Hong Kong

Once under colonial rule, cosmopolitan Hong Kong is a glamorous gateway to modern Chinese culture and a shopping and dining hub. 

One of Asia's most exciting cities, Hong Kong is a glamorous gateway to modern Chinese culture. Once a backwater of the Middle Kingdom, it went on to flourish under colonial rule, and now, more than a decade after the return to Chinese sovereignty, the city has amalgamated its tumultuous history into a unique blend of East and West, traditional and cutting-edge.

Imagine old Taoist temples, in their brilliant red and ochre coatings, sitting comfortably amidst majestic colonial structures. A towering jungle of chrome and steel skyscrapers hover above it all. The backdrop is an emerald expanse of mountains (Hong Kong is mostly country parks), while the foreground is filled by Victoria Harbour, the busiest in the region. It’s a picture-perfect city to say the least.

Visitors are typically shocked by the lightning-speed pace at which the city moves, and the efficiency of service and transportation. Everything always works here, making first-time visits a breeze, which is highly fortunate as the days can be packed with activity from early morning to the small hours of the night. Fitting in a mountain hike, a beach visit, a temple stroll, a shopping spree, a pub crawl, and enormous meals in between is all possible in a single Hong Kong day. Brace yourself and jump in!


When to go

The best months in Hong Kong are October, November and most of December when temperatures are moderate and the skies are clear. June to August are the hot and rainy months, while January and February are quite cold especially since most buildings do not have central heating systems. March to May are foggy and humid. Follow the weather at the Hong Kong Observatory website (http://www.hko.gov.hk).

Visa requirements

Singapore citizens with a valid passport travelling to Hong Kong can stay for up to 90 days without a visa. If they intend to stay longer, or travel for the purposes of study, training, employment or residence, they must apply for a visa. The applicant can either apply to the Hong Kong Immigration Department directly, or through the Chinese Embassy or Consulates.


Only Hong Kong dollars are accepted. Sometimes Chinese Renminbi is also accepted, but this should not be taken as the norm, and exchange rates should be taken into account.


Hong Kong is known for its vast and efficient public transport system. From the airport, take the Airport Express train service to get to Kowloon and Central within 25 minutes. There are few places of interest that cannot be reached by minibus, bus, or by the Mass Transit Railway. The various ferries that service outlying islands around Hong Kong, as well as crossing Victoria Harbour, also make scenic trips for visitors. Visit www.gov.hk for complete information on all of Hong Kong's public transport.

Health and safety tips

Hong Kong has high health standards with well-stocked pharmacies and good hospitals. However, bird flu cases do occur occasionally, with patients being infected abroad and then travelling into Hong Kong. The etiquette is to wear a surgical mask if you are suffering from cold or flu. Hong Kong also boasts one of the lowest crimes rates in the world. Pickpocketing is rare, but it does occur if you are particularly careless about your belongings.

Emergency details

Unit 901, 9th floor, Admiralty Centre Tower I, 18 Harcourt Road (tel: (852) 2527 2212).

If you do get in trouble, call the police, fire department, or an ambulance by dialling 999.
Also visit the Hong Kong Police Force visitor's website:  www.police.gov.hk.

Basic greetings
English Cantonese
Hello Neih hou
How are you? Neih hou ma?
Fine, thanks Hou hou do jeh
Goodbye Joi gin
Excuse-me! (to get attention) Ching mahn!
Thank you Do jeh
Yes Haih
No M haih
OK Hou
What's your name? Neih giu mat yeh meng?
My name is… Ngoh giu…
Nice to meet you Hou gou hing gin dou neih
Are you on Facebook/Twitter? Neih yauh mouh jyu chaak Facebook/Twitter?
Where’s an internet café? Mohng ba hai bin douh?
Where can I get a taxi? Ngoh hai bin douh ho yih wandou dik si?
Where is the bus/train station? Fo che jaahm/ba si jaahm hai bin douh?
A one-way/return ticket to… Yat jeung heui…ge daan chihng/seung chihng fei
Do you have a room for one/two? Auh mouh yat/leuhng go yahn ge fohnggaan?
When's check out? Gei dim teui fong?
Can you recommend a good restaurant/bar? Neih ho m ho yih gaai siuh yat gaan hou ge chaan teng/jau ba?
A table for two, please M goi bei leuhng yahn ge toi ngoh
A menu, please M goi neih bei choi paai ngoh
The bill, please M goi maaih daan
Where's the toilet? Sai sau gaan hai bin douh?
Help! Gau mehng!

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The Peak

The Peak, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong

For the best and highest vantage point on Hong Kong Island, head to The Peak. Take the 3.5km (2.1-mile) Peak Circle Walk for an easy and restorative stroll with sweeping vistas of Victoria Harbour unfolding along the trail. Or head to the Peak Tower, an anvil-shaped building with a large observation deck. For a complete experience, take the historical Peak Tram, an 1888 funicular railway that travels the sharp gradient to and from The Peak.

Tai O

Tai O, Lantau Island

Tai O is one of the last places to experience Hong Kong as a fishing village. Although the fishing trade is dying out, the area retains the charm and slow pace of a seaside town. Consisting mostly of houses on stilts and an ageing population, Tai O makes a great day-trip for escaping the hectic city. Look out for dried seafood and unique village snacks, as well as the conservation project, the Tai O Heritage Hotel, which used to be the Tai O Police Station.

Star Ferry (Central-Tsim Sha Tsui route)

Central and Tsim Sha Tsui ferry piers

If there's only time to do one bit of sightseeing in Hong Kong, make it a ride on the Star Ferry. The green-bottomed boats transporting passengers between Central Pier and Tsim Sha Tsui are much more than just a commuting tool. For the duration of the sub-ten-minute ride, the ferry will get passengers up close and personal with the postcard-perfect harbourside skyline that made Victoria Harbour so famous. A night ride is best for seeing the stunning neon-lit shore.

Sai Kung Beaches

Sai Kung

It's easy to forget that this metropolis has rich natural offerings, but a trip to Sai Kung puts things back into perspective. The area is home to the Sai Kung Country Park, a haven for hikers and climbers. Visitors can also find countless beaches here, each more pristine and isolated than the next. Rent a boat or catch a private ferry service at Sai Kung Town to reach the whitest strips of sand, or take a boat tour of the rocky spectacles that make up the Hong Kong Geopark. Return to Sai Kung Town for a seafood feast along the waterfront.

Big Buddha

Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Outlying Islands

The Big Buddha is so gigantic it can be seen clearly from afar. Sitting 34 meters (111 ft) tall, the bronze statue looks placidly over the northern territories of Hong Kong, towards mainland China. In its vicinity is the region’s most important Buddhist building, the Po Lin Monastery, home to many monks as well as beautiful Buddhist iconography and a reputable vegetarian restaurant. The area is popular with Buddhist pilgrims as well as avid hikers in search of the perfect sunrise from nearby Lantau Peak.

Happy Valley Race Night

Sports Road, Happy Valley

One of the most famous horse racing venues in the world, the Happy Valley racecourse holds weekly night races (suspended during summer months). The race grounds are spectacularly verdant against a backdrop of city lights. Stands are filled with serious punters bent over racing statistics sheets, as well as the less serious who come for the beer garden and live entertainment. Once the bell rings and the horses hit the turf, everyone comes alive, cheering on their number. Come to try your luck and soak up the party atmosphere.


Cat Street Market

Upper Lascar Row

Known as Cat Street, the bazaar at Upper Lascar Row is the place to find that Chinoiserie knick-knack souvenir. The narrow alley that runs parallel to Hollywood Road is lined with stalls peddling old posters, black and white photos, Bruce Lee memorabilia, Mao memorabilia and knock-off antiques, as well as the real deal. Dig deep and bargain hard.

Budget $


Multiple locations

G.O.D., an acronym for Goods of Desire, is an ambassador for Hong Kong culture packaged into functional designs. Founder Douglas Young takes local icons and Cantonese phrases and applies them to houseware and fashion, often in a tongue-in-cheek style. Products range from kitschy toilet roll covers made to look like porcelain to innovative updates of Chinese tailoring.

Budget $$


G/F, 5 St Francis Yard, Wanchai, Hong Kong

Style maven Arnault Castel meticulously curates a collection of his favourite international brands for his boutique, Kapok. The emphasis is on high quality, excellent craftsmanship and clean, smart design. The shop is at the centre of the St. Francis Yard cluster of fashionable shops, cafes and little restaurants. Follow the Kapok blog for inspiration from Hong Kong's most stylish.

Budget $$

Lane Crawford

Four locations, including: Queensway Plaza, 93 Queensway, Hong Kong

A one-stop shop for high fashion brands, home decor and luxury beauty and skincare,Lane Crawford is one of Hong Kong's oldest retail businesses. Still going strong today, its new LAB Concept section at the Queensway Plaza branch does exciting artist collaborations and introduces new young brands each season.

Budget $$$

Rise Commercial Building

5-11 Granville Circuit, Tsim Sha Tsui

A grubby mall from the outside, Rise hides numerous mini boutiques on the inside, offering the full spectrum of Asian cool. Find the trendiest Korean and Japanese street trends here for men and women immediately after they hit the blogs. Budding fashion talents also test the selling power of their creations at Rise, filling the shelves with customised accessories such as dramatic eyewear, statement bowties, and one-of-a-kind jewellery.

Budget $

The Armory

307 Pedder Building (3rd Floor), 12 Pedder Street Central, Hong Kong

A haven for the man who appreciates a fine suit, The Armory does ready-to-wear and custom tailoring. Just browsing the products in the gentlemen's club environs of this boutique makes one feel a bit more classy. Even if you're not yet ready to commit to a custom-made suit, the accessories will have you drooling: Bowhill and Elliott velvet slippers, Saint Crispins brogues and Fox umbrellas.

Budget $$$



The Peninsula, Salisbury Road, Kowloon

For an old-school splurge, look no further than Gaddi's, Hong Kong's iconic venue for decadence. Housed inside the historic Peninsula hotel, Gaddi's has an opulent colonial interior with plush carpets, chandeliers, flawless service, and even its own private elevator service. The modern French dishes by chef Remi van Peteghem are hard to fault. The lunch set menu (under HK$500) is a good way to sample the kitchen's talents without breaking the bank.

Budget $$$

Luk Yu Teahouse

24–26 Stanley Street, Central

For a dramatic dim sum experience, head to Luk Yu Teahouse and dine in Art Deco-inspired surroundings. The institution was established in the 1930s and has changed little since. Ornate panels, spitoons, and even a uniformed doorman make for a quaint and classy experience. Authentic recipes of Old Canton that have fallen out of fashion can still be had at Luk Yu. Try the almond and pork lung soup, and stuffed liver. The only drawback is the notoriously bad-mannered service.

Budget $$

Mak's Noodles

77 Wellington Street, Central

Cantonese-style wontons are done correctly at Mak's Noodles. The shrimp dumplings are teaspoon-sized, as tradition dictates, and the noodle portions are small, ensuring everything is slurped up before it has a chance to get soggy in the broth. As good as Mak's bowl may be, with al dente noodles, fresh sweet shrimps and a rich broth, it does divide foodies with its precious portion size.

Budget $

Spring Deer

1/F 42 Mody Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui

There's higher quality Chinese food available elsewhere, but none in such generous portions as at Spring Deer. Offering a hearty, filling northern Chinese meal for those who don't want to spend too much, this restaurant is great for big groups. Peking duck with hot pancakes, stir-fried shrimps, chicken stew, and shredded lamb with scallions are the key attractions here. The restaurant feels a bit rundown and crowded, but somehow it only adds to the charm.

Budget $$

Tim Ho Wan

- Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station (Podium Level 1, IFC Mall) , Central↵- G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po ↵- Shop B, C, & D, G/F, 2-8 Wharf Road, Seaview Building, North Point

Tim Ho Wan was a local favourite long before it shot to controversial fame as the cheapest restaurant to ever get a Michelin star. A visit to the dim sum purveyors guarantees perfect shrimp dumplings, chicken and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf, and sweet pastries stuffed with barbecue pork – their most popular item – all at friendly prices. While the surroundings are no-frills and the service equally so, the food shines every time.

Budget $


33 Bridges St

The product of Hong Kong's newest restaurateur generation, Yardbird is a sexy eatery with an informal vibe. Matt Abergel and Lindsay Jang's yakitori joint serves morish little bites that pair well with their house-brand sake, Japanese whiskies and original cocktails. The friendly staff make the excellent meal an experience. Yardbird doesn't take reservations (unusual for Hong Kong) so arrive early and queue to ensure a table, or stand and eat at the bar.

Budget $$$


Caritas Bianchi Lodge

4 Cliff Road, Yau Ma Tei

A humble but clean hotel for budget travellers, the Caritas Bianchi Lodge is great for an inner city stay. It's centrally located in the bustling Yau Ma Tei neighbourhood, rich with local culture and home to the Temple Street Market. Managed by Caritas-Hong Kong, the Official Social Welfare Bureau of the Roman Catholic Church in Hong Kong, the Caritas Bianchi Lodge is also a good choice for single travellers.

Budget $

Cosmic Guest House

12/F, Block 1, Mirador Mansion, 54–64 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Clean, cheap and with free Wi-fi, the Cosmic Guesthouse is great for backpackers and others on a budget. More importantly, it's also located next to Chungking Mansions, one of the most enigmatic places in Hong Kong where great Indian and African food can be found. This well-run guesthouse is much loved by travellers for its large rooms and friendly atmosphere. Bedrooms come with a phone and TV, and most have en-suite bathrooms.

Budget $

Tai O Heritage Hotel

Shek Tsai Po Street, Tai O, Lantau Island

Converted from the crumbling Tai O Police Station into the cosy, boutique Tai O Heritage Hotel, this is a masterpiece of conservation. The nine rooms and suites retain the late 19th century architecture but include modern amenities. The hotel preserves some of the original features of the police station and offers tours to those interested in the history of the station and Tai O village. Although a bit far from Hong Kong Island, the hotel is close to places of note on Lantau Island, including Disneyland, the Big Buddha and the airport.

Budget $$

The Peninsula

Salisbury Road, Kowloon

The last word in luxury hospitality in Hong Kong, The Peninsula is a destination in itself. Since 1928, the hotel has been serving the glamorous and well-heeled. These days its lobby is too hectic, as tourists flood in to take photos of the historical architecture and taste the famous afternoon high tea, but the rooms are still top-notch and exclusive. Its spa is highly reputable, offering oxygen therapy and atoxelene treatments.

Budget $$$

The T Hotel

145 Pok Fu Lam Road

A training hotel dedicated to nurturing the next generation of top quality hospitality talent, the trainees and interns at The T Hotel are eager and smiley, going the extra mile to impress. The Pokfulam address is great for getting a taste of Hong Kong's verdant residential neighbourhood and is just 20 minutes away from the city centre. The hotel also comprises Chinese and Western restaurants, bars, a spa and gym.

Budget $$

The Upper House

Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty

One of the best boutique hotels to open in Hong Kong in recent years, The Upper House is all understated contemporary design. Rooms are large with killer views, service is discreet (making this a celebrity choice), and the top-floor Cafe Gray lounge capable of excellent cocktails. What more could you ask for? The neighbouring Asia Society Hong Kong Center is the cherry on top, with a reputable restaurant and a fascinating programme of art shows and artist talks.

Budget $$$

Art Basel Hong Kong

15-18 May

The Hong Kong edition of this premier international art fair brings the biggest names in the contemporary art world to the city. It is the best opportunity for discovering new artwork produced in Asia and beyond.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival

3-7 May

Athletes race to the top of a tower made of Chinese buns for this Taoist folk tradition on the island of Cheung Chau. Also expect to see a parade of children dressed in costumes, Taoist music and rituals, and lion dances.

Chinese New Year

31 January

Chinese New Year is the most significant celebration in the lunar calendar. Catch flower shows, parades, lantern festivals and fireworks displays, and witness the crowds of devotees at Chinese temples.

Dragon Boat Carnival

2 June

Colourful long boats with carved dragon heads fill Victoria Harbour for the international dragon boat races, a competition which evolved from the traditional Tuen Ng Festival. A beer garden with live music and performers keeps spectators entertained on shore.

Hong Kong Arts Festival

February 18-March 22

The city's performance arts showcase features the Asia debuts of critically acclaimed world-class theatre, opera, music and dance, as well as world premieres of original Hong Kong productions. Tickets start selling in October and they go fast.

Hong Kong Marathon

16 February

Running is one of the biggest obsessions of Hong Kong denizens and the annual marathon is the ultimate test. With a notoriously gruelling route, the marathon takes runners from Kowloon to New Territories to Hong Kong Island with uphill challenges.

Mid-Autumn Festival

8 September

Hong Kong's most romantic festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates the full moon by lighting up the city with beautiful lanterns. Sweet mooncakes fill pastry shops, and an exciting Fire Dragon Dance takes place in Tai Hang.


Kick start a day of shopping by exercising your bargaining muscles at the Cat Street bazaar. Located on Upper Lascar Row, between Ladder Street and East Street, this semi-outdoor alleyway market is the place to find that Chinoiserie knick-knack. It's lined with stalls peddling old posters, black and white photos, jade, wood carvings, Bruce Lee memorabilia and knock-off antiques, as well as the real deal.


For men who appreciate the finer things in life, check out The Armory for a ready-to-wear or custom-made suit. Just browsing the products in the gentlemen's club environs of this boutique makes one feel classier. Even the accessories will have you drooling: Bowhill and Elliott velvet slippers, Saint Crispins brogues and Fox umbrellas.


Or visit Lane Crawford, a one-stop shop for high fashion brands, home decor and luxury beauty and skincare. The emporium is one of Hong Kong's oldest retail businesses, with four store locations around the city. The new LAB Concept section at the Queensway Plaza branch is where you'll find exciting artist-designer collaborations and new young brands introduced each season.


If it's street flavour that you're after, head to Rise Commercial Building (5–11 Granville Circuit) in Tsim Sha Tsui. It may look like a grubby little mall from the outside, but it hides numerous boutiques on the inside. The trendiest Korean and Japanese street trends pop up here immediately after they hit the blogs, while budding fashion talents test the selling power of their creations, filling the shelves with dramatic eyewear, statement bowties, and one-of-a-kind jewellery.

Places to visit:
Cat Street bazaar, The Armory, Lane Crawford, Rise Commerical Building.


There's nothing more Cantonese than starting the day with a dim sum brunch. Established in the 1930s, the quaint Luk Yu Teahouse (24–26 Stanley Street, Central) has changed little, with its uniformed doorman and authentic recipes of Old Canton. Try the almond and pork lung soup and stuffed liver. The only drawback is the notoriously bad-mannered service.


For a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, head to the Central branch of Tai Cheong Bakery at 35 Lyndhurst Terrace. This is where you can find the Hong Kong egg tart, an iconic local snack inspired by the British custard tart. Encased in a flaky, buttery pastry, the eggy custard has a rich, almost caramel, flavour.


A more hearty, sit-down afternoon tea can be had at Kam Fung Restaurant (41 Spring Garden Lane, Wan Chai). A typical cha chaan teng, or tea restaurant, Kam Fung does a mean cup of milk tea, revving any weary pedestrian back up. Complete the meal with their famous pineapple buns filled with butter, or the incredible chicken pies.


For a memorable evening, make a trip to Sai Kung Town (from MTR Choi Hung Station take minibus route 1A, or from MTR Hang Hau Station, take minibus 101) where the waterfront boulevard is filled with hawkers selling fresh seafood. Take your pick of fish, lobster and clams, then hand it to one of the restaurants lining the boulevard for their kitchens to prepare a dish in a typical Cantonese manner. Try steaming razor clams with garlic and black bean sauce.

Places to visit:
Luk Yu Teahouse, Tai Cheong Bakery, Kam Fung Restaurant, Sai Kung Town.


If you can muster the determination, it's worth it to hike to Lantau Peak to see the sunrise, then follow this with a visit to one of Hong Kong's largest landmarks, The Big Buddha. Sitting 34 meters (111ft) tall, the bronze statue looks placidly over the northern territories of Hong Kong, towards mainland China. Also in its vicinity is the region’s most important Buddhist building, the Po Lin Monastery, home to monks, beautiful Buddhist iconography and a reputable vegetarian restaurant.


For those who would prefer a less strenuous activity, tour the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Shatin. Built to resemble a traditional Chinese courtyard, the museum houses 12 exhibition galleries with an extensive range of relics that express the history, culture and arts of Hong Kong and the South China region. The Bruce Lee exhibition features more than 600 items related to the life of the late film star, including his famous black-and-yellow jumpsuit.


To get a taste of Hong Kong performing arts of a more traditional kind, visit the Yau Ma Tei Theatre. This recently refurbished historical building presents Cantonese opera by some of the biggest names on the scene. Alternatively, check out what's on at The Fringe Club). Converted from an old dairy, this clubhouse is now home to one of Hong Kong's most popular live stages. There's a show on nearly every night, ranging from indie acoustic to rock bands and original plays, and the venue includes a small art gallery.

Places to visit:
Lantau Peak, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Yau Ma Tei Theatre, The Fringe Club.