Hong Kong, or officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, is an exciting city with its ultramodern high rise buildings, luxury hotels and neon lights that share the street with makeshift street market stalls and vendor carts.
In Chinese, Hong Kong means “fragrant harbor”. Cruise ships and yachts sit side by side with wooden junket boats in the deep-water harbor. The world’s best restaurants compete with street food stalls and enormous shopping malls vie with street markets for consumer dollars. Hong Kong is both modern yet steeped in history and culture, which is what makes it such a great city to explore.
Hong Kong is known for its unique and varied culture and cuisine as well as its world-class attractions, restaurants, shopping and hotels. To really experience all Hong Kong has to offer, you need at least a week or more.
Much of Hong Kong is hilly with steep slopes with only 25% of the area being developed-mostly in the Kowloon peninsula. The remainder of Hong Kong is parks, rainforests and nature preserves
Basic Information For Travelers
Location: Hong Kong is located on the south coast of China and lies on the Pearl River Delta of China. It is bordered on the west by Macau and on the north by Guangdong province.
Hong Kong has four main areas: Hong Kong island, Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories and the smaller islands.
Population: 7.3 million.
Time Zone: Hong Kong Time (HKT) - UTC+08:00 all year round.
Currency: Hong Kong dollar. ATMs that take international credit cards can be found almost anywhere. Banks, hotels and most retailers and restaurants accept all major international credit cards.
Language: Chinese and English are the official languages. Most locals are bilingual in urban Hong Kong.
Electricity: the standard electrical voltage in Hong Kong is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Most of the hotel bathrooms have outlets for 100 volts and the majority of electrical outlets take 3–prong UK –style plugs. Should you need them, adapters are sold at most convenience stores.
Phone info: Hong Kong is a very connected city. The majority of people in Hong Kong utilize cellular phones with 3G/4G service. Public Wi-Fi services are provided by both the Government and the private sector, with about 40 000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the city.
When To Travel To Hong Kong
From May to September, Hong Kong is in it’s rainy season-hot and humid with rain showers, thunderstorms and occasional Typhoons. Winters are mild but cloudy with occasional cool fronts.
The best time to visit Hong Kong is October through February when weather is generally sunny and dry.
Temperatures average between 16-22 °C January - April, 26-29 °C May - August and 27-18 °C September – December.
How To Get There?
The Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is the transportation hub for East Asia and is one of the busiest airports in the world. Many international carriers fly into Hong Kong from Europe, so there are a lot of possibilities to find cheap business class flights.
British Airways has daily direct flights from London to Hong Kong. It's really long flight though, up to 11 hours and 30 mins, so you can fully enjoy the luxury of lie-flat business class seat and bottomless champagne. In addition to London, Hong Kong can be easily reached from Scandinavia. Finnair has direct flights from Helsinki, Finland to Hong Kong up to 7 times a week.
Due to the distance between Hong Kong and Europe, you can also earn a lot of frequent flyer points during your trip. For example a return flight from London, Helsinki, Oslo or Stockholm to Hong Kong on Qatar Airways (with a stop in Doha) earns you 560 British Airways Executive Club Tier Points. Read more tips from our article "How to find cheap business class flights".
Getting Around Hong Kong
Hong Kong is actually a very small area, which has many transportation options to get to your destination. Hong Kong boasts one of the best subways in the world and has a host of ferries, trams, taxis, and buses.
The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is an extensive railway system, which operates all over urban Hong Kong, Kowloon Peninsula, the northern part of Hong Kong island and all the way to the airport.
If you plan on using MTR during your visit, we'd recommend purchasing an Octopus card from the airport or any of the MTR stations. The card is a smart electronic payment system that allows payment for trains, buses, trams, ferries and minibuses as well as parking meters, vending machines, convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.
The Star Ferries depart from the Central Ferry Piers and carry people back and forth between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island almost 400 times per day. It's one of the most dramatic harbor rides in the world. The entire ride from pier to pier takes about 5 minutes.
The Hong Kong Tramway (which resembles a small double decker bus) is the most colorful way to see the northern end of Hong Kong Island, including the Central District, Western District, Wan Chai, and Causeway Bay. The Peak Tram runs through Central and the business district all the way up to the Victoria Peak.
Hong Kong has many buses and minibus services, taxis and fantastic Uber service that provides service to almost anywhere in Hong Kong. We prefer using Uber in Hong Kong, mainly because of more comfortable cars and cashless payment system. Also there might be some language barrier when communicating with regular taxi drivers, again one thing that doesn't exist when using Uber.
There are so many luxurious hotels in Hong Kong; it can be difficult to choose where to stay. To help your decision making, we'll introduce you couple of our favorite hotels:
Intercontinental Hong Kong
Out of two Hong Kong InterContinental hotels, InterContinental Hong Kong sits right on the Kowloon waterfront with stunning views of the island and is renowned for the staff’s attention to service. Offering 500 luxuriously appointed rooms and internationally acclaimed, award-winning restaurants as well as every amenity one could imagine, the InterContinental Hong Kong does not disappoint.
Phone: +852 2721 1211
Website: InterContinental Hong Kong
Latest deals for InterContinental Hong Kong (Hotelscombined.com)
InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong
The second InterContinental hotel, InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong is located about 1 kilometer away from InterContinental Hong Kong hotel. It's also a waterfront hotel, close to attractions and restaurants of Tsim Sha Tsui area. Try booking Harbour View Room to get the best views of busy Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong island. They are making some renovations during summer 2017, which might cause some disturbance for those who want to enjoy peaceful vacation days at the poolside.
Phone: +852 2721 5161
Website: InterContinental Hong Kong
Latest deals for InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong (Hotelscombined.com)
Conrad Hong Kong
Hilton’s 5-star luxury hotel is located in the prestigious Pacific Place business and shopping Complex and offers a breathtaking view of Victoria Harbor and the Peak. The hotel is an architectural wonder soaring 61 stories that offer 664 luxurious rooms. Pamper yourself in the marble bathroom with deep-soaking tub and fluffy robes and slippers. Large picture windows overlooking the skyline, harbor or Victoria Peak offer spectacular views. Award winning dining at six restaurants and lounges. Relax in the heated pool with a whirlpool, 24-hour health Club with sauna, steam room and massage. Enjoy with every modern in-room entertainment amenity you can think of.
Phone: +852 2521-3838
Website: Conrad Hong Kong
Latest deals for Conrad Hong Kong (Hotelscombined.com)
JW Marriott Hong Kong
Luxurious and everything you could want from an upscale hotel. Offering all the amenities you would expect from a Marriott hotel such as a business center, pool with a hot tub, fitness center, restaurant, bar and lounge. Shopping, dining and transportation options are plentiful as this hotel is connected to the Pacific Mall and the Admiralty Centre where there is a train and bus station, taxis and the MTR. The views of the Hong Kong harbor are some of the best in the city.
Phone: +852 2810 8366
Website: JW Marriott Hong Kong
Latest deals for JW Marriott Hong Kong (Hotelscombined.com)
Restaurants, Bars And Nightclubs In Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a foodie’s paradise offering over 360 restaurants and eating establishments. A word of caution though, be careful about eating food from street carts and street stalls-look for the QTS sign to be displayed at the restaurant or food vendor, which tells you that they have passed strict food hygiene and quality inspections.
Some you really should try:
You can’t visit Hong Kong without a dim sum feast of steamed dumplings, pork and vegetable buns, spring rolls and noodles. Lin Teung Lau, Hong Kong’s classic teahouse offers some the most authentic dim sum in the city.
Jumbo Kingdom located at the Sum Wan Pier in Aberdeen is the world’s largest floating restaurant, which serves up some tasty gourmet Chinese, and modern fusion dishes.
Another popular foodie haunt is the first floor alfresco restaurants at the Murray house in Stanley. This fishing village is the place for some of the best seafood and the views are incredible.
If it is nightlife you are after, look no further than SoHo-the exotic nightlife district offering upscale bars and entertainment in downtown Central Hong Kong near Hollywood Road. Visit Vida Loca for its signature California cocktails or Oolaa for some soft music and elegant ambience.
Want to party with Westerners? Head to Central Hong Kong to the Lan Kwai Fong area. This is the trendy place to party in Hong Kong. La Doice Vita 97 has live music weekends. Catch a live ball game broadcast at The Whiskey Priest. It's also the only area where you can see lots of drunken people wandering outside on the streets.
What to see in Hong Kong
Get a great view of Hong Kong by taking a ride on a Star Ferry, which leaves every 12 minutes from the pier at Victoria Harbor. Ride the gravity-defying Peak Tram up to Peak Tower atop Victoria Peak and take in the most breathtaking views in the world.
If family theme parks are your thing, you will definitely want to visit Hong Kong Disneyland Resort on Lantau Island, just 30 minutes by train from Kowloon Station. Another good option is Ocean Park, located in Wong Chuk Hang and Nam Long Shan in the Southern District of Hong Kong, offers sea world exhibitions, animal performances and thrill rides.
Football fans will want to visit during the Lunar New Year Cup Games when a Hong Kong football squad plays against 3 international teams to celebrate Chinese New Year (February 16-17).
The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is one of the biggest rugby events in the world where teams from all nations compete at the Hong Kong Stadium from December through May.
If you want some physical challenge, take the MTR to Sha Tin in the New Territories and rent a bike from the Sha Tin ark Bike Kiosk and follow the waterway along a 16km cycling route on the Shing Mun River
Hong Kong Nature Highlights
- Hong Kong Wetland Park which has a 10,000 –square-meter visitor center with exhibition galleries and a 60-hectare wetland reserve where visitors can observe wildlife and plant varieties.
- The Hong Kong Global Geopark. boasts the Sai Sung Volcanic Rock Region with the spectacular hexagonal volcanic rock columns. The Northwest New Territories Sedimentary Rock region is a rock climbers dream.
- Hike the Lantau Trail on Lantau Island. This 70-kilometer trail starts and ends in Mui Wo with beautiful scenery from mountain grasslands to the seashore. The entire trail hike takes 2-3 days but there are various shorter hikes along the way, which can be found at the sign boards and maps at the trail junctions.
- Head to the Beaches at Lantau Island. Cheung Sha Beach on the eastern side is a nice sandy beach for sunning and sandcastles surrounded by a little village and beachside restaurants. Silvermine Bay Beach near the Mui Wo Ferry Pier is better for swimming and has lifeguards on duty.
Shopping Aficionados will drool over the sheer number of shopping malls, department stores, boutiques, and street market in Hong Kong. An added bonus is that all purchases are tax-free. Some you simply have to visit:
- Harbor City Mall is where those shoppers seeking the best of international brands go to shop
- Visit Hong Kong’s own fashion designers in their independent boutiques on Granville Road in Tsim Sha Tsui.
- The Tung Choi Street market for bargains on clothing and trinkets. Go between 1 and 6 pm when vendor stalls are in full swing.
- The Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon allows you to shop til you drop for anything you want at bargain prices until 11pm. You don’t even have to leave to eat, just grab a tasty meal or snack at the dai pai dong (open-air food vendors).