Information & Facts
The attractions of Hong Kong are often thought of as being the
brightly lit, energetic metropolis of the city. What is forgotten
is that the area known under the cumbersome name of the Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region, extends beyond the rampant streets
of Kowloon into pleasant island areas of great aesthetic and
In all likelihood, however, your Hong Kong journey will begin in
the urban part of the region, which is readily accessed from the
airport. This is a city where east meets west: the architecture is
either a curious mix of western building with oriental trimmings or
an out-and-out juxtaposition which sees a temple structure stand
opposite a lofty skyscraper. You could visit the Science Museum or
the Museum of History, and moments later take in the banking
district of Statue Square or the Wong Tai Sin Temple. Such is the
mismatched wonder of Hong Kong.
Getting around is relatively easy. Tourists are advised to pick
up an Octopus Card, which stores credit that to be used on any form
of transport, including ferries, as well as restaurants and
Out of town, Hong Kong offers numerous underrated natural
charms. The Dragon's Back Ridge just behind the city (and to the
south) offers exciting vistas of the over 200 Hong Kong islands.
You can sight waterfalls and old towns along the route. Over the
ridge, the Shek O beach provides respite from the city atmosphere.
The Ping Shan Heritage Trail, to the northwest, tracks past old
face brick homes and forts, abandoned towns from the agricultural
age of the region, and up to the very heights of the region.
Business in Hong Kong is conducted efficiently and formally and
punctuality is important. It is advised to allow for sufficient
travel time before meetings considering the high traffic
congestion. Suits and ties are the norm and it is customary to
exchange business cards (printed in English on one side and
Cantonese on the other) at the start of a meeting, along with a
handshake. Business cards should be given and received using both
hands, with the Cantonese side facing the recipient, and should be
treated with respect. It is common to greet the more senior or
elder person first. Business entertainment is usually in the form
of a lunch or dinner that is organised by the hosting partner. Food
is also usually ordered and paid for by the host. It is not unusual
to exchange gifts, but they are opened at the meeting. Business
hours are usually from 9am to 5pm, sometimes later on weekdays and
some businesses also open between 9am and 1pm on Saturdays.
The best time to travel to Hong Kong is between the autumn
months of October and November when the temperatures are milder.
January and February are usually cold and rainy months while June
to September temperatures average 86°F (30ºC) with 95% humidity.
Some rain and humidity can be expected throughout the year. Even
during the height of summer it is worth bringing some warm clothing
to combat the fierce air conditioning in shops and offices.
The international access code for Hong Kong is +852. The
outgoing code depends on what network is used: 001 for PCCW, 0080
for Hutchinson and 009 for New World. City codes within Hong Kong
are not required. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks
and have roaming agreements with most international operators.
Mobile phones can also be rented on arrival at the international
airport. Internet cafes are widely available, and access is free at
many coffee shops, shopping malls, MRT stations and public
libraries in town.
Littering and spitting are illegal in Hong Kong and will incur
on the spot fines. In Hong Kong the concept of 'face' is very
important; avoid causing someone to 'lose face' by publicly
insulting them or contradicting them in front of others as this is
a general 'no no'. The Chinese have great respect for hierarchical
Travellers to Hong Kong over the age of 18 years do not have to
pay duty on 1 litre of spirits or wine, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars
or 250g of tobacco. A reasonable amount of items for personal use
is also permitted. Prohibited items include narcotics, psychotropic
drugs, firearms and ammunition; counterfeit items, endangered
species (alive or stuffed), and copyright infringed products.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The UK-style
3-pin plugs are standard.
There are no specific health risks associated with travel to
Hong Kong. Food and water are safe, although visitors should
consider only drinking bottled water for the first few days of
their stay. The Hepatitis E virus is transmitted through
contaminated food and water and precautions should be taken with
food and drink. Take precautions against mosquito bites, as there
is a risk of Dengue fever. Outbreaks of Hand, Foot and Mouth
Disease are reported annually. Hong Kong's health facilities are
first class, but expect to pay cash. Medical insurance is advised.
Cases of bird flu have been reported and although the risk for
travellers is low, all close contact with caged, domestic and wild
birds should be avoided, and all poultry and egg dishes well
cooked. High quality medical care is widely available but medical
insurance is recommended.
The official languages in Hong Kong are English and
Cantonese. The other main language is Mandarin.
The unit of currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD); HK$1 is
divided into 100 cents. Major banks are open from 9am to 4:30pm
Monday to Friday, and 9am to 12:30pm on Saturday. Banks and
moneychangers charge commission as do hotels that provide exchange
services. All major credit cards are accepted and ATMs are widely
distributed. Some HSBC 'Electronic Money' machines provide 24-hour
cash withdrawal facilities for Visa and MasterCard holders.
All foreign visitors to Hong Kong must be in possession of
onward or return tickets (except when in transit to mainland China
or Macao), the necessary travel documentation for their next
destination, and proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay in
the country. Note that admission and/or transit will be refused to
any national holding a passport issued by Kiribati, and endorsed
"N-Kiribati" or "Investor". NOTE: It is highly recommended that
your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your
intended date of departure from your travel destination.
Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated
by travel agents and official sources.
Hong Kong is a safe travel destination although caution should
always be exercised when travelling to any city. Pickpockets are
likely to target unsuspecting tourists so one should minimise these
incidences through vigilance. Be wary of accepting drinks from
strangers, as reports of spiked drinks are increasing. Robbers have
recently targeted walkers in Hong Kong's Country Parks so it is
advisable to stay on marked trails and not to carry large amounts
of cash or credit cards. The typhoon season is usually between
April and October, which may cause flooding and landslides.
Local time is GMT +8.
A 10% service charge is usually added to restaurant bills in
Hong Kong, but waiters will still expect some loose change in
addition to this. If no service charge is included, a 10% tip is
expected. Taxi fares are rounded up to the nearest dollar (usually
automatically by the driver).