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Kowloon is a big place with multiple convenient neighborhoods to book your hotel. Tsim Sha Tsui is in the south, located close to the water. It is central and easy to get around; however, expect to pay higher prices for this convenience. The famous Peninsula Hotel, Kowloon’s oldest hotel, is located in this area, but you can find representation from all the high-end luxury hotels like the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton.
The Prudential Hotel offers comfort and convenience at a moderate price on the northern end of Tsim Sha Tsui. Typical budget hotels like Best Western and Holiday Inn can also be found in Tsim Sha Tsui, but expect to pay a slightly higher price than normal due to the prime location. Staying in Tsim Sha Tsui brings you close to the famous Kowloon Waterfront where you can stroll along the Avenue of the Stars and take in the Symphony of Lights at night. The Star Ferry is also close by; you can take it across Victoria Harbor to Hong Kong Island.
A great area to stay is in Mongkok, literally “crowded corner” in Chinese. This area is one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Kowloon and is famous for its many markets. There are lots of retail shops, plenty of restaurants with a variety of cuisines, and entertainment within easy reach. With all the markets in the area, visitors can go from bargaining at the Ladies’ Market to browsing the Goldfish market or searching for new shoes on Sneaker Street (formally known as Fa Yuen Street) all within a couple of hours.
A good option for a hotel in Mongkok is Langham Place, a five-star hotel just steps from Langham Place Mall and the Ladies’ Market. For a more moderately priced option, the Stanford Hotel offers convenience and comfort at a wallet friendly price.
By staying farther out from the center of the city, you can save some money. It really doesn’t matter too much where you stay in Kowloon as long as you don’t mind a slightly longer time on the MTR. The Hong Kong MTR system is extremely efficient with trains running frequently during the day. As long as you are near a MTR station, getting around to all the sights is easy. Wherever you decide to stay, you’re likely to find plenty of places to eat, shop, and explore. However, regardless of where you stay in Kowloon, expect it to be crowded, busy, and noisy.
Deciding to stay on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong gives you a much more authentic experience than if you were on Hong Kong Island. Locals rush from store to store, seeking out the best deal, stopping at small restaurants for a quick meal. As soon as you step outside your hotel in Kowloon, you are directly in the hustle and bustle that makes Kowloon such a vibrant city.
In a city packed with people, finding accommodation heavily depends on how much you’re willing to spend. On the high-end side, there are plenty of options, centrally located with easy access to Kowloon’s attractions. In the middle range, accommodation options are adequate, but nothing spectacular. However, once you get into the budget options, options become limited and often mean tiny rooms.
Chungking Mansion, a centrally located building on Nathan Road in Kowloon, is famous for its cheap and delicious Indian food. Supposedly a residential building, it is notorious for its cheap accommodation options from hostels to low-budget hotels. As tempting as all the prices are, especially for its central location, the hostels in Chungking Mansion definitely reflects the price you pay. Rooms are tiny, beds are small, mattresses are thin, pillows are small, and the walls barely keep the noise out. Entering the building, you get accosted with offers of cheap rooms, cheap food, and cheap knock off products. Not the best environment to call home.
Another similar place to Chungking Mansion is Mirador Mansions which should also be avoided for similar reasons. Instead, find hostels that are located independently, like the Simply Hostel which is near the Jordan MTR station. With a convenient location, prices that match hostels in Chungking Mansion -- and without the aggressive vendors -- this is a better choice.
For the best value for your money, book a vacation rental apartment with Airbnb. There are a lot of Airbnb options in Kowloon suited to a variety of budgets. Especially if you are traveling with others for more than a couple of days, staying in an apartment will give you a lot more space than rooms in budget hotels and hostels for barely any more money. The best Airbnb rentals include air conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, cable TV with English channels, adaptors for electronics, and a real bed.
In general, apartments in Hong Kong tend to be on the smaller side; however, there is plenty of room to make yourself at home. Due to the tall buildings, do not be surprised when you find yourself high up. Watch out for listings that do not include an elevator! Book an apartment near the MTR, and you will have quick and easy access to everything in Kowloon and Hong Kong. Be sure to take a close look at your accommodation before booking it and to communicate with your host prior to arrival.
Kowloon is constantly welcoming new visitors and has no real high or low season. The best weather for visiting Kowloon is during the late fall and early winter months of October, November, and December. Expect slightly higher prices during this time. Chinese holidays, like Chinese New Year in February, can also cause prices to go up. For the best rates, book your accommodation early.
Occasionally you will be able to find last-minute deals especially if you are booking through Airbnb. With such a large number of apartment rental options, not all places are full all the time. Owners will list their property at a special price for last-minute bookings. If you do find yourself in Hong Kong without a place to stay, the Chungking Mansion can be a last resort option. Be sure to look at the room before you exchange money so that there are no surprises.
Hong Kong International Airport is located on one of Hong Kong’s many islands. Despite its distance from the center of Kowloon, there are a number of ways of getting to Kowloon from the Hong Kong airport. The most direct route is by taxi. Hong Kong taxis are inexpensive and get you to your destination comfortably. In addition to the fare, expect to pay an additional amount for tolls and for each item of luggage. Look for the taxi stand as you’re leaving the airport.
The quickest option for getting into Kowloon is taking the Airport Express line on the MTR, Hong Kong’s subway system, which will get you to Kowloon station in 20 minutes. From there either take a taxi to your end destination or continue on the MTR to where you need to go. Many hotels in the area offer a free shuttle from Kowloon station to their location, so check with your specific hotel. Using the MTR in Kowloon requires the use of an Octopus card, a prepaid card where your fare is deducted depending on the distance traveled.
The final way, and cheapest option to get to Kowloon from the airport, is via bus. The A21 bus can get you into Kowloon in 45 minutes. You will need to purchase an Octopus card in the airport prior to boarding the bus.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board (http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/index.jsp) has put together a great website with all the necessary information for planning your trip to Kowloon. With sections on attractions in the area to information on more practical things like money and safety, the site can help you put together a great itinerary. To help you navigate and get around Kowloon, use the MTR website and download their MTR Tourist app (http://www.mtr.com.hk/en/customer/services/mtr_tourist.html).
© 2016 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.
© 2016 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.