Hong Kong Travel Guide
Hong Kong is at once both exactly what you'd expect and completely surprising. It's a compact, skyscraper-packed city infused with glamour and energy that also juts up against green open space that's dotted with hiking trails, swimming beaches, and subtropical flora. It's a juxtaposition that is wonderfully refreshing—especially after you've spent several days immersed in Hong Kong's hectic pace.
Thanks to a wonderfully efficient transportation system, you can spend the morning shopping in the Causeway Bay neighborhood and noshing on dim sum in Sheung Wan, before escaping to Big Wave Bay for an afternoon of surf and sun on a tree-lined beach.
While exploring Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula is as easy as hopping on a ferry, make sure you don't miss a visit to at least one (if not several) of the city's lesser-visited islands (there are 261 islands in total). Lantau Island may be the largest and the easiest to visit, but Lamma, Cheung Chau, and Po Lin each boast their own often quieter, less touristy feel.
Hong Kong (GMT+8)
Best Time to Go
The sky might be blue and the weather sunny, but summer in Hong Kong can be overwhelmingly hot and humid. To avoid sweaty afternoons, visit the city between October and December, when temperatures tend to be more manageable. You might catch similar temperatures in the spring, although the season is short and temperatures can be in the 80s by May.
Things to Know
Currency: Hong Kong Dollar
(Check the current exchange rate)
Languages: Cantonese, English
I don't speak Chinese: Wǒ bù huì shuō zhōngwén
I'm lost: Wǒ mílùle
I would like…: Wǒ xiǎng...
Calling Code: +852
How to Get Around
Trains / Light Rails / Buses: The city's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) serves the urban areas of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories and includes trains, light rails, and buses. The services are clean and fast and rely on a fare system that's as cute as it is easy to use (meet the Octopus card). To start, pick up an Octopus card at the airport (the 7-Eleven in the arrivals hall sells them), put money on it, and use it the rest of your trip (including your journey from the airport). When you need to top-up, just stop by one of the many Octopus service providers—including 7-Eleven, McDonalds, Starbucks, and Circle K.
Taxis: You'll have no trouble finding a taxi in Hong Kong. In addition to Uber, local red taxis operate in the urban areas, green taxis serve the New Territories, and blue taxis operate on Lantau Island. Taxi drivers use meters so you don't have to worry about being ripped off and fares are cheap compared to other world-class cities.
Car service: If you want to arrive in the city in style, consider a luxury car transfer with Hong Kong Car Service. You'll be met by an English-speaking driver and can access all of Hong Kong and the neighboring Chinese province of Guangdong.
Address: 5 Connaught Rd., Central, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2522 0111
It doesn't get more iconic than the Mandarin Oriental, a Hong Kong mainstay with views of Victoria Harbour and the surrounding city. At the Mandarin, you'll be treated to opulent rooms, a tranquil spa, and a level of service that has become a Mandari trademark. Plus, you'll be walking in the footsteps of dignitaries like Margaret Thatcher and Henry Kissinger, who both stayed at the hotel during trips to the city.
The OTTO Hotel
Address: 8 Cameron Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3551 6888
You don't have to stay at a five-star hotel to experience Hong Kong safely and comfortably. The boutique OTTO Hotel walks the line between affordability and comfort with its simple, clean interiors and tasteful amenities. And thanks to the OTTO's location in Kowloon's Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood, you'll be in the heart of Hong Kong's renowned shopping and food scene and steps from the harbor.
Address: Salisbury Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2920 2888
There's no doubt about it, The Peninsula raises the bar—providing guests with elegant quarters, five-star service, and a location that's hard to top. Sitting on Kowloon Peninsula across the harbor from Hong Kong Island, The Peninsula's dedicated clientele enjoy seven restaurants (including the Michelin-starred French restaurant, Gaddi's), a spa with water views, and upgraded rooms with dreamy floor-to-ceiling windows.
Address: No. 246, Queen's Rd. E., Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3926 3888
Hotel Indigo's rooms are stunning, but the hotel's true appeal is found in its common spaces and exteriors: a bronze dragon made of solar fins wraps the building and a dramatic, glass-bottomed infinity pool juts out over the street. You can sit on the rooftop bar and look out over the impressive city or swing by Indicolite Restaurant for a menu of local favorites crafted with a clever twist.
Tai O Heritage Hotel
Address: 14 Shek Tsai Po St., Tai O, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2985 8383
Hong Kong may be known for its modern feel and high-rise hotels, but it's an entirely different world at the Tai O Heritage Hotel. In this historic, colonial-style building (which was once a police station) on Lantau Island you'll be perched above the historic Tai O, a prized Hong Kong fishing village. With well-appointed rooms and a boutique feel, the hotel offers guests the ultimate homebase for a day of exploring the fishing village or the giant Tian Tan Buddha statue.
Sun Tung Lok
Address: 132 Nathan Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2152 1417
In a city rich in dim sum, sometimes it pays to stick to the greats; businesses that have been operating for decades and still maintain a loyal following. Sun Tung Lok is one such spot. Opening in 1969, this restaurant earned three Michelin stars in 2011 and continues to operate under two stars. You can order à la carte or rely on the experts and opt for the set menu. Reservations are recommended.
Sang Kee Congee Shop
Address: 7 Burd St., Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2541 8199
This little restaurant is so low key, they don't even have a website. But that doesn't deter the shop's loyal diners who come time and again for some of the city's best congee—a type of rice porridge often eaten for breakfast in Hong Kong. You won't need a reservation, but come prepared to wait for your own steaming bowl of goodness, which is known for having a superior texture.
Address: 49 See Cheung St., Sai Kung, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2792 9966
Seafood is a must in Hong Kong and one of the best places to try fresh, traditionally prepared seafood in Hong Kong is Loaf On. The Michelin-starred eatery is quick and casual (no reservation needed), but you'll leave full and happy. Try the chili and garlic mantis shrimp.
Address: 1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2523 5464
When you need a break from Cantonese cuisine—and want to dine in style—head to Gaddi's in The Peninsula hotel. The service is impeccable and the dishes are phenomenal. You'll want to book a reservation, especially if you have your heart set on dining at the chef's table in the kitchen (which is a must).
Luk Yu Tea House
Address: 24-26 Stanley St., Central, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2696 6763
Don't get so immersed in the Hong Kong food scene that you forget China's rich tea history. Here at Luk Yu Tea House, you can enjoy Cantonese-style tea alongside your dim sum among old-world decor.
Address: 5/F Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 5239 9220
You'll find some of the best food in the world in Hong Kong, including a fresh take on Indian street food. This refined restaurant turns Indian classics into elevated bites that'll transport you to another world (literally). Reservations are recommended and a post-meal cup of the golden chai masala is a must.
Things to Do
Address: Star Ferry Pier (also called Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry Pier), Hong Kong
The Star Ferry is as touristy as it gets, but sometimes activities are popular for a reason. The Star Ferry is one of them. In addition to transporting you between the Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island, the trip provides you unparalleled skyline views on both sides—especially at night.
Address: 128 Peak Rd., Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2522 0922
If you're looking for views over the city, nothing beats a trip up Victoria Peak, referred to simply as "The Peak." You can take a bus or taxi to the highest point on Hong Kong Island, but the best views are found from the Peak Tram or the trail that traverses between the MTR Central Station and The Peak Tower. It doesn't matter how you get there, just make sure you do—from the top, you can look down over the sea of skyscrapers (and the sea itself) toward Kowloon.
Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
Address: 128 Peak Rd., Hong Kong
One of the best ways to get oriented is to walk the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, which stretches from the colonial-era Clock Tower to Hung Hom. And while you can watch the ferries cross the harbor and take photos of the Hong Kong Island skyline during the day, nothing beats a walk on the promenade at night, when a sound-and-light show is projected onto the skyscrapers across the harbor.
Tian Tan Buddha
Address: Ngong Ping Rd., Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2985 5248
It's hard (maybe impossible?) to miss the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island—the giant, bronze Buddha statue tops out at 111 feet. The hike to the statue and the surrounding area are well worth your time, as is a quick visit to the Po Lin Monastery at the foot of the statue. To get to the site, nothing beats arriving by cable car—an extra treat that provides views of the island (and the Buddha) from above.
Big Wave Bay
Address: Shek O, Southern District, Hong Kong
At first glance, Hong Kong has a distinct urban feel, but travel to the southern side of Hong Kong Island and you'll find the area's natural, subtropical flora. That's why it's worth a trip to Big Wave Bay, a popular surf and beach hangout north of Shek O. On this side of the island, you can hike, surf, or people watch without sacrificing easy access to restaurants (and surf board rentals).
Nan Lian Garden
Address: Fung Tak Rd., Diamond Hill, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3658 9366
Escaping modern-day Hong Kong is as easy as stepping into Nan Lian Garden. The Kowloon park, which was modeled after the Tang Dynasty style, boasts well-maintained pathways, lotus and koi ponds, and beautiful traditional Chinese architecture. It's a great place to catch your breath, enjoy a snack, and hide out from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Address: 1 Matheson St., Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2118 8900
The Causeway Bay area is known for its shopping, but no shopping center can top Times Square, a mall with over 200 stores selling everything from electronics and toys to high-end accessories and clothing.
Temple Street Night Market
Address: Temple St., Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong
You can shop the day away at Hong Kong's nicest boutiques, but don't miss a visit to the city's iconic night market, home to street food, cheap clothes, and trinkets. The wares may not be worth writing home about, but the ambiance will be. The busy market in Kowloon is the place to be once dusk settles — just come prepared with enough energy to take it all in. The buzz can be both invigorating and exhausting.
Address: 1 Great George St., Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2890 6823
You can find everything from Chanel to Apple products in the Causeway Bay neighborhood of Hong Kong, but for something truly unique, head to the four-floor Island Beverley shopping center. Here, you'll find local designers and independent retailers offering up their unique (often handmade) wares to passing shoppers.
Address: 8 Finance St., Central, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2295 3308
With a location next to the Four Seasons, near the harbor, the IFC Mall is an easy place to swing by (and spend a full day). There's no shortage of high-end shopping, including fashion from brands like Gucci, Chloé, and Valentino and accessories from Bulgari, Rolex, and Tiffany & Co.
Address: Great George St., Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2833 0935
This glitzy, open-air shopping center is the place to be if you have a taste for high-end products and cutting-edge labels. It's all too easy to fill your arms with bags from retailers like Max Mara, Adidas, and Zadig & Voltaire.
Neighborhoods to Know
Causeway Bay: Don't come to Causeway Bay in search of peace and quiet. Like Tokyo's Shinjuku, this bustling neighborhood is almost always crowded with shoppers coming to take advantage of the myriad shopping malls and boutiques.
Wan Chai: You can still catch a glimpse of old-world Hong Kong in Wan Chai, a commercial area on Hong Kong Island that's dotted with casual eateries and bars alongside traditional buildings that show off the island's Colonial-era architecture.
Central: To the west of Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island is the Central neighborhood. Arguably the heart of the island, Central is packed with luxury hotels and fancy malls situated in dense skyscrapers. But it isn't all glitz and glam here, Central is also home to some of the city's best nightlife, delicious eats, and the picturesque waterfront.
Tsim Sha Tsui: It's near impossible to visit the Kowloon Peninsula without passing through Tsim Sha Tsui, home to Kowloon's harbor, skyscrapers, malls, and eateries that run the gamut from Michelin-starred fine dining to family-owned noodle shops. Sheung Wan: Further west of the Central neighborhood is Sheung Wan, a lively area with a hip, down-to-earth feel. In this corner of Hong Kong Island, you'll find trendy boutiques, laid-back eateries, and the Western Market, which is known for handicrafts and fabrics.
Spring: Spring in Hong Kong is short—usually considered to fall in March and April. During this brief period, the temperatures tend to average between the mid-60s and early 70s, with precipitation starting to increase after the typically dryer winter.
Summer: The weather ramps up in the summer months, with heavy rainfall in June and hot, humid temperatures topping out in July and August. It is during this time that the likelihood of typhoons increases (usually June through October).
Fall: In the autumn, temperatures begin to slowly dip, with November typically marking the shift to averages that hover below 70 degrees. During this time rainfall also slows, providing a short, but wonderful window of time that's perfect for tourists looking to explore the city.Winter: Hong Kong has a subtropical climate; even in the middle of winter, temperatures don't average much lower than 60 degrees. The winter months are also when precipitation levels slow.