With a most curious history and a vibrant and uncertain present, Hong Kong is one of the great hubs of Asia, and where it is worth spending a few days if you make a stopover on the way to another destination. Because Hong Kong is a different city, with lots of things to do and where getting bored is just a personal choice. If a stay here comes into your plans, take note of what we are going to tell you next … here are a few tips for traveling to Hong Kong (and not screw it up).
1. Citizens with Spanish nationality, from another European country or from most Latin American countries, do not need a visa to travel to Hong Kong. Upon arrival, they will inspect your passport and give you a valid stamp to stay 90 days on the island.
2. What is the best time to visit Hong Kong? In general, the climate in Hong Kong is hot and humid, with a rainy season that runs from April to September, and a dry season the rest of the year. With this in mind, we believe that the best months to travel to Hong Kong are October to March, in which there is no great probability of rain and the temperature remains quite mild (not cold).
3. Find out about the Hong Kong history [más info], since it is the most curious. In short, Hong Kong was a British colony for centuries! Recently in 1997 it once again had a certain autonomy but beware… it is an incomplete autonomy: in 2047 it will once again be part of China (the country to which it belonged before falling under British colonialism). Since 1997 Hong Kong has been governed under the Chinese motto of “1 country, 2 systems”. The country, of course, is China. But Hong Kong’s system is much more liberal than Beijing’s and here are the problems … little by little the Chinese government is starting to get its hands on the basic laws of its neighbor and it is already beginning to be seen that this is a bomb watchmaking….
… on June 9, 2019, strong protests began, and although now the situation is somewhat calmer (not stopped), it is clear that the transition is NOT going to be something so easy since the vast majority of people from Hong Kong simply does NOT feel like a part of China.
4. Hong Kong is not actually a city, but a Special Administrative Region of China. You could say that you are divided into 3 parts:
- Hong Kong Island, where the financial district is located.
- Kowloon, the busiest mainland.
- New Territories, rest of islands and more peripheral areas.
5. The currency in Hong Kong it is the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD). The change is approximately € 1 = 8.5HKD. To withdraw money you can always change cash at an exchange office at the airport or in the city (better this second option), although we always recommend bringing special cards to get money abroad no commission. We always carry the Bnext and the N26, we will talk about them here.
6. If you are concerned about the issue budget Keep in mind that Hong Kong can be an extremely expensive city… but only if you want to take a luxury vacation. For the rest of the mortals it is entirely possible to visit Hong Kong with a low cost budget. Private rooms with bathroom are around € 25-35, and you can eat quietly for around € 5.
7. Once the controls have been passed,how to get from the airport to Hong Kong? Well, there are several options, we will talk about each of them in this post.
8. One of the best tips for traveling to Hong Kong is to get a octopus card: it is a rechargeable card that will be used to move around public transport (buses, subway, trams, ferries …) and also to buy in places such as 7eleven, Starbucks, Mc Donalds, etc … It costs 150HKD, of which 50HKD are as a deposit and the remaining 100HKD will be your starting balance. More info.
You can buy it at any metro station or directly in the airport hall at the counter of the Airport Express train, and return it at the same places to recover the deposit (be careful, the deposit is 11HKD).
NOTE: the Octopus card can only be recharged in cash and a minimum of 50HKD. You can do it at the counters of the metro stations and in practically all the convenience stores that are scattered around the city (7eleven, CircleK …).
9. There is a Public transportation network very efficient: both light trains and subways, as well as double-decker buses, trams or ferries that cross from one side of the Bay to the other. Whenever you can, we recommend traveling in bus (between 12 and 30HKD), especially if you can go up to the second floor and sit in the first seats, it will be like going on a tourist bus but paying much less. It is also very typical to take some trolley car (2.60HKD) that runs through the heart of the Central district on Hong Kong Island. And of course, the local ferry connecting Kowloon with Hong Kong Island (2.7-3.7HKD).
Keep in mind that buses, trams and ferries charge a fixed amount regardless of the route you take, and light trains and metros charge a price depending on the section you do.
10. If you plan to use Uber watch out! They told us that it is usually more expensive than official taxis … so check and compare the price of one and the other.
11. The best area to stay in Hong Kong It is in the district of Tsim Sha Tsui, south of Kowloon, and the closer to Nathan Road the better. Generally the accommodations in Hong Kong are tiny and if you travel on a backpacking budget, you will almost certainly end up in a mini-room in the city. Chunking Mansion or similar (we stayed here on our first trip to Hong Kong and it wasn’t something so traumatic, really). On our second trip we found a flat on Airbnb. Here you can find cheap accommodation in Hong Kong.
12. If you travel to Hong Kong during certain parties and celebrationsMake sure you book hotels and activities in advance. The most chaotic dates are:
- Chinese New Year (end of January / February)
- Spring Festival (end of February)
- Workers’ Festival (beginning of May)
- National Day (first week of October)
- And, of course, Christmas
13. Are you one of those who enjoy eating? Then Hong Kong is going to look like a gastronomic paradise! In this post we recommend a few restaurants where you can eat well and cheaply in Hong Kong. In addition, it is a good opportunity to eat in a restaurant with a Michelin star without having to mortgage yourself! It is one of the cheapest in the world … We are talking about Tim ho wan which has two stores, one of them is located on the ground floor of Hong Kong Station (in the Central district).
14. It is also a shopping paradise, both in luxury shopping malls as in markets (there are a lot!). In the markets remember bargain: It is common and normal throughout Asia, so do not be shy (even if you have common sense).
15. One of the experiences to live in Hong Kong is yes or yes climb Victoria Peak and freak out with the views of the city. The problem is that, almost always, there are long lines to get on the funicular. A good idea is to buy your ticket online and thus skip the queue. The truth is that it is worth it, especially if you go on time. You can buy it here.
16. Another place you have to go up is to Central-Mid-Levels Escalator, the longest covered escalator system in the world, with more than 800 meters in total (it is not a single section, but several separated by landings). But keep in mind that they are one-way stairs and curiously they go down from 6 to 10 in the morning and up from 10 in the morning to 12 at night.
17. Is it worth doing a cruise to see the night show “Symphony of Lights”? If your budget allows it, why not? But if you are short of money or prefer to save a few dollars, you have to know that you can see the show for free. They do it every night at 8:00 p.m. and it lasts about 10 minutes. The best place to witness it is on the Kowloon Public Pier, where there are benches to sit on.
18. The weather in Hong Kong can be very changeable so it is not a bad idea to bring a small umbrella or raincoat emergency in the backpack. We were very lucky since we visited it in April with good weather (although a little warm) and in January, also with good weather (and a pleasant temperature, around 15-20 degrees).
19. About the idiom, in Hong Kong you will have no problem communicating with the locals: the English It is the most widely spoken language, along with Cantonese.
20. There are many open Wifi networks, so it is not essential buy a SIM card to have internet on your mobile. But if you want to be covered, you can buy the card that Holafly offers (here with a discount) or buy one directly there. There is a “Discover HK Tourist SIM Card” (5-day package for 88HKD or 8-day package for 118HKD) that can be purchased at the airport or at any convenience store in the city (7eleven, CircleK…). Another option is to request it online on the Klook website and pick it up at the airport.
21. Of course, do not go on a trip without hiring a sure to cover you in case of need (we knock on wood). Really, you don’t play with your health and this is an expense that you can’t stop doing. Here you have a 5% discount in Iati, which is the insurance with which we travel and that was great for us the times we used it.
22. There three excursions that seem essential if you have several days of time in the city:
- You could dedicate half a day to the visit of the Giant Buddha Tian Tan, with cable car included
- If you want to discover a strange and different place … go to macau. There are ferries that take you to this curious island with a Portuguese past (and “Lasvegasiano” present) in an hour. Here we tell you everything to do in Macau in one day.
- Another highly recommended visit, especially if you are traveling with children, is to go pass one day to Disneyland Hong Kong. This was our experience (coming soon).
Although at first glance Hong Kong may seem like a destination without too attractive and lacking in soul, we promise you that you can get a lot out of a few days here. And to help you do this here we have told you our tips for traveling to Hong Kong (and not screw it up). If you have any that you want to share, leave us your comment!
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|Compare and get flights cheap here|
|Finds accommodation at the best prices here|
|Sign up for Airbnb and get up € 40 discount here|
|Reservation activities and excursions in Spanish here or here|
|Hire the travel insurance IATI with a 5% discount here|
|Reserve the transfers from the airport here|
|Find out how to take money out abroad without commissions here|
|Buy one SIM card with discount to travel with the internet here|
|The best books and travel guides here|
|All our articles about Hong Kong|