Travel Guide

Hong Kong Travel Guide

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Travel Guide

Hong Kong comprises of an amalgam of cultures, formed mainly by the Cantonese, Shanghainese, British, Indians and Jews. Cantonese culture is the mainstream culture in Hong Kong. Chinese concepts such as family solidarity, glory, modesty and saving family’s face carry great weight in Hong Kong's culture. The main languages are Cantonese and English.

Hong Kong is the culinary capital of Asia, and boasts of many local delicacies. Food here is influenced by many international flavors. Hong Kong’s people enjoy Kung Fu and Tai Chi as a form of entertainment and exercise. Gambling and horse racing are prevalent aspects of the culture. The Cantonese Opera is a cultural expression that blends Chinese legends, music and drama into intriguing performances. Hong Kong’s people follow various religious beliefs, such as Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and others.

Hong Kong’s currency is the HK Dollar. There are many banks and ATMs in Hong Kong, and moneychangers are everywhere. Always check the exchange rate and the service fee before your hand over your foreign exchange. Customers with AMEX, VISA and Master cards can draw HK currency through ATMs directly.

Hong Kong is today one of the world's leading international financial centers. The country boasts a service-oriented economy, with almost free port trade and low taxation. Hong Kong’s economy is highly dependent on international trade and finance, and is backed by a sound banking system, no public debt, good foreign exchange reserves (US $408 billion by June 2017) and a strong legal system. Close ties with mainland China and strict anti-corruption measures forms the backbone of Hong Kong’s government policies. Hong Kong is one of the largest ports in the world, and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the sixth largest in the world.

Hong Kong was forever held by China but was ceded to Britain in 1842, when China’s Qing dynasty was defeated in the First Opium War. Hong Kong has been a central figure in international trade, from its earliest days as a British colony. Chinese refugees flooded the city in early 20th century, and Hong Kong put them to work at manufacturing units as labor.

As mainland China strengthened into a manufacturing and business industry, Hong Kong transformed into a service-based economy and an international financial market. Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997. China allows the city to enjoy its freedom of speech, its capitalist system, independent judiciary and rule of law, while holding the reins.

  • Hong Kong’s official name is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong SAR).
  • The words ‘Hong Kong’ means ‘Fragrant Harbor’.
  • Hong Kong comprises of Hong Kong Island, the New Territories, Kowloon, and a multitude of smaller islands spread over 1,092 square kilometers.
  • There are more Rolls Royce’s per person in Hong Kong than in any other city in the world.
  • There are more skyscrapers in Hong Kong than there are in its closest rival, New York City.
  • Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas of the world.
  • The residents of Cheung Chau Island organize a bun festival to feed the hungry ghosts on the island. This happens every year between April and May. 
  • The Hong Kong dollar is the eighth most traded currency in the world.
  • A Dai Pai Dong is a noodle shop chain in Hong Kong, where you can get a bowl of noodles for around HK$20 and free tea.

Hong Kong enjoys a relatively mild climate, which makes this city a year-round travel destination. The best time to visit Hong Kong is from October to early December, when the weather is sunny, cool, and pleasant.

Spring is warm and humid, summer is hot and rainy, autumn is pleasant and sunny and winter is dry in Hong Kong. The best time to travel to Hong Kong is during late autumn, from October to around Christmas time, when the weather is relatively pleasant.

Rain: Rainfall in Hong Kong is abundant. About 80% percent of the annual rain falls occur between May and September. August is the wettest month, when rain falls about four days out of seven. 

Temperatures: Temperatures are low throughout the year, with the city being coolest from mid-December to February, when temperatures may fall to 10 °C (50 °F). The warmest temperatures (late May to mid-September), can average 28 °C (82 °F) to 33 °C (91 °F).

Severe Weather: From May to October, the city experiences occasional tropical cyclones and squally thunderstorms. People are warned to stay at home when the Typhoon warning is level 3 or more. 

Summer: Summer is from May to September and is hot and humid, with constant showers, thunderstorms and typhoons. Temperatures go up beyond 31 °C (87 °F).

Winter: Winter is from mid-December to February, when it’s cool and dry. Best times for shopping in Hong Kong. 

By Air: Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is the fourth busiest international airport in the world. Nearly every airline in the world flies to Hong Kong. 

Train: You can travel to Hong Kong by train if you’re coming from Beijing, Shanghai or Guangdong Province cities. 

By Ship: There are ships and boats that constantly ply to any of the 4 cross-boundary ferry piers in Hong Kong. These ferry piers are in Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon and Tuen Mun, New Territory. There are also daily direct boat transfers between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, Macau 

Long-Distance Bus: Hong Kong enjoys a variety of cross-boundary bus connections with Guangdong Province, Xiamen, and Guangxi's Yangshuo and Guilin. Transit passengers at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport can get to Hong Kong easily by bus from these points. 

Helicopter: If you’re in Macau, the easiest way to get to Hong Kong is by helicopter. 

Visa Not Required: Nationals belonging to 170 different countries and territories do not require a Visa to visit Hong Kong, for periods from 7 to 180 days (more information here). People belonging to the US, Europe, Australia, Canada and New Zealand can stay in Hong Kong for 90 days without visa. The time limit is 180 days for UK nationals.

Visa Required: Nationals belonging to Albania, Armenia and Cambodia require a visa to enter Hong Kong.

Passport: All visitors to Hong Kong, with or without visa, must have a passport that is valid for at least six months after exit from Hong Kong. For visitors from specific countries, the passport validity is reduced to one month. 

How to Apply for a Hong Kong Visa?

Visa Eligibility Criteria: 

  • Your bona fides should be in order, with proper backing for ID, background and activities
  • You must have adequate funds to cover expenses during your stay duration, without employment 
  • You must have an onward ticket to your original destination or another, unless the destination is the Mainland of China or Macao.

Applying For A Visa: You can apply for a Hong Kong visa at your closest Chinese embassy or consulate. Or, you can submit your visa application to the HKSAR Immigration Department either personally or via post, or via a local sponsor.

Processing Time: Application forms can be faxed along with supporting documents to shorten processing time. Visa processing will be complete only when the original copies and photographs are sent to the HKSAR Immigration Department by air mail. It takes four weeks to process a visa application to Hong Kong. 

While you’re in Hong Kong, consider extending your trip to cover other South East nations, such as Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines. If not, try visiting the places close to Hong Kong, nearby areas of China that are well worth visiting. There are direct flights and overnight buses to all these places from Hong Kong.

Guilin and Yangshuo: Famous for mountain and river scenery. Return via Southern China's greatest city, Guangzhou.

Hainan: A tropical beach paradise, blessed with sunny weatherWu Yi Mountain: Lovely scenery, history and wonderful people. Return via the lively modern city of Xiamen.

Yunnan: A very popular tourist destination, great shopping and home to many of China's minority ethnic groups.

Macau: You can get here by boat, plane or road; Macau is also a popular tourist destination, famous for its blend of Portuguese and Chinese cultures. The thriving gambling industry here attracts people from all over world.

Hong Kong boasts a large number of restaurants serving Asian, Chinese, Asian and European food. You can also get savory vegetarian food here, including hot pot and buffet dinners. There are many snack bars, cake and dessert shops, steakhouses and tea houses around Hong Kong. 

Chinese Restaurants: The most Chinese restaurants are to be found in Kowloon, where you can enjoy authentic Chinese flavors without having to visit mainland China. Specialties are Beijing food, light-flavored Shanghai and Hangzhou dishes and Roast Duck, done in the authentic manner. Kowloon serves Chinese food that is specific to different provinces within china. So if you want Beijing & Shanghai, or Sichuan & Yunnan, Hunan & Hangzhou or Cantonese and Chaozhou or Hakka cuisines, this is the right place to visit. 

Asian Restaurants: Thousands of Asians work study and even live in Hong Kong permanently. The city has more than its share of Asian restaurants where one can find Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, Indian, Nepalese, Japanese and Indonesian food, especially in the Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay areas.

European Restaurants: Want to have a comforting meal of rare steak and potatoes? Head to Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo for restaurants serving European and continental fare. These areas are densely populated with expat communities from western countries. You can find restaurants serving the following cuisines in these areas: German, Italian, Spanish, American, French, Austrian, Dutch, British and even Egyptian!

Seafood: Seafood is a Hong Kong specialty, especially on the outlying islands of Lamma Island and Sai Kung. 

Snacks: Hong Kong’s traditional snacks include Fish Ball Noodles, Pineapple Bread, Wonton Noodles, Spicy Fish Balls and Tingzai Porridge. 

Hong Kong has more than its share of bars and nightclubs that stay open all night, with happy hours spilling over the dark nights. 

Hong Kong celebrates several festivals and events every year. The most popular ones are:

Chinese New Year International Performance Night: This is a gala city-wide festival, complete with Float Exhibition, paper dragons and fireworks. 

Christmas: The whole city is decorated to the utmost, with not an inch to spare, with shopping discounts and sales to add to the melee. 

Mid-Autumn Festival: During this time, Hong Kong puts on the Asian Contemporary Art Show, lantern carnivals, and the Fire Dragon Dance. It’s the time to enjoy some festival food and drinks in Hong Kong.

“Tuen Ng” Dragon Boat Festival:  From May. 30 to Jun. 4 is the annual Hong Kong Tuen Ng Festival, one of the world’s largest dragon boat race events. 

Hong Kong Shopping Festival: In July and August, Hong Kong puts on a shopping extravaganza, with sales, unbelievable discounts, special events and offers.

Hong Kong International Film Festival: In April, film makers put on free shows of their movies to promote them. 

Hong Kong Arts Festival:  From Feb.16 to Mar.18 is the yearly cultural arts feast for local and international tastes. This festival was founded in 1973, and various world-class music and dance performances take place during this time. 

Hong Kong Horse Racing Season:  During September, horse races are held all over the city, more for entertainment than for serious gambling. Horse racing and rugby are the two legal gambling outlets in Hong Kong. 

Hong Kong and Macau Chinese New Year's Eve Flower Markets: During January, people serenade their friends and family with fresh flowers, potted plants and bouquets, for good luck. The markets are full of fresh flowers during this time. 

Chinese New Year International Parade and Performances:  In January, performers from all around the world come to perform their unique arts at this international carnival.

Chinese New Year Firework Performance: In January, on the second day of the three-day Spring Festival holidays, Victoria Harbor is besieged with colorful fireworks, which are coordinated with the Symphony of Lights. The show lasts for about 25 minutes.

Hong Kong’s nightlife is vibrant and fun. Tourists enjoy Hong Kong’s nightlife activities as much as they enjoy the day tours.

Luxury Night Cruise Over Victoria Harbor: On this cruise, you can enjoy the vista of Hong Kong spread along the coast, all the buildings brightly lit up.

Victoria Harbor Walk: The entire area is covered with pubs, bars, nightclubs and streets bubbling with food stalls and movie theaters. It’s a vibrant slice of life in Hong Kong best experienced at night. 

Lei Yue Mun Seafood Village Dinner Cruise: This 5-hour trip begins at dusk with the ceremony of flag lowering at the Golden Bauhinia Square. There’s a stopover at seafood bazaar at Lei Yue Mun Seafood Village, followed by the old Kai Tak airport and shopping in the Temple Street Open Market.

Star Ferry's Harbor Tour with A Symphony of Lights: An exciting land stroll with stops at famous landmarks.

Tsing Ma Night Cruise: Involves a cable ride to the Victoria Peak where you get spectacular views.

Pearl of the Orient Dinner Cruise: A dinner and a chance to grab some memorable views from across the waters. 

Lan Kwai Fong: This area offers a vibrant nightlife scene, with a bustling array of restaurants, pubs and bars and eateries. You can obtain drinks from any corner of the world here. 

Movies: Hong Kong is the third largest producers of movies in the world. Over 100 cinemas theaters show the latest films from the world. 

Tsim Sha Tsui: This is an exhilarating night park, bustling with people and dazzling neon lights. You can catch a movie here, have dinner and follow it with shopping late in the night. 

Hong Kong, being a free port showcases products from all over the world. There’s no additional tariff, and there are plenty of seasonal sales, with global products that fit every taste and budget. . 
Hot Shopping Locations: In Hong Kong, the hot places to shop are: Central, Admiralty, Causeway Bay and North Point. In Kowloon, it’s Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei, Jordan, Mong Kok and Sheung Wan. The prices are reasonable and the sales people are always courteous to a fault. 
Malls And Department Stores: These come with restaurants, relaxation areas, and kids play areas. You can find the entire world’s designer goods and signature brands in Hong Kong. Whether you’re looking for dresses, leather goods, watches or jewelry, you’re bound to find great brands and designs, at much less costs than you’ll pay elsewhere in the world. The best malls in Hong Kong are:
  • IFC Mall, Hong Kong Station
  • Pacific Place, Admiralty 
  • SOGO (Causeway Bay Branch), Causeway Bay 
  • Times Square, Causeway Bay 
  • Harbor City, Kowloon
  • DFS Galleria, multiple branches
Payment: Hong Kong’s markets accept Visa, Master Express, JCB and other known major credit cards. Bargaining is not accepted in large malls, but you can engage in some friendly bargaining in small stores, markets and fairs.
Street Markets: Street-side stands sell a wide variety of items, from clothes to electronics. You’ll find many of these stalls at Central and in Ladies Street, Temple Street night market, and Jade market in Yau Ma Tei. 
Clustered Markets: You’ll find that shops selling similar goods are clustered in groups. For example, all the gold shops are clustered in Nathan Road in Kowloon. Sai Yeung Choi Street in Mong Kok is for audio and video equipment and Hollywood Road has many street stalls selling antiques. Ladies Street is one of the most famous shopping areas in Mong Kok, especially fashion enthusiasts. The clothes and leather goods here are trendy but inexpensive. 

There are many sights to see and enjoy in Hong Kong. We’ve listed a few of them here for you:
Ocean Park: Located in the south end of Hong Kong Island, the Ocean Park has the distinction of being a top theme park and aquarium in Southeast Asia. It’s also an excellent marine education center, which makes it a great place for families with children. The park is spread over an area of 170 acres. 
Victoria Harbor: Victoria Harbor is located between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon; it’s China’s largest harbor, bustling with all kinds of watercraft, from the historic Star Ferries to cruise liners, wooden fishing vessels and cargo ships at all hours. 
Disneyland Resort: Located on Lantau Island, this Disneyland Resort has the usual Mickey and Minnie Mouse and the fairytale castles and the rest, but there’s also an ode to Chinese culture in the monuments. 
Victoria Peak:  This is the best location for a great view of the lights over the city. Victoria Peak Tower, at the end of the Peak Tram ride, appears like a Chinese wok. Victoria Peak houses an exciting Peak Explorer Motion Simulator called the Odditorium. There are plenty of green terraces, restaurants and a Madame Tussauds Wax Museum also here. 
Wong Tai Sin Temple: Patterned after an ancient Chinese palace, this temple is an ode to Chinese culture. Do also check out the Man Mo Temple and Po Lin Monastery while you’re in Hong Kong. 

Rayna Tours organizes many tours and excursions in Hong Kong, each with special focus on cultural aspects and the vibrant life in the city. 

Half-day Hong Kong Island Tour: This tour takes you to see Victoria Peak, Aberdeen with Sampan, Repulse Bay, at the very heart of Hong Kong Island. 

One-day Buddha and Lantau Island Tour: This tour involves an exploration of Lantau Island, to check out its lovely beaches, fishing villages, the Giant Buddha and many elegant temples. 

One-Day Macau Tour from Hong Kong: Experience the charm of Macau, with visits to the ruins of St. Paul's, Monte Fortress and A-Ma Temple

One-Day Disneyland Tour Package: One full day at Disneyland to enjoy with your family and friends. All entry passes and fees will be taken care of, so you can enjoy a worry free time. 

Hong Kong family tour: Gear up for some fun and excitement at Disneyland and explore the cultural sights and the food scene with family at Hong Kong Island.

Food Tour: Join this tour to experience the vibrant food scene in Kowloon, whose restaurants and street stalls offer every imaginable cuisine in the world. 

Autumn is the best time to visit Hong Kong, from October to early December. It’s usually pleasantly clear and sunny during the day and cool at night. It’s perfect weather for outdoor activities or country walks, with just a few rainy days in a month.

Winters are dry and cold, and temperatures can plummet down to freezing at night. Strangely, winter is the best time to visit Hong Kong for shopping - from mid-December to February. The holiday season is afoot during winter, and the weather is pleasant and mild. You’ll need warm clothing for most days, but there’s no snow or frost in Hong Kong.

Note that August is the wettest month of the year, with rains falling four days out of seven. On the opposite side is January, the driest month of the year, when it rains only a few days in the entire month. 

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