How to Stay Safe as a Solo Female Traveler in Hong Kong: Practical Tips & Advice
Read on for essential Hong Kong travel tips and insider information!
Let me start by saying, nay, declaring that Hong Kong is one of the safest places in the world. The crime rate is one of the lowest in the world and most of that involves petty crime. Having lived in the city for nearly 3 decades (oops does that give my age away?), I am passionate about sharing the best of what Hong Kong has to offer and truly believe that it is a destination that has something for every single type of traveler.
It’s a wonderful blend of East meets West and is widely considered to be Asia’s world city. If you are a solo female traveler who is excited to explore new destinations around the world, here’s what you should know if you are planning a trip to Hong Kong!
Getting in and getting around Hong Kong
The fastest and most efficient way to get into Hong Kong from the airport is via the Airport Express train. It stops at Tsing Yi, Kowloon and Hong Kong stations and will take you into the city in just 24 minutes. Once you have arrived at one of the stations you can hop on a bus, train or taxi to get you to your accommodation.
One of the best ways to not stand out as a visitor when you’re traveling abroad is to look like you know where you’re going and what you’re doing. Before you take the Airport Express train, purchase your ticket ahead of time via Klook like the locals do – a voucher will be sent to you immediately so you don’t waste time queuing for a physical ticket.
Want 30% off your Airport Express ticket? Buy your ticket ahead of time online here! Once you’ve purchased your ticket online, you can use the QR code that they send you to swipe through the special gates equipped with the QR reader.
BOOKING TIP: Look for hotels located along the Island (blue) line of the MTR subway system. Look into hotels in Wan Chai, Central, Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay for maximum convenience. Read this article for tried-and-tested boutique hotels in Hong Kong, or click here for current accommodation rates in Hong Kong!
There are plenty of cheap, safe and clean transportation options to help get you around the city. The last subway train and bus typically departs around midnight, and metered taxis can be found on every street corner. On Hong Kong island and Kowloon the taxis are painted red (they are Green in the New Territories and Blue on Lantau Island), and taxis who are willing to travel between Hong Kong island and Kowloon side often indicate this by putting up an “out of service” sign – counter-intuitive, I know.
The subway system is extensive and can get you to almost anywhere in Hong Kong. One of the first things you have to do when you arrive in Hong Kong is get an Octopus card. It is a stored value card that works on all public transportation (but not in taxis). You can purchase your tourist Octopus card in advance here – pick it up from the airport when you arrive, and it comes with HK$50 already pre-loaded! If you’re planning on traveling to Hong Kong again at some point, just hang onto the card for your next trip.
If you are 1) on Hong Kong side and need to get to Kowloon (or vice versa) and 2) missed the last train or bus, then ask the driver to wind down the window and ask if they are willing to “goh hoi?”, which means “cross harbour?” While most taxi drivers understand some English, bring the hotel’s business card or address in Chinese just in case. If for some reason you don’t feel safe, ask the driver to stop, pay the fare and get out. You should also consider texting the license plate number to a friend or family member.
Ridesharing apps like Uber (which is currently illegal in the city) are not widely available in Hong Kong and in my experience involves long waiting times due to a shortage of vehicles. You can, however, download the “HKTaxi” taxi hailing app – you can either pay for your ride by cash or by credit card (though there is a 3% administration fee for credit cards).
What to wear in Hong Kong
In general, you can wear pretty much anything you want and I’ve personally never felt unsafe. However, Hong Kong can still be considered relatively conservative compared to some Western cities. You should be prepared for stares (from both men and women) if you show lots of skin. Will you be groped or harassed? Unlikely. But be alert as there unfortunately have been many cases of perverts taking upskirt photos of women in public places, especially in shopping malls where there are escalators or glossy floors.
If you find yourself in this kind of situation, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and call out the offender – if you are taking public transportation, notify the staff or conductor immediately and ask for help from other bystanders. The incident should be reported to the police as soon as possible.
During the summer, it can be hot and humid so bring loose fitting and flowy tops or dresses. However, most places blast the air conditioning so it can be freezing cold indoors – you’ll want to have a thin cardigan or scarf to stop you from turning into a popsicle. During the winter months, it rarely falls below 8-10 degrees Celsius (46-50 Fahrenheit) but because of the humidity it can feel much chillier. If you are visiting from mid-December to mid-March it would be prudent to bring leather boots, a warm scarf and a thick coat or down jacket.
What to do in Hong Kong
There are so many wonderful places to visit in Hong Kong, and it would be a mistake not to venture out beyond the CBD. Contrary to popular belief, Hong Kong is actually not a concrete jungle – it’s more like a jungle with splashes of high rise buildings! Some popular places to visit in Hong Kong include Victoria Peak, Stanley, Tian Tan Buddha, Ozone Skybar and so on, but Hong Kong is actually full of hidden gems as well.
If you’re putting together your Hong Kong itinerary make sure you take a look at this list of 8 essential things to do for first time visitors to Hong Kong, this list of offbeat things to do in Hong Kong, and some of the most Instagram-friendly places in Hong Kong.
Make sure you act respectfully when you visit public housing estates and buildings. Click here for 21 things NOT to do in Hong Kong!
Prefer to join in on a group tour? Klook is a popular website and app in Hong Kong and you can book all sorts of walking and food tours – click here to read more about Klook, or head on over here to check out the different tours around the city. Make sure you read the reviews before you book a tour so you know what to expect!
Going out partying in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a great place to go out drinking and dancing. Drinks are cheap and many bars and clubs open until the wee hours of the morning. There are 2 main areas to go out drinking in Hong Kong: Lan Kwai Fong in Central, and Lockhart Road in Wan Chai.
If I had to categorize the 2, Lan Kwai Fong is mostly populated with more upscale bars and restaurants, and Wan Chai offers many sports and dive bars (as well as strip clubs). You can read more about where to eat and drink in Wan Chai here.
In general, there are many police patrolmen in both Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. That being said, watch your drink, watch your wallet, watch your phone. If you are a female solo traveler in Hong Kong you need to know that there have been cases of drinks being spiked and there is lots of petty theft in these areas. If something goes missing, report the loss to the manager of the bar or club, or if it took place in the street file a lost property report with the police.
If your wallet is stolen, you should immediately check any rubbish bins nearby as thieves often take the cash and toss the wallet; if it’s not there, file a report and call your credit card company to cancel your cards.
If for some reason you aren’t able to make it to a police station, you can file a lost property report with the police online. This form is specifically for visitors to Hong Kong.
The legal drinking age in Hong Kong is 18 years old and most places will check your ID if you appear to be underage. Your driver’s license or local ID is generally accepted and I would recommend against taking your passport out with you. There is minimal alcohol-related violence but as you would anywhere else in the world, be alert and aware. Here are some of my favorite happy hour spots and top rooftop bars in Hong Kong!
~Hooking up in Hong Kong~
If you meet a special someone and decide to take it further, please use your best judgment just as you would anywhere else in the world. Let somebody back home know where you are headed and be sure to make a beeline for the nearest convenience store to pick up a packet of condoms.
Resources for meeting people in Hong Kong
Hong Kong solo travel can be tons of fun! If you’re looking to meet up with or be hosted by people in Hong Kong, there are plenty of options.
If you’re staying in a hostel, head to the communal space to see if any other fellow solo travelers want to explore the city together. There are also a plethora of fun events that take place across the city every single day – most events will have an events page on Facebook (just search for “Events in Hong Kong”). For example, this week alone there is a poetry open mic, free flow happy hour, Bollywood-themed party, hip hop brunch (no idea what this means) and wellness-focused market. There are also tons of interest groups that regularly meet up to go hiking, practice Yoga, learn languages, salsa dance and so on. Check out Meetup.com for upcoming events!
Looking for a convenient and safe place to stay? Look into hotels in Wan Chai, Central, Soho, Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay – click here to book accommodation in Hong Kong!
Prefer swiping? Dating apps are popular in Hong Kong and some people use it to meet new people on their travels. That being said, if you’d rather stay solo don’t worry about getting weird looks if you eat, drink or wander around by yourself. No one will bat an eyelid if you go sightseeing on your own!
Handy Cantonese phrases to know
Almost all of the signs in Hong Kong are bilingual in both Chinese and English, and you can pretty much get by just speaking English on Hong Kong Island. However, here are some useful Cantonese phrases you should add to your vocabulary if you are visiting Hong Kong:
Lei ho: Hello
Mm goi: Thank you (used in everyday situations/when you receive a “service” such as when someone holds the door for you), please or excuse me (if you’re trying to get past someone)
Doh tse: Thank you (used if someone gives you a gift, gives you a compliment etc.)
Tsan pai mm goi: menu please
Mai dan mm goi: check please
Da bao mm goi: can I please take the leftovers to go
Oi mai mm goi: can I please take the food to go
Dei teet hai been do?: where is the MTR station?
Goh hoi?: cross harbour? (Typically used when asking a taxi driver if he/she is willing to go from Hong Kong to Kowloon or vice versea)
Ying mun?: [Can you] speak English?
Tsee sor hai been do?: Where is the toilet?
Mm ming bak: I don’t understand
Useful numbers for visitors to Hong Kong
Make sure you stay connected with friends and family back home by purchasing a local SIM card. There are shops at the airport when you arrive as well as shops (3, 7-Eleven or Circle K) that sell special tourist SIM cards in the city. If you don’t end up getting a local SIM card then head to the closest McDonald’s or Starbucks for free wifi.
Here are some key numbers to know for your trip:
999: Emergency (police, ambulance, fire services)
2527 7177: Police hotline
2508 1234: Hong Kong Tourism Board visitor hotline
1872 920: 24 hour taxi lost & found hotline
For the tl;dr crowd, solo female travel in Hong Kong is extremely safe. Ladies, you should exercise caution (just as you would anywhere else in the world) and explore all the different things Hong Kong has to offer! Have you visited Hong Kong before? Tell me all about it in the comments section below!
Visiting Hong Kong? Read more insider tips here:
- Here are 11 things you should know before Visiting Hong Kong!
- Read more about some important Hong Kong dos and don’ts
- Is it your first-ever visit to Hong Kong? Here are some essential things to check off your Hong Kong bucket list
- Looking for some ideas for off-the-beaten-path things to do in Hong Kong? Read my article on unique things to do in Hong Kong here
- There are plenty of hotel choices in the city, but not all of them are as unique as these outstanding boutique hotels in Hong Kong
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It’s great to know that Hong Kong is relatively so safe for women travelers. However, it’s really nice that you have compiled this post for tips on what to do, how to dress and what precautions to take to be super safe there. Applies to many other destinations as well.
Thanks for checking this out Neha! I think it’s just a matter of having all the facts 🙂
I love how many wonderful tips you have included, from dress to what kinds of ID to take out at night. Although we can never have enough posts like this, I really appreciate your disclaimer about how we need to exercise caution no matter where we travel to. I’ve never personally been to Hong Kong and am encouraged by this post!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this, Rachelle! I really wanted to include practical information to help with the travel planning process!
This is great advice for anyone travelling. Whether it be Hong Kong or New York City. It is best to stay safe. My friend is from Hong Kong and she said it is one of the safest places Shes been.
Absolutely! It’s important to stay smart and have all the facts before traveling abroad, especially if you’re traveling alone. There are just a few things to be aware of before visiting Hong Kong.
Of my seven years living in Hong Kong, I went out countless times post-midnight (sometimes until sunrise LOL) and never have I felt unsafe even passing by back alleys, etc. Definitely one of the safest place in the world and this is one thing I like best about HK!
I totally agree, Eve! A few friends have asked if it’s safe to visit Hong Kong on their own, and I always say yes – just be cautious and aware of certain issues and how to get around.
Such a good idea to include those useful phone numbers!! I normally don’t even bother to check the main emergency number of a country before I go (very irresponsible, I know) but if I needed to use it would hazard a guess at 999 or 911 or 112.
Where you mentioned there being cases of men taking photos while on escalators, unfortunately that happens more often than we realise, even in the ‘safest’ countries like Hong Kong! BUT, at least being above someone on an escalator gives us the power to kick them full on in the face if we realise what’s going on.
It’s actually happened to me at a major sporting event here in Hong Kong – the police tackled the guy to the ground!
Good reminders for most places! Hong Kong looks so clean and safe, hopefully we can get over there to visit soon!
You two would love it! Lots of romantic places to visit and stay 😉
Great tips! I mostly travel solo, so safety is always a concern of mine. I haven’t yet been to Hong Kong but I plan to visit one day. This info is good to know.
Hope this helps you with a future trip to HK!
Hong Kong looks like a great city but I can’t help think it’s just another huge city like Shanghai or Seoul. Would take a long time living there to truly appreciate it.
Not necessarily! It’s a common misconception that Hong Kong is just another concrete jungle – there are beaches, waterfalls, hiking trails just 20 minutes outside of the CBD. If you visit make sure you venture outside! See #1 on this list: https://yogawinetravel.com/11-things-you-should-know-before-visiting-hong-kong/
Beaches and waterfalls, in that city?! Hmmm, perhaps I shall have to venture that way soon!
Let me know if you stop by! 🙂
Thanks for being so thorough! Good to know about the up skirt issues, as I just thought that was more of a horrible stereotype of thing. I definitely want to get out to Hong Kong and enjoy it all! Also, good to know about the “Out of Service” taxis – lol I’d be forever waiting to cross the harbor!
Unfortunately there are a LOT of upskirting cases in Hong Kong as there are tons of shiny surfaces around (no joke), but people are generally very good about stepping in and speaking up!
Such valid advice for Hong Kong but also good reminders for visiting almost any country. Thank you for also including the useful numbers as well. Every time I’m about to travel to a new place I always try to write these down in my phone. You can really never be too prepared when it comes to safety! I’m looking forward to visting Hong Kong in 2018 (hopefully)!
I should do a better job of researching these numbers for my own travels abroad!
I was looking at Soho for my stay option. Glad to see it in the safe list. Saving this post for my visit.
Soho is super convenient as you can walk down to the subway and there are lots of buses as well!
Great information! Including the phone numbers is such a great idea.
Thanks for reading this! I’ve used the lost property hotline a few times myself!
As woman who has just started solo-traveling, thank you for this! I really loved my first solo-female trip, and now have my eye on what could be next. It’s so good to get some insider information to help it be a bit more comfortable.
There’s a TON of things to do and see in Hong Kong, Meg! You should definitely make it an upcoming stop 🙂
Great tips for somebody visiting Hong Kong for the first time ! Hong Kong seems such an exciting, lively and vibrant city, that really lives up to it’s term: “East meets West”. It’s good to know that the public transportation network is so clean, cheap and efficient !
It’s extremely easy to navigate as well!
wish I had partied more when I was in HK! Sounds fairly similar to Bangkok in terms of safety!
The public transportation system is much newer and there are more options in Hong Kong!
Such great tips for someone visiting Hong Kong for the first time! I’ve never been myself, but it’s nice to know that it’s a safe place to visit. It sounds like a great place to live 🙂
It’s an amazing place to live, Rhiannon! There are tons of things to do and nature is all around us 🙂
Great tips here and nice that you included those phone numbers! Hong Kong is so cool! I’ve visited twice and felt very safe. You’re lucky to have lived there so long!! And you’re still younger than me?
Isn’t Hong Kong just the best? Most of my friends who have visited can’t get over how clean, cheap and efficient the public transportation network is.
YES! Hong Kong is sooo safe tbh – although the “uncles” and “aunties” like to glare at you in general whether you are dress appropriately or not!
Hahaha I just hate getting told that I’m putting weight on!
I’m thinking of booking a trip to Hong Kong so great advice! Would you say the ‘dress code’ is similar to Korea? Legs are fine but shoulders are still considered risque?
Shoulders are fine too! Tons of cleavage/butt cheeks hanging out/lots of midriff showing: generally not seen around town 🙂
Great tips 🙂 it sounds like you mainly need to use common sense as you would anywhere, which is great. I’d love to visit HK sometime, and that rooftop yoga class looks ace!
Hong Kong is very safe – there are just a few things here and there to be aware of!