Hong Kong Travel Guide
Hong Kong is divided into four main areas - Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, the New
Territories and the Outlying Islands. Kowloon and the New Territories are on a
peninsula of the Chinese mainland, on the northern side of Victoria Harbour;
Hong Kong Island is on the southern side of the harbour facing Kowloon.
The city itself is centred around Victoria Harbour. The main business
district is Central, on Hong Kong Island. East of Central lies the Admiralty
commercial district; Wan Chai, known for restaurants and clubs; then Causeway
Bay, a major shopping area. Towering above it all is the Peak, Hong Kong's
premier scenic outlook and residential district, which happily has plenty of
public green space. In Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui (on the southern tip), Jordan and
Yau Ma Tei are busy hotel and shopping areas, while Mong Kok is a bustling
residential and shopping area.
The Northern part, known as the New
Territories, is the gateway to China for many travellers. Although many
travellers just rush through NT to arrive at the border, it might be an idea to
explore this area with its dualistic character. You will see small ancient rural
villages alternated with modern towns.
is the southern tip of the peninsula and faces Hong Kong island. This paradise
of shops, bars and hotels is not only popular with tourists but also with
inhabitants of Hong Kong island who can easily take the ferry to this
melting-pot of everything relating to spending your money. Besides the important
shopping areas, such as the shops and street markets around Nathan Road (better
known as the ‘Golden Mile’) and Mong Kok, there is an abundance of bars and
cafés. However, there is even more in Kowloon. Although they are not dipped in
neon-lights, there are a few nice temples you can visit, such as the famous Wong
Tai temple, and a couple of quite interesting museums.
Hong Kong Island, the busy
commercial centre with its high skyscrapers, has a lot to offer of the same
kind: shops, bars, headquarters from companies and, for those who feel like it,
a handful of culture namely a few museums and some sights. Make sure you go to
Victoria Peak where you can have astonishing views of the surroundings. One of
the nicest beaches, despite its shark warnings, is definitely Repulse Bay and a
lot of people make the effort to go over there for at least a day. For those who
want to see a bit more of the Hong Kong Island, it might be a good idea to visit
Aberdeen. This is partly a sort of floating city because over 20,000 people live
on boats. Although a lot of people live on boats on Hong Kong Island, the sight
of Aberdeen at night with most boats illuminated by little lights is definitely
an unforgettable experience. From the vantage point of Victoria Peak,
overlooking the world's busiest deepwater port, you can see a city geared not
only to making money but feeling good about it. At night, it's like looking down
into a volcano.
Lantau Island is twice as big as Hong Kong Island but far less densely
populated. The government decided that it was time to enliven Lantau and made
plans for a major airport that was finished in 1998. These days, it is very
easily accessible by both ferry (nice trip!), plane, train and road via a recent
double-decker bridge system. The airport was only the beginning of the
island's metamorphosis. The old monastery and the enormous Buddha (the largest
outdoor Buddha in the world) amidst tea plantations have to compete with modern
inventions, such as Waterworld, Science City and the theme park dedicated to
Chinese customs. You can even pay a visit to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
(and many of their relatives) on Lantau Island as Disney Hong Kong opened in
mainland north of Kowloon, including some small islands, is known as the New
Territories. Although a third of Hong Kong's population lives in new towns
constructed in the New Territories, the area has some scenic escapes, including
the Sai Kung Peninsula, in the east, which is an unspoilt playground for hikers,
campers, swimmers and boaters. Bird-watchers head to the Mai Po Marsh; cyclists
and walkers head to Plover Cove Reservoir; hiking enthusiasts set out on the
100km-long MacLehose Trail which spans the New Territories from Tuen Mun in the
west to Pak Tam Chung in the east.
The Kam Tim walled villages are quite touristy but at the same time offer a
good insight into how life used to be in the 16th century. The China viewpoint
is not far from these villages. However, less people make the effort to climb to
the top to catch a glimpse of China, since it became more easily accessible
recently. It would be a shame to rush through the NT in order to arrive in China
as quickly as possible. Not in the least because the NT area offers some
excellent hiking possibilities.
The Outlying Islands simply refers
to any of the other 235 islands.
its British colonial past, Hong Kong has always stuck to its roots, and the
culture beneath the glitz is pure Chinese. That didn't stop locals from feeling
apprehensive about being reunited with the motherland when the British handed
the colony to the People's Republic of China in early 1997, but their unease has
largely evaporated. Hong Kong is now one of the best places to see the
mixture of these two very different cultures existing hand in hand.
recently constructed Hong Kong Airport, also known as Chep Lap Kok, has won many
awards, and while many were sad to see the centrally located Kai Tak airport
close, the new airport on Lantau Island is definitely something Hong Kong and
its people can be proud of.
Getting to and from Hong Kong Airport could not be simpler with a choice of
reasonably priced air-conditioned buses, taxi's, and a very efficient Airport
Express train, the choice is yours. If you prefer not to travel into Hong Kong
then there is one airport hotel for you to use (The Regal Airport Hotel).
What first strikes you about Hong Kong Airport is its sheer size, it seems
enormous and it is, the airport is capable of handling up to 87 million
passengers and nine million tonnes of cargo annually. Nearly 36 million
passengers passed through the airport in the 12 months to August 2004. The
airport offers countless Duty Free shops offering everything from books, to
Harrod's gourmet delicacies, to the latest in fashion, electrical items or
sparkling jewellery. Do take note though, that while there are a lot of shops,
they are not that cheap, in fact it is cheaper to buy perfume, electrical goods
and many of the other items in the heart of Hong Kong than at the airport.
Hong Kong Airport does offer some very enjoyable restaurants offering a whole
assortment of foods to please any palate.
and the queues that go with it is all a matter of chance, and depends on how
many flights are landing or departing at the time of your arrival or departure.
If you travel to Hong Kong more than three times in a twelve month period you
should consider applying for the Hong Kong International Airport Frequent
Traveller Card, which helps you avoid any long waits.
Airport departure tax rates show below:
Children (aged 12 years and under): free
(please use these prices as a guide price, always recheck with
your travel agent or airport staff)
After passing through customs your best bet is to take a train directly into HK.
But WAIT, you need a ticket, not to get on, but to get off! Buy what they
call an Octopus card which is a bit like a stored value card which you can keep
topping up as needed. If you are staying for a week then just put HK$300
on and that should cover you for your entire stay. You will even be able
to use the Octopus Card in some shops such as 711. The Octopus Card
counter is right in between the customs and the train, and the counter is
circular in shape. Basically it will be at either 1 o'clock or 11 o'clock
in direction when you exit the customs welcome barriers.
Once you have the card you will be able to get on and off the train, with ease.
You do not need to validate your new card before you get on, but you will when
you get off. When you alight from the train you will reach the barriers, you
simply need to pass your card over the pad at the top of the barrier. Don't try
to insert it instead just hold it over that pad and move it around until you
here the beep.
There are always people at hand if you do need some help, but after your first
few times it is a breeze.
in to Hong Kong Airport, the Airport Express train is the fastest and most
comfortable way to get into town. The Airport Express stops at three
stations, namely Tsing Yi, Kowloon and Central. Each seat on the modern
train has its own TV set with different channels offering viewers information on
Hong Kong, news and other entertainment channels. There are buses at the
Airport Express stations, these buses are free of charge and will take you from
the airport express station to your hotel. Be sure to check which bus number is
the one you require prior to boarding the bus.
If you don't fancy taking the Airport Express train and want to do a little
sightseeing on the way to the hotel then choose the bus, it is a very cheap and
pleasant way to travel into central Hong Kong. There are buses that will take
you anywhere you could possibly want to go, and you get the additional benefit
of travelling over the amazing suspension bridge stretching from Lantau Island
to the mainland.
are everywhere and cheap. They start at HK$15 and go up from there. Some Taxis
have a board with Chinese writing in their front screen, or some may be sat
around and then refuse to take you anywhere! They are not being rude, it is just
that they are travelling to Kowloon, and so are waiting for passengers to take
them back, that way they do not have to pay the toll for using the tunnel. In
general the level of English of the drivers is quite limited so it can be useful
to ask your hotel to write your destination in Chinese so the driver knows
exactly where you are going.
The MTR is a convenient way of getting around Hong Kong. Here you will be
able to use the Octopus Card in the same way that you did when you arrived.
Just pass it over the barriers. The MTR is clean, fast, cheap and covers
most of the major areas in Hong Kong. The MTR is by far the fastest way to
get to and from the Island to Kowloon. All you need to know is where the
station is that you are going and where you are at that time. Look for the
last station in the direction that you want to travel and then just follow the
signs for that. You
may find this map useful. There is
sometimes special rates for tourists, check the Hong Kong MTR
What to See
Well you can really have an enjoyable vacation in Hong Kong
with many things to do and sights to see. I have set down a list of top
attractions and things to do but this list is not exhaustive and there are many
Park Hong Kong: A great day out for all. Based on Hong Kong
Island, opening hours are from 10am to 6pm, and after hours for special events,
social functions or even theme parties. Admission costs approximately HK$140 for
adults and HK$ 70 for children between 3 to 11 years old, and is inclusive of
admission to all rides, exhibits and shows (except for the coin operated rides
and skilled games). Click
here for the parks official website.
Kong Disneyland: The world-class theme park and resort, located on
Lantau Island, is Disney’s first theme park in China offering magical
experiences for the entire family ranging from Broadway-style shows and
signature Disney attractions to vibrant fireworks and parades.
The park is built up of two large hotels and 4 main
attraction areas (Main Street USA, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland), as
well as the chance to get married there. Click
here for the parks official website.
If you are in Hong Kong for business or leisure you may find it fun to take a
quick day trip to Shenzhen which borders the northern section of Hong Kong.
Getting to Shenzhen could not be simpler, as it is only a 30 minute ride on a
KCR train. The KCR trains leave from different areas on the Hong Kong
mainland, namely Hung Hom, and now most recently Tsim Sha Tsui East.
Connecting to the KCR from either TST (Tsim Sha Tsui) or alternatively Kowloon
Tong MTR stations is fast and easy to do. Shenzhen is part of China, but
because of the huge amount of traffic that crosses its border with Hong Kong,
many nationalities are given short time visas on arrival. These visas are only
valid for travel inside Shenzhen and will not cover you if you want to travel
elsewhere in China. Do check though with your local Chinese Embassy the exact
situation for your own nationality. British passport holders for example, are
required to apply for a visa, which can be done cheaply and quickly at the Lo Wu
immigration section. You can, if needed apply for a visa whilst in Hong Kong,
this generally costs a little more than if you do it yourself and takes time,
and we would not recommend it unless your nationality dictates you must
Cruises: Victoria Harbour is one of the world's busiest and most
impressive natural harbours. Hong Kong's striking coastline and the
countless container vessels, junks, sampans and pleasure craft gliding around
the harbour create an exciting view. The spectacular backdrop of Hong Kong
Island's stunning skyline will fire your imagination as darkness falls and a
dazzling neon cityscape emerges. Cruises set sail from piers on either
side of Victoria Harbour. There is a choice from most tour companies of
daytime, afternoon and evening cruises, taking in a variety of sights including
Hong Kong's amazing skyline and "Jumbo" floating restaurant.
Island Tour: Explore Hong Kong's largest outlying island just an
hour's ferry ride away from Hong Kong Island. The morning usually begins with a
ferry trip from Central. Cruise through Victoria Harbour and past islands
in the outer harbour to Mui Wo (Silver Mine Bay) on Lantau Island. From
here, a tour bus usually takes you past the two-kilometre long, white sands of
Cheung Sha Beach and over the Shek Pik Reservoir dam. Visiting the Tanka
boat people's stilt-house fishing village at Tai O, then riding up to a
520-metre plateau to visit the famous Po Lin Monastery and view the world's
tallest seated, outdoor bronze Buddha. Most tours to the monastery include a
vegetarian lunch prepared by the monks living there.
Helicopter Tour: Enjoy a bird's-eye view of Hong
Kong on a wonderful aerial excursion high above the city's stunning
architecture, rugged coastline and mountain scenery. It’s a unique way to
discover Hong Kong.
Kong is fortunate as it enjoys four seasons, it also is unfortunate in that it
receives Typhoons from time to time. Winter can be chilly and runs from mid
December until February, you will need a jacket as temperatures can go as low as
6 degrees, although around 10 would be more of an average. Spring starts to get
a little warmer with temperatures generally ranging from 18 to 27 degrees and it
runs from March to mid May, in the earlier months a light jumper or jacket would
be advisable, especially for the evening. Summer heats up and humidity soars,
from late May to mid September you will get by with light clothes. It is
advisable though to bring a light pullover as restaurants and shops tend to
blast their air conditioning units at full blast. It is very easy to catch a
cold when moving from very hot and humid to cold air conditioning. Autumn from
September to December is a lovely time of year, as the humidity drops and the
temperatures begin to cool off. You may require a light pullover or jacket for
some evenings. The Typhoon season can be chaotic, and runs from May to November.
The meteorological dept. keeps a very keen eye on all Typhoon developments and
there warnings are taken very seriously. As a Typhoon comes closer, they issue
warnings as to its' strength, with 1 being the lowest and 8 being very strong.
Hotels restaurants and shops display message boards to inform you of the
severity of the Typhoon. Once the signal reaches 8 then most if not all shops
and businesses close down, and some flights may even be cancelled. I do
not recommend you go outdoors when it a force 8 has been announced. It can be
dangerous with things flying around and other things falling from balconies and
Current Weather Report
10 Day Forecast
is no lack of bars in Hong Kong, in fact it has one of the best night life
scenes anywhere in Asia. Something for everybody's taste and wallet. The
Hong Kong Island is split up in two major entertainment districts, Lan Kwai Fong
(Central) and Wanchai, although there are some off shoots such as Causeway Bay.
The former has and is traditionally the more "decent" the one frequented by
expats and locals alike. It can be found in Central on rising streets that
have definitely caused a few injuries to those among us who had a little too
much to drink, all the bars are closely located, and there is a great ambiance
around with so many people in such close confines. Wanchai on the other hand is
the famous Suzy Wong area of Hong Kong. Although there still is a Suzy
Wong bar there it is not the original, however there is still an abundance of
Neon signs and plenty of scouts trying to attract you in to see the dancing
girls that are made up mainly of Thais, Philippinos, Koreans, Chinese and others
from around the region. These bars do cost and if you are looking for a
reasonable cheap evening then you are better off avoiding these bars. In
fact to be perfectly honest, you may even be better catching a flight to Manila,
or Bangkok and see the original thing rather than pay the high prices, here.
Having said ALL that though! Wanchai is changing, there are a lot of excellent
places in Wanchai, namely Carnegies, Delaneys, Twighlight Zone, Strawberry, New
Makati, Big Apple, Neptune and more
is basically the name for the mainland in other words not the Island of Hong
Kong, only a short strip of water in the harbour separates the two and this gap
seems to be getting smaller all the time. Most of the best bars on this
side are in Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) which is the first MTR stop of you are coming
from the Island. Their are really some great bars on this side, and you
should not miss out on giving them a try. There is even a smaller version
of Lan Kwai Fong (in Central), at Knutsford Terrace, although it is difficult to
get much smaller than that splatter of assorted yet very good bars. There
are some good restaurants and bars that can be found there though such as Bahama
Mama's, the Whale Pub and Chaser's. There are still some of the old
"Wanchai/Suzie Wong" style bars in TST on Ashley Road, such as the Red Lion Inn,
and Ned Kelly's Last Stand but to be honest you are better off trying your
chances in one of the regular bars.
Most restaurants add a 10% service charge. When a service charge is not
automatic, 10% is acceptable. Small tips may also be given to taxi drivers,
bellboys, doormen and washroom attendants.
The voltage in Hong Kong is 220/240 volts. Most hotels provide adaptors.
Calls from public phones cost HK$1. You can also make long-distance calls (IDD)
from public pay phones. An easy method of making calls is to purchase
stored-value phone cards (HK$50, HK$150 and HK$200), which can be used in any
Card phone box.
Water is mainly safe to drink in Hong Kong, especially in hotels. Bottled water
can be bought from any shop as well and recommended as even though the water is
fine the very ancient pipe work in this city may not be
While in Hong Kong it is law to carry your identification around with you at all
times, we do not recommend this. It is much safer to leave your passport
in the hotel safe and just carry a photocopy with you in case you do need it.
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