Have you ever been to Hong Kong? Perhaps you are thinking of going or you might be stopping over there on your way to another destination. This article outlines a few things that you may find useful for your visit – whether it is long or short!
ARRIVING INTO HONG KONG
Prior to 1998 if you were flying into Hong Kong you would have experienced the somewhat hair-raising approach into Kai Tak between the tall, imposing sky scrapers of the city of hong Kong. Well – rest assured those days are long gone! The new airport in Hong Kong is located on the island of Chek Lap Kok. In fact that is the name of the airport. The airport was built on reclaimed land as the sheer size requirements meant there was no other location big enough.
The commercial trade industry in hong Kong is so large now that the old airport was simply unable to cope with the level of traffic flowing in and out.
HKIA is the worlds’ busiest cargo airport and one of the busiest passenger terminals in the world. It is a major hub for many airlines connecting to over 220 destinations around the world! You can read more about Hong Kong airport here.
HOW TO GET INTO THE CITY
Getting into Hong Kong city is a relatively easy and straight forward process. There are several options depending on your preference, budget and how long you have.
You can get the Hong Kong express which will have you into Kowloon in under 25 minutes. But it is not necessarily the cheapest option. This option will set you back between $80 – $100HKD.
The bus is slightly longer but a bit cheaper. This ranges from $30 – $45HKD.
A taxi is going to be the most direct option and will deliver you straight to your hotel. However, this will cost between $370 -$450HKG! Ouch!
Of course there is always the good old Uber option but again this is similar to a taxi although is also going to deliver you straight to your hotel for between $270 – $350HKD.
Naturally it will depend on where you are staying as Hong Kong is not just one big massive city! More about that next!
If you can’t be bothered with the hassle of finding a taxi, Uber or getting the train then I suggest getting your travel agent to book your arrival transfer. This is the option we chose and it was easy and seamless. The ride in was relatively quick – around 30 minutes or so.
We were met at the airport and directed to our transfer. We did have to drop off a few other passengers along the way but I always view this as a good opportunity to orientate yourself to a few landmarks.
***Just one thing to note here – please be aware that some hotel locations do not allow big buses to drop off or pick up outside the hotel lobby so be prepared to walk a small distance with your luggage. If you don’t want to do this then get a private car transfer.***
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO STAY?
So this is where it all gets quite interesting! Most people would recommend staying in Kowloon area. The reason for this is that you are close to major transport options, shopping, restaurants, shopping, tailors, restaurants, more shopping, markets, etc. Did I mention the shopping? There are shopping centers everywhere in Kowloon!
The other popular location is on Hong Kong Island. This is more of a commercial hub where there are a lot of businesses and company premises, factories etc. Although on the waterfront you can find some really top-notch accommodation such as the Sheraton, Excelsior, Grand Hyatt, JW Marriott just to name a few.
Along with this caliber of hotel you can be assured there will also be shops and restaurants nearby. However, you will find that most of the hotel guests are there for business. There are some interesting shopping places to note such as Cat Street and the wet market.
It is super easy and very cheap to go from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island or vice versa. Just jump on the metro, bus or ferry. The ferry is really quick and very easy. Plus of course you don’t need to contend with traffic congestion. The cost is also minimal but it pays to have the correct change as you may not get any back!
Now that you have arrived what is there to do? Here are my top 10 things to do while staying in Hong Kong. Of course a lot of this will depend on how long you have and your budget.
- CITY TOUR
- DAY TRIP TO MACAU
- OCEAN PARK
- HARBOUR CRUISE
- SYMPHONY OF LIGHTS SHOW
- HOP ON HOP OFF BUS
- TRAM RIDE UP TO VICTORIA PEAK
- LANTAU ISLAND & GIANT BUDDAH
I strongly advise organising your tours prior to arriving into Hong Kong as this will help ensure you are not wasting time trying to get on a tour that may be already fully booked. There are many tour options from private to group tours. I love doing a group tour as you have an opportunity to meet people from all around the world!
In fact – we came across a couple who live in the same city as us on one of the tours we did. Later that day as we were heading out to join another tour we bumped into them again! What are the chances? Pretty good actually as it happened twice while we were in Hong Kong with different people!
We did a half day Hong Kong Island city tour which took us to Aberdeen fishing village and then up to Victoria Peak. The only thing I didn’t really think much of was the visit to a jewelry making factory and show room. Trust me – stay on the bus!
The visit to Aberdeen was interesting and we had an option of doing a sampan ride around the floating fishing village. Be aware that you will pay extra for this option!
We also did a day trip out to Macau. We had a fantastic guide who was extremely informative and knowledgeable. We had time to visit the largest Casino in the world – the Venetian. This is modeled on a much larger scale to the one in Las Vegas. It was HUGE! but if you are planning to have a wee flutter – make sure you bring lots of money! Minimum bet on the tables was $500HKD!
***Oh and just so you know – you do not need to change your Hong Kong dollars to the Macau currency as they take $HKD everywhere and will give you $HKD in change. If you do have any Macanese Pataca (MOP) you will not be able to exchange it in Hong Kong so do it in Macau before you leave.***
If you are planning on doing some shopping in Hong Kong then here are a few tips for you.
- If you are after cheap clothes, t shirts, fake brand hand bags, cheap electronics (that may or may not last very long) then the markets are a great place for you to visit. There are a few market options with the more popular being Temple Street Night Markets, Ladies Market and Stanley Market. They are generally open until about midnight and the streets become pedestrian only until midnight. Please be aware of pickpockets in these areas!
- If you want to check out some traditional type markets then in the Mong Kok area where the Ladies market is located you can also find the Goldfish market, wet market, flower market, Bird market and many more.
- If markets are your thing then consider doing a guided shopping tour so you don’t miss anything!
- If you are after brand name stores then you need to get yourself to the Harbor City. This is the largest shopping mall in Hong Kong and is home to pretty much every name brand you could think of and then some! It is easy to get to and has a 270 degree observation deck. Harbor City is a one-stop shopping mecca with over 450 shops, 60 food & beverage outlets, a gallery and 3 hotels! It is massive! We actually found it by accident when taking shelter from a downpour. We went in one entrance and came out another in a completely different location!
- Nathan Road has a plethora of shopping options from name brands to cheaper options. Along Nathan Road you can find stores such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, every single name brand watch company and many more! Watch out for the hawkers trying to sell you a watch or a suit! Stay away from these as they are not recommended and in most cases not licensed.
- Tailored Suits and Clothing – Hong Kong is a great place to get a suit tailor made and there are plenty of reputable tailors in Hong Kong. Do your research and find one that comes recommended by someone you know. Your Hotel Concierge can assist you if you don’t have a personal recommendation. Please note that it can take up to three days to get a suit made. Sometimes they can speed this up. So if you are only in Hong Kong for a few days then make this your day one priority to allow plenty of time for any adjustments etc.
Please note that in the markets you can bargain a bit but the vendors will only drop the price by about 10 – 15 %.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO HONG KONG?
The hottest time to travel to Hong Kong is between June and September. However, these are also the wettest months and you are far more likely to get caught in a torrential downpour! The last thing you need when you have an armload of shopping! It can be hot and humid from May through to August.
The coldest months are November through to February but even the low is only around 14 Celsius so still a good time to visit.
The best times to travel to Hong Kong is March, April, September and October.
If you are planning to do a bit of shopping then I suggest you take a very lightweight back pack, definitely some comfy shoes as there is a lot of walking to be done in Hong Kong. You will want a good set of Packing Cubes. These will help keep your suitcase organized but the best thing is – you can fit more in!
I would also suggest a good lightweight umbrella as the clouds can roll in pretty quickly and catch you unawares!
As far as clothes go I suggest light cotton or breathable clothing especially if it is going to be humid. Shorts and t shirts or comfy summer dresses are also fine.
A light Jacket is a good idea if you are heading out on the harbor.
There is an absolute plethora of restaurants in Hong Kong with many flavors and cuisines. It is truly a foodie heaven!
Some of my top recommendations:
Try the Portuguese Egg Tarts in Macau – they are to die for! We were lucky in that our tour guide Cisco actually got us to pre-order them as they sell out every day! If you are there on your own make sure you get there early so you don’t miss out!
I would also recommend doing a foodie tour of some description. But forget about the Harbor cruise with seafood dinner! It is a waste of time and money. It was interesting to note that most of the seafood is actually imported into Hong Kong from all around the world.
Apparently the seafood in and around Hong Kong is quite depleted and now most of it comes from Australia and South Africa among other places.
If you are into Asian style food you will find everything in Hong Kong from Taiwanese to Shangainese and everything in between.
HONG KONG – DEFINITELY WORTH A LOOK!
So would I come back to Hong Kong? Absolutely! It is a very safe city with plenty to see and do. Great option for a stopover or even a destination. Lots of Islands to explore and loads of activities to keep you all busy! I can’t wait to hear all your stories about your visit to Hong Kong and your tips!
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