Hong Kong Gay Travel
Hong Kong gay travel advice for hotels, where to stay, things to do, gay bars, clubs, restaurants & beaches.
The Gay Travel Experience: Hong Kong
Any westerner can explore Hong Kong easily and comfortably. Since the city was a British territory, there is a lasting English influence. With a ton of ex-pats, loads of gay bars and modern infrastructure, you’ll definitely enjoy Hong Kong gay travel.
Many Australians, Brits and Americans live in Hong Kong for work, often with financial institutions. The folks that work here are usually in their twenties or thirties and tend to be a social bunch!
Officially part of China, Hong Kong operates under the “one country, two systems” principle. The city is an SAR, or Special Administrative Region of China. The government runs independently with respect to economic and administrative functions.
Democracy, press freedom and abundant capitalism are three large aspects that make Hong Kong so progressive.
Aside from the lack of comprehensive LGBT protections, being gay in Hong Kong is pretty easy. Hong Kong has a gay scene akin to some European cities. I felt comfortable as an LGBT traveler the entire stay. Everything felt very inclusive, welcoming and safe.
Hong Kong LGBT Traveler Airport Issues
Two LGBT Americans were held for questioning in Hong Kong airport upon arrival. One was detained because their gender expression did not match what was shown on their passport. The other person is transsexual and was allegedly held for seven hours.
I don’t mention this to scare you. If you identify as trans, queer or express yourself in a way that may be flagged by Hong Kong border officials, take extra precaution.
Secondly, keep a friend or family member on standby to follow your progress through the airport. Confirm with them upon entering border security and again after entry.
Gay Hong Kong: Hotels & Where To Stay
For the best overall experience, I recommend staying on Hong Kong Island. The island itself is large with a ton of unique neighborhoods, discussed in the sections below.
Alternatively you could stay across the bay in Kowloon. This area tends to be a cheaper since there isn’t super quick access to popular neighborhoods like Central & Soho.
Central Hong Kong Hotels & Rentals
Hotels in Central/Soho or Mid Levels are most popular for first-time travelers. Here you’ll find the most ex-pats, gay bars and english-speaking restaurants.
Central/Soho VRBO rentals are also super popular given there are tons of apartment building towers clustered here. I stayed in two separate ones while in Hong Kong and was super happy with them. For more value, check apartments just slightly west of the Central neighborhood.
Staying In Wan Chai & Causeway Bay
Wan Chai & Causeway Bay are two more awesome and popular Hong Kong Island neighborhoods. They are both to the east of Central and are well-connected via public transit.
For a truly authentic Hong Kong experience, I recommend a VRBO rental in Wan Chai. With less ex-pats flooding the streets, you’ll be able to connect with the people who have lived there all their lives.
I also stayed in an apartment rental in Causeway Bay. My favorite aspect of the area was that there were tons of restaurants nearby. Many of them understood some English, too. I loved being able to experience local Hong Kong life here.
If you stay in Wan Chai or Causeway Bay, rest assured that getting to Central for the gay nightlife will be a cinch. It was even easy to catch a bus from Central to Causeway Bay at 3:00 in the morning!
Where to Stay In Kowloon
Kowloon hotels will be much cheaper than ones on Hong Kong Island. While there is plenty to see in Kowloon, you may find yourself making frequent trips to attractions on Hong Kong Island since most attractions are there.
Both Mong Kok and Jordan have great transit connectivity. You can get to the Central neighborhood in 20 to 30 minutes by metro.
My friend Taylor stayed at the The Eaton HK Hotel in Kowloon during his visit. They’re an eco-conscious hotel chain with multiple Hong Kong locations.
I definitely recommend the Eaton in Kowloon for their a killer rooftop, an immense breakfast spread and friendly staff.
Hong Kong Gay Travel Experiences
With so many unique neighborhoods, markets and parks to explore, get ready for a busy adventure! Here are some of my recommended experiences for Hong Kong gay travelers.
Visit Wan Chai
Stroll through the Wan Chai neighborhood to see some of the most authentic areas of Hong Kong. I recommend passing through the Wan Chai Market to see locals shopping for veggies, fish and meats. The fish section may not be for the faint of heart, though. Things get a bit gruesome.
The actual Wan Chai Market is inside of a warehouse building, not to be confused with the general Wan Chai Market area. There are many things to do outside of the proper market too. Peruse vendor stands and grab some lunch at a local restaurant.
Golden Bauhinia Square
Don’t miss the excellent skyline views at Golden Bauhinia Square. Stroll down the Expo Promenade and take in the scenery of Kowloon’s waterfront across the bay. It was quite relaxing listening to all the birds chirping in the trees along the pathway.
This area of Hong Kong is undergoing major development. Golden Bauhinia Square is awesome if you love skylines, but there is not too much else directly nearby.
There is a large business center about a 7 minute-walk away that has some small restaurants, but it’s nothing too authentic. Still, I’d grab a taxi and go to Golden Bauhinia!
Victoria Peak Skyline Views
Victoria Peak is my favorite place to see the Hong Kong skyline. Take a ride on the HK Peak Tram (as opposed to several hours hiking a mountain) to the observation deck.
Tickets are available upon arrival and they take credit card. I personally went at night to see the city wonderfully lit up.
Buy the combined ticket with observation deck access. The free one pales in comparison. Going before sunset would also be a great idea so you can see the colorful horizon.
Leave plenty of time for the journey to the top if you want to catch the sunset at Victoria Peak. Walking to the tram entrance, riding it up and climbing various escalators to the viewing deck will take at least an hour.
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Ride The Mid-Levels Escalators
One of the coolest things about Hong Kong is this long series of escalators connecting the streets along the Central neighborhood’s hillside. Riding them from bottom to top is a fun way to explore the neighborhood.
Restaurants, bars and coffee shops are everywhere in this vibrant area. I stopped at The Balcony for a half pint of Stella beer on my way through town.
Visit Victoria Park
Victoria Park is huge and has an area for just about every type of sport. There’s a jogging path, basketball courts, tennis courts, stretching areas and a bunch more. There is also grassy area in the center of the running track if you’re just looking to relax.
The energy in Victoria Park was so positive that I had to get up early one morning and go for a run just after the sun came up. I’d definitely keep Victoria Park in mind if you’re looking for a good workout spot.
Hong Kong Restaurants
Midnight Wildfire is a fun spot to have dinner with a friend. You can entertain yourself with a personal grill! Everything you order comes raw. You’ll cook it on a small vented grill on your table. The restaurant is between Wan Chai and Causeway Bay.
I ate breakfast at Fairwood many of my days in Hong Kong. Fairwood is a local restaurant chain that specializes in serving delicious meals fast! Hong Kongers head to Fairwood for a pre-workday meal.
Fairwood is cheap, has plenty of seating and is open very early. Its the perfect breakfast spot for gay travelers who like to get out and about while the sun is still rising. It can get busy, so you may need to share a table with a local!
Pick up a quick breakfast at Catherine’s Bakery in Central. They have both sweet and savory items. They also have delicious iced coffee. Everything is very cheap!
It’s difficult for me to recommend various other places I visited since the names were not on Google Maps or weren’t in English. I recommend just hitting the streets in busy areas and trying some random places. A small line outside is always a good sign.
Dim Sum Restaurants in Hong Kong
Prestige Dim Sum Restaurant is one of my favorite Hong Kong dim sum spots. You can expect quick, basic service and delicious food. I loved the glutinous rice rolls here, as well as the shrimp and vegetable dumplings.
Dim Dim Sum in Wan Chai is another great spot for authentic dim sum. You’ll find mostly locals here, but some tourists come too. You absolutely must get their iconic and cute piggy custard cakes.
Other than those, you’ll probably want to stick to the steamed menu and other savory items. I accidentally ordered way too many sweet dishes!
Ordering dim sum is super easy. You fill out a sheet with a pen, marking the dishes you want. Every decent place I saw had a menu in both English and Cantonese.
Lastly, as you make your way around Hong Kong, you’ll likely see small stands selling buns, savory snacks and colorful sweets in glass cases. This stuff is delicious. Don’t leave without indulging in a set of 3 to 5 items.
Hong Kong Gay Bars
The Hong Kong gay scene is very friendly. Everyone is open-hearted and especially eager to chat with travelers. There are a bunch of gay bars in Hong Kong, mostly near the Central neighborhood.
Petticoat Lane is without a doubt the best Hong Kong gay bar. Everything about Petticoat is awesome. They have an outdoor terrace area, talented drag queens and there is no charge to enter. I saw the best drag performance I’ve ever seen in Asia right here!
Instead of elaborate shows, the Petticoat Lane drag performances are comprised of one or two individual songs a couple times over the course of an evening. Check out these stunning drag queens from Petticoat performing their virtual lip sync for global world pride 2020!
Every Wednesday, Petticoat Lane has a special event called “Wednesgay,” where they give out free vodka drinks for a couple of hours. You’ll surely find a bunch of gay ex-pats here.
FLM: Hong Kong's Premier LGBT+ Venue
FLM had the largest dance floor area of all the Hong Kong gay bars I visited. If you’re headed there on foot, don’t fret if the streets around you seem a bit desolate. Once you arrive and feel the music’s vibration, you’ll certainly be excited to run inside.
FLM has an additional upstairs area with another bar that’s quieter if you prefer something more intimate. Make sure to have cash on hand, since FLM gay bar charges a cover of 200 Hong Kong Dollars. This includes a couple of drink tickets.
Zoo Bar had the clubbiest music and the most local feel of all the Hong Kong gay bars, although it’s smaller so there is not much room to dance. I didn’t see any ex-pats here and I later learned why.
Mostly a “locals only” bar. Zoo Bar sometimes will ask foreigners to leave, but not always. If you respectably approach the bouncer, I’m sure you’ll have a good chance of getting in.
Linq is another gay bar that offers free vodka on Wednesdays. Over toward the western part of the Central neighborhood, their space was recently renovated.
I didn’t get a chance to visit Linq Bar, but by good friend Jase loves a night out at here whenever he is in Hong Kong. So I recommend trying it out!
Hong Kong Gay Friendly Party Areas
Hang out on Peel Street with the ex-pats on Fridays! After everyone gets out of work, Peel Street fills with workers looking to get a little rowdy. In my opinion, it resembled a college campus bar area! There are dozens of tiny bars on Peel Street, so everyone kind of moves around.
Sobremesa on nearby Elgin Street has great happy hour specials as well as shisha. I shared some lychee martinis with my friend Taylor who was in town on business. Interestingly, you can find shisha at a number of restaurants in the Central neighborhood.
Lan Kwai Fong, or LKF, is one of the rowdiest places to party in Hong Kong. The vibe of LKF is more akin to something you would find in Southeast Asia. Loud music blares as hosts and hostesses try to lure in pedestrians with cheap drink specials.
Beaches in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has some beautiful, swimmable beaches! Take a public bus to the southern coast of Hong Kong Island to see some magnificent shores tucked between massive rock outcrops.
The ride takes about 30 minutes and only costs about USD 30 cents! Much more economical than a cab. Plus, it’s probably faster.
Repulse Bay Beach
Repulse Bay was a truly surprising oasis and has a uniquely beautiful beachfront. The way the trees are spread out in the sand reminded me of an African landscape.
Repulse Bay Beach is best if you’re seeking tranquility in a large open area away from the city. It is not as developed with restaurants and other facilities, but it’s certainly more beautiful.
Stanley is the most developed of the beach areas in Hong Kong. There are two parts: Stanley Main Beach and the Stanley Plaza Waterfront Promenade.
Many English and French ex-pats live in Stanley. While you visit, you can observe how the Chinese and ex-pat communities flawlessly meld. You can also do some windsurfing!
The Stanley Promenade is lined with restaurants and markets, perfect for a long stroll. Stanley Plaza is at the west end of the promenade, a small indoor-outdoor mall.
Stanley Plaza mall has a relaxing open-air vibe, similar to something you would expect in Los Angeles. Pretty much anything you could need is here in Stanley Plaza including clothing stores, ice cream shops, restaurants, a grocery store and a pharmacy.
Walk past Murray House across the street for some great architecture. Surprisingly, there’s actually an H&M inside this relic of a structure.
Stanley Main Beach is a five-minute walk away. In my opinion, the beach was not so great. There were too many children to allow for any relaxation and the beachfront seemed a bit lackluster.
If you’re stopping by Stanley anyway, then walk over to the water sports area. It’s quieter and you’ll be able to peacefully listen to the waves.
Deep Water Bay Beach
One final option nearby Repulse Bay is Deep Water Bay Beach. You still need to catch the bus to go between the two. Deep Water Bay Beach is even more secluded, so you may one of few people if you’re lucky!
Is There a Hong Kong Gay Beach?
Firstly, this part of the world has a very traditional culture that doesn’t exactly promote LGBT culture. Although a Hong Kong gay beach would make it easier for travelers and locals to meet one another, there sadly is no such thing.
I did not visit in summer, so I wasn’t in the right time frame to seek information on local gay beach hangouts. If you know of one in Hong Kong, send wolfyy a message and let me know.
Hong Kong Gay Travel Tips
Whenever you eat at an informal restaurant, you will likely receive a small receipt right after you place your order. You take these to the front cash register to pay, as opposed to the staff coming to your table.
If you plan to go to mainland China, remember that the visa process is completely different and more lengthy. I recommend contacting a private passport agency that can expedite the application.
It is definitely possible to get a mainland china visa in three to five days for a price around $100 USD (in the US at least).
Buy an Octopus Card
Every Hong Kong local uses a prepaid cash card called the Octopus Card. Most importantly, you’ll use it to use public transit. Restaurants also accept payment with this card, but not universally.
The odd thing about the Octopus Card is that you cannot use a debit or credit card to buy one. So, the use of the Octopus Card in a restaurant is pretty much pointless.
I recommend you put only the value you’ll need on the card when you buy. It’s always possible to add more. When buying an Octopus Card, you will need to pay a “deposit” of about 50 Hong Kong Dollars.
Before you leave, trade it back for your remaining balance and deposit refund.
Using Public Transit in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s public transit system is quite efficient and organized. The city has above-ground tramways, buses and a below-ground metro.
Public buses come in two types: larger, and more modern double-decker main buses and “light” 19-seat buses. Smaller buses serve farther destinations.
When boarding the above ground tramway cars, all passengers enter through the rear door. You pass through a turnstile upon entry. The only use of these is to prevent people from existing through the rear doors. Before your stop, make sure to make your way to a position near the exit door.
How to Get to Central Hong Kong from the Airport
Hong Kong has a wonderful airport link called the Hong Kong Airport Express. It’s an above ground train that makes only a few stops between Hong Kong Island and the airport.
There is a station in both Central (on Hong Kong Island) and in Kowloon. The train cars are spacious, comfortable and air conditioned.
Downloading the ticket is super easy and you can add it to your Apple wallet so it pops up on your phone the day you need it.
More Hong Kong Gay Travel Tips
Upon arrival, you might not notice how huge Hong Kong Airport truly is. As in my case, you’ll probably only notice this when it’s taking you 25 minutes to walk to your gate after passing security! Leave yourself plenty of time.
If you are asked to “sign in” upon entering any Hong Kong restaurant or bar, this is just a formality that businesses need to comply with in order to maintain their liquor license. One person per party is required to write down their information.
Hong Kong Gay Rights
Early LGBT laws forbidding homosexuality in Hong Kong were established when the region was under British rule. In 1991, homosexuality was decriminalized, remaining unquestioned until 2005.
Between 2005 until 2019, lawsuits continually brough the legality of homosexuality into question. Only in 2019 was this finally resolved, officially legalizing homosexuality in Hong Kong.
Gay marriage is not recognized in Hong Kong. Neither are civil unions. Courts have heard several cases challenging the non-recognition in recent years.
Hong Kong laws don’t fully protect against LGBT discrimination either. However, the head of Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission has expressed intent to change this.
One third of Hong Kong’s population supported sam-sex marriage back in 2013, per a University of Hong Kong poll. This number grew substantially to roughly 50% when the population was surveyed again in 2017.