High on drama, high on bucket-list experiences, high in general. From the world's loftiest bar to the sweeping vantages from Victoria Peak and I.M. Pei's Bank of China building, visiting Hong Kong means leaving the street level behind and taking your senses to new heights. It's easy.
When to Go
Visit October through December and you'll be met with fair temps and pleasant breezes. Come summer, Hong Kong's tropical climate is on full display, with vexing humidity and lows of 82 degrees. June and August are the wettest months—expect daily thunderstorms—but typhoon season runs through September. March and April are mild but humid.
Hong Kongers benefit from Western and Chinese holidays, and you can too: these spectacles of food, fire, and dance are worth the trip alone. Chinese New Year in February is the most important festival on the calendar, shutting down the city for three days and culminating in an awesome fireworks display on Victoria Harbour. In August, amid scorching temps, the Hungry Ghost Festival sees papier-mache versions of luxe goods and "hell money" set afire to appease the appetites of the dead.
What to Eat
Cooking space in Hong Kong apartments comes at a premium, so you'll be joining the locals when you dine out. Burger joints and French flavors are aplenty, but your most memorable eats begin at the dai pai dong, an open-air food stall, or cha chaan teng, small cafes established after WWII that brought Western flair to local Cantonese cuisine. On the menu? Fish balls, pork ramen, macaroni soup, French toast, and scrambled eggs. Wash it all down with yuen yeung, a 50/50 mix of coffee and Hong Kong-style milk tea.
Souvenir to Take Home
Hong Kong's is a true market economy; prepare to hit the streets. For a quintessential shopping experience, take the MTR to Kowloon's Mong Kok station and peruse the Ladies Market—traditionally catering to women, but now vending to all—before heading south to the grand dame of markets, the staggering Temple Street Night Market, open daily from 4 p.m. to midnight. If you're lucky, you'll catch a free Cantonese opera performance under the stars.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Sustainable Travel Tip
Hong Kong's public transport system, the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), is extensive and famously efficient—a cut above its counterparts in London and New York, earning it the title of "world's most envied metro system." In a city notorious for its pollution, do your part to limit emissions by riding the rails. As a bonus, you'll be the proud bearer of an Octopus Card, joining 99 percent of Hong Kongers.
A recent photo ban at one of Hong Kong's most unexpected but popular Instagram spots hasn't stopped visitors keen to witness this urban treasure: Montane Mansion, in Hong Kong Island's Quarry Bay neighborhood, is a cluster of five 1960s apartment buildings having a pop-culture comeback since stealing the show in the "Transformers" film franchise. The residential complex exemplifies the city's unique, extremely dense, and often colorful stacked-housing architecture.