11 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Hong Kong – Yoga, Wine & Travel

11 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Hong Kong

Having spent the majority of my life in Hong Kong, I feel it is my duty to appoint myself an enthusiastic ambassador for this beautiful city. There are some common misconceptions about Hong Kong (no, it’s not part of Japan – and yes, I have actually been asked if I speak Japanese on multiple occasions) but also some cool facts that you might not know. If you’re planning a visit to Hong Kong, here are 11 things you should know before your trip!

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Visiting Hong Kong for the first time? Click here for 8 Essential Things to Do for First Time Visitors to Hong Kong!

1. Not just a concrete jungle

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It’s often referred to as “the New York City of Asia”, but in actuality it’s more like a tropical island with a splash of skyscrapers. Hong Kong is famous for its spectacular skyline (it has more than 1200 skyscrapers, more than both New York and Tokyo), but did you know that there are beaches, national parks, marine parks, mountains and waterfalls just a hop and skip away from the CBD? In fact, although Hong Kong is considered a metropolis, out of the total 1,108 square kilometres of land, about three-quarters is countryside! If you are an avid hiker then you are in luck, as Hong Kong has more than 50 hiking trails for you to explore.

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2. Hong Kongers speak Cantonese, not Mandarin, and many people speak English!

If you didn’t already know, Hong Kong used to be a British colony and was handed back to China in 1997. It is now a “Special Administrative Region” under China and the primary language spoken by Hong Kongers is a dialect of Chinese called “Cantonese”. It sounds fairly different to Mandarin in the sense that you might not be able to understand Cantonese fully if you speak Mandarin, and vice versa. Because of its status as a former British colony, many people also speak English fluently. Again – I do not speak Japanese, though I wish I could! Here are some handy Cantonese phrases you should add to your vocabulary: “jo sun” = good morning; “mm goi” = thank you/excuse me; “lei ho” = hello.

3. Ridiculously easy and cheap to get around

Hong Kong has one of the most efficient public transportation systems in the world. You often have 3 or 4 different transportation options to get from point-to-point and the coverage network covers almost every corner of Hong Kong (including the outlying islands). We’ve got taxis galore, an awesome subway system (the MTR), ferries, buses, minibuses, trams, trains and an airport railway system – prices are incredibly cheap (unlike some places – *cough* Australia *cough*) and Hong Kong is also very walk-able. In fact, Hong Kong is one of the least car-dependent cities with 90% of daily commuter journeys on public transport!

Looking for a place to stay? Look into hotels in Wan Chai, Central, Soho, Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay for maximum convenience! Click here to book accommodation in Hong Kong!

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4. No open-bottle law

That’s right! Like many places, the drinking age is 18+ but there is no open-bottle law which means you can walk around and drink a bottle of cider or bring a pitcher of white sangria to the beach! Most convenience stores also sell a range of alcohol so if you’re traveling on a budget this is a great option – just buy a bottle of Pimm’s and some lemonade and head to the beach or park for a fun afternoon!

5. Hong Kong Island is only one of more than 230 islands that make up Hong Kong

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There’s also Lantau, Cheung Chau, Lamma and Peng Chau to name a few. These islands are easy to get to and are great day trip destinations for hikes, seafood dinners and slightly less-crowded beaches.

Looking for some other ideas for off-the-beaten-path things to do in Hong Kong? Read my latest article here!

6. So many amazing restaurants and bars!

Hong Kong is paradise for foodies – from cheap and cheerful meals to Michelin-starred restaurants – there is something for everyone! Hong Kong has one of the world’s highest per capita concentrations of eateries – there is 1 restaurant for every 300 people! Feel like having Lebanese food? Done. Or maybe some tasty Asian dessert dishes? Want a bowl of fresh Vietnamese pho? No worries. How about some hot steaming Cantonese dim sum? Yep! Or a big Wagyu beef burger with all the toppings? We’ve got you covered. Want some recommendations from a local? Head over for parts 1 and 2 of my top restaurant recommendations in Hong Kong!

There are amazing cocktail lounges and rooftop bars in Hong Kong, and almost every place offers a great happy hour promotion: here are my favorite joints!

7. A/C, A/C, everywhere

Hong Kong is humid, like all the time. Which means that most places are air-conditioned to help prevent mould and excessive sweating (I’m not kidding). Almost every indoor space is freezing cold, year-round, which means you should always carry a light cardigan or scarf with you.

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8. Shops and restaurants open until late

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One of the biggest things that I had to adapt to when I was living overseas or traveling abroad was shops closing at 6 or 7 PM. In Hong Kong, it is not uncommon for shops and malls to stay open until 10 PM or later! This means that the streets are always bustling with people and you can always pick up something from the shops last-minute or grab a late night snack.

9. Stand on the right, walk on the left!

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When you are walking anywhere that has escalators or a moving walkway/sidewalk, remember to stand on the right and let people pass you on the left! People (myself included) get extremely annoyed when people block the left side of the walkway and it’s always a telltale sign that you’re from out of town.

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10. One of the best airports in the world with flights to almost anywhere

Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok International Airport is one of the best airports in the world. Fact! You can fly to almost anywhere in the world from Hong Kong (more than 100 airlines operate 1,100 daily flights to and from 190 destinations worldwide) and the airport itself is extremely easy to get to from downtown (24 minutes on the airport train!). Let me let you in on a secret: Cathay Pacific FanfaresEvery Tuesday, Cathay Pacific releases tickets to select destinations at heavily discounted prices. If you know you are flying into Hong Kong and want to nab yourself a cheap ticket then keep your eye on the website! This is also a great option if you have a flexible travel schedule and don’t mind buying a ticket last-minute.

11. Hong Kong is amazing for street photography

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Hong Kong is, without a doubt, one of the most diverse and exciting places in the world. Every corner is photogenic and is the perfect blend of East meets West. If you love street photography then you’re going to fall head over heels for this vibrant city.

Hong Kong Man Mo Temple
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What are some other things about Hong Kong that you think travelers should know? Share your thoughts in the comments section below! Looking for some off-the-beaten-path things to do in Hong Kong? Read my latest article here.

Visiting Hong Kong for the first time? Check out this guide by Nam of Laughtraveleat.com or click here for my list of 8 Essential Things to Do for First Time Visitors to Hong Kong!

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Yogawinetravel.com: 11 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Hong Kong

Yogawinetravel.com: 11 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Hong Kong

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48 Comments

  1. Wow! Thanks for the amazing and informative introduction to Hong Kong! I also want to hike to those lovely waterfall connected pools. 🙂

  2. Ashley says:

    LOVE IT! I have been trying to book a Hong Kong trip for awhile but keep putting it off because it is more urban than I tend to enjoy. I think it would be such a great stop for a long weekend though. So I have a couple of questions!
    1. How is it around Christmas?
    2. Could I still get some hiking in around then?
    3. Where are some off the beaten path locations/islands to visit and get away from the crowds (I know, crazy thought for Hong Kong ?)

    • Flo says:

      Ashley you would love it! It doesn’t get that cold until February so you could definitely get tons of hiking in around Christmas. It’s cooler but not as humid – perfect hiking weather! If you want to get off the beaten path definitely check out Cheung Chau and Lamma Islands 🙂

  3. neha says:

    Really didn’t know hong kong comprises of that many islands!! The AC everywhere would be quiet comforting though, as its mostly having the tropical climate. I wish to visit here sometimes soon, particularly to take my kid to disneyland

  4. Kelly says:

    Im headed to Hong Kong for the first time in 2 days and this was extremely helpful. That waterfall is gorgeous! I had no idea Hong Kong had something like that!

  5. Vyjay says:

    Hong Kong is such a vibrant and colurful place, we loved it when we were there last year arond Christmas. The Christmas season had added different hues to the already beautiful place and it was humming with activity. You have given some great pointers on HK, wish I had read it before our visit, would have helped us in planning our itinerary in a better way.

  6. Stacey says:

    I love the fact that you educated us on the un concrete jungle of Hong Kong. I look forward to visited the city one day.

  7. I had no idea HK was so good for street photography, I had the idea it was all city skylines but clearly there’s a lot more to it! Honestly a Pimms on the beach would go down pretty well too 🙂

  8. Love this Flo. Totally inspired me to bump up Hong Kong on my list! Great tips about looking for flights too 🙂

  9. karen says:

    Great tips! I haven’t been to HK, but love how much hiking there is so close to the city!

  10. Great post Flo! I love that Hong Kong is so vibrant and alive yet you can take a train and hike in misty mountains or sit on the beach!

  11. This is great! I’ve been to Hong Kong about 5 times and there’s always something new to try. Last time I went to Peng Chao which is considered Hong Kong’s most underrated island. I hiked a little mountain and ate lunch in the tiny town. Hong Kong is so much more than just the city!

  12. Emma says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit Hong Kong! What do you feel is the most underrated part of Hong Kong? – The kind of place that gets missed off lists and skipped by visitors?

  13. Meghan says:

    I’ve never researched Hong Kong, but you’re making me change my mind.
    Thanks!!

  14. Kristina says:

    You seriously just convinced me to look up tickets to Hong Kong. I’ve been wanting to go for AAAAGES, need to make it a reality! I had no idea there was so much nature though!

  15. Indrani says:

    Adding this to my dream destination folder. The street photography possibility is most enticing!
    I have seen several pics and that is what developed the desire to get there.

  16. neha says:

    Loved your tips, really helpful for someone planning a trip there. We are wondering if we can make it to hong kong during the christmas time. Not sure how much rush will be there, though

  17. Soraya says:

    Your first point really surprised me, because I truly pictured Hong Kong as a concrete jungle. And of course seeing your photos of the nature both here and on Instagram is amazing – I totally had no idea that it existed. Who knew that there were 230 islands!!! WHHHAAATTT!! And I also must admit that I have mistaken many times thinking that the people in Hong Kong speak Mandarin.

  18. rachael says:

    I really need to get to HK stat! It’s a direct flight from Okinawa, so i’m not sure why I haven’t done it yet! I went there about 12 years ago for only a couple of days, but I was sick so didn’t get to enjoy it properly. It looks fantastic!

  19. Gorgeous photos as always, Flo! And wow, it’s so different than I thought. There’s a lot more nature than the usual stereotypical skyscrapers that come to mind when thinking about Hong Kong. Cool fact about the islands too, definitely did not know that. Great geography lesson!

  20. neha says:

    I really know very little of hong kong. Good that I found your post since I am soon planning a trip here.

  21. Lisa says:

    Looks amazing – we are visiting in the next 18 months but it feels too far away – I want to go now!

    • Flo says:

      Thanks for checking this out, Lisa! When you guys make it over let me know – I have a few other recommendations on the website if you’re interested 🙂

  22. Jodie says:

    You have just made me fall in love even more then I am already with Hong Kong. I was there for 6 days in late September this year. So much so i am hoping to get back next year. But this time as a solo female travller, i have heard its one of the safest places to travel solo as a female. Do you think thats true? Im thinking October November is that a good time of the year to visit? I was also was wondering where about is the waterfall you have pictured?

    • Flo says:

      I totally agree that it is a safe place for female solo travel – it’s safe for any kind of travel 🙂 October is a beautiful time of year to visit as it’s not as hot or humid. The waterfall is in Sai Kung – check out the Hike Hong Kong link for directions 🙂

  23. MG says:

    I LOVE this article! There are so many misconceptions about HK (I still can’t believe someone asked you if you spoke Japanese!!) but it definitely helps when misconceptions are shared in forums like this. Thank you for sharing, and as someone who has travelled to HK before I had no idea there was so much countryside in HK!

  24. Erin says:

    Great post! Hong Kong is definitely on my list!

  25. Robert says:

    Traveling to Hong Kong for the first time in September from Canada. Some great suggestions and tips, I will definitely bookmark this page and read your other related posts. Glad I found this post on Pinterest! 🙂

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