For many people, the Christmas holidays are a chance to sneak away for some rest and relaxation, and while the beach or mountains are always enjoyable destinations, you might be looking for something a little more far-flung this year.
Why not consider taking a holiday in Hong Kong? While you may not have considered heading to this Chinese island in the past, it’s actually an ideal destination for experiencing both the holiday traditions that you’re used to – with a twist – as well as some new cultural traditions and experiences. And with Hong Kong flights both affordable and plentiful, taking a trip during the holidays is easier than ever. Before you go, though, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Weather in Hong Kong
While the weather might be warm and sunny at home in December, in Hong Kong, December marks the start of winter – and the temperatures will be much cooler than you’re used to. While residents of Hong Kong might be decked out in full winter regalia – heavy coats, hats, scarves and gloves – you probably won’t need to be that covered up. Temperatures rarely fall below 17C, and you’ll only need a light jacket or coat for the evenings. Hong Kong also tends to be relatively dry during the winter months. You may want to pack an umbrella for the odd rain shower, but you won’t need to fill your bags with extra rain gear.
You might be surprised to learn that Hong Kong is one of the top destinations in the world for the Christmas holidays. Between the holiday festivals and celebrations, the over-the-top decorations and generally festive atmosphere, Hong Kong comes alive at the holidays and visitors arrive from all over the world to soak up some holiday cheer.
One caveat, though: while Hong Kong is generally a premiere shopping destination for most of the year, you might want to do most of your holiday shopping at home before you leave. While many stores in other parts of the world offer huge discounts and sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas, in Hong Kong, you’re actually more likely to find higher prices than during the rest of the year.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the season in Hong Kong, though. The highlight of the season is the Hong Kong Winterfest, which starts at the end of November and runs through New Year’s Day. Throughout the season, the city is aglow with lights, and each evening in Victoria Harbour, a free light show delights spectators.
Hong Kong Disneyland is the place to go if you want to experience a traditional American-style holiday celebration. The park is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with gingerbread cottages, fake snow and appearances by Santa and well-known characters in their full holiday finery. It’s all very wholesome, and very over-the-top in the way that only Disney can do it.
In fact, if you’re looking for subtlety, Hong Kong is not the place for it. Spend some time exploring and taking in the elaborate holiday decorations. All of the major malls create elaborate displays, and the Hong Kong Tourism Board sponsors a tree in Statue Square each season; the tree, made by the Swarovski Company, is 30 meters tall and covered with glittering, lit crystals.
If you’re visiting in the week before Christmas – or planning to spend the holiday itself in the city – get tickets for a performance of the Hong Kong Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker, or Christmas with Hong Kong Philharmonic. If you can’t score tickets to those performances, you have a good chance of encountering an impromptu performance by traditional Christmas carolers. School and church groups gather together throughout the season to perform in parks and gardens, delighting locals and visitors alike.
Spending the Christmas holiday in Hong Kong is a magical experience, and well worth the trip. Don’t worry about missing out on the familiar foods and experiences – most hotels and restaurants offer traditional Christmas dinner, and you might find more Christmas celebrations and decorations here than you would at home, making it an ideal Christmas getaway spot.
This article was written by Keith Keene who grew up in Sydney, but now calls Hong Kong home. While he was initially concerned that he was going to miss the Christmas traditions of Australia when he relocated, he now considers the holidays in Hong Kong to be his favorite time of year.
Have you visited Hong Kong? During what time of the year? Did you like it? It is one of my favorite cities in the world, but what are your thoughts? Share them with us in the comments sections below, and this post too if you liked it!