I spent a rainy 48 hours in Hong Kong just to end my day drenched, injured, and wanting more. Seriously! The city gives off this unbeatable vibe. It’s captivating. I want to take my kids there, my friends there – I’m really looking forward to be able to step back on a plane to Hong Kong again ?.
So I’m assuming you’ve found this page because you’re planning your first trip to Hong Kong. If that’s the case I am so excited for you! These 10 useful first-timer tips are for you. If not, well, we’re in the same boat buddy. This is a condensed version of my very long winded, sometimes funny, sometimes corny post of 48 things I did, see and do in 48 hours while I was in Hong Kong (read this if you’re into those kinds of posts and if you’ve got 48 hours to spare – jk).
1. Buy An Octopus Card
If you’ve done some research, then you’ve probably read about the Octopus Card. This will make your trip, no matter how short or long, 10x’s easier! If this is the first time you’re hearing about it well, simply put: it’s a contact-less smart card you can load with HKD and use all over the city, be it transportation or a frappe from Starbucks. I used this card multiple times a day! For the metro, Star Ferry, grocery store. Many places accept this card! Especially helpful since I get so flustered trying to get the right change – or getting back the right change and then stuffing it as fast as I can in some random pocket before the person behind me starts to yell at me. This is a must! BOTTOM LINE: Purchase this in the airport. Right away. Don’t waste a minute without this necessity.
2. Learn Some Key Phrases
I read from multiple websites that English was commonly spoken throughout Hong Kong. It’s also one of its official language. And so, while I usually make it a point to learn some of the native language where ever I go, I didn’t bother. I had read I would be able to get by without it. I’m sure this is true if you’re in an area where most of the expats congregate! But I didn’t even go to those areas. The official language of Hong Kong is Cantonese. Learn a few words/phrases before you go.
3. Avoid Typhoon Season
Basically, if you can help it, avoid going in summer (May, June, July). If it’s not pouring down raining, it’s hot and humid. It rained the whole 48 hours I was there. Crazy, torrential kind of rains. The best times to go would either be a nice spring day in April, or sometime in September – during fall. If you’re going in the summer anyway, bring an umbrella to protect from either the rains or the sun.
4. Order Fried Pork Buns From Tim Ho Wan
If this is not on your list, then add it. Tim Ho Wan is known for being the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world. And it is absolutely delicious! One thing you should definitely order is the fried pork buns. These lived up to the hype. Surpassed it actually. It’s just that mouth-watering good. There are many locations scattered throughout. Wherever you decide to stay, you’re probably close to one. Be prepared to wait in long lines for this. Or find a take-out location. I went 30 minutes after opening on a rainy day and there were no empty tables. It’s quite common in Hong Kong to be sat at tables with strangers. I wasn’t aware of this and was taken aback but then was like, it’s cool whatever. I was seated with two older men, we were all strangers. Trying to avoid eyes while eating. One was writing down notes and taking pictures. Expect to see a lot of foodies and foodie bloggers there. Anyway, here I go again rambling – this was supposed to be a quick top 10 list. The fried pork buns! Write it down, say it 20x’s in your head, just don’t forget. Order the friend. pork. buns.
5. Consider A Day Trip To Macau
Macau, a city full of old Portuguese ruins and Las Vegas style casinos, is only an hour away via ferry. Plus it’s relatively inexpensive. A one way ticket from Hong Kong to Macau in economy class is $164 HKD which is a little over $20 US. For the most up-to-date fares, check on TurboJET. You can book your ticket in advance or be spontaneous like me and book it when you get there. Just don’t forget to bring your passport! You’ll have to go through customs in Macau when you arrive. From what I’ve read. Of course I wouldn’t really know because I forgot to bring my passport with me 😡 . If you plan on purchasing the ticket in person, just keep walking toward the last terminal on the Hong Kong side. There’s a ferry leaving from the Kowloon side and the airport as well.
6. Take The Star Ferry
An inexpensive transportation system with a lovely view of both skylines! Take it from the Kowloon side to Hong Kong side and back again – as opposed to taking the metro. You can use your Octopus Card here too. I’m telling you, these cards are so convenient. You wouldn’t have to bother with another complicated, ticket machine system! Just swipe or tap your Octopus Card. Only thing you would have to keep track of is whether you loaded enough Hong Kong dollars.
7. Stay On Kowloon Side
Now, if you’re still in the beginning phases of your Hong Kong trip planning, might I suggest booking a room or bnb on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong? I stayed in Tsim Sha Tsiu. Anywhere close enough to a metro station is good. Although you get a more local, authentic experience when staying in Kowloon.
8. Ride A Glass Bottom Cable Car
Something you have to experience once! And I mean it, just once. If you’re somewhat on a budget, there’s no need to purchase a round-trip glass bottom cable car ride which lasts 25 minutes long each way. Take it either going up, or back down. But then buy a standard cable car ticket. Saves you a few bucks if you’re into those sort of things 😉 . Ngong Ping 360 cable car is unavailable till June 2017, so if you’re planning a trip before then and still want to go see the Big Buddha, read this for other transportation options.
9. Use Luggage Lockers For A Short Stay
If you’re only visiting Hong Kong for a short time, or you’re waiting for a later flight – you’re going to need a place to keep your luggage. Luckily, Hong Kong International Airport has a solution for that. On the bottom floor of Terminal 2, you’ll find the airports’ luggage lockers. At an hourly rate of only $12 HKD which is like $2 USD. More info on it here.
10. Purchase A SIM Card
There was a kiosk in the airport advertising this (and also willing to set your phone up). It’s affordable and you’ll be able to stay connected while you’re exploring! Read this for more info.
Pin this for later
These tips are sure to help when planning your first trip to Hong Kong. At least that’s what I was aiming for. If you’re into all my scattered thoughts and even more rainy pictures, read my Hong Kong post here. Pin, comment, or like this post ♥ and hope your trip to Hong Kong is amazing and typhoon-free! (knock on wood)