Hongkongers have a tendency to obsess over the weather – and, unlike our neighbours in Southeast Asia, we actually do have seasons. You can generally count on spring to be short and temperate, summer to be hot and stormy, autumn to be cooler, and winter to be surprisingly chilly. That being said, our varied social calendar also makes a big difference in your experience of the city, so we’ve put together this handy guide to help you determine when exactly to come to Hong Kong. By Annette Chan
When to visit Hong Kong
March to May is a glorious time to visit, between the warm weather and flowering trees. We might not have the cherry blossoms of Japan (except near the Kwan Kung Pavilion on Cheung Chau island), but the bright pink blooms of Hong Kong’s emblem – the bauhinia – are a lovely sight to behold. Springtime is also when the city is at its busiest and most buzzing, what with Art Month (compromised of Art Basel, Art Central, the Asia Contemporary Art Show and all the other accompanying events), the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Taste of Hong Kong, Sónar and the biggest party of every year, the Rugby Sevens (pictured).
Hong Kong summers are somewhat brutal for the uninitiated, with the one-two punch of soaring temperatures and high-90s humidity guaranteed to make you sweat as soon as you step away from the air conditioning. It’s the time of year for typhoons and rainstorms, but the hot, sunny days in between are perfect for beach days, junk boat trips and visiting rock pools. Event highlights include the Dragon Boat Festival, the W’s legendary pool parties, Road to Ultra, the Lan Kwai Fong Beer & Music Festival and the Melbourne International Comedy Roadshow. Another summer tradition is the annual march for democracy, held on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China on July 1 – it might not be glamorous, but protesting is very Hong Kong. (As are the fireworks at the end of the day.)
Autumn in Hong Kong normally begins with at Mid-Autumn Festival (confusing, we know – but it’s based on the lunar calendar), a joyous occasion marked by lantern carnivals, copious moon cakes, and the three-day Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance. By the time the annual International Tattoo Convention and National Day fireworks have been and gone, everyone’s already in full anticipation mode for Halloween, which becomes a bigger and wilder spectacle each year. Popular festivities include the celebrity-studded Dead Not Alive Halloween party, the Lan Kwai Fong street party, and Ocean Park’s Halloween Fest. At the end of the season, Hong Kong sees the return of Clockenflap, the city’s premier music and arts festival featuring three days of music, art, film and food.
The time of year when Hong Kong malls try to outdo each other with over-the-top Christmas decorations, which are then swapped out for over-the-top Chinese New Year decorations. Between Winter Solstice celebrations, Christmas, the New Year and the Lunar New Year, it really is the season to be jolly (or at least a little buzzed) and stuff yourself with festive foods at fairs, dinners, and parties. Temperatures typically hover around the mid-to-low double digits – something newer residents scoff at before buying heaters for their uninsulated homes – but the cool weather brings with it small joys like street vendors roasting chestnuts and sweet potatoes, and copious glasses of wine, mulled or otherwise.
Read to book your hotel?
Hong Kong is officially the most visited city in the world, and there’s accomodation to suit every type of guest. So whether you’re looking for a budget bed or five-star luxury, are in town for work or a honeymoon, are flying solo or have the family in tow, you can find exactly what you’re looking for in our ultimate guide to hotels in Hong Kong. Make your pick and enjoy your stay.