1. Find yourself before choosing your accommodation
It is important to know that Hong Kong consists of two parts: Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Both offer amazing attractions, shopping, nightlife and views. However, you need to cross the port to visit the other side, which can easily be done by MTR, ferry or taxi (see below for more details).
Before deciding which side to stay on, it’s best to do some research on what interests you are most interested in Hong Kong and choose a location that suits your itinerary. Another thing you should consider is that these epic views of the Hong Kong skyline you see from someone’s hotel room. The horizon view is more beautiful and overlooks Hong Kong Island. If you are looking for this, you should definitely book a hotel on the Kowloon page that is close to the harbour and ideally in a skyscraper.
Note: If you are an Indian national planning to travel to Hong Kong, you should apply for a pre-arrival registration Visa in order to save time when arriving at the HK Airport. You can do it in the following link:
2. How do you communicate during your stay in Hong Kong?
Most people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese, but Mandarin is also spoken in addition to English. You will find that there is a very large population of foreigners in Hong Kong. If you are a native speaker of English, it is not difficult to find someone with whom you can communicate.
3. Converting Hong Kong dollars into your local currency
US citizens travelling to Hong Kong can imagine HK $ 10 as USD 1.30 in USD. For every $100 you want to spend in the city, you’ll need nearly $800 at an ATM (unless you don’t use a credit card, of course).
We recommend opening an account and a debit card from Charles Schwab as they pay all ATM fees abroad. Also can try Trail Wallet app, which allows you to easily convert currencies and build my budget while on the move.
Below are some other common currency conversions for:
- Australians: HK $ 10 = $ 1.73
- Europeans: 10 HKD = 1,10 Euro
- Canadians: HK $ 10 = $ 1.69 CAD
4. Get an Octopus card
Purchasing an Octopus card is the easiest way to use the Hong Kong MTR system. If you are in town for more than a day, we recommend that you take one of these cards with you so you can easily move around and save on taxis during your stay.
Basically, an Octopus card is like a prepaid card that allows you to connect to the entrance to the MTR instead of paying for each trip individually. The system automatically deducts the travel price from your card – and that’s it! You are on your way.
In my opinion, the coolest thing about the Octopus card is that it does a lot more than it does on the train. With the Octopus card, you can also shop in supermarkets, convenience stores, cafés, cinemas, vending machines, etc. You can also top up your Octopus card at any 7-Eleven and Circle K store.
For short breaks, the best Octopus card is the “Sold Tourist Octopus Card” for 39 HK $ or the “On-Loan Octopus Card” which has a refundable deposit of 50 HK $ to ensure a continuous service negative value.
5. Use the Airport Express (but check the rules for early check-in before your flight.)
The Airport Express is an incredibly efficient train that connects Hong Kong Airport with various areas of the city and is less than 25 minutes away. There is even free WLAN on board. We strongly recommend that you use this service (approximately $26 round trip) upon your arrival in Hong Kong, as there is nothing easier.
Another amazing service at the airport express station is the “In-Town Check-In” service. This service allows visitors to check in early for their flight and drop off their luggage at the Airport Express station instead of having to check in at the airport. What makes it so great is that with an early departure from the hotel and a late flight, you can literally park your luggage and explore the rest of the day without having to return to your hotel for recovery – in addition, you are already registered and can leave!
An interesting change we have encountered in Hong Kong is that as someone who travels back to the United States, we could not use the city admission for my Airport Express luggage. We don’t know exactly when this rule was introduced, but we recommend you check the rules again before you park your luggage. However, if you are travelling to a country other than the United States, you should be in order.
6. Download the Hong Kong Taxi Cards App
What may surprise you about Hong Kong is that many taxi drivers in such an advanced and western city do not speak a word of English. We encountered this problem during my last trip and was even picked up at the airport taxi stand, which you believe would attract a variety of taxi drivers who can communicate better with an international crowd. Even without Google Maps, he didn’t seem to understand where to go.
The Hong Kong Taxi Cards app is a great app to download before your trip, allowing you to translate your route into Cantonese or tell your driver aloud. Life is changing.
Another option for getting around by car is Uber. However, this service is actually more expensive in Hong Kong than traditional taxis. Therefore, we would only use it if you are willing to spend the extra money and have time to kill because you have to wait for their arrival instead of calling a taxi on the street.
Please note that most taxis in Hong Kong are subject to a charge!
7. Getting out of town
There’s so much to do and see in downtown Hong Kong, but it’s really an eye-catcher that you’ll appreciate the variety of everything that Hong Kong has to offer. In fact, Hong Kong is more than 70% green, whether in parks or mountains. So if you have time, you should take it primarily out of the jungle of concrete and go out for fresh air.
Some ideas for day trips outside the bustling city centre are the Big Buddha or a walk to Dragon’s Back, from where you have a breathtaking view of the city.
8. Where you can see the best skyline views
Don’t miss the Ozone bar on the side of Ritz Carlton on the side of Kowloon (you don’t have to be a guest) or go to Victoria Peak for a view from the opposite side. Check the weather first, as the skyline may be covered by rain or fog depending on the day.
9. Bring comfortable and safe hiking boots
For this reason, the city has set up an intensive escalator system that crosses the city centre to make the journey from the bottom to top easier (otherwise you would be on an endless staircase)!
However, it is inevitable that you will get to know some of these hills on foot. Wearing sensitive sandals or sandals without closed heels will be a challenge not only on your feet but also on your shoes. Choose comfortable walking shoes instead of straps or at least sandals with suitable straps around your heels so that you don’t break a shoe.
10. If you cross the harbour, you go with Ubers or Taxi over the harbour
For some reason, many Hong Kong taxi drivers don’t like to cross the port for a walk. For this reason, there are special taxi ranks throughout the city to help tourists find drivers willing to cross the port. Of course, you can simply take the MTR, which is the easiest option. However, if you have not opted for an Octopus card, a taxi may be easier.
Choose a cross-port taxi station or ask a driver to take you to one of these stations (many do it for free) to make your trip even more enjoyable. We also recommend that you download the Hong Kong Taxi Cards app as mentioned above to facilitate communication with non-English speaking drivers!
11. Do not buy liquids before returning to the USA or Australia
We have now learned, at my expense (twice!), that for all passengers travelling from Hong Kong to the USA, a second mandatory security check takes place immediately before boarding your aircraft. This security check confiscates all liquids (including duty-free liquid items, even if properly packaged).
If you have any concerns, please call your airline or contact the TSA at the airport before making major duty-free purchases.
12. Prepare for unforeseen weather conditions
Hong Kong is classified as a humid subtropical climate and has just had a hot record year. Although snow is extremely rare in Hong Kong, it’s not rainy – and it’s best to prepare for rain during your stay so you won’t be surprised.
Especially because it rains in Hong Kong, it can really fall. We recommend that you bring a mini umbrella that is easy to stow away so you can carry it in your handbag during storms during the day.
13. Don’t leave Hong Kong without eating Dim Sum Sum
Although there is food in Hong Kong to satisfy every wish, Dim Sum is a traditional Cantonese classic that is available throughout Hong Kong – and it is so good. If you’ve never heard of Dim Sum, these small plates are usually served in round bamboo steamers and accompanied by tea. You just have to enjoy the quintessence of the Dim Sum experience before you leave Hong Kong, and here are some good places to try it:
- Mott 32: Chinese price and pigeon spot in the centre, but quite famous in Hong Kong.
- Tien Yi: Big option at Pacific Place Mall
- Din Tai Fung: Is located in the Causeway Bay
- Maxim Palace of the Town Hall: A classic and wild Dim Sum experience
- Tim Ho Wan: Famous for his low-cost Michelin-starred restaurant on Hong Kong’s Airport Express.
- Icon Dim Sum Icon: More for the creativity and appeal of Instagram. This spot creates dim-sum dumplings with funny comic figures.
- Dim Sum Library: Chic place with Dim Sum for the whole day
- Dim Sum: Another Michelin star for classic Cantonese cuisine
14. Save on the Victoria Peak tram and hike instead
The Peak Tram is certainly one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist attractions and has its charm. However, tram lines can sometimes take more than two hours and cost $11 per person. Not a ton to spend, but we think there is a better way than to waste your time in line.
We recommend going up to Victoria Peak, which doesn’t cost a dollar and give you an impressive workout with spectacular views (and more views than you get when you ride the tram and come back).