Your full Wanderlust guide to

Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Hong Kong street view with trams (Shutterstock)

No longer just the ‘barren rock’ occupied by the British two centuries ago, the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong – which includes the eponymous island, the Kowloon Peninsula and extensive New Territories as well as outlying islands – is an Asian powerhouse, punching well above its weight and size.

Hong Kong attracts a deluge of domestic and international travellers, ideally placed as a launchpad for exploring southern China and South-East Asia, and a riveting destination in its own right.

Don’t be misled by the gleaming glass towers, Hong Kong is a unique synthesis of ancient traditions. Push past the lingering evidence of British colony, past the modern-day icons of Hello Kitty and fast food chains and you’ll discover the conservative culture that underpins Hong Kong. In the shadows of skyscrapers, traditional fishing settlements and Taoist temples thick with sandalwood thrive, while scrummy noodle shops and vibrant street markets enjoy the daily grind.

Hong Kong has something for every traveller: the view of the city’s night-time neon-rainbows, delicious array of noodle soups, bite-sized dim sum and silk-stocking milk tea are worth the flight alone. To others, nothing beats hiking, bird watching, kayaking and climbing in the region’s beautiful and mountainous countryside.

Hong Kong Island has the Peak Tram, lifting you to lofty vistas of the city’s lambent skyline; the Star Ferry, criss-crossing the harbour for a bargain historic ride; and the bars and restaurants of Central, Lan Kwai Fong and Soho.

Kowloon is home to Hong Kong’s best shopping, with up-to-the-minute shops and quirky markets, while the New Territories harbour wildlife, traditional villages and trekking.

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Delve beyond Kowloon’s shopping malls and you’ll find traditional artisans designing authentic crafts that are well worth keeping
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Latest Hong Kong articles

Capital
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China and does not have a capital
Languages
Cantonese and English are the official languages; Mandarin is increasingly widely spoken
Population
7 million
Int. dial code
+852
Visa
You can visit Hong Kong visa-free for up to six months
Time zone
UTC+8
Plug type
Type G
Currency
Hong Kong Dollar HKD

When to go to Hong Kong

Summer (late May-mid-September) brings sweltering heat, high humidity and thunderstorms, with temperatures reaching 31°C+. It is also typhoon season. Spring (March-April) and autumn (October-November) are the most comfortable times to visit. Winter (January-February) is often cool and overcast, although temperatures rarely drop below 10°C.

Pretty much every month is festival month in Hong Kong. Most important is the Chinese New Year in late January/early February, with parades, a riot of fireworks and special dishes served in homes and restaurants.

International airports

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is on Chek Lap Kok, an outcrop of Lantau Island, and west of Hong Kong Island. Easily accessible by the Airport Express railway, around a 30-minute ride brings you to the city centre. Airport buses are a good alternative.

Getting around in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a well-developed and efficient Mass Transit Railway system that extends to almost every part of the city, making most places including Hong Kong Island easily accessible by metro. Additionally, Light Rail covers much of north-west New Territories, and the East Rail Line connects Hong Kong up north to Shenzhen in mainland China.

Ferries are important transport modes between Hong Kong’s harbours and numerous islands. The iconic Star Ferry links Kowloon with Hong Kong Island. Other services link Central with Cheung Chau, Lantau and Lamma Islands, and west to Macau. Ferries from Wong Shek and Ma Liu Shui serve islands in the New Territories.

Trams trundle along Hong Kong Island’s north shore, while the Peak Tram – really a funicular railway – ascends the eponymous viewpoint.

Buses and cheap taxis are easy ways of exploring – red taxis serve most of Hong Kong (except for Tung Chung Road and the south side of Lantau Island); green taxis operate in the rural areas of the New Territories; and blue taxis only run in Lantau.

Health & safety

There are few places safer than Hong Kong, though it’s best to keep an eye on possessions, as you would in any other city. Water quality is variable, due to old pipes – drink filtered or bottled water.

Venomous snakes in the New Territories tend to avoid humans, but take care in long grass. Heat can be intense – carry plenty of water if walking on remote tracks.

Go to gov.uk for more travel advice.