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  • Hong-Kong-Symphony-of-Lights2 - The Symphony of Lights laser show in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-harbor-junk - A junk sails in Victoria Bay, Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Chinese-New-Year2 - Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Birthday-Buddha-Monastery - Celebrating the birthday of Buddha at the Po Lin Monastery in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Buddha-Lantau-Island - The giant bronze statue of Buddha on Lantau Island, Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-temple - A colorful, vivid traditional Buddhist Temple in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Chinese-New-Year - The pull-out-all-the-stops Chinese New Year Parade in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Birthday-Buddha-Po-Lin-Monastery - Celebrating the birthday of Buddha at the Po Lin Monastery in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Victoria-Peak - Hong Kong as seen from Victoria Peak at night.
  • Hong-Kong-Harbor - A view of Hong Kong and the harbor from Victoria Peak at night.
  • Hong-Kong-West-Kowloon-Bamboo-Theatre - The West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-market - A market in Hong Kong during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
  • Hong-Kong-Mid-Autumn-Festival - The Mid-Autumn Festival of Hong Kong, a tradition to celebrate moon watching or lunar worship.
  • Azamara-Hong-Kong-Folkloric-Show-3 - Azamara presents the Hong Kong Folkloric Show, a dazzling showcase of grace and skill.
  • Hong-Kong-Government-House - Government House in Hong Kong.
  • Azamara-Hong-Kong-Folkloric-Show-2 - A member of the Hong Kong Folkloric troupe displays an impressive feat of strength and balance during a performance on an Azamara cruise.
  • Hong-Kong-Ladies-Market - The colorful Ladies' Market in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Chinese-New-Year3 - This may look like Carnival, but it's actually the Chinese New Year Parade in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Temple-Street-Market - Temple Street Night Market in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Golden-Moon - The Golden Moon, a temporary installation in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-view-Victoria-Peak-night - The lights of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak, Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Symphony-of-Lights - The Symphony of Lights on Victoria Bay, Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-child - A young reveler in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Winterfest - The annual Hong Kong WinterFest, runs from mid-November to Jan. 1 and features glittering skyscrapers, Christmas trees and a holiday ambience.
  • Azamara-Hong-Kong-Folkloric-Show - Be dazzled by the lovely ribbon dancers in the Hong Kong Folkloric Show aboard an Azamara cruise.
  • Crystal-Symphony-Hong-Kong - Crystal Symphony glows as it glides through the port of Hong Kong on an evening sojourn.
  • Hong-Kong-Winterfest3 - Winterfest in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Chinese-New-Year-4 - Cheerleaders from the San Francisco 49ers — the Gold Rush — participate in the Chinese New Year Parade in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-dim-sum - Dim sum in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-bagpipe-ship - A bagpipe band welcomes a cruise ship to Hong Kong.
  • Kai-Tai-Cruise-Terminal.jpg - A Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises ship take up berths at the Kai Tai Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Bun-Festival - A girl performs at the Bun Festival in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-dragonboat1 - In Hong Kong, an ancient Chinese festival — the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival — has become one of the world's great parties.
  • Hong-Kong-dragonboat2 - Dragon boat races in Hong Kong. The Dragon Boat Carnival has become one of the world's great parties.
  • Hong-Kong-fisherman - A fisherman near Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Mid-Autumn-Festival2 - The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake Festival, in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-mooncakes - A Cantonese mooncake, considered a must-have delicacy during the Mid-Autumn Festival, has rich, thick filling usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste.
  • Hong-Kong-Nan-Lian-Garden - Nan Lian Garden in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Peak-Tower - Peak Tower atop of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Peak-Tram - The Peak Tram on its way to Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-sightseeing - Seeing the sights in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-statue - A statue in Hong Kong.
  • Hong-Kong-Tin-Hau-Festival - An outtake from the Tin Hau Festival in Hong Kong.
  • azamara-Hong-Kong-Aberdeen.jpg - Visitors on a tour boat sail through Aberdeen, Hong Kong.
  • azamara-Hong-Kong-Flowers.jpg - Blossoms in Aberdeen, Hong Kong.
  • azamara-Hong-Kong-Man-Mo-Temple1.jpg - A Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong.
  • azamara-Hong-Kong-Man-Mo-Temple2.jpg - A Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong.
  • azamara-Hong-Kong-Public-Park.jpg - Lung Nam Pavilion in the Kowloon Walled City Park in Hong Kong.
  • azamara-Hong-Kong-Skyline-LaserShow.jpg - The Symphony of Lights in Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong.
  • azamara-Hong-Kong-Skyline-LaserShow2.jpg - The Symphony of Lights in Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong.
  • azamara-Hong-Kong-Skyline-LaserShow3.jpg - The Symphony of Lights as viewed from Azamara Quest in Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong.
  • azamara-Hong-Kong-Victoria-Peak.jpg - Victoria Peak offers panoramic views of Hong Kong.
  • azamara-Hong-Kong-Wong-Tai-Sin-Temple.jpg - The Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong.
  • azamara-Hong-Kong-Wong-Tai-Sin-Temple2.jpg - The Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong.
  • azamara-Hong-Kong-Wong-Tai-Sin-Temple3.jpg - The Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong.
  • hong-kong-panorama.jpg - Voyager of the Seas sails through Hong Kong's cosmopolitan harbor.

Hong Kong travel guide & photo tour

our guide

The vibe

This high-energy East Asia hub pulsates with fascinating street markets, high-end designer shops, dim sum restaurants and harbor traffic, yet still offers tranquil mountain trails and vestiges of colonial-era charm.

Even during a short visit, cruise passengers and other day trippers have time to enjoy the city's spectacular harbor, bustling markets, great shopping and tantalizing food options.   

Cruise ships that call on Hong Kong 

Top reasons to go

  • Street markets offer not only silk, jade and knock-off Rolexes, but brim with produce, exotic birds and other delights.
  • A spectacular setting of harbor and mountains.
  • Vibrant mix of industrious Chinese culture laced with remnants of British colonial heritage.

Dave and Deb of The Planet D offer tips on the best things to do in Hong Kong in this 3-minute video.

Top things to do & see in Hong Kong

In 1997, the world watched Great Britain hand over the keys of its Crown Colony, Hong Kong, to the People’s Republic of China. What was the end of an era for Great Britain was only a new beginning for Hong Kong, which has continued to evolve at its usual protean pace. Now as before, travelers swarm over such central Hong Kong attractions as the Peak and its tram, Stanley Market, the Kowloon water front at Tsim Tsa Tsui, the floating colony of Aberdeen and its jumbo Floating Restaurant, and the shopping in Kowloon and Central District.

But since the handover, the city, which is really only the center of a 250-island archipelago, has added attractions and improved its infrastructure with one of the best new airports in the world, a Disney theme park and an ever expanding range of hotels. And the growth doesn’t stop there, as only recently Hong Kong announced plans for a new cruise terminal that will up its profile in the international cruise marketplace.

There’s no easier place in Asia to move among the people than Hong Kong, and that’s the city’s secret ingredient. Public transportation on buses, subways, ferries and taxis are all easy and inexpensive. Signs are in English; and just about everyone speaks some English. Exploring the city begins with a priceless ride on the Star Ferry that will set you back about 15 cents.

Kowloon

Home to almost half of Hong Kong's population,  Kowloon is home to museums, malls, stores and the Tsim Tsa Tsui waterfront—one of the great urban promenades in the world. High tea at the Peninsula Hotel is a world unto itself, a place where live chamber music filters down from the rafters over a tea service in the full British style, replete with cucumber sandwiches, raisin scones and clotted cream. In Kowloon’s back streets you’ll find the Jade Market and the Bird Market, where the aroma of tea and the lilt of canary song waft amid the staccato clicking of mah jong tiles. On high-rise Hong Kong Island, the feeling on the ground is still British colonial.  Back in the 19th century, the Kowloon Walled City Park was a notorious area of gambling dens, brothels and slums. Today it’s been reborn as a peaceful Qing dynasty-style garden.

The West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre in Hong Kong.
Courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism BoardThe West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre in Hong Kong.

Lantau Island

Now the home to the international airport, Lantau Island is also the scene of several diverse attractions, including Hong Kong Disneyland and the world’s largest seated bronze Buddha guarding the entrance to the Po Lin Monastery. For stunning views of the island, take the Ngong Ping 360, the longest bi-cable aerial ride in Asia, and check out family attractions such as Walking with Buddha, Monkey’s Tale Theatre and the Ngong Ping Tea House. The village incorporates traditional Chinese architectural features with a variety of shopping and dining venues. Away from Disney and Ngong Ping, Lantau is a home to fishing villages, beaches and the monastery. Be sure to ride the four-mile cable car out to Lantau.

Wetland Park

Hong Kong’s 150-acre park features 70 walking trails lined with bird hideaways, making this a top site for up-close viewing. 

Victoria Peak

Soaring almost 2,000 feet above the hustle and bustle of the central business district, Victoria Peak is Hong Kong’s premier tourist attraction. Take the historic tram to the top for spectacular views and then enjoy the nature trails winding through the hills.

An hour from Hong Kong by hydrofoil, this former Portuguese colony-turned-gambling mecca offers not just Las Vegas-style casinos but an intriguing historic district that is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Markets & shopping

Street markets abound in Hong Kong, including the Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon and Stanley Market on Hong Kong Island. Silk, clothes, jade, goldfish, birds, watches, shoes and a host of other items are proffered everywhere, with bargaining expected. 

Just steps from Ocean Terminal are the contiguous giant shopping complexes of Ocean Center and Harbour City, offering acres of department stores, designer boutiques and food courts. Hollywood Road in Central is lined with antique ships and galleries of Chinese art. 

Museums

Several excellent museums offer an insight on local culture are found in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Kowloon, including the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Hong Kong Museum of History

A girl performs at the Bun Festival in Hong Kong.
Courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism BoardA girl performs at the Bun Festival in Hong Kong.

Family-friendly options

Ocean Park: Along with amusement park rides, this theme park has impressive marine life exhibits as well as a giant panda habitat.

Don’t miss

Hong Kong Heritage Museum: Often overlooked but well worth the trip, this museum in the New Territories is packed with fascinating exhibits on Chinese history, art and culture.

YOLO (You only live once!)

A helicopter tour over Hong Kong provides thrilling views of the financial canyons, bustling streets, harbors, islands and beaches.

Best bets for dining

Hong Kong, along with Taipei, is generally recognized as having the highest quality Chinese food in the world. The truth is though that Hong Kong’s global nature gives it great cuisine from all over the world.

Dim sum in Hong Kong.
Courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism BoardDim sum in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong offers one of the world’s most eclectic dining scenes, but is best known for excellent Cantonese cuisine. Among places to find it is The Chairman, a restaurant in Central known for soy-sauce chicken with herbs and fresh crab steeped in ShaoXing wine. In Kowloon, Dung Lai Shun is acclaimed for its Northern Chinese specialties, including Peking duck and hot pot dishes.

Hong Kong’s signature lunch experience is a dim sum repast of various dumplings, meat buns and other tasty small-plate items. Jade Garden near Ocean Terminal is a good bet, as is Tim Ho Wan, with locations in both Kowloon and the Central district.

In its February 2015 issue, Travel + Leisure magazine named these as among Hong Kong's hot restaurants:

  • Mott 32 (Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4a Des Voeux Road, Central), serving luxurious Cantonese cuisine in the financial district. 
  • Ho Lee Fook (G/F No. 1-5 Elgin St., Central), serving inventive pan-Asian dishes. 
  • Seventh Son (4/F to 6/F., Kwan Chart Tower, 6 Tonnochy Road, Wan Chai), serving Cantonese mainstays in an uncluttered dining room.

Best time to go

High season: September to late December

Shoulder season: January to May

Low season: June to August

Hong Kong’s most comfortable weather is in fall through early winter, when days are sunny and the humidity is low. January-March can be cool and overcast, while April and May are mild and pleasant. Summers are hot and humid and subject to tropical storms.

Fun facts

  • The Victoria Peak tram became the first cable funicular in Asia when it opened in 1888.
  • Despite having twice the number of skyscrapers as New York City, 75 percent of Hong Kong is composed of parks, woodlands, hills, beaches and other open space.
  • Feng Shui, or Chinese geomancy, plays a key role in shaping architecture, business and lifestyles in Hong Kong, so much so that the government had to compensate residents living around civil construction projects for disturbing their feng shui
A junk sails in Victoria Bay, Hong Kong.
Courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism BoardA junk sails in Victoria Bay, Hong Kong.

When you arrive

Docking information

Cruise ships dock at Ocean Terminal in Victoria Harbor on the Kowloon side. It’s a short walk to restaurants, shops, top hotels, museums as well as to the Star Ferry and the subway. Many ships also now dock at the new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, also in Kowloon, which can accommodate two mega vessels at one time.

Getting around

Crossing the harbor from Kowloon to Hong Kong island is best done on the vintage green and white vessels operated by Star Ferry, providing stellar harbor views for a nominal fare. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive.

Hong Kong also has an efficient subway system, Mass Transit Railway, which has stops throughout Kowloon and goes under the harbor to Hong Kong island. However, it’s best avoided at rush hour when it gets extremely crowded. Trams and busses are another option, especially good for getting to Stanley Market, Repulse Bay and other points on Hong Kong island.

Need to know

Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens will need a valid passport.

Language: Cantonese and English are the official languages. Signage is usually in both languages and many people are bilingual.

Currency: The Hong Kong dollar.

Safety: Hong Kong is a safe city; serious crimes are not common. There are pickpockets but it's not a real concern even in crowded places as long as you take general precautions. Most Hong Kong Police speak English.

A note about travel to Hong Kong: Sporadic protests organized by pro-democracy demonstrators and directed at government buildings can affect some areas of the city. Travelers should seek advice from their consulates or embassies on travel advisories currently in effect.

Your take

Have you been to Hong Kong? Please share a story, tip or discovery. What was the highlight for you? Let me know! 

Help improve this article! See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

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Maria Lenhart
I am a veteran travel writer who has enjoyed reporting on destinations far and near for many publications. My favorite way to travel is on board a ship, no matter where it's going. 

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Overheard

“Venture out to Lantau Island to visit the Po Lin Monastery, a Buddhist spiritual center founded in 1906 by three visiting monks. Situated high up in the hills, the monastery's architecture and Buddha imagery shouldn't be missed.”

Porthole Cruise magazine

“For a unique experience, check out the Yuen Po Bird Garden, where older gentlemen bring their pet songbirds to show them off and give them some fresh air. There are also stalls that sell birds, live crickets and other avian treats.”

Cruise Critic

“One of the busiest religious shrines in the city, Wong Tai Sin Temple is perpetually packed with dedicated worshippers looking to have their prayers answered. The complex itself is a stunning structure that houses the teachings of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.”

Fodor’s

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