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10 Essential Travel Tips for First-Time Visitors in Hong Kong

The land of skyscrapers and busy bustling streets filled with retail and entertainment stops, Hong Kong is an awesome weekend destination for shopping, eating, and exploring. The former British colony is a family-friendly yet fast-paced destination that has turned into one of the most loved cities in Asia.

Here are 10 travel trips for your next weekend rendezvous in Hong Kong:

 

1. Stay at an area that will help you make the most out of your vacation.

Skyscrapers in Hong Kong
Editorial Credit: sumitro moo / Shutterstock.com

Hong Kong is divided into three major areas: The mainland (which comprises the Kowloon Peninsula and New Territories), Hong Kong Island, and Lantau Island. When planning your vacation, figure out what area is most convenient based on your itinerary so you can book your hotel on that side of town.

Some tips regarding these islands:

  • If you are traveling with children and wish to go to Disneyland, stay in Lantau Island.
  • For a shopping-filled weekend, go to Kowloon and visit all its night markets.
  • Get a taste of Hong Kong’s nightlife at the Lan Kwai Fong and Soho areas.

Don’t worry about crossing the harbor to visit the other areas. The country’s public transportation is amazingly convenient and well-connected, whether you go by bus, MTR, or ferry.

Read The Ultimate Guide to Hong Kong Shopping: Top 15 Places to Go

2. Book a hotel that offers free cellphones with an internet connection.

Free handy phone at Dorsett Wanchai Hong Kong

Yes, you heard it right: A number of hotels in Hong Kong offer guests free smartphones with unlimited data and free calls to use during their stay.

This added service is really convenient especially when you are traveling in a big group—no need to worry about getting separated or having different itineraries throughout the day. Having access to Google Maps will also come in handy when you’re exploring.

3. Ride the Airport Express.

Hong Kong's Airport Express
Editorial Credit: ssray / Shutterstock.com

The Airport Express is a train that brings passengers from the international airport to the city center in 25 minutes or less.

You may also try the free in-town check-in service which allows you to store your luggage in lockers upon arrival or before departing the country. This would come in handy in case you booked a red-eye flight but have to check out of your hotel earlier.

If traveling with a big group, a better way to get to the city center and back is by renting a low-cost airport taxi in advance to save some money and travel in style.

4. Get an Octopus Card.

Hong Kong's Octopus Card
Editorial Credit: Phuong D. Nguyen / Shutterstock.com

An Octopus Card is a contactless smart card that can make electronic payments, mainly in the MTR and bus stations. It not only saves you money, but it also saves you time—you can purchase one of these cards and simply tap away instead of buying individual tickets throughout the trip.

The great thing about it is you can also use it in other establishments like supermarkets and convenient stores. You can also keep this card for the next time you visit Hong Kong–no need to worry about leftover balance!

For a weekend trip, the best option would be the “Sold Tourist Octopus Card” which is only HK$39.

5. Prepare for unpredictable weather.

Pedestrians in rainy Hong Kong
Editorial Credit: Baiterek Media / Shutterstock.com

The weather in Hong Kong is notorious for its unpredictability. Despite having a subtropical and humid climate, it still has four seasons, with summer being hot and humid with typhoons, and winter being cold, windy, and dry. Because of this, you never know what type of weather you will experience.

Pack a raincoat or a jacket, and definitely bring some comfortable sneakers for walking in sunny or rainy weather.

6. Have dim sum for breakfast.

Dim sum

Hong Kong is considered the home of dim sum, therefore having it for breakfast or brunch is a definite must. Most restaurants start serving these dishes in trolleys and trays as early as 6:30 AM.

In more traditional establishments, the servers come to your table with a variety of dishes and you can just simply choose which ones you think you would enjoy eating.

Dim sum is usually served with tea, and this meal combination is called “Yum Cha,” which literally means to “drink tea.” When you take a seat, the server will bring you some tea that is constantly refilled throughout the meal.

You can start with Lei Garden and One Dim sum, both of which are one Michelin-starred restaurants.

Read Top Hong Kong Michelin-star Restaurants That Won’t Hurt Your Wallet

7. Eat like a local.

Locals eating street food in Hong Kong
Editorial Credit: Sergio Delle Vedove / Shutterstock.com

For food lovers, Hong Kong is the mecca for good eats. From tiny hole-in-the-wall places to the most extravagant restaurants led by the most well-known chefs, you will find everything in this bustling city.

One Michelin-starred restaurants are a dime a dozen, which will give you the experience of eating like kings without breaking the bank. Hong Kong’s street food is also something that should definitely be experienced.

A favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant is one that was recommended by the late Anthony Bourdain. Under the Bridge Spicy Crab is located in Wan Chai and is definitely worth the visit. Try to translate the menu and guess what type of food they serve. Don’t worry—it’s all delectably tasty!

8. Reserve a day for hiking.

Lantau Peak view
Image Credit: leo.wan

Hong Kong is more popularly known as the concrete jungle of Asia, but locals know that the real attraction is the natural landscape, and what better way to explore it than hiking?

Its hills, mountains, and parks offer breathtaking panoramic views of the isolated beaches dotting the coast. Lantau Island houses two popular trails called the Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak, and they are definitely worth a visit!

9. Make sure you have spacious luggage.

Open luggage

Hong Kong is the shopping paradise of Asia because of its tax breaks. Most international brands have outlet stores scattered around the city, but that’s not the only place to find great deals. You can also score discounts on electronics, jewelry, and art.

Be sure you have enough space to take all your shopping finds back home with you.

Read Drop the Unnecessary Baggage: 8 Things You Should Stop Packing

10. Book your hotel in Hong Kong ahead of time.

A room in Regal Kowloon Hotel in Hong Kong

When visiting a fast-paced and bustling city, time is of the essence. This is why booking your hotel in Hong Kong in advance—especially when traveling with children or a big group—will come in handy.

It is also advisable to book Octopus Cards and tickets to the Airport Express, Disneyland, and Ocean Park in advance. Not only will you skip the long lines, but it will also help you save money for more shopping, eating, and sightseeing!

Here are some of our recommended hotels:

 

Explore these all-time favorite Hong Kong tourist spots! Be sure to check out deals and promos for yourhotel in Hong Kong here .