Hong Kong is one of the most diverse
cities in the world. Very Asian but with a clear European
influence. Very Chinese but distinctively different from
Mainland China. It’s a diverse mix of business and culture, East
and West, rich and poor, traditional and modern. So no matter
what your background, you will feel at home in Hong Kong but at
the same time feel like a total stranger. It’s this ability to
balance so many different influences that make Hong Kong so
Hong Kong is a great destination for a weekend. 3-4 days is
perfect. It offers great shopping, from shopping malls to quirky
boutiques. And in Hong Kong you will never go hungry. You can
taste food from all corners of the world. Nightlife is great
too, with a number of gay bars and clubs. And if you want a more
quiet experience, Hong Kong has some lovely islands whether you
can enjoy a hike or some fresh seafood on a beach. And finally,
if you run out of money (which is a very real possibility
considering Hong Kong’s prices) head over to Macau and try your
luck in one of the many casinos there.
Unless you travel overland from Mainland
China or from Macau by ferry, you will arrive at Hong Kong
International Airport (HKG). It’s located at quite a distance
from the city center, on a man-made island North of Lantau
Island. It’s a user friendly and very efficient facility,
although immigration queues can get a little long during peak
After picking up your baggage and passing through customs, you
have several options to continue your journey to the city
center. The most convenient is probably the Airport Express. It
runs every 10 minutes and takes you directly to Kowloon or Hong
Kong in less than 30 minutes. It’s about HK$ 80-100, slightly
cheaper if you buy a roundtrip ticket. There are of course taxis
that take you directly to your hotel for about HK$ 250-350. And
there are also a number of buses that run into town that cost
about HK$ 40.
Many airlines fly to Hong Kong, including low-cost airlines like
AirAsia and Tiger Airways. So there is always cheap deals to be
had. The dominant airline in Hong Kong is of course Cathay
Pacific. It’s a pretty good airline so fares tend to be quite
high. Hong Kong Airlines is a lot smaller with a limited number
of routes but is generally a bit cheaper than Cathay Pacific.
Hong Kong welcomes visitors from all over the world. So probably
you don’t need a visa to enter. However, check with the
Immigration Department before travelling. Hong Kong does not
have embassies abroad. If you do require a visa, contact the
nearest Chinese embassy.
Public transportation in Hong Kong is
pretty good. And if you plan to move around the city quite a
bit, it’s probably worth buying an Octopus card. Initially it
costs you HK$ 150 with HK$ 100 to use and a HK$ 50 is a
refundable deposit. It is valid on the subway, on public buses,
on ferries and you can even pay with it at 7-Eleven, McDonald’s
as well as many other stores.
For longer journeys across the city, use the MTR (subway). There
are several lines but you probably just need two. The blue line
for destinations on Hong Kong Island and then the red line with
connects Kowloon with Hong Kong Island. If you just travel a few
station it costs about HK$ 5-8 and about HK$ 15-20 if you travel
between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon or vice versa. The MTR runs
from 06:00 to 24:00.
Taxis are plentiful in Hong Kong and not too expensive. The fare
starts at HK$ 20 for the first 2 kilometers. There is a
surcharge to use one of the tunnels between Hong Kong Island and
Kowloon or vice versa.
If you travel between Hong Kong Island (Central or Wanchai) and
Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui) you must try the Star Ferry. It’s super
romantic and offers great views of the city’s skyline. Fares are
between HK$ 1.50 to HK$ 3.00 and depend if you make the journey
on the upper deck or lower deck.
On Hong Kong Island you can also use the old but very charming
double decker trams. They will take you anywhere from Sheung Wan
to Causewaybay and beyond. Fares are about HK$ 2.30.
When to go
Hong Kong is a city so you will probably
just go there for a few days. And most activities like shopping
and nightlife happen indoors anyway. So you will probably have a
fun time in Hong Kong no matter what the weather is. Having said
that, it does rain quite a lot from May to September. From
November to March it’s quite cool around 15-20°C.
Hotel prices in Hong Kong are astronomical at the best of times.
However, there can be big differences depending on when you go.
The reason is the many trade fairs in the city. Whenever a trade
fair is going on, room rates are going up. So while one weekend
can be super expensive, the following weekend may be a lot
cheaper. So it makes sense to plan ahead. Also try to avoid
Chinese New Year and October, when many Mainland Chinese visit
What to see
Take the cute little train up the mountain and enjoy the views
Cross the harbour and admire Hong Kong’s stunning skyline
Hong Kong’s most fashionable and trendy shopping district
Visit Mickey Mouse and his friends on Lantau Island
Dragon’s Back Trail
Explore the green side of Hong Kong just minutes from Central
Many hotels and also a few bars have free
WiFi for guests. However, you can easily get a local SIM card.
They are available from less than HK$ 50 and there is no need to
show an ID. SmarTone, PCCW and “3” are reliable mobile network
operators. You can get SIM cards from their outlets or also from
any 7-Eleven store. There is a 7-Eleven store at the arrivals
level of Hong Kong International Airport and you can find a “3”
store on the departures level. Grindr and Jack’d are very
popular in Hong Kong so it makes sense to bring your smart
phone. However, many profiles will not show face pictures.
Hong Kong has a modern and open society
and there is a fair bit of gay activism going on, mostly
focusing on health issues. Hong Kong people are proud to be
different from Mainland China. So the society does appreciate
the ability to be different and the LGBT community is fairly
well accepted. However, families can still be quite
conservative. So many sisters in Hong Kong may still not be out
to their parents. And rents in Hong Kong are very expensive so
many still live with their parents. That makes having a gay
relationship quite difficult.