HK magazine is distributed free each Friday. Time Out Hong Kong costs HK$18 and is published every other Wednesday. Another good source of nightlife and cultural information is the daily English-language newspaper the South China Morning Post with its nightlife magazine 48 Hours.
Where To Go
From champagne decadence to sports bars lined with peanut shells, each of Hong Kong's districts has its own distinct nighttime personality. Even on a single street, dress codes and drink prices can vacillate wildly. The bar- and pub-lined streets of Lan Kwai Fong, Wan Chai, and Kowloon are fairly casual, though shorts and flip-flops will limit your options. A beer or a mixed drink will cost from HK$50 to HK$80. The Central, SoHo, and Wyndham Street areas are home to classy bars and glamorous nightclubs where a cosmopolitan mix of high rollers and partiers comes out to play. Drinks are expensive, and a martini might set you back more than HK$100.
Nightclubs range from down-to-earth dives with boisterous cover bands to hermetically sealed pleasure palaces packed with models and millionaires. The venues listed here tend to be smaller and more intimate than their high-octane megaplex cousins. Cover charges, if levied, can be steep, from HK$120 to HK$250, but often include a drink or two. If you're prepared to pay a steep minimum for bottle service (HK$1,000 to HK$10,000 depending on the venue), you can reserve a table for your party at some of these swanky establishments. Door trolls abound, so dress up to get in and blend in—shorts, flip-flops, and sneakers are definite no-nos.
When To Get There
Around-the-clock liquor licenses are common, so strict closing times are not. Bars start closing around 2 am, clubs around 4 am, with some still hopping around sunrise. Happy hours are from midafternoon to 8 or 9 pm on weekdays. Closing times listed refer to Friday, Saturday, and the eves of public holidays; you can expect things to wind down an hour or two earlier midweek. Bars are typically open nightly, but nightclubs are closed or quiet on Sunday and Monday.
Many bars and clubs have a "members-only" policy, but don't let this deter you. It's mostly a way of prioritizing the guest list on busy nights or get around no-smoking regulations. It can also mean that you're required to pay a cover charge, usually in the region of HK$150 to HK$200, including a drink on the house.
All premises licensed to serve alcohol are supposedly subject to stringent fire, safety, and sanitary controls, although at times this is hard to believe, given the overcrowding at the hippest places. Think twice before succumbing to the city's raunchier hideaways. If you stumble into one, check out cover and table charges before you get too comfortable. If you don't have a table, pay for each round of drinks as it's served (in cash rather than by credit card).
Hong Kong is an extremely safe place, but, as in many destinations, the art of the out-of-towner rip-off has been perfected. If you're unsure, visit places signposted as approved by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
The clean and reliable subway (MTR) shuts down at around 1 am, depending on your location. Taxis are your only way home after that. They are relatively cheap and can easily be flagged down on the street; when the light on the car roof is on, it's available for hire. If the cab has an "out of service" sign over its round "for hire" neon sign on the dashboard, it means it's a cross-harbor taxi. Fares start at HK$22.