Everywhere you step in Hong Kong, you’d be hard-pressed to miss signs of the city’s unique fusion of East and West—a complex multicultural vibe that makes it such a unique and easy-to-navigate travel destination. Hong Kong’s Chinese and British make-up runs through its fabric: it’s in the very stone of its preserved buildings and the old-fashioned street signs, on the racks of local fashion designers and the tables of the best restaurateurs. From this cultural fusion—these leftovers from the past—emerges a new, modern Hong Kong.
The incredible city that is Hong Kong! Whether you’re a first timer, or already have a love-affair with our great city, this series of guides has something new for you: it’s a compilation of stories, recommendations and tips on Hong Kong from people in the know. Pick a topic that interests you—from incredible Chinese superstitions in “Traditions and Spirituality”, to funky art galleries in “Industrial Revolution”—and you’ll discover real, up-to-the-minute local advice to guide you through many exciting experiences and adventures. We also put the spotlight on particular districts, providing detailed itineraries, so you can do more and see more—and yet still go home wanting more.
Capital : Hong Kong has no capital. Major areas include: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, New Territories and 365 outlying islands.
Airport : Hong Kong International Airport Hong Kong International Airport (IATA: HKG), also known as Chek Lap Kok the name of the small island containing the airport), is located just north of Lantau Island and west of Hong Kong Island. Designed by Sir Norman Foster, the airport opened in July 1998 and has since been named "World's Best Airport" by Skytrax 8 times.
Country Code: 852
Country Population : 7,234,800
Credit Cards : All major credit cards are widely accepted.
Currency : Hong Kong Dollar (HKD = 100 cents)
Departure Tax : HK$150 (Appox. CAD$22 / US$19)
Drives on the : Left
Electricity : 220 volts AC, 50 Hz
Ethnic Groups : Chinese 93.6%, other 6.4%
Location : Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China
Official Language(s) : Chinese (Cantonese), English; both are official.
Religion : Eclectic mixture of local religions 90%, Christian 10%
Time Zone : UTC+8
Tipping : Hong Kong is not as much of a tipping culture in comparison to mainland China, but for tour guides, we suggest you leave a gratuity of between 10 to 90 HKD per person (to be split between the guide and the driver). Due to the higher cost of private tours, private tour guides do not expect a fee. If using the services of a hotel porter, it’s customary to tip them at least HK$10. There is no obligation to tip taxi drivers, just round the fare up a little. It is recommended you tip hotel staff HK$10-20. Most restaurants add a 10% service charge to the bill.
Because of its subtropical location, Hong Kong is a year-round destination. However, summers are generally hot and humid, while winters are cool and dry. Here’s a monthly break up of Hong Kong’s climatic conditions so you can plan when to go:
March - April and October - November: These are the best times of the year to visit Hong Kong. The spring time (March - April) sees cool evenings. The months of October and November are agreeable too. Pleasant breezes, perfect amount of sunshine and moderate temperatures are some things which make autumn an ideal time to visit the Island. May - September: This is the typhoon season in Hong Kong and thus not a preferred time to travel to the Island. June to August is when the city tends to get very hot, wet and humid. The temperatures go beyond 31°C and the high humidity levels make it difficult for anyone to indulge in any outdoor activities.
December - February: Hong Kong is the coldest between December and February. It remains dry and cloudy during this time and the temperatures can drop below 10°C. Also, many shops remain closed during the Chinese New Year (mid-January to February, dates change annually).
Build a modern city on an ancient civilisation, put it at an intersection of cultures, and you get a place that is truly worth exploring. Dive into a festival, hike a mountain trail, catch a show, visit a temple, explore a walled village… this is your guide to the top things to do Hong Kong.
Victoria Peak, Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island is dominated by Victoria Peak, the island's highest peak which can be seen from the harbour and almost everywhere else on a Hong Kong vacation. There are several ways to reach the summit – by road or bus, also via the Peak Tramway. It is possible to hike up to the top of the peak but this is reasonably strenuous. The main attraction of the mountain is the view from the top which has restaurants and boutique shops. The summit is not open to visitors as it is occupied by a radio tower. The Peak Tower has a series of escalators that connect to all levels of the tower and at the top is the Viewing Platform at Sky Terrace.
The Star Ferry
The Star Ferry sails across Victoria Harbour between Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui) and Hong Kong Island (Central), the two principal parts that make up a large chunk of the city. It is the cheapest entertainment in Hong Kong as it costs 25 cents US/35 cents Canadian one way. You will experience spectacular views of the skyline of Hong Kong and a glimpse of the harbour activity during the 15-minute journey. Ferries depart every 6 to 12 minutes depending on the time of the day. If you want a slightly longer ride, you can catch a ferry between Kowloon and Wan Chai further along Hong Kong Island. The Star Ferry's Harbour Tour sails on a circular route for an hour around Victoria Harbour covering and calling in at Tsim Sha Tsui, Central and Wan Chai.
Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, Kowloon
As Hong Kong has one of the most spectacular skylines anywhere, the promenade here is one of the best ways to obtain a great view. It gets especially crowded during the Chinese New Year fireworks displays in late January/early February and in June during the Dragon Boat Festival. Along the first part of the promenade is the Avenue of the Stars which pays homage to the Hong Kong film industry and its stars with handprints, sculptures and information boards. In the evening, the Symphony of Lights begins. This is a spectacular sound-and-light show involving 44 buildings on Hong Kong Island skyline. The Symphony of Lights has been named the “World's Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show” by the Guinness Book of World Records. This is done with coloured lights, laser beams and searchlights, all synchronized to music. Live narration is available in three languages, English, Cantonese and Mandarin, depending on the night.
Stanley Market, Hong Kong Island
The most renowned market which is visited almost by every visitor on a Hong Kong vacation is Stanley Market on the south side of Hong Kong Island. It is a labyrinth of narrow alleyways containing stalls and shops selling every kind of merchandise including silk garments, sportswear, art, Chinese costume jewellery and souvenirs. There are also a number of restaurants available for lunch or a snack.
Hong Kong’s Markets
Kowloon is home to the majority of the street markets. There is the Ladies’ Market in Mong Kok with its more than 100 stalls offering what most women are happy to find – bargains. The name derives from the type of merchandise sold here such as clothing, cosmetics, CD’s, trinkets, leather goods and, of course, SHOES! It stays open until late in the evening.
The best known “night market” is the Temple Street Night Market at Jordan in Kowloon. Here you can find not only merchandise for sale but also it is a place for singers, buskers and fortune tellers to entertain you. It is a very lively part of Hong Kong. You can pick up almost anything from electronics to clothes and food.
The Bird Market, which is located in a traditional Chinese garden in Mong Kok is worth a visit to see the dozens of stalls selling exotic birds in cages. The Chinese have traditionally liked to keep birds as pets and here, you will see old men with their cages taking their birds for "walks" much like you would take your dog to the park.
Cat Market on Hong Kong Island is where you might find a rare antique such as Ming Dynasty furniture or something from the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The market is a mixture of antique dealers, curio merchants and art galleries. This is also the place to look for bargains in jade, silk products, embroideries and wooden handicraft items.
Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island
a fishing village, Aberdeen is now a popular place for visitors to enjoy on Hong Kong tours. Situated on the southern side of Hong Kong Island, the historic area is known as the original Hong Kong since it was the first harbour that European explorers set foot on. The floating village here is awash in boats which the locals use for fishing and trading. Nearby is the floating Jumbo Kingdom, the famous floating restaurant. A free shuttle ferry takes you to the restaurant. You can also take a Sampan boat ride around the harbour which lasts about 20 to 30 minutes.
Park, Hong Kong Island
n Park is a marine mammal park, oceanarium, animal theme park and amusement park situated in the Southern District of Hong Kong. It is, together with Hong Kong Disneyland, one of the two large theme parks in Hong Kong. It has a total of 80 attractions and rides. The park is separated by a large mountain into two areas, The Summit (Headland) and The Waterfront (Lowland). These areas can be reached by a cable car system or the Ocean Express funicular railway. The attractions and rides include four roller coasters, animal exhibits with different themes such as a giant panda habitat, rainforest and polar displays and an aquarium featuring the world's largest aquarium dome.
Disneyland, Lantau Island
world-famous theme park is located on reclaimed land in Penny's Bay, Lantau Island. It consists of seven themed areas: Main Street, designed to resemble an early 20th Century Midwest town in the U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland featuring jungle-themed adventures, Tomorrowland, an optimistic vision of the future, Grizzly Gulch, reminiscent of an abandoned mining town, Mystic Point, a dense, uncharted rain forest surrounded by mysterious forces and supernatural events and Toy Story Land bringing to life characters and places from Disney's movies for children. On entering a land, a guest is completely immersed in a themed environment and is unable to see or hear any other.
Reached by ferry from Central, Lantau Island is a quieter and more serene place. There are a number of attractions on which to spend time on a Hong Kong vacation. Ngong Ping 360 is a spectacular 5.7 kilometre/3.5 mile long cable car journey that takes in an impressive cultural themed village and the Tian Tan Buddha. At the themed village, there are a couple of attractions. The Walking with Buddha attraction gives an interesting introduction to Buddha. The Monkey's Tail is a silent animated movie, The Tian Tan Buddha is the largest seated outdoor Buddha in bronze. It weighs over 250 tons and is 34 metres/111 feet tall. Also on the island is the Po Lin Monastery founded in 1906. The main temple building houses 3 bronze statues representing Buddha of the past, present and future. Tai O) is a traditional fishing village where the houses are built on stilts and is known as “The Venice of Hong Kong". For a small fee, some residents will take visitors out on their boats along the river and for short trip into the sea to view Chinese white dolphins. The village is also a good place to see the sunset.
Peng Chau Island
again reached by ferry from Central Peng Chau Island is definitely “off-the-beaten-track”. There are no cars, buses or taxis on this island. It is a place for walking or cycling – bikes are available for rent. The island has 8 temples including the Tin Hau Temple dating back to 1792. Around the coastline, you can view marine life including Chinese white dolphins. Finger Hill is a popular spot with panoramic views of the island. There are also a number of beaches dotted around the coastline.
Hong Kong is one of the most dynamic cities in Asia, both economically and culturally. Long under British protection, the Chinese city has a culture of fusion and globalism that combines ethnic Chinese traditions with the flavour and pace of the West. This has given rise to some of the most curiously rich traditions and festivals in Hong Kong, ranging from sophisticated international arts festivals to folk festivals coming from old local customs. One of the best ways to find out more about the culture of the city is to witness its exciting and visually stunning festivals, which happen periodically throughout the year.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Part of the Taoist ritual festivals in Hong Kong, the Cheung Chau Bun is native to the island of Cheung Chau in Hong Kong. The festival marks the region’s own celebration of the birth of the Buddha, and is celebrated fervently by the rural population on the Hong Kong Island. Because of its eclectic nature, it also attracts thousands of tourists every year. Kwon Kam Kee buns are an important component of this most adorable of festivals in Hong Kong where 60,000 buns were consumed in 2017. Buns are also used to decorate bamboo towers in a major centerpiece event.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival Month : May
Hong Kong Arts Festival
This is Hong Kong’s annual gathering of artists from Hong Kong, mainland China and around the world. The main genres that conduct events as part of the festival belong to drama, dance, world music, Chinese and western classical music and Chinese opera. Kevin Spacey, Bavarian State Opera, Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Paris Opera Ballet have all performed at the Hong Kong Festival. The festival also serves to commission new art in chamber opera, theatre, and dance.
The Ghost Festival, or the Hungry Ghost Festival, is a Chinese festival that has both Buddhist and Taoist origins. The festival is a celebration and worshipping of the dead, including familial ancestors, as the realm of Hell, Heaven, and Earth are believed to be open. The spirits of the dead can cross over to Earth on this day, and people pay homage to the dead by burning incense and joss paper, and by building papier-mache effigies of the Ghost King.
Ghost Festival Month: August
Lunar New Year Fair
The Lunar New Year fair is a popular Cantonese pre-celebration of the Chinese New Year. The festival is noted for its elaborate flower markets selling chrysanthemum, peach, peony, and fruit plants such as mandarin. At huge grounds at Victoria Park and Fa Hui Park in Hong Kong, there is also a significant space for dry fruits used in the Chinese New Year celebrations. Visiting the fair is part of the New Year tradition that sees thousands of Chinese people descending upon these streets and markets on the New Year eve.
Lunar New Year Fair Month: January-February.
Lantern Festival Hong Kong
The Spring Lantern Festival Hong Kong 2018 was one of the prettiest festivals in the world. The Chinese festival marks the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations, and was a big part of Chinese culture as far back as 2000 years ago. One of the central traditions of the festival is the lanterns let into the sky, usually by children who get to do this after solving a riddle. This is also one of the first love festivals in Hong Kong.
Lantern Festival Month: February
Chinese New Year
In many ways the foremost of Chinese holidays, the New Year is a big celebration in Hong Kong as well. Red shock lanterns are traditionally used to cover the city, and it is impossible to escape the buzzing excitement of the festivities. While most traditional temples are packed with people praying for good health and fortune, there are also elaborate markets selling flowers and incense. The Hong Kong Chinese New Year 2018 also featured the enormous dragon boats, a rage with tourists and children.
Chinese New Year month: February
Practically all of Hong Kong is a shopper's paradise. Year-round, you'll find many sales in and around Central on Hong Kong Island and limitless bargains to be had in Mongkok, on the Kowloon side. Plus, from July to the end of August is the time of Hong Kong's summer sales, which include as much as 70% off previous season’s collections, and other discounts even on some current season's fashion items. Designer shops and exclusive labels are a dime a dozen here, and lots of foreign tourists usually come here to restock and update their wardrobe. Several markets offer silk products, Chinese artwork, collectibles and curios at affordable prices and just across the border, Macau and Shenzhen are within range for even more retail therapy.
If you are looking for an all in one shopping experience in Hong Kong, Mong Kok is the place to head to. You can revel in the novel experience of walking down the winding paths while browsing cheap fashion accessories, sneakers, flowers and even goldfish. The Ladies Market, which stretches a kilometre along Tung Choi Street, stocks up souvenirs, traditional Chinese handicrafts and stylish clothing. The bustling streets are best explored at night when the atmosphere is rousing.
The Langham Place Shopping Mall, which houses over 300 shops consisting of international and independent labels, is spacious and trendy. Located along Argyle Street, it is conveniently linked to the Mong Kok Metro Station, making shopping a breeze.
The Flower Market Road and Sneaker Street are interesting places to check out with their reasonably priced stalks and chic sneakers. The Goldfish Market, on the other hand, is a spectacle on its own, brimming with not just goldfish but also turtles, snakes, spiders, frogs and reptiles. Fifteen minutes away from the Mong Kok Metro Station is the Temple Street Night Market, where you can experience the local culture and traditional craftsmanship with a host of street performers lighting up the crowded streets.
Tsim Sha Tsui
Huge shopping malls and high-end shopping are what you can expect at Tsim Sha Tsui.
Spanning over 340,000 square feet, K11 is the world’s first art mall, where elements of nature and art are integrated into the architecture of the building. Besides fashion, beauty and lifestyle shopping, you can also view artworks, featuring 19 exhibition panels of local artists.
In the area, you can also find Hong Kong’s largest mall, Harbour City Mall, which is a combination of three separate malls together with 400 other shops. It houses Chanel’s flagship store in Asia and Louis Vuitton’s largest outlet in Asia.
1881 Heritage is a new cultural and shopping landmark that used to be the marine police headquarters. With a luxury shop and a heritage hotel, the 120-year-old building houses brands such as Tiffany & Co, Tudor and Piaget.
If you’re looking for a nice place to rest after shopping in the Tsim Sha Tsui area, head to the Park Lane Shopper’s Boulevard. At the end of the lane is the entrance to Kowloon Park.
For luxury shopping, Central Hong Kong is the place to go. The Galleria, positioned between the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and office towers is a five storey mall that houses the Louis Vuitton flagship outlet. Prices at this LV store are significantly lower than other outlets in Hong Kong. Other brands include Stella McCartney, Helmut Lang, Coach and Manolo Blahnik. L’Atellier, a Michelin-starred establishment and ZUMA are fine dining options available at the mall. Besides shopping, you can also head to the ZUMA lounge, one of Hong Kong’s hottest night spots where international DJs play and a variety of cocktails are served.
Queen’s Road is also a popular shopping street in the area that has international retailers such as Longchamp, Topshop, Zara and Calvin Klein. Queen’s Road East which stretches from Wan Chai to Happy Valley has a heritage trail that you can explore. The Hopewell Centre that stands in Wan Chai is an iconic skyscraper that’s great for photo taking. You can take the lift to the top floor for a scenic view or dine at the revolving restaurant.
With a bunch of shopping malls, markets and cafes around, Causeway Bay is perhaps the most convenient area to explore for those with a tight schedule. Times Square is a great place to visit at night with its glass walls that look splendid when lit up. You can also drop by SOGO, Hong Kong’s largest Japanese-style department store that consists of several levels of fashion, electronics and household items.
Also in the area is Jardine’s Crescent, a shopping market that is worth a visit. It is a narrow street with stalls lined up selling bargain clothing, accessories and domestic goods. There is also a small wet market at the end of the street and flower stalls selling fresh blooms at very low prices. Hop over to Jardine’s Bazaar that is parallel to Jardine’s Crescent for more bargain items. After a day of shopping, take a rest at The Coffee Academics where you can enjoy a cuppa while people-watching.
Sham Shui Po
Electronics enthusiasts will be delighted to know that Sham Shui Po is literally the mecca of all types of gadgets, parts and DIY materials. Dragon Centre has nine levels of electronics, with an ice skating rink on the eighth floor and 90s-style games arcade on the top floor. On the fifth and sixth floors, there is a Japanese and Korean style mall. This is the second largest shopping centre in West Kowloon. Down below, Yu Chau Street is filled with DIY materials and other items such as toys, wholesale stationery and souvenirs.
Down below, Yu Chau Street is filled with DIY materials and other items such as toys, wholesale stationery and souvenirs.
If you’re into second-hand electronic components, Apliu Street sells bargain items as well as jade and jewellery. You can also head to Cheung Sha Wan Road, where 250 fashion shops await you.
Hollywood Road and Upper Lascar Road
These two streets are known for antiques, wooden handicraft items and jade.
Hollywood Road is the centre of the art and antique trade in Hong Kong. Begin your journey at Possession Street, where the British Royal Navy landed in 1841, and explore the street to your heart’s content. There are some interesting shops such as Okura, a Japanese concept store selling leather goods and Grana, a Hong Kong based fashion label selling Chinese silk and Irish linen. The Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters, also known as PMQ, was initially built as a dormitory for police officers and has since been converted into a creative hub. Check out some of the indie enterprises, gift shops and pop-up stores such as Goods of Desire and Kapok.
Cat Street Bazaar on Upper Lascar Road is an ideal place for souvenirs and antiques. The 100-metre-long street includes bargains in jade, silk, embroideries and wooden handicraft items. You can also check out art galleries along the way.
The cuisine of Hong Kong has been greatly influenced not only by its location but by the fact that it is a centre of international business and therefore offers a wide variety of cuisines like Indian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Singapore/Malaysian and Thai. There are many different types of restaurants available including ones that offer Western styled food. Since Hong Kong is Cantonese in origin, it is not surprising that the food found in Hong Kong is heavily influenced by Cantonese-style cooking.
Popular dishes include:
Seafood Birdsnest: the “nest” is made entirely out of fried taro or noodles and is usually tough and crispy. The filling usually consists of scallops, pea pods, boneless fish fillets, celery, straw mushrooms, calamari and shrimp.
Cha siu bao: barbecued pork buns.
Har gau: steamed shrimp dumplings.
Just as in China, tea is very popular in Hong Kong. The typical Hong Kong style of tea is black tea with evaporated or condensed milk. Interestingly, it is estimated that the people of Hong Kong drink a total of 900 million glasses/cups of tea a year! Red ice bean is also a popular drink. It is a mixture of azuki beans, light rock sugar syrup and evaporated milk. It is sometimes topped with ice cream to make it a dessert.
Things to Know:
Tipping is common in Hong Kong but the amount is usually dependent on the style of restaurant. For example, at a basic restaurant, a few dollars is acceptable while higher-end restaurants tend to add service charges.
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