Hong Kong is a modern, vibrant and bustling city; there are literally thousands of things to do and discover, its an explorers paradise. It’s a great place to ‘dip your toe’ into Asia, it is clean, safe and has both Asian and Western influences. I would recommend visiting if you’re into exploring, city life and the occasional party.
Time zone – GMT+8
Visa – on arrival
Currency – Hong Kong Dollar
Climate – 18-30c all year round. Dry season Oct-Apr. Wet season May-Sept.
Best time to visit – October to April in the dry season, May-Sept for cheaper rates (it is hot & humid with occasional thunder storms)
It’s roughly 10 HKD to 1 GBP which makes things simple. Hong Kong is about the same price as the UK for food, drinks and accommodation, the great thing is that it has something for all budgets, so if you’re on a tight one you can still have a great time. The Numbeo cost of living index is 78 (London is 83).
PLACES TO VISIT
Central Hong Kong – Hong Kong Island is the financial centre of the city and where most of the action happens; it is home to a plethora of traditional and modern restaurants & cafe’s, roof top bars, shopping mall’s (they’re everywhere in HK), Hong Kong Zoo, Victoria Peak, local markets, Lan Kwai Fong and Soho (Restaurants & bars) and Happy Valley Racecourse in Causeway Bay
Tsim Sha Tsui– across the harbour from Hong Kong Island is Kowloon, the most happening part of Kowloon is Tsim sha Tsui; here is where you can get epic views (and photos) of the HK skyline, watch the symphony of lights show, visit the avenue of stars, shop until you drop at the ICC mall and eat and drink to your hearts content at the many restaurants and bars
Lantau Island – Lantau is a quieter rural area outside of central Hong Kong, here you can take a cable car over the dense jungle to visit the Po Lin Monastery, Nong Ping temple and the Big Buddha. Just in case that is too rural for you, Disney Land is also situated here
THE Hong Kong BUCKET LIST
- Take in the amazing views from Victoria Peak – you catch the tram from central Hong Kong for about 77HKD which takes about 10 minutes, this is an experience in itself as the thing flies up literally vertically! The view from the peak is incredible. For an added touch, go up first thing for sunrise or at dusk for sunset
- Visit the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery in Lantau – take the cable car from Nong Ping which affords you 360 degree views of Hong Kong, once you arrive at the peak you can walk up to the impressive 34m high Buddha that sits atop the jungle canopy and explore the historic Po Lin Monastery
- Visit Hong Kong Zoo & botanical gardens – wander the colourful gardens, traverse the calming water fountains and watch the animals, admission is free if you aren’t already sold
- Hop on the one hour ferry to Macau – you have to visit the Vegas of Asia! Macau is Asia’s gambling mecca, it is home to many of the hotels and casino’s that you will find in Las Vegas (the Venetian, The Wynn, MGM Grand..) the hotels are huge and offer lots to do away from the tables..
- Go to the races – if there is a race meeting on when you’re in town then definitely head over to the world renowned Happy Valley
- Shop, Shop, Shop – there are so many shopping malls in HK, here are the main ones; Landmark, Times Square, Elements, Harbour city, IFC Mall
- Watch the symphony of lights show – head over to Victoria Harbour at 8pm to watch the HK skyline light up to the sound of music. You can also visit the Hong Kong avenue of stars just around the corner
- Go to Disney Land! – I probably don’t need to sell this one?
Eat & Drink
- Eat, drink and ride the escalator in Soho – this place is a lot of fun, there are an unlimited amount of great bars and restaurants, just hop on the escalator and hop off when you see something that you fancy!
- Go ‘out, out’ – head to an area called Lan Kwai Fong in central, there are bars and late night clubs lined up on both sides of the street, you can’t go wrong!
- Do a rooftop bar crawl – there are lots of amazing rooftop bars in HK, and most you can just walk into buy 1 drink and take in the views for as long as you like. If you can only get to one, then go to Eye Bar, the view is incredible. Here are some of the other good ones; Ce la vi, Wooloomooloo, Ozone, Sugar & Totts
- Have a meal at Wildfire+ overlooking the city – situated at the top of the peak this place does great food with an unrivalled view of the city skyline below, its also well priced. I also recommend Iberico (tapas) and Pampas (Argentinian steak house) in Soho
- Try some street food – visit one of the many local Dai Pai Dongs (street food stalls) and try some local dishes, they are found in most neighbourhoods
- Hong Kong isn’t a huge city, my main piece of advice is to stay in the Central area, all areas of the city are very accessible by metro and taxi’s (which are very cheap). I stayed at the Bishop Lei hotel which was reasonably priced and in a great central location, it also has a rooftop pool
- For those that want luxury here are 3 to look at: The W, The Sheraton, The Shangri-la
- For those on a budget take a look at these: Sohotel, Hotel Pandora, Sunrise International
- Taxis are extremely cheap in HK, if you’re on a tight schedule then they’re ideal to get about the city. But, rush hour in HK really is rush hour! Try to avoid car journeys 4-6pm you’re better to plan some exploring by foot at those times
- The city can experience quite heavy pollution and smog, if you get a clear day, head for the peak! Don’t wait until the day after as you may have missed your one opportunity to see the amazing view that you came for
- Whilst HK is a modern and clean city, I did see some hygiene issues, the main one being a burst sewage pipe streaming down the street that we almost walked into! Whilst I imagine that is a rarity, best to just take the usual precautions
- To cross from HK Island to Kowloon at rush hour, take the star ferry which takes just 5 minutes
- When it rains, it pours! Take a waterproof, spending an entire day squelching around tends to ruin the mood!