So many apps to choose from, about Hong Kong! But which of them are any good?
With several months in between booking our trip and travelling, I’ve had the opportunity to download and try a great many of them. What’s listed here is the handful I eventually decided upon taking, along with a verdict on how useful (or not!) they are proving to be while abroad.
Hong Kong specific titles:
GuideWithMe Hong Kong
Useful background reading before we arrived, and every bit as informative as some of the many paid-for travel guides.
MTR Tourist 🙂
Invaluable, helping us with the Airport Express, the courtesy hotel shuttles, and daily travel around the city.
(MTR) Next Train
Never used it. Trains are so frequent, we don’t need to. A general rule of thumb – trains are every two minutes. Even the Airport Express. Just missed one? – next one will be in, you guessed it, two minutes!
A Public Toilet locator. Don’t need it. HK is very westernised in that respect, with toilets widely available at bars, restaurants and shopping centres.
Used it once, while trip planning for the Dragon’s Back Trail. Otherwise, used MTR trains and trams.
KMB & LW
Haven’t used it. We took the MTR trains and the ‘ding ding’ trams everywhere.
OpenRice (Hong Kong)
Haven’t used it, preferring the old fashioned method of checking how popular places are by the number of people inside.
Invaluable. We used the ‘ding ding’ trams to travel just about everywhere while we were on Hong Kong Island. They’re cheap, fun, and let you watch the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong while traveling at an altogether more relaxed pace.
Explore Beijing 🙂
OK, so it’s not Hong Kong! We spent a couple of days in Beijing, and this map of the Beijing Underground was extremely useful for getting from airport to hotel, and for city travel.
Free directions and public transport info’, which covers several major cities around the world including HK. Haven’t used it, as my tourist SIM enables us to use Google Maps almost everywhere, along with the other specific apps mentioned above.
Absolutely essential – it’s a fully featured weather application, publishing all manner of detailed weather info’ direct from the Hong Kong Observatory. Forget about your usual favourites such as BBC Weather or the Samsung (Accuweather) Widget!
General Travel Apps:
We reserved all of our hotel accommodation for the trip using Booking.com. Really pleased with the whole experience, and having all our hotel addresses and reservations accessible in one place.
I’m going off this one. Mapping is a bit quirky compared to Google or Maps.ME, and they no longer offer their city guides and maps as an offline proposition.
Closely linked to Booking.Com, but I still use it to prepare an offline PDF itinerary in advance from their website (rather than the online version, which expects a data refresh every time you open it).
The OANDA foreign exchange app, very handy for quick conversions in either direction.
Didn’t use it. Signage is Bilingual in most of Hong Kong, and many people speak reasonable English. Google doesn’t work in China, where this app would have been of most benefit.
Didn’t use it, as per Google Translate comments.
Ever-present on my phone, because it provides detailed offline maps which you can download in advance. A great alternative if your signal can’t support Google Maps.
Some last minute additions…
Stumbled across this one on their countdown emails before the trip. I imagine it would be really useful for frequent travellers, but didn’t offer me anything not already available on the airport departure screens.
ICC Lightshow 🙂
Advertised on the ICC building itself, this app allows you to play a synchronised soundtrack when the ICC building runs its short lightshow each evening at 7.45pm and 9pm. Great at the Ibis Hotel Sheung Wan, with its fast free WiFi and uninterrupted view of the ICC building on the opposite shore.
Maybe more use to a regular commuter. It adds a further layer of details beyond the essential MTR Tourist app. Some of the MTR stations are so large, an app like this can help you to determine which of the many exits is the best one to get to your destination.
So there we have it. A summary of what I’ve found useful on a fortnight’s holiday in HK, and the ones I needn’t have bothered with. But what do you take on your own travels?