Hong Kong or Singapore: Which you should visit on a stopover?
We’re planning to be back in Asia later this year. It brings up the argument we always have about 2 of our (respectively) favorite Asian cities – should we stopover in Hong Kong or Singapore?
There’s arguments for each.
Clean, modern, much more relaxed than Hong Kong. The people are friendlier, the English better. On my first visit in 2001 I wasn’t inspired by Singapore. I found the geography flat and featureless. Any beauty was man-made and activities were centered on shopping and eating. There wasn’t much to get excited about as a tourist.
We were back last year and I have to say that we were both stunned by Singapore. The authorities have made Singapore a tourist draw over the last 15 years, specifically with the new Gardens by the Bay nature park. It is incredibly futuristic and incredibly impressive.
Related: Why you should Visit Singapore at least once in your life
Singapore would be Lissette’s choice of the two cities. If you ask her why she’ll tell you that it’s because of the friendly people, the multi-ethnic mix, and the international cuisine. Another factor is weather: Singapore is tropical and a lot warmer than Hong Kong which is a good or bad thing depending on the time of year you’re visiting.
Hong Kong was the first place ever visited in Asia. It mesmerized me: the hustle and bustle of Central, the incredible beauty of mountains and ocean, the skyscrapers and the world’s most spellbinding harbour. I think it is geographically one of the most attractive cities on earth. I did a lot of hiking in the hills during my week-long stay and fell in love with Hong Kong.
Related: A Guide to Hong Kong
I went back to Hong Kong a few years ago with Lissette. She didn’t find it friendly (we had an incident at the airport which left an instant bad impression) and just didn’t “feel”Hong Kong . We were also unlucky with the weather, our two days there were miserable and grey.
Hong Kong is my choice of the two cities. I loved it on my first visit (back in 2001). I think Lissette needs to give it another chance.
So Hong Kong or Singapore. Which city would you choose?
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Well this is several months later and you’re probably already Asia or was. I don’t know where you were going in Asia, but if you stopped in HK, you needed to visit China.
Both are great places to visit ….but HK is a must visit that still thrills me after going multiple times over 40 years. A lot of energy with one of the best skylines.
YES! That’s what I think 🙂
I have lived in Hong Kong for 7+ years and travelled to Singapore few times. Personally I would choose Singapore (:p) over Hong Kong as a stopover because of its clean environment, excellent (and hygienic!) foods, and wider range of choices for sightseeing. But if you happen to choose Hong Kong at the end, I would strongly recommend you adding Macau in your itinerary if you have time. Contrary to popular belief, Macau has more to offer than its mega scale casinos. Their Portuguese heritage buildings are well preserved, and outside the casino area, the city has its unique laid-back vibes. I recently visited Lou Lim Ieoc Garden and Coloane Village during my two-day (yes the place actually deserves more than just a day trip) trip and absolutely loved it. I also enjoyed the Portuguese-Chinese fusion dinner in Macau Military Club (it’s open to non-members for dining). While some of the casions/hotels are tacky, I think others are actually interesting and worth a visit (e.g. Venetian, Morpheus – it’s one of the last buildings designed by the late Zaha Hadid). Having said that, wherever you and Spanky choose, I look forward to having your updates on your stopover experience!
Thank you for the comment Minn!
I went to Macau many years ago, back in 2001 on my 1st visit to Hong Kong. Completely different vibe. And I remember being impressed by the Portuguese buildings. I’m sure it’s changed a lot since then though. Maybe we’ll have to go again 🙂
Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
Interesting post, Frank, of what sounds like two fascinating cities. Obviously, they need to be on my list of “Must Sees!”
Golden Taj Tours
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Frank, I have not been to either place, but both are on my wish list. For some reason, Hong Kong has the edge for me…but not sure why?
You’re a hiker like me Gilda – I’m sure you’d prefer HK 🙂
Stopovers are kind of a waste of time. Better to just go to destination asap. Singapore is ok but a westernised version of asia.
Not a fan of concrete and traffic so much so getting tired of cities.
Have you been to HK Tom? I know you prefer SEA…
Michael and Graciela
Michael: We spent more time in Singapore (5 months total) than Hong Kong, but that is because I like the place better. The diversity, the people and the laws fit with me.
Graciela: I am a big fan of all the museums in Singapore including the small ones like the toy museum. But the day time hotness is not to my liking. And there is more I want to discover about Hong Kong.
Michael: Though we cover Colombia on our site we did write a few blogs about Singapore including our opinion of Three Must Visit Places in Singapore.
The hotness is an issue for me too Graciela. We were there in May, 30+ every day and with the humidity felt like 40C. Was just too much.
As far as all the other points, I think Lissette feels the same way as Michael. But for me the incredible geographic setting of Hong Kong superseeds everything. And there’s something exotic in HK that I feel is lacking in Singapore.
when are you going? I will be doing a Hong Kong stopover for 2 days at the end of October. In fact in the last couple of weeks I tussled with this exact question. For my plans, HK made more sense, but personally I think Singapore has it all over HK. just as a place, although the weather is too humid I guess, in HK too but there it depends on the time of year.
I am more familiar with Singapore and really want to visit the Gardens by the Bay. Hong Kong I dont have many good photos, and I would like to cover it better through the lens. The main issue with Hong Kong is the mist – destroying my vision from the Peak last time I was there. Literally one could see NOTHING but cloud.
keep me posted when youll be in Asia!
No plans at all yet, just one of many possibilities. But the Philippines are one of them, place I’ve always wanted to go.
AS I mentioned to Elena, I was in HK for one fabulous week back in 2001 and had nothing but clear skies. It was the most fantastic scenery I had ever seen anywhere…I can imagine mist obstructing the views would take away one of the best reasons to go to HK.
Singapore. Yes, Gardens by the Bay. And if you’ve never seen it then Singapore is worth a visit. But after that is there really anything that HAS be be seen?
If we end up going to either I’ll let you know Andy!
Just a few months ago we faced the same question. We needed to leave Vietnam due to visa requirements, so we decided that a weekend in either Hong Kong or Singapore would do. We visited both cities before, so there was no element of surprise anymore. We liked both cities, perhaps, equally even though they are so different. Ultimately, we ended up in Hong Kong simply because of the weather. I got too tired of hot and humid Japan and Vietnam where we spent combined more than half a year by the time we needed to take that weekend break. Hong Kong happened to be about 5 degrees cooler. Long story short, I do not regret this decision. This time we avoided all “must visit” sites.
We spent one day climbing up and down the Peak – not taking the tram, but hiking all the way. It is a fabulous and surprisingly strenuous workout (if you are lucky, you might meet some wild boars; just make sure not to interfere with whatever they are doing and politely stay out of their way). In total, it was 15km walk partially through the forest at the top with panoramic views of all parts of the city. The rest of our 2-day visit we spent in Kennedy Town. It is an interesting mix of bohemian vibes, academia and a few remnants of traditional neighborhoods. Strolling the streets was an adventure (in a good way). The food scene there is diverse and tasty: from an Australian brewery (it brought warm memories of our time in Western Australia) to a funky eatery that one would expect to find in Brooklyn, NYC, to a seafood establishment that we patronized in Seattle (another sweet memory), to a traditional Cantonese noodles shop with the most delicious glutenous and fiery spicy noodles. It was a blast.
Back to your question, I agree with you that Hong Kong deserves a second chance.
Going up the peak – my highlight in HK. And then there’s all these hiking trails and a short hike will take you to views on the other side of the island. And it’s amazing that on this island – one of the most populated on the planet – that there is so much green space. The first time I went I think it was March. It was about 20C, sunny and clear every day. And I fell in love with HK.
Singapore we were there last May and it was sweltering. I sweated every second. So yes, I think the answer really depends on the time of year.
Wild boars. I didn’t realize. That would be an experience.
Yes, I agree with you. Would love to see HK again. Thanks for the Kennedy Town tip, I’m not familiar with that area.
I was thinking of you when I saw this CNN article. Seems to be a real problem.
Thanks for sharing. I haven’t seen this article.
Lisa and Robert
I think either one is a winner. Hong Kong has the aviary. Singapore has the botanical gardens. And you can get soup dumplings both places!
Thanks for the comment. So no favorite of the two?
Lisa and Robert
Ahhh….I’m very torn. Singapore has really grown on me (even though I used to hate it), but HK has it’s charms too. We will be visiting both this year and maybe then I can pick a favorite.
I just wonder if the wonder of seeing Gardens by the Bay fades after seeing it once or twice? Other than that, is there anything in Singapore really worth coming back for?
(I’m thinking out loud with these questions).
PS. I really didn’t like Singapore on my first visit either.
Lisa and Robert
I suspect the thrill of Gardens by the Bay does subside after seeing it once or twice. Although, it was interesting to see it last year and see how much it has changed now that the plants have really been given a chance to grow. Have you been to the Botanical Gardens? They are quite nice and the orchid garden there is amazing. I would like to visit the bird park, but haven’t made it there yet. And, the food is amazing (we generally eat at hawker stands and always make a stop at Paradise Dynasty).
Botanical Gardens – no. We were there in May and it was incredibly hot and humid. We were wilting in the sun 🙂 But we have a friend who went and he also said that the orchid garden is amazing. If we do go again it will have to be at a cooler time of year.