With Chinese roots, some British influences, and a dash of hyper-capitalism, Hong Kong is a magical place to visit. Although it’s the world’s fifth-most expensive city, there are budget ways to enjoy it. There are plenty of cheap flights to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand, BA, Qantas and Virgin.
Once there, the shopper can revel in the stores, markets and factory outlets, sans sales tax. Public transport is inexpensive. Entry to the major museums is free on Wednesdays and on Thursdays and Saturdays you can catch a ride on the Duk Ling junk for a small fee. There are some souvenirs even the locals love that you won’t be able to resist on your shopping adventures.
Enjoy the free, nightly laser show and music extravaganza, Symphony of Lights. To centre oneself, free Tai Chi classes are held on the Tsim Sha Tsui harbour front overlooking Hong Kong Island or up on The Peak, courtesy of the tourist board.
Beyond the city, there are more than 260 islands to explore. Disneyland is on Lantau, Cheung Chau hosts a Bun Festival in May, and Lamma is a very popular spot with locals.
The best time to travel to Hong Kong is between October and November, the autumn months when the temperatures are milder. January and February are usually rainy and cold months while June to September temperatures average 30 degrees Celsius with 95 per cent humidity. Some rain and humidity can be expected throughout the year. Even during the height of summer it is worth bringing some warm clothing to combat the fierce air conditioning in shops and offices.
Autumn and spring used to be peak seasons for Hong Kong, and this is when the weather is most pleasant – it can get unbearably sticky during the summer months. However, it is increasingly becoming a year-round destination. Fair weather or foul, there is always something to do inside, usually in air-conditioned buildings. There are certain times of year, such as Chinese New Year, when HK will be especially busy and you will need to have booked Hong Kong flights and hotels in advance.
Even in the winter months, Hong Kong’s weather is usually mild, so this can be a good time to visit and avoid crowds.
Public transport is good in Hong Kong and getting around easy.
Rail: There are two types of trains, the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), which primarily runs underground and has six lines. This is fast and efficient and also connects the airport to downtown. Overground trains run on the Kowloon-Canton railway, which is mainly used by commuters.
Tram: The famous peak tram runs up The Peak, climbing 373 metres. A trip up here is a must for tourists to see the city laid-out at your feet. There are also commuter trams running along the north part of the island.
Ferries: Many ferries run across the harbour and connecting Hong Kong to China. This is one of the most pleasant ways to get around.