destinations. The weather at this time of year is also cool and dry which makes it a great time to visit.
For a complete list of dates for the coming year check out this calendar for HK Festivals in 2019.
Hong Kong is well known for the cheap and efficient public transport. Although the area of the city is large and extends into the rural countryside and to the “new towns” which provide accommodation for millions of people it is very easy to get around and doesn’t cost much.
The primary systems of transport are the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) which combines underground and overground rail services, the extensive bus network of modern airconditioned busses many of which are a double-decker, and the fleet of ferries that takes people to and from the outlying islands as well as across the harbor.
Anywhere that can’t be reached by one of these will be accessible by the clean and efficient taxi service. The “Red” taxi of Hong Kong is an iconic image, but they actually come also in Blue (for Lantau) and Green (for New Territories) varieties.
Except for Taxis public transport can all be paid for using a contactless Octopus card. Get one at the Airport when you arrive from the Airport Express ticket desk, and you’ll be able to travel everywhere with a minimum fuss.
Find your route using either Google apps, which knows about Hong Kong bus and train schedules, or use the official government transport website (http://hketransport.gov.hk) which also lets you find routes using less common forms of transport such as Green Mini Bus.
Don’t miss out on three if the iconic forms of transport in Hong Kong:
The Star Ferry ride across Victoria Harbour is the world’s cheapest sightseeing boat.
The Hong Kong Trams ( go through business and residential districts of Hong Kong island in a 1920s style electric tram. Take either the tourist tram with commentary or just the regular commuter tram to travel like a local.
And finally, when visiting Victoria Peak, the #1 destination for Hong Kong visitors, use the Peak Tram which is really a cable pulled funicular. But get there super early to avoid the crowds, such as 8 am. Alternatively, go very late such as at 9 pm when the crowds are less but the night view is still great.
Hong Kong is one of the shopping destinations of the world, with a reputation for a cheap and wide range of goods people come here just to buy things. From high-end boutiques and branded goods to street markets you’ll find something for everyone here.
Unlike many Asian destinations, major discounts by bargaining is not common in Hong Kong, except for in markets which cater to tourists. In normal shops the price is the price, though rounding down for multiple purchases is accepted.
Ladies Market – Located in the busy district of Mongkok this row of stalls along Tung Chung Street sells every kind of fashion and accessory item you can imagine. As well as many souvenirs and tourist items you’ll find look-alikes of famous brands and designs.
Stanley Market – On the south side of Hong Kong island this market combines tourist items with art, toys, and clothes. If you want some Chinese handmade lace tablecloths, then this is the place to go. After shopping walk out onto the promenade for some fantastic international alfresco dining options, and walk past the historic Murray Building and Blake Pier to the public park.
Cat Street Market – For look-alike antiques and curios visit this small lane just down the steps from the Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong’s Mid-levels. The proper name of the road is Upper Lascar Row, but everybody calls it Cat Street.
Temple Street Night Market – For nighttime entertainment, cheap shopping, and spicy crab dishes go to this busy Jordan market. Arrive after dark and stay till midnight, don’t forget to have your fortune told by one of the fortunetellers outside the car park building.
Fashionistas who are looking for a discount should get away from the brand name malls of Central and Causeway Bay and instead go to some of the smaller shops such as those along Granville Road where you can find the latest Korean and Japanese trends.
If discounts on real branded items are on your list, then factory outlets sell things from major brands.
After your trip there stop for a meal at the one and only Floating Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong in Aberdeen Harbour, the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.
Hongkongers love their food and while you are in the city don’t miss the chance to partake of the many different cuisines from around China and the world which are available here.
The best example of a Hong Kong style of dining is “Dim Sum”, a collection of small plates which is eaten for breakfast or lunch. Many of the choices are steamed in small bamboo baskets, with 3 or 4 individual servings in one basket.
Try the Maxim’s Palace restaurant in City Hall for an authentic but tourist-friendly experience at dim-sum. The various dishes are displayed on wheeled carts which the waiters push up to tables for you to choose. Just point at something that looks tasty and have a try!
The multicultural citizens of HK love many kinds of International Food, and if you want anything from Korean BBQ or Italian Pasta, you’ll find it here. The hot spots for international dining are in Tsimshatsui, in and around Nathan Road, on Hong Kong island in SOHO near Hollywood Road, and in the shopping and entertainment district of Causeway Bay.
Off the beaten track
If you’ve been to Hong Kong before and Victoria Peak and Stanley Market have lost their charm then branch out to one of the less known destinations.
Shatin is one of the ” new towns ” and mostly residential, but because of that, there is excellent transport by rail or bus to the area. Once there skip the IKEA furniture super-store and head out instead to the quirky 10K Buddha Monastery which is not a monastery, doesn’t’ have 10 thousand buddhas, but is a great place to visit anyway.
On the way back walk through the Shatin park, a long thin park along the river, and go all the way to the Heritage Museum with fascinating permanent exhibitions about Hong Kong society as well as
The Kowloon City Park sits on the land once occupied by the dreaded Kowloon Walled City, a notorious den of crime, drugs, and death. Today the green park is an oasis in the city and contains rare relics of the pre-colonial times that show the city in context.
While Hong Kong has many islands, the one with the oldest continuous inhabitation is Cheung Chau. Today an active fishing village, residential town, and hot-spot for street foods it is visited by people from other parts of Hong Kong.
Take the 35-minute fast ferry from Central Pier 5 to reach this throwback to a quieter time before the skyscraper. Eat some of the specialties of the island such as curried fish balls, frozen watermelon slices, giant curly potato crisps
After topping up on calories take one of the great walks around the hills at the ends of the island, or chill out on the beach.
Take the extra 5 minutes to walk past the main Tung Wan beach and visit the quieter Kwun Yam Wan Beach where there is a beach bar and enjoy a beer watching the lights of the Hong Kong city twinkle in the distance over the sea.
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