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.
Things to Do
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.