If you’re traveling to Hong Kong for the first time, it can be a bit intimidating. First off — it has one of the largest and tallest skylines in the world. Secondly — do you know how many people live in Hong Kong?! A lot. Almost 7.5 million, actually.
Even though Hong Kong is massive — it’s actually very tourist friendly and easy to navigate.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by this giant city, embrace it! There is a ton of culture crammed into one small area — keep reading for some tips on how to help you navigate.
These 8 tips will help every first-time traveler to Hong Kong feel like a seasoned pro.
From arrival to departure, these tidbits of insight will help you enjoy your time in Hong Kong without stress.
1. Get a feel for their public transportation system by doing research online.
Hong Kong has an amazing and super user-friendly train system called the MTR (Mass Transit Railway.) The Hong Kong Airport Express line will take you from the airport, right into downtown, for only USD 24. The city also offers above-ground buses and taxis; they even have ferries to transport you to the Kowloon side of Hong Kong.
Getting around such a bustling city can be intimidating — but with a few minutes of online research, you’ll be good to go. The train system is the recommended transportation for tourists — and walking, of course!
2. An ‘Octopus Card’ is a MUST.
If you’ve been considering a trip to Hong Kong, you’ve probably come across the well-known Octopus Card. Many people know this card as being a reloadable method of payment for transportation. But it’s so much more than that.
The Octopus Card can be loaded with money and used to pay for food at local restaurants, vending machines, and goods at local stores like McDonalds and 7-11. Plus — the card eliminates the need to carry around cash.
3. Stay connected
One of the greatest things about living in this day in age is the access to technology. Almost everywhere in the world, you’re able to find any of your electronic needs. That includes SIM cards.
As soon as you arrive in Hong Kong, head to a cellular service kiosk or business and purchase a SIM card. Now, you’ll have the ability to not only browse the internet wherever you are (think Maps), but you can also call local businesses. Oh, and those Instagram pics? Instantly uploaded!
A visit to Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without stuffing your face with as much food as humanly possible. Hong Kong is home to some of the greatest, most delicious food on the entire planet. Specifically, DIM SUM.
Do your research and hop around to the metropolis’s many delicious dim sum spots. This isn’t the only fare that the city is known for, though. Asian cultures merge in this thriving city for some soups, pastries, and so much more.
5. Get out and meet new people.
Meeting fellow travelers is one of the best things about exploring the world. Hong Kong is the perfect city to make this happen. The bustling city has awesome rooftop bars with great happy hours and pub crawls around the city that were designed to bring people together.
Of course, when drinks are involved, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and go out with a partner. Always let people know where you’re going and who you’ll be with.
6. Walk, walk, and walk.
Even though the city seems absolutely gigantic, it’s actually really condensed. There are tons of walking tours that you can do all around the city — many of which are located near a train station. Whether it’s the Hello Hong Kong Walking Tour, the Good Evening Kowloon Walking Tour, or the Walk the Local Route tour — you really can’t go wrong.
Don’t let this busy city’s towering skyscrapers fool you — there’s plenty to do on foot. Walking tours give you the opportunity to see so many things that you wouldn’t have seen in any other mode of transportation.
7. Explore nature — not kidding!
The last thing that might come to mind when you think of Hong Kong is nature. It’s a city of sprawling buildings, concrete block after concrete block. But the reality is — Hong Kong offers a lot of natural getaways. Like, a lot!
Hong Kong is on an island, and the city is situated on one side — what’s on the other side? NATURE! So much nature, in fact, you wouldn’t even believe it. Take a hike along the city’s many trails that lead to secluded beaches. Or, hop on a boat to a neighboring island. You’ll feel like you’re far away from the millions of people in downtown Hong Kong.
8. Embrace the moment.
Don’t let the stress of a big, unknown city overwhelm you, or cause anxiety — instead, remember why you’re traveling. Traveling to new places is to help expand your mind and expose you to different cultures. Visiting a place like Hong Kong can be a drastic and vast difference than what you’re used to — especially coming from a westernized culture.
Embrace the chaos. Embrace the differences. Embrace the experience. It’s nothing like you’ll have ever again.
Get out. Explore. Discover.