When is the best time to visit?
Hong Kong can be visited at any time of year but autumn (October to November) and spring (March and May) are when the weather is most pleasant with average high temperatures around 24 to 28 degrees. From May to September it can be quite hot and humid, with average high temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius with 95 per cent humidity. It can also rain heavily during this period.
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.
Even in the winter months, Hong Kong’s weather is usually mild, so this can be a good time to visit and avoid crowds.
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 around February, when HK will be especially busy and you will need to have booked Hong Kong flights and hotels in advance. Chinese New Year is the biggest festival of the lunar calendar and it is the busiest time to visit the city which sees locals celebrating and praying for good fortune.
Another important event in Hong Kong’s calendar is the Dragon Boat Carnival which usually takes place around June and attracts athletes and spectators alike.
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. Public transport is inexpensive so go to the top of the town. The Peak is HK's top tourist attraction. Take a seat on the tram, which rises to 1299 ft above sea level, and gasp at the views of Hong Kong, the high-rises giving way to the sea. Or, catch a ferry from Central Pier over to Lantau, HK's largest island. The Lantau South Country Park contains sylvan glades, hiking trails and beautiful seacapes, all just a 40-minute chug away.
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.
Hong Kong is a prime shopping destination for all kinds of treasures - electronics, clothes, jewellery, Chinese handicrafts. If your heart desires it, you'll find it somewhere in Hong Kong. After the shopping, the fine dining and lively nightlife will absorb any traveller for a short spell. However, it's a misconception that Hong Kong is just a city-break destination, diverting enough for a stopover.
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.
Getting around Hong Kong
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 1224ft. 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.
What’s the best way to reach city centre from the airport?
The Airport Express train is one of the best ways to travel from the airport into the city centre, with trains every ten minutes taking 24 minutes. Discounts are often available if tickets are booked in advance. Buses offer a scenic and reasonably priced alternative – visitors should look out for the “A” buses designed for tourists and the slower “E” buses. There are also taxis available, though these can be expensive.
Hong Kong insider information
- To escape the hustle of the city, head to Kowloon Park – take the subway to Tsim Sha Tsui. The park contains a bird lake, with hundreds of colourful flamingos, Bainiao Garden, a football field, children’s playground, banyan courtyard and a sculpture park. The park is open every day except Fridays. On Sundays various groups gather to practice martial arts or dance. A stroll through gives an excellent flavour of the many activities taking place in the city.
- One of the best views in Hong Kong is also accessible from Kowloon park. Head through the park past the bird sanctuary and over the bridge to a pier lit by fairy lights. From the very end of the pier, Hong Kong island is laid out in front of you, to the left are cruise ships in the harbour, and to the right the developments taking place on the reclaimed land.
- Shopping for electronics: Sham Sui Po has the greatest and cheapest computer accessories you’ll ever find. Head for the computer hardware store just by the metro. The basement has an assortment of gadgets for computers – from those you’ve always wanted, to those you never knew you needed but just can’t leave behind.
- Entrance to all museums is free on Wednesdays. One of the biggest and best is the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, which has exhibitions on HK’s history, art and culture.
- To visit beaches, depart from Sai Kung, from where you can reach almost any beautiful island you want. Just take one of the boats and spend a day relaxing.
- It’s not the cheapest city to eat or drink in. To save money if you’re female, however, head for bars on “Ladies Nights” – most bars have these and it means free entrance and free drinks for women all night long. Wan Chai is the centre of the nightlife region. For celebrity-spotting, hit the Dragon, a favoured nightclub with the rich and famous. Needless to say, there is a strict dress code and door policy