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10 Facts Visitors Should Know about Hong Kong

Victoria PeakHong Kong: Central is foreground, Victoria Harbor in the middle.

Hong Kong is in a league of its own.

It is the world's most popular tourist destination, Asia's best shopping destination, and China's most expensive city according to professional surveys and various news agencies. Hong Kong has the best Metro system in the world and many other other outstanding features.

Here is a list of 10 important facts useful for tourists and visitors.

1. HK's the world's most popular city for tourism!

Millions upon millions of tourists: The amazing little city beats out large London and every other city as a tourist destination by a large margin. 26 million tourists went to Hong Kong in 2014 according to Euromonitor International. In comparison, only 23 million went to second ranked Singapore.

The little region hosts almost half as many tourists as does all of China. About 26 million tourists came in 2014 compared to 56 million for all of China. The large majority who come are Mainland Chinese, but the city also gets millions of people coming from other countries.

One of the world's most recommended tourist places: According to TripAdvisor in 2016, of all the hundreds of its most recommended places or cities in China in 2016, Hong Kong is first. It is in the top 20 of TripAdvisor's world destinations. They think it is one of the most interesting places in the world.

What makes HK so popular?

The Landmark Mall's main lobbyThe Landmark Mall's main lobby
  • The world-class shopping and diverse attractions of course, but many other features draw people too.
  • The safety and comfort: Comparative public safety, well functioning services, and the clean environment makes visiting enjoyable. People feel that they can relax and enjoy some time to unwind in a way that other cities can't accommodate. Visiting is more stress free.
  • The good environment: The comparatively mild weather, less pollution, cleanliness, large natural areas and good beaches combine to make it attractive.
  • The tourist friendliness: The city is designed for tourism. The people are politer and many speak English. They are more helpful to foreign tourists.

2. Millions of people enjoy the three best attractions!

Victoria Harbor and its surroundings are noted for being one of the most beautiful urban places in the world. For first-time tourists visiting for a day or two, the best places to go are around or near it:

  • Ascend Victoria Peak (7 million people annually): The #1 most popular location for visitors in Hong Kong according to TripAdvisor and many other sources is this peak on Hong Kong Island, and it is our most recommended local destination. It is easily reached from Central via the popular Peak Tram (22 HKD or 2.8 USD), Bus 15C (about 60 US cents), or taxi (about 5.50 USD). The best time to go is in the late afternoon to catch the often astounding sunset in the sea, and then the city lights up.
  • See the skyline and the light up (10,000s daily): The #1 thing to do on TripAdvisor is seeing the skyline. You can best do this along the Avenue of Stars, where are 8 PM on most days, barring bad weather, there is the Symphony of Lights orchestration with sound.
  • Ride the Star Ferry (26 million rides annually): This ten minute trip from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central over the harbor is quite scenic and the quickest way to go from the Avenue of Stars area to Central. About 30 cents USD.
  • See more Top Things To Do

3. Tourists enjoy the best shopping in Asia.

Family Shopping in Hong KongFamily shopping in Hong Kong

According to Shopper's Survey in 2016, the city is the best city to shop at in the Asia Pacific Region. It is comfortably ahead of the other cities in their estimation with everything from entertainment and attractions to services to the quality of malls and shops to prices being among the best.

People from all over the world come to Hong Kong for bargains and high quality. They find Asia's best place to buy electronics, fashion, watches, and jewelry. The city's luxury stores do so much business that Hong Kong ranked first in the world for retail rental prices until the recent stock market crash in China. But Hong Kong still ranks second after New York in 2016. See 10 Shopping Facts>>

Shopping Tips

Hong Kong IFC Mall Apple StoreHong Kong IFC Mall Apple Store
  • For luxury fashions, go to the IFC Mall and adjacent Landmark Mall area. See Hong Kong's 5 Best Luxury Shopping Malls for Tourists
  • Middle priced or bargain fashion shopping: The Ladies Market. See How to Plan a 1 Day Middle Budget Tour
  • For bargains on computers/electronics, Sham Shui Po or Golden Computer Center in Ladies Market generally has the best computer and accessories deals in Hong Kong.
  • For high end and state of the art electronics, the IFC Mall has a Bose and a large Apple store, and other stores.

There is a less of a chance that products are fake in Hong Kong than in mainland China, where there is still a stiff tariff on most kinds of items, so shopping in Hong Kong makes sense. For luxury fashion, buying in Hong Kong might be from 40 to 60% cheaper than in "China". See more on What Mainland Expats Should Buy in Hong Kong in 2016.

4. HK's one of the world's most expensive cities...

Mandarin Oriental HotelAt the 5-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Central, room rates start at about 450 USD.

Beware tourists! The city has a gotcha. The hotels and rooms are quite expensive. Various news sources such as the Guardian ranks Hong Kong as first or second most expensive city to live in.

Pricey for rooms: The smallest and cheapest backpacker style rooms in dumpy Chung King mansions start from 250 HKD or 33 USD or so for four meter by four meter rooms with a hot shower. There has been a massive influx of Mainland tourists, shoppers, business people, and traders in the last five years. They are looking for bargains, so they've driven up the rates at the least expensive hotels.

Pricey for groceries too: In 2016, milk and other basic groceries cost 31 percent more than in New York. This is partly because most food is imported, but also partly because the Hong Kong currency that is pegged to the US dollar has risen.

See China Price Bands>>

5. You can see one of the world's most beautiful cities.

Hong Kong Dragon's BackHong Kong Dragon's Back

On most rankings, such as Buzzfeed's, Hong Kong makes it into the top ten of the world's most beautiful cities. 

It is the jagged urban skyline of 300 skyscrapers, more than even New York, with the green Victoria Peak backdrop and the clean blue Victoria Harbor that is most memorable for tourists. The daily Symphony of Lights show also stands out.

Countryside: But the large green undeveloped country parks, islands, many white public beaches, and quaint Chinese villages also makes Hong Kong stand out as a beautiful metropolitan area. For example, Time Magazine ranked the Dragon's Back as Asia's best urban hike. 

See Hong Kong's Best Hikes>>

6. And take advantage of the world's best metro system.

Tsim Sha Tsui MTR stationTsim Sha Tsui MTR station

The city has the best Metro system in the world which you can use for sightseeing and getting around. According to the news network CNN and many other rankings, it is the best in the world for cleanliness, safety, organization and many other reasons.

As a traveler, you can enjoy all the benefits of high technology, safety, cleanliness and fine planning to enjoy all the excellent highlights of this unique city. What's more, the cost for all the quality services and enjoyment provided is quite low compared to the rest of the world. It will whisk to you the airport from Central (13 USD) or Kowloon in 22 minutes or less. The MTR subway is a foreign tourist's friend to enjoy their time in Hong Kong.

7. It has one of the world's best airports too.

hong kong airportHong Kong Airport terminal

A tourist and business center such as Hong Kong needs one of the world's best airports. It was named Best Airport of the Year in 2016 by Air Transport World, and it has been named first by them and other organizations in other years over the last 15 years. More about Hong Kong Airport>>

8. The best times to go are:

The best time climate-wise extends from the end of April when it turns warmer and drier until the middle of December when it is cooler and usually dry.

Severe weather: But from May to September, there are occasional typhoons and violent thunderstorms. When typhoons approach, warnings are broadcast on TV and radio. Try to plan your trip around these.

The golden fall: For people from colder climates, the warm, dry, and often sunny days from October to the end of December will seem like a refreshing breeze. This is the best time for touring and sightseeing outdoors.

The best shopping season extends from the run up to Christmas and the after Christmas sales to Chinese New Year.

Avoid the major holidays such as Chinese New Year, May 1 holidays and the October 1 National Day holidays to avoid huge crowds and high prices.

See more about Hong Kong weather>>

9. Great! Easy visa policies help tourists.

The region has about the most relaxed visa policies in the world with visa-free stays for most nationalities. Citizens of about 170 countries enjoy visa-free access for durations of 7 to 180 days depending on the country. US citizens get 90 days. What's more, there is no visa stamp! It saves travelers valuable passport pages.

10. It all adds up: It's China's gateway city

mapWith the world's best airport and metro system and lax visa policies, along with one of China's busiest ports, Hong Kong serves as the main tourist gateway.

The city has a role as the Gateway to China with people passing through Hong Kong for easy access to China and Macau. Macau, the sister region with Hong Kong, is 6th in the world as a tourist destination according to Wikipedia (15 million tourists), and tourists often like to visit both places and use the Hong Kong airport for transport. It is only an hour away by ferry.

Shenzhen and Guangzhou are nearby on the other side of the border, and both cities rank near the top in China for people sourcing for products of all sorts such as electronics and clothing. Business people and tourists use the Hong Kong airport and hotels to get them on their way to Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Air connections: It is located on the southeast coast of China on the South China Sea. People can take connecting flights to domestic Chinese cities. 3½ hours by air from Beijing and 2½ hours from Shanghai.

Train connections: Shenzhen is easily reached via the metro in an hour. From there, bullet train lines now reach Beijing in 10 hours and Wuhan in 5 hours. Perhaps in 2018, a new direct to Kowloon bullet train line will open.

Let us help you tour the amazing city of Hong Kong.

tour Hong Kong with China HighlightsHong Kong Tour with China Highlights

Do you want to tour Hong Kong with a local expert? Our professional guide will lead you to avoid the crowds, tell you the best places to take photographs, and explore the real Hong Kong.

Our most popular Hong Kong tours, for inspiration:

Do the above tours not suit you? Just let us know your interests and requirements, and we will be glad to design a tour for you.