Visit Hong Kong
About Hong Kong
One of the world’s most exciting cities, Hong Kong is a heady mix of ancient and modern. There are stunning views of sky-high gleaming towers, and quiet backwaters where old sampan still transport the dockworkers as they have for centuries.
There’s fascinating food from bright sweet green balls sold by street vendors to top-class, top-dollar restaurants. Throw in a few markets and museums, link it all with a good transport system, and if you’re a city person, you’ll be in your element.
Sometimes the view alone is enough, since it truly is spectacular, with 1 200 skyscrapers set against a backdrop of forested mountains and the sea. It’s a crazy, addictive place packed with far too much of everything – too many millions of people, too many buildings, too many markets, too many roads and too many cars. It packs all of this into a relatively tiny area, filling Kowloon on the tip of mainland China and Hong Kong island itself. There are about 260 smaller islands around it in the South China Sea, most notably Lantau. Macau is a peninsular on mainland China that’s part of the same territory.
The transport system is comprehensive, with bus and underground trains criss-crossing the city. Bus stops and train stations have route maps and fares printed in English, and the hotels have free maps. The official languages are Cantonese and English.
Save money with the Hong Kong and Macau Attractions Pass, which buys you discounted access to three or five top attractions and activities, depending on which you select. You can choose from 10 attractions, and get a map and guidebook as well as discounts or special offers at restaurants and shops. Choices include a Victoria Harbour Cruise, the Hop-on, hop-off tour bus, and the sky100 Observation Deck, 100 storeys high.
Hong Kong is GMT+8 with no Daylight Saving Time.
The local currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HK). Banks and forex bureaux are found throughout the city, ATMs are common, and you can change money at hotels. Credit and debit cards are also common currency.
The sub-tropical climate usually brings pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. But the weather is unpredictable and humidity can be high. Late autumn from October to November or the spring of April and May are the best times to visit. June to August is usually hot and wet, and there’s a risk of typhoons in September. January is the coolest, dryest month.
Hong Kong uses British-style plugs with three square pins, and the standard voltage is 220V.
No problems here: mobile networks have the city covered and internet access is fast and cheap. Free Wifi is available in hotels and public areas, including the airport, key cultural centres, parks and shopping malls. If that’s not enough, you can get a free pass at tourist offices for 60 minutes on the PCCW network, which runs 7 000 Wifi hotspots.
The public transport is cheap, easy and goes everywhere. The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is the quickest way to get around, while the bus system is more extensive. Both systems have timetables and advice in English. Pick up a route map in the tourist offices or hotels. Ferries are cheap and worth taking just for the stunning harbour views.
Airport to City Center
Getting to the city from Hong Kong International Airport is easy. Airport Express trains run directly to the centre in 24 minutes and depart every 10 minutes. Two or more passengers can get Group Pass discounts. When you get off in Kowloon or Hong Kong stations a free shuttle bus will take you to most major hotels or transport interchanges, or you can take a taxi for that last leg.
Passengers returning to the airport on the Airport Express can use a check-in and luggage drop-off service in Hong Kong and Kowloon Stations from a day to 90 minutes ahead of departure.
Buses also connect the airport to most areas of the city and are cheaper than the train. These take about 50 minutes to central Kowloon and 65 minutes to central areas of Hong Kong Island. Taxis are also available.
For South African Airways flights offers, visit our flights to Hong Kong page.