Flights to Hong Kong touch down at Hong Kong International Airport, one of the world’s busiest passenger airports and its busiest cargo gateway. The distance from the Hong Kong Airport to the city centre is about 40km. Direct flights from Johannesburg to Hong Kong are available with Cathay Pacific and South African Airways or you can fly from OR Tambo International to Hong Kong via Dubai (Emirates), Doha (Qatar Airways), Singapore (Singapore Airlines) and other travel hubs. Last year, Cathay Pacific introduced direct flights from Hong Kong to Cape Town, but only during peak season (November to February). If you are travelling to Hong Kong on a South African passport, a Hong Kong tourist visa is not required for a stay of up to 30 days. Your passport must be valid for at least 30 days after your return date. Hong Kong is an increasingly popular destination for South Africans. With its neon-lit skyline of architectural wonders, Hong Kong is a paradise for foodies, shoppers and – believe it or not – hikers, with around 70% of Hong Kong’s total area made up of mountains and countryside. From cultural experiences and fashion to family activities and nightlife, you’ll find it all in this iconic, cosmopolitan city.
Victoria Harbour is one of the biggest attractions in Hong Kong, framed by an iconic skyline of enormous skyscrapers which light up in a breathtaking neon display at night. The Star Ferry, which operates as both passenger service and tourist attraction, is an inexpensive, fun way to experience the harbor and cross from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon. Incredible views of Hong Kong can also be seen by ascending Victoria Peak with the tram. The Peak is Hong Kong Island’s highest point, where you will find an entire complex with viewing terraces, shops, restaurants and a Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. The Temple Street Night Market, which gets going after dark, is a lively carnival of bargaining for cheap clothing, watches, cookware, souvenirs and fake Gucci wallets (plus lots of other fakes). Lining the streets and side streets is an amazing array of restaurants selling Cantonese seafood, Japanese, Italian pizza, Indian – you name it. The Ladies’ Market is also a must-visit to practice your haggling skills, and it sells much more than just women’s clothing and accessories! Kids will love a visit to Hong Kong Disneyland or Ocean Park Hong Kong, where you’ll find thrilling rides, giant pandas and a world-class aquarium. SoHo and Lan Kwai Fong are fantastic areas for tasting your way through some of Hong Kong’s amazing restaurants and bars, while Lantau Island offers a scenic cable car ride to see the bronze Tian Tan Buddha and the Po Lin monastery. This island is known as the ‘lungs of Hong Kong’ for its abundance of indigenous forest.
Shopping in Hong Kong is truly world-class and the options are endless. Causeway Bay is considered one of the top shopping meccas in the world, and you’ll need plenty of time (and the budget to match!) to do it justice. Tsim Sha Tsui is also a well-frequented shopping district in Hong Kong, with Asian designer labels and world famous brands. In Admiralty and Central, the swish Pacific Place and various Landmark Malls, all connected by covered walkways, are also good for designer labels. IFC is the biggest mall in Central, with fast fashion and high-end brands from Maje to Massimo Dutti. In SoHo, you’ll find art galleries and boutiques selling chic clothing amongst wonderful restaurants. From sportswear to silk, you’ll find clothing, accessories and handicrafts in the Stanley area, and Wan Chai is the place to hunt for furniture and all things technological. Check out Spring Garden Lane for discount clothing. If you’re looking for street markets, head to the famous Temple Street Night Market or the Ladies Market for bargain clothing (it does sell clothes for men too) and the fascinating goldfish market. Or opt for the old neighborhood of Sheun Wan to discover eclectic shops and markets selling Chinese medicine and more.
Public transport in Hong Kong consists of a well-developed network of trains, ferries, buses, trams and taxis. With one of the world’s safest, most efficient and frequent public transport systems, you have plenty of ways to get from A to B. If you’ll be travelling a lot on a particular day, consider a Tourist Day Ticket, which provides unlimited access to the main MTR (Mass Transit Railway) and certain Light Rail lines. Otherwise, buy a rechargeable Octopus Card which can be used on pretty much all modes of public transport in Hong Kong. Buses and minibuses are a good way to travel, especially if you’re exploring the south side of Hong Kong Island and the New Territories. The ferry is not only a cheap mode of transport between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, but a wonderful way to see the breathtaking harbour sights. Taxis in Hong Kong are not too expensive compared with other big cities, but this is still not the cheapest way to get around in Hong Kong. Before hailing a taxi, be aware of the different colours: red taxis are most likely what you'll need. They serve urban areas including all of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Green taxis serve the New Territories and blue taxis serve only Lantau Island.
Booking accommodation in Hong Kong can be overwhelming due to the sheer volume of options, and the unfamiliar place names. You will find everything from top hotel chains – at a price – to budget accommodation, but it’s always a good idea to plan your accommodation according to the area in which you’d like to stay. Central is popular with tourists, due to its proximity to many of Hong Kong’s main attractions. Tsim Sha Tsui is just 15 minutes away, and is great for bars, cafés, outdoor markets (think jewellery, trinkets and exotic fruits) and access to the ferry port. For shopping, Causeway Bay is a good choice, while Mong Kok, with its authentic street food and neon-lit streets, is great for those on a budget. Wan Chai, the oldest district in Hong Kong, has been transformed into a hub for the arts and Lan Kwai Fon is known for its clubs and nightlife.
Whether you fly direct from Johannesburg to Hong Kong, or via another city, you will land at the Hong Kong International Airport, which operates 24 hours a day and is home to one of the largest passenger terminal buildings in the world. This is the primary hub for Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express Airways and Air Hong Kong (a cargo carrier). Direct flights from Johannesburg to Hong Kong take just under 13 hours. The distance between Hong Kong Airport and the city centre is about 40km and the Airport Express is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to travel between the two. Buses are a cheaper option, and a bus trip from Hong Kong Airport to Central takes about 45 minutes or only about 30 minutes to Kowloon. You can also take a taxi, although this will be expensive and can be confusing.
For a completely different experience of Hong Kong, visit the charming Aberdeen Fishing Village where you will find old-fashioned junks, seafood markets, floating restaurants, a charming harbour and sampan rides. A more upmarket meal in a floating restaurant can be found at Tai Pak or the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. Enjoy a drink at these famous 1950s palaces or treat yourself to a nine-course meal… with prices to match. And you definitely should not leave Hong Kong without doing at least one hike to explore the isolated beaches, unspoilt nature and breathtaking views on offer. The Dragon’s Back (an 8.5km stretch of the 50km Hong Kong Trail) is one of the most famous hikes, but there are plenty of options from easy, beginner hikes to more challenging hikes that can take a full day.