Hong Kong is a very easy country to travel around. It’s friendly, it’s not confusing and it’s very pleasant. However, there are still things and tips I want to tell you about to be super prepared. It just makes the whole process smoother and you can focus on what you came to do: sightseeing and enjoying yourself.
Buy an Octopus card
You can do that directly at the airport and it will cost only 150 HKD (50 deposit and 100 for direct use). Use it directly for public transport of your choosing (local bus is cheapest) or at the next shop. See, the Octopus card can be used in so many places; it is like the Oyster card but even better! Once you return the card, you can get back the deposit as well as the rest of the money (minus the fee of 9 HKD).
Use the MTR
Seriously! You should at least once make use of this simply amazing network. (By the way, it apparently is the same provider as in Stockholm.) It is so clean, super organized, super regularly and just plain well connected. Rush all over Hong Kong in about an hour and that for 2-3 €!!! Count me in! Of course, you could also hop on one of the cool but slow double decker trams or the buses – both are even cheaper.
Know the toilet system
By this I mean, don’t flush toilet paper really down the (public) toilets. Both paper and pipes are not made for that. Random fact: There are two types of water systems in Hong Kong. One where the water comes from a dam and is lead to washing facilities and the like and the other comes from the ocean and is used for toilet water. While I stayed in my second hostel, the later pipe system broke down in my building. What joy. But I was still able to use the water from the showers to fill up the water tank. So, I guess it is not too bad?
Expect it to be cleaner than expected
Really, Hong Kong is quite clean. No litter lying around (although there could be more bins), public toilets are clean and do not smell (and are free of charge) and if you see rubbish on the street, it will be a side street and well wrapped in a rubbish bag. A reason for this is that there are heavy fines for littering or spitting on the streets and signs as well as the patrolling police make sure that this is adhered to. London, get some inspiration from that.
Don’t underestimate the weather
Summer time is a great time for visiting a subtropical place? Think again, it was an anbsolutely horrible choice. I was drenched in sweat and water vapour as soon as I stepped out of the shower and either extremely hot or cold. No inbetween. The outside temperatures are fierce and the UV can be really high, so sunscreen and glasses are an absolute must (although most Hong Kong people do not seem to sweat so much and do not wear sunglasses). If you want to just shop in Hong Kong, I guess you are fine since buildings and public transport are air conditioned (at freezer temperatures) and there is a genius air bridge system in the city of Hong Kong. It is called all weather ways and holds true to the name because you should also know that summer means rainy season and that actually means a lot of heavy rain. So, also pack your umbrella or rain cape and insect repellent (because these beasts actually love the weather).
Try out local food
No, don’t just go to the supermarket and buy the next best thing that looks crazy enough to be good (which I did and repulsed most people I asked about it), but ask locals for advice. I went to two great places and want to share them with you. Next time you’re in Soho and want to try the best silky smooth milk tea that this metropolis has to offer, go to Lan Fong Yuen. For a traditional Dim Sum and lots of elderly locals with stories, stop by Lin Heung Tea House before early afternoon. If you come later, the Dim Sum will be more youth friendly and modern. After your meal, check out a dessert restaurant to get interestingly sweet or bitter dishes such as green tea jelly, durian cream or coconut soup with mangos.
Know the cheap deal places
Hong Kong is a playground for rich people. You can walk from luxury shopping mall to mall and finds such a diversity of designer brands, you become dizzy. If you are more of a low cost traveller, though, you can find rally good food prices not in the thousands of 7-Elevens but in supermarkets, such as Wellcome and Park’n’Shop. You can even find them in MTR stations because each has their own mall. For good deals on anything really, head over to Mong Kok, push through the crowds and make good bargains. Good to know: The cheapest menu at McDonalds is only 21 HKD (less than 2€).
Tick off the Main Sights
Generally, I recommend just getting lost and wandering about. This is also very effective for Hong Kong, but especailly if you don’t have that much time, I recommend giving the main Hong Kong attractions a go. The cheap and amazing metro system makes this much easier.
There surely are many more tips and those listed are just my personal few. Maybe I find out more if and when I come back again. Is there maybe someone else who has an additional tip?