09 Sep Our Guide to Visiting Hong Kong Amidst the Protests
(Lead image by Jeremy Cheung)
We know there are travel warnings to Hong Kong out there. Despite the protests, the city is safe for visitors, be it with some caveats. Yes, you should be aware of your surroundings when wandering around — especially at night — but then again, that’s common sense when getting around anywhere in the world. And yes, you should check the news before heading out so that you know which areas to avoid. However, those who call Hong Kong home — and that includes us! — go out and about as normal —our weekend plans might include a peaceful demonstration. Whether you’ve already bought a ticket or you’ve always thought of visiting Hong Kong but aren’t sure because of the protests, do still come and experience our beautiful city! Since we want to make sure that your stay is as safe, convenient, fun, and informative as possible, we put together a list with some insider tips for those who are heading this way. Safe travels!
A human chain lining up along the Victoria Harbour (Image by Kevin Mak)
Avoid Certain Areas
Hong Kong has always been one of the safest cities in the world. Where else can you walk around at desolated ferry pier late at night, by yourself, without feeling uncomfortable? Well, that still holds true, despite the recent protests. Hong Kong isn’t a war zone, and the city hasn’t come to a halt. You might just want to stay away from specific areas at certain times, such as Victoria Park, the Legislative Council Complex, the Central People’s Government’s Liaison Office, and all of the Police Headquarters around town, especially during the weekends. Make sure to check the MTR app when you’re travelling late at night, because there has been unrest at some stations when protesters are returning home. The app will tell you which MTR stations are temporarily closed down and which lines have been suspended for the night.
Check Out These Hotel Rooms
Hong Kong isn’t exactly a budget destination, but if you come now, you’ll find quite a few up-scale hotel rooms at rock-bottom prices. We found luxurious rooms overlooking the harbour for as little as $25 (check here for prices). Travellers can take advantage of these unprecedented times in other ways as well: shopping malls are quiet, the queues for the recently reopened peak tram are shorter, and last-minute tickets for many shows are up for grabs.
None of the protests have spilt over to the backstreets of the city’s old neighbourhoods, remote islands, and hiking trails. The weather is great, the skies are blue, so now is the best time to venture off-the-beaten-track by visiting Hong Kong. Put on your walking shoes, slather on sunscreen and explore the many hidden gems that this city has to offer. Do you need some inspiration on where to go? Download the iDiscover App for insider tips on 10 of the city’s most authentic neighbourhoods.
Lots of the marches were harmonious, hopeful, almost spiritual (image by Kevin Mak)
Tons of these “Lennon wall” message boards have been created in tunnels and on footbridges for people to express their feelings towards the movement
Experience the Lion Rock Spirit
Most of the protests are peaceful in nature. Go and chat with some local demonstrators to find out what they have to say about the future of their city. If there’s anything that this movement has shown, it’s that Hongkongers are a resilient and resourceful bunch. The recent months have been so much more than just the violence highlighted across the media. We have seen an outpour of solidarity and creativity through human chains, free food, cool posters, music, and chanting on the streets. Unprecedented was the 16th of June march where one-third of the population filled the streets all the way from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to Admiralty. We saw students with hip backpacks walking side by side with aunties with their walking sticks. We saw young parents pushing prams with babies, even people in wheelchairs. It was harmonious, hopeful, almost spiritual. Another memorable evening was the 23rd of August when protestors joined hands on the iconic Lion Rock Mountain, forming a 30-mile long human chain across the city. Who says Hongkongers only care about money?
Hong Kong’s protests are mostly legal to join. They mainly take place during the day or early evenings and provide an excellent opportunity to learn about the issues Hong Kong people are most concerned about. Before you go, find out if the gathering has obtained police approval (or if it’s sponsored by the Civil Human Rights Front, a group whose marches are reliably peaceful). Take note of the scheduled hours of the gathering, and leave on or before the official ending time. The protest schedules are widely available (your hotel concierge should have them) both on- and offline. You may also want to keep an eye on English-language news channels, such as Hong Kong Free Press or South China Morning Post for the latest updates.
Political art – an outpour of local creative minds (credits: telegram)
An anonymous HongKonger created “Our Vantage” as a tribute to the famous revolutionary painting “Liberty Leading the People” (painting by @harcourtromanticist)