Traveling In Hong Kong: #1 Best Guide With Cantonese Phrases

Traveling in Hong Kong - A photo of a public transportation in HK.

Travelers, Hong Kong is calling! Are you gonna answer? Listen, if you’re thinking about traveling in Hong Kong, let’s just say—you’re in for a treat. I’ve been here loads of times as a seafarer, and I even guided my brother Lek and his family this April (2024), so I know the ropes. This place is a total sensory overload (in the best way possible)!

But before you go booking those flights and cramming your suitcase for your Hong Kong trip, let’s get you prepped. Today, I’m giving you the download on how to travel Hong Kong like a local, not just some clueless tourist. Oh, and don’t be surprised if I throw in useful phrases to help you learn the Cantonese language—you’ll need them! Let’s go!

Hong Kong: Wait, This Is China?

First, let’s get one thing straight: Hong Kong ain’t your average Chinese city. It’s a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. That means it’s got this “one country, two systems” policy going on—its own money (Hong Kong dollars), laws, and a lot of independence.

This unique situation is why you’ll find a crazy mashup of old Chinese traditions, a dash of British influence from the past, and a modern, fast-paced energy that’s all Hong Kong. Expect ancient temples squeezed between skyscrapers and people chatting in a mix of Cantonese and English.

A photo of a family traveling in Hong Kong during foggy weather.

The Weather Window: When’s The Sweet Spot?

Okay, let’s talk about timing because Hong Kong weather can go from cozy to full-on steamy in the blink of an eye. Trust my seafaring experience here—the best time to hit Hong Kong is September to November. You’ll get warm days and cool nights, perfect for wandering all the city’s main attractions. We’re talking temps around 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F).

If you can’t swing those autumn months, spring (March to May) ain’t bad either. Just be prepared for a bit of fog (as you can see in the photo) and the occasional rain shower.

Pro tip: Steer clear of those Hong Kong national holidays or any giant conventions going on in the city. Hotels get crazy expensive, and those crowds get intense.

Useful Cantonese Phrases

Arriving In Hong Kong: Transportation Options From The Airport

Alright, you’ve touched down at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)—now let’s get you out of there and into the heart of this city! Here’s the lowdown on your options:

Airport Express

If time is money, the Airport Express train is your best bet. This baby will zoom you to Hong Kong Island in a mere 24 minutes. Tickets usually cost around HKD 115 for Hong Kong Island or HKD 105 for Kowloon.

Pro tip: Book in advance through Klook, use an Octopus Card (trust me, you’ll want one), and those prices drop to around HKD 72 or HKD 66.

Airport Shuttle Bus

Need to beeline it to your hotel? Airport Shuttle Buses offer direct drops at most major hotels. It’ll cost you HKD 130 (Kowloon) or HKD 140 (Hong Kong Island).

Pro tip: As usual, Klook offers slightly cheaper tickets at HKD 117 for both routes. Bonus: they usually have comfy seats and luggage storage.

Hong Kong travel guide - A photo of a public bus ride in Hong Kong.

Public Bus

Traveling Hong Kong on the cheap? Public buses are the way to go. The A22 bus covers Kowloon and Hong Kong Island for only HKD 39. Remember to tap that Octopus Card on the reader when you board. Heads up, though – this ride can get long during rush hour, so factor that into your plans.

Taxi / Uber

Massive haul of luggage? Just want a door-to-door experience? Taxis and Ubers are always waiting. Warning: This is the most expensive option, with fares starting at a hefty HKD 250-300, and they can go higher depending on traffic.

Useful Cantonese Phrases

Traveling In Hong Kong With Its Transportation System

Fact: Hong Kong’s public transport puts most places to shame. It’s fast, reliable, and, surprisingly, won’t break the bank.

Your go-to when traveling in Hong Kong is gonna be the Mass Transit Railway (MTR). Think of it as a supercharged subway network that’ll take you from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon or even further into the New Territories.

Remember that Octopus Card earlier? Get yourself one ASAP! No, it’s not an underwater creature; it’s a versatile smart card that’s your ticket to ride (literally!).

The MTR? Octopus. Double-decker buses? Octopus. Those adorable trams? You guessed it—Octopus! Plus—and this is where it gets awesome—you can use this magic card at convenience stores, fast food places, even supermarkets.

You can get an Octopus Card at any MTR station. It’ll cost you HKD 150, but HKD 50 of that is a refundable deposit, leaving you with HKD 100 of sweet, sweet ride credit.

Need more spending power for your adventures? Just top up your card at any MTR station or convenience store!

Useful Cantonese Phrases

Finding The Perfect Base: Where To Stay In Hong Kong

Okay, let’s figure out where you’re gonna rest your weary head after a day of traveling in Hong Kong. Location is everything here, especially if you’re new to the city.

Pro tip: Choose a place near Victoria Harbor, either in Kowloon or on Hong Kong Island. Why? Easy access to all the best sights, mouthwatering restaurants, and iconic skyline views. Let’s break down some of your best bets:

Tsim Sha Tsui (TST)

Tourist central, and I mean that in a good way! This Kowloon neighborhood is full of shops, restaurants, you name it. Plus, you’re super close to the Star Ferry (you’ll need this for your Hong Kong Island adventures!) and the Avenue of Stars, where you can channel your inner movie star.

For a classic experience, the Salisbury—YMCA of Hong Kong (around HKD 800 a night) has old-school Hong Kong charm. Feeling a bit more spendy? The Mira Moon has all futuristic vibes and a sleek design (expect to pay closer to HKD 1,200 a night, though).

A photo of a family staying on a cheap hotel in Hong Kong.

Mong Kok

Do you have that backpacker budget? Mong Kok won’t let you down. This place has all the kind of street markets you dream about—get ready to bargain like a boss at Ladies’ Market and Temple Street Night Market.

And when those hunger pangs hit, you’ve got cheap and tasty eats at every corner. You can find comfy guest houses and hostels starting around HKD 200-400 a night here too!

Causeway Bay

Calling all fashionistas and shopaholics, Causeway Bay is your mecca! Think high-end designer shops, trendy cafes tucked into side streets, and the gargantuan Times Square mall.

Nice hotels, too, like Park Lane Hong Kong (around HKD 1,500 a night) for pure luxury. Want to save a few bucks? The Mini Hotel Causeway Bay offers stylish modern rooms at a slightly friendlier price (closer to HKD 600 a night).

Useful Cantonese Phrases

Must-See And Experience Attractions In Hong Kong

Hong Kong is jam-packed with stuff that’ll blow your mind, from classic tourist spots to those offbeat finds that make your trip unforgettable. Here are a few that should be at the top of your list:

Victoria Peak

If you don’t head up to The Peak, did you even visit Hong Kong? This is where you get that skyline view—the one from the postcards.

Pro-tip: Hop on the historic Peak Tram, a crazy steep railway that’s been chugging along since 1888. Round-trip tickets will run you HKD 99, but you know I’m all about saving cash—grab them on Klook for a bit cheaper. At the top, hit up the Sky Terrace 428 for the ultimate view.

Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha)

Over on Lantau Island, you’ll find the Tian Tan Buddha, aka the Big Buddha. This giant bronze statue is a sight to behold, chilling out on a hill above the Po Lin Monastery. It’s a whopping 34 meters tall, seriously impressive.

Best way to get there? The Ngong Ping 360 cable car from Tung Chung—the island and sea views are insane!

Temple Street Night Market

For that real Hong Kong night vibe, Temple Street Night Market is a must. This place gets filled after dark, with sellers hawking everything you can imagine: clothes, souvenirs, weird gadgets… you name it.

Remember your haggling skills, and don’t forget to try the food stalls: clay pot rice and seafood on a stick. And if you’re daring, try some of those stinky tofu served with hoisin sauce!

Tai Kwun

Want a glimpse of old Hong Kong? Hit up Tai Kwun in Central. This used to be a police station and prison, but they’ve done a superb job turning it into a cool arts and history center.

It’s a fascinating look at a different side of Hong Kong, plus they always have interesting exhibits and events going on. Entry is free, though some special exhibits might cost a little extra.

A photo of Jowy in Hong Kong Disneyland.

Hong Kong Disneyland

Got kids (or still a kid from within)? Then Hong Kong Disneyland is non-negotiable! This theme park in Penny’s Bay, Lantau Island, was the first Disneyland in Asia outside of Japan (until Shanghai opened in 2016).

Yeah, sure, it might be on the smaller side compared to some other Disney parks, but this place is full of rides, shows, and all that classic Disney charm. It’s a magical day out, so budget at least one full day, though a 2-day pass is better if you want to take your time and really soak it all in.

Pro tip: If you’re from a country without Disneyland, this one’s extra special. I may be biased, but Hong Kong Disneyland holds its own with its magical attractions and atmosphere!

Useful Cantonese Phrases

Your Stomach Will Thank You: A Hong Kong Food Adventure

Okay, after all that sightseeing, you’re gonna need some serious fuel when traveling in Hong Kong. Good thing Hong Kong is a foodie’s dream come true, with everything from hole-in-the-wall street food to Michelin-starred restaurants. Here’s what you gotta add to your “must-eat” list:

Dim Sum Heaven

You can’t say you’ve had Hong Kong breakfast without going all-in on dim sum. Imagine baskets of steaming goodness filled with dumplings, buns, and all sorts of tasty surprises.

Head to One Dim Sum in Mong Kok for top-notch dim sum. Or, if you want a Michelin-star experience (and don’t mind the line), Tim Ho Wan is famous for a reason.

Char Siu Cravings

If you love BBQ, Hong Kong’s char siu (barbecued pork) is about to blow your mind. It’s sweet, savory, and so tender that it literally melts in your mouth.

They serve it on its own or tucked into fluffy buns for the ultimate snack. For the best of the best, make your way to Joy Hing Roasted Meat in Wan Chai.

A photo of beef wanton noodles in Hong Kong.

Roast Goose Goals

Another traditional Hong Kong food you got to try is a roast goose—that crispy skin, that juicy meat… it’s the stuff dreams are made of. A legendary spot for this is Yat Lok in Central. They’ve been doing roast goose right for over 30 years and even earned a Michelin star for it!

Egg Waffle Mania

Need a sweet pick-me-up? Track down some egg waffles (gai daan zai)! These bubbly, crispy treats are a Hong Kong street food staple. Mammy Pancake in Tsim Sha Tsui has classic flavors, chocolate, matcha… all the good stuff.

Cha Chaan Teng Vibes

Want that authentic Hong Kong diner feel? Find a cha chaan teng! These no-fuss spots serve up local favorites with a side of Hong Kong energy—think Hong Kong-style French toast, noodles with that weird-but-delicious luncheon meat, and, of course, milk tea. Tsui Wah and Kam Wah Cafe are two popular chains that’ll do the trick.

Useful Cantonese Phrases

Pro-Tips And Secret Tricks: Mastering Your Hong Kong Trip

Time to give you the lowdown on making that Hong Kong trip of yours epic! These tips aren’t from some guidebook. They’re the stuff I’ve learned from my experience exploring this city myself.

  • Don’t waste time bein’ lost or rackin’ up crazy phone bills. Grab a prepaid SIM card at the airport or any convenience store (they’re everywhere!), or pre-book a pocket Wi-Fi on Klook.

  • Wanna make your trip even smoother? Download the Ling app before traveling to Hong Kong and start learning some Cantonese! Even a few key phrases help a ton when you’re ordering food, need directions, or doin’ a bit of market haggling.

  • Hong Kong’s got hidden gems that won’t cost you a dime. Check out Kowloon Walled City Park for cool history, the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade for those skyline views, and the Chi Lin Nunnery for temples and peaceful gardens.

  • If you’re here during the Mid-Autumn Festival (usually September/October), prepare for colorful lanterns and yummy mooncakes! It’s a fun celebration to experience Hong Kong culture.

  • Need a break from all the city energy? Hop on a ferry from Central Ferry Pier to Lamma Island or Cheung Chau. Think beaches, seafood feasts, and chillin’ out in those old-school villages.

  • Skip those rip-off airport currency exchanges! For better rates, head to Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui or World Wide House in Central. FYI, as of April 2024, 1 Hong Kong Dollar is about 13 cents in USD.
A photo of a family in Disneyland when traveling in Hong Kong.

You’re All Set For Traveling In Hong Kong!

Listen, Hong Kong is a blast, and the best way to make the most of traveling here is to just go with the flow. Explore those crazy crowded markets, snap pics of that epic skyline, and heck, if you get a little turned around, that’s half the fun! Traveling in Hong Kong is about trying new things, being a little adventurous, and letting this wild city mesmerize you. Have fun!

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