Hong Kong for first-timers: 6 essential tips every Muslim traveller needs
Written by Have Halal Will Travel
From must-visit places (yes, nature spots included!) to popular shopping spots, here are some of our best tips to explore Hong Kong with comfort and ease.
Must-try halal local food
It’s no surprise what comes out top on our list of essentials. If you thought you’d have to bring food from home for your trip, we’re here to prove you totally wrong. There’s so much halal local food to try here that your tummies will always be full and happy. Here are some of the most popular options, rounded up just for you. And don't miss our handy phrase sheet for easier communication.
P.S. Locals usually clean their chopsticks in a cup of tea before they start eating, so do give it a try!
Wai Kee Duck Rice
Nestled in the upper floors of Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre, Wai Kee is touted as one of the best places for duck rice in Hong Kong. Many locals frequent this halal stall and that’s when you know the food is really good!
If you’ve never tried duck, there’s no doubt that Wai Kee will quickly convert you into a duck lover. The skin is crisp yet juicy, and the meat so tender and well marinated that it’ll leave you craving for more. In fact, you might just find yourself ordering another serving!
Oh and make sure you try their soy sauce chicken, wonton noodles and mutton curry rice while you’re there! They’re just as yummy.
There’s free Wi-Fi at this hawker centre — perfect for uploading these delicious duck pictures on Instagram!
Islamic Centre Canteen
You can’t visit the land of dim sum without feasting on dim sum! Located inside Masjid Ammar, Islamic Centre Canteen is the go-to place for the most authentic halal dim sum in Hong Kong! Savour their wide array of dim sum which is available from 10am to 3pm daily. Our personal favourites are the siu mai (made with chicken) and deep-fried shrimp wonton. The crisp sound with each bite of the wonton is proof of how it’s fried to perfection!
We can assure you that all of their Cantonese dishes are amazing! Diners love the good mix of spice in their dishes — especially the tofu with salt, garlic and chilli!
Known for its mouthwatering veal goulash (a juicy dough patty filled with beef), Islam Food serves authentic Xinjiang cuisine and is so popular that it had to open another outlet. It’s not as straightforward to reach by public transport as other places, but it’s worth the effort. The restaurant is usually packed with locals and there is often a queue to get in!
You’ll understand why this place is popular when you sink your teeth into the veal goulash, which is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside — the taste is simply indescribable. A word of caution though! The stew inside the goulash is very hot, so bite into it slowly and with care.
Try pairing your goulash with some beef dumpling soup. The soup is tasty and the dumplings are full of flavour!
The original outlet is quite small, so if you’d like more space to enjoy your food, head to their newer and bigger outlet just around the corner!
Lee Keung Kee
You may be wondering about Muslim-friendly local street food in Hong Kong so we scoured the streets to find you some of the best. The egg waffles at Lee Keung Kee are a hot favourite among the locals and are so good that they are listed on the Michelin Hong Kong Street Food List. We love how fluffy and chewy the waffles are. Eat it while it’s piping hot!
Note: They have many outlets across Hong Kong but we’ve only confirmed the North Point outlet to be Muslim-friendly.
A1 Tofu Company
For those yearning for a sweet treat, head to A1 Tofu Company in Sham Shui Po. It’s popular for the soft and velvety smooth texture of its bean curd! There’s a wide variety of flavours to choose from but the locals particularly love the black sesame, Horlicks and almond paste.
The best part is that the shop is really easy to find! It’s located right outside MTR Sham Shui Poi Station Exit C2.
The public transport network in Hong Kong is extensive. You can take the MTR (trains) and buses to almost anywhere. The MTR maps makes it really easy to navigate and visitors love how frequent the trains are.
Download the MTR Mobile app to plan your trip with the shortest and cheapest route.
From Hong Kong International Airport, take the Airport Express and arrive in the city in less than 24 minutes! The train has designated luggage compartments which are really handy, especially for those with large items. Visitors are always impressed at how clean and fast the train is, along with the free on-board Wi-Fi.
A huge bonus is the USB ports in the first and last cars of Airport Express trains. So if your electronic devices need a quick boost, this is perfect for you. Alight at either Kowloon or Hong Kong station (depending on where your accommodation is) and use one of the many available transportation options to connect to your hotel.
Octopus travel card
Once you’ve settled in, it’s time to explore all that Hong Kong has to offer. And the best (and most affordable) way to do this is by taking public transport. If this will be your primary means of travelling around, we recommend getting the Octopus instead of the single tickets or day passes as it’s better value-for-money. The card can be used on most public transport systems (MTR, bus, trams) so it’s really convenient.
You can get the card at any MTR station or at the airport. Do note that only cash is accepted to purchase the card and there is a HK$50 deposit that will be refunded — minus an admin fee — when you return the card.
If you’re planning to return to Hong Kong (which you should), you might want to keep the card as the refund is valid up to 1000 days!
If you do need to take a taxi, it’ll be handy to have the address of your destination in Chinese, as not all drivers are able to speak or understand English — ask your hotel or use a translation or maps app. You’ll just have to show the address to the drivers once you’re in the taxi and they will know where to go.
There’s so much to do and see in Hong Kong that even a week-long trip might not be enough to cover everything. But here’s some of the must-visit attractions in the city!
Hong Kong Disneyland
We believe this renowned attraction needs no introduction! Hong Kong Disneyland is a great day out for everyone, and we’re not talking only about you Disney fans. The rides vary from kid-friendly ones to the extreme thrillers so you can be assured that there are more than enough rides for you to choose from.
For those who love thrilling rides, the RC Racer and Hyperspace Mountain are definite must-rides! Another favourite is the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars. Just remember before you board: expect the unexpected.
If you hate queues, you need to get your FASTPASS tickets which are available for popular rides such as Hyperspace Mountain, Winnie the Pooh and Iron Man Experience. It’s free and all you have to do is head to the ticket machine at these rides to get your FASTPASS tickets, and come back at the stipulated time!
Stay connected with Disneyland’s free Wi-Fi! Plus, if you sign up for the Wi-Fi with your email, you’ll receive a 10 per cent discount coupon online to spend at the merchandise stores.
Hong Kong’s oldest theme park is divided into two sections — The Waterfront and The Summit. One of the most exciting parts is getting from one section to another and, of course, the cable car ride is the best way to enjoy the gorgeous view of both Ocean Park and the breathtaking surrounding scenery.
The cars might sway slightly if the wind is strong but that just adds to the thrill. For those who are afraid of heights, you can choose to take the Ocean Express, the park’s train.
You’ll be amazed at the wide variety of attractions in the park, including a ride that combines virtual reality and roller-coasters! The ride may look daunting, but it’s actually quite do-able even for those who are not big fans of thrill rides. What’s more interesting is that you won’t be able to even see the track during the ride as you’ll be wearing the VR headset.
Other than the amusement rides, the animals here are also a must-see. Crowd favourites are the pandas and penguins!
Whether it’s night or day, The Peak is the perfect place to take in Hong Kong’s gorgeous skyline! And it’s not just the destination that's exciting but also the ride up. The tram moves upwards on a 45-degree slope so hold on tight if you don't manage to get a seat!
We recommend checking the weather before heading up as Hong Kong does get a bit foggy at times which, despite being atmospheric, can really hamper the views.
If you think that Hong Kong is another built-up city, you’ll be amazed to know that it’s actually the opposite! This can only mean one thing — plenty of nature to explore.
Head to Dragon’s Back; one of the easier hiking spots and perfect for first-time hikers. You can choose to start from the very bottom of the trek or take bus 9 up to the one-hour trek mark. The hike up is pretty easy, though there are some steep parts with rocks instead of steps. You’ll meet many families and even elderly hikers who are also trekking up, so it really is do-able!
Be sure to wear comfy and appropriate shoes to ease your trek and keep your toes safe.
It would be wise to check the weather before heading up to avoid the fog dampening your view.
Descended the same way you come up if you have a tight itinerary. But if you do have more time on your hands, we recommend the full route to end the trek at Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay Beach ), a beautiful beach where you can relax and rest your tired muscles.
If you didn’t know already, Hong Kong is a haven for all types of shopper. There are plenty of options to fit your needs, be they budget or upscale. Like in any city, be sure to safeguard your belongings when you visit the street markets as it can get crowded!
Most stores require you to pay for a plastic bag so it would save you money, not to mention the environment, to bring your own bag.
Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok
Also known as Sneakers Street, Fa Yuen Street is famous for its wide array of sneakers! This is the place to go for the latest designs and limited-edition releases from around the world. You can find international brands such as Nike, Adidas and Converse here.
Ladies’ Market, Mong Kok
The market might be named ‘Ladies Market’, but it’s not exclusively for the ladies! In fact, the market is populated with many Hong Kong souvenirs so head here if you’re looking for something cheap and cheerful for your loved ones back home.
And this is the place to put your bargaining skills to the test. Many of the stall-holders can understand basic English so you can bargain your way to the lowest price. And if that doesn’t work, adopt the walk-away tactic. Even if they don’t call you back, chances are there are other shops in the area which offer similar products so try bargaining there instead!
Sham Shui Po
For more budget shopping, head to Sham Shui Po. It’s made up of some of Hong Kong’s best shopping streets. Apliu Street is famous for its electronics, especially mobile phones and accessories. Toy Street is a must-visit to get something for the kids and Yu Chau Street, which has a wide array of wholesale fabrics, is perfect for your Hari Raya outfits!
The prices at Sham Shui Po are usually reasonable but you can definitely try your luck bargaining!
Causeway Bay and Harbour City
For those who prefer more upscale shopping, Causeway Bay consists of many malls featuring mid-range and luxury brands. Times Square, the district’s largest shopping mall, is right on top of MTR Causeway Bay Station. It has over 230 stores so be prepared to spend quite a bit of time (and money) here.
Causeway Bay is also home to Hong Kong’s largest and most popular Japanese-style department store, SOGO. With 18 floors of retail space, SOGO is known as the one-stop shop for everything you need, from renowned clothing brands to appliances and even homeware!
For an alternative upscale shopping experience, cross to the other side of the harbour and shop at Harbour City. This is Hong Kong’s largest mall and is home to Louis Vuitton’s largest store in Asia and Chanel’s Asia flagship store!
If you need a breather from all that shopping, head to Ocean Terminal Deck and enjoy a scenic view of Hong Kong from across the water.
Now that you’re more than halfway through the article, we’re pretty sure that you can see how Muslim-friendly Hong Kong is. But wait, there’s more! You don’t have to worry about finding a place to pray as there are plenty of prayer spaces around the city.
Mosques and Islamic Centres
Apart from prayer spaces, there are many mosques scattered around the prime areas in Hong Kong — making it really convenient to perform your prayers while you explore the city. Masjid Ammar is located near Causeway Bay so you can head there even while you shop! The best part is that you can tuck into some yummy food at the Islamic Centre Canteen in the mosque.
Hong Kong’s first mosque is near to one of the city’s most Instagrammable spots, Old Town Central! Getting to the mosque itself is quite an experience as you can take the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system to reach it. This might be Hong Kong’s oldest mosque but Jamia Mosque is still well maintained. The Arabic-style arched windows surrounding the prayer space are beautiful.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Located right next to the Halal-certified Explorer’s Club Restaurant is a prayer room just for Muslim visitors. The room is shared between both males and females but there are curtains in the wudhu area that you can draw. Speaking of the wudhu area, guests love how functional the facility is. It makes taking wudhu so much more comfortable!
Do bring your own prayer garments and mats as they are not provided.
Ocean Park has kindly provided meeting rooms for Muslim guests to do their prayers, with the kiblat direction marked out in the rooms! You don’t have to travel far to access them as there’s a room located at The Waterfront and another at The Summit.
To access the rooms, head to the Guest Relations counter and inform them that you would like to do your prayers. They will then lead you to the room.
Hong Kong International Airport
Yes, there are prayer rooms at the airport itself — multiple in fact! These multi-faith rooms are in different areas and you might have to take a train from one area to another. Just ask the staff if you need pointed in the right direction.
There is a wudhu area in the rooms and prayer mats are available for use, but do bring your own prayer garments as they are not provided.
If you’re looking for Muslim-friendly accommodations in Hong Kong, we’re here to help! Though some of these accommodations do not have in-house halal food, they are located near halal eateries making it easy and convenient for Muslim travellers.
Harbour Grand Hong Kong
Guests staying at Harbour Grand Hong Kong have been really happy with the facilities, including their ‘menu’ of different pillows. The Bamboo Charcoal Kapok Pillow is said to have a soothing effect.
You don’t have to worry about halal food in the hotel as it has a special halal-certified menu in one of its restaurants and also the in-room dining. Some of the dishes include tandoori salmon fillet and roasted spring chicken. Do remember to reserve in advance though!
Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel
We just had to end the article with what might just be the best accommodation in town — the Disneyland Hotel! Its rooms and facilities are Disney-themed and guests enjoy exclusive perks, including priority access, to Hong Kong Disneyland.
Photo credit: Hong Kong Disneyland
Photo credit: Hong Kong Disneyland
The hotel boasts beautiful sea views but our favourite part of the hotel is its wide array of halal-certified food, which is available upon request! There’s also a halal menu for their in-room dining
And there you go! We’re sure that you are now convinced by how amazing and Muslim-friendly Hong Kong is! And we’re sure that you’ll truly enjoy exploring the city. And with these tips in hand, there’s no reason why Hong Kong should not be at the top of your bucket list this year.
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