Renowned for its reputation as the "Pearl of the Orient", Hong Kong boasts its breathtaking landscape, sophisticated fusion of East and West culture, and world-class food and shopping experience. Since its return from British rule in 1997, Hong Kong is governed by China, but it has an independent administration under the principle of “one country, two systems”. Whether you’re into shopping, food, or sightseeing, or exploring nature, you will be smitten with Hong Kong's endless options.
6 Reasons Why Hong Kong is Asia's Best Tourist Destinations
#1 Breath-taking City Skyline
Often regarded as having the most stunning city skyline in the world, HK is a dazzling city dominated by futuristic skyscrapers. Most of its modern architecture is located on both sides of Victoria Harbour. Two of the best places in Hong Kong to see the skyline are from the top of Victoria Peak, or from the Kowloon waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, not far from the Star Ferry dock where the walkway extends along the waterfront and across to Hong Kong Island. Sky 100 Hong Kong, the only indoor observation deck, towers at 393 meters above sea level. It offers a 360-degree view of the territory and the famous Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong's famous Star Ferry has roots dating back to 1880 and is one of the most affordable venues to admire Hong Kong's picturesque nighttime skyline.
#2 A Shopping Paradise
Hong Kong is proud of its endless shopping options. From the luxury of all the world-famous brand-name arcades to the low-rise independent street shops, you can buy anything you can imagine. A stroll through its 5-star shopping malls in Tsim Sha Tsui will elevate your shopping experience to a whole new level. For shoppers on a shoestring budget, Hong Kong’s many popular shopping neighborhoods like Causeway Bay, Soho, Temple Street Night Market, Ladies' Market (Tung Choi Street), and Sneaker Street (Fa Yuen Street) will leave you deeply satisfied and itching for more.
#3 A Food Heaven
Eating in Hong Kong means anything from traditional Cantonese classics to ritzy cuisine from international chefs. Hong Kong's cuisine is strongly influenced by China, favoring fresh seafood and local produce. Dim sum, Chinese barbeque, and Hong Kong-style milk tea are just a few of its popular dishes. Dining cost is highly variable, and even authentic street food stalls are so superb that Michelin Hong Kong has added a street food section to their guide in 2016.
#4 World Class Nature and Hiking Facilities
Hidden behind Hong Kong's bustling city exterior lie serene mountain trails and stunning vistas of open sea and island. There are four main natural parkland areas that are so big, there are areas where you'll forget civilization even exists: Sai Kung in the eastern part of Hong Kong, the country park areas north of Kowloon, and Lantau and Lemma Island. From outlying islands to undulating mountain trails, there is plenty to explore when you need a break from Hong Kong's hustle and bustle. With Hong Kong's extensive system of trains, buses, and ferries between the mainland and the outlying islands, getting to the natural side of Hong Kong is almost too convenient.
#5 A Top Notched Transportation System
Getting around in Hong Kong is a piece of cake. Its sophisticated systems of trains, subways (known as MTR or mass transit railway), double-decker buses, and ferries can get you to any attraction and shopping venue within an hour. Taking the tram through Hong Kong Island is a fun and cheap way to appreciate the street scene at a leisurely pace. The tourist bus (H1 & H2) offers the chance to see the cultural landscape and the vibrant city in different ways. As soon as you arrive in Hong Kong, get a rechargeable Octopus Card, which you can use on any public transportation, as well as in convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, supermarkets, and many other retail stores.
#6 A Relaxed Visa Policy
As an international city, Hong Kong is easy to get to by flight because of its advanced airport and airline system. Citizens of the specified 170 countries and people holding one of the appointed documents can enter and visit Hong Kong without a visa and stay from 7-180 days. Hong Kong offers rich travel experiences, from convenient layover tours and relaxing family vacations to active outdoor adventures. Day trips abound, such as Macau, a city notorious for nightlife and only 1 hour away from Hong Kong by fast ferry.
Reasons to Avoid Visiting Hong Kong
#1 Budget Buster
One thing that is less appealing for travelers is the high accommodation prices in Hong Kong in comparison to other Asian cities. In fact, Hong Kong is rated as the most expensive place to live in Asia. When it comes to the cost of accommodations, transportation, food, and everything else, you can easily run out of budget if you are not careful with your spending.
#2 Increased Social Unrest
Hong Kong has gone through months of social unrest and non-stopped protests calling for greater democracy since June 2019. As the protests have continued, they have grown more violent and disruptive, posing a challenge to the government. During protests in early 2020, local buses, the metro (MTR), Airport Express services, and the Hong Kong Macao Ferry Terminal had to temporarily suspend operations without warning. There were extensive damages to building and transportation infrastructures. Although these unrests have died down and Hong Kong remains safe as a whole, there is no guarantee that it will stay this way unless the relationship between the government and its people is reconciled.
#3 English is not commonly used
The 7.2 million people living in Hong Kong are mostly Chinese (94%) while the rest are of other ethnic groups. The official languages in Hong Kong are Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin) and English. However, many people (especially the older generation and people outside of the city center) don't speak much English. Staff in hostels and major tourist attractions can handle English without problem, but the same cannot be said for more local or remote attractions.
#4 Very Crowded
If you dislike crowded places, stay away from Hong Kong. It is among one of the most densely populated places in the world, with over 7 million people living in just 1,098 square kilometers of territory (around 6,300 people per kilometer). This does not include the millions of visitors from China north of the border. There is simply not enough room for everyone.
#5 Travel Restriction
Strict travel restrictions are in place given the COVID-19 pandemic. All travelers arriving in Hong Kong, including Hong Kong residents, will have to take a mandatory COVID screening test and undergo up to 21 days of compulsory quarantine. Travelers arriving at Hong Kong International Airport (with the exception of those traveling from mainland China and Macao) must provide confirmation of a hotel room reservation in a designated quarantine hotel in Hong Kong, starting on the day of their arrival. All ferry crossings between Hong Kong and mainland China are currently not in operation, with the exception of the service from Shenzhen Shekou Port to Hong Kong International Airport.