With its seductive mix of contemporary European culture and ancient Chinese heritage, Hong Kong can justifiably claim to be the spot where East meets West. Long-standing political ties with Britain kick-started its popularity as an exotic but accessible destination for long-haul holidays from the UK, resulting in an abundant supply of cheap flights to Hong Kong, a wide choice of accommodation options and myriad attractions for all tastes. Shopaholic or movie buff, nature lover or live music fan, foodie or fun-seeker – Hong Kong packs it all into a little over 400 square miles. And it helps to have a head for heights, with one of the world’s most instantly recognisable skylines never far from view.
This cosmopolitan region draws visitors year-round from the four corners of the earth, so you’re unlikely to find a great deal of seasonal variation in terms of cost or availability. However if you’re setting your compass beyond the urban metropolis of Hong Kong Island and planning to visit Lantau Island or the rainforests, the weather might play a part in the timing of your trip. Most of the rainfall occurs in summer, when typhoons are not uncommon, while the winter months can be chilly and breezy. Spring and autumn are generally dry and sunny, so if your travel dates are flexible this could be the most beneficial time to search for bargains. High demand for flights during the world-famous Chinese New Year celebrations in February brings a corresponding price hike, so if you want to join in the fun at this flamboyant festival it’ll pay you to book as far in advance as possible.
Hong Kong International Airport is the global gateway to the territory, with direct flights from London in around 12 hours. This popular and hassle-free route is served by a choice of carriers, including Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Cathay Pacific from Heathrow and Qatar Airways from Gatwick. One-stop itineraries can often provide good value for money, with major airlines such as Emirates, Etihad and Malaysia flying cost-effectively via their national hubs from London and regional airports including Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Turkish Airlines via Istanbul and Finnair via Helsinki are alternative options from Manchester, while KLM flies via Amsterdam from Belfast.
Hong Kong International Airport is conveniently situated just outside the main metropolitan district on the island of Chek Lap Kok. As well as serving Hong Kong itself, the airport is also a major gateway to mainland China, making it one of the busiest in the world for both passengers and cargo. Not surprisingly, its passenger facilities are second to none, with a wide choice of onward transport options. The Airport Express links the terminal directly to the central business district, with a journey time of around 25 minutes to Hong Kong Central and Kowloon stations. A wider range of destinations is served by the public bus network which offers a comfortable and inexpensive way to get around, both on arrival at the airport and during your stay. For door-to-door convenience head for the taxi rank – Hong Kong taxis are colour-coded according to the areas they serve, but drivers will be happy to point you to the correct taxi for your destination.
From the hallowed Tian Tan Buddha at Po Lin Monastery to the statue of martial arts superhero Bruce Lee on the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong wears its myriad cultural influences proudly. This fascinating territory ranges from the high-rise cityscape of Hong Kong Island to the rolling peaks of Lantau Island, offering attractions as diverse as the Museum of Art and Hong Kong Disneyland. Thrill to the bright lights of Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade, shop for sandalwood and handmade souvenirs in Kowloon’s atmospheric Jade Market, take a relaxing boat ride around scenic Victoria Harbour or head to the coast for a peaceful wander among traditional stilt houses and seafood stalls.
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