What is the best Hong Kong travel guide book? If you’re making plans to visit Hong Kong, the collection of islands that make up a special administrative region in China, you’re going to want help figuring out what’s worth seeing, how to get around and other great travel tips. Below, I’d like to share with you my favorite Hong Kong travel guide books reviewed and rated based on my own experience.
If you plan to be heading out to Hong Kong in the near future, chances are you’re going to want to have some sort of Hong Kong travel guide book with you.
There are already plenty of China travel guide books and even specific guide books for Beijing travel or guide books for Shanghai, but if you will be spending most of your time in and around Hong Kong it’s often better to grab something that is dedicated to the entire region and everything it has to offer.
Fortunately there are quite a few options available and each of them caters to a different type of traveler. Take a look at the list of the best Hong Kong travel guide books below to help you determine which is best for your needs.
1. Lonely Planet Hong Kong
As you’ll notice with pretty much any city you travel to, Lonely Planet produces the most popular guide books almost anywhere you want to go. Lonely Planet Hong Kong is no exception.
One of the reasons they’ve become so popular – other than the great content – is that they are one of the few publishers that has decided to offer their guide books both as a physical book and an ebook download. This is the case with their Lonely Planet Hong Kong travel guide, which can be purchased as a physical guide book and an easy-to-use ebook version.
Lonely Planet Hong Kong offers a quick list of the “Top 16” places you’ll probably want to visit, a number of excellent suggested itineraries, and some beautiful color photos to help with the planning..
Here’s what you get with Lonely Planet Hong Kong:
- 320 Detailed Pages: filled with maps, color photos, and more.
- Offline Maps: high-resolution maps for your e-reader or PDF versions for download.
- Pull-Out Map: This is for the print version only, obviously.
- Various Focus: suggestions for traveling with children, taking day trips (including Macau), or short walking tours.
Of course the Lonely Planet China touches on Hong Kong and LP also publishes their short Hong Kong Pocket Guide, but neither guide gives you the amount of detail you’ll find in this full Hong Kong travel guide. If you’ll be in Hong Kong for only a day or two, the China guide will do fine. If you plan to be here for a few days or more, the city-specific guide is worth the extra money.
2. DK Eyewitness: Top 10 Hong Kong
DK is well-known for their beautifully photographed and illustrated guides that give readers a much more in-depth look at the places they hope to visit. The DK Top 10 Hong Kong is another addition to the “Top 10” series that does a good job of concisely presenting the best places in Hong Kong without overwhelming the reader with too much detail.
Of course, this means that you’re sacrificing the detail of a book like Lonely Planet for a book that attempts you to guide you to only those places it believes would be most interesting.
If your time in the city is limited, the advantage of using the DK Top 10 is that they list out only those places that would be considered a “must-see”.
Another bit of good news is that while not all DK guides are published in ebook format, they have decided to do an ebook version of DK Hong Kong. Here’s what you get with DK Top 10 Hong Kong:
- 128 Pages: full of colorful photos and cutaway illustrations of the most important tourist destinations
- Pull-Out Maps: maps of the metro, city and other places of interest
- Top 10 Lists: top 10 museums, festivals, hotels, bars, and dozens of others
- Idea Guide: they boast 60 great ideas on how to spend a day in Hong Kong
The idea guide with 60 ways to spend a day is another reason that DK is an excellent resource for planning your trip, not just taking it along and winging it.
3. Pocket Rough Guide: Hong Kong & Macau
Although not as well-known as Lonely Planet or DK, Rough Guide has an impressive library of travel guides, including many for China.
The advantage of this Rough Guide is that not only is it available in ebook format, it is also one of the cheapest guides available for Hong Kong.
The “pocket” in the name is deceiving – an indication of its small size rather than a description of how comprehensive the book is. Rough Guide Hong Kong and Macau was most recently updated in September 2016, which falls slightly behind LP and DK, but is still current enough. The guide covers everything from itineraries to festivals, museums, festivals, markets and outdoor trips.
To sum up, Pocket Rough Guide Hong Kong & Macau includes:
- 160 Pages: all in “full color” as they advertise
- Pull-Out Map: as well as detailed, zoomable maps for the ebook version
- Detailed Itineraries: these itineraries take all the planning work out of the equation.
If you prefer to have somebody else plan your trip for you but don’t want to pay for a tour guide, Rough Guide is an excellent Hong Kong travel guide book that will lay out which days to go where easily.
4. Fodor’s Hong Kong
Yet another great option for your travels comes in the form of Fodor’s Hong Kong, an excellent guide that separates itself from the competition (namely Lonely Planet) with many additional sections catering to specific travelers. This includes sections titled “Free and Almost Free”, “Cinema Hong Kong”, “Beaches” and “Hong Kong with Kids”.
So basically what Fodor’s attempts to do is provide the same level of beautiful photography and excellent travel information that you’ll get with many of the other guides but then add other enticing value-add components. If any of the sections I listed above speak to you, Fodor’s Hong Kong might be the right option for your travel to Hong Kong.
As with all the other guides listed above, Fodor’s offers their Hong Kong guide as an ebook download that gives you the option to carry all this valuable travel information on your journey without taking up space in your luggage.
The version you see here is a bit dated (May 2015) but they are in the process of updating as I write. The Fodor’s Hong Kong Guide includes:
- 320 Pages: full color photos and maps of Hong Kong and Macau.
- Color Maps & Illustrations: easy-to-read color regional maps, including an “on-the-go” map.
- Trip Planning Tools: including how to travel with kids, where to find free things to do, etc.
This would be a hefty book to carry around, but it really is an excellent option if you’re not convinced that Lonely Planet is the way to go.
5. National Geographic Traveler: Hong Kong
National Geographic is the final option for the best travel guides to Hong Kong. Here we’re specifically referring to the National Geographic Hong Kong travel guide book.
The advantage of going with National Geographic is their focus on unraveling the historical and cultural context of each place you plan to visit in Hong Kong. The disadvantages are that unlike each of the above 4 travel guides, National Geographic does not offer their guide in a downloadable ebook format and they haven’t updated in almost a decade.
As expected with any guide, National Geographic provides gorgeous photography of Hong Kong as well as detailed maps that should be able to get you from point A to point B without getting lost. In addition to all the information they provide on places to visit within Hong Kong, there is also a section entirely dedicated to “Off the Beaten Path” excursions you might enjoy.
Another great aspect of the National Geographic Hong Kong guide is the dedicated sections to walking and driving tours, something that everybody should consider doing in a city like this that is so conducive to walking.
The National Geographic Traveler: Hong Kong includes:
- 272 Pages: of full-color photos and maps.
- Maps & Subway Guides: detailed and up-to-date maps
- Off the Beaten Path Excursions: a look at the places other guides might not touch on
- “Travelwise” Section: helpful section that covers the basics of traveling to Hong Kong
This last section has been a huge help to many travelers I know and helps with trip planning, transportation, practical advice and information in case of an emergency. National Geographic is last on this list, but it is still an excellent option for your trip here to Hong Kong.
Conclusion | Best Hong Kong Travel Guide Books
As you can see, there are a number of excellent Hong Kong travel guide books that will help you prepare for your trip. Not all of them are updated regularly, they don’t all have ebook versions, and they’re not all suited for the same kind of traveler, so I hope this review gives you a better understanding of what fits your needs.
Hong Kong is an amazing collection of islands with a rich, controversial history and beautiful culture. While it’s a dense city, it’s thankfully not that hard to get around. Make sure you have a good Hong Kong travel guide to tell you what’s worth seeing and how to get around the city.
Also, before you make your way to China, you should consider grabbing a copy of Travel to China: Everything You Need to Know Before You Go as well as some good Mandarin phrasebooks.
Have you been to Hong Kong before? What was your favorite Hong Kong travel guide book to use?