Hong Kong is one of the world’s great tourist destinations, but from sleeping with cockroaches to forgetting your sun cream, there are plenty of ways to have a bad Hong Kong travel experience. We took some of the most frequent traveller complaints about Hong Kong and put them into a top five list if how to avoid a bad Hong Kong travel experience.
Read the press and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you shouldn’t eat anything that doesn’t come from a can when on holiday. Hong Kong is portrayed as a particularly nasty destination and one where you should arm yourself with surgical gloves and a pair of can openers. Hong Kongers are, in fact, meticulously hygienic, lift buttons are swabbed hourly and escalator rails doused with chemicals. Obviously not all HK restaurants are havens of cleanliness, but nor are they, on the whole, dirtier than their counterparts in London or NY. For the most part, tourists are unlikely to be eating in dingy dives where the cook wipes his hands on the mop head. Use common sense, if it looks dirty, give it a miss, if it doesn’t, you’re probably fine.
With arguably the world’s best public transport network, there really is no excuse for trying to negotiate some of the world’s worst traffic jams in Hong Kong. Parts of Hong Kong have the world’s highest population density, with roughly half the city’s citizens squeezed onto a Gulliver’s Kingdom sized island. Hong Kong wasn’t made for driving and unless you want to send your stress levels through the roof, you should stay away from the steering wheel. Parking fees will likely amount to twice the cost of the Jaguar you’re parading. If you absolutely must travel by automobile, hire a local chauffeur.
Hong Kong room rates are often the priciest in Asia and one look can leave your wallet hiding under the bed. Unfortunately, budget beds in Hong Kong can mean sleeping in a cupboard, with no windows, no air conditioning and a troupe of cockroaches as your entertainment. That is no exaggeration; there are some real dives in Hong Kong. Backpackers will often put up with this because they believe all of the city’s guesthouses are the same. They aren’t. There are plenty of cheap guesthouses in Hong Kong that will throw in at least a few hours of air-con and a window, all without the creepy crawly friends. Just be sure to investigate the property before stumping up any cash.
This applies to anywhere you travel, but while Hong Kong is no longer the rough and tumble frontier town it used to be, the chances of getting ripped off are still very real. The best advice here remains that if a deal seems too good to be true, in Hong Kong, it almost certainly is. If someone is trying to sell you a Jade ornament from the Tang Dynasty for $5, it’s obvious it was knocked up in Shenzhen on Tuesday. New Apple I-Pod for $20? Step out the store and instead inside your box you’ll find a new Apfel I-Pod, which will last for about 14 minutes.
In the summer months Hong Kong’s humidity can be eyelid sweatingly oppressive. You do need to be careful to replace the fluids your body is losing by drinking plenty of bottled water. Also, take it easy on the alcohol, a couple of beers isn’t going to do you much harm, but if you start downing daiquiris in the mid day sun, you can bank on a tour of Hong Kong’s medical establishments later in the night. And, unless you want a free skin peel, be sure to slap on some sun screen if you’re heading for the beach or the great outdoors.