I always love the chance to experience a new city and culture and being my first time in Hong Kong, gave me exactly that chance. It’s such a vibrant city in terms of culture and personality, and I really enjoyed spending each day exploring the weird and wonderful parts. Here are some things to know and tips that might be useful for first time visitors travelling to Hong Kong.
There is lots to see and do in Hong Kong, so don’t treat it just as a stopover city! Many use Hong Kong as a quick bypass city to break up a longer trip, but really, it’s a destination that needs longer than a few days to explore.
Don’t limit yourself to just spending time in the city. I always had the impression there wasn’t anything worth seeing beyond the city’s borders, but I was very wrong. I strongly recommend you see a completely different (and cultural side) to HK. Stanley, Lamma Island and Lantau Island are great places to start.
Knowing when rush hour/peak time is and know to AVOID IT if you possibly can. Generally between 8 – 9:30am and 6- 7pm are when daily commuters are heading to and from work so public transport can get a little more crazy.
It’s a good idea to carry a little bit of cash on you when you arrive in Hong Kong or when you arrive head to an ATM to get cash out. I found many places when dining out and for public transport only accepted cash or octopus cards. You will definitely need a bit of cash with you regardless if you are planning on visiting any markets.
Octopus cards are a common and quick way to pay for public transport fees (especially on the subway) and they can be purchased from any public transportation company’s customer service centre. Once you put money on the card you can just keep topping it up with more money when it runs low and the good thing about these is that they don’t expire either. So you can basically hold onto it and next time you’re in HK use it again.
Air population in Hong Kong is pretty bad and some of the poorest across Asia, so for travellers who are prone to asthma should take special precautions or at very least be a little bit wary. Some days the heavy fog is worse than others.
Tsim Sha Tsui is the tourist hub of Hong Kong city and also where Nathan Rd exists (hello shopping and food). Along these streets you will more than likely get hassled by men wanting to sell you designer handbags, watches and for the men they will try for suits and watches too! Just ignore them though and get on with your day!
Tipping isn’t required in Hong Kong. Any extra tip you give will be considered a generous bonus.
Everything opens late (from 10:30 onwards) in Hong Kong and stays closes late (11pm to past midnight). Being an early riser myself, I had to adjust to this a little bit!
Many if not all restaurants and hotels charge an additional 10% service fee. When you are booking your accommodation you will more than likely come across this early on, however sometimes you are unaware when you are eating out until you receive the bill.
Food in Hong Kong doesn’t have to be expensive. While there are many amazing Michelin restaurants and fine dining across the city, there are also many markets and local cheap eats that are even better value for money!
Public transport in Hong Kong is fast, efficient and cheap! The ferries are a cool experience to get from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island and vise versa and only costs a mere 50c in aus dollars and takes as little as 10 minutes to get across to the other side. The subway is a piece of cake to navigate and I still can’t believe how easily you can get around and so quickly. It actually blows my mind how great it is.
You can connect to Wi-Fi just about anywhere. So for all those internet junkies, you will have no worries getting connected around the city for free 😉
There are some pretty funky smells in Hong Kong! Walk through the city and all of a sudden you will catch a whiff off some awful and nasty.
Don’t sweat it if you don’t speak any kind of Cantonese or Mandarin as English is widely spoken throughout Hong Kong. Being in an international city can seem stressful at times, but in Hong Kong you can easily get by with just English and sometimes a bit of pointing to a map,food picture or hand signals will get you by!