Hong Kong is one of the most attractive destinations in Asia. Whether you’re heading to the “Fragrant Harbor” for two days or two weeks, this expert advice will help you avoid some common pitfalls and ensure a foolproof trip to Hong Kong.
Don’t treat Hong Kong like a layover city
Don’t visit at the wrong time of year
For every fantastic trip to Hong Kong, there are too many marred by weather, crowds, or rowdy rugby fans. The worst time of year to visit is during the insufferable summer, which is infamously hot, humid, and plagued by menacing typhoons. Visitors who make the trip between September and March are generally rewarded with clear, sunny skies, plentiful outdoor activities, music and food festivals, and the best weather for hiking the territories’ many mountain ranges.
Don’t ride the Star Ferry during rush hour
The iconic Star Ferry, which has been crossing photogenic Victoria Harbour since 1880, has all the makings of a leisurely boat ride. It can be one of the most glorious ways to get around—unless you hop on at the wrong time. Thousands of people use these green-and-white boats to make their daily commutes, so avoid rush hour from 8–9:30am and 6–7pm. Otherwise, the ride won’t feel leisurely at all.
Don’t only eat dim sum
Of course, you can’t go to Hong Kong without having a quintessential dim sum experience—served at venerable spots like Maxim’s Palace City Hall, Fu Sing Seafood Restaurant, Lin Heung Tea House, or Din Tai Fung—but the culinary scene has much more to offer than excellent Cantonese food. There’s an ever-evolving stable of diverse and innovative restaurants that solidify Hong Kong’s status as a gourmand’s playground.
Don’t go to crowded neighborhoods on weekends
One of the first things travelers notice when hitting the streets of Hong Kong is the lack of elbow room. This compact metropolis is one of the most densely populated in the world, and masses of tourists from around the world only add to the chaos. To best avoid the throngs, plan your vacation strategically: Visit the most populous areas—such as Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui, and Causeway Bay—on weekdays when more Hongkongers are at work, but avoid lunch hour from 1–2pm at all costs.
Don’t limit yourself to Hong Kong Island
Many travelers don’t realize that Hong Kong Island is just one of the territory’s more than 260 islands. The vast majority of these islands are mostly rural and tricky to get to, however there are a dozen or so little isles within easy ferry distance, all offering different experiences. On Lamma Island, you’ll find a laid-back vibe and popular beaches; Peng Chau is home to Finger Hill and Seven Sisters Temple; Lantau boasts great beach bars like Mavericks and the historic Tai O fishing village; and Cheung Chau is all about fresh seafood, leisurely bike rides and the Cheung Po Tsai pirate caves. For first-time visitors, exploring the diverse outlying islands, which are all just 30–60 minutes away, is one of the most memorable ways to experience Hong Kong.
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