Useful Android apps for visiting or living in Hong Kong

Today I thought I’d share with you the apps that I have found most useful since living in Hong Kong. I have an Android phone so these are all Android apps, but most of them are available on Apple. I’ve provided links to download the apps from Google Play. These apps are mostly local to Hong Kong, and mostly free (with one exception). I’d recommend them to anyone who lives in Hong Kong or comes to visit!

I’ll start with the travel apps.

Google Maps

Google Maps

This is a bit of an obvious one, but I find Google Maps so useful! Not only is it great for figuring out where things are, but a recent upgrade included a journey planner which covers a great range of Hong Kong public transport information, including green minibuses! (I don’t think it has the red minibuses in but I’ve not checked). I use it all the time for finding the best way to get from A to B. However, be careful as occasionally it shows the closest bus stop as the crow flies and doesn’t take into account some of the sharp cliffs in Hong Kong – one of the first times I used it, it wanted me to scale a small mountain on foot!

CitybusNWFB

CitybusNWFB app

Not a very sophisticated app but very useful for finding out where buses go and where bus stops are. You can search by location or route number. If you have GPS it can tell you when you are approaching the bus stop you want to get off at. Some bus routes have live bus information on the app, telling you when the next bus will arrive at your stop (but I think this is currently limited to Express and Airport buses). This app covers Citybus and First buses (mainly Hong Kong island).

KMB & LW

KMB bus app

Very similar to the Citybus app but covers the KMB buses, which mainly go on the Kowloon side.

MTR Mobile

MTR Mobile app

I don’t use this app very often but if you’re not familiar with the Hong Kong MTR system this simple-to-use app would be useful for finding your way around. You can use it to find the best route between MTR stations and it will tell you the cost and roughly how long it will take. It also provides alerts when there is a major problem on the MTR system (although this is pretty rare).

HKFerry HD

Hong Kong Ferry app

This is quite a basic app but it does all it needs to, which is to give you the timetables for pretty much all the ferries in Hong Kong. It’ll also tell you when the next one is leaving so you can see if you’re going to make it in time!

Taxi Translator (Paid app)

Hong Kong Taxi Translator app

This is the only non-free app on my list, but in my opinion it’s totally worth the money (which is only HK$7.70, approx. £0.60). It has a Cantonese translation of every street, large residential estate, major buildings and landmarks in Hong Kong, which is so useful when you come across a taxi driver who doesn’t speak English! It will give you both the address in characters and a phonetic version (if you’re brave enough to try and pronounce it – although when I’ve tried it seems to work well). It will also give you a ‘taxi card’ which has the address in large characters, filling the screen, so you can just show your phone to the taxi driver!

Ok, onto the non-travel apps…

MyObservatory

HK Observatory app

This app from the Hong Kong Observatory is pretty much a staple. It’ll tell you weather predictions and much more, including a rain radar (so you can see if rain is coming) and storm track (so you can see if a typhoon is heading your way). One of its most useful features is that it tells you all the warnings issued by the Hong Kong Observatory so you can easily find out if a T8 signal has been hoisted and you get to stay home from work! Being Brits, we’re quite amused by the cold weather warning which pops up when the temperature is expected to go below 14degC – no unnecessary journeys, look after the elderly etc! (if that was the case in the UK, nothing would ever happen!)

Open Rice

Open Rice Hong Kong

This app provides information and reviews of a huge number of Hong Kong restaurants. Very useful for planning a meal out! The only downside is that most of the reviews are in Chinese, but there’s usually one or two in English to give you an idea of what other diners think.

Hong Kong Movie

Hong Kong Movie app

Another straightforward app which tells you what’s on where in Hong Kong cinemas. A nice feature is that most of the cinemas have availability information on the app so you can see what seats are free on a particular showing. You can also book tickets to some of the cinemas through the app as well.

Enjoy Hiking

Enjoy Hiking

This app has information on all the official hiking paths in Hong Kong, divided into Family Walks, Nature Trails, Country Trails and Long Trails. You can also search for walks roughly by region. Whilst it’s a really useful app for finding out what walks are where (and also how to get to and from them), the information on each walk is pretty limited and the accompanying maps can be a little hard to read. Another minor annoyance (although not the app’s fault) is that some of the walks start in quite random places so you have to hike for a while just to get to the start of the walk!

Whatsapp

whatsapp

This isn’t technically a Hong Kong app but I hadn’t come across this app until I came to Hong Kong. Everyone uses it here! It’s basically an internet based messaging system, so as long as you have wifi or mobile data you can send text messages for free. The app allows you to send a message to anyone in your contacts who also has Whatsapp on their phone. It’s really useful here because inter-network texts aren’t free (unlike in the UK) and you often don’t know which of your friends are on the same network as you! Being an expat abroad, it’s also useful for sending free messages to friends back home.

Pleco

Pleco app

This Chinese dictionary app is more useful for people with a basic understanding of Chinese characters (i.e. not me, but my husband finds it really useful). You can type in English, pinyin or draw characters and the app will give you possible meanings. It’s mainly for Mandarin speakers but also has Cantonese pronunciations as well as both simplified and traditional characters, making it useful in Hong Kong or mainland China. It also has a flashcard feature to help you to learn Chinese characters if you wish.

So those are my favourite apps to use in Hong Kong. Do you agree? Do you have any other recommendations? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Dim sum – classic Hong Kong cuisine

Dim sum is classic Cantonese cuisine at its best, and it’s a bit of an institution here. Traditionally, it’s eaten at lunchtimes but I think a lot of dim sum restaurants will offer it all day now, so you can indulge any time you like! My husband is a particular fan, and if for whatever reason he’s feeling a bit down, going for dim sum usually perks him up again :)

And did I mention that it’s really cheap too?!

For those who are as clueless about dim sum as I was before we moved to Hong Kong, it’s basically a meal made up of small pieces of food. If you’ve ever had tapas then it’s the same concept but with Chinese food! So when you go into a dim sum restaurant, you order a range of plates of food and each will have usually 2-4 identical items on for you to share.

Traditionally, dim sum restaurants used to have ladies with a trolley each who would walk around the restaurant. Each trolley has a few different dishes on, and when you see one coming that has something on that you want, you call the lady over and she will give you some food! There aren’t many restaurants which are like this now, but Maxim’s Palace in City Hall does (address: 3/F, City Hall, 5-7 Edinburgh Place, Central/中環愛丁堡廣場5-7號大會堂低座3樓). This where we usually take visitors to Hong Kong as it’s such a fun experience, set in a large ballroom. It gets pretty busy so be prepared to wait up to an hour for a table.

Alternatively, for a normal restaurant experience but better, cheaper food I’d recommend Tim Ho Wan. I think the Mongkok branch of this restaurant has a Michelin star! We usually go to the North Point branch (address: Shop B, C, & D, G/F, 2-8 Wharf Road, Seaview Building, North Point/北角和富道2-8號嘉洋大廈地下B,C及D鋪) instead as it’s much less busy and both times we’ve been we haven’t had to queue at all.

Anyway, onto the good stuff now – what to order when you get there! Here are some of our favourites:

Dumplings

There are several types of dumplings on most dim sum menus. Hargow (or ha-gaau) have prawns (shrimp) inside:

ha-gaau

Siu-mai (which I don’t have a picture of) usually have pork inside with a crown of shrimp on top, I also like these :) Some dim sum restaurants will also offer xiao long bao, which have pork and soup in (as I mentioned here), although these are Shanghainese and not traditionally part of dim sum.

xiao long bao

BBQ pork buns

These are known locally as char siu bao and comprise a fluffy white sweet bun with Hong Kong style BBQ pork in (very different from BBQ sauce!). Very yummy :)

BBQ pork buns

Glutinous rice dumplings

These are essentially a large ball of sticky rice with other things mixed in such as chicken, prawns, egg and mushrooms. This will be delivered to your table wrapped in a banana leaf, which is what they steam the whole thing in. It tastes much better than it looks here, honest!

glutinous rice dumpling

Stuffed peppers

These are usually halves of long thin non-spicy peppers (although I have had a spicy one once!) which have been filled with pork. I guess they are then grilled or fried before serving. These ones are upside down so you can’t see the pork which is underneath!

stuffed peppers

Rice rolls

These are long rolls containing meat or seafood wrapped in an outer layer made from rice. The outer layer is a bit like a pasta sheet but has a slightly different taste and texture. Our favourite type is BBQ pork rice rolls.

BBQ pork rice roll

Egg tarts

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of this but egg tarts make a great end to a dim sum feast. They actually originate from Macau but you can find them all over Hong Kong. They look like jam tarts but with egg instead of jam! They also have a caramelised topping which makes the egg sweet.

Egg cake

This is another sweet dish, and is actually just a large cube of sponge cake (I think it’s called egg cake as a literal translation of the Cantonese for cake – daan-gaau). It’s usually pretty moist and fluffy.

So, if you come to Hong Kong you must try some dim sum! Let me know if you have any favourites that I have missed. I have to admit that I have excluded some of the local favourites, such as chicken feet and turnip cake as we’ve tried them and didn’t really like them, so this is very much a Westerner’s opinion on dim sum!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel