Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places on earth with a population of about seven million inhabitants. It is a vibrant city with soaring skyscrapers, traditional Chinese architecture and home to delectable dim sum. Hong Kong is one of the biggest hub airports in the world and attracts millions of tourists each year.
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, located in the southern part of China, and has a high degree of autonomy in all matters including retaining its capitalist system, independent judiciary and rule of law, free trade and freedom of speech.
It is one of the busiest harbor cities in the world and is the most important trading place in Asia. Hong Kong is the third biggest international financial center, after London and New York, as it has low taxes and free trade.
Best Time to Visit
Hong Kong is a popular travel destination year-round. The ideal travel season is late autumn, from October to around Christmas time when Hong Kong weather is relatively more pleasant. Here’s what it’s like to visit Hong Kong during the different seasons:
- Spring (Mar to May) – Spring in Hong Kong is quite humid, a little foggy and rainy during this season.
- Summer (June to Aug) – Hong Kong’s Summer can be hot, wet and humid, with August being the wettest month. Tropical cyclones and occasional squally thunderstorms are also typical around these months. (this time of the year may not be the best time to visit).
- Autumn (Sept to Nov) – The temperature remains comfortably cool during these months, with November to December being the pleasant months to travel to the country. Accommodation prices are reasonable around this time as well. However, beware of the typhoons in September.
- Winter (Dec to Feb) – The climate is pretty mild at day time. However, the temperature can get cold at night. This is the busiest time of the year, especially around Lunar New Year, ultimately increasing accommodation prices.
We have experienced Hong Kong in January and February and we loved it, mainly because we really enjoy cold and dry winter months.
Getting to the City from the Airport
By Airport Coach Transfer – The most convenience way is to book a coach transfer from Hong Kong International Airport to your hotel. It’s cheaper than taking an Airport Express Train and free hassle. The airport coach transfer will take you to your hotel directly. You can book below:
By Airport Express Train – From the airport, the quickest way is to take the Airport Express train into the city center (takes about 23 minutes to Central, running every 12 minutes from 06:00 AM – 01:00 AM). One-way ticket is HKD 100.
If you are using the Airport Express Train, you can also ride the free Shuttle Bus Services, from both Hong Kong and Kowloon station. The buses will drop passengers at selected major hotels, between 06:30 AM and 11:00 PM. You can check the timetable provided to find out if your hotel is on the list otherwise, you could get off at the listed hotel closest to the hotel you are staying.
By Bus – This is probably the cheapest way of getting into the city, it takes about 75 minutes. The buses run daily from 5:30 AM – 11:00 PM. To get to the bus terminal at the airport, exit the arrival hall and on the right side, you will see the bus stop (Ground Transportation Center) and follow the direction signs.
Geographically, Hong Kong is comprised of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories, as well as over 200 outlying islands.
- Hong Kong Island, is home to the frenetic business district and the main population base. It is modern and swanky where most skyscrapers, high-end bars and restaurants are concentrated. It is also home to many tourist attractions including the Victoria Peak and Causeway Bay, a lively stretch of shops and park.
- Kowloon, is one big melting pot of streets crawling with shops and a shopping mecca. This is where you will find most museums, markets and local restaurants, a perfect place for a food trip. It also packed with budget hotels and hostels especially in Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui.
- The New Territories, north of Kowloon, is dotted with wetland parks and temples. Lantau Island, one of the many outlying islands, takes pride in Ngong Ping (Giant Buddha and Po Lin Monastery) and Hong Kong Disneyland.
There are five neighborhoods we would recommend you stay:
Causeway Bay – If you enjoy shopping, then this is arguably the best area for you to stay. It’s a busy, more upscale commercial area with plenty of malls, shops, and restaurants.
Wan Chai – It’s a convenient commercial area located right next to Causeway Bay. If you want to have easy access to the shopping in Causeway Bay without having to pay as much for accommodations, then this is a good place to look.
Central District – If you want to experience a nightlife, staying here will give you easy access to Lan Kwai Fong; is one of the most popular places to go clubbing and bar hopping. Also, easy access to the Peak Tram; is an iconic landmark that takes you up to Victoria Peak for the best views of the city.
Tsim Sha Tsui – There are plenty of shopping and restaurant options here, particularly along Nathan Road, as well as easy access to Victoria Harbour where you’ll find the most stunning views of Hong Kong’s skyline.
Mong Kok – This is one of the best areas to stay in Hong Kong for budget travelers. There are plenty of shopping options in the area like the famed Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi Street. If you’re into street food, then you’ll have lots to choose from here.
Currency and Language
The local currency is Hong Kong dollar (HKD). The main language spoken in Hong Kong is Cantonese, a local dialect. However, many people speak English (or at least basic English), and almost all signs are in both Chinese and English.
How to Get Around
Getting around in Hong Kong is pretty easy. It is quite well-connected by public transportation. If you think you will be using public transport a lot, then you can buy an Octopus card.
Hong Kong’s MTR (Mass Transport Rail – train) system is your best friend to get around the city, as it’s the fastest and most efficient mode of transport in Hong Kong. It’s extensive, tourist-friendly, and relatively inexpensive. Download the MTR Mobile app (a true lifesaver when navigating the MTR).
The app is equipped with maps and other information you need about the MTR system. Simply enter the stations of origin and destination and it will show you a suggested route, complete with the necessary transfers, fares, and travel time.
What is Octopus Card
The Octopus Card is a prepaid stored-value card that can be used to pay for all the different modes of transportation (MTR, buses, minibuses, trams and ferries to the outlying islands). When you have the card, you don’t need to buy a ticket each time you travel. Just hover the card above the reader by the entrance and you’re good to go. It also can be used as payment at convenience stores, restaurants, supermarkets and more.
It’s available at the airport or at any MTR stations, and comes with HKD 100 of initial stored value and HKD 50 deposit which you can refund at the end of your trip. Conveniently, you can have it reloaded not just at MTR stations but at convenience stores, coffee shops and other add value service providers as well. You can load it to a maximum of HKD 1,000 but you can only refund remaining credit if it’s less than HKD 500. It stays valid for 1,000 days after your last top-up or ‘load’ and can be reactivated anytime afterwards.
Do I Need a Visa to Visit Hong Kong?
Nationals of over 145 countries can visit Hong Kong without a visa. This includes the Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and the European Union states. What differs is the number of days allowed.
- Macau – Commonly referred to as the “Las Vegas of Asia”, this little city on the south coast of China offers a wide variety of outdoor attraction. The city also boasts a dazzling nightlife, elegant bars, casinos and amusing local pubs.
- Lantau Island – Visit one of Hong Kong’s most popular attractions, the impressive Tian Tan Buddha.
- Lamma Island – This island is loved for its pleasant blend of the quieter sides of Western and Chinese living. It offers scenic hiking trails and some excellent seafood.
- Cheung Chau Island – One of outlying Hong Kong’s islands that is home to one of the world’s quirkiest festivals. You can experience visit the island on a traditional Chinese junk.
- Dragon’s Back – Is a ridge in south-eastern Hong Kong Island, and arguably the most popular hiking trail in Hong Kong.
We hope this guide is helpful. If you are wondering what to see and do in Hong Kong, we suggest that you check out our Things to See and Do in Hong Kong.
Note: The information provided in this post was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service.