Hong Kong is a wonderful location in Southeast Asia to visit. Whether you travel to eat, travel to experience different cultures and traditions, or if you just want to have some fun, Hong Kong has it all. The cosmopolitan cities in Hong Kong contrast with the mountainous areas and rural backdrops that have yet to be developed. It’s a very black and white territory that features some of the most advanced technologies and amenities, but just around the corner, you’ll find locals huddled together eating at their nearest Dai Pai Dong, a type of open-food stall.
Reasons to Visit Hong Kong
Here are a couple of reasons to visit this fantastic destination.
- A paradise for shoppers. Hong Kong has huge shopping districts above every major train station, and there’s a huge variety of goods on offer that caters to both the luxurious and the budget.
- Cuisine from all over the world. Fancy classic Chinese Dim Sum? Or do you prefer French cuisine? How about some Italian pasta and pizza? Or maybe you’re in the mood for Hong Kong’s unique additions to fast food menus like McDonald’s and KFC. Whatever you want to eat, you’ll find it here in Hong Kong.
- Efficient transportation. Thanks to the transportation system in Hong Kong, it’s incredibly easy to get around. Everything is either within walking, bus or train distance, and taxis are incredibly cheap as well.
- Surprisingly suitable for English speakers. Hong Kong used to be under British Crown rule, which is why many of the signs and street names are in English. This makes Hong Kong surprisingly easy to navigate even if you don’t speak Cantonese.
- Cultural festivals to indulge in. Whether it’s Chinese New year, Buddha’s birthday or the Hungry Ghost festival, there are plenty of celebrations all-year around in Hong Kong.
- Excellent family destination. Hong Kong has it all, which is why it’s such as good family holiday destination. Your kids will get to visit Disneyland and Ocean Park, and you’ll get to shop at the bustling night markets or immerse yourself in traditional festivities and sights.
As you can see, Hong Kong is a unique location that mixes many different cultures and is incredibly easy for English-speaking travellers to explore. The locals are all friendly, there are easy ways to get around and you’ll be surprised at all the surprises on offer.
Survival Tips When Travelling to Hong Kong
While Hong Kong is one of the easier places in Southeast Asia to travel, it can also be complicated for newcomers.
Because Hong Kong is relatively small, getting from the airport to your hotel is quick, easy, and there are many different services. For starters, consider hiring a Hong Kong taxi service if you want privacy and efficiency. If you prefer to take public transport, consider the Airport Express line that links you to the rest of Hong Kong’s MTR (Mass Transit Railway). Alternatively, you might be able to take a coach or bus directly to your hotel.
Taxis are cheap in Hong Kong—very cheap. They’re also all over the place thanks to the relatively small size of Hong Kong, but it’s important to note that there are three types of Taxis that serve different regions. Taxi drivers usually don’t have good English, so make sure you have some Chinese characters for them to read if you need to be someplace specific. If you want to guarantee that your driver can speak English, consider contacting a Hong Kong taxi service first.
Get an Octopus Card
Octopus Cards are payment cards that can be used for both transport and basic necessities at certain stores. They’re cheap to buy and can be obtained at any customer service station or at the airport. You swipe them on the Octopus reader much like any other transport or payment card, and you top them up at specified machines.
Experiences to Be Had in Hong Kong
Temple Street Night Market
This is the busiest and loudest night market in Hong Kong. It stretches far and wide, and there are plenty of food stalls to indulge in. It’s not the cheapest place to get some food, but the traditional Dai Pai Dong and the cheap merchandise on offer will give you a taste of what life is like as a Hong Kong resident. If you want to experience the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong life, then Temple Street Night Market is unmissable.
Ladies Market has well over 100 stalls that are packed full of bargains. Whether it’s cheap clothing, souvenirs or even food, the market here at Tung Choi Street will provide you with a bargain shopping experience that you won’t forget. Be it cheap watches, bags, cosmetics, art or even electronic goods, you’ll find plenty here up for grabs in this busy location.
Hong Kong Disneyland
On Lantau Island in Hong Kong, you’ll find Hong Kong Disneyland. It has all of the wonderful and majestic attractions that you would expect from a Disneyland in the west, but there are some unique touches that make it worth visiting with your children even if they’re expert Disneyland attendees.
Ocean Park Hong Kong
Theme park enthusiasts will love Ocean Park in Hong Kong. It’s a marine mammal park with animal-themed amusements and decorations. It’s one of the world’s most popular theme parks and has even been ranked by Forbes. You’ll get to see popular Asian animals such as pandas and Asian otters, and there are some high-end amenities that will keep you comfortable during your trip.
Victoria Peak is Hong Kong’s top destination for tourists and travellers. It can be reached by tram, but it can also be scaled with your feet by hiking. It offers some breathtaking views and the journey up to the peak is a one-of-a-kind experience that you won’t find outside of Hong Kong.
The Star Ferry boats have been a tourism staple since the late 1880s. Even though modern infrastructure has made it possible to cross Victoria Harbour without needing a boat, millions of people every year still make the journey still jump on the charming Star Ferry boats to experience something unique and beautiful in the heart of Hong Kong.
Tian Tan Buddha
The Tian Tan Buddha, informally known to tourists and locals as the Big Buddha, is a large bronze statue that garners a lot of local and international attention thanks to the journey it takes to reach this majestic site. It’s arguably one of Hong Kong’s most revered attractions thanks to the iconic look and is a must-visit destination if you’re visiting Lantau Island.
Yau Ma Tei Tin Hau Temple
During ancient times, fishermen believed that the Goddess Tin Hau could protect their safety as well as the lives of anyone who had a close affiliation with the sea. The temple is one of Hong Kong’s most popular religious sites to visit, and it’s easy to reach thanks to local transport links. In fact, it’s just a short walk from several different bus terminals thanks to its central location and proximity to other points of interest.
Hong Kong Skyline
The Hong Kong Skyline is arguably one of the most iconic things about this destination. The bright lights and tall skyscrapers have been seen in many publications and it’s a sight that has been captured on film and photo millions of times.You could view it by the harbour, or you could get closer by taking a ride across the water to view it while dining on a luxury cruise.
Hong Kong Park
Hong Kong Park is a public park located in central Hong Kong. Despite being surrounded by tall skyscrapers and businesses, it manages to retain a natural landscape that is a joy to explore. It also has a greenhouse which holds plant exhibitions, and it houses Hong Kong’s largest aviary.
A Unique Culinary Scene That Mixes Many Cultures
Cha Chaan Teng
Cha Chaan Teng literally translates to “tea restaurant”. It’s a style of dining that is similar to diners or cafes in the western world. Cha Chaan Teng are known for their affordable menus and home-style cooking. Kitchens are typically small enough to be manned by a single person, and the dishes are predominantly focused on Hong Kong classics. Service is fast, there are plenty drinks to order and they’re usually packed with locals, giving you an authentic Hong Kong feel.
Hong Kong Buffets
People usually don’t discover Hong Kong’s growing buffet scene until they actually step into one. Buffets are incredibly popular in Hong Kong thanks to the unique melting pot of cuisine that you have. There are Indian buffets, Hong Kong buffets, Western buffets and even buffets that mix every style of cuisine you could possibly imagine.
Yum Cha translates quite literally into “drink tea” in Cantonese. It’s a classic Hong Kong tradition that sees patrons drinking tea and eating small portions of food known as Dim Sum. Dim Sum is popular all over the world, but there’s nothing quite like going for Yum Cha in Hong Kong thanks to all the traditionally cooked foods and a wide variety of dishes available.
Roast Goose and Pork
If there’s something you absolutely must try in Hong Kong, it’s Roast Goose and Roast Pork. It’s fantastic served with either rice or noodles, and you can find it in abundance all over. It’s savoury, fatty and full of flavour.
Dai Pai Dong
Street food is popular in Hong Kong and for one big reason: Dai Pai Dong. Literally translated, it means “big license stall”, a name given to these street food kings because their licenses are typically bigger than other street vendors. They have the ability to set out more tables, use better equipment and ultimately serve more dishes. You’ll find a huge variety of street foods at Dai Pai Dong and it’s not uncommon to see huge groups of families and friends eating at a Dai Pai Dong after work. Sadly, their traditional tastes and atmosphere come at a price: they’re rarely ever in English! It’s best to have a friend that speaks Cantonese to accompany you, or at least be brave enough to try out whatever the chef recommends.