Hong Kong is on another level, even for the experienced traveller.
The pace, skyscrapers, crowds, and sensory overload are things you won’t be able to fully prepare for until you’re living it; and if you haven’t been anywhere similar before, you might just be in for a bit of a culture shock.
But trust us when we say you will love Hong Kong once you get to know it!
Here are some tips for navigating this electric, dynamic, epic city.
Fly with ease
If you’re coming from Canada like we did, you are in for a lengthy flight over to Hong Kong. Once you land, you’re sure to be on the go nonstop, so you will want to make sure you feel nice and rested upon arrival. Flying with Hong Kong Airlines will provide you with the comforts you need (and deserve) on the flight over to Hong Kong.
Like what, you ask? From the moment you step onboard your plane, you’ll be treated to the full Hong Kong experience from a world-class team of flight attendants. And once you’re in the air, you can relax in whatever way you choose. From snacking on some gourmet popcorn while watching a movie on a complimentary iPad 4 mini, enjoying a drink from the inflight Skybar, or simply enjoying the swag you’ll get from your amenities kit in Business Class (including skin care products from L’Occitane).
Warning: This might spoil every other airline for you. But once your plane touches down, it’s time to get to work!
Take the Airport Express
The Airport Express will take you straight from the airport to Kowloon in 22 minutes, or Central in 24. This makes Hong Kong a very layover-friendly city! klook.com offers the best deals at approximately 30% less than other sites, as well as discounts for a variety of other experiences around the city.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Hong Kong is a massive, chaotic, diverse city and upon arrival it can seem very overwhelming. You will likely experience a bit of culture shock if you haven’t been anywhere similar (like a major city in Asia or even a bustling metropolis like New York).
But DON’T WORRY; almost everyone speaks English, and most will be willing to point you in the right direction of your destination, a food option, or anything else you’re looking for.
That being said, it’s a good idea to carry a business card or piece of paper with the name of your accommodation written in the local language just in case!
Tour the city by tram
Hong Kong can be a bit daunting upon arrival, and one of the best ways to orient yourself is by riding one of the double-decker trams – or as locals call them, Ding Dings. You can hop on one of the various stops in Central to get a tour of Times Square and Jockey Club Happy Valley race course, all with stunning views of Victoria Peak in the background. Listen to the audio guide with the ear-pods provided for some interesting insights on the city!
Pack light clothes for summer trips
We visited Hong Kong in June and the humidity was no joke; the locals tell us it’s like this between roughly April and October. We were sweating within the first two minutes of walking outside, so our advice would be to avoid any heavy or double-lined clothing. Thinner is better.
Embrace the contrast
The biggest theme of our trip to Hong Kong was contrast – old vs. new, traditional vs. modern. You may think you’re in a high-end area but when you turn to the next block you will see an alleyway with old school window fixings and laundry strung out across the way. This is part of the charm of HK; roll with it and see where you end up!
Use public transit
Hong Kong’s public transportation system, the MTR (Mass Transit Railway), is said to be the best in the world – and we would have to concur. Each stop is translated in Cantonese and in English. The route maps show arrows in the direction you’re going, illuminates the upcoming station, and even blinks the stops on connecting lines. There are also mini busses, double decker busses, trams, and ferries. If all that fails, taxis are everywhere, and are fairly cheap for a big city!
Get an Octopus card
Public transit can be accessed at an affordable rate using your handy dandy Octopus card. It’s a prepaid card that you can tap to access public transit such as the Airport Express, MTR lines, and ferries, but it also allows you to make purchases at participating international retailers such as 7-Eleven, Circle K, Starbucks, and McDonalds! Just look for the orange and yellow Octopus sign and tap away. You can return them for a full refund (50 HKD) at any station or ticket office.
Beware of the dripping air conditioners
The exteriors of most old buildings in Hong Kong are adorned with exterior air conditioning units, and they actually make quite a sight when you look up and see them among hanging laundry on almost every suite. It’s something that is unique to Hong Kong and we came to kind of adore it in a weird way. Not ideal for keeping dry as you walk along the sidewalks though; but great for photos!
Central is great for mainstream or upscale dining and accommodation, but as you veer further away from this tourist and expat epicentre, you will find more affordable options. Check out the markets of Mong Kok for goodies and dining around Sham Shui Po if you’re on a budget. And don’t forget that when shopping at the markets you have free reign to bargain for a better price – start at half or a third of the given cost and work your way towards a happy medium!
So what are you waiting for?! Book your flight on Hong Kong Airlines, now flying nonstop from YVR to HKG, and let’s go!
For more information on Hong Kong, visit Discover Hong Kong.
Enter for your chance to win the following prize:
- 2 x Economy class return tickets from Vancouver – Hong Kong – Ho Chi Minh City, provided by Hong Kong Airlines
- 3 x nights accommodation in Hong Kong for two people on a twin-sharing basis, provided by Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB)
- Airport-hotel return transfers
- Two tours for two people in Hong Kong (choice of hotel and tours are at the discretion of HKTB)
- A trip for 2 people to Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, provided by Bestway Tours & Safaris
- 3 x nights accommodation for two people (choice of hotel and program are at the discretion of Bestway Tours & Safaris)
- Transfer services
- Entrance fees and boat fees where applicable
- Vietnam Visa on Arrival Approval letter
- Pre-arranged meals
- Guided by an English-speaking local guide
Blackout dates: 11 December 2018 – 5 January 2019, 29 January – 17 February 2019, 16-25 April 2019, 22 Jun – 10 Sep 2019, 11 December – 5 January 2020
To enter for your chance to win the prize listed above, courtesy of Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Tourism Board, and Bestway Tours & Safaris, fill in the Google form below:
Contest entries will be accepted from the time and date of publishing until 11:59 pm on December 10, 2018. One winner will be chosen at random and contacted directly from Hong Kong Airlines.