in the middle
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Hong Kong is one of those cities that never sleeps and where old temples and traditions blend amongst towering skyscrapers and streets filled with neon lights. Style and glamour prevail in this unique Chinese destination, and the designer shopping, fine dining restaurants and pulsating nightlife are just some of the city's main attractions. Red sunsets show off the iconic harbour skyline of the city, towered over by Victoria's Peak, but if you want to get out of the city, the islands and the New Territories offer an easy countryside escape of mountainous country parks, rural communities and soft sandy beaches. Hong Kong is a whole lot more than just a stopover to the rest of Southeast Asia, so be sure to explore this cosmopolitan hub during your 2014 travels.
Hong Kong is a major stopover point for long haul flights between Europe, Southeast Asia and Australasia, so flights to Hong Kong are available through many major airlines. Some of these airlines also offer holiday packages to Hong Kong if you'd rather get everything sorted in one go. Flights to Hong Kong from the UK depart from a variety of airports. Major London airports have regular departures, as well as Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham. The direct flight time from London is typically 12 hours but watch out for journey times on indirect deals, which are usually cheaper.
The Hong Kong International Airport, also known as Chek Lap Kok, has the prestigious claim of having been rated the world's best airport five times since its opening in 1998. It is the main point of entry for foreign visitors to Hong Kong and is served by a number of airlines flying from airports across the UK .
An express train runs from Hong Kong Airport into town stopping at Tsing Yi, Kowloon and Hong Kong Island - it takes approximately half an hour. There are also a number of buses that run from the airport to various locations in the city.
Hong Kong is serviced by the MTR railway, which covers all of the territories and is the most efficient way to get around. The bus network is the cheapest way to get around the city as well as the most widespread mode of transport, although they are certainly not the fastest. Hong Kong Island is serviced by a cheap and reliable tram network, with routes across the island including the ascent to Victoria Peak. There are also numerous ferry companies operating itineraries between the islands. These are categorised into fast and slow ferries which are priced according to the speed of journey. The 120-year-old Star Ferry operates between Kowloom and Hong Kong Island and is a tourist attraction in its own right. Alternatively, it is generally easy and inexpensive to get around Hong Kong by taxi.
There are a number of options for travelling on to China from Hong Kong. The MTR runs services to Beijing and Shanghai as well as other cities in China from Kowloon. Alternatively, there are a number of bus services over the border. Several hydrofoil services to Macau leave daily. Note that a visa is required for onward travel to China. Hiring a car is also an option.
Hong Kong's summer months, between June and September, can be very hot and humid with temperatures reaching around 34°C. The autumn months are traditionally the most popular times to take a holiday in Hong Kong with mild, sunny, dry weather. The winter months of January and February are generally colder and sometimes rainy - though temperatures rarely get below 9°C.
The biggest event in the Hong Kong calendar is the Chinese New Year which is marked with parades and firework displays. Travellers should be aware though, that many shops and small businesses will close over New Year and you need to book your hotel in advance. There are a series of events during February and March in Hong Kong including the Hong Kong Arts Festival, a month long cultural celebration comprised of a busy schedule of international performances.
Given that the winter temperatures are generally quite mild in Hong Kong, dealhunters might opt for a January or February trip which is generally regarded as off season. However, be sure to check what date Chinese New Year falls as prices will rise and availability will fall during the celebrations.
HK dollar. Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities in the world and easily more expensive than other destinations in the region. Accommodation and nightlife are the primary costs, whilst transport is relatively cheap.
ATMs are located all over town and major credit cards are accepted in most restaurants and large stores. Rates at bureaus de change are very variable so it's worth shopping around. The airport and the large hotels have the worst exchange rates in town. One of the best bets is Chequepoint - a chain with stores in Centre on Hong Kong Island and Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon.
The official languages of Hong Kong are Cantonese and English but Cantonese is the common mother tongue. The highest proportion of spoken English is to be found around Hong Kong Island and on the south side of Kowloom. The working classes and those not involved in the tourist trade generally communicate in Cantonese and Mandarin so English in the Outlying Islands and New Territories can be extremely limited.
+852 for Hong Kong
Visas are not required by citizens of the United Kingdom for entry into Hong Kong.
Set in the south-east corner of China, Hong Kong is divided into four parts. Most of the action takes place in two of these: Hong Kong Island is the political and economic centre, and where to find lots of shopping and entertainment and Kowloon is known across the world for its nightlife. These areas will certainly keep you busy and buzzing with their heady mix of business, culture and glitz. For the hippest Hong Kong experience, get yourself to Gough Street in Noho. It's a laid back district, where you can enjoy eating al fresco and checking out the most up-and-coming interiors shops, away from the more hectic parts of the city.
In need of refreshment? Why not partake of some yum cha, a traditional and reviving snack of tea and dim sum? For more substantial sustenance, Hong Kong has an overwhelming variety to cater for every mood, taste and budget: from top class, luxury international cuisine to a wealth of local street food. If the bustle gets too much, head down to the city's natural harbour or take a tram up to Victoria Peak, where there are breathtaking views over the city, bay and mountains beyond. Or travel off the main island; on Lantau Island you can take a 25-minute cable car to see the giant bronze Buddha statue, meet Mickey and pals at Hong Kong Disneyland or enjoy one of the island's many nature walks.
Once you've found your cheap flight to Hong Kong, there's no end to the fun you can have there. You could even explore further afield by hiring a car, although for most people public transport and taxis will be an easier option. Hong Kong has a bulging events calendar , so check what events will be on when you visit. You could be celebrating Buddha's birthday, cheering on your pick in the Dragon Boat Festival in June, feasting on festival foods at the Mid-Autumn Festival on or ringing in the Chinese New Year!