Hong Kong is a mashup of Britain and China, it's the best place to visit if you want to slowly introduce yourself to the cultures of Asia.
Hong Kong is a tropical hotspot that draws in tourists and backpackers who are looking to explore China without being shocked directly into the eccentric culture. It is home to lush mountainous rainforests, towering skyscrapers, millions of Hong Kongers and a thriving economy.
Booking a flight to Hong Kong can be a little bit daunting, especially if you haven't travelled to Asia before. The truth is, it's hard to know what to expect, and what to plan for. Experiencing Asia for the first time is a feeling like no other. The business of the streets, sounds and languages you've never heard before, and the aroma of spices around every corner can give people a shock at first. Once you immerse yourself into the culture, you'll feel right at home - well sort of. Make sure you do your research, and know exactly what to expect, that way you won't have many surprises.
To make sure that you have everything you need for your adventure - click here for a complete packing list.
Tip: On long flights across many time zones, we find it very helpful to set the time on our phones to the local time at our destination. Do this in order to help regulate your sleep cycle, and reduce jet lag. You will know when you should think about trying to sleep and when you should force yourself to stay awake - with the help of coffee of course.
When you step out of the terminal, don't be surprised when you get blasted with a fume of hot tropical air. There is an Airport Express bus that can shuttle you from the airport on Lantau Island to your hostel or hotel. You might need to transfer to a double decker bus - a remanent of the British era. If you do manage to hop on a double decker, make sure that you climb up the stairs to the top level. This is a great way to experience the amazing views of the skyscraper canyons illuminated by neon lights with Cantonese lettering.
TIP: The public transportation in Hong Kong is efficient and fairly easy to use. Hong Kong was once an English colony so you will notice English words scattered everywhere throughout the city. Take a look at the map below and click here to find out more info!
Hong Kong's culinary background has been infused with many different cultures throughout the years. Influences from Britain, China, Japan and Korea have combined in this dense metropolis to offer some of the most unique dishes in the world. This is truly a place every food lover needs to experience. If you are planning on sticking with a plant based diet while on this trip, you will be happy to hear that there are a handful of vegan restaurants in Hong Kong.
TIP: To get over the language barrier when ordering food and getting around, it is useful to use WikiBooks, a website that provides phrases in Cantonese.
Tip for the vegans: You will be able to find plenty of food common in western cultures. So whipping up some of your favourite dishes should be easy. You will find a plethora of fresh fruit and vegetable stands lining the streets. Stock up on some of these and head to a grocery store for pre-cooked rice and a can of beans. You can make a quick healthy meal in no time.
Other food options range from noodle bowls with tofu and vegetables, cereal, and peanut butter sandwiches.
Remember if you aren't comfortable eating out, just take advantage of the kitchen in your hostel. If you want to find out more information on how to be vegan in China, check out this post!
Where to go
• Dragon's Back Hike (Take in the beautiful coastal scenery with one of Hong Kong's most popular hikes.) Approximately 8.5km one way • Tian Tan Buddha (112ft tall bronze buddha statue located on Lantau Island (Top left image).
• Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden (A beautiful garden with bonzai plants, koi ponds & stunning architecture - Bottom left image).
• The Victoria Peak (Hong Kong's highest peak with views of the city and mountains - Bottom right image).
• Hong Kong Light Show
Take the night round trip or Festival lights tour on the Star ferry. It is fairly inexpensive at 215 HKD or $35 CAD.
• Cat Street Antique Market (One of Hong Kong's famous street markets - full of discount souvenirs and some neat nicknacks).
• Hong Kong Park (A uniquely pretty park with an aviary and exhibit of tropical plants from the region). • Kowloon Park (A 13-acre park with a two tiered lotus pond, lush gardens, and kung foo and lion dances every Sunday.)
Where to eat
• LN Fortunate Cookie. This vegan cafe specializes in delicious British-style treats. • Gaia Veggie Shop. A great place for lunch or dinner - especially if you are passing by Kowloon Park.This restaurant specializes in vegan seafood dishes. They are so good at what they do, you'll have to double check with the server that it's vegan - yeah, it's that good! • The Noodle Shop Across the street from Yessin at Causeway Bay. A great selection of noodle dishes, assorted vegetables, and delicious sauces. The servers are super helpful, especially when it's your first time!
TIP: Don't be afraid to ask the wait staff which dishes are free of meat and eggs. Also, dairy is harder to find in China, so you can almost be positive that you won't find your dish full of cheese.
• The Peak Lookout. Nestled on the top of the Victoria Peak, this mountaintop restaurant offers stunning views of the buzzing metropolis below and of the humid rainforest covered mountains amidst the South China Sea. Stay a while and grab a cool beer!
Where to stay
• Yessin at Causeway Bay. Although it's a discount hostel, Yessin at Causeway Bay is a nice and friendly hostel that has all the standard amenities needed for a comfortable stay. Plus you'll get to meet travellers from all over the world.
We hope that you enjoyed our brief overview of Hong Kong. If you haven't visited here yet, we definitely recommend it!