Backpacking Hong Kong
Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Hong Kong? Here you will find information on working in Hong Kong, entry visas, Hong Kong hostels, and much more.
Table of Contents
- Facts About Hong Kong
- Things to do in Hong Kong
- Entry Visa Requirements for Hong Kong
- Hong Kong Hostels & Budget Accommodation
Facts About Hong Kong
Hong Kong was for 100 years part of the British Empire, it was handed back To Chinese rule in 1997 and despite initial unease, life has very quickly returned to normal. Hong Kong is split into four regions; Kowloon and New Territories are on the peninsula of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong Island is the main part of Hong Kong and the Outlying Islands are a collection of over 200 tiny islands which surround Hong Kong proper.
The whole of Hong Kong is an incredibly busy city with a pace that most travellers first regard as frantic. After a day or so of adjustment, you will find Hong Kong a rewarding destination. Although its cost might make a long stay in Hong Kong prohibitive, it is worth including for a few days on any tour of the Chinese mainland.
- Currency: Hong Kong Dollar (HK$) = 100 cents
- Time Zone: GMT + 8
- Language: Cantonese and English
- Telephone Services: Country code +852, International access code 00
- Emergency Numbers: 999 for all services
Climate in Hong Kong
When deciding the best time to visit Hong Kong, weather certainly plays a role. Hong Kong’s climate is governed by four distinct seasons influenced by its bi-annual monsoons in the winter and summer months.
The summers are very hot with a rainy season occurring between June and August, Spring and Autumn are both temperate with mild precipitation. During winter temperatures can fall quite low but in general, the weather is quite mild. There is a risk of typhoons running from July to September.
Things to do in Hong Kong
Kowloon is the main tourist region in Hong Kong, it is here that you will find the majority of consumer electronics stores nestled between bars, clubs and restaurants. Some travellers can find this area a little tacky, but it is quite a good chance to get orientated in a more familiar environment, besides there are some sights worth seeing.
There is a large night market on Temple Street which although has fallen victim in part to the tourist trade is still worth a look. Also in this area is the Space museum which features an impressive OMNIMAX film projector as well as a range of hands-on extension activities. Also of interest is the Museum of History and the Hong Kong Cultural centre which both have an impressive range of exhibits.
Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong island itself is even busier than mainland Hong Kong and much like Kowloon has a significant amount of tourist tack on display. Most visitors come to see the junks anchored off the southern harbour in Aberdeen. Here you will find plenty of boat tours on offer which although pricy are well worth the cost. While here most tourists can’t help but indulge in a meal on one of the many floating restaurants in the area.
Other attractions include the Central Market which is the largest on the island and the ancient Man Mo Temple. When the frantic pace of the city gets on top of you, and it will eventually, you can escape by visiting the Zoological & Botanic gardens or perhaps the glorious beach at Repulse Bay.
The most notable other tourist attraction is the Victoria peak which rises 552m above sea level. While hardly a mountain it does offer some excellent views of the city, particularly Victoria Harbour. The best views are at night when the hordes of lights around the city make for a truly spectacular view.
While at the peak it is worth doing some window shopping in the mall directly under the observation point, although don’t expect many bargains here as these shops have geared up well to the “captive” tourist market the enjoy access to.
Unique Activities in Hong Kong
Another good way to get an idea of things to do in Hong Kong is to scan the activities offered by Get Your Guide or Viator. They work directly with local tour operators, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
If you know your schedule ahead of time, a great insider tip is to buy tickets for major tourist attractions ahead of time. Tiqets has entrance tickets and skip the line passes for major tourist spots in Hong Kong and Macau so that you can avoid the lines and save that precious time for more exploring.
How to Travel Around Hong Kong
If you’re flying to Hong Kong or plan to take short flights within the country, we recommend using a few different flight comparison search engines. Kiwi is a new favourite among travellers. On average, we have found the cheapest flights to Hong Kong with them compared to the other websites out there.
Of course, it is always worth checking Skyscanner to guarantee you’re getting the best flight deal to Hong Kong. Both websites offer great flexible search options, allowing you to search the whole country of Hong Kong to find the cheapest airport to fly into, and also see prices for a full month if you’re flexible on travel dates.
Travel within Hong Kong
For tourists, by far the most popular way to get around between the various regions is by boat. There are a number of options available, the most common is the cross-harbour passenger ferries which run every 5 minutes.
Most ferries are operated by Star Ferries but there are other smaller companies operating services. These ferry services only run between 6:30 am and 11:30 pm but small motor boats, termed locally wallah wallahs run by enterprising individuals or small companies offer effectively a waterborne taxi service 24 hours a day. In Aberdeen, Watertours offers a tour of the harbour in Junks and there are various passenger ferries to outlying islands.
Hong Kong has a reasonably sized metro system with four lines including a cross-harbour route. It is generally faster than the ferry but works out slightly more expensive. Tickets are normally bought from automatic dispensers in the station and cost between 30p and HK$1 depending on the route.
Visitors staying for longer than a couple of days could take advantage of an octopus card, which costs about HK$5. This card starts with $50 credit on it and the cost of fares are deducted when placed on card sensors in the stations, these cards have the benefit of giving the bearer a reduced fare.
There is a well connected local bus and tram network in operations which is inexpensive but often very crowded. These services also accept Octopus cards. Taxis are readily available and most drivers speak enough English to get by. There are also rickshaws available which are these days solely a tourist attraction.
Backpacking Tours in Hong Kong
Though part of the fun of backpacking Hong Kong is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group. For these times, a popular option among backpackers is G Adventures. They hand-select local guides to ensure authenticity and quality. This is especially a good option for those travelling Hong Kong alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travellers. Their most popular trips in Hong Kong are their 8-day Classic Shanghai to Hong Kong Adventure or their 15-day China Active Adventure tour for those interested in hiking and biking through beautiful countryside.
Health and Safety in Hong Kong
The quality of Healthcare practised in Hong Kong is excellent and easily on par with Western standards. Charges are made for all services and medical bills can become quite expensive so it is highly recommended that you take out fully comprehensive travel insurance.
Vaccination is advised against both polio and typhoid, these vaccinations are available from your local GP for around HK$40. There is a slight risk of malaria so you should contact your GP for medical advice on whether it is necessary to carry any anti-malaria treatments.
The food and drink in Hong Kong is considered safe and only normal everyday precautions need be observed.
Entry Visa Requirements for Hong Kong
All travellers require a passport valid for at least 6 months after the period of intended stay in Hong Kong as well as evidence of a return ticket. Visa regulations vary a lot according to nationality.
Travellers holding a British passport may stay for up to 6 months without a visa with those holding passports of British Dependant Territories being permitted up to 3 months stay without a visa. USA and EU nationals do not require a visa for a stay of up to 3 months. For any other visa or immigration related information you should contact the nearest local Hong Kong Government Office.
Hong Kong Hostels & Budget Accommodation
There are plenty of hotels in all of the areas of Hong Kong with over 40,000 rooms estimated to be available in the city. Standards range from luxury international hotels to small family run guesthouses. Despite the huge amount of accommodation in Hong Kong during the tourist season, it is essential to book in advance.
We have had good experiences finding hostels in Hong Kong on HostelWorld. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers, you know exactly what to expect.
Another good way to find accommodation in Hong Kong is by checking hotels.com and booking.com. With both sites, you’ll not only find hotels, but also homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodation. We have discovered some great finds and have appreciated the ability to book ahead. You can use their advanced filtering to narrow your results by budget, location score, overall review score, and amenities. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip.
Useful Links for Backpacking in Hong Kong
- The Hong Kong Tourist Board provides official tourist information for travellers to Hong Kong
- Kiwi or Skyscanner – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Hong Kong and within the country
- GetYourGuide and Viator – a collection of local tours and things to do in Hong Kong. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
- Tiqets – Website selling entrance tickets and skip the line tickets for major tourist attractions in Hong Kong
- G Adventures – guided backpacking tours in Hong Kong, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip which would require a guide
- HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website to find a place to stay in Hong Kong. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
- Booking.com – a commonly used booking site in Hong Kong. Hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
- Travel Insurance – read our comprehensive overview of Travel Insurance and some recommended providers for your backpacking trip to Hong Kong
There you have it, the ultimate Hong Kong backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Hong Kong.
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