A Backpackers Guide to Hong Kong

A former dependant of the UK and now under Chinese rule, the proud Honk Kong inhabitants consider themselves Hong Kongese, and you’d be a brave person to insist that wasn’t the case.

Hong Kong skyline
Hong Kong skyline

Hong Kong is a place like no other. A place that clearly shows signs of their former British rule with Baker Street, St George Street and Victoria harbour to name but a few of the old colonial names still kicking around, but one that still proudly plays host to endless Chinese customs, temples and cuisine. It’s truly a city of contrast and one that if you throw your self into, you can’t fail to be captivated by all it has to offer.

Let’s have a look at what there is for backpackers to see and do in this fascinating place:

Shopping in hong kong
Shopping in hong kong

How long should you spend in Hong Kong?

When you hear the population of Hong Kong is 7,000,000 it’s forgivable to think this is a huge place… it’s not. Hong Kong is a city that grows ‘up’ and not ‘out’ – sections of HK are some of the most densely populated places in the world.

There are endless skyscrapers to accommodate everyone and the living spaces are tiny. With that being said, 3 days or so is easily enough time to tick off all the main tourist attractions while still getting a feeling of the real Hong Kong.

Working out paperwork can be tricky. Hong Kong PAR application can be managed with not too much stress.

Is Hong Kong as expensive as people say?

In a word, no. Of course, it’s not Vietnam or Cambodia but if you stay away from the booze (come on, you can do it – it’s only 3 days!) and eat wisely, you can certainly get by on $30 USD a day including cheap accommodation (Chingkat mansions – suitably disgusting and about $8 a night, bargain), public transport and entrance fees.

What language do people speak in Hong Kong?

Strictly speaking it’s Cantonese but realistically it’s Hong Kongese, their own take on Cantonese. However, due to HK being the 4 largest financial center in the world English is widespread and communication, generally, won’t be a problem.

How do I get around Hong Kong?

Public transport here is great, perhaps the best I have ever used. There are 13 subway lines, countless ferries, a comprehensive tram system, and a huge bus network – all complete with helpful information kiosks. It’s so simple to get around, you’ll feel like you’re cheating on your travels! Also, you can buy an ‘Octopus’ card for around $8 USD (you get it back when you leave) which you top-up with credit and scan with each journey you take. It’s easy, faster, and cheaper than paying in cash – you can even top up with excess cash and pay for your goods in 7/11, etc, now that’s development!

Do I need a visa for Hong Kong?

Most EU, North American and Australian and NZ passport holders get a visa on arrival so no stress there. If you fall outside this bunch, then you may need to arrange a visa prior to your arrival like my Ukrainian friend had to do – I hate bureaucracy!

Can I visit China while I’m in Hong Kong?

No is the simple answer. If you have already got your Chinese visa before you arrived in HK, then you can. But if you’re in HK, loving the Chinese vibe, and fancy a quick trip to the mainland then I’m afraid it’s not that easy. Chinese visas always require a bit of work so plan ahead or don’t even think about it.

hong kong junk boat
hong kong junk boat

If you guys have any more questions about Hong Kong, just ask me below or send me an email and I’ll do my best to answer you. If you wanna know what awesome things there are to see and do in Hong Kong, check out the next article – happy travels!

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