Hong Kong is a paradisiacal jungle of skyscrapers, nature-riddled parks, amusing festivals, opulent shopping malls, buzzing street markets, and jaw-dropping islands. It has all the ingredients of the recipe for the perfect vacation town. The city’s 1,106 square kilometers are full of sightseeing goodies, but that can be a daunting challenge for first-time visitors. Not to worry, though if you don’t know a thing about the “Pearl of the Orient” as this guide is sure to make things a lot easier:
Pointers on Getting Around
The city’s expansive transport networks mean that getting around shouldn’t be a problem. You should probably get an Octopus card if you think you’ll be using public transportation a lot. It offers a cashless system of transacting that’s reliable and a much safer alternative to cash. Moreover, you can use it on a variety of vessels including ferries, trams, buses and the Airport Express.
Taxi rates start somewhere in the region of 15 HK$ and there being close to 20,000 across the city, you can easily travel by taxi. The Mass Transit Railway meanwhile operates from six o’clock in the morning up to 1AM, and the same goes for the Kowloon-Canton Railway or KCR. If you prefer to take the bus, local HKTA centers will be happy to give you a bus map at no charge at all.
Where to Stay
Well, your accommodation choices largely depend on what appeals to you the most about the city. If fine-dining and stylish shopping are high up on your priorities, you should set up camp in Causeway Bay. For enchanting views of the beautiful cityscape as it echoes off the cobalt sea, think of Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. Alternatively, you could consider getting residence in Shatin if you’re making the trip with your family. It’s just a short distance from the scenic Mun River, and it’s rife with hiking adventures for large groups. Finally, the place to be for an unrivaled nightlife is Central, the business (and partying) soul of Hong Kong.
Should you start learning Cantonese to be best acquainted with the locals? Well, there is no need to do so as you’ll be just fine with English. Most of the signage is in the latter language, but it wouldn’t hurt to learn a few niceties since the majority of the locals aren’t familiar with English.
What to Do and See
A trip on the colorful Star Ferry should definitely be on the cards. It traverses the pleasing route between the mainland and Kowloon, which is full of amazing views of the futuristic architecture. Additionally, you should also make time for the lovely beaches, temples, quiet villages, and gorgeous camping trails of the islands of Cheung Chau, Lamma, Lantau, and Sai Kung.
For unobstructed stares at the city, the Sky 100 observatory is an excellent choice; as is a view from Victoria Peak via a tram ride. The latter is available between seven in the morning, all the way through midnight for a cost of 36 HK$ and 25 HK$ for a return and one-way ticket respectively.
Going shopping, eating Dim Sum, sampling authentic seafood, and attending a traditional tea ceremony should also be on your agenda. The Luk Yu Tea House is the place to be for a proper chadō (tea ceremony). It’s also almost unforgivable if you were to visit the island city and not spare some time for an authentic Hong Kong massage. Not only does it have several medicinal benefits, but it also promises utter peace and relaxation.
You don’t have to jump hoops to get into the city as all you need is a passport with not less than one-month validity in reference to the visiting date. You don’t need to get any prior documents, nor are there any mandatory vacations.
However, the World Health Organization recommends rubella, mumps, measles, polio, meningitis shots for first-travelers to be on the safe side.