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Where to Stay in Hong Kong
The two primary areas of interest for travelers staying in Hong Kong are Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula, which sit on either side of Victoria Harbour. In both areas, most of the hotels are located close to the waterway that separates them. The Central District, home to many of the city’s most famous buildings, shops, restaurants and hotels, is located on Hong Kong Island. So is Victoria Peak, one of the region’s most popular attractions. Kowloon Peninsula is where you’ll find several large museums, religious landmarks and discount shopping destinations, as well as many of the most valuable cheap hotel deals in Hong Kong. The efficient and widespread public transportation system makes it easy to explore both of these areas no matter where you stay, so you can confidently consider a less-centrally located hotel that has a better combination of amenities and price.
Hong Kong Hotel Tips
Hong Kong’s range of accommodations includes everything from five-star luxury resorts to discount motels, but in general, room rates throughout the region are expensive compared to other cities in Asia and even the United States. Hotel occupancy in Hong Kong is consistently high throughout the year, and hotels fill to capacity on several occasions coinciding with holidays, festivals and business conventions. Making room reservations as far in advance as possible is important. Hotel rates are often higher when large numbers of visitors are expected, so you may want to consult Hong Kong’s event calendar if you’d rather travel when rooms are cheap.
The greatest concentration of luxury hotels is in the Central District, though you can find at least one lavish option in almost every Hong Kong neighborhood with lodging. Mid-range hotels are very common on Kowloon Peninsula, especially in its southernmost neighborhood of Tsim Sha Tsui, which has the city’s best variety of shops, restaurants and nightlife destinations.
Hong Kong Hotel Recommendations
If you want to stay close to the action of the Central District, the Mandarin Oriental can give you a hotel experience you’ll never forget. It became recognized as one of the finest hotels in the world shortly after its debut in the 1960s, and an extensive 2005 renovation has made it competitive with Hong Kong’s newer hotels. Though it’s not cheap to sleep here, there’s no better place in the neighborhood to splurge on a night’s stay. And even if you don’t book a room, you may consider a visit to the Mandarin Spa or a meal at Pierre, a sophisticated French restaurant with views of Victoria Harbour.
A smaller and more affordable hotel, Jia, is located just a short distance east in the Causeway Bay area. One of Hong Kong’s first genuine boutique properties, Jia feels more like home than a hotel and is filled with clever little design details. Spacious suites and penthouses are available, but even the economical studio rooms are designed to be perfectly comfortable and functional.
Though the city’s more modest accommodations tend to be located across the harbour, a notable exception is The Peninsula, Hong Kong’s oldest operating hotel and one of its most extravagant. The original structure, amazingly well-restored, is connected to a more modern hotel tower with waterfront views. Rooms in the hotel’s historic section are quite charming and cheaper than the tower rooms, though they’ve been updated with modern comforts. The Peninsula’s biggest competition for luxury lodging, the Hotel InterContinental Hong Kong, is situated directly across the street. Much more modern throughout, the InterContinental is known for its serene infinity pools, the indulgent I-Spa and its premium suite views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong Island skyline.
Hong Kong Transportation
Driving in Hong Kong can be an extraordinary challenge, and not just because its vehicles travel on the left side of the road. Traffic congestion is an all-day event that grinds to a virtual halt at rush hour, and parking is seemingly impossible to find in the most popular neighborhoods. Most visitors to the region rely on Hong Kong’s excellent public transportation and taxi systems to get around while in town.
The Mass Transit Railway runs routes all over Hong Kong that operate from early morning until late at night. Its Airport Express Line is the most convenient way to get to central Hong Kong Island or Kowloon Peninsula after your flight to Hong Kong arrives. Traveling via either of Hong Kong’s bus companies allows for better views of the city, but this method is usually less efficient than the subway, especially during rush hour. On Hong Kong Island, an older tram system supplements the subway and bus routes.
Taxis are easy to flag down throughout Hong Kong and their rates are comparable to those in major U.S. cities, but you should always bring your destination address written in Cantonese, in the likely event that your driver does not speak English.
When moving between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula, one of your transportation options is to take the Star Ferry. This ride includes one of the most dramatic views of the city, so you should consider taking it at least once during your stay.
Directional and location signage throughout the city is commonly printed in both Cantonese and English, and English language versions of transit system maps are available at most kiosks.