Hong Kong is my hometown and I spent my wonderful childhood there. I really love this place, especially after I start my travel… I miss her badly. You know what, no matter which type of traveler you are, Hong Kong is a place will not disappointed you.
Before I start writing this blog, I did struggle for hours that which country or city should I start for the first article in my blog? And finally I found there is no way for me to not start it with Hong Kong 🙂 I found a news online in earlier this year that Euromonitor released the result of the International’s Top City Destination and Hong Kong is in the first place again, this is the 5th years we are on the top already since 2010. As a Hongkonger, I am so proud of it. (You can read the second definition of Hongkonger on Urban Dictionary and you will see some really basic history and how different we are from Chinese from Mainland China…which i agreed)
Well, yes, geographically Hong Kong is part of China but other than that, we don’t think there is a reason why we are part of China and if you have ever been in Hong Kong, you will see how different we are. In China, people speak in Mandarin and write in Simplified Chinese; in Hong Kong, we speak in Cantonese then English, sometime you can hear both Cantonese and English in the same sentence, which is quite common, for most of us, Mandarin considered as a third language and we write in Traditional Chinese. When you walk on the street, you will see road signs in both Traditional Chinese and English but not the simplified one.
We have our own currency – Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) which is link with US Dollar but not Chinese Renminbi (RMB or CNY).
We hold different passports and we do need a visa to go to China… I mean, if we are belong to China, why we need a visa to get into “our own country”?!
So far as I know, we don’t have any information blockade like they do, we are able to access Google, Facebook, YouTube, twitter, or some other websites easily without bypassing internet censorship.
Anyway, some basic information for traveling in Hong Kong.
There are 3 regions in Hong Kong: 1. Hong Kong Island, 2. Kowloon Peninsula, 3. New Territories and Islands.
Our electrical voltage is 220 volts and use the three rectangular prongs plug.
If any emergency happens, call 999.
If you are going to stay in Hong Kong more than just a day, I highly recommend you to buy an Octopus to make everything easier. The Octopus is one of the simplest and the most user-friendly electronic money widely used in Hong Kong, really, you can use it almost everywhere, all the public transportations, fast-food shops, restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, vending machines, theme parks, etc. it helps you save a lot of time, you can top it up easily in all the convenience stores, MTR stations, supermarket,etc. There are few types of Octopus, in Hong Kong, we use the normal one, that is refundable when you leave (with service charge), also there is another one especially for tourist called Sold Tourist Octopus which is non-refundable but cheaper if you plan to keep it anyway and look better. If you want to know more about Octopus, you can check out the link inserted.
Some people like to exchange all the money they planned to spend in their trip at the airport, if you don’t mind the ‘not so good’ exchange rate and service charge, then I will not stop you doing that, but other than that, I hope you know there are some more ways, you can also withdraw money from ATM, even including the service charge, I think the rate will still be better than exchange at the airport or I have 3 stores on my list which you can consider, I will say these are top 3 in Hong Kong, most of the without service charge, you can also go on their website to check the rate before you go:
- Kin Shing Money Exchange Co Ltd, located in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kolwoon.
- Berlin Company Exchange Limited, located in Central, Hong Kong Island.
- Ngau Kee Money Changer Co., Ltd., located in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island.
Applications may help…
There are some useful apps you may want during your travel in Hong Kong. MTR is the most common and convenient public transport for travelers, we have a very nice and not so complicated metro system in Hong Kong and for sure you are smart enough to handle it and the MTR mobile app just make it even easier, you can check the price, time and how to get to your destination.
As we have the title of “Food Paradise” in Hong Kong, other than using foursquare or tripadvisor, we use OpenRice more often to look for a nice place to eat, you can find some nice recommendations and reviews of the restaurant there, you must check it out if you love to eat.
Free in Hong Kong
Basically, Hong Kong is a tax free city, you can buy books, cosmetic products, electronic products, wine and other liquors under 30%vol. and many other products without paying tax, but not those liquor more than 30% vol. and tobacco. For more detail, you can check it out on the Customs and Excise Department website.
You may not have the habit to read newspaper, but every weekdays in the morning, you can find free newspapers around MTR stations or some busy streets, most of them are in Traditional Chinese and some of them are in English.
One more thing, if you love visiting Museums, it may be the best news for you, all museums in Hong Kong are free on Wednesdays.
What to do in Hong Kong
As I said, Hong Kong is a place which will not disappointed you no matter what kind of traveler you are. Hong Kong is a city never sleep, from Monday to Sunday, 24/7, you can shopping anytime, eat and enjoy your life. If you enjoy nightlife, we have close to 1000 bars, one of the most famous street full of bars and the best place to experience nightlife in Hong Kong is called Lan Kwai Fong (蘭桂坊), a glass of beer is about HKD70, if you want to experience something special, you can also go to the highest bar in the world, OZONE, it is located on 118/F of ICC, a glass of cocktail is about HKD180 with amazing view of Hong Kong… Oh, yes, about the view of Hong Kong, many people like to see the view of Victoria harbor, or see it from The Peak or ICC, which you need to pay for it, and for me, I know a place which not much people know, which is the 16/F of K11 (a shopping mall located in Tsim Sha Tsui), you can also see the view of the harbor with much less people there.
If you are love nature, we have a lot of beaches, country parks, hiking trails and waterfalls too, We have some country parks or hiking trails with wild monkeys, likes the Kam Shan Country Park (a friendly reminder for you, mind you bag and if you have something edible, you better don’t hold them in hand, because those monkeys will take it from you without asking and feeding them is illegal). If you enjoy hiking, swimming and camping, Sai Kung is a place you can’t missed. You can try to go to Tai Long Wan (大浪灣, its direct translation is big wave bay) and which I think you can see the best beach in Hong Kong.