Hong Kong is an amazing city state because it checks every travel box there is:
- Towering skyscrapers
- But western at the same time with the expat districts
- Religious sites
- Hiking trails
- Wild life
- And amazing food
Seriously, what isn’t to love. Hong Kong usually ends up in two categories a single destination or a stop over city. Neither choice is wrong, but if you’re stopping here, give yourself three days minimum! Below I have some key things everyone should know when coming visiting HK. I’ll keep updating this post as time goes on, so stay tuned.
HK has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. It spans buses, mini buses, trains, express trains, trams, and ferries. Then add 18,000 cabs to the mix and you’re golden to get from point A to B.
MTR (subway) – the MTR is the easiest and most efficient way to travel HK. It stops at (nearly) all the major tourist sites, runs every few minutes, it’s clean, and very easy to navigate. When you arrive in HK, follow the signs to the Airport Express train and pick up an Octopus card from the Service Center. In HK, the Octopus card is gold. You’ll use it for the MTR, buses, ferries, at 7/11 and other convenience stores, and at vending machines. I would suggest putting at least HK$300 on the card, so you don’t have to refill it the next day. The two Airport Express stops that count are Hong Kong and Kowloon. Check where your hotel is and purchase a ticket to whatever station is closest (Hong Kong if you’re on Hong Kong island, Kowloon if you’re in Tsim Sha Tsui or elsewhere on the peninsula). The MTR is the most efficient method of travel in terms of time and cost. The Airport Express (to and from the airport) is a little more expensive if you’re traveling with several people and could share a cab, but it’s by far the fastest way to the airport.
Bus & Mini Bus – Buses and mini buses are prevalent in HK and are useful if you know your route (very) well. Make sure you know EXACTLY where your bus is picking you up, how many stops you need to take it, and where you want to get off. The buses to remoter destinations (Sai Wan Village for instance) run less frequently, sometimes once and hour, and halt service in the early evening.
All of this being said, you’ll want to use buses to visit Stanley, Repulse Bay, Dragon’s Back, and other destinations on the south side of Hong Kong island.
Advice – use Google maps to navigate when taking buses and minibuses. It has accurate time tables, stops and route information, and bus numbers (there’s a LOT of different bus numbers and routes). Remember the buses use Octopus for payment, so have your card loaded with money and ready to pay.
HK Bus Information – doubtful you’ll need this. Just know the buses are inexpensive and difficult to navigate without a smartphone.
Tram (streetcar) – HK’s trams are inexpensive (HK$2.3 flat fee for adults) and useful to travel east to west on Hong Kong island. The cars are slower than the MTR or bus, but it’s better than walking. You’ll also see more of the city than other methods of transportation.
Advice – take the streetcar to and from Happy Wednesday at the Happy Valley Racetrack (make sure you’re on the Happy Valley tram, it’s a different route). Riding from Central, through Admiralty, and Wan Chai is also highly recommended.
Ferries – Hong Kong, being a collection of 220 islands, has regular and inexpensive ferry service to the major one islands. Timetables and fares vary by destination and ferry company. Almost all are inexpensive and Google Maps has up-to-date timetables. There’s four ferry routes that are good to know:
- The Star Ferry – this is “world famous” and crosses Victoria Harbor. The ferry leaves Central and Tsim Sha Tsui every few minutes, crossing in either direction. I highly recommend taking the ferry once during the day and once at night. HK Star Ferry Information
- Macau Ferry – when in Hong Kong, why not visit the Vegas of Asia? Macau is a short forty minutes to an hour away via ferry. Macau Ferry Information
- Lantau – Big Buddha, hiking Lantau of Sunset Peak, or to Disney Land are all easy to visit via ferry from Central.
- Lamma Island – This island has two ferry terminals, one on each end of the island. Hiking the island is a short two to three hour hike with good views depending on the weather. Lamma is known for it’s small fishing villages and fresh seafood restaurants.
Recommendation – Star Ferry is a must. Everything else is dependent on time available and travel interests.
Sites to See
The list of sites to see here is long and recommendations vary based on travel interests.
Big Wave Bay
Sai Wan Village
Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Hong Kong Light Show
Ladies Street Market
Kowloon Walled City Park
Chi Lin Nunnery & Nan Lian Garden
I’ll write a post and update each of these as time goes on, so check back for more details.
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