Hong Kong Travel Guide
Ainnelise Niyvold Liundbye UPDATED: 03 JAN 2020
Facts About Hong Kong – Travel Guide
1. Facts about Hong Kong
3. Price level
4. What to see and do & Itineraries
5. Useful books
6. Safety in Hong Kong
7. Local tips
8. Find hotel in Hong Kong
11. Hong Kong Transport – Travel guide
13. Hong Kong history
1. Facts about Hong Kong
- Region: Hong Kong
- Currency: Hong Kong Dollars
- Population: 7.5 million
- Area: 1,088 square km (420 square miles)
- Governmental status: Special administrative region within the People’s Republic of China
- Languages: English and Chinese (Cantonese)
- Driving side: Left
- Climate: Humid subtropical climate
- Religion: Multi-faith – Buddhists (1 million+), Taoists(1 million+), Christians (860,000), Muslims (300,000), Hindus (100,000) and Sikhs (12,000)
- Electricity: Standard 220 V, 50 Hz. Plugs and sockets are generally of type G and D
- Measures: The metric system, British Imperial units, Chinese units
- Visa: Visa-free access for most nationalities for a duration of 7 to 180 days. Check if you need a visa.
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Hong Kong is the vivid, bustling Asian metropolis. Being rich in history, the city is a cultural melting pot created by all the people belonging to the region today. It is an international, multi-faith society with roots in many of the world religions and cultures. 92% of the citizens are ethnic Chinese, distributed across multiple faiths and ethnic groups. As a consequence of the great diversity, you will see traditional Chinese hats side by side with turbans and business dressed people in the streets.
Not surprisingly, in addition to the Chinese background, Hong Kong is greatly influenced by the former British reign. The metropolis has therefore developed its own unique character where the Chinese traditions and heritage blend with the Western lifestyle as introduced by the British. It is reflected in the culture, the languages spoken, the cuisine and everything else in the city.
It is an exclusive mixture of ancient and new, Western and Eastern, high-tech and old traditions. The city stands out as a top business city and is one of the world’s most significant financial centres. In 2019 it is actually ranked among the top 3 world financial hubs in the Global Financial Centers Index Report.
Skyscrapers and futuristic looking buildings go hand in hand with local markets of fruit, flowers, souvenirs, antiques, pearls and jade across the city. As a paradise for shopping addicts, the metropolis attracts with its world-class shopping opportunities a vast number of visitors every year. Here, you will find all kinds of electronics, jewellery and fashion.
Hong Kong is lively 24/7 and has a vibrant nightlife with bars, nightclubs and native cuisine restaurants, as well as the most amazing skyline by night!
3. Facts about the price level in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is in general one of the more expensive cities in the world.
Convert Currency: Convert prices in Hong Kong Dollars into your own currency (or vice versa) here: Convert Currency
You can get an impression of the price level by comparing the most recent update of our cost of living indices in Hong Kong to the cost in your own country:
Beer: Compare the price of a beer in Hong Kong to the price of a beer in your country of origin: Beer Price
McMeal: Compare the price of a McMeal in Hong Kong to the price of a McMeal in your country of origin: McMeal Price
Taxi: Compare the price of going by taxi in Hong Kong to the price of going by taxi in your country of origin: Taxi Price
Tipping is not as common in Hong Kong as in some other countries. It is optional and not expected, so there is no obligation to tip.
4. What to see and do in Hong Kong
- Get up early to watch graceful tai chi in one of the Hong Kong parks, for instance Hong Kong Park. Here you will be met by Hong Kong citizens performing the traditional tai chi sport.
- Take one of the Star Ferries zigzagging between Victoria Harbour on Hong Kong Island and Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon since 1888. It is cheap and a good alternative to a formal harbour tour.
- Try the world’s longest escalator on Hong Kong Island, the Central Mid-Levels Escalator, which is in fact an 800 m long escalator system. Hong Kong Island is hilly and has therefore plentiful outdoor covered escalators and travelators.
- Have dim sum for breakfast or lunch. Dim sum are the traditional, tiny Chinese tapas pieces arriving at the table in conventional bamboo steamer baskets.
- Shop at Nathan Road, the renowned 3.6 km (2.2 miles) thoroughfare in Kowloon. It is a vivid street abounding with shops, restaurants and street vendors. Whether you are after electronics, fashion, watches or jewellery, you will find it here.
- Visit the Jade Market, the Temple Street Night Market, the Ladies’ Market or some other of the numerous Hong Kong markets for odd finds.
- Take the Peak Tram from 1888 up to Victoria Peak to get the most breathtaking view of the Hong Kong skyscrapers. The 7-minute ride to the very top is a jaunt with the steepest funicular railway in the world.
- Visit the Man Mo Temple from 1847 in Central. It is a tribute to the God of War (Mo) and the God of Literature (Man) – and is the largest Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong. Especially students have come here to pray for success at their exams!
- Stroll around the financial district on Hong Kong Island where the old capital Victoria used to be under the British rule. Today it is the business and financial centre with absolutely impressive governmental buildings and other architectonically alluring high-rise constructions in the Wan Chai district.
- Visit The Hong Kong Museum of History. The Permanent Exhibition in the Hong Kong Museum of History features eight galleries, each presenting distinct time periods in the city’s fascinating history. Spending 2-3 hours wandering through the museum exhibitions is both a pleasant and excellent way to get the feel of the highlights of the multifaceted Hong Kong history. Alternatively, you may visit Hong Kong Maritime Museum, Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre, Hong Kong Science Museum , June 4th Museum or some other of the fabulous Hong Kong museums. Many museums have free admission on Wednesdays.
- See the Hong Kong skyline from Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island, from the Avenue of Stars in Kowloon accompanied by the Symphony of Lights, or from the waterfront at Tamar Park on Hong Kong Island. Every evening the buildings around Victoria Harbour take part in a light show superior to what can be seen anywhere else.
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It features more skyscrapers than any other city. It has over 1,500 skyscrapers above 100 m (328 ft), and more than 9,000 high-rise buildings, making it the highest density urban region in the world. The building agglomeration is due to the city’s limited area to build on. Not surprisingly, this results in Hong Kong having one of the most breathtaking skylines in the world. It is absolutely amazing, both during the day and by night. The tallest skyscraper is the International Commerce Centre (484 m or 1,588 ft) which comes in as the ninth tallest building in the world.
- Enjoy a beach day on one of the numerous pristine Hong Kong beaches, for instance Clear Water Bay Beach.
- Go to Lantau Island to see the Big Buddha. which impresses by weighing over 200 tons. The sitting bronze Buddha atop the peak of Mount Muk Yue is also known as the Tian Tan Buddha. It faces north towards the capital of China, Beijing.
For a one day sightseeing itinerary in Hong Kong, have a look here:
5. Useful books about Hong Kong
Do you want to go more in depth with Hong Kong? You may consider buying one of these books for your trip.
6. Facts about safety in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is in general considered among the safest regions in Asia and has a low crime rate.
Crime: Compare the crime rate in Hong Kong to the crime rate of your own country: Crime Rate
Anyway, it is like for all other destinations always a good idea to take appropriate safety measures and follow travel safety tips to be both a safe traveller and have a secure trip.
The general corruption level is also low.
Corruption: Compare the corruption index in Hong Kong to the corruption index of your own country: Corruption Index
Finally, make sure you have a travel insurance for your trip – in the unlikely event of needing it! Get a quote!
7. Local tips
Jump on the upper deck of one of the iconic double-decker trams, or ‘Ding Dings’ as the locals say, on Hong Kong Island to make your own budget sightseeing tour. It is an attraction on its own and an excellent way to experience Hong Kong Island and see the myriads of skyscrapers, historical districts like Sheung Wan, strikingly busy shopping areas as well as the less prominent parts of Hong Kong Island. Going by the trams is a unique glimpse of old Hong Kong. The trams date back to British colonial times in 1904 and are still being frequently used by Hong Kong citizens.
View more useful travel gear for your trip: Travel Essentials
Check out hotel options in Hong Kong:
You may also want to check out these hotels:
Hong Kong Island is the governmental, financial and business district packed with stunning skyscrapers. Here you will find fashionable shopping malls, as well as a diversity of restaurants, bars and clubs.
Hotel centrally located on Hong Kong Island close to MTR station and overlooking Victoria Harbour. All rooms include cable TV, a minibar and a safe. There are two restaurants – one is a Chinese restaurant serving Dim Sum.
Check the price / book
Central location near Victoria Harbour and Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island. The MTR Sai Ying Pun Station and the Eastern Street Tram Station are just a short walk from the hotel. Close to the Dried-Seafood Market, SoHo District and Cat Street. The hotel upper floors offer both great open city and harbour views. Free shuttle service.
Check the price / book
Newly renovated hotel on Hong Kong Island in the Wanchai business district, 8 minutes’ walk from the Causeway Bay MTR Station. Free use of smartphone, weekly Dorsett Wine Hour and Dorsett Candy Bar on the house. Free shuttle service.
Check the price / book
Kowloon is the more authentic Chinese part of Hong Kong with traditional residential buildings, colourful markets and tasty street food, as well as large shopping malls and a number of Kong Kong’s outstanding museums.
Eco-friendly hotel close to Nathan Road, MTR station and Ladies’ Market. The air-conditioned rooms feature a flat-screen TV, minibar and tea/coffee facilities. There are 3 dining options available.
Check the price / book
Newer hotel in Kowloon having rooms with a city view. Excellent location in the lively Mong Kok district close to the Ladies’ Market and other shopping streets. The Mong Kok MTR station is just 5 minutes away. Non-smoking rooms and fitness centre.
Check the price / book
This 5-star hotel featuring an outdoor pool has an excellent location at Nathan Road and Victoria Harbour with great city views. Rooms are equipped with a DVD player, a tea/coffee maker, a bathtub and bathrobes. There are 8 dining options available.
Check the price / book
9. Health issues
Hong Kong is a relatively clean city, and there are not as many health risks as in many other Asian countries.
As a precaution you may want to check up on potential health issues and recommended vaccinations before going: Recommended vaccinations.
The pollution level is in general low, and the environment is clean. The daily real-time updated pollution index for Hong Kong and surrounding areas can be viewed here: Real-time Pollution Index.
Smoking is banned in most public places and public transport.
10. Facts about the Hong Kong climate
The climate is humid subtropical. Summers are hot and rainy, whereas winters are humid and mild. In summer temperatures are often around 30 degrees centigrade (80-90 degrees Fahrenheit). There is not such a pronounced difference between day and night temperatures.
Therefore, if you visit in summer, do bring an umbrella! During the summer months it often rains above 300 mm per month. In average it rains half of the summer days. Contrary to this, there are only a few rainy days during each of the winter months.
It is a typhoon and monsoon region, and Hong Kong is commonly hit by typhoons between March and November. Hong Kong Observatory has a tropical cyclone warning system with classification of signals and symbols. They are on display at various locations in Hong Kong, such that anyone can get informed about potential risks. You should follow the situation closely and act accordingly when the warning is level 3 or above.
View today’s weather warnings from Hong Kong Observatory: Weather warnings
11. Transport transport – Travel guide
Public transport in Hong Kong is easy.
The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) system connects with its rail lines and light rail system all major districts in Hong Kong. Moreover, it has an intercity train service to mainland China.
The fastest way to get into Hong Kong from the airport is by the MTR Airport Express. It takes only 24 minutes to reach Hong Kong Island. Once inside Hong Kong, possessing an Airport Express ticket, you can take one of the free shuttle buses from Kowloon and Hong Kong stations to a number of hotels.
Achieving the Octopus card for transport may turn useful if you need to get around by public transport. You simply pass the Octopus card over the reader at the stations and on the buses and the correct fare is deducted from your stored value.
To take the Hong Kong Tramways is another option on Hong Kong Island. The old, stylish trams are frequent and popular. Pay with the Ocupus card or have the exact flat fare ready when you are getting off.
A number of ferries operate between Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and other islands. Most spectacular is the passenger Star Ferry that runs from Central or Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island to Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. It is popular to use the Star Ferry as an affordable harbour tour!
Finally, you can also take one of the plentiful taxis. Compare the taxi fare in Hong Kong to the fare in your own country: Taxi Price
Hong Kong is located on the southern coast of China in East Asia. It is an island region consisting of both numerous peninsulas and about 200 islands. The main areas are the densely populated Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories and Lantau Island. Additionally, there are also rural areas and a multitude of pristine sand beaches, for instance the Turtle Cove Beach, Shek O Beach, Big Wave Bay Beach or Clear Water Bay Beach.
Hong Kong’s important deep-water seaport has played a significant role in the development of Hong Kong as a prime trade hub. Still today, the huge container terminal is one of the busiest ports in the world with container liner services to over 500 destinations.
Hong Kong is a natural gateway to China and Macau.
Hong Kong’s latitude and longitude coordinates are: 22.28552, 114.15769.
13. Facts about Hong Kong history
The Dynasties – From the early Han to the recent Qing
- Understanding the development of Hong Kong is not easy without some basic facts about and knowledge of the many dynasties and the cultural impact they have had on the Chinese and the Hong Kong society throughout the years.
- The Chinese dynasty era began in the Hong Kong region in 221 BC with the invasion of the first emperor of the Qin dynasty. The Qin armies defeated the Yue tribes and incorporated Hong Kong into China. This was the beginning of the dominance of the Chinese dynasties. A Chinese general founded the kingdom of Nanyue and proclaimed himself king. The Nanyue kingdom was, though, conquered by the Han dynasty around 112 BC.
- In the years to come the dynasties, most importantly the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD), the Song dynasty (960–1279 AD), the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and Quing dynasty (1644–1842), followed.
- From 1661 to 1669 the Quing dynasty’s emperor ordered the Great Clearance implying that the coastal areas of Guangdong were evacuated and banned. In this way the Hong Kong region was depopulated at the time. Later, it was occupied by the Hakka people. In the New Territories there are still today numerous Hakka villages with descendants of the Hakkas.
The Opium Wars
- The British had a high demand for silk, porcelain and tea. In return they sold large quantities of Indian opium to China. However, the Chinese refused to legalise opium and this crisis triggered the First Opium War. Despite some disagreement, the Quing surrendered, and in 1842 Hong Kong Island was formally ceded to the United Kingdom in the Treaty of Nanking. The reign of Imperial China over Hong Kong ended and Hong Kong got its first governor, Henry Pottinger.
- Nevertheless, tensions persisted between the British and the Quing over the opium trade and escalated into the Second Opium War. Again, the Quing were forced to surrender and ceded Kowloon Peninsula and Stonecutter’s Island in the Convention of Peking in 1860.
- From here the Hong Kong economy developed rapidly with foreign investors seeing new opportunities in the country. Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories.
The Japanese Occupation
- In 1937, at the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Hong Kong was declared a neutral zone. A possible attack was foreseen, and all British women and children were evacuated in 1940. The Japanese Army attacked Hong Kong on 8 December 1941 which was the same day that Pearl Harbor was attacked. Hong Kong was now occupied by Japan. Britain only resumed control after four years, on 30 August 1945.
Facts about the political situation in Hong Kong in recent times
- In the Sino-British Joint Declaration from 1984 United Kingdom agreed to transfer Hong Kong to China on 1 July 1997 after 156 years of British rule. China guaranteed to secure the economic and political system for another 50 years – ‘one country, two systems’. Anyway, a massive emigration started taking place, since many people didn’t trust their rights any longer.
- Hong Kong has undergone several crises in recent years, both political and financial crises as well as crises owing to the outbreaks of avian-flu and the SARS epidemic. Since 2019 massive protests have taken place in response to a proposed bill permitting extradition of fugitives to mainland China.
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‘Facts about Hong Kong Travel Guide’