Hong Kong: What You Need to Know


Hong Kong: What You Need to Know

Hong Kong is one of the busiest and the most developed metropolitan hubs in Asia in terms of trade, business, and tourism. A Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong consists of the Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, and 200 outlying islands. While these areas are connected by sprawling train and bus networks, it is important to be familiar with its geography.

  • Hong Kong Island is where the Central area, the political and economic center, is located. Although intimidating at first, it harbors a number of affordable guesthouses and hostels. It is also home to many tourist attractions including the Victoria Peak.
  • Kowloon is where you will find most museums, markets, and the Avenue of Stars. It also has the greatest concentration of cheap guesthouses.
  • The New Territories, north of Kowloon, is dotted with wetland parks and temples. Lantau Island, one of the many outlying islands, takes pride in Ngong Ping (Giant Buddha and Po Lin Monastery) and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Where to Stay in Hong Kong

Finding cheap accommodations in Hong Kong is easy. The Tsim Sha Tsui and Central areas are littered with guesthouses and hostels offering affordable rooms. They are also consistently cheap throughout the year, ranging from HK300-HK500 for a double room.

I personally love staying in the Tsim Sha Tsui area whenever I’m in Hong Kong because it’s close to almost everything I want to see. You can walk to the Avenue of Stars. Hong Kong Island can be easily reached by ferry or MTR. Mong Kok is also just a few stations away. There are a lot of money changers and ATMs around. And like I said, when it comes to accommodations, you have a lot of options here.

Anyway, here are top budget guesthouses and hostels in Hong Kong as rated by online users as of June 2017.

Hong Kong Hostel
3/F, Block A, 47 Paterson Street, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
V Inn
A9, 15/F, Block A, Chung King Mansion, 36-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Tsim Mong District, Hong Kong

How to Get to Tsim Sha Tsui from Hong Kong Airport

If you decide to stay in the Tsim Sha Tsui area, here’s how to reach it from the airport. You have two options: the Airport Express (train) and the bus.

By Airport Express Train

Here are the rates beginning June 18, 2017. Children (below 12 yo) get 50% discount.

BUT if you feel like you’ll be taking the MTR and the bus a lot in the next 3 days (and you will), purchase an Airport Express Travel Pass instead. This pass will allow you 1 or 2 single journeys on the Airport Express and UNLIMITED use of MTR, Light Rail, and MTR Bus (Northwest New Territories) for the next 3 days (72 hours). Here are the rates:

  • 1 Airport Express Ride + Unlimited MTR Rides for 3 days: HK$250
  • 2 Airport Express Rides + Unlimited MTR Rides for 3 days: HK$350

You can also top up the card after 3 days.

But here’s the thing: you will need 2 transfers to get to Tsim Sha Tsui. And if you’re carrying gargantuan luggage or traveling with kids, it can be a challenging first day for you, which is why I recommend the other option…

By Bus

It’s cheaper and more comfortable. And you don’t need to switch vehicles!

But if you’re taking the bus, I recommend that you get an Octopus Card. which you can use when riding the MTR and buses. The Octopus Card isn’t necessary — you can do away with it and just pay cash each time instead — but since you will be using the bus and MTR most of the time, you might as well just get one. It’s convenient after all. You won’t need to get a ticket every time you’re taking the train or the bus.

The standard Octopus Card costs HK$100 for adults and HK$50 for kids plus HK$50 deposit. The deposit for both standard and children’s cards is refundable when you surrender the card.

If you don’t think you’d be able to return the card (thereby letting go of your deposit), you can buy an Octopus TOURIST Card via Klook instead. The Octopus Tourist Card is preloaded with HK$50 and you can take home the card as souvenir.

Once you have the card, here’s how to take the bus to Tsim Sha Tsui:

  • At the airport, look for signs to the BUS terminal. It’s right in front of the airport building, you’ll see it immediately after the exit.
  • Board the A21 City flyer Bus. Look for the A21 sign and queue. Pay using Octopus Card. If you don’t have this card, you can pay in cash but you must have the exact amount.
  • Alight at Stop 13 (Cameron Road corner Nathan Road) or Stop 14 (Middle Road corner Nathan Road), depending on what’s closer to your booked hotel.
  • Walk to your hotel.

That’s about it! Before your trip, contact your hotel and ask for the closest bus stop so you know where exactly to get off.

How to Get Around Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s MTR system is your best friend in the city. It’s extensive, tourist-friendly, and relatively inexpensive. If you have the Airport Express Pass or the Octopus Card, you just need to hover the card above the sensor at the gates and enter.

Otherwise, you will need to purchase single-journey tickets. Here’s how to get one.

  1. At the train station, approach one of the ticket machines. Each machine has a screen and a route map.
  2. Touch the destination on the route map.
  3. Select ticket type. By default, it is set to ADULT.
  4. Insert coins or bills.
  5. Get the ticket and change.

How to Stay Connected in Hong Kong

You can purchase a 4G/3G SIM Card or rent a 3G mobile wifi. Either way, you can pick it up at Hong Kong airport, for your convenience.

Places to Visit: Hong Kong Tourist Spots

Here are some places you don’t want to miss! Below the pics are more info about the place and some useful places –

Disneyland Hong Kong

Ngong Ping and Tian Tan Big Buddha

Victoria Peak

The queues to the tram are notoriously crazy long! We tried falling in line and wasted a lot of time. But you can actually skip it if you book a ticket! Peak Tram Passes are often packaged with other attractions at The Peak including Madame Tussauds, Sky Terrace 428, and Trick Eye Museum.

Venue of Stars & Symphony of Lights Mong Kok


Unique Hong Kong Tours

If you have more budget, you can enjoy these tours to maximize your stay in Hong Kong! Links so you can book these tours in advance or reserve slots are provided below!

Macau Day Tourget

You can easily go to Macau from Hong Kong! You just need to buy a ticket from the terminal, board a ferry, and you’ll be there in 55 minutes. Once in Macau, you can take advantage of the free shuttle rides provided by hotels and then just explore on foot! It’s super easy.

But if you don’t want to be comfortable, there are day tours being offered in Hong Kong. They will take care of everything, from ferry tickets to your sightseeing in Macau to a sumptuous lunch at a 4-star hotel. If you’re interested in that, you can book below.

Aqua Luna Symphony of Lights Cruise

Although you can also enjoy the Symphony of Lights from the Avenue of Stars, you can level up your Hong Kong experience by admiring it from a traditional junk boat as you cruise around Victoria Harbour! It comes with DINNER too!

360 Lantau Island Sky-Land-Sea Day Pass

This one isn’t really a tour but a day pass that would take you around and over Lantau Island and enjoy the following:

  • a round trip cable car ride
  • a boat excursion
  • unlimited use of the bus system
  • Big Buddha Statue visit
  • Tai O Fishing Village visit
  • HK$20 voucher for the Ngong Ping 360 Souvenir shop

Hong Kong Food Tour

This tour is recommended by the Hong Kong Tourism Board! Eat your way through one of Hong Kong’s old districts, Sham Shui Po. You’ll get a total of 10 tastings as you learn more about the culture and history of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Day Walking Tour 

Kowloon Evening Walking Tour

This tour will take you across Hong Kong’s Jordan and Yau Ma Tei neighborhoods to visit the following:

  • a century-old fruit market
  • a local art deco-style restaurant
  • an old-school singing parlor
  • Temple Street market
  • fortune tellers

Sample Hong Kong Itineraries

If you enter Hong Kong and exit in Macau, everything should go smoothly. Experience Hong Kong first and then spend the last two days in Macau. This was my itinerary for a recent 4-day trip.

07:55 am – ETD: NAIA Terminal 3 Airport
09:55 am – ETA: Hong Kong Airport
10:30 am – Take A21 Bus to Tsim Sha Tsui
11:20 am – Check-in at guesthouse
12:00 pm – Ngong Ping  (Tian Tan Buddha, Po Lin Monastery)
04:00 pm – Victoria Peak
07:30 pm – Avenue of Stars (Watch the Symphony of Lights)
09:30 pm – Sleep

07:00 am – Wake up
08:15 am – Breakfast
11:00 am – Disneyland Hong Kong
08:00 pm – Disneyland Fireworks Show
09:30 pm – Mong Kok (Ladies’ Market, Temple Street Night Market, etc)
12:00 am – Sleep

07:00 am – Wake up
08:00 am – Breakfast
10:00 am – ETD: Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal (or Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal)
11:00 am – ETA: Taipa Ferry Terminal (or Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal)
12:00 pm – City of Dreams: Watch Dragon’s Treasure at The Bubble
02:00 pm – The Venetian (Lunch at Food Court)
04:00 pm – Senado Square and St. Paul Ruins
07:00 pm – Wynn Hotel: Tree of Prosperity and Musical Fountain
09:00 pm – Checkin at Hotel in Macau

07:00 am – Checkout Hotel, Leave Baggage at Reception
08:00 am – Breakfast
09:00 am – Camoes Garden or Lou Lim Ioc Garden
11:00 am – A Ma Temple
12:30 pm – Lunch
02:00 pm – Guia Fortress or free time
06:00 pm – Pick up baggage at Hotel
07:00 pm – Have dinner and check-in at Airport
10:15 pm – ETD: Macau Airport
12:15 am – ETA: NAIA Terminal 3

Rule of thumb, always prioritize places that are farthest from the airport. For instance, if you have a roundtrip Hong Kong ticket and you wish to see Macau, explore the latter first and make your way back to Hong Kong in the next days. This way, you won’t have to hustle trying to catch your return flight. Here’s a sample itinerary.

07:55 am – ETD: NAIA Terminal 3 Airport
09:55 am – ETA: Hong Kong Airport
10:30 am – Lunch
12:00 pm – Take Ferry from HK Airport to Macau
01:00 pm – ETA: Macau Ferry Terminal
02:00 pm – City of Dreams: Watch Dragon’s Treasure at The Bubble
03:00 pm – The Venetian (Lunch at Food Court)
05:00 pm – Senado Square and St. Paul Ruins
08:00 pm – Wynn Hotel: Tree of Prosperity and Musical Fountain
10:00 pm – Checkin at Hotel in Macau

07:00 am – Wake up, Check out
08:00 am – A Ma Temple
10:00 am – Guia Fortress
12:00 pm – Lunch
01:00 pm – Take ferry to Hong Kong
02:00 pm – ETA: Hong Kong Ferry Terminal
03:00 pm – Check-in at Hotel in Hong Kong/Kowloon
04:00 pm – Victoria Peak
07:30 pm – Avenue of Stars (Watch the Symphony of Lights)
09:30 pm – Sleep

07:00 am – Wake up
08:15 am – Breakfast
10:00 am – Ngong Ping (Po Lin Monastery, Tian Tan Temple)
12:00 pm – Disneyland
08:00 pm – Disneyland Fireworks Show
09:30 pm – Mong Kok (Ladies’ Market, Temple Street Night Market, etc)
12:00 am – Sleep

07:00 am – Wake up
09:00 am – Buy pasalubong, walk around the city, or visit museums
05:00 pm – Have dinner and check-in at Airport
08:45 pm – ETD: Macau Airport
10:35 pm – ETA: Clark Airport

I have to warn you, though, that these itineraries can get extremely exhausting because it involves a lot of walking. Ngong Ping, Disneyland, and Mongkok in one day is no joke and can be physically demanding. You might want to adjust this if you have kids or elderly with you.


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