Hong Kong Travel Guide: What to SEE, DO & EAT in HONG KONG

Travel Tips
Travel Tips
Nov 23, 2022


  • 1. Top Tips for Hong Kong First Timers
  • 2. How to get to Hong Kong | Hong Kong International Airport
  • 3. Hong Kong Transportation: trains, ferries, tram, MTR
  • 4. Best Time to Visit Hong Kong
  • 5. Top 3 Things to Do in Hong Kong, Must-Visit Attractions
  • 6. Hong Kong Food Guide
  • 7. Hong Kong Shopping: What to Buy and Where to Buy
  • 8. Local Customs in Hong Kong
  • Show More

Known for being a world-class center of business, culture, and trade, Hong Kong is a jewel in the orient with international flairs. Its iconic skyline, dynamic food scene and multicultural influences attract over 65 million tourists each year. For many, Hong Kong is also a starting point for visiting China and the rest of Asia.

Officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong is located on the south coast of China, neighboring Guangzhou Province. It is made up of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories (including more than 250 outlying islands). Ranked as the 8th most densely populated city in the world, Hong Kong’s population is made up of mainly Chinese residents. But it is also an international hub of commerce where English and Cantonese are the official languages.

Hong Kong wouldn’t be what it is today without its complex past. Though it has existed for thousands of years, in as little as 100 years, Hong Kong went through dramatic transformations from a fishing community in China to a British colony to an international trade center, and eventually back to being part of China again.

Like its dense population, Hong Kong has also packed in a tremendous amount of attractions. For example, you can visit one of the city's oldest temples, Man Mo Temple; ride on the Peak Tram for a bird’s eye view of Victoria Harbor; or immerse yourself in the electric atmosphere of Temple Street Night Market. Beyond the urban hustle and bustle, there’s a serene side to Hong Kong. Chill out on the beach in the Sai Kung East Country Park, enjoy a challenging hike on Lantau island’s many trekking trails, or do a little wildlife spotting in Plover Cove Country Park.

Hong Kong Travel Guide: What to SEE, DO & EAT in HONG KONG

The most common way to reach Hong Kong is by air. The Hong Kong International Airport has connecting flights to all major domestic and international cities. Visitors can easily find transfer options into different parts of HK, such as taxis, Airport Express trains, and buses. Some hotels offer transfer options too, so it is better to check in advance. Getting around town is also simple and convenient. Visitors can easily reach top attractions by using the extensive and affordable MRT, bus and tram systems.

Hong Kong is considered one of the world's most expensive cities to live in. It can be a cash-burner for travelers too if you don’t plan well. The cheapest months to fly to HK are May and June because of the high humidity and lack of major festivals. As result, this is a great time for deals on flights and hotels. But if money is no object, the best time to visit is from October to early December.

Having the right accommodation can really make or break a trip. In Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui is a great place for first-timers as it’s considered downtown with many top attractions nearby. If you love the nightlife, shopping, and that 24/7 vibe, the Central District is a popular choice. Traveling with the family? Causeway Bay has endless restaurants options and is close to scenic spots.

It’s never easy trying to find your way in a hectic city, especially when you want to watch your budget too by opting for public transport. Here are some tips for first-time visitors. Get an Octopus card as soon as you arrive as all public transportations accept this card as payment. HK$50 is already pre-loaded on your Tourist Octopus Card if you pick it up at the airport. Also get the Hong Kong Taxi Card App while in town, it translates where you’re going into Cantonese or speaks it out loud to your driver.

First-time foodies to the city will soon realize Hong Kong can cater to all tastes and budgets. From Michelin-starred restaurants (e.g. Kam’s Roast Goose) to popular food stalls (e.g. Mammy Pancake), you’ll not be disappointed. If you love to shop but don’t want to splash out, the best time for shopping is during the two sales seasons: winter sales occur from December to February, and summer sales occur from July to September.

For visitors flying in, Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) on the island of Chek Lap Kok is where you’ll land. It is about 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the city center of Hong Kong. This airport is a major hub for passengers from all over the world and it is the base for Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Hong Kong Airlines, and Hong Kong Express. The airport provides top-quality facilities including airline lounges, children's play area, courtesy showers, banking services, smoking lounges, and several restaurants and shopping options. The airport has signage that will point you to all transfer options. Also available are information kiosks, which can assist if necessary.

Visitors to Hong Kong can travel by various means of transportation from the airport to the city center, such as taxis, buses and trains, and limo services. While hassle-free, the airport taxis can be confusing as there are 3 types of taxis for different regions - Urban taxis (red), New Territories taxis (green), and Lantau taxis (blue). The ride from the airport to the city center will vary by destination and traffic conditions, but typically it costs HK$280-300 to Causeway Bay, about HK$225 to Mong Kok, and HK$250 to Tsim Sha Tsui.

Trains (the Airport Express) are the quickest mode of transport. The 35 km (22 miles) journey takes about 24 minutes. The train tickets will cost you HK$100 to Kowloon station and HK$115 to Hong Kong station. Tickets can be purchased at any Airport Express Customer Service Centre or made by online purchase. The next one is a bus ride which is also the cheapest option. It will take about 45 minutes to Central, and only 30 minutes to Kowloon.

Hong Kong is a large metropolitan city with one of the best public transport systems in the world. Whether it’s by MRT, bus, tram or ferry, it can satisfy all the needs of visiting tourists. First things first, for anyone planning to use public transit, an Octopus card is an essential purchase. This top-up card allows you to travel cash-free and can be easily purchased at convenience stores.

MTR (Mass Transit Railway) is the most popular mode of transport in HK. With its 10 lines and over 160 stations, the MRT covers all major districts in the territory, including stops at the boundary with Mainland China. The sign for the MTR is a red circle with a Chinese symbol. Fare starts from HK$3.5 and depends on the final route. If using Octopus Card, you can enjoy a discounted fare. Tourists can also opt for MTR Day Pass, Child Day Pass, Cross-boundary Travel Pass, and Airport Express Travel Pass.

There is an extensive bus system in Hong Kong with over 700 routes. For tourists, it is particularly useful for traveling to the southern side of Hong Kong Island (Ocean Park, Repulse Bay, and Stanley Market), because the MTR covers only the northern side. Tickets are paid by cash or Octopus Card when you get on the bus. Fares can range from HK$8-80. Alternatively, tourists can choose the Hop on Hop Off sightseeing bus to explore the city. There are 3 day routes and 1 night route, each with pre-recorded commentary in English and several other languages.

Why not take a ride on the symbol of Hong Kong? The century-old Star Ferry is still one of the most scenic ways to transport people between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Two routes are operated between Wanchai and Tsim Sha Tsui, and Tsim Sha Tsui and Central. Fares starting at HK$2 one way.

Hong Kong has a monsoon-influenced subtropical climate which means it is warm and humid all year round, but its coastal location means the weather can be changeable, including sudden thunderstorms and possible typhoons (late-May to mid-September). The coldest months are December to February, when the temperature may fall to 10 °C (50 °F). Summer is long, hot, and rainy, with temperatures averaging between 26-32 °C (79-90 °F). On top of that, visitors can expect frequent showers as it is also the rainy season. Weather in Spring is often pleasant but changeable, so it is considered Shoulder Season with fewer crowds. So the most recommended time to visit Hong Kong is from October to early December.

Hong Kong Travel Guide: What to SEE, DO & EAT in HONG KONG

Though Hong Kong is an all-year destination, the Peak Season for tourism is October-December, as well as Chinese New Year (late January or early February). There are many religious festivals and events (trade fairs) in the city, so crowds will increase dramatically. If high humidity doesn’t bother you, the cheapest time to visit Hong Kong is in May and June. This is the best time to look for deals on flights and hotels. Conversely, in the peak months of September to December, flights and accommodations are at their most expensive.

Hong Kong is truly a world-class city with world-class attractions. It is a shopper’s paradise, a foodie’s dream, and for sightseers, the city offers impressive skyscrapers to ancient temples and everything in between.

You simply can’t visit Hong Kong without seeing the spectacular views of Victoria Harbor and the city below from Victoria Peak (or The Peak). Visitors can catch the famous Peak Tram at the tram station near the entrance to Hong Kong Park by the Murray building. Beware that queuing times at the ticket office can often reach an hour or so. Try to come during not-busy hours if possible, such as in the morning before 10 am. Once you’re on top of the Peak, enjoy the breathtaking views from the observation deck. Visitors will also find the Peak Tower, Peak Galleria, and many shops and restaurants.

When in Kowloon, marvel at the iconic Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong skyline. Head to the Kowloon waterfront, visitors have the option to take the famous Star Ferry across to Hong Kong Island, stroll along the Avenue of Stars, or visit historic buildings like the Clock Tower and 1881 Heritage. Remember to return in the evening, as the promenade is a prime spot to watch the Symphony of Lights, which takes place every night at 8 pm, and lasts around 15 minutes.

Hong Kong is also a world of fun and adventure for the whole family. Kids of all ages will love a trip to the magic kingdom – Hong Kong Disneyland, on Lantau Island. The Disney magic starts the moment you step off the MTR (Sunny Bay Station) when you switch to the Mickey-themed train (Disneyland Resort Line). The park has seven main areas, including Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch, and Mystic Point. There’s so much to do and see, 2-Day Pass is a very popular choice.

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Victoria Peak is the tallest point on the island of Hong Kong and gives visitors a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city. Victoria Peak was a popular place for the British administrators to live since due to its altitude. At 1800 feet above seawater, the peak provides weather that is not humid and a chance to escape the mosquitoes buzzing at sea level. The area was so coveted that until 1947 only European residents could live there. Victoria Peak continues to be an exclusive neighbourhood with only the elite calling it home. Mansions here can go into the millions of dollars, which means that the area has not been overdeveloped. There is a lot of greenery that one can enjoy here while taking in the spectacular views.

Known for its “World’s food fair" reputation, visitors can practically taste the globe in Hong Kong. While the local cuisine is predominantly Cantonese or Yue, but due to the city’s colonial past and influences from being an international trading port, European, local indigenous, Japanese, and Southeast Asian cuisines are also part of the local culinary culture.

What is the number one local good eats? Dim sums, of course. These delicate pastry dishes which can be sweet or savory are a must-try in Hong Kong. Enjoy favorite dishes include braised chicken feet, pork shumai, and shrimp dumplings. Top restaurants for these delicious morsels include Lin Heung Teahouse, Dragon King, and Tim Ho Wan.

Another famous dish is the richly flavorful Roast Goose. Marinated in a blend of over 20 different spices and aromatics, the goose is roasted until golden crispy perfection. Succulent and crispy, locals are obsessed with this delicacy. You can savor this dish at Yat Lok and Yung Kee.

If you like BBQ, then give Cantonese barbecue / Char Siu a try. Out of all the BBQ meats, pork is the most popular. Char Siu is a staple item in Hong Kong Cantonese restaurants, e.g. Kwan Yu Roast Meat.

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Hong Kong has a fair share of traditional desserts, which are even sold in stores across the globe. The following recommended most-popular and time-honored Hong Kong dessert stores are a must for anyone with a sweet tooth!

Hong Kong is world-renowned for being one of the best places to shop till you drop. In this shopper’s paradise of shopping malls, department stores, and street markets, the first place you must visit is the exclusive malls and leisure centers at Central on Hong Kong Island. Inside the luxury mall LANDMARK, visitors can shop to their heart’s content surrounded by top fashion brands of the world. In the nearby International Finance Centre Mall (IFC Mall), shoppers can explore Apple’s flagship store in Hong Kong and other leisure and entertainment options.

If street markets and bargain hunting is more your thing, head to one of Hong Kong's largest shopping areas - Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon (Jordan MTR Station, Exit A). The market stretches over 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) long and is lined with hundreds of street vendors, local shops, and eateries to create a lively and buzzing atmosphere. Elsewhere, other popular markets include Jade Market (Kowloon, MTR Yau Ma Tei Station) and Stanley Market (Hong Kong Island).

While you can pretty much buy everything under the sun in this city, visitors mostly prefer to buy clothes (designer clothes, handbags, and Tailor-make suits), cosmetics, and electronics. For more traditional souvenirs, check out local products like temple charms, shrimp paste, Asiatic houseware, and Gold and other Jewelry.

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While retail department stores offer everything most people want, when you’re in Hong kong the markets are a must-visit to get your fix of some shopping therapy and experience some of the most vibrant market places in the world. While also being home to some amazing restaurants, Hong kong’s street market culture is an experience in itself. Cheap electronics, clothes, fashion accessories, unique souvenirs, toys, and even seafood, you name it and you find it.

Hong Kong is considered quite safe for tourists, but some petty crimes like thefts, vandalism, and burglaries can occur, though serious crimes are rare. For emergencies (police, fire, and ambulance) dial 999. If your passport, wallet, or valuables are lost or stolen, please notify your hotel immediately and report the theft to the police.

Hong Kong and mainland China use different currencies. The official currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar (HK$). In some shops and restaurants that are popular with tourists, Chinese RMB, US Dollars, Euros and Japanese Yen can also be used. While tipping is not required in Hong Kong, hotels and restaurants usually add a 10% service charge.

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