I am writing this in September, 2019. Hong Kong has been suffering through an extended period of public disruption, protests, some violence, and certainly a number of interruptions of services, flights, and other day to say things.
I won’t get into the politics of the situation, it is complicated and not really my cup of tea either way. I don’t support or protest against either side. I do just wish they would stop. So the question becomes, is Hong Kong safe. The short answer is a resounding YES, with a “but…”.
The “but…” is this: unlike past protests which were generally just large groups in a single somewhat defined area, this situation is very fluid and has touched all parts of Hong Kong at different times. In the past, most protests (even the Umbrella Movement) were generally peaceful, if aggressive. The current protests have turned both violent and have lead to damage of public facilities, delaying of subways, shutting down the airport, and very unusually for Hong Kong people seemingly not being too concerned about inconveniencing or even harming visitors to our fair city.
As such, there can be some danger if you happen to end up in an area where there are protests at a given time. For the most part, the violent acts (particularly destruction of public property, damaging subway stations, etc) happens mostly late at night, and usually at or near the end of protests. As such, if you see a large gathering of people, you should really just sort of stay away. There are no good photo-op moments in all of this, and you are likely to end up getting caught up in a cloud of tear gas or something of equally horrible nature.
The only real inconvenience that most travellers will run into is if there are protests around the airport. There have been already a couple of days of cancelled flights, but the most recent attempt to “stress test” the airport by protesters was pretty much repelled. Just remember that you may want to head towards the airport slightly earlier, and in town checking at Kowloon station may be closed or limited.
Otherwise, Hong Kong is it’s normal good safe self! Come on in and enjoy attractions like the Big Buddha, Disney Hong Kong, and all of the amazing other attractions that make Hong Kong a world class city!