A beginner’s guide to Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of South-East Asia’s most popular city break destinations. Home to soaring skyscrapers, some of the most celebrated food on the planet, fluorescent nightlife, and theme parks – there’s plenty to keep even the most cosmopolitan of travellers happy. Not only that, but there is also a beautiful landscape surrounding the city. Plus, it’s well connected to other destinations in the southern hemisphere, making it an incredible opportunity for a multi-stop adventure. Here’s how to make the most of your city break in Hong Kong.
Things to Do
Explore Lantau Island
On Lantau Island, you’ll find Buddhist architecture, beautiful sandy beaches and a historical picturesque fishing village. The highlight of Lantau Island, however, is The Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. Sitting at 34 metres high and facing north to look over the Chinese people, this majestic bronze Buddha draws pilgrims from all over Asia.
Po Lin Monastery is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sanctums and has been dubbed ‘the Buddhist World in the South’. This monastery is rich with colourful manifestations of Buddhist iconography and its pleasant garden is home to birdsong and flowery scents. You can also enjoy a meal at its popular vegetarian restaurant.
Shop at Temple Street Night Market
What could be better than a night spent searching for locally-made souvenirs while enjoying home-grown entertainment? You’ll find trinkets, teaware, electronics, watches, menswear, jade and antiques here, alongside delicious food like claypot rice, seafood, and noodles. With a backdrop of opera singers and fortune tellers.
Party in Lan Kwai Fong and the other party districts
Lan Kwai Fong is Hong Kong’s main party district with over 90 restaurants and bars. However, there are other areas if you’re after something specific. SoHo, just moments away from Hollywood Road, offers chic bars and hip restaurants. Knutsford Terrace is home to alfresco patios and upscale bars. While Wan Chai is where you’ll find colonial style pubs, sports bars, and live music.
View the city from The Peak
If you do nothing else in Hong Kong, you must visit The Peak, aka the highest point on Hong Kong Island. By day, you’ll take in incredible views of the city’s skyscrapers, Victoria Harbour and all the way to the green hills of the New Territories. Then, in the early evening, you’ll be treated to one of the most beautiful sunsets in Asia.
Enjoy a day at Hong Kong Disneyland
Did you know that Hong Kong is also home to Disneyland? Disneyland Hong Kong boasts seven lands - Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street– with key attractions including Tarzan’s Treehouse, Fairy Tale Forest, and Iron Man Experience. You’ll find the park on the eastern shores of Lantau Island.
Food & Drink
Home to more than 11,000 restaurants, Hong Kong is a foodie’s dream and the only difficulty is knowing where to start. Chinese BBQ, dim sum, Hong Kong style milk tea, noodles, and tofu pudding are just some of the foods that are must eats of the city.
As for where to eat these dishes? That’s another question entirely. On Hong Kong Island you’ll find the world’s largest floating restaurant, Jumbo Kingdom. The neighbourhood of Kowloon is home to gourmet Asian delicacies. While the New Territories & the outlying islands offer international flavours if you’re seeking something familiar.
As for drinking, Hong Kong boasts one of the most magnetic bar scenes in the world. Old fashioned G&Ts are common, while whiskey is a very popular drink – giving a nod to the city’s British roots. As for cocktails, you’ll find the traditional, the exotic, and the millennial hipster favourites (such as a cocktail served in a Japanese wooden doll, or a bathtub!) be sure to check out one of Hong Kong’s most popular bars, The Old Man which was voted in the top 50 of the World’s Best Bars for 2018.
How to get there and how to get around
The 24 hour Hong Kong International Airport is serviced by more than 100 airlines that provide connections to major cities throughout the world. From the airport, you’ll have direct access to train, bus, taxi, and hotel transport to get you to and around town, as well as shuttle buses and ferries to transport you to Mainland China.
There are plenty of ways to get around the city, whether it’s by MTR, taxi, ferry, rail, bus or tram. The city claims one of the world's safest, most efficient and frequent public transport systems and a convenient payment method in the form of the Octopus Card. You can read our previous blog on working the Hong Kong Subway System here.
Where to Stay
Hong Kong is home to 72,000 rooms in over 200 hotels – including modest guesthouses, youth hostels, palatial hotels, and chic boutiques. Most hotels are located on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon. In recent years, there have been more hotels opening in the New Territories and outlying islands, some of which offer a resort-type experience.
Beyond Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an incredible destination in its own right – but it’s also a gateway to both South East Asia and Australasia. It’s a popular place to break up a long-haul flight to Australia and New Zealand, and to start off a Southeast touring holiday. Plus, it’s one of Southeast Asia’s most popular cruise ports!
- Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate with distinct seasons, with September to April widely considered the best months to visit
- The legal tender in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
- British citizens whose passports have at least six months’ validity can enter Hong Kong for a period of up to 180 days without a visa.
- The majority of electrical outlets in Hong Kong take a three-pronged UK style plug.
- Hong Kong has strict laws about maintaining environmental hygiene, including fixed penalty fines of $1500 for littering or spitting.
- Eating and drinking are not allowed on most public transport in Hong Kong.
Have you ever been to Hong Kong? What advice would you give to a first-time visitor?