Hong Kong is fast becoming one of the most visited parts of Asia, boasting a rich, vibrant mix of nationalities and an exciting atmosphere. Fantastic Hong Kong hotels and a wide range of bars and restaurantsmean you can expect to experience the hospitality of a hundred different cultures, making it ideal for the seasoned traveller! We’ve put together some of the top things we think you should know before setting off, so you’re ready to enjoy your holiday in “Asia’s World City” with ease.
Hong Kong is NOT in China
Well, it is in China. But only sort of. While legally Hong Kong is part of China, the region is separate and more or less self-governing, with its own police force, border control and financial system – you’ll need Hong Kong dollars, not Chinese yuan! Hong Kong is also relatively liberal, and most people are bi-lingual, speaking both Cantonese and English.
Many Hong Kong customs are the same as those in China, and a concise list can be found here. If you’re planning on going out, it’s worth remembering that splitting the bill is a relatively new concept in Asia, and as a guest in the country you might find yourself being treated to a meal. While this is customary, politeness dictates that you refuse, or at least offer to pay next time!
Tea is the new wine
A great way to catch your breath while exploring Hong Kong is to stop in one of the hundreds of tea houses and cafes across the region, offering everything from cheap black and green teas to traditional chai ceremonies and different varieties. Tea really is appreciated here as a high-quality product – avoid adding milk and sugar! Sampling different teas and finding your own particular favourite with friends or loved one is both fun and informative.
The best deals are at the markets
While even the Chinese supermarkets will probably hold a variety of items you’ve never heard of before, the most interesting and wallet-friendly way to shop is at the various markets around the region.
One of the biggest is the Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi Street, with over a kilometre of market stalls holding clothing, accessories, furniture and curios.
The Temple Street Night Market is another popular destination, especially for the lights and entertainment after dark.
When to visit
There are a number of festivals around Hong Kong throughout the year, and it’s wise to look out for one that takes your fancy before booking your trip. Chinese New Year at the beginning of the year is a huge tourist attraction, with great parties, parades and fireworks to see. February to April sees a number of cultural festivals including the month-long Hong Kong Arts Festival, and the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
Rugby lovers should look out for the week of the Rugby Sevens, while for a festive break you could head to the region in December, when the weather is mild and the markets are bustling with pre-Christmas excitement!