- Main Airport – Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
- Currency – Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
- Language – Cantonese
- Population – 7.2 million
- GDP– $307.3 billion (10th Overall)
I visited Hong Kong as part of my first trip to China and Japan in August 2015 and had a great time. While traveling to Japan stole the show as the highlight of my trip, Hong Kong is a fantastic city that I would definitely recommend you visit.
A uniquely global community, Hong Kong’s streets are filled with citizens and tourists from all over the world; British sovereignty over the island from 1841-1997 exposed the little island to the Western world, while its geographic location led to eastern influence from Asia. The island is not only an economic hub, but also a largely cultural one, with streets teeming with food vendors, street fairs, and interesting people.
Hong Kong Areas
Hong Kong is a collection of islands located near the Southeastern coast of China. A few of the most famous regions include the following:
- Hong Kong Island
- Main, densely populated island where the capital of Hong Kong lies
- Kowloon Peninsula
- A strip of land connected to China which is densely populated as well and full of shopping and dining destinations
- Lantau Island
- A less-populated area where the airport is located; considered a part of New Territories
- New Territories
- Makes up most of the area of Hong Kong Islands, but contains much less population; consists of many of the outlying islands of the region
Getting from Airport to City Center
Getting to the city from the airport is surprisingly easy, as there are many convenient forms of public transportation. Three easy choices:
- Airport Express/MTR
- The MTR is Hong Kong’s metro system that allows for transportation around most of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, and New Territories. The main station on Lantau Island is known as “Airport Express,” which is of course located at the airport. The metro can be taken from the airport to the city in just 24 minutes – the quickest way back to the city. This train can cost anywhere from 5 HKD to 100 HKD, depending on how far it is taken
- There is a bus station right outside of the airport in Hong Kong and consists of many buses that can be taken to different cities in each region of Hong Kong
- A taxi station also is available right outside the airport for convenient transportation to the city
Getting Around Hong Kong
- Taxi stations can be found on various streets in the city, and cabs can be hailed from the sidewalk by waving a hand at an empty cab driver on the streets.
- As mentioned earlier, the MTR is the metro system around Hong Kong. With well-kept stations around most regions, the MTR is often the fastest way around town
- Numerous bus stations are located every few blocks or so, providing for convenient travel around regions
- These trolleys run on railways that only run along the coast of Hong Kong Island. Trolley stations are as frequent as bus stations and are the cheapest form of public transportation in Hong Kong
Ride the Star Ferry to Kowloon Side
From ferry stations in Wan Chai or Sheung Wan on the main island, you can take a ferry for only a few HKD to the Kowloon Peninsula. In Kowloon, there are many great restaurants and shops. A recommendation would be getting Peking duck, which is a traditional Chinese roasted duck dish, at Spring Deer, an authentic and highly-rated restaurant.
Additionally, each night a light show plays on both sides of the Victoria Harbor, lighting up skyscrapers and aweing the crowd with lasers and music.
Cable Car Ride to top of Victoria Peak
Visiting Victoria Peak, or simply known as “the Peak,” is a great activity when visiting Hong Kong. There are a number of ways you can get to the peak, including by bus or by taxi, but taking the cable car is by far the quickest and most fun. Known as the “peak tram,” the cable car runs directly from the base of the mountain to the top, allowing for a scenic view along the way. Tickets can be purchased from the Lower Terminus and from the Upper Terminus (return and single only), also known as the Peak Tower.
Go to Top of IFC building
The IFC (International Finance Center) building is one of the tallest buildings in all of Hong Kong, with 88 stories and reaching 1362 feet tall. IFC is full of offices, retail shops, restaurants, and even a theater, as well as a Four Seasons hotel. The building stands on the waterfront of Hong Kong Island in the district of Wan Chai, one of the business hubs of the Island; visiting the top floor would yield a beautiful skyline and an unmatched view of the Victoria Harbor.
Walk around Stanley Market
Stanley Market is a street market near a little town on the Southern Coast of Hong Kong. The street vendors sell silk garments, traditional Chinese jewelry, souvenirs, and more. Walking around Stanley Market is a cultural experience and a must-do on a trip to Hong Kong.
Although Hong Kong is a big city, it also very mountainous and is home to many forests and other beautiful places perfect for hiking in. On the main island, you can take the Peak Circle Walk or hike the Dragon’s Back, from both of which you can see the coastline of the Harbor. Other recommended hikes are the Shatin Pass Road to Kowloon Reservoir hike on the Kowloon Peninsula, or the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail in the New Territories.
Hong Kong Cuisine
One of the most important parts of any visit to Hong Kong is the dining. From street vendors to high-class restaurants, the dining in Hong Kong is one of the best in the world.
Try the Street Food
Trying the street food is a must on your stay in Hong Kong. Try the hanging pork ribs in the windows, or the egg tarts–both of which are Hong Kong specials. Watch for egg puff vendors in the streets- these Hong Kong delicacies are popular and delicious!
In SoHo, the entertainment district of Hong Kong,you should walk around and check out all the food carts and vendors. Take a stroll through the street markets of SoHo, including the Cat Street Market and the PMQ market. As one of the most interesting districts in Hong Kong, you should definitely visit SoHo!
Tim Ho Wan
This restaurant is famous for its Dim Sum, a traditional Chinese-style meal. Tim Ho Wan was awarded a Michelin Star; its dim sum is known for being both affordable and delicious. Make sure to try the pork buns when stopping by—they’re amazing!
The restaurant has multiple locations in Hong Kong, including one in the Hong Kong MTR Station.
Eating at Aqua Roma is an exquisite experience. The hotel serves both Italian and Japanese menus, and the Hong Kong location offers a beautiful view of the city. The restaurant is usually quite full, so calling in for reservations is recommended.
Located in Tsim Sha Tsui on the Kowloon Peninsula.
This is a restaurant for all tea lovers! Teakha is a tea-house that serves any tea ranging from cooked teas such as Masala Chai tea to brewed teas like French Verbena. It is a perfect place to stop by for Sunday morning tea, afternoon tea, or just to try their highly-rated matcha green tea cheesecake!
Located in Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island.
Wa-En is a Japanese Barbecue, or Yakiniku, restaurant. You can order your meats and vegetables, watch them cook in front of you on a sizzling plate, and eat them right afterwards! The meat is reasonably priced for the quality Japanese dishes that customers receive!
Located on the 12th Floor of the Toy House in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Kowloon Peninsula.
Cong Sao Dessert
Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island is a niche full of dessert shops, especially in the district of Tin Hau. Cong Sao Dessert is one such restaurant, and serves Cantonese desserts such as mango pudding, red bean pudding, and more. Definitely visit if you are out after dinner in Causeway Bay to enjoy!
Lin Heung Tea House
An authentic restaurant that opened in 1926, Lin Heung Tea House is a small, shabby restaurant that serves some of the most delicious dim sum in Hong Kong. The workers there only speak Cantonese, so bring a friend who can speak Cantonese as well when you visit. However, the restaurant is definitely worth the visit, and don’t forget to try out the lotus paste buns or the glutinous rice dumplings while you’re there!
Located in Central, Hong Kong Island.
Tsui Wah Restaurant
This restaurant is one of the most popular ones in Hong Kong. With over 10 locations in Hong Kong, some locations as bigger restaurants and others as smaller eateries, Tsui Wah is perfect for a quick, affordable stop for food. If you visit, definitely try the custard buns along with their afternoon tea.
Foods to Try
- Milk Tea
- Pork Buns
- Dim Sum
- Craft beers from the Hong Kong Beer Co.
- Egg Waffles
- Fish Balls
Take the Ferry to Macau
Macau is known as the Vegas of Asia; it is a vibrant city full of hotels, casinos, and spectacular shows. It is a one hour ferry trip away from Hong Kong; buy tickets at any waterfront ferry station (I’d recommend at Wan Chai or Sheung Wan if you are on Hong Kong Island). Tickets are usually about $150 HKD or around $20 USD one way.
And for those brave enough, while in Macau you can experience the world’s highest bungee jump at AJ Hackett Macau Tower, offering a 764 foot (233 meter) jump!
The third largest island in Hong Kong, and part of the New Territories, Lamma Island is the best spot for seafood in Hong Kong. Like Macau, the island is a quick ferry away; prices vary from about $10 HKD for children and elders and about $20 for adults.
The Goldfish Market
Out of all the street markets in Hong Kong, the Goldfish Market is one of the most interesting. Thought to bring wealth and prosperity, goldfish are popular pets in Hong Kong. On Tung Choi Street North in Mong Kok on the Kowloon Peninsula, there is a street market filled with blocks of vendors selling goldfish of all kinds. You should definitely visit the street for the experience, if not for a new pet goldfish!
Another popular street market in Kowloon is Ladies Market. The merchandise sold is not just for ladies, but includes souvenirs, accessories, backpacks, and more! The market is comprised of a few blocks of Tung Choi Street in Mong Kok. All tourists should visit for the haggling experience and for a taste of Hong Kong Culture.
Lan Kwai Fong (LKF)
This is one of the most popular nightlife spots in Hong Kong, and is very well known amongst both locals and tourists thanks to Asian cinematic works. That being said, expect to see a wonderfully diverse crowd, which is partly what makes Hong Kong so unique and remarkable. Home to a wide range of bars and restaurants, Lan Kwai Fong is the place to spend your evening, whether you just want to enjoy a nice glass of wine or go all out with jello shots. If you’re visiting around holiday times, there will definitely be special events and celebrations going on in the streets.
Another popular nightlife spot is Wanchai, but most locals will refer to this fully as “Wanchai Wednesdays” because of the abundance of happy hour deals going on in the many, many bars on that weekday. Typically, people crowd in the streets drinking and socializing, as most of the bars in Wanchai tend to be pretty small. Definitely an awesome place to check out for a chill vibe, cheap drinks, and an all around great time.
Hong Kong Sevens
If you are a rugby fan and plan on going to Hong Kong in mid-March, attending the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament is highly recommended. As Hong Kong had been a British colony, rugby remains a popular sport there and thus hosts probably its biggest sporting event of the year, attracting people from all over the world. The HK Sevens is famous for the South Stand part of the stadium, which is basically for the people who came to watch rugby and have some fun. The tradition is to dress up in loud costumes with your friends, have a cold Carlsberg in hand, and sing/dance along obnoxiously to the classic hits in between plays. Tickets range from HK$1500 to HK$1800 (around $200 USD) so it’s not cheap, but the experience is well worth the price.
Visit Shenzhen – 30 Minutes to Mainland China!
Shenzhen is a major city in Mainland China, located in the Guangdong Province. Traveling to Shenzhen only requires a 30 minute trip by car, but make sure you have a Chinese travel visa in advance of your trip. You will be able to witness the rapid development of modern China. Shenzhen was the starting point of China’s Westernization with most of the Western international companies in China abroad.