Hong Kong City Guide [Updated 2018]

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Of all China’s glittering cityscapes, Hong Kong is arguably its most impressive. Whether it’s the city’s collection of skyscrapers that flank its waterside location or the blend of old and new architecture that sets it apart from other Chinese metropolises — this is one Asian city that’s well worth a visit.

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While Hong Kong is now famous for its glut of sparkling high-rises, the city’s history stretches back thousands of years, something which gives this sprawling metropolis a whole other dimension that is sure to surprise some first-time visitors.

If you’ve recently booked a cruise from Hong Kong, or the city is part of a wider Chinese or Asian cruise itinerary, this extensive guide takes you on a tour around the best of what Hong Kong has to offer. From its storied history to the culinary highlights you need to check out, we’ve flagged up the premier attractions across the city.

Fun fact #01

Apartment buildings in Hong Kong often don’t feature a fourth floor because four sounds like “death” in Chinese and is thought to be unlucky.

What to see in Hong Kong

If you’re a fanatical foodie, a culture connoisseur or a bit of a history buff, Hong Kong has something to sate your appetite whatever you look for from a holiday. As energetic as it is serene, Hong Kong strikes a balance between its bustling streets and tranquil gardens, offering excitement and relaxation in equal measure. Whether you’re in the sprawl of its mountains or seeing the city by ferry, Hong Kong is a many-splendored adventure that caters to everyone.

Fun fact #02

Hong Kong is home to the world’s longest bridge with a functioning motorway and railway, at 1,377 metres long.

If you’re a fanatical foodie, a culture connoisseur or a bit of a history buff, Hong Kong has something to sate your appetite whatever you look for from a holiday. As energetic as it is serene, Hong Kong strikes a balance between its bustling streets and tranquil gardens, offering excitement and relaxation in equal measure. Whether you’re in the sprawl of its mountains or seeing the city by ferry, Hong Kong is a many-splendored adventure that caters to everyone.

With so much to see and do, it’s no surprise that Hong Kong is blessed by superb transport links. Getting around is super easy for the most part – we’d recommend avoiding cycling and attempting to drive your own car; the one-way streets, winding roads and slow-moving traffic make for some pretty white-knuckle experiences if you aren’t well versed.

The Mass Transit Railway, comprising underground, overland and Light Rail services, is perhaps the easiest way to get around. Clean, fast and safe, it’s super quick and runs from 6:00 in the morning all the way ‘til midnight, though it’s best to avoid rush hour. It might be worth investing in an Octopus Card, a rechargeable smartcard that you can use on the MTR and most forms of public transport. Good value for money, you can also use it to make purchases from retail stores across the city.

Hong Kong’s extensive bus network goes just about anywhere, so you’ll probably get to know it well if you don’t use the MTR. It’s relatively quick and prices can be rock bottom depending on the destination.

Opt for a taxi and you’ll be surprised at how cheap the fare is compared to other major cities across the globe. With 18,000 on the streets, they’re in abundance here, so they’re easy to flag down outside of rush hour. Look for ones with a red ‘For Hire’ sign illuminated on the meter and you’re good to go. A few tips though: it’s worth having the destination written down in Chinese, since some taxi drivers don’t speak a word of English (though some do). Have smaller bills and coins on you as you’ll be lucky to get change from HK$500 and please note that there’s a luggage fee of HK$5, though not all drivers adhere to this.

Victoria Peak

hong kong victoria peak

Given its size, you’d think it would be impossible to see all of Hong Kong in one fell swoop. Make your way to the summit of Victoria Peak, however, and you’re granted a dazzling view of the entire city stretching into the distance below. An absolute must during any visit to the city.

Big Buddha & Lantau Island

big buddha hong kong

Big Buddha, known locally as Tian Tan Buddha, is a bronze statue of Sakyamuni Buddha located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island. Said to represent the relationship between man and nature, the Big Buddha statue is the main centre for Buddhism in Hong Kong, and makes for one amazing spectacle.

Chi Lin Nunnery

chi lin nunnery

If you want to experience the old-world side of Hong Kong, there’s nowhere better to visit than the Chi Lin Nunnery — a large Buddhist temple located in Hong Kong’s charming Kowloon district. Though built as late as 1934, Chi Lin was constructed using traditional Chinese architectural techniques, so it perfectly echoes the history of the city.

Walk in Nan Lian Garden

gardens hong kong

Escape the sometimes-relentless hustle and bustle of Hong Kong with an afternoon stroll in the serene Nan Lian Garden. Just a stone’s throw from the Chi Lin Nunnery, this beautiful garden features the same traditional architectural touches as the Buddhist centre, and is well-known for its dreamy peace and quiet.

Ride the ‘Ding Ding’ Tramway

hong kong ding ding

Hong Kong’s ‘Ding Ding’ tram system is one of the city’s most famous landmarks, attracting millions of visitors each year. Although some of its cars are decades old, the tramway is still used by thousands of commuters every day, and is the only tram system in the world to use double-decker trams. Why not take one to the summit of Victoria Peak?

Take a Trip Aboard the Star Ferry

hong kong ship

Taking a trip aboard the Star Ferry during your stopover in Hong Kong really is a must. The Star Ferry is without question the best way to see the city, travelling back and forth along the waterfront and stopping at a number of key visitor sites.

Best kept secrets

Looking to go beyond the tourist attractions and uncover a hidden gem or two? Whether you’ve been to the city before, or you’re the kind of person who likes to take the road less travelled, Hong Kong has plenty in store for curious types past the usual hotspots. Don’t forget to talk to locals if you can, they’ll be on hand with a bevy of insider knowledge to point you in the direction of some provincial hotspots.

Fun fact #03

Its name literally translates to Fragrant Harbour.

Souvenirs

You’ll undoubtedly want to remember your time in Hong Kong, so here we’ve listed a few keepsakes and souvenirs to hunt out when you arrive.

Jade

jade

Endlessly popular in Hong Kong, jade is revered across China. A symbol of beauty and purity, it’s thought to bring good health, fortune and prosperity. Usually found in forms like jewellery, lucky charms and figurines, they make excellent little gifts for your spiritual friends and the feng shui-inspired. Head to the Jade Market, Po Jung Jade Factory and Cat Street, but be sure to watch out for the fake stuff though.

Chopsticks

chopstick souvenir

Whether you mastered the fine art of using them or not, there’s no denying that the chopsticks populating the markets of Hong Kong are expertly crafted, aesthetically pleasing utensils. Whether they’re wooden or ceramic, their traditional designs look superb; they even come with neat little rests to station them on.

Chinese Porcelain

chinese porcelain

Dating back to the 9th century, these blue and white treasures are highly sought after.  Go for the more expensive products if you’re really looking to please someone back home – their designs tend to be more intricate, too. Head to Temple Street or Stanley Market for the real deal.

Dried Seafood

dried seafood

A bit of an odd one to bring back with you, but if you love getting busy in the kitchen, then these are a must try. Made by drying seafood in the sun, these fishy husks are intensely flavoured and packed with nutrients. Try braising them or throwing them in soups and stir fries for an extra hit of flavour. Take a trip to Dried Seafood Street (yes, really!) and stock up on these excellent little additions.

Fun fact #04

If it’s your birthday, eat noodles! Residents of Hong Kong say it brings a long and blessed life.

Traditional dishes

A range of classically Chinese dishes with modern twists await when you arrive in Hong Kong.

Dim Sum

Not a dish per se, but rather an array of bite-sized foods eaten over a long, casual brunch and served with lots and lots of tea. Typically, you’ll feast on steamed dumplings filled with prawns or ground pork, barbequed pork buns known as char siu bao, prawn toast, and rice noodle rolls, though that’s just the tip of the iceberg really. If you partake in this Chinese tradition, you’ll be feasting on a surplus of superb food.

If you’re looking to try it, Lin Heung Teahouse is considered the best dim sum teahouse in Hong Kong.

dim sum

Roast Goose

A simple-sounding, rustic dish that houses some truly unbelievable flavours, this traditional treat consists of a whole goose, roasted in a blend of secret spices (some recipes use upward of 20!) and cut into pieces. The skin is incredibly crispy, with each bite unleashing a cascade of flavours from its succulent meat.

Sit down at Yat Lok, a Michelin-starred restaurant that every hungry tourist looking to eat this should go to.

roast goose

Wonton Soup

These iconic dumplings, filled with pork, shrimp and garlic really are a must try. Served in a delicious clear broth, they’re impossible to resist. The soup is salty and flavoursome, with plenty of thin egg noodles to slurp away on. A simple, hearty classic, and for good reason.

 

Try it at Mak’s Noodle and delight your rumbling stomach.

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wanton soup

We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to one of the world’s most memorable cities. If you’re interested in booking a cruise break to Hong Kong, visit the Cruise1st Australia website or give our friendly customer care team a call on 1300 857 345.

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3 Comments

  1. We arrive by cruise ship into Hong Kong.
    Could you please send me information on 12 hours in Hong Kong.

  2. I am interested in this cruise to Hong Kong. Please give me all costs: e.g. single cost, second time with Princess cruises discount, any flight costs, etc. Thankyou, J.I.Park.