While Hong Kong is technically part of China, in a lot of ways, it functions as its own country. Which makes Hong Kong an even more unique destination than other places across the globe.

Another feature that makes it unique is the fact that Hong Kong spans over 260 islands and peninsulas. The geography is mostly hills with steep drops into the ocean, but that also means there are opportunities for scenic beach visits.

Of course, the primary attractions in Hong Kong aren't necessarily the vistas and natural landmarks. Here, we'll cover everything you need to know about Hong Kong, from when to visit (and where) to what you simply must see.

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What To Do In Hong Kong

Like California and Florida in the US, Hong Kong draws plenty of visitors for its Disney presence. Yep, Hong Kong Disneyland is the biggest theme park in the region.

You'll need to dash over to Lantau Island (specifically Penny's Bay) to check out Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

Also in Hong Kong is Ocean Park, the second-largest theme park. It's located in the Southern District of HK.

The Best Time To Visit

Per World Atlas, Hong Kong is sub-tropical and offers cool, dry winters with hot and sticky summers.

Your best bet is to visit around March or April. You might run into some drizzles, but you'll avoid cold fronts and tropical cyclones.

That said, even in winter (December, January, February), the lowest temperatures are a bit under 50 degrees Fahrenheit. For many Americans, Canadians, and British folks, that's not too chilly at all.

Best Areas To Stay In & Around Hong Kong

Lantau Island has numerous attractions for tourists to enjoy, which makes it a great home base to explore from. Lantau Island is southwest of the primary region of Hong Kong, and it's not too far from the mainland, either. Here you'll find Disneyland and the giant Buddha statue.

Victoria Harbor is another great location since you can peep the city lights from Victoria Peak. On either side of the harbor (whether Hong Kong Island or Hong Kong mainland), there are tons of places to see and explore.

Hong Kong Hotels To Spoil You

If you're staying on Lantau Island while in Hong Kong, Auberge Discovery Bay Hong Kong receives rave reviews from guests. It also offers mountain views and is close to Disneyland. Of course, Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel also provides excellent experience and convenient access to the amusement park.

If you prefer to be closer to attractions like Victoria Peak, consider Mia Casa Hotel—it's super affordable at around $50 per night. Prepared to splurge? Try Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong for a "Peak View"—at around $500 per night.

Many hotels with great views are also available near Victoria Harbor in mainland Hong Kong—like Cordis, Hong Kong Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong—and prices range between $70 and $200 per night.

Best Local Food To Try

Food in Hong Kong largely comes from Cantonese tradition (and the primary language here is Cantonese), which means lots of dim sum, sweet and sour, wonton, roast goose, shrimp and chicken balls, and har gow (steamed shrimp dumplings).

Unfortunately, Hong Kong's Hello Kitty dim sum restaurant has since closed, but you can still get five-star dim sum at One Dim Sum near Victoria Peak.

For traditional Cantonese dishes of all types, check out Yan Toh Heen on the mainland.

And to satisfy your sweet tooth? Check out Via Tokyo for the matcha soft serve everyone's been talking about!

Getting Around Hong Kong

You can travel around all areas of Hong Kong (including the islands) via ferry, rail, bus, and more. Per Lonely Planet, bus fares range between HK$4 and HK$46, while the ferry ranges from HK$2.50 to HK$3.70.

Visitors can grab an Octopus Card to pay for public transport simply without struggling with conversion rates and unfamiliar bills.

Per Octopus, a tourist Octopus card costs HK$39 (about $5 USD). The cards are available at places like 7-Eleven and other convenience stores, and you add value to them to spend during this trip or your next.

Primary Points Of Interest

Lantau Island is popular with tourists for more than just Disneyland. The spot features a giant (34m) statue of Tian Tan Buddha and it's quite a hike up the stairs to get there. Tin Hau Temple Complex may also be of interest to religious or otherwise curious travelers. It's in Yau Ma Tei and includes multiple temples.

Tourists also appreciate views of the skyline and Victoria Harbor via Victoria Peak and terraces on the Peak Tower.

More great views abound at Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden (in Tai Po) and Lake Egret Nature Park (in Tai Po Kau), among other natural attractions.

Currency & Cash Etiquette In Hong Kong

Hong Kong has its own currency—the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)—and one US dollar is worth 7.77 HKD. Apart from conversion rates, you need to know that gratuities aren't typically expected there.

While tipping at fancy restaurants is typically ok, at casual spots, the staff might refuse your offering. You also don't have to tip taxi drivers or other workers, but it's common for people to round their fare for a bit of a tip via their change.

Find Flight Deals To Hong Kong

Finder says that you can find the best flight deals for Hong Kong in May and June, since there are no festivals or big events happening. If you're not looking to celebrate specific occasions, May might be a better option, since humidity and temperatures soar during summer.

November and December also offer affordable fares and decent weather.

An Interesting History

Hong Kong is so unique in part because it's mostly independent of China. Technically, it's a "special administrative region" (SAR) of China, but it's got its own currency, dialect (China's is Mandarin while Hong Kong's is officially Cantonese), and thriving tourism industry.

Per World Atlas, Hong Kong used to be a small fishing village. But a long succession of different powers—dynasties, the British, Japanese, and then the UK again—Hong Kong finally was "returned" to China. In 1997, it became a SAR and basically gets to do what it wants.

That is, until 2047; China agreed that Hong Kong can be independent (except in terms of "foreign" and "defense" issues) until then. Who knows what will happen next.

Beautiful Water Views In Hong Kong

Despite its hilly landscape, Hong Kong offers many picturesque beaches, too.

Highlights include Big Wave Bay Beach and South Bay Beach on Hong Kong Island, Discovery Bay Beach (near Disney!), and Hung Shing Ye Beach on Lamma Island (southwest of Hong Kong Island).

Ready to book your trip to sandy beaches and beyond?