As a first-time visitor to this amazing city, you need to have a solid and extensive plan that ensures you’ll see all the main attractions. Even then, you’ll only be scratching the surface of Hong Kong’s rich historical and cultural scene.
Here are several useful tips and tricks to bear in mind when you start planning your exploration of Hong Kong. Of all the Asian cities, Hong Kong is probably the most popular, and many consider it to be the true jewel of the orient, so you want to ensure that you make the most of your trip.
Basic First Trip Tips
Before your first trip to Hong Kong, there are a few basic things you need to know. The local currency is the HK dollar, and with numerous ATMs around the city, you’ll have no problem withdrawing money, provided you have your international withdrawal option enabled. Moreover, most places accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express cards. Getting around the city is relatively easy as public transportation is inexpensive, efficient and clean, and it covers the whole city. You only need to get your Octopus Card as soon as you arrive.
The weather in Hong Kong is probably the trickiest part. The whole area has all four seasons and isn’t an all-year-round tropical country, as most people think. The summers are hot and humid, while winters can get quite cold. The optimal time for your visit is between March and June or in September.
Book Your Accommodation in Advance
Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but it’s large enough to find something for every budget. You’ll probably spend a large chunk of your budget on accommodations, so it’s certainly worth it to do some research beforehand. You have the option of staying in a hotel, or you might look for apartments for rent in Hong Kong, but whatever you choose, be mindful of its location. There are two parts of the city – the Hong Kong Island side and the Kowloon side. Both places are great and have a lot to offer in terms of attractions, views, nightlife, and shopping.
At some point during your stay, you’ll need to cross the harbor to go to the other side. This is easily done by MTR, taxi, or ferry. Before you decide which side you’ll stay on, research the area to see if there are things that interest you and choose the location that’s most convenient for your itinerary.
Learn a Few Useful Phrases
Learning a few phrases in Cantonese will come very handy as you’ll often find yourself in a situation where you’ll need to negotiate a price or ask for directions. Unfortunately, the locals rarely speak fluent English so a few practical phrases will be a life-saver:
- Hello (你好 Néih hóu)
- How are you? (你好嗎 -néih hóu ma)
- How much is this? (呢個幾多錢呀- Géidō chín a)
What to see in Hong Kong
It’s not easy to boil down all the amazing places in Hong Kong to just a few. You’ve got to begin somewhere, and why not be it outdoors? Let your starting point be the Hong Kong Park, a gorgeous green spot in the heart of the city. Don’t miss the observatory and the waterfall before you make your way to the Peak Tram. This will take you to Victoria Peak, the highest point of Hong Kong Island, with breath-taking views.
You can also book a harbor cruise on the Aqua Luna, a restored old junk boat still in service. It might also be enjoyable to explore the city on foot so you could check out the sights in Soho and marvel at numerous street art pieces. Also, conquer the 268 steps that lead to the impressive statue of the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island.
Hong Kong is a city abundant in cultural and historical places that will leave a lasting impression on any visitor. Start with a walk of the Ping Shan Heritage Trail that will lead you through the less-frequented northern district and past the mesmerizing ancient sites of the Tang clan. Another way to learn and understand the country’s history is by visiting the Hong Kong Museum of History that proudly exhibits the region’s social history, archaeology, ethnography, and natural history.
Adventurous Things to Do in Hong Kong
There’s always something exciting and fun to do in Hong Kong – for instance, by renting a junk boat, you can experience a memorable ride around the city harbor with your friends exclusively or as a part of a tourist group. If you’re longing for a panoramic land view, the Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride that goes from Tung Chung across the bay will transport you all the way to Lantau Island, where you can visit the Po Lin Monastery.
Another unique experience in Hong Kong is dining at a cartoon restaurant! There’s been an ongoing fascination with Japanese cartoon characters since the 1960s so much that they’ve made it to the food scene. If you can’t resist the charm of Hello Kitty, you’ll have the opportunity to sample food in her shape!
A visit to Hong Kong’s Bird Market, or Yuen Po Bird Garden, will reveal one of the city dwellers’ passions – keeping songbirds. If you take one more boat ride, this time from Tai O or the Hong Kong Pink Dolphin Watch cruise, you’ll get to see the famous and unfortunately, endangered, pink dolphin.
Don’t Miss Delicacies
The best way to absorb the flavor of a country is through its food, and that’s where Hong Kong really stands out. You’ll quickly learn food is quite pricey, but it is worth it! There are a few affordable local places to be found. The absolute king specialty is Dim Sum, but you’ll also be able to enjoy great BBQ, pork roast, Hong Kong waffles, wonton noodle soup, egg tarts, and much more. There are foodie tours that take you to great places, or you might decide to roam around on your own. Just make sure you don’t miss Tim Ho Wan and Dim Sum Square on Hong Kong Island.
Hong Kong in a Nutshell
In a city of almost 8 million people, you’ll always find something to see and lots of fun things to do. You could easily spend a lifetime discovering Hong Kong’s gorgeous sights, vibrant markets, dreamy islands, fantastic restaurants, and exciting nightlife. Hopefully, the tips listed here can help you devise your itinerary and see Hong Kong on your own terms.
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Author Bio: Lana is a stay-at-home mom, writer, and interior design enthusiast. She enjoys playing in the kitchen and cooking for her friends and family, spending time in nature and learning about other cultures by traveling.
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