Hong Kong is one the gateways to Asia. The metropolitan semi autonomous city is thing of beauty, but also serves as a connecting hub for numerous airlines. The area is one of high population density as nearly 7.5 million people live in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has been a second home for me and many of my relatives still reside there. Here is a quick and easy guide for to help you plan your trip to Hong Kong.
HKG is Hong Kong’s only airport and is an extremely popular connection hub to the rest of Asia. Due to the high traffic into Hong Kong, there are plenty of award flights available. You can also find cheap round trip tickets from the United States to Hong Kong during off peak season. Off peak season is mainly in the fall and you can find round trip economy tickets for under $500. For the purpose of this post, I will stick to discussing award flights. Award flights can be easily booked with all three airline alliances. My favorite airlines that fly to Hong Kong include Cathay Pacific and China Airlines, but options are plentiful.
Based in San Francisco, my typical redemption to Hong Kong is through United Airlines. The United SFO-HKG includes Polaris business class and access to the Polaris Lounge. Award flights costs 60k-75k United Miles each way before the devaluation. United Polaris has a solid hard product, but the service and atmosphere has room to improve.
Another solid option is with American or Alaska Miles. Alaska miles can be used for Cathay Pacific business class or first class at 50k and 70k miles apiece. Although I have never sat in Cathay Pacific’s first class, I have heard amazing things and hope to try it out in the future.
Pro Tip: Many airlines fly into Hong Kong and you might have to do some digging but you should be able to find space on your favorite airline.
Hong Kong is a bustling metropolis with well constructed public transportation infrastructure. Upon arriving in Hong Kong International Airport, you will need to get a taxi or take the MTR, the Hong Kong subway system, to reach the mainland. HKG Airport is located on its own island so it will be quite a journey to the inner city.
Bus and MTR(subway) are the most frequent methods of transportation in Hong Kong. All subway signs are bilingual thanks to its strong British ties and most buses also have bilingual signs. Lite buses are also avaliable, but I would refrain from taking them unless needed. They are a bit more complicated to use. Public transportation in Hong Kong can be rather pricey. Taxis are also available, but I would stick to public transportation and Google Maps if possible.
Pro Tip: Make sure to buy an octopus card in Hong Kong. This is a re-loadable card that can be used almost anywhere is extremely convenient for paying for public transportation fares. You can also reload your card at any convenience store.
Things to To Do
Hong Kong is a wonderful destination and there are a variety of attractions scattered throughout the city. Here are several things I have done and enjoyed in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is littered with shopping malls and street markets. Large indoor mall networks are extremely popular, with many of them sitting right above MTR(subway) stations. Most of the newer shopping centers have everything from clothing, sneakers, and grocery markets to Starbucks and Mcdonalds. If you like to indulge in luxury, head to Causeway Bay, where you can find numerous high-end stores.
I’ve never been to Disneyland Hong Kong, but I’ve heard that its solid. An adult day pass will run you roughly $80 and a kids day pass will cost roughly $60. To get to Disneyland, the MTR(subway) is most convenient, but depending on where you are staying, you might have to make several transfers. If you do check this out, let me know how it goes!
Looking for a relaxing excursion, try visiting the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens Green House. This zoo sits atop a large mountain near Central Station, Hong Kong and offers a peaceful sanctuary in the midst of a bustling metropolis. The Zoo is on the smaller side, but is home to rare flowers and birds. This spot is wonderful for young families, just be wary of the heat.
Food and Eats
Hong Kong’s food scene is a cultural melting pot, where you can find everything from traditional Chinese dishes such as dim sum and dumplings, to Japanese Shabu Shabu and Asian Fusion spots. Here are some of the things that I’ve tried in Hong Kong.
1) Tiger Sugar – Brown Sugar Milk Tea
Looking for the extremely popular Brown Sugar Milk Tea? Look no further than Tiger Sugar which have numerous locations in Hong Kong. This Taiwanese Milk Tea shop serves delicious brown sugar milk tea and a variety of others milk tea variety. The brand has also introduced their own version of Brown Sugar Boba Popsicles that can be found in Asian supermarkets.
2) Shabu Shabu or Hot Pot
Hong Kong has a variety of cuisines, but hot pot and shabu shabu are one the most popular spots for dinner. Lately, there have been more and more hot pot and shabu places offering premium meats such as Wagyu Beef and higher end pork belly. Hot pot is a great way to enjoy a variety of foods while catching up with friends and family.
3) Wonton or Fishball Noodle Soup
A classic street food staple, fishballs and wonton are extremely popular in Hong Kong. While I wouldn’t recommend hitting the street food scene if you are unfamiliar with the area, you can find a variety of small mom and pop shops serving wonton noodle soup and fishball noodle soups. Both dishes are popular Hong Kong items.
4) Dim Sum
You can’t visit Hong Kong without having some mouth watering Dim Sum. Dim Sum is extremely popular in Hong Kong and there are hundreds of great spots to try. From rice rolls and shu mai, to any other dim sum dish you can think of, Hong Kong will have it all.
5) Hong Kong/Taiwanese Dessert Cafe
If you’re full from lunch and dinner, don’t worry, dessert is on the way. Hong Kong has a fabulous dessert and sweet treat scene, with a combination of Taiwanese and Hong Kong style treats. Some of my favorite include Mango Sago and shaved ice with various types of jelly.
My life can’t be complete without sushi. From Hawaii to New York and Miami, I have eaten sushi at almost every destination I’ve been too. This is not on purpose, but sushi is my favorite meal and I always end up eating it while on vacation. Hong Kong’s sushi scene is a mixed, but there are several gems to be found. One of my favorite places is an all you can eat spot in Yoho Mall. This spot serves all you can eat sushi and sashimi that is extremely delicious. They have rarer options such as swordfish and amaebi(sweet shrimp) on their menu.
Why you Should Visit Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a bustling metropolis, but it also very convenient to be a tourist. With a large population being bilingual, Chinese and English the city is very easy to manage for non-Chinese speakers. Hong Kong is also an extremely safe place during the day. While the ongoing unrest is a growing issue, day time in Hong Kong is much safer than the majority of cities in the United States. Finally, the region has a mouth watering food scene. If you plan on doing a food tour in Asia, Hong Kong should be one of your stops along with Japan, Thailand, and Korea. Let me know if you are planning to visit Hong Kong in the future!