Hong Kong doesn’t really have a high and low season in terms of tourism. The city hosts events and festivals throughout the year and unlike some other subtropical cities, it does have quite distinct seasons. So the best time to visit Hong Kong depends on your weather preferences and what you’re hoping to experience while you’re in Hong Kong.
Autumn (September to November)
Although temperatures still regularly rise above 28°C, September officially marks the start of Autumn in HK. The seasonal shift is culturally marked by the Mid-Autumn festival (confusingly named, yes, but it’s based on the lunar calendar so the festival date changes each year) where families gather amid lanterns, fire dragon dances and moon cakes — worth checking out if your trip coincides. The HK horse races start up again in September and take place (almost) every Wednesday at the Happy Valley race course. A night at the ponies makes for an entertaining evening.
The weather is still hot, quite humid and unpredictable with typhoons and rainstorms frequently passing through one day and hot sunshine the next day.
October 1st marks National Day when an impressive fireworks display takes place over the harbour. The humidity starts to drop but the days are still considered hot by most, especially if you’re not used to heat. Some outdoor events start to kick off, such as the Freespace Jazz Fest, Marco Polo German Bierfest, Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival and the Grounds open air cinema. If you’re here near the end of October and you’re a fan of alcohol and/or costumes, then check out the Lan Kwai Fong Halloween street party for a good (but busy) night.
Blue skies, sunshine, cool breezes and low humidity; November is probably the best time of year to visit HK in terms of temperature. It’s also one of the best times to truly appreciate the outdoors and make the most of the plethora of hiking trails, beaches, islands, country parks, waterfronts and campsites on offer. If you prefer watching somebody else do the walking, then check out the Hong Kong Open — the city’s oldest professional sporting event — which attracts some of the major champions of the golfing world.
Winter (December to February)
HK goes pretty nuts for Christmas with the decorations coming out almost as soon as Halloween has finished but there really is something quite special about seeing the harbour dressed in all its Christmas lights. The weather is more stable with temperatures sometimes dropping to 8 to 10°C but typically remaining in the double digits. It’s also a slightly quieter time of year as many people choose this time to travel outside of HK.
If you’re a live music fan, make sure you plan your trip to coincide with one of the best music events of the year; Clockenflap. Usually taking place at the start of the month, Clockenflap brings music, art, food, drink and people together for 3 days of family-friendly fun along the Central Harbourfront.
If shopping is your thing, stick around for the post Christmas sales that almost every store will be advertising.
January can actually get quite chilly, with temperatures sitting around 10 to 15°C but sometimes dropping into single digits. While you may scoff at us thinking 10°C is chilly, don’t forget homes and hotels are not insulated here and don’t have central heating so you really do feel it more.
New Year’s Eve in HK can be amazing or a pain, depending on your preferences. The full fireworks display has yet to return in all its glory post COVID (at the time of writing) but there is a wonderful light and smaller pyrotechnic show which is still worth viewing from one of the harbour waterfront spaces or from a rooftop bar.
Lan Kwai Fong turns into a massive street party and almost every bar and restaurant offers some sort of NYE’s package (make sure you book well in advance as these fill up fast). If crowds (or ramped up menu prices) aren’t what you’re after, why not check out one of HK’s many beaches or campsites and bring in the new year with a bonfire and a beer?
Chinese New Year falls either in January or February, depending on the lunar calendar so the Christmas reds and greens quickly turn into lunar new year reds and golds. The whole city comes alive with festivities, flower markets, lion dances and lantern displays as it gets ready for the big day. It’s definitely a special time of year to visit and see HK at its most colourful. Plus, many people are busy with family events over the new year, so much of HK becomes a little quieter.
February also marks the start of the HK Arts Festival. Running from February to March, the festival has been bringing local and international art, dance, film, theatre and opera acts to the city for over 50 years.
Spring (March to May)
The weather starts to get a little worse around March as the creeping return of the humidity brings foggy and rainy days, which can be fleeting, or last for weeks. Temperatures are still pleasant though and typically range between 17-23°C.
The weather may be drab in March but the arts scene is far from it. Art month, as March is otherwise known, pumps out a number of events such as Art Central, Art Basel, HK Arts Festival and the HK International Film Festival.
As the weather continues to warm up, so do 200+ rugby players as they land in Hong Kong for one of the biggest sporting events in Asia; the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. Held over 3 days, the tournament showcases some of the world’s best rugby to a rowdy audience made up of 30,000 fans and copious amounts of beer.
There are pretty much no more cool days in May with temperatures rising to the late twenties and humidity levels continuing to climb.
May also brings about both an overseas festival and a local cultural event. Le French May has run almost every year since 1993 and is one of the largest French arts festivals in Asia.
Over on Cheung Chau island, the annual Cheung Chau Bun Festival takes place in either April or May and sees athletes climb their way to the top of 18 metre towers to ‘snatch’ buns from the top. The ritual was once based on making offerings to local deities in order to ward off an ancient plague. Today, the festival is an excellent showcase of local Chinese culture and ceremonies.
Summer (June to August)
June may be the official start of summer in HK but high temperatures are already in full swing with an average of 28 to 30°C. Summer also means big rain in HK so whether it’s from sweat or from rain, you’re going to be damp if you come this time of year (pack extra shirts!). If warmer weather is what you enjoy, then be sure to check out the Dragon Boat Festival and the International Dragon Boat Races which take place on the festival day itself (dates vary each year depending on the lunar calendar).
July is the hottest month of the year in HK with minimum temperatures sitting at a steamy 28°C and regularly reaching 33°C. But, there are plenty of fun ways to cool down. Head to one of the many stunning beaches, check out some rock pools, take a dip in a fancy hotel pool with a view, or do what the locals do and party on a junk boat for the day. If you can’t handle the heat, stay inside for some retail therapy or check out a museum. July and August are also when the exhibitions and consumer fairs take place, such as the Ani-Com and Games, the HK Book Fair and the Food Expo.
The heat continues into August but the rainy days become more frequent. Don’t expect the rain to cool you down though as these tropical rain storms bring more humidity and will drench you in seconds if you get caught out without an umbrella.
While these big rain storms can be quite impressive to witness and may not bother you, you should also note that If you are planning on visiting during the summer months, May to September is considered typhoon season. If a typhoon is on the horizon, pay attention to the HK Observatory (you can download the app) as they employ a ranking system of typhoon signals to indicate the threat of the incoming typhoon. If a signal is raised to a T8, T9 or T10, all businesses, schools and transportation systems must stop operating and you should remain indoors.
There is also a system for heavy rain consisting of amber, red and black warnings. A Black rainstorm warning will shut down all businesses and transportation systems in the city.