Despite having many amazing things to do on Hong Kong, there are several things you should not do there. Read on for our tips for surviving a trip to Hong Kong.
Don’t go to the Avenue of the Stars
For all the amazing sights the city has to offer, the Avenue of Stars is not one of them. This cement strip of kitschy souvenir kiosks, statues, and food stands wraps around the InterContinental Hong Kong, connecting Tsim Sha Tsui with Tsim Sha Tsui East. During peak season, legions of tourists can be found snapping selfies with the famous bronze Bruce Lee statue. Hongkongers avoid this area like the plague, and so should you.
Don’t fear the mini buses
At some point during your stay you’ll notice the public, red-and-green light buses, also known as mini buses, zooming about the streets of Hong Kong as if they abide by their own traffic laws. If you can learn a couple basic phrases of Cantonese, then you can hail one of these just like you would a taxi, hop aboard, and save yourself loads of time. Most of the island routes have fixed stops, but it’s more common to shout out to the driver along the route when you’re ready to get off—“Next stop, please” or haah yat jhaam, m’goi.
Don’t take taxis all the time
Admittedly, taxis are relatively cheap in Hong Kong, with rates starting at just HK$22, or $2.84. The problem, however, is that even if a taxi is available, the driver won’t necessarily pick you up. The drivers here seem to pick and choose passengers as they please, sometimes only taking those who are going to a location of their liking. There’s also a difference between cross-harbor taxis and island taxis—so make a wave motion with your arm if you’re trying to go across the water, or look for devoted cross-harbor taxi stands. If it’s rush hour, raining, or between 3 and 4pm when taxi shifts change, don’t even bother; instead, take the hyper-efficient MTR.
Don’t only shop in the malls
You can’t go two blocks without finding yourself outside a mega shopping mall in Hong Kong—and it’s worth taking a peek at the luxury stores and restaurants in malls like IFC, Elements and Pacific Place. That being said, there’s much more to the shopping scene than these international chains. For local designers and fashion-forward finds, try the stylish indie shops in the Tai Ping Shan area, like Squarestreet and Chateau Zoobeetle; shop for high-end hipster goods at shops like WOAW on Gough Street; find top-tier boutiques like 45R and Kapok in the Star Street precinct; or explore the myriad local apparel, home, and jewelry boutiques at renovated design hub PMQ.
Don’t skip the cooked food centers
There are plenty of high-end restaurants and fancy dim sum banquet halls, but sometimes you just want bang for your buck. Hong Kong is all about diverse dining experiences, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t sit down for a meal at one of the many indoor food markets. One of the most famous is the Queens Street Cooked Food Centre, a no-frills food court that’s home to high-end Italian food at ABC Kitchen as well as dirt-cheap Beijing Dumplings.
Don’t waste money on knickknacks at street markets
Sure, an obligatory visit to the Temple Street Night Market will yield cheap chopsticks, hilarious iPhone cases, and various other knickknacks, but Hong Kong also has plenty of souvenirs that will last a lifetime. The booming contemporary art scene offers excellent selections from up-and-coming artists at galleries such as Cat Street Gallery and Contemporary by Angela Li. Meanwhile, Hollywood Road’s antique shops Oi Ling and KY Fine Art sell all kinds of calligraphy, verified jade, Ming Dynasty vases, elaborate sculptures, and Chinese relics that will keep forever. There are also some high-end teashops, such as LockCha in the Flagstaff House Tea Museum, where you can find premium pu’er tea and gorgeous handcrafted ceramic tea sets.
Don’t go out in Lan Kwai Fong
Take a stroll through Lan Kwai Fong on a weekend and you’ll quickly get the drift: The cliché-themed bars come stocked with overpriced Tsingtaos, Jell-O shots, fruity cocktails, and not much else. If you’re looking for a more refined evening, try one of the city’s many upscale watering holes; these places will still charge you an arm and a leg, but at least you can watch skilled bartenders in action. Industrial-chic Mitte, in Sheung Wan, brings together Berlin and Italian vibes, serving up one of the best Negronis in town, while Quinary does frothy mixology like no other. In Wan Chai, Mizunara: The Library has a speakeasy feel and over 100 kinds of Japanese whisky, and The Pawn is housed in a heritage building with breezy terraces and delicious bar snacks.
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