Hong Kong has transformed itself from a fishing village to a metropolis with a vibrant energy and a diverse cultural mix. The historic Star Ferry that crosses the Victoria Harbour offers glorious views of both Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon peninsula. Significant buildings such as the IFC tower, the Bank of China Tower and the Hong Kong Cultural Center in Tsim Sha Tsui rise up from the iconic skyline backed by towering mountains.
Underneath the glass and steel of the commercial hubs lies a surprisingly traditional Chinese culture. Make wishes to the deity at the Wong Tai Sin Temple and be amazed by the huge bronze seated Buddha on top of Lantau Island.
In this ‘food paradise’ there are Michelin-starred restaurants where celebrity chefs create culinary masterpieces that will certainly sate your appetite but also leave a dent in your wallet. Outside, steaming street food stalls bowls serve up authentic flavours in the form of bowls of wanton soup, freshly steamed dim sum and popular egg puffs.
Hong Kong has four distinguishable seasons: warm and humid spring from March to mid-May; hot and rainy summer from late May to mid-September; pleasant and sunny autumn from late September to the end of November; and cool and dry winter from December to the end of February.
From late May to mid-September temperatures average 33°C (91°F). The coolest times are from mid-December to February, when the temperature may fall to 10°C (50°F). The rainy months are between May and September with August being the wettest month. The driest month is January, when rain only falls about one day a week. From late-May to mid-September, there are occasional typhoons and violent thunderstorms.
Bring loose, comfortable clothes that will keep you cool when the humidity is high in the summer months. However when travelling in the winter bring warm clothes, especially for the evenings. Walking shoes are needed as Hong Kong is a great place for exploring on foot.
Don’t be put off visiting Hong Kong in the hot summer months as you can walk outside in the early mornings and late afternoons and there are plenty of things to do indoors during the hotter times. Be aware that there may be occasional flight disruptions during the months of typhoons and bad storms.
Hong Kong’s architecture is widely known for the impressive glass, steel and marble-clad skyscrapers which form the famous skyline. In between, you can still find older buildings from colonial times, especially at Central, Wan Chai, Kowloon and Causeway Bay – some of which are over 150 years old. Art exhibitions range from traditional Chinese art to contemporary art installations and photography.
Every weekend, at least one professional dance or theatre production by a local or overseas company takes place somewhere in Hong Kong. The range of work includes many different forms of contemporary, classical, and traditional western and Asian performing arts.
Don’t smoke in restaurants, bars, public parks and all public areas or you may be slapped with a hefty fine! When eating, don’t wave your chopsticks around as this is considered very impolite in Hong Kong. Do dress respectfully when visiting religious buildings.
The people of Hong Kong are known as Hongkongers, Hong Kongese, and also Hong Kong citizens. The majority are of Han Chinese descent and most of them trace their ancestral roots to the former province of Canton. There are also Hong Kongers of non-Han Chinese descent such as Indians, Filipinos, Nepalese, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Vietnamese and British.
The majority of the population follow Chinese traditional religion – a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, accentuated by local practices and beliefs. There are also believers from plenty of other world faiths brought to the country by missionaries in the British Army or by early immigrants who implemented their own religion in Hong Kong.