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Holidays in Hong Kong

Understanding Hong Kong


Hong Kong Island is the island that gives this SAR its name Although it is not the largest part of the territory, it is the place that many tourists regard as the main event The parade of buildings that make the Hong Kong skyline has been likened to a glittering bar chart that is made apparent by the presence of the waters of Victoria Harbour To get the best views of Hong Kong, leave the island and head for the Kowloon waterfront

The great majority of Hong Kong Island's urban development is densely packed on reclaimed land along the northern shore This is the place the British colonisers took as their own and so if you are looking for evidence of the territory's colonial past, then this is a good place to start Victoria was once the colony's capital but has been rebranded with a more descriptive name, Central Here you will find the machinery of government grinding away much as it always has done, except Beijing, not London, is the boss that keeps a watchful eye Seek a glimpse of government house 香港禮賓府 which was formerly home to 25 British governors and is now the residence of the man they call "Bow Tie", the Chief Executive Nearby, the Legislative Council Legco continues to make the laws that organise the territory

Leading up from Central is the Escalator and the Peak Tram The famous escalator passes through the hip district of Soho and takes you into the residential neighbourhood known as Mid-Levels because it is neither up nor down the mountain Up top is The Peak, the tallest point on the island where foreign diplomats and business tycoons compete for the best views of the harbour from some of the most expensive homes to be found anywhere Most tourists don't go much further than the Peak Tram, but take a short walk and you will escape the crowds and be rewarded with some of the best harbour views It is worth investing in a good map from leading bookshops in Central if you want to enjoy some of the superb footpaths that crisscross the island

The southern side of the island has developed into an upmarket residential area with many large houses and expensive apartments with views across the South China sea The islands best beaches, such as Repulse bay, are found here and visitors can enjoy a more relaxed pace of life than on the bustling harbour side of the island

Kowloon 九龍 is the peninsula to the north of Hong Kong Island With over 21 million people living in an area of less than 47 square kilometres, Kowloon is one of the most densely populated places on the planet, and has a matching array of places to shop, eat and sleep Tsim Sha Tsui 尖沙咀, the tip of the peninsula, is Kowloon's main tourist drag and has a mix of backpacker and high-end hotels Further north, Mong Kok 旺角 has a huge choice of shops and markets in an area of less than a square kilometre "Kowloon side", as it is often known, managed to escape some of the British colonial influences that characterise the "Hong Kong Island" side While prices on Kowloon side tend to be cheaper, it is also less tourist-friendly and English proficiency is not as strong as on the Hong Kong Island side

The New Territories 新界, so named when the British took more land from China in 1898, lie north of Kowloon Often ignored by travellers who have little time to spare, the New Territories offers a diverse landscape that takes time to get to know Mountainous country parks overlook New Towns that have a clinical form of modernity that has attracted many to move here from mainland China Public transport and taxis make this area surprisingly accessible if you dare to get out and explore this offbeat place You will not find many idyllic villages, but once you get over the stray dogs and the ramshackle buildings you will doubtlessly find something that will surprise you and cause you to reach for your camera

The Outlying Islands 離島 are a generic label for the islands, islets and rocks in the south of the territory Lantau 大嶼山is by far the largest of them and therefore often considered its own district Most people arrive here, as Hong Kong International Airport is located on a small island just north of Lantau Lantau hosts some of the territory's most idyllic beaches as well as major attractions such as Disneyland and the Ngong Ping cable car Other islands include Lamma 南丫島, well known for its seafood, and Cheung Chau 長洲, a small island that used to be a pirates' den, but now houses mostly windsurfers and sunbathing day trippers


Archeological findings date the first human settlements in the area back to more than 30,000 years It was first incorporated into China during the Qin Dynasty and largely remained under Chinese rule until 1841 during the Qing Dynasty, with a brief interruption at the end of the Qin Dynasty, when a Qin official established the kingdom of Nam Yuet, which later fell to the Han Dynasty

In January 1841, as a result of the defeat of the Qing Dynasty of China in the First Opium War, Hong Kong became a British colony, under the Convention of Chuen Pi After the defeat of China in the Second Opium War, the Kowloon Peninsula was ceded to Britain in 1860 In 1898, the New Territories — a rural area north of Boundary Street in Kowloon district — were leased to Britain for 99 years

When World War II broke out, Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, declared that Hong Kong was an "impregnable fortress" However, it was only a reality check for the British as most of their troops were tied down fighting the Germans in Europe, and Hong Kong was not given enough resources for its defence As a result, after just slightly more than two weeks of fighting, Hong Kong was surrendered to the Japanese on 25 December 1941, making it the first time the British lost a colony to an invading force After the war, despite American assuarances that Hong Kong will be restored to China, the British moved quickly to regain control of Hong Kong However, they had lost their aura of invincibility and could not continue to rule Hong Kong the way they used to before the war, and all restrictions on non-Europeans owning property on prime real estate land were lifted Hong Kong's post war recovery was astonishingly swift, and within 2-3 months, all post-war economic restrictions were lifted and Hong Kong became a free market once again

After the communists took control of mainland China in 1949, many Chinese people, especially businessmen, fled to Hong Kong due to persecution by the communist government Unlike the restrictive policies imposed by the communists in mainland China, the British government took a rather "hands off" approach in Hong Kong, as proposed by former financial secretary John James Cowperthwaite, which led to a high degree of economic freedom Under such conditions, businesses flourished in Hong Kong and its economy grew rapidly, earning it a place as one of the East Asian Tigers In 1990, Hong Kong's GDP per capita surpassed that of Britain, the first time a colony's GDP per capita surpassed that of its colonial masters Hong Kong is now the world's fourth largest financial centre after London, New York and Tokyo

The massive influx of mainland refugees led to the rise of the Kowloon Walled City, which was anything but decent — it was a horrendous convolution of mazelike alleys, utter darkness, cramped space, and unsanitary conditions reports claim that dog meat was served and that unlicensed physicians practiced there The Walled City was evacuated and subsequently demolished in 1993, and the Kowloon Walled City Park was built on the site

In 1984, the Chinese and British Governments signed the Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong, giving Hong Kong back to China on 1 July 1997 Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region SAR of the Peoples Republic of China Under the slogan "One Country, Two Systems", Hong Kong remains a capitalist economy without various restrictions that apply in mainland China such as news censorship and foreign exchange controls

In accordance with the Joint Declaration, the Basic Law was enacted to serve in effect as a mini-constitution for the Hong Kong SAR In theory, Hong Kong enjoys "a high degree of autonomy" in most matters except foreign and defence affairs In practice, it is more complex than that: on the one hand, Beijing exerts much influence, on the other, there are groups pushing for a more democratic regime and universal suffrage

In many respects, little has changed since the handover to China in 1997 A Chief Executive, chosen by an elite electoral college, has replaced the Colonial Governor – Beijing’s man has replaced London’s man What was once a British colony now looks like a Chinese colony Although “part of China”, Hong Kong operates like a tiny country with its own currency, laws, international dialling code, police force, border controls and the like It is also a member of international organisations that are normally restricted to sovereign states such as the WTO, APEC and the IOC


The majority of Hong Kong's population are Han Chinese 95%, mostly of Cantonese ancestry, though there are also sizeable numbers of other Chinese groups such as Chiuchao Teochews, Shanghainese and Hakkas A significant number of Indian, Pakistani and Nepalese live here too, and many have families that have lived in Hong Kong for several generations The largest groups of recent, non-Chinese, immigrants are Filipinos, Indonesians and Thais, of which most are employed as domestic help


There are four distinct seasons in Hong Kong Hong Kong can be a little chilly in the winter 10°C and hot and humid in the summer 33°C The best times of year to visit are thus, spring March-May, when the average temperature is around 25°C and autumn September-December Christmas in Hong Kong can be a delight with a fair chance of mild sunny weather that will appeal to those coming from colder northern climates Hotels experience peak occupancy in the months of April and October Typhoons usually occur between June and September and can bring a halt to local business activities for a day or less The weather in winter is usually caused by the winter monsoon which brings dry cold winds from the north In winter the air can be cold but the sun can still burn Expect winter temperatures to rise to 22°C on sunny days and fall to under 10°C at night, especially when in mountainous areas Chinese New Year is notorious for cold wet weather and, since many businesses close, non-Chinese tourists will not see Hong Kong at its best Should you find yourself in Hong Kong at Chinese New Year, you can make the best of the weather by going hiking if it is dry

Although most buildings in Hong Kong have air-conditioning to cope with the summer weather, winter heating is something of a novelty During the coldest days, the lack of heating and thermal insulation can be a challenge, especially at bath time Curiously, buses and many restaurants will continue to use air-conditioning to freshen the air, even on the coldest days


Its quick rise as an economic power and unique mix of East and West has made Hong Kong an interesting destination to write about Much has been written about its history, politics, economy, culture and social matters, and it has figured as an ideal background in many fictional works as well Reading some of these books enables you to further understand the culture of Hong Kong before actually visiting it

  • Myself a Mandarin Oxford in Asia, Austin Coates This book contains the memoirs of Austin Coates Each chapter is an entertaining episode of the Englishman's time as a colonial magistrate in the New Territories district
  • East and West: China, Power, and the Future of Asia Macmillan, Chris Patten The memoires of Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong Published in 1998, Patten provides his account of Hong Kong in the final years before the handover to China
  • Gweilo: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood Bantam Books, Martin Booth A well-written book that offers an insight into colonial life in Hong Kong through the eyes of a young English boy This is a popular book that can be highly recommended
  • Hong Kong: Epilogue to an Empire Penguin Books, Jan Morris In this well-written and detailed overview of the territory by a noted Welsh travel writer Morris alternates chapters on Hong Kong's history with descriptions of its geography, economy, politics and society The book includes descriptive portraits of some of Hong Kong's leading politicians and entrepreneurs
  • The World of Suzie Wong Fontana Press Richard Mason A classic novel published in 1957, later adapted to film in 1961 Set in Hong Kong, it is the fictional story of a young expat's romance with a Chinese woman
  • Hong Kong Landscapes: Shaping the Barren Rock Hong Kong University Press, Bernie Owen and Raynor Shaw Beautifully illustrated, this is a fascinating guide to the territory's geology and geomorphology

When to visit

Weather— For those who are seeking warm, dry and sunny weather, the ideal time is October to December Those who are wanting to escape the humidity of tropical climates will appreciate the cooler months of January to March The temperature ranges from 9°C to 24°C during winter, and from 26°C to 33°C during summer The humidity is typically high in the spring and worse in the summer, when high temperatures usual maximum of 32-34°C are often recorded

Events — During Chinese New Year, whilst there are some extra celebratory events such as a lion dances, fireworks, and parades, many shops and restaurants are closed for three to five days The official public holiday lasts three days

Culture lovers will be able to feast on a multitude of cultural activities from February to April The Hong Kong Arts Festival, a month-long festival of international performances, is held in February and March The Man Literary Festival, a two-week English language festival with international writers as guests, is held in March The Hong Kong International film festival, a three-week event, is held in late March to early April

Rugby fans, and those wishing to party, should come during the weekend of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens 2 This annual event brings many visitors in from around the world to celebrate the most entertaining installment in the IRB Sevens Series It is a giant three day sellout event that takes place between the last days of March and beginning of April

There is a second round of cultural activities in the autumn lasting till the end of the year

Christmas is also a nice time to visit as many stores since many shopping centres are nicely decorated and the festive mood is apparent across the city Major buildings facing the harbour are decorated in christmas lights to add to the festive spirit


For its electrical sockets, Hong Kong uses the British three-pin rectangular blade plug Additionally, some hotels will have a bathroom with a parallel three-pin outlet which is designed for use with electric shavers, but might be used to re-charge a phone or rechargeable batteries Electricity is 220 Volts at 50 Hertz

Talking in Hong Kong

For most Hong Kong people Cantonese is their mother tongue It is more or less the same as the Cantonese spoken in Guangzhou, but the Hong Kong version tends to incorporate some English words and slang, which may sound strange to other Cantonese speakers Cantonese is the lingua franca in many overseas Chinese communities and Guangdong and Guangxi province Like all the other Chinese "dialects", Cantonese is a tonal language and definitely not easy for foreigners to master, but locals always appreciate any effort by visitors to speak the local lingo, so learning a few simple greetings will get you aquainted with locals much more easily

Unlike Pinyin - standard romanization system for phoneticizing Mandarin, Cantonese so far hasn't developed a well recognized romanization system and local people seldom bother to learn them However, some accurate phonetics system do exist for learners, such as the Yale system or Jyutpin Like Taiwan, Hong Kong continues to use traditional Chinese characters and not simplified characters as used in the mainland, though almost all locals are able to read simplified Chinese All official signs are bilingual in both Chinese traditional and English

唔該 M̀h'gōi! Just one Cantonese word that will go a very long way in Hong Kong Learn this word and you can use it to say please, thank you and excuse me M̀h'gōi rhymes with boy and should be said with a cheery high tone rising at the end Give it a go


As a second language, English is less well spoken compared to the likes of Malaysia, India and the Philippines, although still used much more widely than in Thailand, mainland China, Korea and Japan Education in English begins in kindergarten, and fluency in English is often a pre-requisite for securing a good job As a result, English is spoken fluently by most professionals and business people In contrast, English proficiency tends to be more limited among the average working class person, particularly outside the main tourist areas In addition, while many people are able to understand written English pretty well, they may not necessarily be comfortable speaking it Nevertheless, most adult locals under the age of 40, including many shopkeepers and taxi drivers, know enough English for basic communication To improve your chances of being understood, speak slowly, stick to textbook-esque phrases and avoid using slang

English remains an official language of the SAR and so government offices are required by law to have English-speaking staff on dutyThere are two terrestrial English language TV stations: TVB Pearl and ATV World British English is still widely used in Hong Kong, especially in government documentation and legal documents In the media, the South China Morning Post and both terrestrial TV channels use British English Place names, such as Victoria Harbour not Harbor serve as a record of Hong Kong's colonial heritage However, modern buildings, such as the International Finance Centre not Center maintain the tradition of using British spellings

Most locals are not fluent in Mandarin, but can comprehend it to some degree As written Chinese is more or less the same regardless of the spoken variant, Mandarin speakers who are able to read and write in Chinese characters will be able to make themselves understood very easily Mandarin is compulsory in all government schools, so many younger locals will be able to speak fairly decent, albeit heavily accented Mandarin Mandarin proficiency has been improving rapidly since the handover, and tourists from the mainland are now the biggest spenders in Hong Kong, so almost all shops in the main tourist areas, as well as all government offices will have Mandarin-speaking staff on duty

What to see in Hong Kong

Almost no portrait of Hong Kong could be complete without its magnificent skyline Best is to go to the Avenue of Stars at Tsim Sha Tsui or Taiping Hill You may choose to take the Star Ferry 35 which runs frequently from Tsim Sha Tsui, Central, Wan Chai, Kowloon City, and Hung Hom


  • The Wikitravel itinerary A week near Hong Kong has suggestions for travel from Hong Kong to nearby destinations
  • Another itinerary Overland Kunming to Hong Kong covers one route to or from Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong Culinary Tour gives a short tour to discover the unique cuisine of Hong Kong

Guided Walk

Hong Kong Tourism Board offers many free walking tours, including the Nature Kaleidoscope Walk and Architecture Walk

Victoria Peak

Get a stunning view of Hong Kong Island on Victoria Peak atop the giant, wok-shaped Peak Tower! Ever since the dawn of British colonisation, the Peak hosted the most exclusive neighbourhood for the territory's richest residents, where local Chinese weren't permitted to live until after World War II

At the Peak, the Peak Tower serves not only as an observation platform, it also doubles as a shopping mall offering shops, fine dining and museums The Peak Tram runs from Central to the bottom of the Peak Tower Although views of Kowloon and Victoria Harbour can be stunning, be prepared for the view to be spoilt by air pollution There is no point in spending extra money to visit the observation deck of the Peak Tower There are a number of nice walks around the Peak Tower the offers similar, if not nicer, views of all sides of the island You will be able to catch a laser show at 8PM every night

Although the Peak Tram offers a direct route to The Peak, a more picturestque and cheaper though slower way of reaching it is by taking bus 15 not 15C from the Star Ferry pier in Central Not only is it cheaper but, as the bus snakes up the mountain, you can enjoy beautiful views of both sides of Hong Kong island and passing the territory's pricest neighbourhoods

Horse Racing

The racing season runs from September to June, during which time racings take place twice weekly, with the location alternating between Shatin in the New Territories and Happy Valley near Causeway Bay MTR station Both racing locations are easily accessible by MTR but Happy Valley is the more convenient, historic and impressive location although live races only take place here on Wednesday nights For only a $10 entrance fee, a night in Happy Valley can be filled with rowdy entertainment Get a local Chinese gambler to explain the betting system to you and then drink cheap draft beer! Be sure to pick up the Racing Post section in the South China Morning Post on Wednesday to guide you A 'beer garden' with racing commentary in English is available at Happy Valley near the finish line where many expatriates congregate during the races One good tip: bring your passport and get in at tourist rate of $1

Betting can also be placed at any of 100+ branches of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Expect long lines and big crowds The Hong Kong Jockey Club is a nonprofit charitable organization and the only institution permitted to conduct legal horse-racing in the territory

Be aware that horse racing is a religion in Hong Kong with live broadcasts over the radio Large segments of the adult population will place bets and there will be no shortage of racing tips from punters Just remember that when people are listening to the races, whether in a taxi or restaurant or on the streets, expect no conversation or business to transpire for the 1-2 minute duration of the race

Local life

The most effective way to know how Hong Kong people live is to observe the local life of an ordinary Hong Kong resident Just wander and observe - and don't worry - most areas in town are safe

Traditional heritage

There are many traditional heritage locations throughout the territory

  • Heritages in Central District 36
  • Ping Shan Heritage Trail 37 in Tin Shui Wai, New Territories
  • Kowloon Walled City Park 38 in Kowloon City, Kowloon
  • Tsang Tai Uk 39 in the New Territories
  • Che Kung Temple 40 in Sha Tin, New Territories
  • Man Mo Temple and Fu Shin Street Traditional Bazaar 41 in the New Territories
  • Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas 42Located 5 minute walk from Shatin MTR station This is one of the best temples to visit in Hong Kong There are over 12,000 buddha and you can usually see monkeys There is also a pagoda that you can climb If you are hungry before you climb the large number of stairs there is also a very delicious hot pot restaurant on the way Although, at the top of the hill there are also amazing vegetarian spring rolls
  • Stilt houses in Tai O a traditional fishing village
  • Po Lin Monastery and the Tien Tan Buddha Statue on Ngong Ping, which can now be accessed by riding on the Ngong Ping Cable Car that takes you to the massive golden buddha on Lantau Island A 20-25 minute ride on the Cable Car with a fantastic view of the island and a great way addition to this already amazing trip


There are a variety of museums in Hong Kong with different themes, arguably the best museum is the Hong Kong Museum of History 43 which gives an excellent overview of Hong Kong's fascinating past Not the typical pots-behind-glass format of museums you find elsewhere in China Innovative galleries such as a mock-up of a colonial era street make history come to life Allow about two hours to view everything in detail

The following is a list of major museums in Hong Kong:

  • Dialogue in the Dark 44 An exhibition in complete darkness Experience five different Hong Kong themed environments using your non-visual senses with the help of a visually impaired guide Reservations in advance are recommended
  • Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum Central 45
  • Fireboat Alexander Grantham Exhibition Gallery Quarry Bay Park 46
  • Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware Hong Kong Park 47
  • Hong Kong Film Archive Sai Wan Ho 48
  • Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre Kowloon Park 49
  • Hong Kong Heritage Museum Shatin 50 Housed in an impressive modern Chinese-style building, this museum will appeal to those who have a serious interest in Chinese culture
  • Hong Kong Maritime Museum Stanley 51
  • Hong Kong Museum of Art Tsim Sha Tsui- 52 Hong Kong Museum of Art is a fascinating, strange and elusive place The entrance lies up one floor, mimicking the “temple” approach to the high altar of culture and art Once you arrive on the first floor, you are bathed in light from the wall of glass that gives you a panoramic view of Hong Kong Island The objects on show are Chinese ceramics, terracotta, rhinoceros horn and Chinese paintings There is also a temporary exhibition space devoted to items from their own collection with additional lent material There is also space for contemporary art produced by Hong Kong artists, most of whom have moved away from the traditional Chinese art forms to fusion art with North American and British influence, reflecting Hong Kong's colonial past
  • Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence Shau Kei Wan 53 Despite its dry title, this museum is worth a visit if you enjoy military history
  • Hong Kong Museum of History Tsim Sha Tsui 54
  • Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences Mid-levels 55 The neighbour of one of the earliest hospitals in Hong Kong, Tung Wah Hospital, this museum shows how the healthcare system evolved from traditional Chinese medicine to modern Western medicine, via the establishment of numerous hospitals and the first medical school now the University of Hong Kong, of which Dr Sun Yat-sen was a student
  • Hong Kong Police Museum The Peak 56
  • Hong Kong Railway Museum Tai Po 57
  • Hong Kong Science Museum Tsim Sha Tsui East- 58 A museum which decided to make an architectural statement about its purpose, yet somehow got it horribly wrong This museum is primarily aimed at children The maths puzzles and optical illusions on the top floor are challenging There is a giant Rube Goldberg machine spanning the entire museum that is run for a few minutes every two hours The cafeteria is closed and part of the museum is undergoing renovation as of July 2008
  • Hong Kong Space Museum Tsim Sha Tsui 59
  • Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre Hong Kong Park 60
  • Law Uk Folk Museum Chai Wan 61 This museum is probably the only tourist attraction in Chai Wan
  • Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum Sham Shui Po 62
  • Madame Tussauds The Peak 63 The usual Tussauds waxworks with characters that appeal to Chinese interests


Contrary to popular belief, Hong Kong is not all skyscrapers, and it is worthwhile to go to the countryside over 70% of Hong Kong, including the country parks 64 and marine parks 65 Many are surprised to find that Hong Kong is actually home to some stunning landscapes and breathtaking scenery

  • Lantau Island is twice as big as Hong Kong island and is well worth checking out if you want to get away from the bright lights and pollution of the city for a spell Here you will find open countryside, traditional fishing villages, secluded beaches, monasteries and more You can hike, camp, fish and mountain bike, amongst other activities
  • In the waters just off Tung Chung on Lantau Island, live the Chinese White Dolphins These dolphins are naturally pink and live in the wild, but their status is currently threatened, with it current population estimated to be between 100-200 Take a boat trip with Hong Kong Dolphinwatch 66 to see these pink dolphins, and if you're lucky you can watch them jumping and playing
  • The Sai Kung peninsula is also a worthwhile place to visit Its mountainous terrain and spectacular coastal scenery make this a special place If you like challenging routes, try going to Sharp Peak Nam She Tsim in Cantonese Sharp Peak is famous for its steep slope with a height of more than 400m The view from the top is fantastic For a more relaxed route, try to walk along Section 2 of Maclehose Trail
  • Hong Kong Wetland Park 67 is a relaxing park set amidst an ecological mitigation area One can stroll along a network of board walks built over the marshy area and watch birds from a tower The park also features a large visitors centre/museum The museum has many interactive exhibits ideal for children, as well as some live animal habitats To visit, take MTR West Rail to Tin Shui Wai Station, then the #705 light rail to Wetland Park The park is pushchair and wheelchair friendly
  • North East New Territories is also famous for its natural environment Yan Chau Tong Marine Park is in the North East New Territories A few traditional abandoned villages are connected with hiking trails in the territory North East New Territories is one of the famous hiking hot spot for the locals
  • Short hiking trails 2 hours can be found on Hong Kong Island and the New Territories You can even hike up to the Victoria Peak
  • There are some outlying islands are also worth to visit, eg: Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, Ping Chau, Tap Mun, Tung Lung Island
  • For further information, please visit the homepage of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department 68

Theme parks

  • Hong Kong Disneyland 69 opened on September 12, 2005 It is on Lantau Island, about 12km east of the Hong Kong International Airport, and may be reached via the MTR Disneyland Resort Line from Sunny Bay Station note that to get to Disneyland from the airport, you must make two connections, the first at Tsing Yi and the second at Sunny Bay; in this case it probably would make more sense to just take a taxi Though significantly smaller in size than other Disney parks elsewhere, it does offer some great attractions including "Space Mountain" roller coaster, "Festival of the Lion King" stage show, "Golden Mickeys" stage show, "Mickey's PhilharMagic 4D" show, and an updated "It's a Small World" boat ride and very short queues most of the year except the week of Chinese New Year Three new theme lands Mystic Point, Grizzly Trail, and Toy Story Land will open in the few years to come, and a tract of land has been reclaimed directly across from the park's entrance, so a second theme park should open there someday The park also features two hotels, Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and Disney's Hollywood Hotel
  • Ocean Park 70 is on the southern side of Hong Kong island, and is the park that grew up with many local Hong Kong people With roller coasters and large aquariums altogether, it is still packed on weekends with families and tourists after opening to the public for 30 years The cablecar is an icon and an essential link between the two parts of the park The views of the South China Sea from the cable car is always terrific It would be fair to say that many local people would choose Ocean Park if they had to pick a single theme park to attend For many, the chance to see Hong Kong's pandas would be a deciding factor Young adults will be attracted to the wider range of rides There are also large festivals each year, including summer, Halloween and Christmas The Halloween Bash on weekends of October and November, and on 29-31 Nov is often considered the most successful, with a large number of haunted hosues and creepy performers that will keep you screaming You can get to Ocean Park by a direct bus ride from Admiralty MTR station; it will be the first stop after you clear the Aberdeen Tunnel
  • Ngong Ping 360 71 is a Buddhist themed park that features Imperial Chinese architecture, interactive shows, demonstrations, restaurants and coffee shops Although the destination might not appeal, the highlight of this trip is the longest cable car ride in Hong Kong that affords stunning views of Lantau Island and Hong Kong International Airport The ride also takes you to the largest outdoor seated Buddha, which is situated at the end of Ngong Ping Village Be aware that the Buddha is accessible by walking up around 200 steps Take the MTR to Tung Chung Station, which is next to Ngong Ping 360

Seeing different sides of Hong Kong by Public Transport

Travelling on a bus or a tram is ideal for looking at different sides of Hong Kong Not only it is cheap to ride on a bus or a tram, it also allows you to see completely different lifestyles in different districts in a short time Below are some recommended routes


  • KMB Route 270A72 starts from the downtown in Jordan, Kowloon It goes along Peninsular Kowloon and heads through the New Territories Then it goes into Sha Tin Afterwards it goes through Tai Po Road, where you can see many traditional Chinese villages and the scenic Chinese University of Hong Kong The bus further goes to Tai Po and you can see the traditional Market After Tai Po, the bus again passes through the countryside and eventually reaches its terminus at Sheung Shui below Landmark North, which is near the Hong Kong - Shenzhen boundary The journey takes 80 minutes and costs $13 for the whole journey with a air-conditioned bus The TST Eastbound train back to the city can be taken from Sheung Shui
  • NWFB Route 15 73 starts from Central Exchange Square to The Peak It is an alternative way for getting to The Peak by bus rather than by Peak Tram Your journey to Hong Kong will not be complete unless you have visited the Victoria Peak You can see the beautiful view of Hong Kong Island, Victoria Habour and Kowloon Peninsula along the Stubbs road during the journey When you arrive, there are two shopping malls: The Peak Tower and The Peak Galleria, which provide restaurants, a supermarket, and souvenir shops for your convenience In addition, you can visit the infamous Madame Tussauds Hong Kong 74 and see if the mannequins look to be the real deal Direction: you can take MTR and get off at Hong Kong station You can approach Hong Kong station by the underpass from Central station After that, follow the exit B1 to Exchange Square and you will see the bus terminus You can also get off at Admiralty station Then, follow the C1 exit towards Queensway Plaza Make a right after you exit the station, and you will see the bus stop After you get on the bus, just stay on until it arrives to The Peak bus terminus The bus fare is $98 and it takes about 30 minutes for the journey
  • Citybus Route 973 75 Route 973 starts from the Tsim Sha Tsui East Bus Terminus which is located at the Concordia Plaza, which is directly opposite the Science Museum at Science Museum Road It goes along Salisbury Road, where the Avenue of Stars, The Space Museum and the Art Museum is located Later it goes to University of Hong Kong, which is the most prominent and the oldest university in Hong Kong after crossing the Western Harbour Crossing It later pass through the country side of the southern part of Hong Kong 76 It will reach the Hong Kong southern side, where the Jumbo/Tai Pak Floating Restaurant 77 is located at Aberdeen Not long after, the bus passes through a football field, which is a 5-10 minutes walk to the Ocean Park Finally, the bus passes through the beautiful sandy beach of Repulse Bay, before it actually arrive its terminus station at Stanley Village, where the famous Murray House and the Stanley Village Market is located The fare is $136 and it takes about 95 minutes for the journey
  • Citybus Route H1, H2

These two are rickshaw-themed double deckers going to main heritage spots on Hong Kong Island, such as LegCo in Central and the University of Hong Kong A day pass cost $50, and you can hop on and hop off at any stop


  • Take a tram journey on Hong Kong Island

The tram system refers to is Hong Kong Tramways 78, a slow yet special form of transport running on Hong Kong Island It has been operating since 1904 and is an obvious relic of the British administration A trip on a tram is a perfect way to have a leisurely tour around Hong Kong Island's major streets and to have a glimpse of the local life Fares are relatively cheap, just two dollars per trip for an adult and one dollar for Senior citizens age 65 or older and children

It is recommended to ride from as far as Kennedy Town in the west, to as far as Shau Kei Wan in the east, in order to get a strong contrast of "East meets West" and "Old meets New"

A new, modern, tram system operates in the north west New Territories and serves New Towns between Yuen Long and Tuen Mun Few tourists will be inspired by these trams but they may appeal to trainspotters

Avenue of Stars and A Symphony of Lights

Hong Kong's version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Avenue of Stars 79 celebrates icons of Hong Kong cinema from the past century The seaside promenade offers fantastic views, day and night, of Victoria Harbour and its iconic skyline This is the place to have your picture taken by a professional photographer who is experienced in night photography The Avenue can be reached from the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station or the Star Ferry

The Avenue of the Stars is also a great place to see A Symphony of Lights 80, a spectacular light and laser show synchronised to music and staged every night at 8:00PM This is the world's "Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show" as recognised by the Guinness World Records On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the light show is in English On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday it is in Mandarin On Sunday it is in Cantonese While at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, spectators can tune their radios to FM1034 MHz for English narration, FM1068 MHz for Cantonese or FM1079 for Mandarin The same soundtrack can be accessed via mobile phones at 35665665 for the English version where normal telephone rates apply However, whilst the show is not such a big deal, during festival times the light show is supplemented by fireworks that are worth seeing

What to do in Hong Kong


  • Chinese Lunar New Year 農曆新年 Although this may seem like an ideal time to go to Hong Kong, many shops and restaurants close down during the Chinese New Year However, unlike Christmas in Europe where you can hardly find shops open on this big day, you can still get food and daily products easily during the Lunar New Year period The week or two leading up to the Chinese New Year as well as the period just after the third day up to the fifteenth day are good times to soak up the festive mood and listen to Chinese New Year songs being played in the shops
  • Spring Lantern Festival 元宵節 If you go to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, you will be able to experience this traditional Chinese festival A number of beautiful lanterns can be found in the park at this time
  • Ching Ming Festival 清明節 This festival in Spring is also known as grave sweeping day To show respect to the deceased, family members go to the grave of their ancestors to sweep away leaves and remove weeds around the grave area Paper offerings are also burned, such as fake money
  • Cheung Chau Bun Festival 長洲太平清醮 This is takes place on the tiny island of Cheung Chau In the past the festival has involved competitions with people climbing bun towers to snatch buns After the unfortunate collapse of a bun tower in 1978, due to an overload of people, the competition was abandoned It was resumed again in 2005 with better safety measures
  • Tuen Ng Festival 端午節 This is a festival in memory of a national hero from the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history Dragon boat races are typically held during this festival and glutinous rice dumplings, usually with pork fillings, are eaten by many

  • Hungry Ghost Festival 中元節 This festival runs throughout the seventh month of the Chinese calendar It is believed that the gates of hell open during this period and hungry ghosts are allowed to roam freely into our world Though not a public holiday, this is the time where one can see many people perform various rites to appease the wandering ghosts, such as offering food and burning joss paper One can also see traditional performances such as Chinese opera which are held to appease these ghosts
  • Mid Autumn Festival / Moon Festival 中秋節 This festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month Moon cakes which contain lotus seed paste and duck egg yolks are a popular delicacy Many Western people will find the traditional mooncake hard to appreciate, so you might like to try the ice-cream version as well The festival is also known as the lantern festival and various parts of Hong Kong will be festooned with decorative lanterns which set the night scene ablaze with colour
  • Chung Yeung Festival 重陽節 Is a day also known as Autumn Remembrance, which is similar to Ching Ming in spring, where families visit the graves of their ancestors to perform cleansing rites and pay their respects As the weather cools down during this part of the year, hiking is a good activity to do during this holiday
  • Halloween 萬聖節 Halloween has grown rapidly in popularity and many people dress up to party till late Trick or treat is not common but most restaurants and shopping centres are decorated and have special programmes For young adults and teenagers, Ocean Park is the place to be for Halloween fun It is not a public holiday
  • Christmas 聖誕節 Christmas is celebrated Hong Kong style The city is adorned using traditional Western Christmas decorations Many shopping centres, such as Pacific Place, offer ample opportunities for children to meet Santa Most shops and restaurants remain open throughout Christmas You should expect large crowds out shopping for the Christmas sales
  • New Year's Eve 元旦除夕 New Year's Eve in Hong Kong is something to check out if you are seeking a carnival experience Hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets to celebrate the New Year is truly an unforgettable time There are all-night services on the MTR, night-buses, and of course, many taxis Fireworks go off on the harbour front, which a lot of people attend to watch on both sides of the harbour: Tsim Sha Tsui Kowloon side and Central Hong Kong Island The young adults and older adults decide to party with the rest of Hong Kong at the hot-spots such as Causeway Bay, Lan Kwai Fong and Tsim Sha Tsui Many people dress up and attend private parties and others flock to the streets to enjoy the atmosphere Police patrol around popular areas to make sure the city is a safe party-zone Hong Kong people are not great drinkers and most of them stay dry for the night Drinking alcohol on the street is uncommon So visitors who drink should moderate their behaviour or risk being screened out by the police as the only drunks in the crowd


Ride the tram between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan The journey takes round 80 minutes and costs $2 The Hongkong Tramways run between the West and East of Hong Kong Island Starting from the old district Kennedy Town, you can see the residental areas, followed by the Chinese herbal medicine and dried seafood wholesalers in Sai Ying Pun - Sheung Wan Then the tram goes in the famous Central district with high rise commercial buildings and banks Wan Chai and Causeway Bay are the districts popular with shoppers and are always crowded with people at all times Travelling further east are North Point and Shau Kei Wan areas, which are of completely different styles from that in Central and Causeway Bay


Hong Kong is one of the main centres of Chinese pop culture with a huge and vibrant entertainment industry, and is home to many famous singers and actors such as Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Wong Ka Kui Beyond and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai just to name a few In addition to the locals, any foreign bands touring Asia are pretty much guaranteed to perform in Hong Kong, and concerts by famous singers are often a sell out affair


You are never far from the sea in Hong Kong and going to a good beach is only a bus-ride away However, if you want a really good beach, then it is worth making the effort to travel, possibly on foot, and seek out the beaches of the New Territories Hong Kong's urban beaches are usually well maintained and have services such as showers and changing rooms Where beaches are managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Dept shark nets and life guards are present Dogs and smoking are not permitted on these beaches

When on Hong Kong Island the best beaches to use include:

Repulse Bay is a large urban beach on the south side of Hong Kong island It has recently had money spent on its facilities and will appeal to those who have young children

Middle Bay is popular with gay people and is a 20 minute walk from the crowds at Repulse Bay Middle Bay has lifeguards, showers, changing rooms, shark nets and a decent cafe serving drinks and snacks

Shek O is a beach popular with many young Hong Kong people It is away from the bustle of the city but is well served by restaurants and has a good bus service from the north side of the island The Thai restaurant close to the beach is worth a try

Big Wave Bay This beach is smaller than others on Hong Kong Island but still has good services which include a number of small cafes close to the beach Big Wave Bay, as the name suggests, has the sort of waves that appeal to surfers From Big Wave Bay it is possible to take the coastal footpath to Chai Wan where you can find the MTR and buses The walk to Chai Wan is about one hour, or more if you are not used to the steep climb up the mountain

Swimming Pools

If your hotel does not have a pool or you have concerns about swimming in the sea, then public swimming baths are a great place to cool off when the heat and the humidity is too much to bear Swimming pools are built and maintained to a very high standard in Hong Kong and cost very little to use $19 for adults and $9 children Swimming pools are great places for young children to play and most pools cater for their needs with shallow pools and fountains All swimming pool complexes offer swimming lanes and swimming clubs for serious swimmers

The Kowloon Park swimming pool complex Tsim Sha Tsui MTR exit A1 is centrally located and offers visitors a wide range of services Indoors is a main pool that is Olympic sized, a slightly smaller training pool, a diving pool and a leisure pool for younger swimmers During the summer months the indoor pools are air-conditioned, whilst in winter the water is heated Outdoors, during the summer season, they have four leisure pools to meet the needs of all ages In summer, the pool is popular with teenagers but all age-groups make good use of the pools A limited number of sun loungers are available

The pools in Kowloon Park open at 6:30AM and close at 10PM There are session breaks when the centre closes for lunch at 12PM until 1PM and then it closes for another hour from 5PM to 6PM Most public pools in Hong Kong have similar opening and closing times

Family changing rooms are available in addition to the regular changing rooms Males and females have separate changing areas but changing rooms do not offer much privacy between users of the same sex Swimmers are expected to provide their own towels and toiletries A $5 coin is needed to operate a locker or you can provide your own padlock An Octopus card or coins are needed for payment to enter the complex

There are six public pools on Hong Kong island and a further 12 are located across the Kowloon peninsula More pools of the same high standard are to be found in the New Territories The pool located in Victoria Park is perhaps the least good because of its ageing facilities and close proximity to a major elevated highway


You can rent out a Junk Boat for a sailing trip with your family and friends A typical junk boat can accommodate more than 30 people and can be rented for the day to take you on a tour of your choice Sai Kung is a popular spot for the trip to start and you can sail to nearby beaches for a more secluded time A cheaper alternative is to hire a much smaller water taxi 水道 to take you to where you want to go

Hiking and Camping

Hiking is the best kept secret in Hong Kong, it is a great way to appreciate Hong Kong's beautiful landscapes that include mountains, beaches and breathtaking cityscapes The starting points for many hiking trails are accessible by bus or taxi Hiking is highly recommended for active travellers who want to escape the modern urban world

Hiking in Hong Kong can be strenuous because of the steep trails, and during the summer months, mosquitos and the hot, humid, weather combine to make even the easiest trek a workout It is highly recommended that you wear suitable clothes, and bring plenty of water and mosquito repellent It is fairly unlikely that you will have a close encounter with venomous snakes, although they are present in most rural areas Most local people choose the winter months to undertake the more demanding hiking trails If you are not especially fit you might plan your route so that you take a bus or taxi to the highest point of the trail and then walk downhill

Campsites in Hong Kong are plentiful and free of charge Most are located within the country parks and range from basic sites serviced with only with a drop-toilet, to those that provide campers with modern toilet blocks with cold showers Some sites have running water and sinks for washing dishes A few campsites have places to buy drinking water and food, whilst many are serenely remote Weekends and public holidays are predictably busy, especially in the more accessible places close to roads Many Hong Kong people like to camp in large groups, talk loudly and stay awake until very late, so if you are noise sensitive try to find a remote campsite or learn to keep your temper

There are four major trails in the Hong Kong SAR:

  • Lantau Trail on Lantau
  • Hong Kong Trail on Hong Kong Island
  • Maclehose Trail through the New Territories Oxfam organizes an annual charity hike of this 100Km trail every November Winning teams finish in around 11-12 hours but average people take 30-36 hours to finish the whole trail, which starts from the eastern end of the New Territories Sai Kung to the western end Tuen Mun
  • Wilson Trail starting on Hong Kong Island and finishing in the New Territories

Hong Kong has some exceptional rural landscapes but visitor impact is an issue Please respect the countryside by taking your litter home with you Avoid using litter bins in remote areas as these are not emptied on a regular basis and your litter may be strewn around by hungry animals

Hong Kong Outdoors 81 is packed with information on hiking and camping, and other great things to do and places to go in the wilderness areas of Hong Kong

List of Locations in Hong Kong where you can hike


Horse racing may get all the media attention, but mahjong 麻雀 ma jeuk also forms an integral part of Hong Kong gambling culture Mahjong also has had a strong influence on Hong Kong pop culture, with a history of songs and films based on a mahjong theme The game played in Hong Kong is the Cantonese version, which differs in rules and scoring from the Japanese version or the versions played in other parts of China Mahjong parlours are ubiquitous in Hong Kong, though they do not advertise their services openly and many require a fair amount of effort to find They also have many unwritten rules that visitors may find hard to understand

Betting on world-wide football matches is also available at the Hong Kong Jockey Club

Buying stuff in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong dollar 港幣 or HKD is the territory's official currency and is the unit of currency used throughout this travel guide In Chinese, one dollar is known formally as the yuen 元 and colloquially as the men 蚊 in Cantonese

The official exchange rate is fixed at 780 HKD to 1 USD, although bank rates may fluctuate slightly When exchanging currency at a big bank, be prepared to pay a small fixed commission, usually about $40 per transaction If exchanging large amounts, this commission will have a negligible impact on the transaction If exchanging small amounts, it may be advantageous to exchange at one of many independent exchange shops found in tourist areas Although their exchange rates compared with big banks are slightly less favourable for you, most do not charge a commission They may also be more convenient and faster ways to exchange no queues, located in shopping centres, open 24 hours, etc However, be wary of using independent exchangers outside banking hours because, without competition from big banks, their rates may become very uncompetitive

Many tourists opt to use their ATM debit cards instead of carrying cash or traveller's cheques Using this method, the exchange rates and fees are comparable to exchanging cash at big banks However, some smaller banks do not accept ATM cards from overseas customers The best banks for foreign tourists to use are HSBC, Hang Seng and Standard Chartered Also, be mindful of withdrawal limits imposed by your bank

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority HKMA issues the new purple plastic $10 notes while the rest are issued by three banks the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, also known as the 'Hong Kong bank', Standard Chartered Bank and Bank of China The old green paper $10 notes issued by HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank remain legal tender The style of notes varies a lot between banks though the colour and size are about the same for notes of the same denomination The larger the denomination, the larger the size of the banknotes Banknotes come in denominations of:

  • $10, green or purple paper or plastic
  • $20, dark blue or light blue old or new
  • $50, purple or green old or new
  • $100, red
  • $500, brown
  • $1000, gold

Some shops do not accept $1000 notes due to counterfeiting concerns

The coins come in units of

  • $10, in bronze/silver, circular
  • $5, in silver, circular, thicker
  • $2, in silver, wavey-circular
  • $1, in silver, circular, thinner
  • 50¢, in bronze, circular, larger
  • 20¢, in bronze, wavey-circular
  • 10¢, in bronze, circular, smaller

varying in a descending size except $10 coin

Since September 1997, the use of the small coins and change has been reduced due to the innovation of the Octopus card Originally used just for fare payment for the MTR and buses, it now is used all over the city, for purchases in any amount at convenience stores, fast food restaurants, pharmacies, vending machines, etc

Automated Teller Machines ATM's are common in urban areas They usually accept VISA, MasterCard, and to certain degree UnionPay Maestro and Cirrus cards are widely accepted also They dispense $100, $500 or rarely $1000 notes depending on the request Credit card use is common in most shops for major purchases Most retailers accept VISA and MasterCard, and some accept American Express as well Maestro debit cards however are not widely accepted by retailers Signs with the logo of different credit cards are usually displayed at the door to indicate which cards are accepted For small purchases, in places such as McDonalds or 7-Eleven, cash or Octopus Card is the norm


Hong Kong is relatively expensive by Asian standards, though still somewhat cheaper than Japan A traveller on a bare bones budget can probably get by with about $300 for a day, but you'll want to double, or even triple that for comfort The cheapest food available will cost you in the region of $20 for a serving, though in the most expensive restaurants, bills in excess of $1000 is not unheard of


Tourists can make fools of themselves, especially if they try to tip in the wrong place and in excessive amounts Tipping is only practiced in limited situations by local people and it's not expected for every little service such as a taxi driver, or a waiter Unlike Japan, where it can be offensive to tip, people will not reject any tips you care to hand them Tipping is a matter of personal choice, but visitors should take into account that locals usually do not leave a tip A generous tip given in London or New York, will probably be regarded as crass arrogance in Hong Kong Visitors should also know that it is common for bar and restaurant owners to keep some, or all, of the money given as tips

In cheaper joints, tipping is not expected at all and you would be very unwise not to take all your change In medium-to-upmarket restaurants, a 10% service charge is often compulsorily added to your bill and this is usually regarded as the tip You may wish to tip on top of the service charge for good service, but it is neither complusory nor expected It is also common for midrange Chinese restaurants to give you peanuts, tea and towels and add a small charge to the bill Known as "cha-sui money" money for tea and water it is considered to be common practice So, unless the charge is excessive, tourists should accept it as part of the cost of the meal Sometimes, restaurants will deliberately give customers change in coins, when bills should be given; it is your choice to either take all your change or leave a small tip

Tipping is not expected in taxis but passengers will often round up the fare to the nearest dollar During a typhoon, when any loss is not covered by insurance, a tip will be expected, or the taxi driver will ask you to pay a surcharge In hotels, a guest is also expected to tip at least $10-20 for room service, and porters also expect $10-20 for carrying your bags Bathroom attendants in luxury restaurants and clubs might also expect you to leave a few coins, but it's socially acceptable not to tip

Exceptionally, on important occasions, such as a wedding party or similar big gala event, local people do tip more than ten percent of the total bill The money is put into a red envelope and given to the manager


Fierce competition, no sales tax and some wealthy consumers all add up to make Hong Kong an excellent destination for shopping Choices are plentiful at competitive price Lookout for watches, camping equipment, digital items and special cosmetics

Popular shopping items include consumer electronics, custom clothing, shoes, camping equipment, jewellery, expensive brand name goods, Chinese antiques, toys and Chinese herbs/medicine There's also a wide choice of Japanese, Korean and European clothing and cosmetics but price could be higher than where they were imported from

Most shops in Hong Kong's urban areas open at about 10AM until 10PM to midnight every day High rental costs in Hong Kong, ranked second worldwide according to Forbes, makes it no surprise that the best bargain shops could be located anywhere except the ground floor Shops recommended by local people may even be up on the 20th floor in a building that won't give you a hint that it's a place for shopping

In the old days, Hong Kong was a good place to buy cheap knockoff, fake products, and pirated videos and software Today, Hong Kong residents often buy these items in Shenzhen just across the border in mainland China

Antiques and Arts- Head for Hollywood Road and Loscar Road in Central Here you will find a long street of shops with a wide selection of products that look like antiques Some items are very good fakes, so make sure you know what you are buying Try Star House near the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui for more expensive items

Books- Hong Kong houses a fair choice of English books, Japanese, French titles, and huge range of uncensored Chinese tiles Prices are usually higher than where they import but it is your last hope to look for your books before heading to China Try Swindon Books 83 on Lock Road in Tsim Sha Tsui and Page One 84 in Times Square Causeway Bay and Festival Walk Kowloon Tong Dymocks, an Australian bookshops, is present in IFC and the Princes Building For French books, visit Librairie Parentheses on Wellington Street in Central and Japanese books are sold in Sogo Shopping Mall in Causeway bay The biggest local bookshop chain is the Commercial Press and usually have a cheaper but limited English titles For looking for Chinese books, local people's beloved bookshops are all along Sai Yeung Choi Street Called Yee Lau Sue Den Bookshop on second floor, they hided themselves in the upper floor of old buildings and offered an unbeatable discount on all books

Cameras- Reputable camera stores are located mainly in Central, Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok but tourist traps do exist, especially in Tsim Sha Tsui The basic rule is to avoid all the shops with flashing neon signs along Nathan Road and look for a shop with plenty of local, non-tourist, customers Only use recommended shops, as shops such as those on Nathan Road are likely to disappear on your next visit to Hong Kong For easy shopping, get an underground train to Mongkok and head to Sai Yeung Choi Street, where you might find some of the best deals The Mong Kok Computer Centre and Galaxy Mall Sing Jai are always packed with local people Several camera shops like Man-Sing and Yau-Sing are known for their impolite staff but have a reputation for selling at fair prices In the 1990s and early 2000s, most shops didn't allow much bargaining, but this has changed since 2003 with the influx of tourists from mainland China While it is hard to tell how much discount you should ask for, if a shop can give you more than 25-30% discount, local people tend to believe that it's too good to be true, unless it's a listed seasonal sale

Computers- The Wanchai Computer Centre, Mongkok Computer Centre and Golden Computer Arcade on Sham Shui Po are all a few steps away from their corresponding MTR stations

Computer Games and Gaming Hardware- If you are interested in buying a new Playstation, Nindendo DS and the like, the Oriental Shopping Centre, 188 Wan Chai Road, is the place to go Here you will definitely find a real bargain Prices can be up to 50% cheaper than in your home country Be careful to compare prices first The back corners in the upper levels usually offer the best prices You might even be lucky and find English speaking staff here However, be careful to make sure that the region code of the hardware is compatible with your home country's region code Hong Kong's region code is NTSC-J, different from mainland China or buy region code free hardware like the Nintendo DS lite

Music and Film- HMV is a tourist-friendly store that sells a wide range of more expensive products For real bargains you should find your way into the smaller shopping centres where you will find small independent retailers selling CDs and DVDs at very good prices Some shops sell good quality second hand products Try the Oriental Shopping Centre on Wanchai Road for a range of shops and a taste of shopping in a more down-market shopping centre Alternatively, brave the warren of CD and DVD shops inside the Sino Centre on Nathan Road between Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei MTR stations

Camping and sports- A good place to buy sportswear is close to Mong Kok MTR station Try Fa Yuen Street with a lot of shops selling sports shoes There are also many shops hidden anywhere except the ground floor for selling camping equipment Prices are usually highly competitive

Fashion - Tsim Sha Tsui on Kowloon and Causeway Bay on the island are the most popular shopping destinations, though you can find malls all over the territory The International Finance Centre in Central has a good selection of haute coutre labels for the filthy rich, while for cheap knock-offs, Temple Street in Mong Kok is the obvious destination, though prices are not as cheap as they used to be and these days, many locals head across the border to Shenzhen for cheaper bargains There is also a factory outlet mall located near Tung Chung MTR station on Lantau Island

Tea- Buying good chinese tea is like choosing a fine wine and there are many tea retailers that cater for the connoisseur who is prepared to pay high prices for some of China's best brews To sample and learn about Chinese tea you might like to find the Tea Museum which is in Hong Kong Park in Central Marks & Spencer caters for homesick Brits by supplying traditional strong English tea bags at a reasonable price

Watches and jewellery- Hong Kong people are avid watch buyers - how else can you show your wealth if you can't own a car and your home is hidden at the top of a tower-block? You will find a wide range of jewellery and watches for sale in all major shopping areas If you are targeting elegant looking jewellery or watches try Chow Tai Fook, which can be expensive Prices vary and you should always shop around and try and bargain on prices When you are in Tsim Sha Tsui you will probably be offered a "copy watch" for sale

Shopping Malls

  • Shopping Malls are everywhere in Hong Kong Locally renowned ones are:

  1. IFC Mall 85 - Located near the Star Ferry and Outlying Islands Ferry Piers in Central Has many luxury brand shops, an expensive cinema and superb views across the harbour from the rooftop Can be reached directly from the Airport via the Airport Express and the Tung Chung line
  2. Pacific Place 86- Also a big shopping centre with mainly high-end brands, and has a wonderful cinema Take the MTR to Admiralty
  3. Festival Walk 87- A big shopping centre with a mix of expensive brands and smaller chains There is also an ice skating rink there Take the MTR East Rail to Kowloon Tong
  4. Cityplaza 88- A similarly large shopping centre, also with an ice-skating rink To get there, take the MTR to Taikoo on the Island Line
  5. Landmark- Many the luxury brands have shops here Gucci, Dior, Fendi, Vuitton, etc located at Central, Pedder Street It used to be a magnet for the well-heeled but has since fallen behind in its management
  6. APM 89- All new 24hr Shopping centre in Kwun Tong Take the MTR to the Kwun Tong station
  7. Harbour City 90Huge Shopping centre in Tsim Sha Tsui on Canton Road, to get there take the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui, or take the Star Ferry
  8. Langham Place 91- A huge 12 storey shopping mall adjacent to the the Langham Place Hotel in Mong Kok Mainly contains trendy shops for youngsters Take the MTR to the Mong Kong station and follow the appropriate exit directions
  9. Elements 92- Located next to Kowloon Station Just like the IFC Mall, there are many luxury brand shops, a cinema and an ice rink The International Commerce Centre, the highest commercial building in Hong Kong starting from 2009, is right on top of this shopping mall
  10. Times Square 93- A trendy multi storey Shopping Mall with some luxury brands, with food courts at the lower levels, and Gourmet Dining at the upper stories Take MTR to Causeway Bay, and exit at "Times Square" Crowded on weekends A popular meeting point for teenagers
  11. Citygate Outlet 94- Located right next to Tung Chung MTR Station, the Citygate is a rare outlet mall with tonnes of mid-priced brands, some of them being Adidas, Esprit, Giordano, Levi's, Nike, Quiksilver and Timberland
  12. Laforet, Island Beverly and Causeway Place Best places to find cheap stylish clothes, Asian style Mostly girls clothes, but also bags, shoes and accessories, highly recommended if you are looking for something different Immensely popular with teenagers These three shopping malls are all located near exit E, Causeway Bay MTR station


Street markets are a phenomenon in Hong Kong, usually selling regular groceries, clothes, bags or some cheap electronic knockoffs

  1. Ladies Market- don't be fooled by the name It is for both sexes for finding cheap clothes, toys, knockoff and fake labels Located in Mong Kok and accessible by MTR or bus
  2. Temple Street - Sold items are the same as in the Ladies Market, but there are more street food vendors, a handful of fortune tellers and a few Chinese opera singers Illustrated in hundreds of cantonese films, this street is seen as a must by most tourists
  3. Flower Market - Prince Edward Follow your nose to the sweet scents of a hundred different varieties of flowers
  4. Goldfish Market- A whole street full of shops selling small fish in plastic bags and accessories Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok
  5. Bird Market- MTR Station Prince Edward, exit "Mong Kok Police Station" Walk down Prince Edward Road West until you reach Yuen Po Street "Bird Garden"
  6. Apliu Street- MTR Station Shum Shui Po, this is the place where you can find cheap computer goods, peripherals and accessories However, this is the worst place to buy a mobile phone, as they tend to be even more dodgy than small stores in Mongkok
  7. Stanley Market- A place for tourists rather than locals, shops sell everything from luxury luggage items to cheap brand name clothes Accessible with the number 40 minibus from Causeway Bay Also, no6 and 6A bus from Central, and no 973 bus from Tsim Sha Tsui
  8. Textiles - Sham Shui Po MTR exit Several square blocks around Nam Cheong St between Cheung Sha Wan Rd and Lai Chi Kok Rd hold dozens and dozens of wholesalers to the textile trade Although they are looking for big factory contracts, most shops are friendly and will sell you "sample-size" quantities of cloth, leather, haberdashery, tools, machinery and anything else you can think of to feed your creative impulses Ki Lung Street has an outdoor street market selling smaller quantities of factory surplus cloth and supplies at astoundingly low prices Haggling is not necessary

Discounts and haggling

Some stores in Hong Kong even some chain stores are willing to negotiate on price, particularly for goods such as consumer electronics Tourists, however, can look stupid, or in the worst case, be impolitely expelled if they ask for a 50% discount in most stores If there is a shop that is selling goods with a 50% discount, most local people will likely avoid buying there because it's too good to be true

Electronics stores are often packed together in the same place, so it is often easy to spend a few minutes comparing prices Start by asking for a 10 to 20% discount and see how they respond to you Sometimes it maybe appropriate to ask "is there any discount?" or "do I get any free gift?" It is sometimes possible to get an additional discount if you pay cash because credit card companies charge 3% on your bill

  • Tourist traps

The reputation for being a shopping paradise is well deserved in Hong Kong and, added to which, it is also a safe place to shop Overcharging is seen as an immoral business practice by most local people, and is unlikely to spoil your holiday Plenty of hotlines are available for complaints

In areas crowded with tourists, traps do exist They are often nameless consumer electronics stores with attention grabbing neon signs advertising reputable brand names Many traps can be spotted if they have numerous employees in a very small store space Often, several of these stores can be found in a row, especially along Nathan Road, in Kowloon and in parts of Causeway Bay

One trick is to offer you a low price on an item, take your money only to 'discover' that it is out of stock, and then offer you an inferior item instead Another trick is to give you a great price on a camera, take your credit card, and before handing over the camera convince you to buy another "better one" at an inflated cost They may also try to mislead you into buying an inferior product, by claiming that it is a quality product

Although the law is strictly enforced, tourists traps are usually designed by villains who are experts at exploiting gray areas in the law Remember, no one can help you if unscrupulous shop owners haven't actually broken the law

The official Hong Kong Tourism Board has also introduced the Quality Tourism Services QTS Scheme that keeps a list of reputable shops, restaurants and hotels The shops registered usually cater only to tourists, while shops that offer you the best deals usually don't bother to join the programme

  • Refunds

Many shops are reluctant to refund if you just don't like what you bought They are more willing to exchange products that haven't been tampered with or replace defective goods

Supermarkets and Convenience Stores

Like many crowded urban areas where most people rely on public transport, many Hong Kongers shop little and often, so therefore there is an abundance of convencience stores which can be found on almost every street corner and in most train stations These include 7-Eleven, Circle K known as 'OK' by the locals and Vanguard Convenience stores are more expensive but are normally open 24-7 and sell magazines, soft drinks, beer, instant noodles, packaged sandwiches, microwavable ready-meals, snacks, contraceptives and cigarettes Many stores have an in-store microwave for preparing ready-meals as well as hot water for preparing instant noodles and instant tea/coffee, and also provide chopsticks for eating food on the go

Park 'n' Shop and Wellcome are the two main supermarket chains in Hong Kong and they have branches in almost every neighbourhood, some of which open 24-7 In urban areas, some stores are located underground and tend to be very small and cramped, although they have a wide product choice and are somewhat cheaper than the above convenience stores City'super, Great and Taste are expensive upmarket supermarkets that focus on high-quality products that are aimed towards a more affluent market

Food and eating in Hong Kong

This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under $50
Mid-range $50-$300
Splurge Over $300

Cuisine plays an important part in many peoples lives in Hong Kong Not only is it a showcase of Chinese cuisines with huge regional varieties, but there are also excellent Asian and Western choices Although Western food is often adapted to local tastes, it is a good place for homesick travellers who have had enough of Chinese food If you can afford it, you can also find some Western restaurants that are featured in the Michelin guide to Hong Kong

Magazines for local gourmets are published every week and the Michelin Guide for Hong Kong has been published since 2008 According to Restaurant magazine in 2010, four of the best 100 restaurants in the world are in Hong Kong

A long queue seems to be a local sport in all good restaurants during the peak hours You need to register first, get a ticket and wait for empty seats Reservation is only an option for upmarket restaurants


While dining out, you may meet some local people who haven't cooked at home for a decade, eating in restaurants is not cheap by Asian standards, although it is still cheaper than Europe and North America

To stuff your stomach in a grassroots Chaa Chan Teng 茶餐廳 local tea restaurant, expect to pay $10-20 for milk tea or coffee, $8-10 for a toast and $25-50 for a dish of rice with meats Wonton noodles generally cost $20-30 McDonald's, once the cheapest worldwide a decade ago, sells a Happy Meal set for around $20-25 Other basic restaurants can usually be found in wet markets or outdoor locations, and cost about $100-$150 per person

In midrange and upmarket restaurants, prices are hard to generalise In a hotpot restaurant, $100-150 per head is common, and $200-400 per person is also expected for better choices of food Sushi is popular with many locals and prices usually start at $100-200 in a self-service bar to several hundred dollars for a tiny portion of high quality food

Western restaurants, especially in Soho in Central, where rental payments are skyrocketing, tend to be particularly expensive, and $300-$500 per head is common Fine dining restaurants, usually located at five-star hotels, can cost $500-$1500 per person, more if you are a wine enthusiast Wine choices in these places are on par with any 5-star hotel


Chinese food is generally eaten with chopsticks, but don't expect restaurants serving western food to supply chopsticks; dinners will routinely use a knife fork and spoon Do not stick your chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice, as this is reminiscent of incense sticks burning at the temple and has connotations of wishing death on those around you In addition, chopsticks should not be used to move bowls and plates or make any noise Dishes in smaller eateries might not come with a serving spoon, although staff will usually provide one if you request

A few Hong Kong customs to be aware of:

  • To thank the person who pours your tea Cantonese style, tap two or three fingers on the table The legend suggests a story involving a Chinese emperor travelling incognito and his loyal subjects wanting to kowtow bow to him without blowing their cover — hence the "finger kowtow"
  • If you want more tea in the pot, leave the lid open, and it will be refilled
  • It is not unusual for customers to rinse their plates and utensils with hot tea before starting their meal, and a bowl is often provided for this very purpose

See also Chinese table manners for more details While certain etiquette is different, Chinese manners for using chopsticks apply to Hong Kong too

What to eat

Dim sum 點心

Dim sum 點心, literally means 'to touch your heart', is possibly the best known Cantonese dish Served at breakfast and supper, these delicately prepared morsels of Cantonese cuisine are often served with Chinese tea

Dim Sum comes in countless variations with a huge price range from $8 to more than $100 per order Common items include steamed shrimp dumplings 蝦餃 har gau, pork dumplings 燒賣 siu mai, barbecued pork buns 叉燒包 char siu bau, and Hong Kong egg tarts 蛋撻 dan tat Expect more choice in upmarket restaurants One pot of tea with two dishes, called yak chung liang gin is a typical serving for breakfast

Siu Mei 燒味

Siu mei is pork roasted over an open fire or a huge wood burning rotisserie oven With the addition of a slightly crispy honey sauce layer, the final taste is of a unique, deep barbecue flavour Rice with roasted pork 叉燒 char siu, roasted duck, pork with a crisp crackling, or Fragrant Queen's chicken 香妃雞, are common dishes that are enduring favourites for many, including local superstars

Congee 粥

Cantonese congee juk is a thin porridge made with rice boiled in water Served at breakfast, lunch or supper, the best version is as soft as 'floss', it takes up to 10 hours to cook the porridge to reach this quality Congee is usually eaten with savoury Chinese doughnuts 油炸鬼 yau char kway and steamed rice pastry 腸粉 cheong fun which often has a meat or vegetable filling

Hong Kong has several restaurant chains that specialise in congee, but none of them have earned the word-of-mouth respect from local gourmets The best congee places are usually in older districts, often owned by elderly people who are patient enough to spend hours making the best floss congee

Noodles 麵

When asked what food makes Hong Kong people feel home, wonton noodles 雲吞麵 is one of the favourite answers Wonton are dumplings usually made from minced prawn but may contain small amounts of pork

Rice pastry is also a popular dish from southern China Found particularly in Teochew and Hokkien areas in China, it's popularity is widespread throughout east Asia In Hong Kong, it is usually served in soup with beef and fish balls and sometimes with deep-fried crispy fish skins

Tong Sui 糖水

A popular Cantonese dessert is a sweet soup called tong sui 糖水 Popular versions are usually made with black sesame paste, walnuts or sago which are usually sticky in texture Lo ye 撈野 is a similar dish Juice is put into a ultra-cold pan to make an ice paste, it is usually served with fresh fruit and sago

Tea time 下午茶

Hot milk tea Hong Kong style

You might expect that after more than a century of colonial rule tea might be served British style - well, almost Order hot milk tea 熱奶茶 in a traditional cafe and what you will get will be a cup of the strongest brew imaginable With the addition of evaporated milk, this is not a drink for the faint-hearted

Showing signs of British colonial influence, tea time Ha ng cha plays an important role in Hong Kong's stressful office life Usually starting at 2pm to 3pm, a typical tea set goes with a cup of 'silk-stocking' milk tea, egg tarts and sandwiches with either minced beef, egg or ham, but without vegetables and cheese

Similar to Malaysian 'teh tarik', Hong Kong's variation shares a similar taste The key difference is that a sackcloth bag is used to filter the tea leaves and the tea-dyed sackcloth resembles silk stockings, giving the name 'silk-stocking milk tea' Milk tea, to some Hong Kong people, is an important indicator on the quality of a restaurant If a restaurant fails to serve reasonably good milk tea, locals might be very harsh with their criticism Mandarin duck Yuanyang is also a popular drink mixed with milk tea and coffee

A signal to tell you teatime has come is a small queue lining up in bakery to buy egg tarts a teatime snack with outer pastry crust and filled with egg custard Don't attempt to make a fool of yourself by telling Hong Kong people that the egg tart was invented by the British - many locals are assertive in claiming sovereignty over their egg tarts When a long-established egg tart shop in Central was closed due to skyrocketing rental payment, it became the SAR's main news and many people came to help the owners look for a new place

Street food

Street food is thriving in this territory Local specialities include curry fish meat balls 咖喱魚蛋, shark fin soup 碗仔翅, a grassroot version of shark fin soups made of bean vermicelli, fried three filled treasures 煎釀三寶, vegetable filled with fish meat

Sea Food 海鮮

Seafood is plentiful in this seaport Places like Sai Kung, Po Doi O and Lau Fau Shan in the New Territories and Hong Kong's islands, particularly Lamma and Cheung Chau, are abound with seafood restaurants Seafood is not cheap Prices range from $200 per head for a very basic dinner, to $300-500 for better choices and much more for the best on offer

Expect to find a mismatch between the high prices for the food and the quality of the restaurant Sometimes the best food is served in the most basic eateries where tables maybe covered in cheap plastic covers rather than a more formal tablecloth Often, Cantonese people value the food more than the decor If one of your travelling companions does not like seafood, don't panic, many seafood restaurants have extensive menus that cater for all tastes A number of seafood restaurants specialise in high quality roast chicken that is especially flavoursome Many exotic delicacies like abalone, conch and bamboo clam can be found for sale in many seafood restaurants but you might want to avoid endangered species such as shark and juvenile fish

Exotic meats

While Hong Kong has long banned dog meat and has strict rules on importing many meats of wild life animals, snake meat is commonly seen in winter in different restaurants that bear the name "Snake King" Served in a sticky soup, it is believed to warm your body

There's an ongoing debate over the consumption of shark fin in Hong Kong, which is the biggest importer of this exotic cuisine Commonly served at wedding parties and other important dining events, shark fin is served in a carefully prepared stew usually at $80 per bowl to $1000 The consumption of shark fin is a controversial topic and tourists may need to be cautious in expressing their views about the declining shark population

Where to eat

While dining out, it is easy to find places selling mains for well under $80, offering both local and international food Local fast food chains such as Café de Coral 95 and Maxim's MX 96 offer meals in the vicinity of $30, with standardised English menus for easy ordering Mid-range restaurants generally charge in excess of $100 for mains Whilst at the top end, restaurants, such as Felix or Aqua, can easily see you leave with a bill in excess of $1500 including entrées appetizers, mains, desserts and drinks

A uniquely Hong Kong-style eatery starting to make waves elsewhere in Asia is the cha chaan teng 茶餐廳, literally "tea cafe", but offering fusion fast food that happily mixes Western and Eastern fare: innovations include noodles with Spam, stir-fried spaghetti and baked rice with cheese Usually a wide selection of drinks is also available, almost always including the popular tea-and-coffee mix yuenyeung 鴛鴦, and perhaps more oddities to the Western palate like boiled Coke with ginger or iced coffee with lemon Orders are usually recorded on a chit at your table and you pay at the cashier as you leave

Hong Kong also has a staggering range of international restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world These can often be found in, though not restricted to, entertainment districts such as Lan Kwai Fong, Soho or Knutsford Terrace Of these, Soho is probably the best for eating as Lan Kwai Fong is primarily concerned with bars and clubs and on Friday and Saturday nights especially can become crowded with revellers Top chefs are often invited or try to make their way to work in Hong Kong

Barbecue BBQ meals are a popular local pastime Many areas feature free public barbecue pits where everybody roasts their own food, usually with long barbeque forks It's not just sausages and burgers - the locals enjoy cooking a variety of things at BBQ parties, such as fish, beef meatballs, pork meatballs, chicken wings, and so on A good spot is the Southern Hong Kong Island, where almost every beach is equipped with many free BBQ spots Just stop by a supermarket and buy food, drinks and BBQ equipment The best spots are Shek O under the trees at the left hand side of the beach and Big Wave Bay

Wet markets are still prevalent Freshness is a key ingredient to all Chinese food, so frozen meat and vegetables are frowned upon, and most markets display freshly butchered beef and pork with entrails, live fish in markets, and more exotic shellfish, frogs, turtles and snails Local people often go to the market everyday to buy fresh ingredients, just like the restaurants

Cooked food centres 大牌檔 daai6 paai4 dong3 are often found in the same building as some of the indoor wet markets Tables that were once located on the street have been swept into sterile concrete buildings Inside, the atmosphere is like a food court without the frills Cooked food centres provide economic solutions to diners, but you might need to take along a Cantonese speaker, or be brave

Supermarkets include Wellcome, 97, Park N Shop, 98, and CRC Shop 99 Speciality supermarkets catering to Western and Japanese tastes include City Super 100 and Great 101 24 hour convenience stores 7-Eleven and Circle K can be found almost anywhere in urban areas

Drinking in Hong Kong

Traditionally, in much of China, people are more likely to drink tea, rather than alcoholic beverages Many east Asian people are genetically predisposed to alcohol intolerance, a condition that often manifests itself as the so-called 'Asian flush' Nevertheless, many Chinese people do drink but don't expect the binge-drinking culture found in some western countries There are many neighbourhoods in Hong Kong without much in the way of a bar or pub

Drinking alcohol with food is acceptable, but there is no expectation to order alcohol with your meal A number of restaurants do not sell alcohol

If drinking alcohol is not your thing, then Hong Kong might be described as a teetotaler's paradise Many eateries offer a good range of non-alcoholic drinks, including extravagant mocktails that might seem more like a dessert Such drinks are often consumed with a thick straw and may contain a variety of exotic sweet ingredients

Lan Kwai Fong Central, Wanchai and Knutsford Terrace Kowloon are the three main drinking areas where locals, expats and tourists mingle together Here you will certainly find a party atmosphere, but don't expect the drunken brawls and rowdiness that you might be used to back home If you come to Hong Kong and get drunk you will certainly risk drawing considerable attention to yourself if you cannot hold your drink

The minimum age for drinking in a bar is 18 years There is usually a requirement for young adults to prove their age, especially when going to a nightclub The accepted ID in clubs is either your passport or a Hong Kong ID card Photocopies are rarely accepted due to minors forging photocopies

Drinking out in Hong Kong can be expensive, especially if you choose imported drinks in fashionable western-style bars However, away from the tourist trail, some Chinese restaurants may have a beer promotion aimed at meeting the needs of groups of diners In cooked food centres, usually found at the wet markets, young women are often employed to promote a particular brand of beer Convenience stores such as Circle-K, and supermarkets all sell a reasonable range of drinks In Lan Kwai Fong, the 7-Eleven there is a very popular 'bar' for party-animals on a budget

Tsing Tao pronounced 'ching dow' is a famous pilsner beer that began life in 1903 in the former German colony of Qingdao Here, German brewers began production to meet the needs and palates of European expats Other brews that are widely available include, San Miguel, Carlsberg and Blue Girl Beers and rice wines produced for the market in mainland China are popular and are sold at competitive prices in supermarkets There is no longer any tax on wine or beer in Hong Kong

Check the district pages of this travel guide for recommended bars

Gay and lesbian Hong Kong

Gay bars and clubs are concentrated in Central, Sheung Wan, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui TST The quality of these venues varies considerably and will perhaps disappoint those expecting something similar to London, Paris or New York There is certainly no gay area as there are in Japanese and many Western cities Dim Sum magazine, available for free in most cafes, eateries bars and clubs, is Hong Kong bilingual's GLBT magazine which gives a pretty good idea about gay and lesbian parties and events happening in Hong Kong There's also a gay and lesbian section in HK Magazine free, only in English and TimeOut Hong Kong

The GLBT community in Hong Kong is gaining ground now more than ever 2009 was an active year for the community, which saw event after event being led by different people and groups, pushing forward its visibility and tolerance among the general public

The Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is one of the longest running GLBT events in Hong Kong, and indeed in Asia Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2009, it brings to Hong Kong various international and regional GLBT films The festival is usually held in November

Hong Kong held its second Gay Pride ever on 1 Nov 2009, attracting over 1,800 people, gay and straight, to the event There were participants coming in from mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia and even Australia and the United States It is held usually at the end of the year late November-early December

For those who like to party in the sea in sexy speedos and bikinis, try to time your visit during Flotilla Flotilla started almost as a gay pride in the sea in 2006, where junk boat party loving Hongkongers rent out junk boats in groups and throw themselves a fabulous party in the sea 2008 saw over 20 boats anchored in the same bay, there were even boats targeted particularly for lesbians and bears Both Flotilla 2006-2008 were held in May, while the one in 2009 was moved to October

Hong Kong Disneyland also saw its first Gay Day in December 2009 Participants were asked to wear red and were given schedule on the particular showing for the event This event, though, was not organised by Disneyland


Smoking Restrictions

A smoking-ban came into effect in 2007 The ban includes a number of outdoor locations such as university campuses, parks, gardens, bus stops, and beaches As from 1 July 2009, the smoking ban has been extended to include places for adult entertainment such as bars, clubs and saunas If you are undercover, you probably should not be smoking Expect to pay a substantial fine of up to $5,000 if caught smoking in the wrong place There is also a penalty of $1,500 for dropping cigarette butts

In a move to discourage smoking, tourists are only allowed to carry no more than 19 duty-free cigarettes or 25g of tobacco products since August 2010 The government has also banned the sales of tobacco products in duty-free shops on arrival gates

Offenders can be charged for smuggling and the penalty can be tough According to one local account, a man was fined $2000 after being found guilty of carrying five packs of cigarettes Illegal duty-free cigarettes can be seen for sale in several locations, such as in night markets, but both the buyer and seller may be charged for smuggling Be aware that the police are known to launch frequent raids at any time Once caught, ignorance is not an accepted defence

Cigarettes in Hong Kong cost around $30-60 for a pack of 20 Most popular brands include Marlboro, Salem and Kent which are sold at $39 There are also some cheaper brands catering for smokers on a budget Hand-rolling tobacco is not common and is only available in specialty shops

Accommodation in Hong Kong

With more than 50,000 rooms available, Hong Kong offers a huge choice of accommodation to suit every budget, from modest guesthouses and youth hostels through every range of hotel up to super luxury You can enjoy a harbour view or stay among the big city lights, in more rural settings or beside a beach No matter where you stay, the excellent public transport system ensures all of Hong Kong’s attractions are close at hand

Accommodation in Hong Kong tends to be on the small side, but ranges from cheap backpacker hostels to the ritziest luxury hotels can be found in the city In general, Hong Kong Island has more luxuries; cheaper digs is more likely located in Kowloon and the New Territories Five-star hotels in Hong Kong are generally cheaper than Europe and America

Many of Hong Kong's luxury hotels are ranked among the best in the world Major international chains are well represented along with a large selection of local and regional hotels All hotels listed offer modern design and facilities, and you may specify your requirements when using our search facility

Besides luxury five-star hotels major brand: Le Meridien and W Starwood, InterContinental IHG, JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton Marriott, Shangri-La, Mandarin Oriental, Sofitel Accor, Langham, there are also a variety of four-star hotels major brand: Marriott, Novotel Accor, Crowne Plaza IHG, more affordable hotels, guest houses, backpacker hostels, and holiday camps The government maintains an online list of licensed hotels and guesthouse The online directory can be found here: 102 Prices can be checked, for reference, from one of the local travel agencies

For budget-minded adventurers, there are numerous cheap guesthouses, located throughout Hong Kong but mostly concentrated in southern Kowloon They can be found simply by walking randomly along Nathan Road between Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok They are so plentiful, vacancies can easily be found even during peak travel seasons Most guesthouses are licensed by the Hong Kong government and are generally safe, although maybe small and drab Expect a tiny undecorated room, a bed or beds that occupies most of the space, and little else Some bathrooms are communal and noise could be a problem for light sleepers The owner might speak only enough English to communicate the essentials Still, since most travellers only use rooms for sleeping, guesthouses can be a great money-saver, especially for solo travellers As long as you can pay cash, advance book may not be accepted and payment is usually non-refundable Instead, you simply walk in, ask to see a room and pay in cash Just make sure you get a receipt clearly showing check-in and check-out times Single rooms with private bathrooms run for about $150-$250 a night

Two popular guesthouse clusters can be found inside Chungking Mansions and Mirador Mansions buildings in Tsim Sha Tsui and has housed budget travellers and labourers for decades Located in the epicentre of the city, not only do they provide cheap accommodation, they have also become tourist attractions in themselves and you should visit, even if you don't stay there, for its shopping and ethnic food on the ground floor These days, the clientele is primarily African, Middle Eastern, Indian and Pakistani although you'll find plenty of Western tourists These two buildings have an undeserved reputation for being unsafe Police raids for illegal migrants has happened, but they are extremely rare these days and generally risk-free for most guests

Many guesthouses in Causeway Bay can also be found They will be $50-$100 more expensive than the ones in Kowloon but they're more likely to provide free internet Guests are also more likely to be Western tourists, particularly young backpackers

Notice that some drab "guesthouses", especially those in Kowloon Tong and Causeway Bay, may actually be love hotels

The Hong Kong Youth Hostel Association 103 runs a few youth hostels All of them, including the one on Hong Kong island, are located outside the city and expect extra budget for a cab when public transport service is closed

Working in Hong Kong

You will need an employment visa in Hong Kong to take up any paid employment, even if you are from Britain or mainland China This usually involves any potential employer making an application to the Immigration Department on your behalf; crucially you should have skills that are probably not available from the local job market In June 2006 the Immigration Department revived a rule that allows the spouse of anyone currently working legally in Hong Kong to get a "dependent visa" This allows the spouse to take up any employment they wish, without having to seek approval from the Immigration Department Unfortunately, a dependent visa is not available if the spouse is from mainland China, unless they have been living abroad for more than one year In 2006, the Hong Kong government introduced a new program called the Quality Migrant Application Scheme which targets skilled, preferably university educated, labour with good knowledge of languages to come and settle in Hong Kong and seek for employment For more information, visit the Hong Kong Immigration website82

Cities in Hong Kong

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