A modern metropolis that retains charming traces of its fishing-village past
Officially known as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The territory consists of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories and over 200 islands – giving visitors plenty of room to enjoy its ample natural gifts as well as its glitzy metropolitan trappings.
The most popular nightlife districts are upscale Lan Kwai Fong and the grungier Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island. While Hong Kong boasts over 60 Michelin-starred restaurants, its many old-school fishing villages are home to cheap and cheerful seafood spots that are arguably just as delicious – and more atmospheric.
If it’s rugged outdoor activities and a breath of fresh air you’re after, head out to the UNESCO-listed Hong Kong Global Geopark of China to hike through the different volcanic regions, or escape to Lantau Island with its many hiking trails, tiny fishing villages and pristine beaches.
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The best of Hong Kong on a budget: top 5 things to do
Our top 5 things to do in Hong Kong – without breaking the bank.
Things to do
Catch the Wave
Best accessed by boat, Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay) is home to what is arguably Hong Kong’s most beautiful beach. Thanks to its location within government-protected Sai Kung Country Park, its emerald waters and powder-white sand remain relatively untouched.
Faraway, so close
For spectacular fried calamari and a walk on the mild side, head to laid-back Lamma Island, just 45 minutes by ferry from Hong Kong Island. The island is a no-car zone and many commuters travel by bike. Lamma Island with its vegetarian cafés, deserted beaches and fresh seafood makes for a lovely day trip.
First in, best dressed
Given the high cost of real estate in Hong Kong, many indie boutiques have been pushed out of the city centre in favour of global retail chains. But affordable Hong Kong fashion goods can still be found in places like New Town Plaza in Mongkok. Homegrown chains like Maple Fashion sell affordable, up-to-the-minute outfits.
It'll float your boat
Hong Kongers are rightly proud of their cityscape, especially the views of it that are available from Victoria Harbour. Choose from a host of widely available junk trips, yacht cruises, island tours, sailing classes, romantic cruises and even cinema night cruises.
Hong Kong is best known for its char siu yook (barbecue pork) and just about every eatery offers a version of this time-tested classic. To get the crème de la crème of the city’s beloved gourmet invention, try the char siu at Lei Garden opens in new window in Causeway Bay.
Distance to city centre 40km
Taxi A taxi to Central takes 35-50 minutes and costs around HK $370. Taxis are colour-coded; take a red urban taxi for destinations on Hong Kong Island.
Train The Airport Express opens in new window departs every 10 minutes and takes 25 minutes to reach Central. The adult fare is HK $115.
Bus Public buses opens in new window leave from the airport to most parts of Hong Kong. Fares are around HK $20-40 depending on the destination.Back to top
When to go
Hong Kong’s warm and humid summers run from June to September, with occasional typhoons in August. From October to December, temperatures hover around 18–25°C. At Chinese New Year in January or February, the mercury drops to around 10–15°C.
Christmas is taken seriously here, with elaborate displays drawing crowds at top shopping spots like Harbour City and The Landmark. Visit Hong Kong in early May to catch the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, which is best known for its offbeat bun-snatching competition.Back to top
The MTR opens in new window train system is the most convenient way to travel, though Hong Kong’s traditional double-decker trams are an affordable means of getting from east to west on Hong Kong Island. The Octopus Card, which can be used to pay fares on the MTR, trams, buses and ferries and even as a cash card at convenience stores and fast-food outlets, is available for purchase at MTR stations and elsewhere.
Taxis are easy to flag down, reliable and affordable.Back to top