In 1997 Hong Kong became part once again of the Chinese Empire, leaving behind its dependency from the British Crown. However Hong Kong still enjoys close ties with it's former country and there is a very heavy influence on its people. Most of Hong Kong citizens are able to speak in English and are often enrolled into study programmes to the UK. This means that from a visitors perspective Hong Kong is very appealing to visit as it's easy to get around everywhere thus also enjoying a high quality of life, good weather, true Asian food cuisine and the best thing of all is that thanks to a bilateral agreement with China, those visiting directly into Hong Kong don't need a visa.
It's location makes it ideal to visit anytime of the year, but temperatures are mild for more than half the year. There are warm, relatively dry winters, and hot, humid, and wet summers. But the best time to visit Hong Kong is from October to February, when the weather is sunny, cool, and pleasant at about 20-30C. Spring is a cloudy season in Hong Kong/ (March to June).
Visitors to Hong Kong will find authentic food from all the regions of China, including Cantonese, Northern (Peking), Chiu Chow (Swatow), Shanghai, Szechuan and Hakka. What’s more, there’s the chance to sample them in all kinds of surroundings: on a sampan in Causeway Bay or a floating restaurant, in a Kowloon back-street restaurant or street market; or in the dining room of a luxury hotel.
Chinese dishes are by no means the whole story, though, as Hong Kong is one of the great centres for international cooking. There are stalls and restaurants serving most of the key Asian cuisines, including Indian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Singapore/Malaysian and Thai, but there’s also some truly excellent Western cooking on offer.
Hong Kong only has one international airport which is very easy to commute from. You will find many options available, from high speed rail to local busses. An airport express trains connects to the main Hong Kong Station within 24 minutes and costs €12 one way. Busses range from €2/3 depending on the destination, it might be a better connection going by bus as they are luggage prepared and fully air conditioned with WIFI.
Within the city, public transport is easy to use and user friendly for locals and visitors as everything is clearly marked and signed in English. The city has a good metro system, busses, ferries and trams also form part of the public system and give travellers good connectivity. The combined transport system is used under one card called the "Octopus card". Using the card, ensures slightly cheaper single tickets than single cash tickets. The initial cost of the card is 150HKD with 100HKD travel value. Take note than during the weekends, fares on ferries are higher to those on the weekday. For more information check: Hong Kong Metro Web.
Hong Kong is a vibrant, densely populated urban centre, a major port and global financial hub with a skyscraper-studded skyline.Hong Kong is also a major shopping destination, famed for bespoke tailors and the street night market. It's the modern side of Hong Kong which visitors come to see most but it's also possible to see Temples and beautiful views from the nearby hills with cable-car style gondolas taking you up the peaks. Highlights of the city are:
TIP: Visit the Promenade at night, and everyday at 20.00h there is a light show from the buildings opposite, displaying a 10min light show to entertain the public. Take your cameras for some amazing shots!
Best known as the 'Vegas of China', Macau is a special administrative region of China, where most visitors don't need a visa to visit. The city was a Portuguese colony for more than 300 years, it was a major port in the 1600 and 1700's for its exports to Europe and South America. It is a city of blended cultures. Ancient Chinese temples sit on streets paved with traditional Portuguese style buildings, churches and even a fort. The sound of Cantonese fills the air on streets with Portuguese names. In Macau you can also enjoy multi-cultural infusion of food, you can eat Chinese for breakfast, enjoy a Portuguese lunch and dine a hybrid Macanese meal such as ground beef or pork, often served over rice.
When you travel to Macau, you will notice two major areas, the Peninsula, (attached to China) holds the old city centre, where colonial ruins sit next to arty new shops, residential streets, little markets and colonial parks. Further south are the areas of Taipa, Cotai and Coloane. Taipa has also preserved Macanese architecture, whilst Cotai is home to the new megacasinos, luxury Hotels and boutique shops and high class retail make the area a class of it's own. The area is in constant development, new Hotels and mega-shopping centres are being built and the area is now the economic-force for Macau. It's indeed a mecca of gambling and glitz. Further south you will find the area of Coloane, lined with colonial villages and pretty beaches.
To get to Macau from Hong Kong you can take the Ferry, which takes 1 hour to cross over. Prices are 150HKD one way going and 180-200HKD coming back. You can depart from either Kowloon (MTR Tsim Sha Tsui Station or MTR Austin Station) or from Sheung Wan (MTR Sheung Wan Station) which is on Hong Kong Island. You will find more frequencies from Sheung Wan.
It's possible to reach two ports in Macau, The Outer Harbour (best for old city, culture and history) and Taipa (best for Taipa and Cotai areas, Casinos and shopping boutiques). There are also two companies which offer the best transportation, Cotai Super Jet and Turbo Jet. Depending of where you want to travel. There is 24h services between Sheung Wan and the Outer Harbour. However other services are limited with last departures from Taipa to Kowloon finishing at 19.45 and Taipa to Sheung Wan at 01.00am.
TIP: The best idea is to travel from Sheung Wan to the Outer Harbour in the morning, spend the day travelling around the Old City and when the sun sets, take a bus (25X, Next to Casino Lisboa for 4.20) to Cotai, for the Casino and Shopping Centres. Return in the evening from any of the mega-shopping centres or Casinos which have a free shuttle bus service to Taipa Ferry terminal (free busses run till 23.00) where you can travel back to Sheung Wan. (last departure 01.00am) or you will need to travel back to Outer Harbour for later departures.
Places not to miss whilst in Macau: Sé Cathedral Macau, Ruins of St. Paul's, Monte Forte and the Macau Museum, Farol da Guia (lighthouse), Casa Do Mandarim, Macau Tower, and Largo do Senado, (Senado Square). When you travel to Cotai, don't miss the Eiffel Tower replica, the Venetian Canal replica, Galaxy Hotel-Shopping Centre and Casinos, and the Parisian. (Shopping and Casinos).
Everyone knows Hong Kong is a place of neon-lit retail signs and a shopping heaven. All international brands have their logo outlets here, and they are supplemented by the city’s own retail locals shops and markets. That said, Hong Kong's reputation as a bargain hunter’s paradise is pretty much a thing of the past. What can you find in Hong Kong? the answer is easy. Anything you want! Clothing, luggage, jewellery, cameras and electronic goods are the city’s strong suits. Excellent shops and galleries specializing in Asian art and antiques also abound.
For antique shops and art galleries you will them bunched along Wyndham St and Hollywood Rd in Central and Sheung Wan.The shops at the western end of Hollywood Rd tend to be cheaper paraphernalia, including propaganda posters and badges from the Cultural Revolution.
For Clothes, the best places to find global designer brands and luxury stores are in malls, such as the IFC and the Landmark in Central, Times Square in Causeway Bay, Pacific Place in Admiralty, and Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui.
For markets and minimalls, the best hunting grounds for low-cost garments are at the eastern end of Granville Rd in Tsim Sha Tsui, and Cheung Sha Wan Rd in Sham Shui Po. The street markets on Temple St in Yau Ma Tei and Tung Choi St in Mong Kok have the cheapest clothes.
For IT products, Hong Kong has a plethora of shops specialising in electronic and digital gadgets, but the product mix and prices vary. Shopkeepers are generally honest but some have been known to sell display second-hand items as new. One of the best spots in Hong Kong to buy photographic equipment is Stanley St in Central. Everything sold here carries a price tag (never buy a camera without one). For jewellery and watches, reputable shops and chains, are found in Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok.
TIP: Remember to bargain and ask for discounts, specially as many smaller shops and stalls where the owners are working direct, and naturally in markets. The best tip to see if you can bargain of not is by checking if there is a price tag on it. Often for visitors they will increase the price potentially just by looking at your face. Though Sales assistants in department or chain stores rarely have any leeway to give discounts. However in Hong Kong you must be careful of counterfeit products and copies, even if you can get really cheap prices, often the product can be of bad quality or have limited warranty.
Hong Kong can be reasonable to stay at if you book in advance and compare prices, even good hotels can have deals at €35 a night! However it's worth staying a little out of the typical tourist areas to save money and therefore spending on leisure. There are plenty of hostels as well offering really cheap nights though some places may not be as clean as expected specially in the city centre. Also private accommodation via Airbnb is getting more and more popular.