Why go to Hong Kong?
A high-energy city with soaring skyscrapers, sprawling malls, theme parks and delectable food
Can be overwhelming, crowded, hot and humid
An efficient transportation system makes it easy to explore this exciting city's wonderful attractions
Hong Kong Cruise Port Facilities?
Hong Kong has two cruise terminals: Ocean Terminal and Kai Tak. While both are in the Kowloon section of the city, Ocean Terminal is immediately adjacent to the hotels and activities on the waterfront as well as the Star Ferry. Kai Tak, the refurbishment of an airport, opened in 2013. It requires a shuttle or taxi ride to Hong Kong's main tourist areas.
For those with limited time and unlimited resources, shopping opportunities abound at both ports. Ocean Terminal is home to the gigantic Ocean Center and Harbour City shopping complexes. You'll find three floors of designer boutiques, gourmet specialty stores and department stores with both local and international choices. An entire section of the mall is devoted to shops selling children's items. One of our favorite chocolatiers in the world, Jean Paul Hevin of Paris, has a boutique selling jewel-like candies and macaroons. The City Super has a food court that's good for a quick bite. There's even a Starbucks in the complex.
You'll also find ATM's and free Wi-Fi in the terminal mall complex (though strength of the signal varies). Pacific Coffee has Internet-connected computers, which are free to use with a purchase. (When folks are waiting, there's a 15-minute time limit; if you're waiting, feel free to start the timer found next to the computer.)
Step outside the terminal, and you're in a shopper's paradise. A custom-tailored suit in one of the city's renowned tailors' shops is just minutes (and a few hundred dollars) away. The best-known of these shops belongs to Sam of Sam's Tailor Shop, at 92 Nathan Road in the Burlington Arcade. Sam has measured the inseams of such notables as Margaret Thatcher and Prince Charles. Exquisite silks, jade and gold jewelry, arts and crafts, textiles, and antiques can all be found at China Cultural Arts, a high-end shop located on Salisbury Road, also within minutes of the Terminal.
Definitely take a stroll along the Kowloon waterfront, just to the right of the terminal. It's an amazing vantage point for admiring the cityscape of Hong Kong Island. See if your hands fit into any of the impressions left by Hong Kong movie celebrities on Avenue of Stars -- the city's equivalent of Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
The Star Ferry pier is to the right as you exit, with boats buzzing back and forth to Hong Kong Island. Its building also houses the Hong Kong Tourism Bureau. The mass transit system's Tsim Sha Tsui and East Tsim Sha Tsui underground station entrances are a five-minute walk east of the cruise terminal on Middle and Nathan Roads.
The situation at Kai Tak is a little less convenient. While the refurbishment of the airport is a marvel -- the design retains airport elements, such as the control tower -- it's not a destination unto itself, although Hong Kong seems to be trying to bill it as such. If you arrive early before embarkation, you'll find an expansive duty-free shop with plenty of luxury brands, a cafe, a wine and Champagne bar and a gourmet restaurant. Take time to go up to the rooftop garden for wide views of the Hong Kong waterfront.
Good to Know?
Along Nathan Road, you'll likely be hustled by men selling "designer" watches and handbags. Buyer beware.
Hong Kong's bustle reaches a peak during rush hour, so be prepared for crowds on mass transit, particularly the MTR. Anytime of the day, though, the city's crowds and heat can be a bit overwhelming. Be sure to take a break now and then -- afternoon tea is the perfect opportunity to get off the streets and relax.
Smog is a fact of life in Hong Kong, and it can often blot out some of the legendary views. Locals blame the smelly haze on mainland China.
Hong Kong is compact, with abundant taxis and excellent public transportation, making local travel quick and convenient.
On Foot: Many of Kowloon's tourist attractions are within a 20-minute walk of Ocean Terminal.
By Star Ferry: These beloved historic boats are a great way to get to Hong Kong Island for a pittance.
By Tram: Double-decker trams offer some of the best city views and run from early morning hours.
By Bus: There are also buses, which run throughout the city. They're ideal if you want to get to Stanley Market.
By Underground: The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is slick, clean and efficient. Its lines run throughout Kowloon and under the harbor to Hong Kong Island.
By Taxi: Hong Kong taxis are plentiful and fairly inexpensive. To get to Kai Tak from Tsim Sha Tsui will cost around $100 Hong Kong ($13 US).
By Airport Train: Special airport trains run from Kowloon station and Central station on Hong Kong Island. The system also provides free, frequent shuttles to the stations from major hotels. Once at the train station, you'll be able to check your luggage in for your flight, which is a great convenience.
By Escalator: Hong Kong Island has a series of free escalators, called the mid-levels, created to transport commuters up and down the middle section of Victoria Peak. Aside from morning commute time, when they run downhill, they travel uphill and have spawned small restaurants and bars along their hilly path
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
ATM's are widely available -- as nearby as the cruise terminal -- and dispense Hong Kong dollars. It's best to check with your bank prior to departure for information about surcharges. For current currency conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. Don't be shocked by price tags; there are several Hong Kong dollars to one U.S. dollar.
Since commerce is king, most major credit cards and traveler's checks are accepted throughout the city. When using your credit card, you may be asked if you'd like to charge in your home currency. For the best exchange rate, we recommend you always request that the charge be made in local currency. On the same note, check with your credit card company to see if they tack on any fees for overseas charges. (A 3 percent fee isn't uncommon.) Several credit card companies now offer no-fee foreign transactions.
Cantonese and English are the official languages. Most shopkeepers, hotel personnel, restaurant and service workers speak some English. Cantonese is the most widely spoken Chinese language in Hong Kong, though use of Mandarin is growing. All major signage is in English or is bilingual, as are many locals. It's entertaining to eavesdrop on pedestrian conversations as they veer between English, Chinese and even Indian dialects.
Where You're Docked?
Cruise ships dock at two cruise terminals in Hong Kong. If your cruise documents don't say which terminal your ship will use, consult the Ocean Terminal schedule (http://www.oceanterminal.com.hk/) and the Kai Tak Terminal schedule (http://www.kaitakcruiseterminal.com.hk/)
Hong Kong's Ocean Terminal is located in Victoria Harbour at the southwestern edge of the Kowloon Peninsula. It's a superb location, within walking distance of world-class shops, restaurants, museums, landmark hotels, markets, parks, the underground transit system and the renowned Star Ferry.
The Kai Tak Cruise Terminal opened on the East Kowloon waterfront in 2013. A refurbished airport, the terminal has two alongside berths, with support facilities to accommodate simultaneous berthing of two mega-cruise vessels (gross tonnage of up to 220,000). There is also a caf?, a gourmet restaurant, a wine bar, an expansive duty free shop and a large rooftop garden.
You'll need to take a taxi or shuttle to reach nearby attractions such as Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, Kowloon Walled City Park, Chi Lin Nunnery / Nan Lian Garden and Lei Yue Mun Seafood Bazaar. Ten minutes away, Festival Walk shopping complex features many international brands.