Ask 20 people why they have chosen to visit Hong Kong, and you’ll probably be given 20 different reasons. Ask 20 people where the best places to stay in Hong Kong are, and you’ll get 20 different answers for that as well. Such is the attraction and diversity of the metropolitan area of Hong Kong. But first, you have to get there.
Hong Kong’s International Airport is the envy of many around the world, and has received numerous awards for its efficient and problem free operation. Over 120 airlines worldwide fly into Hong Kong Airport on a regular basis. Getting from the airport to your hotel is fast and easy using Hong Kong’s public transport system or by taxi.
If your choice is to explore a bit more of the Asia-Pacific region on your journey, you can fly into mainland China. From there you have the choice of flying into Hong Kong, or you can travel by ferry, cruise ship, high-speed rail, or by road. Again, once in Hong Kong, public transport is clean, cheap, and reliable, with the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) system, taxis, trams, and buses to choose from.
Although modern Hong Kong’s journey began in 1898, when China leased it, and much of its outlaying territories to Britain for 99 years, its history goes back a thousand years before. To a time when the area was fought over by warring barbarians, and the coast plundered by bloodthirsty pirates.
Wherever you go in Hong Kong you will be amazed by its history, its architecture, its flora and fauna, its cuisine, and its cosmopolitan society. In this blog, we have put together nine different areas in Hong Kong, where you can start your personal journey of exploration.
Best areas to stay in Hong Kong
1. Central District/Admiralty
The beating heart of Hong Kong Island, Central, Admiralty, and Soho are the centre of Hong Kong’s financial district. An area where well-heeled Hong Kong financiers make their millions – and where they spend them.
These three areas provide employment on the one hand, and rest and relaxation on the other. Explore the pulsating centre of the island during daytime, stop for a snack and drink while doing a little people watching. Or check out the restaurants during the evening, and sample some of the fabulous international cuisine.
The area is an eclectic mix of old colonial architecture and narrow streets. Where modern glass and steel government buildings, offices, banks, and other corporate entities, vie for attention with up-market designer shopping malls, plush hotels, hostels, parks, gardens, and artisan markets.
If you take anything away from your stay in Hong Kong’s Central District and Admiralty, it has to be its affluence, and diverse shopping experience. Up in the clouds you can stroll along the network of walkways leading to six hi-end shopping malls, where you can browse in CD, Prada, LV, Chanel, Gucci, Burberry, Cartier, and many others.
Back down to earth, around Hollywood Road, Queens Road, and Des Voeux Road, you can browse the chic fashion boutiques, antique shops, and art galleries.
While a visit to Li Yuen East and Li Yuen West Streets, will provide local street markets where you will find classic Chinese vases and pottery, herbal Chinese remedies, inexpensive jewellery, accessories, and clothing – and a diverse range of street food.
A night’s stay in Hong Kong in a 4-star hotel in the Central District costs from around 150$ per person.
Mid-Levels is recognised as a main residential area for Hong Kong’s affluent stock market and banking employees – but don’t let that put you off. Mid-Levels is a residential area like you’ve never seen before.
Situated between Central and Victoria Peak, and divided into four Mid-Level areas of Central, North, East and West, Mid-Levels has the world’s longest outdoor escalator at 800 metres in length.
In reality, the escalator, which also rises 135 metres above streets and hillside during its journey, is a set of 20 escalators and 3 rolling walkways, connected by footbridges.
The escalator has 14 entrance and exit points from its start in Conduit Road, to its end in Queen’s Road Central, and the full journey takes around 25 minutes.Although a tourist attraction in its own right, the escalator provides some stunning views over the Central Area and Victoria Harbour.
It’s also an easy way to explore the many new artisan bars, cafes, and restaurants springing up in the area. Visit local book shops, the art gallery in Chancery Lane, the museum, the park at Golden Bauhinia Square, or the market in Causeway Bay.
If you want to base your stay in Hong Kong in the Mid-Levels, 4-star hotel accommodation starts from around 150$ per night.
3. Sheung Wan
Just a 20 minute stroll from the glitzy glass edifices of Hong Kong’s financial centre, the lovely area of Sheung Wan couldn’t be more different. A place steeped on one side in Chinese culture, and on the other in its own brand of hip.
Sheung Wan is old buildings, shopping, traditional markets, seafood markets, and Chinese apothecaries. An area where east often meets expat west, in its long-established shops and businesses.
Set a day aside for Sheung Wan. Start off in the old Edwardian style Western Market originally built in 1906, and browse the handicraft businesses. Crinkle your nose over the powerful smell of dried seafood.
Then head over to Bonham Strand West, Wing Lok Street, or Dried Seafood Street, and watch the locals bartering for fishy ingredients for stews, soups, and medicines.
In need of a pick-me-up? Take a stroll to Koh Shing Street, and browse the well-known, and not so well known, Chinese natural-wellness remedies, which can be made up specifically for your ailments.
If antiques, knick-knacks, and ornaments are your thing, head for Cat Street. Or head for old colonial style Gough Street, to browse the latest must-haves in home accessories, before ending your day with an evening meal in one of the many new trendy restaurants.
Prices for an overnight stay in Hong Kong in the Sheung Wan area, will set you back around 120$ per person per night for 4-star accommodation.
4. Wan Chai
If you’re looking for a Hong Kong as it was during its colonial era, then Wan Chai is about as close as you’ll get, but it’s disappearing fast. Back in the day, before serious land reclamation took hold, Victoria Harbour was on the doorstep of Wan Chai.
The village was also home to thousands of local Chinese who worked in the docks and associate industries. At night the area would come alive with locals and visiting sailors, enjoying everything the area had to offer.
Like sea ports the world over, it had its fair share of brothels, rowdy bars, nightclubs, and eateries, all happy to relieve drunken sailors of their hard earned cash.
Nowadays, some 70 years later, Wan Chai still has its exotic nightlife, bars and clubs, and it’s definitely the place to be on party night, but now they’re a little more discreet.
As Hong Kong’s international presence has increased, so too has Wan Chai’s fortunes. As the skyscrapers grew up around it, Wan Chai discovered cool, chic, and trendy. Now its old tenement buildings and temples compete for recognition with trendy new bars, restaurants, and night clubs.
Walking is the best way to explore Wan Chai. If you’re interested in the area’s history and culture, take a stroll along the recently launched Wan Chai Heritage Trail. A two hour walk with 15 stops, you can learn much about Wan Chai’s history, its colonial heritage, and its modern architecture.
Visit the Exhibition and Conference Centre, and the Arts Centre. Check out Ship Street and Star Street, with their buzzing restaurants and independent boutiques. Window shop the designer stores in Leighton Road on the Causeway, or rest and chill in the cool cafes and coffee shops of Tai Hang.
While out walking, look out for the 20 plus pieces of street art on roadways and walls. Commissioned by the Hong Kong Tourist Board, they are designed to promote ‘creative tourism’.
Bar and restaurant prices are generally more favourable than they are in the Central District, and if you decide you want to stay in Hong Kong in Wan Chai, 4-star hotels start around 100$ per person.
5. Causeway Bay
From medieval fishing village to one of Hong Kong’s busiest areas. Causeway Bay is a highly developed, heavily built-up area situated on Hong Kong Island. Bordering parts of Wan Chai, and stretching to Victoria harbour, it is Hong Kong’s premier shopping district.
Pride of place goes to a massive Japanese-style department store ‘Sogo’ rising to 13-storeys. Other shopping centres include Times Square, and Hysan Place. Smaller American style malls include the World Trade Centre, Hang Lung Centre, Windsor House, Fashion Walk, Fashion Island, and Lee Garden One and Two.
Causeway Bay shopping though, is not just about department stores and American Malls. The whole area is a maze of small, narrow streets, where you can find those sought after collectibles in local markets, family run businesses, and offbeat, independent boutiques.
When you consider Causeway Bay’s retail space is the most expensive in the world, costing more per square foot than New York’s Fifth Avenue – and leaving London’s Bond Street in the dust – it’s worth visiting, just to say you have.
Causeway Bay is not just about shopping. Pencil in an early start. Even if you’re not interested in books, visit Hong Kong’s Central Library, and see how technology is used to catalogue hundreds of books at a time.
Visit the 150 year old Tin Hau Temple and its small garden. It is a national monument, and one of 100 dedicated to Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea.
Take a break in the largest park in Hong Kong. Victoria Park is the ideal place to enjoy some down time with its winding paths, benches, ponds, and fountains. If those muscles are feeling a little tight, you can even practise some tai chi.
Come lunchtime, seek out Houston Street. A notch up between street food and café dining with outside tables. Menus range from Italian spaghetti to hot Thai cuisine. But be warned, the whole street is popular with local and expat office workers on their lunch breaks, so you may have to do a little window shopping while waiting for a vacant table.
We started with shopping, and we’ll finish with shopping. To get the very best experience, shopping Causeway Bay style is an evening affair. Most of the stores are open until midnight, and with the big department stores and streets ablaze with twinkling LED lighting, you could be forgiven for thinking Christmas has come early.
Getting there is easy on Hong Kong’s excellent public transport, and while walking is recommended to get the most out of this hustling, bustling area of the Island, a trip on its iconic tram system should be included in the itinerary.
With its large number of high quality, mid-range hotels, it is a popular base for many of Hong Kong’s visitors. If you fancy basing your stay in Hong Kong at Causeway Bay, 4-star hotel rooms start from as little as £25 per night.
6. Southern District (Including Aberdeen and Stanley)
For many, a holiday isn’t a holiday unless it’s sand, sea, and sunshine, or forest, fauna, and nature trails. Or maybe a little colonial history and theme parks. If you fall into any of these categories, Southern District is where you need to head for.
With a backdrop of forested hillsides and reservoirs that overlook the towns, residential areas, and golden sand beaches of the South China Sea, you could be a million miles away from the steel and glass of Central District. The reality is, you are literally just minutes away, using the Island’s MTR system.
While Southern District is the popular head-to for Hong Kong’s weekend sun worshippers, it is also a popular residential area for the well-heeled.
In the eastern area containing Stanley and Repulse Bay, affluent Hong Kong Chinese, expat mainland Chinese, and expat Europeans, reside side-by-side in their large colonial style homes. While in the more urbanised western area, districts like Aberdeen continue to see increasing numbers of private housing developments being built.
Nonetheless, for those residents and visitors wanting to escape the crowded busy city areas for a day or two, Southern District has plenty to offer.
If your interest is Hong Kong colonial history, book a visit to Murray House; an old officers barracks, and one of Hong Kong’s oldest colonial buildings. Or how about the Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum, for an insight into the harsh reality of colonial justice.
If your interest is Chinese culture, visit the Tin Hau Temple at Stanley, built in 1767, it is one of a number of temples around Hong Kong dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea.
If you are visiting in May, get down to Stanley, and cheer on your chosen crew in the Dragon Boat Racing. You also have a choice of three country parks to enjoy; Stanley Ma Hang Park, Pok Fu Lam Country Park, and Aberdeen Country Park.
For those wanting nothing more than to enjoy water-sports, or to relax on golden sand beaches and swim in the warm South China Sea, you have a choice of nine fabulous beaches.
If you’re considering the Southern District as a base for your stay in Hong Kong, hotel prices start at around 70$.
7. Tsim Sha Tsui
A trip to Hong Kong wouldn’t be a trip to Hong Kong, without a visit to Kowloon Peninsula. As a visiting tourist, the best way to get to Kowloon from Hong Kong Island is on the Victoria Harbour Star Ferry.
These distinctive green and white ferry boats have been shuttling passengers back and fore on the ten minute journey since the mid-1800s.
On disembarking your ferry, you’re in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of Hong Kong’s busiest tourist areas. Here you can enjoy everything from visiting museums and cultural centres to taking in live performances. From duty-free shopping in the high-end malls, to souvenir hunting in the markets and little curio shops.
Take in the stunning skyline views across the harbour, while fine dining in a Michelin starred high-rise restaurant. Or keep your feet on the ground, and seek out the very best of Taiwanese or Korean street food. The area also has an excellent selection of hotel accommodation at all levels.
The view from Tsim Sha Tsui, across the harbour to Central District, will have your camera working overtime, but why stop there? Book a Star Ferry Explore The Harbour trip. The excursion takes around one hour, and will give you the opportunity for some great photo shots.
If you fancy yourself as a Chinese pirate, put on a bandana, eye patch, and striped tee-shirt, and book yourself a harbour tour on one of the traditionally built junks. Or, if you want to add a little romance to your evening out, consider the Symphony of Light cruise.
What could be more romantic on a balmy Hong Kong evening, than watching a laser-light show from your front row seats with complimentary drinks, as you glide around Victoria Harbour.
With everything being so compact on Kowloon, you can begin your day when you step off the ferry. But have a leisurely breakfast first, to allow Hong Kong’s commuting hordes to get to their places of work. 10am is a good start time.
Stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, and take in the Avenue of Stars with over 100 plaster cast handprints of Hong Kong’s famous martial arts film stars.
Make your way to Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui’s main thoroughfare and full of restaurants, cafes, and high-end designer stores. If you can’t find your brand or favourite eatery there, then check out Canton Road, Salisbury Road, and Kowloon Park Drive for more of the same.
You may have noticed, food plays a big part in the Hong Kong-Chinese and expat lifestyle. But you will be missing so much if you just stick to the main streets and big restaurants. Look out for Ashley Road, Hillwood Road, Kimberley Street, or Knutsford Terrace.
These much smaller, but still busy streets, are a magnet for tourists looking for traditional Chinese businesses and tucked away bric-a-brac shops, as well as attracting street food junkies.
You will find little foodie outlets offering everything from a menu of Hong Kong’s favourite dim sum dishes, to traditional European, Korean and Japanese fare, to plates of Chinese noodles.
Great places to take the weight off, and watch the world go by as you eat. If you fancy a night’s stay in Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui, hotel prices start around 100$ for 4-star accommodation.
8. Jordan and Yau Ma Tei
Made up primarily of local working-class homes and traditional businesses, Jordan and Yau Ma Tei nestle side by side on the Kowloon peninsula. Architecture is a mix of high rise apartments, low range hotels, street markets, offices, and the full gamut of local shops and businesses.
On the face of it, not much for Hong Kong’s visiting tourists. However, if your big interests lay in pre-war architecture, local culture and cuisine, traditional markets, or jade; then Jordan and Yau Ma Tei may well be the places to stay in Hong Kong and spend some time.
If you want breakfast before beginning to explore, you can have everything from scrambled eggs on toast, to spaghetti and ham, to steamed milk pudding.
While Jordan and Yau Ma Tei may appear a little short of large restaurants and international eateries, many of its small cafes have built up enviable reputations with the local Chinese and expat populations.
So much so that if you arrive at the wrong time, many of the clientele will be queueing out the door, waiting for a table. Make a note of these, they can tickle your taste buds morning, noon, and night. The Australia Dairy Company, Mido Café, Yau Yuen Siu Tsui, DimDimSum, Hui Lau Shan, and the Manakamana Restaurant.
In Waterloo Road you can find the Yau Ma Tei Theatre. Originally built in 1930, it survived the war and is now a Grade II listed building holding various monthly events and Cantonese opera evenings.
In Canton Road you can find the Yau Ma Tei Police Station. Built in 1922, it has been a listed building since 2009. Another Tin Hau Temple to the goddess of the sea can be found on (surprisingly), Temple Street.
For street market aficionados, especially those interested in Jade, mid-morning will see the Yau Ma Tei Jade Market beginning to set up stalls. Famous with residents across Hong Kong, the market is reputed to have as many as 400 stalls, all dedicated to the lucky green gemstones. A great place to find those different souvenirs for friends and family.
Asian markets, whether food or general products, seem to have an ambiance and aura all their own, and the Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market is no different. Built originally in 1913, the market attracts local residents and business people from all over the area, bartering for every kind of fruit you can think of. To get a real feel of Chinese working culture at ground level, this is a great place to start.
If you like night markets, head for Temple Street. Temple Street Night Market is a general flea/bric-a-brac market with stalls offering everything from cheap souvenirs to ‘designer’ bags, watches, clothing, and anything else that has a label.
If you have somewhere to be, the market starts trading in mid-afternoon, and carries on through the evening, so you have plenty of time to visit.
If Jordan and Yau Ma Tei are your place to be during your stay in Hong Kong, 4-star hotel rooms start at around 80$ per night.
9. Mong Kok
If you think rush-hour in London, Paris, or New York is busy, try Mong Kok, officially registered in the Guinness Book of World Records as the busiest district in the world.
Nonetheless, if you’re a market or culture lover don’t let that put you off. Mong Kok, situated on the Kowloon peninsula, is awash with market stalls and small retail establishments selling everything you can think of – and some.
Reminiscent of Chinatown in those big American movies, many of Mong Kok’s market streets are adorned with colourful banners hanging across the road and colourful stall awnings.
As daytime visitors begin to drift off and dusk begins to fall, the streets and shops become illuminated with neon lighting, and the evening visitors begin to arrive to keep the street food vendors and stall holders happy.
On Mong Kok’s markets, you don’t just get one stall selling ladies underwear or men’s trainers, you get streets full of stalls, all selling the same type of merchandise. In fact many of the streets are named, in Chinese, after the products being sold.
For instance, in Tung Choi Street (Ladies market), stalls sell ladies clothing, make up, and accessories. In Yuen Po Street (Bird Garden), stalls sell caged song birds, foods and accessories. In Fa Yuen Street (Sneaker Street), stalls sell all types of footwear, including trainers.
Others are named in English such as, Flower Market Road, selling cut flowers and all types of plants. Or Goldfish Street, selling all types of tropical, cold-water, and marine fish, tanks, and accessories.
With hundreds of stalls, plenty of street food, and lots of bars to take the weight off, it’s a great, if tiring way to spend an afternoon or evening.
Prices for a stay in Hong Kong at a 4-star hotel in Mong Kok start at around 80$ per night.
So there you have it. After your stay in Hong Kong, when someone asks you, ‘where are the best places to stay in Hong Kong?’ You’ll be able to answer – anywhere.