Getting Around in Hong Kong: Tourist Spots, Where to Stay, Things to Do

Just before the end of 2018 we checked Hong Kong off our bucket list. While we were there, we set aside a few days of our trip to research the city and share what we learned on Hobo with a Laptop.

In this post we’ll look at:

  • How to get around in Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong tourist spots
  • Best area(s) to stay in Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong activities, things to do
  • Why Hong Kong is so expensive

Where to Stay in Hong Kong

Why Hong Kong?

For most digital nomads, entrepreneurs, drop shippers, and the like; Hong Kong is a business mecca.

There are a lot of reasons for this –Hong Kong’s free economy has a simple tax system that enables maximum earnings with minimum costs, a fair and transparent legal system, and offers easy business setup for foreign business owners.

When we visited Hong Kong’s tourist spots we were accompanied by an old friend of Mike’s who does a lot of business in Hong Kong. He showed us the ropes; best area(s) to stay in Hong Kong, activities, how to get around, and explained each of the districts.

In this post we’ll look at visiting Hong Kong tourist spots on a budget, and in a later post we’ll explain how to set up a business in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Tourist Spots

Main Hong Kong Districts

Hong Kong is composed mainly of three major areas: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, and New Territories.

The top areas tourists go to are Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula. These two are separated by the iconic Victoria Harbour.

It’s easy to get around from one place to another, as Hong Kong’s public transportation system ties everything together nicely.

Best Areas to Stay in Hong Kong

Getting To/From Hong Kong Island and Kowloon

The most efficient way to travel to and from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon is by ferry. It takes just a few minutes and nothing beats the scenic view along the way. But then again, this all depends where you are departing from.

If the hotel you’re staying at is far away from the harbour, it might be worth taking the MTR subway instead. You will know when one is near you when you see this sign:

Another cheap option would be to take the bus, however it might take you some time to figure out which terminal to wait for the right one.

You can find the Hong Kong bus route map here.

Hong Kong MetroNow that you know how to get to and from the two major islands, let’s have a look at Hong Kong’s top areas.

Central (Hong Kong Island)

Located in the Northern part of Hong Kong island is Central which best represents the region’s modern and high end lifestyle. This is the best area to stay in Hong Kong if you’ve got a lot of scratch in your pocket, or you’re looking for things to do in Hong Kong at night.

Here you will find skyscrapers of the biggest financial institutions in the world as well as some of Hong Kong’s top tourist spots like the Victoria Peak and Lan Kwai Fong (nightlife district).

There’s also several parks, galleries, and markets around this area. Don’t expect to find budget accommodations in Central Hong Kong as it’s mostly luxury and mid-range accommodations that are situated here.

The main draw to this area to stay in Hong Kong is that everything is within easy access and it still maintains some Cantonese influence, as apparent in the old Chinese buildings and neon street signs. This is the best area to stay in Hong Kong if you’re looking to take some killer photos (or to spot millionaire Millennials decked out like every day is fashion week and driving around in high end sports cars).

Look for places to stay nearby.

Top Things to Do Here:

  • View Hong Kong from the Victoria Peak
  • Party and fine in Lan Kwai Fong
  • Look up the tallest building in Hong Kong Island, International Finance Centre
  • See Victoria Harbour from the Hong Kong Observation Wheel

Best Area to Stay in Hong Kong

Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon)

Sitting across Central is Tsim Sha Tsui, the heart of Kowloon. Just like Central Hong Kong, this district is brimming with sightseeing, shopping, and dining options.

For travelers on a budget, this is probably the most popular area to stay in Hong Kong because just like Central, all great things are easily accessible but accommodations here are much cheaper. Think of it as like a grittier version of Central.

Look for places to stay nearby.

Top Things to Do Here:

  • Walk along the Avenue of Stars + Watch the Symphony of Lights
  • Take pictures at the Historic Canton Railway Clock Tower
  • Watch a Kung Fu performance at Kowloon Park
  • Visit a museum (Take your pick! Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong Space Museum)

Wan Chai (Hong Kong Island)

To the right of Central is Wan Chai, which used to be an exotic hotspot for US servicemen in the 1960s.

What was once a red light district at that time is now one of Hong Kong’s busiest commercial districts. Standing here are tall skyscrapers, upscale pubs, and famous galleries. It’s still a bit more upscale compared to other areas but the hotels are priced lower compared to Central.

Wan Chai is the best area to stay in Hong Kong if you’d like a balance of opulence and budget accommodation options.

Look for places to stay nearby.

Top Things to Do Here:

  • Walk along the Wan Chai Heritage Trail
  • Relax and have a picnic at Tamar Park
  • Get naughty at Lockhart Road
  • View the Pak Tai Temple
  • Check out the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center (similar to Sydney Opera House)

Causeway Bay (Hong Kong Island)

A little further from Central, located next to Wan Chai is Causeway Bay. Its vibrant atmosphere and abundant shopping options make up for its lack of attractions.

In this Hong Kong tourist spot you will find plenty high end shopping centers, fashion boutiques, and gadget shops. If you’re on the lookout for cheap electronics, you’ll find most of it here.

There’s also plenty of cafes, bars, and dining options here particularly in Houston Street or Food Street. Feeling spontaneous? Allow yourself to get lost in this busy neighborhood; you are sure to find a surprise around every corner.

Look for places to stay nearby.

Top Things to Do Here:

  • Get lost in popular shopping districts like Jardine’s Crescent Street Market, Hong Kong Time Square, and SOGO
  • Ride the ancient Ding Ding tram
  • Visit the Hong Kong Central Library
  • See some green in the middle of Hong Kong at Victoria Park
  • Visit Tin Hau Temple

Mong Kok (Kowloon)

North of Tsim Sha Tsui is Mong Kok, which is home to some of Hong Kong’s famous street markets.

The area to stay in Hong Kong is reminiscent of a throwback era, making it the perfect place to visit if you’re into some culture exploration.

It has the highest population density in the world and it’s reflected in the number of residential buildings, local style restaurants, and affordable shopping options in the area.

Look for places to stay nearby.

Top Things to Do Here:

  • Shop at the Ladies Market
  • Try Mongkok street food
  • Get some good luck at the Goldfish Market
  • Soak up the fragrance at the Flower Market

Best Area to Stay in Hong Kong

Other Areas in Hong Kong

New Territories

Although it’s the largest area out of the three major ones in Hong Kong, we did not include New Territories since we did not get a chance to visit the area.

However, if you have an extra day or two to spare, consider going here as it features the complete opposite of what you will find in Hong Kong. The place mainly comprises of small villages, farmlands, temples, and beaches.

Since it’s a bit further from the main areas, you might need to reserve a full day or two for a trip to this area of Hong Kong.

Look for places to stay nearby.

Macau

Just an hour boat ride away from Hong Kong is Macau which is considered to be Asia’s Las Vegas. It’s the best area to stay in Hong Kong where new and old money converge with its high rollers, gamblers, and the ultra high end.

When we went here, we hopped from one hotel casino to another and enjoyed the entertainment each place had to offer, whether it was the gondola boat ride at the Venetian or the dancing water at Wynn Hotel.

You’ll have no problems getting around here as each hotel has a designated bus that goes from one area to the other. Just hop on one and it will save you the hassle of walking to the next location.

Again, we recommend reserving a day or two visiting this place as well, just because it takes two hours get to and from Macau.

Look for places to stay nearby.

Lantau

Lantau Island is just south of Hong Kong International Airport. It’s similar to New Territories in a way that you’ll mostly find beaches, mountains, and old fishing villages here.

This is also where the famous giant Tian Tan Buddha is located.

Look for places to stay near Hong Kong airport.

Travel Insurance, Simplified

We recently reviewed World Nomads and Safetywing, the top two travel insurance providers among long-term travelers and digital nomads.

Safetywing is incredibly economical, but is it comprehensive enough for your needs? World Nomads offers more coverage, but is it too much?

Find out, read our side-by-side comparison.

Learn More

Hong Kong Digital Nomad

Choosing Where to Stay in Hong Kong

Now that you’re familiar with Hong Kong’s major districts, you probably already have a good idea where you want to stay in Hong Kong.

It all depends on your travel style, budget, and convenience. Take a good look at your itinerary and see where a majority of your must-go places are located.

We’ve dropped links/widgets to places to stay in Hong Kong, but we recommend exploring reviews on Agoda for a more complete picture.

The great thing about Hong Kong is that their transport system is so efficient. Hong Kong is foolproof for tourists (with the exception of the casinos).

There’s no getting lost here as the directions between places to stay in Hong Kong are so easy to follow. They’re pretty much designed to be understood by travelers who visit the country.

As you do your search, you might be surprised to find that the price of most accommodations are higher than what you’re used to back home.

Hong Kong Tourist Spots

Why Are Hong Kong Hotels Expensive?

The simple reason: Land (or the lack thereof).

Hong Kong may be highly urbanized but it’s not that big. The territory is only 1,108 square kilometres –about 271 times smaller than my home country, the Philippines –with a population of over 7 million.

It’s the fourth most densely populated region in the world –and that doesn’t account for the hordes of tourists (over 25 million!) that visit the country every year.

It boils down to supply and demand. Sure, you get to buy goods at groceries and wet markets for a cheaper price. But if you go to a hotel, restaurant, or bar in Hong Kong tourist spots, you’re not just paying for the service, but for the rent too!

And hospitality service is another thing that really stood out to me in Hong Kong tourist spots –their service is exceptional. You pay for it, but it’s a standout feature of travel in Hong Kong and a welcome change after spending a few years bouncing around Southeast Asia.

Hong Kong Night Life

Saving Money in Hong Kong

It’s still possible to travel to Hong Kong tourist spots on a budget but you need to exercise some creativity to get the most out of your trip without feeling like you got ripped off. Here are a some tips I can give.

1. Book a Place in Kowloon instead of Hong Kong Island

And book ahead! As mentioned earlier, accommodations in Hong Kong tend to be pricier due to the limited land. Aside from booking month’s ahead of time, you can also book a hotel room in cheaper areas like Kowloon. Districts in Hong Kong island lean more towards the high end side which means hotel prices are higher. A quick search using Agoda or Booking’s map tool will help you locate hotels by price and location.

2. Take the Bus from the Airport to Your Hotel

It’s cheap, provides enough space for your luggage, and it’s a nice way to view the city and Hong Kong tourist spots out the window on your way to the hotel.

To find out what bus you need to take, check out this bus schedule. Prices can range from HKD 13 to HKD 50 depending on where your stop is. Pretty cheap compared to the Airport Express which costs HKD 110.

3. Preorder an Octopus Card on Klook

Prices are discounted and you get to use it for any form of transportation whether it’s bus, train, ferry, or tram.

On your last day, you can get a refund of the remaining amount on your card from any MTR station or you can take it to the airport’s Arrivals Area (located in Terminal 1) booth number A13.

Once you’re about to leave, you can just bring it to the Airport’s Arrivals Counter booth A13. You can also get a refund of the remaining amount at any MTR station.

4. Pre-order a SIM Card and Pick it Up at the Same Booth (A13)

Although there’s fast internet at practically every establishment you go to, it’s still good to have your own reliable internet that you can use anywhere.

Basically, preorder any thing or activity which you think you might do in Hong Kong. Rates are lower than the regular price and you spend way less time on lines.

5. Take the Train

Taxis tend to be more expensive. For a HKD 20 train ride from Kowloon to the airport, you might be paying HKD300 for a taxi.

6. Eat Like a Local

Go where the locals eat like in Dai Pai Dongs.These are street-side kitchens where meals cost 10 times less than what they normally would at hotels and restaurants.

Foods are just as good, if not even better since you are eating authentic Chinese food. If you’re staying in Hong Kong longer, consider cooking your own meals at home. That is, if the place you’re staying comes with a kitchen.

Goods in supermarkets are cheaper and you get to make the same meals back home for a fraction of the price.

7. Haggle at Street Markets

Don’t take the first price they give you as the final selling price. You’ll be surprised at how effective the power of walking away is at slashing the price by half.

This is not the time to be modest especially in a place where everything almost cost twice, if not thrice the amount you’d pay back home.

Vendors are used to tourists and there is no shame in a little negotiation to save a buck or five.

Hong Kong Tourist Spots

Special Discounts for Lonely Planet

Check out Lonely Planet’s book shop for more travel information. With our link you are eligible for discounts other people won’t receive, and free shipping on orders over $40 USD (or $50 CAD).

They often run Buy One, Get One deals –so check it out.

Visit Lonely Planet

8. Enjoy Free Hong Kong Activities

Hong Kong tourist spots may be expensive but it’s also filled with attractions that you can enjoy at no cost.

Here is a list of places and Hong Kong activities you can enjoy without spending a dime:

Central and Western District, Hong Kong Island

  • Sheung Wan galleries (great art + free food and wine!)
  • Central and Western Heritage Trail
  • Hong Kong Park
  • Hollywood Road
  • Maritime Museum
  • Man Mo Temple
  • Edward Youde Aviary
  • Bowen Road
  • Victoria Peak
  • Yat Sen Park

Kowloon City, Kowloon

  • Avenue of Stars
  • Hau Wong Temple
  • Symphony of Lights
  • Hong Kong Science Museum
  • Hong Kong Museum of Art
  • Hong Kong Museum of History
  • Chungking Mansions
  • Tin Hau Temples
  • Kat Hing Wai Walled Village
  • Kowloon Walled City Park
  • West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade
  • Clock Tower
  • Wong Tai Sin Temple

Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island

  • Gold Bauhinia Square
  • Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
  • Victoria Harbour

Eastern District, Hong Kong Island

  • Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance (only in September)

Southern District, Hong Kong Island

  • Dragon’s Back
  • Dragon Boat Festival (only in June)
  • Repulse Bay

Sha Tin, New Territories

  • Hong Kong Heritage Museum
  • Hong Kong Park
  • Kam Shan Country Park
  • Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

Tsuen Wan, New Territories

  • Kat Hing Wai Walled Village

Sai Kung, New Territories

  • Lions Nature Education Centre
  • Nan Lian Garden
  • Chi Lin Nunnery

Islands District, New Territories

  • Tai O Fishing Village
  • Po Lin Temple

You’re spoiled for choice, and you probably won’t want to do all the Hong Kong activities that tourist books tell you to do.

Maybe you’d like to enjoy relaxing things to do in Hong Kong, like go somewhere quiet near nature or perch in one those upstairs cafes for some people watching.

Hong Kong Itinerary

There is no right way to travel in Hong Kong. The “best” Hong Kong activities all boil down to personal preference.

The great thing about traveling between Hong Kong tourist spots is that you have plenty of information at your disposal.

Looking for the best tasting cheese noodles? Maybe you want to hunt for cheap electronics, or find the best spot to do cliff jumping. Just do a quick google search and you’ll be supplied with millions of answers from people who have been there already.

There’s so many Hong Kong activities to do, we’d barely scratch the surface even if we stayed in the city for a full year.

Things to Do in Hong Kong at Night

Book Activities with Klook

We recommend downloading Klook on your smart phone because of the convenience it provides to tourists looking to save money on Hong Kong activities. Klook is a must-have app for Hong Kong digital nomads, it’s your key to saving money on a variety of Hong Kong activities.

Hong Kong is a year-round destination which receives millions of visitors every year. If not for the Hong Kong tourist spots, people come here for business so you can expect to see long lines everywhere.

Places to Stay in Hong Kong
The Klook VIP counter had no line

With Klook, you avoid the hassle of standing in long lines just to get a ticket for that activity you’ve been meaning to do. Just present an e-ticket at the booth and you’re in! Less waiting means you get to make the most of your time in Hong Kong tourist spots without a hassle.

Booking an activity will then earn you credits which entitles you to discounts and freebies on their other tours. This is perfect if you’re sticking to an itinerary and want to see as many highlights of a destination as you can.

You can use Klook to book activities and tours, and currently its partner destinations around Southeast Asia include Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Bangkok, Boracay, Ho Chi Minh, and Bangkok.

For a complete list of destinations, you can visit the site here and click on “Explore All Destinations”.

Hong Kong Activities

That’s It!

In a later post we will explain how to start a Hong Kong business, but that’s an article for another day.

What did you think of our guide to where to stay in Hong Kong? Let us know with a comment below, and thanks for stopping by.

Hong Kong Blog




Digital Nomad Book

Guest Post Travel Blog

Automate!

Get every blog post, free giveaway announcement, and exclusive discounts from our sponsors delivered directly to your inbox, automatically. Can you say life hack? Oh snap, we just did.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*