WHERE TO STAY IN HONG KONG
Deciding where to stay in Hong Kong can seem like a daunting task if you have not been before. A question that we are often asked is ‘Should I stay in Kowloon or on Hong Kong Island’? The simple answer is that it doesn’t matter ‘which side’ you stay on as you can easily and cheaply travel between the two, at any time of day or night.
In order to help you decide where to stay in Hong Kong, we have compiled a neighbourhood guide and we have listed the best hotels in each price bracket in each neighbourhood. We have also a recommendation of hotels for each district based solely on the hotel reputation/price.
If you click on the pictures it will take you to Agoda's website where you can check the price and availability. We link to Agoda since we made the experience that they always have the best prices.*
TSIM SHA TSUI (KOWLOON SIDE)
Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) has the highest concentration of hotels out of all of the districts or neighbourhoods in Hong Kong. TST is located on the waterfront or tip of the Kowloon Peninsular.
Characteristics: TST is the tourist hot spot. Everything around you will cater to tourism. TST is full of shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and tailors.
Transport: TST is a transport hub. It is linked on the red line of the MTR (subway) which goes north to Mongkok where the markets are and south to Hong Kong Island. The Star Ferry is located in TST. TST is home to one of Hong Kong’s two cruise terminals and one of the ferry terminuses to Macau.
Pros: TST is where you will get the best view of the HK Island skyline from. If you are able to get a room with a view of the skyline view it will be priceless. There are several very good restaurants and bars with incredible views located in this neighbourhood.
Cons: Because TST is the most ‘touristy’ area you will find it impossible to walk down the street without being pestered by touts trying to sell you copy watches, copy bags and a new suit. Then again if your in the market for any of those things…
Hotels in Tsim Sha Tsui
Our recommendation: The Peninsula
TSIM SHA TSUI EAST (KOWLOON SIDE)
TST East is, as you would expect, just to the east of the main TST area. It is quieter than the main drag of TST, the roads are a bit wider, there isn’t as much going on and if you stay in this area and want to stay close to your hotel in the evenings you will inevitably walk over to TST.
Characteristics: Some might say that this area doesn’t have much character at all. It is home to a few of the big hotels and the fantastic History Museum.
Transport: East TST MTR (subway) is connected by underground walkways to TST which is the main station that you will use if you stay in this neighbourhood. East TST itself is on a line that is unlikely to be much use to tourists. The walk to TST station will be a good 10 to 15 mins.
Pros: The views of the skyline from hotels in this area are spectacular. Of course, you have to get the harbour view room! There are not nearly as many touts trying to sell you things as there are in TST. It is only a 15 to 20-minute walk into TST where are lots of great restaurants and bars.
Cons: Staying in East TST is a bit like staying in TST but without the benefits of having the transport on your doorstep. The neighbourhood lacks character and restaurant options.
Hotels in Tsim Sha Tsui East
Our recommendation: Hotel Icon
MONGKOK (KOWLOON SIDE)
Mongkok is known as the busiest district on the planet. It has a population density of 130,000 people per km2 and it is a major shopping and entertainment hub which means that masses more people pour into the neighbourhood every evening to shop, eat and drink. If you like neon lights, crowds of people and the buzz of the city this area is for you. It is much more gritty and local than the TST neighbourhood.
Characteristics: Crowded, busy, local, full of neon lights and markets.
Transport: Mongkok is on the red line of the MTR (subway). It is 3 stops and about 7 minutes north of TST. It is 5 stops and about 12 minutes to Central station on HK Island.
Pros: Mongkok is home to the Ladies Market, the Goldfish Market, the Bird Market and the Flower market; all big tourist attractions. It is a fun gritty neighbourhood that doesn’t sleep. You can find a lot of cheap hotel options in this neighbourhood. Including the short stay variety!
Cons: If you don’t like crowds don’t stay in Mongkok. If you like nightlife this is the neighbourhood that is the furthest way to the main going out districts of Soho, Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai, all of which are on Hong Kong Island. It does not have much choice for mid-range hotels, most of them are cheap guesthouses.
Hotels in Mongkok
CENTRAL (HK ISLAND SIDE)
The Central district on Hong Kong Island is the main business district. If you choose to stay in this neighbourhood you will be surrounded by shops, bars, restaurants, offices and will be next to the main banking and finance area. The well-known nightlife districts of Lan Kwai Fong and Soho are within walking distance (10 to 20 mins).
Characteristics: Skyscrapers, amazing architecture, high-end restaurants, rooftop bars, shopping malls. Feels more Western than Chinese or Asian.
Transport: Central and Admiralty are on the red line of the MTR (subway). The Central waterfront area is where the ferries to the outlying islands go from. There is also a Star Ferry pier which goes to TST. The airport express train terminates at Hong Kong station which is in the Central district (there is also a stop on the Kowloon side). The bus which goes to Stanley on the south side of the island departs from Central.
Pros: This is probably the most convenient area to stay in Hong Kong. The transport links are excellent, there is a HUGE selection of bars and restaurants to suit every budget, the main nightlife areas are all very close.
Cons: Convenience and glamour come with a price tag!
Hotels in Central
Our recommendation: The Upper House, JW Marriott, Lan Kwai Fong
SHEUNG WAN (HK ISLAND SIDE)
The Sheung Wan neighbourhood is located just to the west of Central. It may only be a 15-minute walk from Central but it is worlds away in look and feel. Gone are the glitzy skyscrapers and luxury shops and in their place are low key apartment blocks and purveyors of traditional products such as dried seafood and Chinese medicines. Interspersed through the traditional shop fronts you will find the odd trendy wine bar and boutique shop. This is a district where old meets new.
Characteristics: Traditional, quiet, trendy, up-and-coming and convenient. Full of coffee shops and small restaurants.
Transport: Sheung Wan MTR is on the blue (Island) line. It is one stop to Central where you can change to the red line to take you to the Kowloon side. It is 3 stops and about 11 minutes to TST. It is walking distance to the Central Piers for the Star Ferry.
Pros: Sheung Wan is an easy 15 to 20-minute walk from Central, Soho, Lan Kwai Fong and the Central Piers. It has many of the conveniences of Central but without the hefty price tag. There is a wonderfully authentic feel to the neighbourhood.
Cons: If you are looking for the old school glamour of a hotel like the Mandarin Oriental or The Peninsula you won’t find one in Sheung Wan. Other than that we really can’t fault this neighbourhood.
Hotels in Sheung Wan
WAN CHAI (HK ISLAND SIDE)
The Wan Chai neighbourhood is located to the east of Central. Wan Chai is packed with office blocks, residential buildings, bars and restaurants. It is one of the key nightlife areas of Hong Kong and is the home of Hong Kong’s red light district. Don’t let its salacious nature put you off though, Wan Chai is very safe (like all of Hong Kong) and most of the wanton behaviour happens behind closed doors. What you will find is a ‘good fun’ environment with lots bars playing live music and offering happy hours. In the daytime, it is full of shoppers and office workers.
Characteristics: Nightlife hotspot, bars, happy hours, neon lights, restaurants, residential buildings, computer centre, government offices.
Transport: Wan Chai is on the blue (island) line of the MTR. It is two stops to Central and two stops and about 8 minutes to TST. Wan Chai has its own Star Ferry pier linking to TST and is on the tram (ding ding) line.
Pros: Wan Chai is very conveniently located on Hong Kong Island. It’s not quite walking distance to Central but it’s only 5 minutes on the MTR or 10 on the tram. You will never go hungry or thirsty staying in Wan Chai as it packed with places to eat and drink. If you like nightlife and want to be with stumbling distance of your bed this is the place for you.
Cons: If you would be offended or uncomfortable at the sight of ladies in very tight very short dresses standing outside curtain covered bars touting for business then stay clear of this neighbourhood. If you think that this comment should be listed under ‘Pros’ this is definitely the place for you!
Hotels in Wan Chai
Our recommendation: Grand Hyatt, The Fleming