Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. It is one of the largest cities in the world where oriental culture merges with the historical heritage of England colonization.
The city is vibrant, full of colors, flavors, and culture, which in itself is of great interest to us. But what we were about to discover exceeded our expectations.
We visited the city during our trip around the world. In fact, the city was not part of our initial travel plan (in addition we had visited China the year before) but since we were traveling from Johannesburg (South Africa) to Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) with a stopover in Hong Kong, we took advantage, at no extra cost for flights, to extend our stopover to two nights.
Check out here our tips to visit China as well as our posts about Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and the Great Wall of China.
How to get to Hong Kong
Hong Kong International Airport is an important point of entry for many eastbound passengers. Several international airlines stop there, with a high flow of passengers at that airport.
The building is huge and the access to the various boarding areas is on several underground trains.
The access to the city can be done by bus, taxi or train. The fastest way to get to the city is by using the Airport Express train and the cheapest way is to use the bus. Train tickets cost from HKD100 and bus tickets cost about HKD40. We opted to make the trip on arrival by train and returned to the airport by bus.
If you use the Airport Express, there are a number of Airport Express Shuttle Buses connecting Hong Kong railway station with the city’s hotels. These buses are free to those who have an Airport Express ticket and are identified by H1, H2, H3, and H4. You can find here the options and routes of these buses. The lines are circular and when you leave the city you can use the same service as long as you have purchased the train ticket in advance.
Where to stay in Hong Kong
When we visited the city, we stayed on Hong Kong Island, in the Causeway Bay area. It is an area full of tall buildings and one of the most expensive areas in the world. This area has a lot of commerce and many restaurants, where the traditional mixes with world brands and trends. In this area is also Victoria Park, a pleasant green spot with sports fields, where you can see people enjoying the place every day.
These factors make this area of the city one of the most desirable to stay when visiting.
We have chosen Hotel Purple, a 4-star city hotel that opened in April 2019. It is a modern and utilitarian hotel, ideal for those visiting Hong Kong and wanting to stay in the heart of the city.
This hotel is part of the Ascott group which has several hotels in various countries.
The hotel’s 24-hour reception, located on the 3rd floor, has a pleasant seating area with a free coffee machine and a vending machine. It also gives access to a terrace where you can enjoy your coffee.
The hotel offers free wifi and various tourist information about the area. There is also a gym across the street that can be used free of charge by guests of Hotel Purple.
There are two types of rooms at Hotel Purple that span more than 30 floors: studios and deluxe. The area of the studio room is small, but in a city that lacks space, it is normal to be so. However, it is more than enough for those looking for a city hotel. In the deluxe rooms, up to 3 people can be accommodated in two spaces, the bedroom, and the living/kitchenette area.
Both types of rooms have air conditioning, a coffee maker and a private bathroom with toiletries.
We loved the experience of staying at Hotel Purple as the location is very convenient for anyone visiting the city. Being a new hotel, the cleanliness, the conditions, and the ambiance make Hotel Purple an excellent option in the city. The services were of excellent quality and the hotel staff was on hand to give us a wealth of information about the city and the area as well as some tips on what the locals in Hong Kong do.
If you visit Hong Kong and decide to stay at Hotel Purple, you can get 10% off using our code TWOBYTHEWORLD10
Promotion is only applicable to the Purple Hotel of Hong Kong for bookings made via firstname.lastname@example.org until 30/jun/2020.
If you are looking for another type of accommodation in Hong Kong, check out this selection of hotels.
What to do in Hong Kong
Eat street food in Hong Kong
When we visit any city one of our biggest concerns is what we are going to eat, what are the best places, the most interesting delicacies, and the gastronomic trends of each place. Visiting Hong Kong and not trying its street food would make no sense. The places and markets to do this are more than many and we recommend exploring the area surrounding the Temple Street Night Market. This market is very frequented by both locals and tourists, in a mixture of cultures, aromas, and flavors that undoubtedly marked our visit to the city.
Stroll at Nathan Road
Nathan Road is a fairly long shopping avenue with a mix of traditional and modern commerce. This avenue is quite long, but we suggest that you start your visit in Prince Edward Metro Station and walk towards Tsim Sha Tsui. On this path, if you walk a little further from the main avenue on the left-hand street, you will find the Goldfish Market, the Ladies Market and various places where you can try traditional food such as dumplings.
Visit the Goldfish Market
The Goldfish Market is a market where you can buy various types of aquarium fish. At the door of each small shop are dozens of fish bags. There are also other pet shops. It’s a great place to spend some time.
Shopping at Ladies Market
Ladies Market is a market dedicated mainly to clothing and accessories. Here you can find the famous replicas of the best-known brands, from t-shirts, backpacks, to electronic items.
Dumplings are an important part of eastern culinary culture and Hong Kong is no exception. We enjoyed trying both the traditional and the most innovative combinations. The taste and surprise with each new dumpling make us excited. In the city, there are many restaurants and street stalls where you can try various shapes, techniques, and fillings.
We tried a lot of places, and even though we have not visited the so-famous Tim Wo Wan (Michelin star chef) for lack of time, we visited another recommendation in the Mong Kok area (next to Nathan Road) where the dumplings were excellent: Dim Dim Sum Mong Kok.
Ferry-cross to Hong Kong Island
After going down Nathan Road and reaching the Tsim Sha Tsui area on the right-hand side, next to Hong Kong Cultural Center, there is the Star Ferry Dock. There are two types of boats: the regular careers linking the mainland and the island of Hong Kong, and those that propose a wider return to the harbour. Regular connections to the island can be to Hong Kong Central or Wan Chai and cost around HKD3.
The views on both sides of the city are interesting and the quick trip is enjoyable.
Climb the longest escalators in the world
The longest covered outdoor escalators in the world are in Hong Kong. Central – Mid-Levels Escalator extends over 800 meters and is a great opportunity to explore the shops, restaurants, and points of interest in Soho and Sheung Wan.
See the city from the top
One of the most interesting views we had of the city was from Victoria Peak. There is a tram that climbs (Peak Tram) up a hill to Peak Tower.
You can hop on the tram to Victoria Peak and try to see the view from one of the balconies (entrance to a pizzeria and burger shop), or outside by the restaurants, or pay the extra ticket to go up to the terrace.
Watch the nightly show of lights and music
Every day at 8:00 pm, there is a light and music show, the Symphony of Lights, in the city’s various skyscrapers, both on the island side and on the continental side. One night we looked for the best place to see the show: Golden Bauhinia Square. In fact, the view of the city skyline is spectacular from that spot, however, we were not fascinated with the show.
Shopping in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a great city for shopping. In addition to being available most of the international brands, Hong Kong enjoys a special tax status where there is no VAT payment, so generally, the products have lower prices. For example, when we visited Hong Kong we took the opportunity to upgrade our smartphone by 20% less than in Portugal. The Causeway Bay area is a good choice for shopping.
Tips about Hong Kong
Having an Octopus card will help you make payments and get around the city. It can be purchased at an MTR station for HKD150 (50 deposit + 100 balance). Almost everything can be paid with this card within the city: laundry, cafes, supermarkets, parking and most importantly, buses and subway. There are many stores that do not accept credit cards, however, accept payments with Octopus. At the end of your visit to the city, you can return the card at a subway station and get back part of the HKD50.
Visiting Hong Kong was a surprise to us. It is a very safe city for those who like to hike, try local food and shop. The culture of the city is very interesting and there was so much to see that we didn’t have a chance, so we recommend a longer visit to the city or at least, if you get the chance, to extend your stopover as we did.
If you still have time…
Visit Tian Tan Buddha (Ngong Ping)
It is a huge Buddha statue on the Ngong Ping plateau and represents the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and religion. Access to the site can be done by a cable car.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
It is a collection of 5 temples located in Sha Tin New Territories in northern Hong Kong. The path of more than 430 steps is accompanied by dozens of golden Buddhas.
Macau’s proximity to Hong Kong may make it worthwhile to spend a day in the neighboring city. The most convenient access is by boat and takes about 1 hour. They say the trip is enjoyable and the views are worth it.
- Order your Revolut card - the only card we use while traveling
- Book your flight to Hong Kong with Momondo or with Skyscanner
- Book your hotel in Hong Kong with Hotel Purple (use the code TWOBYTHEWORLD10 in email reservations) or with Booking
- We recommend Lonely Planet Hong Kong guide
- Chose your travel insurance with Iati (with 5% off) or with World Nomads