Hong Kong Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- Not just a city Hong Kong is, in fact, a territory made of numerous islands and a peninsula. You'll spend most of your time on Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, and Lantau Island.
- Get out of town While most people only picture Hong Kong as an urban destination, there are gorgeous seaside parks for you to explore. And with Hong Kong's sophisticated public transit system, you can get out of the city in no time.
- HKTB is your new BFF HKTB stands for the Hong Kong Tourism Board, an invaluable resource for before and after you've arrived. Stop by the HKTB centers in the airport or in the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry concourse for free information and helpful tips.
To outsiders, Hong Kong is surrounded by questions: "Is it part of China or not?" "Is it one island or two?" "Is it English-speaking or Mandarin-speaking?" And foreigners have a good reason to ask them. This territory, made of multiple islands, returned to China's possession in 1997 after more than a hundred years of British occupation. Upon its reunification with China, Hong Kong added certain stipulations that provide a unique degree of autonomy. For instance, the official currency remains the Hong Kong dollar (HKD); English and Cantonese are the official languages; and the tiny nation has an independent judiciary system. In short, China and Hong Kong observe a "one country, two systems" policy that can have many foreigners scratching their heads. But don't question it. Just accept it and enjoy everything this territory has to offer.
Hong Kong distinguishes itself from its Chinese brethren, like Shanghai and Beijing, with its vibrant, multifaceted culture and stunning cityscape. This British-Chinese hybrid astounds visitors with its striking juxtaposition of dense skyscrapers and lush parklands. From sandy beaches to rugby pitches, there's more fresh air than most travelers suspect. And, of course, as a world-class metropolis, Hong Kong boasts numerous urban diversions, such as culinary hot spots and museums. After visiting Hong Kong, the only question you might be asking is: "Why didn't I get here sooner?"
How To Save Money in Hong Kong
- Take the tram Public transportation is already dirt cheap, but if you are counting your pennies, take the tram when on Hong Kong Island. It only costs $2 HKD (less than $0.30 USD).
- Book your room early While Hong Kong's attractions and transportation are very affordable, the hotel room rates can be exorbitant. Book early and don't be afraid to stay a little farther from downtown, as long as you're near an MRT station.
- Head to the food court Sit-down meals can cost you a pretty penny in tourist areas, but you can usually find inexpensive options in nearby food courts.
Hong Kong Culture & Customs
Since its reunification in 1997, Hong Kong maintains a complex relationship with mother China. The former British colony continues to operate under a capitalist economy (despite China's communist ways), to have its own currency (the Hong Kong Dollar), and to create new laws. And due to Hong Kong's multicultural population and heritage, the official languages here are Cantonese and English, not Mandarin. American travelers who have visited other Chinese cities like Beijing will notice a much stronger Western influence in the urban landscape, array of food choices, social practices (like greeting with a handshake), and more English speakers. These familiar aspects and the ease of getting around greatly reduce the culture shock that usually visitors experience upon entering China.
You should note that, while it is slightly stronger than the Chinese Renminbi (CNY), the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) is still weaker than the United States Dollar (USD). One HKD is equivalent to about $0.12 USD.