Essentials for Adventure Travelers in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a magical, bustling city; an Eastern mecca settled on the ocean and an exporter of trade, culture, and ideas for thousands of years. On your first trip there, not only will you be amazed, but you will be in awe of the metropolis that mixes tradition and innovation in one island.
But ensuring you have the kind of trip that means you’ll be heading back, or still telling the stories, for years to come is all about being prepared for what’s there (and what isn’t), so take a dive into my packing guidelines for a trip to HK and then you can confidently be on your way!
photo credit: shutterstock
Download the apps
I always find using my phone while on holiday to be a boon, not a burden, so unless I’m taking a holiday to really unplug, I load up on great apps before boarding a plane so I can do a little research if the inflight wifi is working, and get a head start on knowing where to go, what to do, and most importantly, how to do it.
DarkSky is my favorite weather app hands down; using hyperlocal radar, it can tell you exactly when it’s going to rain in your location (down to a matter of seconds). For self-guided tours around, I like to use HearPlanet for the free tours that you can customize yourself and only require headphones and a good pair of walking shoes. Postagram is my answer to sending friends gifts without breaking the bank (you can upload your own photos and send a customized postcard anywhere in the world for about $1) and I always rely on Foodspotting to get me to a place with killer cuisine close to me, in my taste range, and also within my budget.
If you’re going in the summer…
It’s hot and humid in HK; there’s no way around that fact.
Your best bet is to pack clothing that travels well, looks decent, and is most importantly comfortable. Water wicking fabrics work well, as do moderate cuts like short sleeves, capris, skirts and leggings that can be mixed and matched. For a week stay, don’t take more than one going out outfit, three day outfits, pajamas and your travel clothes; if you’ve got a good combination of interchangeable garments, you can get away with packing less.
Also, not many Hong Kongese wear really short shorts (for men or women) so stay away from those. It’s always good to pack a raincoat, swimsuit, and sunglasses–all three of these can come in handy, and if not, they don’t take up that much weight or space in your baggage.
Pro tip: Pack plenty of closed toe shoe options that are comfortable to walk in no matter what season you’re planning on taking a trip in. The Hong Kong streets are often wet and they are also well travelled…whatever is down on the pavement is not something you want touching your exposed feet.
If you’re going in the winter…
Travels for Chinese New Year around January or February mean making a trek when the weather is wet and cold, but could also be humid and warm because the region is temperamental at this time of year.
HK usual hovers around in the 10s (celsius) during winter, which may mean a parka for those of you from warmer climates (Hong Kongese will be warming them) or a light sweater for those from countries with more severe winters. Take a hat, gloves, and an extra pair of woolen socks to add to your waterproof shoes–it’s not very likely to snow, but it is likely to rain and cold and wet do not mix well!
If you’re unsure when you’re heading out whether it’s a good idea to do a big coat or something lighter, choose things that can layer well and won’t be heavy to carry if you decide to take it off.
Ditch your global roaming plan
HK has some great local rates for cell phone usage and data plans, which is why you should give your at-home cell provider a rest by getting a SIM card for your iPhone, iPad, and laptop rather than extending your existing plan to cover international roaming fees.
For the iPhone and iPad, the installation is as easy as grabbing a card at the airport and popping it in. Most kiosks will help install your SIM card for you, and it starts working immediately. If not, you might need to unlock your phone, but most smartphone models come with this already done! For the laptop, all you need is a USB dongle so you can plug the SIM card directly into your laptop and use wireless internet wherever you go—it’s a perfect solution for work travel.
Medicines and other toiletries
Most standard medicines are available over the counter in Hong Kong, but some things are better to have on hand, especially if you have the luxury of a checked bag.
Insect repellent is always a good idea, as is sunscreen, because HK can get hot and humid quickly. If you use contact lenses, make sure to bring your own solution and back up eye glasses just in case and don’t forget to bring a couple of pain relievers with you just in case; medicine intensity and intake frequency can be different overseas so it’s better to bring something you’re familiar with if you have the space.
Non-essentials that are good to have: fabric spray for keeping things fresh a little longer, flat roll water bottles to add to your backpack in lieu of a bulky water bottle, and Airborne as a pick me up after spending all that time in airports and other transport center with lots of people.
While UK passport holders get a free pass into Hong Kong for free (for now), some international citizens are required to get a visa before being allowed to travel for an extended period of time. Some African, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European countries are required to have a visa before entering, or are limited to 14 days of travel only but most other European countries and the US have the standard 90 days for travel.
However, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so check out their official Entry Permission website to get the details.
For any other packing inquiries, especially if you’re adding a few other locales to your grad visit, check out my A-Z packing guidelines at Traveltio. Not only do I think a checklist is the best way to get started, but it’s also a great way to keep from essentials slipping through your fingers!