Your Most Pressing Hong Kong Questions Answered

By Ashley Friedman

Neon and skyscrapers mingle with old-world charm in "Asia's World City"

Your Most Pressing Hong Kong Questions Answered

Bustling, vertical, and neon-lit, Hong Kong offers travelers the possibility of endless urban exploration as well as the chance for tranquil outdoor retreat. The city is a mix of old and new, but don't be fooled buy the 19th century details – Hong Kong moves at a frenetic pace, so be sure to know the basics before your plane touches down.

Q: Where is Hong Kong located?

A. Hong Kong is a small land mass located off of China's southeastern coast. A Chinese territory, Hong Kong is a little more than 1,200 miles south of Beijing, and about 444 miles west of Taiwan.

Q: What language do people in Hong Kong speak?

A: People in Hong Kong mainly speak Cantonese, a regional dialect of the Chinese language. People in mainland China generally speak Mandarin Chinese. Because trade and travel between mainland China and Hong Kong are common, a part of Hong Kong's population speaks Mandarin, but it is typically used in a business context, and not conversationally or colloquially.

Q. How many people live in Hong Kong?

A. As of a 2016 census, the population of Hong Kong was 7.2 million people.

Q. What is there to see in Hong Kong?

A. Hong Kong's city skyline is a glittering, futuristic panorama, containing skyscrapers, hotels and apartment buildings. Lantau Island is the largest of Hong Kong's islands and is positioned at the mouth of the Pearl River. Home to one of Buddhist culture's most significant symbols, the Tian Tan Buddha, the island is a mountainous area with a number of cultural attractions. Lantau Island also has a rustic western coastline where tourists can visit the Tai O fishing village, and watch fishermen reel in the day's catch.

Take the peak tram from its lower terminus at Garden Road to the top of Victoria Peak, the most elevated point on Hong Kong Island, standing at 1,811 feet.

For nightlife, head to the Lan Kwai Fong district, where speakeasies, cocktail bars and throbbing nightclubs abound. Dine or sip wine on outdoor terraces, or wander the street and take in the scene.

  • Lantau Island is the home of Ngong Ping 360, a gondola lift that connects the Tung Chung area of the island, to Ngong Ping, a highland on the western part of the island. The island also includes Ngong Ping village, an historical and cultural town and marketplace, and the Ngong Ping teahouse.
  • Tian Tan Buddha is 112-foot tall bronze statue of Buddha erected in 1993 near the remote Po Lin Monastary, tucked away in the verdant mountains. 
  • Peak Tram is the city's oldest tram, operating since 1888. The lower terminus has a gallery showing life in Hong Kong from the 19th century to the present day. The ride from the city to the top of the peak is only 8 minutes, but affords impressive views of the city skyline.
  • The Lan Kwai Fong district features nearly 100 different restaurants and bars. Its official street sign is one of the most photographed attractions in the country.

Q. Why should I go to Hong Kong?

A. There are dozens of reasons to visit Hong Kong. If you love dynamic urban spaces, then views of the city's skyline, labyrinthine streets and numerous shopping and dining attractions could keep you busy for weeks. For nature and some solitude as a respite from the crowded city, you will enjoy long hikes through the mountains and the wetlands that lead to beaches or small Buddhist temples hidden in the hillsides. Lush and green, Hong Kong is on the water, and the daily light show at Victoria Harbor illuminates the skyline and is considered a must-see by many visitors.

Hong Kong is also home to many beautiful beaches, which the temperate climate ensures are usable pretty much all year round. Families can visit Hong Kong Disneyland, which is the United States-based theme park's Hong Kong outpost.

Ocean Park Hong Kong is a marine mammal park and oceanarium that also features rides and amusements.

  • Hong Kong Disneyland is comprised of seven different lands: Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street. Dining options include Chinese, Asian-American, and fare traditional in the United States.
  • Ocean Park Hong Kong hosts a bird theater, an Arctic fox den and a Chinese sturgeon aquarium. It has an annual horror-themed Halloween festival and is home to over a dozen roller coaster and thrill rides. 

Q.  What currency does Hong Kong use?

A. Although it is a territory of China, Hong Kong has its own currency, the Hong Kong dollar.

Q. Do I need a visa to visit Hong Kong?

A. Tourists from most nations are welcome to visit Hong Kong without a visa for a period of up to 180 days. This applies to visitors form North American territories and most of Europe. Check with the Hong Kong Immigration Department to confirm that a visa for entry is not required. If you are staying longer than 180 days, a visa may be necessary, so it's advisable to visit the Immigration Department's website before departure.

Q. What is the weather like in Hong Kong?

A. Hong Kong has a subtropical climate, which means it experiences four distinct seasons. Springtime in Hong Kong is typically warm with a fair amount of humidity. Averages temperatures hover between 68 and 79 degrees F. The summer season is characterized by heat and an abundance of rain, and temperatures tend to stay in the low 80s. During autumn, temperatures cool slightly, with the average in the high 70s, but the skies are still reliably sunny, making it an ideal time to visit, especially if you plan on spending time out of doors. Winters in Hong Kong are cool and dry, with temperatures that rarely dip below the low 60s.

About the Author

Ashley Friedman graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Social Sciences. She has experience writing copy for the websites of creative professionals, and regularly contributes to several blogs covering popular culture, travel, food, and social action.