[All content and prices updated July 2013]

Why you should add to your RTW travel list

Hong Kong is a contradiction. On the on hand it is an economic dynamo that fully embraces capitalism and wealth. On the other hand it is a political state of a communist country. It has tall glass towers that would be the envy of any city. It also has the same squalid apartment buildings found the world over. It is both western and Asian, modern and ancient, quiet and busy, urban and green.

  • The gateway to China, but explore HK good first
  • Floating restaurant, Big Buddha, dragon boat races – and that's after the good stuff
  • Wander bustling streets, check the latest gadgets and eat noodles at a street vendor
  • Make friends with 6 million locals
  • See how the world's most free-wheeling economy deals with being communist.
  • Take your pick: Cantonese food, moonlight horse races, ancient templates, relentless nightlife...
  • Make a pit stop in Hong Kong to recharge your traveling batteries. It makes for a great stopover on RTW flights.

Why you should not add to your RTW travel list

  • Hong Kong can be completely overwhelming if you're not into big cities.
  • While Hong Kong can be done on a budget, spending can also spiral out of control pretty quickly.

Indie travel tips for Hong Kong

  • Wander around the city streets and check out the mix of west and Asian cultures. It's quite the dichotomy.
  • Take a boat ride on the harbor to check out the breathtaking views of the city with mountains in the background.
  • Take a tram to the top of the mountain to get an equally spectacular view.
  • If you enjoy pure chaos in the form of a city, then head to Kowloon, the peninsula to the north of Hong Kong Island. It's one of the most densely populated areas in the world and has a multitude of places to sleep, eat, and shop.
  • Head to the New Territories just north of Kowloon. You can actually get away from the crowds and into a little bit of nature.
  • Go to Lantau and check out some great beaches (along with Disneyland).
  • Pick up an Octopus Card for all your transport needs (they can also be used in many convenience stores, vending machines, and even chain restaurants (though eating at a McDonald's while in Hong Kong should be considered a crime.
  • If you're a foodie, there's no shortage of culinary tours to take.
  • For an interesting cultural experience, check out horse racing from September to June. You can go to either Shatin in the New Territories or Happy Valley.

Overview

For all its wonders, Hong Kong does have some disappointments. The weather can be outright brutal with a humidity that will leave you spent. If the cheaper end accommodations are full you will likely have to spend a bundle to sleep in a hotel. Your dining options are generally either cheap fast food or really expensive gourmet meals.

Even with these challenges, everyone should experience Hong Kong at least once in a lifetime.