Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. It's a place with multiple personalities as a result of being both Cantonese Chinese and having been under British colonisation. Today, the former British colony is a major tourism destination for China's increasingly affluent mainland population. It's an important hub in East Asia with global connections to many of the world's cities. It is a unique destination that has absorbed people and cultural influences from places as diverse as Vietnam and Vancouver and proudly proclaims itself to be Asia's World City - Wikitravel.
The Hong Kong region is where China and the British Empire have joined and given birth to a unique metropolitan area. It is an incredibility complex region where east and west has interacted creating an intense city full of possibilities and controlled chaos. You’ll have a blast exploring its many city canyons, markets, delicious food stalls, views of the harbour and temples – all made easy by Hong Kong’s world-class transportation system. Whenever you’re not outside wandering you’ll feel like you’re missing out on something! Only after you’ve spend some time in Hong Kong will you understand.
Planning when to visit
There are two distinct times to visit Hong Kong based on the weather, the cooler, drier winter period from mid September to February. However this is also a time when the air quality tends to be poorer with hazy days, not ideal for those panoramic views overlooking the city! The other time to visit is the less popular summer season when the days are clearer and if you can handle the humidity, heat, and afternoon down pours, you’ll be rewarded with a slightly less hectic Hong Kong as many locals and expats spend their summer holiday away from the city.
It may be wise to avoid the extra busy weeks of the Lunar New Year and the first week of both May and October as prices will spike and attractions will be crowded as mainland Chinese tend to visit during these periods en mass.
What’s the deal with Visas?
Depending on your nationality most tourists can enter Hong Kong without pre organizing a visa and can stay between 7 days and 6 months depending on which passport you hold. Visitors from the United Kingdom can stay for up to 3 months but are not permitted to work.
Where to stay
As you might expect Hong Kong is a compact city serviced by a excellent public transport systems so no matter where you stay, whether it be amongst the busy Kowloon suburbs or on the marina side of Hong Kong Island you’ll never be far from the markets, malls and attractions. It’s best to base your decision on your budget and hotel preference.
Tips, tricks and etiquette to keep in mind during your stay
English is widely spoken in Hong Kong with many involved in a professional, government, business and the tourist industry having at least a basic grasp of the language. However many of the everyday people on the street may not, so a learning the basics of hello, thank you in Chinese will often be appreciated. The currency in Hong Kong is the dollar and is pegged to the USD. Speaking of money, if you’re worried about tipping, then I wouldn’t as it is not something that is necessarily, often just rounding up the bill is fine, except if you receive quality service in a restaurant then a tip is customary.
The power supply in Hong Kong is 220V so it is similar to that in the United Kingdom (230V) and many other nations and uses the British style ’three prong’ plug so you may need to bring an adaptor or purchase one locally. Appliances from the United States may need a transformer due to the large difference in voltage.
Attractions not to miss while in Hong Kong
The peak – a popular viewpoint near the summit of the Victoria Peak.
Avenue of Stars – Similar to Hollywood’s walk of fame celebrating the local film industry.
Hong Kong Disneyland – A great day out.
Ladies Market – An endless display of clothes and souvenirs.
Ocean Park Hong Kong – A popular theme park opened in 1977!
Temple Street Night Market – A popular night street bazaar to browse.
Clock Tower – Located at the old railway terminal.
Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade – The perfect evening walk to gaze at the dramatic Hong Kong skyline.
Golden Bauhinia Square – The significant landmark marking the 1997 handover of rule to China.
Lan Kwai Fong - the popular nightlife and restaurant district.