Ever thought about traveling to Asia, but don’t have a visa or speak an Asian language? Take it from me – you don’t have to have either one. A great way for first-timers to experience the culture for the first time is to plan a visit to Hong Kong.
I just got back from a trip to the bustling city and had an amazing time! So, I’m sharing my Hong Kong travel tips and top 7 reasons for first-time travelers to visit.
Reason #1 – Have a passport? If so, you’re good to go! It is the only requirement to enter the country because Hong Kong has a different political system than mainland China. However, if you plan to visit outlying areas across the border you will need to get a visa.
Reason #2 – Cantonese and English are the official languages, because Hong Kong was under British rule until the mid-1990s. Not only do most people speak English, but almost all of the street signs and public transportation signs are also in English.
Reason #3 – Tons of public transportation! They have buses, subways, and even a Peak Tram that rises 1,305 feet to Victoria Peak for unrivaled panoramic views. We loved taking the ferries across the harbor, which run from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon, between Wanchai and Tsim Sha Tsui. Most cost about 2 Hong Kong dollars, which is about 25 cents in US currency.
Reason #4 – Speaking of money – the exchange rate is about 7.8 HKD (Hong Kong Dollars) to 1 US dollar. Not only is it affordable, it is also perfect for:
Reason #5 – Shopping! Did you know: Hong Kong has more commercial space and merchandise than any other city in China? There are quite a few markets where you can purchase souvenirs, treasures, and knock-off items. We visited Stanley Market, the Jade Market, Night Market, and the Ladies Market. If you prefer to visit shops like Tiffany & Co., Cartier, or Louis Vuitton, they offer almost every brand you can think of!
Reason #6 – You can see both the city and the countryside. Take the opportunity to explore outside of the hustle and bustle of the city. One tour I highly recommend is the Launtau Island tour. The island is twice the size of Hong Kong Island, but only sparsely populated. You’ll enjoy its natural beauty with its long beautiful beaches, dark green mountains, and a charming, old fishing village called Tai O. You’ll also visit the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue (a must-see) and the Po Lin Monastery where you will have an authentic lunch cooked by monks. (It was the best meal of my trip). After that, you’ll take the Ngong Ping cable car (think gondola) over the mountains and back to Hong Kong Island – It was so cool!
Reason #7 – The cuisine – With more than 10,000 restaurants, Hong Kong is home to one of the world’s greatest epicurean centers! It’s easy to try something new. We tried dim sum, a traditional style of dish served like tapas, but you can also sample a wide variety of Chinese dishes from almost every region. Although if you want to eat something that reminds you of home, there are a plethora of American fast-food chains.
Whether it’s your first Visit to Hong Kong or your hundredth, there always seems to be plenty of things to see and do. I know, my trip to Hong Kong was a blast and I can’t wait to go back!
-Alison from Delta Vacations