Hydrofoil ferry in front of Hong Kong

10 Reasons To Visit Hong Kong

Thu 06 Mar 2014

Take a look at this list of reasons that make Hong Kong a great place to visit:

1. Strong Asian culture with English skills
The recent departure of Hong Kong from long term control by England means that local business people, taxi drivers, bar workers, sales people and so many locals have reasonable English. You have stepped into Asia in Hong Kong WITH the comfort of reasonably easy communication in English. You will also find that most restaurants will have menu's in English.

2. Bustling city with diverse city experiences
About 7 million call Hong Kong home and the total area being just over 1000 square kilometres, including the outer islands and the "mainland" side which borders China. The majority of the islands and total area is mountainous and thus the population lives mostly in ultra dense urban areas. Its nothing to see a apartment development containing 40 floors of apartments, with a group of 3 to 6 buildings! That is a lot of people in a small parcel of land.

At ground level it means that there is always people on the street and huge rang of businesses servicing these them. Diversity of dining is huge with virtually every street featuring a range of Western fast food, surrounded by authentic local restaurants ranging from cheap noodles, to things boiling away at the road side, served on skewers. Finding Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese Ramen, Sushi is simple as well.

Tourism diversity extends from riding in the street cars (ultra cheap), to tripping over the Macau for a high rolling gaming and hotel experience. Take you pick.

3. Affordable
You can do Hong Kong expensively if you wish, but you can also do in on the cheap. During our stay we used Airbnb.com to obtain a very comfortable 2 bedroom apartment in a nice area about 100 USD a night. There was even a maid that came to clean every day. The major benefit was the ability to cook some breakfast and have a coffee anytime you wish. Coffee, condiments and other kitchen gear was readily available.

That's just one example of cheap. You can have a meal on the street for about 5 USD, inside for less than 10 USD, buy beers from the 7 Eleven for less than 2 USD. To get somewhere on the MTR train system is less than 1 USD. The slow ferries to the outer islands of Lamma and Cheung Chau are about 3 USD one way.

4. Bar districts LKF, Soho, and Wan Chai
Lan Kwai Fong (LKF), Soho and Wan Chai are well known to anyone that has really taken time to get to know Hong Kong and ritualistic for social locals. LKF is where a crowd gathers weekend nights and, at least noisy any other night. Soho is the hip place to have a drink any night of the week, but particularly busy at the weekend. Wan Chai has the weekend scene, but best known for Wednesday "Ladies Night". Ex-pats, visitors and locals flood this place on Wednesdays filling the bars located side by side with seedy girlie bars.

5. Easy transportation
Moving 8 million people inside a small space has reasoned the development of a high efficiency underground train system called the MTR. You will have purchased an "Octopus" card early on in a visit which gets you onto the MTR, buses, ferries, street cars with a touch and go. (The "Octopus" card has a myriad of other uses too). There is always another MTR, ferry, bus or street car arriving, so you seldom worry about timetables. Its SO fuss free that its hard to put into words.

6. No pre application for visa
Coming from Australia (and most countries I imagine) you waltz straight into the country off the plane. There is automatic granting of a 90 day tourist visa on arrival... Effectively, this means that you are walking into a western version of China with out the hassle of a 5 day turn around and cost that you would need for China.

7. Outer islands
Visiting one of the outer islands is a must. There are few, if any cars on the islands and tightly packed houses and apartments the small towns that occupy the islands. The tight lanes of the island towns create an amazing ambience that you will not find elsewhere.

Lama Island is a contrast. Majority park lands with tree covered hills has a small town at the North West corner. Over the hill is the power generation plant with its 3 smoke stacks (which don't smoke). Ironically there is a great beach for a lay in the sun opposite the power plant. The township is home to just under a thousand ex pats in a community of about 7000. So there is plenty of different, relaxed, hippie types that live there. Given the size of the Western population, there is lots of dining and western oriented shopping.

Cheung Chau is even more western tourism oriented if you appear. The ferry port harbour is lined with seafood dining, "touristie" shops and more. Western style accommodation abounds with the likes of the partly Austrian owned "B&B" who have a range of properties offering well appointed hotel room type accommodation, quality dining and even imported Austrian beer.  There is a very nice long beach that borders one side of town.

8. Personal Freedom and Safety
It seems funny to say this off a territory that belongs to China, but comparatively Hong Kong visitors and locals enjoy a relatively trouble free existence. Police are visible but not bothersome and you don't get the feeling that you are being watched. I expect there is lots of CCTV, but its not visible.

The outcome is that you are welcome to buy a beer at a supermarket or 7 Eleven and drink it in the street... and this is demonstrated at the LKF and elsewhere most nights of the week... It makes certain places a extremely social and striking up a conversation is simple, if not obligatory.

9. Access / flights
Hong Kong airport is ultra modern and easy to access by the high speed train. The range of flights coming in from all over the world means that its easy to get there and away. A number of budget carriers including Jetstar, Scoot and Air AsiaX fly there. The full range of major airlines come in daily too.

10. Sim cards and Internet
Using the "one2free" sim card at about 7 USD is exceptional value and comes with 300MB of data. At that price, you would just throw them away or recharge as necessary once you have used up the data. Its 3G performance, with good coverage, so you can stay connected all the time. If you are looking for a cheaper way, then simply selecting PCCW (if possible) as your roaming provider makes you eligible to use their WIFI network all over Hong Kong. You simply dial *1776# and they text you a code to use for their WIFI network. Its virtually everywhere, including apparently, every 7 Eleven... and 7 Eleven are .... everywhere.

In conclusion, I am sure that the Top 10 could easily be a top 20, but you can discover them for yourself. Hong Kong is East meets West in very easy going way that is cheap, accessible and comes with relatively high freedom.  This puts it at the top of my favourite Asian cities that considers experinences of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Shanghai, Jakarta. Its scores points over each of these.

For great deals and huge variety of accommodation
Booking.com - +360,000,000 properties all over the world
Dense city - narrow streets
Story by:
John Nayler
John Nayler has been a flat-out-traveller for almost 20 years. 37 countries, but who's counting - he is likely to have been there, done that AND probably recorded something about it. You want entertaining answers? You have come to the right place.

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