Kowloon vs Hong Kong Island – Where To Stay In Hong Kong

When choosing where to stay in Hong Kong, many travellers come across the areas of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Both are fantastic places to stay but do have some differences. 

This post discusses Kowloon vs Hong Kong Island so you can decide which area is best for you.

Contents: Kowloon or Hong Kong Island

Overview – Key Differences Between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island

Photo by Skull Kat on Unsplash

Key points: Kowloon vs Hong Kong Island

  • Hong Kong Island is generally more expensive than Kowloon.
  • Hong Kong Island has a more upmarket feel whereas Kowloon has many older neighbourhoods and buildings. 
  • Kowloon has more traditional Chinese culture whereas Hong Kong Island is much more westernised and international.
  • Kowloon is generally better for shopping as it has a wide range of malls and markets. Hong Kong Island does have some luxury malls too. 
  • Most of the main attractions are located on Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong Island would be a better choice if you want to stay centrally, close to all the main attractions and your budget is mid-range to high-end.

It is also the best option if your time in Hong Kong will be short as you’re close by to all the action. Hong Kong Island is filled with tall, iconic skyscrapers and this area is great for luxury shopping and also has an amazing nightlife. 

Kowloon would be a better choice if your budget is lower as it is generally cheaper than Hong Kong Island. It’s great for people who want to see more traditional culture and for people who have plenty of time to fully explore Hong Kong.

You will spend a bit more time on public transport here as many of the main attractions in Hong Kong are on Hong Kong Island but there are certainly plenty of things to do in Kowloon too.

It’s good to know the public transport here is fast, modern and easy to use so even if you do want to visit Hong Kong Island, you’ll be there in no time.

Kowloon is the best area for exploring markets (as it’s full of them!) and is home to the famous area of Tsim Sha Tsui where you can walk along the waterfront promenade. You’ll also get the best view of the skyscrapers in Hong Kong Island from this side of the harbour!

Kowloon used to be seen as a much more downmarket part of the city whereas Hong Kong Island was seen as a flashy, modern centre. Whilst there are still many older and less modern buildings and neighbourhoods in Kowloon, it also now has its fair share of swanky restaurants and luxury hotels so there’s definitely something for everyone here.

Location – Kowloon vs Hong Kong Island

Victoria Harbour Photo by Sankalp Sharma on Unsplash

The first thing to note is that Hong Kong Island, as the name suggests, is an island whereas Kowloon is on the mainland. They are split by the iconic Victoria Harbour. 

Whether you end up staying in Kowloon or Hong Kong Island, it doesn’t mean you can’t easily visit the other. The 2 parts of Hong Kong are actually very well connected.

You can easily get to the other by taking the MTR or the Star Ferry. If you go by MTR, the journey will only take you a few minutes and the MTR is super modern and really efficient.

Which is cheaper? Kowloon or Hong Kong Island

In general, Hong Kong Island is more pricey than Kowloon. Kowloon is known to be a great place to grab a bargain. You’ll often get better value in Kowloon compared with Hong Kong Island.

If saving money is important then you should definitely get your accommodation in Kowloon as the prices are much cheaper and you can still easily get to Hong Kong Island to explore during the day. There’s plenty of lower cost, mid-range hotels in Kowloon to choose from. 

Hong Kong Island is filled with swanky shopping malls and upmarket boutiques. It is much more expensive here. If you get a hotel here, you’ll spend a lot more than if you get a hotel in Kowloon. It’s a similar story with restaurants and bars too.

Accommodation/hotels – Kowloon vs Hong Kong Island

Photo by Meckl Antal on Unsplash

As mentioned already, generally you will find more affordable and cheaper accommodation in Kowloon compared with Hong Kong Island.

There are plenty of luxury, 5* hotels in Hong Kong Island to choose from, however there is definitely no shortage of luxury hotels in Kowloon either. Below are some of Hong Kong’s best hotels.

Kowloon – Best Hotels:

The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

Hotel ICON

The Peninsula Hong Kong

Kowloon Shangri-La

Hong Kong Island – Best Hotels

Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong

The Upper House

Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

Island Shangri-La Hotel

If you’re on more of a budget, why not check out Airbnb. I stayed in an Airbnb in Kowloon on my last trip to Hong Kong and it was so easy. Make sure you use this Airbnb referral link to get a discount on your first trip! 

Which has a better atmosphere – Kowloon vs Hong Kong Island

Central Photo by Florian Wehde on Unsplash

Kowloon has a much older/traditional feel to it than Hong Kong Island. You’ll see a lot more cultural buildings here including traditional Chinese areas. There are a lot of older buildings and neighbourhoods here and it is definitely less swanky than the nearby Hong Kong Island.

Many visitors would describe Kowloon as more authentic and has a much more Chinese feel than Hong Kong Island.

In Hong Kong Island, this is where you’ll find the towering skyscrapers that form Hong Kong’s iconic skyline. Featuring some of the world’s tallest buildings, this area is ultra-modern. This area has more of a Western feel compared with Kowloon. 

Central, part of Hong Kong Island, is the financial hub of the city, in the daytime you’ll see a lot of workers here as it is the location of international banks and corporate headquarters. At night, people flock to the nightlife spots for a well-deserved night out.

Which has better shopping? Kowloon or Hong Kong Island

Kowloon is a shopping haven where you’ll find lots of shopping malls. You can head to Sneaker Street, the Ladies Market or the Langham Palace Mall in Mong Kok. You can get some great bargains in Kowloon.

Mong Kok has a range of different shops and malls dedicated to different things e.g. from shoes and sportswear to electronics to clothing. Ladies Market is an outdoor street market filled with street stalls where you can purchase clothes, shoes, bags, lighters, souvenirs and so much more. 

Hong Kong Island also has great shopping options but it tends to be more pricey here. You’ll find lots of shops and shopping malls in Causeway Bay as well as in Central. In Central, the shops tend to be more high-end.

If you’re looking to grab yourself a bargain, then it’s better to shop in Kowloon.

Which has better food/restaurants? Kowloon or Hong Kong Island

Kowloon is a great area for foodies as there are lots of delicious local restaurants and street food options. Why not head to Temple Street market for some tasty street food. Kowloon is great for authentic, local food. You’ll find less international/Western options here and more Chinese restaurants. 

In Hong Kong Island, you’ll also find plenty of options. Causeway Bay has plenty of great restaurants. You’ll tend to find a lot more international restaurants in Hong Kong Island with more Western options compared to Kowloon.

If you’re wanting to dine in the newest and trendiest restaurants then Hong Kong Island is perfect for you.

Which has better things to do? Kowloon or Hong Kong Island

Victoria Peak Photo by John O’Nolan on Unsplash

Some of Hong Kong’s top attractions are located on Hong Kong Island including Victoria Peak where you’ll get the best view over the city. Make sure you take the Peak Tram to get to the top.

Hong Kong Island is also home to Ocean Park, one of the city’s best theme parks,  and you can hop onto one of the famous Ding-ding trams! You can also spend some time relaxing on the beach at Repulse Bay.

In Kowloon, you can walk along the famous promenade in Tsim Sha Tsui. This includes the Avenue of the Stars. This area is a bustling waterfront filled with boutiques, shopping malls, parks and more.

Kowloon offers great views of Hong Kong’s iconic skyline, you can simply look out across the harbour – the best time to do this is during the nightly Symphony of Lights Show. Kowloon is a great place to experience Chinese culture, you’ll find many historic sites and temples dotted around this area.

Which has a better nightlife? Kowloon or Hong Kong Island

Lan Kwai Fong Photo by Viraj Rajankar on Unsplash

The nightlife in Hong Kong Island is off the charts. One of Hong Kong’s best areas for nightlife, Lan Kwai Fong, is located here. This area is made up of a few streets filled with pubs, bars and nightclubs. It’s always buzzing here in the evening.

The main thing to note is that it can be difficult and expensive to get back to Kowloon at night time so if you think you’ll be having lots of nights out in Hong Kong Island then it may be better to get a hotel on the island rather than in Kowloon.

Kowloon also has a pretty lively nightlife. Kowloon has many rooftop bars that provide breathtaking views across the harbour to the stunning skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island that light up at night time.

If this doesn’t sound like your thing then why not hit the bustling night markets or head to a venue with live music. 


Thanks for reading this guide on where to stay in Hong Kong, Kowloon vs Hong Kong Island. Just remember that wherever you choose to stay in Hong Kong, you can easily explore the other as the public transport in Hong Kong is very efficient.

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