Well over a decade ago, my best friend moved to Hong Kong. With no fear or hesitation, she up and left the United States and took residence in this bustling city in the East. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to visit her chosen city many times; lucky me!
Having her there to show me her city made it feel more as if I was a local traveler seeing things from her perspective. As with other destinations, the first time you go, you feel like a tourist. The second time, everything feels a bit more familiar and you attempt places that are off the beaten path. The third time you want nothing to do with a guidebook, preferring to explore unknown territory and feel as if you’re already a local, and after that… you’re home.
Hong Kong is cosmopolitan. Amidst a homogenous population, political turmoil, and a thriving expat community – Hong Kong excites, ignites, and is abuzz with a blend of worlds both old and new. Within two days of arriving you’ll be planning your return. The aromas of noodles of all kinds draw you in. Lane after lane and escalator level after escalator level finds you winding your way through streets and alleyways filled with trinkets aplenty and taste sensations galore.
English is a national language, public transportation is fully accessible and easy to understand, and the people are friendly. Hong Kong is filled with delicious cuisine from market stalls to five star restaurants and the city radiates culture, tradition, and technology at every turn. Spend time on Hong Kong Island or hop across to one of the many smaller islands. Jump on a train to main land China for the day, or hop a ferry across to Macau. All of your senses awaken in the sights, sounds and smells of Hong Kong’s metropolis.
Places to Visit
There are city adventures large and small, island hopping excursions that find you afloat on a traditional junk or the well-known Star Ferry, trails that wind their way to the very top of the highest peak, and cultural gems hidden amongst the forests and amidst the streets. Whether foodie or forager, hiker or happy hour hopper, summer seeker or winter wanderer – Hong Kong is always calling.
Here are some of my favorite things to do in Hong Kong:
- Lantau Island’s Big Buddha & Po Lin Monastery
- Victoria Peak
- Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery
- Central’s Escalator
- Stanley Market
- Shek O (beach town)
- Lamma Island
- Kowloon & Nathan Road
- Victoria Waterfront Laser Light Show
Hong Kong is hot and humid; if you’re asthmatic, plan for that. Since the weather has a tendency to change on a dime, be ready for the out of nowhere arrival of the bad hair day. June through August is peak travel season and if you’re on the move then, prepare for that humidity. Monsoons and tropical storms do also affect the area so think about adding a lightweight raincoat and umbrella to your pack. December through February is usually cool and dry and temperatures can be chilly. Layers are always a good idea.
Hong Kong Packing List Essentials
In Hong Kong, lightweight, wicking, loose fitting, breathable and layers are the name of the game. Humidity can strike at any time followed by her friend Ms. Monsoon and those chilly evenings that seem to come out of nowhere aren’t friendly if you’re still soaked from the day’s earlier weather.
Be sure to keep in mind the time of year you’ll be visiting and pack accordingly. Always have something for rain, something for air conditioning, something for hot and humid, and never go without sunscreen!
- Socks: 3-5 pair (keep in mind temperature and activity)
- Undergarments: 4-7 pair underwear/2 bras/1 sports bra
- Tops: 3-5 assorted tops (tees/light long sleeve/tank tops)
- Bottoms: 1-2 pair casual pants (shorts/capris/skirts, 1 pair jeans)
- Shoes: 1 pair flip-flops, 1 pair comfortable walking/hiking shoes, 1 pair flats/dress shoes
- Pajamas: Could do double duty as a pair of leggings/shorts/tee
- Workout & Hiking Gear: 1-2 sets that go from hike to gym (depending on your travel style)
- Layering: 1 cardigan or sweatshirt for chilly evenings and inside air-conditioned malls
- Swimsuit: 1 swimsuit or water friendly outfit
Packing toiletries is always a challenge. Remember that most of what you need can be purchased in Hong Kong. Pack only those items that you’re brand specific on, or enough for the first couple of days.
- Tissues (small packs for easy travel access)
- Baby wipes (travel packs regularly come in handy)
- Soap & moisturizer
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Toothpaste & toothbrush
- Shaving requirements
- Sanitary products of choice
- Hair products & accessories
- Travel towel
- Insect repellant
- Baby powder
Pack these few accessories to be prepared for anything and add versatility to your wardrobe and the range of activities you’re ready for.
- Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!
- Hats to protect your eyes and face from the sun and rain
- Rain jacket or poncho and travel size umbrella
- Indoor clothes line to hang your wet gear in the shower
- Daypack or extra tote (can be used for laundry needs)
- Travel journal and writing implement
Medicine & Wellness
Packing a basic health kit is a good idea no matter where you are going, and absolutely imperative if you have health conditions or take regular medications. Hong Kong has excellent doctors, pharmacies, and hospitals should a need arise while you are there. However, it’s a good idea to arrive prepared for the things you can anticipate. Don’t forget to carry copies of your prescription medications.
- Your own personal medical essentials plus Epi Pen if necessary
- Copies of all of your prescriptions and your doctor’s phone number
- First aid kit: Immodium, ibuprofen, paracetemol, tums/antacid tablets, Benadryl
- Allergy meds, asthma inhalers, & eye drops
- An adequate supply of prescription medications
- Hand sanitizer
- Anti-itch cream for bug bites
- Mints to aid digestion and upset stomach
- Essential oils/travel diffuser for wellness regimen
Hong Kong is a technology driven city and a great place to shop for electronics if you are in the market. If you’ve forgotten a cord, or if something malfunctions, you won’t have any trouble replacing it here. If you’re traveling from abroad, do remember to pack an adaptor for plugging things in.
You might want to bring your:
- E-reader plus chargers
- MP3 player or smartphone plus headphones and chargers
- Adapter/voltage converter specific to Hong Kong outlets
- Camera plus memory cards, connecting cables and chargers
- Portable charger
- Laptop computer, or tablet, plus chargers
- Back up external hard drive or portable flash drive
Now the fun part! Getting it all in to your carry on sized bag! If you’ve got the Outbreaker travel backpack, either the 35 or the 45, you’ll enjoy the well designed interior pockets for keeping things organized. Here are some tips for packing well:
- Pack all of your chargers and cables in a separate small bag for easy access
- Keep some Ziploc bags handy for use for rubbish on hikes, to quarantine stinky shoes, wet bathing suits or to house snack needs on the go
- Travel size containers for jewelry, toiletries and personal items
- Dryer sheets rolled in with clothes keep them smelling fresh along the way
- Power strips allow you to charge many gadgets at once, be sure to check the voltage capacity
- Rolling your clothes saves space & reduces wrinkles
- Use every bit of accessible space (socks in sneakers, hair ties in makeup bag)
- If you check a bag, pack one outfit with extra underwear in carry on luggage as a ‘just in case’ scenario
- Always keep medications and tech gear in your carry on luggage
- Pack duct tape, it fixes anything!
- Think about throwing in a travel sewing kit for any clothing emergencies
- Clip a few carabiner clips to your carry on – they always come in handy
- Keep a few clothes pegs with you – good for laundry and closing snack bags
Lace up your walking shoes and get ready for an urban adventure. Hong Kong has it all; explore widely and get ready to taste some of the best noodles you’ve ever had!
- Hong Kong is a busy, cosmopolitan city in Asia
- English is spoken most places and public transport travel is easily accessible
- Pack for the city and play in the countryside
- Get your hike on with urban walks up to the Peak and down through Central
- To stretch your journey take the train up to Shenzhen, China or the ferry across to Macau
- Consult the state department website for passport and visa info.
Have you been to Hong Kong? What are your favorite places or experiences in the city? What did you pack?