How to plan a trip to Hong Kong
A forest of high-rising skyscrapers, a vibrant life and society, the paradise for shopping lovers. You’ve been wanting to plan a trip to Hong Kong for a while but never took the final decision. If you are still unsure on where to start, you’ve landed in the right place. Book your ticket and enjoy one of China’s most popular destinations.
If you’re travelling around South East Asia and you’re looking for a city break, then Hong Kong might just hit the spot for you. Hong Kong is the ultimate city break destination for any traveller. From the novice to the veteran, this city has something for everyone.
This city is easy to manoeuvre with its great public transport system. It’s also easy to get acquainted with because of the high amount of English available around the city. But don’t think this city will be a run-of-the-mill experience, it still has plenty of adventures for you to make memories to bring back home. From sky-rise buildings all the way to secluded beaches.
How to plan a trip to Hong Kong, top 10 tips
1. The best months to visit Hong Kong
Hong Kong has four seasons, but for the most part, you can split the four season into the wet and dry season as well.
You want to avoid the typhoon season if you want any chance of staying dry on your trip. Torrential downpours happen on a weekly or even daily basis during the months of June all the way to September.
The months of October, November and December will be the most comfortable months to travel to Hong Kong as the temperature range around low to mid 20’s. Little to no rainfall occurs during these months and if you go near Christmas you get to see the pretty light displays all around the city.
You will be missing a few of the big Chinese festivals on the calendar, but I think having great weather on a trip is a major factor on whether you enjoy it or not.
2. Get an Octopus card once you land
You need an Octopus card if you’re going to visit Hong Kong. An Octopus card is this public transit card that has also morphed into a payment card. You can use it on public transport, at convenience stores, supermarkets and many other stores around the city. It’s just a quick and simple payment option that will make your travels in Hong Kong go that much smoother.
My advice is to get one as soon as you land by going to the nearest MTR station or 7eleven store. The card has a $50 deposit criteria, which is fully refundable when you hand it back before you leave. These cards are also easy to top-up with cash via machines at every MTR station or at every 7eleven store, which is practically on every street.
3. Book a hotel outside the city centre but stay near the MTR system
Hotel rooms can be very pricey and the rooms will be smaller than many other places, but it doesn’t have to be. You can lower the price of your room by avoiding the hot spot areas. The public transport in Hong Kong is great so you really don’t have to stay at the hotspots as long as you’re near an MTR station.
The rates will instantly lower and the rooms will also get bigger! My advice is to find hotels in any of these districts: Shatin, Tuen Mun, Kwun Tong, Mong Kok, Prince Edward, North Point and Kowloon bay area.
4. Try to avoid the rush hour for public transport
Ever seen those photos or videos of Japanese trains pushing people in during rush hour? Well, Hong Kong isn’t as bad, but it’s not much better.
If you’re travelling with kids or you just don’t do well in crowds, then avoid the public transport system during rush hour. MTRs will be jam-packed to the brim, buses will also be packed and minibuses will have long lines.
Hong Kong’s rush hour starts at 8 am – 10 am and 5 pm to 7 pm. But, if you’re curious about how bad it can get than remember to take your backpack or handbag off your shoulders and be ready to test your balance!
5. Bring your own tissues
Diners and many other local eateries do not provide tissues and if they do it’s this paper-thin sheet you won’t even want to use. Many people in the city carry their own tissues, surgical masks and hand sanitiser, so I think many places just figure there’s no need to provide tissues.
Many of the diners will even sell you a pack of facial tissues near the till for fair price, but why not save the few bucks every meal time by just bringing your own tissues. This might seem like a small thing, but it surprisingly was a big deal when I first moved to Hong Kong and found myself without any tissue or napkins to use when I needed them. One of the many things to consider when planning a trip to Hong Kong.
6. Don’t miss the nature and the beaches
Many visitors to the city skip the nature parks, hiking trails and all the other cool outdoor activities Hong Kong has to offer. The thinking goes, why bother because it can’t be that great in a city that’s so densely populated. But that’s so far from the truth. Hong Kong actually has more undeveloped, protected country parks than urban areas.
It’s home to countless beaches and small islands that provide the best day trips away from the 24/7 hustle and bustle of the city. Choose any of the hiking trails, islands or beaches and have a great time seeing a side of Hong Kong many travellers miss out on.
7. Eat as local as possible
You can find any cuisine in Hong Kong, but most of it is very pricey and depending on where you’re from, you might not be too impressed with the selection. Instead, stay local with your food choices and you won’t be disappointed.
Eat at Hong Kong style diners for a quick breakfast and lunch, and head to the seafood restaurants or street-side restaurants for dinner.
The more local the better in both quality and price. You don’t need to worry about the possibility of food poisoning for the most part as Hong Kong eateries are pretty clean. So go nuts and order whatever tickles your fancy, even if it’s from a grubby looking mum and pops store. Or take a food tour to discover the local delicacies.
8. The skyline really is something you shouldn’t miss
Hong Kong’s skyline must be one of the world’s most famous, and for good reason. From all my travels thus far, I have yet to find a city that even comes close to it. The density and quantity of skyscrapers is something New York, London and Tokyo can’t even beat.
Most of the city’s residential apartments reach 30+ floors, let alone the many office buildings. What you get is a breathtaking view nowhere else can even begin duplicating.
My advice is to see it at night because the lights shining off each building is something you’ll want to see and remember. Also, it’s rare to have a clear sky during the day since humidity levels are very high for most of the time during the year.
The Peak Tram is something I personally wouldn’t miss even if you are spending only 2 days in Hong Kong as the tram ride itself is rather unique, but if you can’t wait in line for any reason then simply get a taxi ride up! Remember to charge your phone or bring your camera!
9. Try the craft beers
Hong Kong has a surprisingly thriving craft beer community with some great local breweries. If you’re in the city then don’t miss out on the beers by visiting the breweries or even the craft beer bar in TsimShaTsui.
And if you’re in the city during October, you might just be able to go to the Beer Festival Hong Kong holds every year.
10. Don’t just shop at the big malls
The malls are convenient, attractive and they most likely will have everything you want, but be a little adventurous and you’ll find many gems outside the mall. Many industrial areas have been converted to art galleries, DIY and craft workshops or wholesale stores.
Old neighbourhoods are home to many local brands and small independent stores you simply won’t find in shopping malls. In fact, many of the shopping malls will be home to most of the stores you see back home.
If you want to see something unique and not just another Uniqlo, Gap, Zara etc, then you need venture out. Head to Shamshuipo, Mong Kok and Kwun Tong to go through the mountains of choice and selection at breakneck prices, from clothes to electronics to skincare products.
Author Bio: This is a guest post from Winnie, the blogger behind Million Dollar Winnie. Location-independent for four years, now Winnie wants to empower others to build the life they want.
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