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Welcome to Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong perches on the edge of mainland China, occupying a unique position as a territory straddling two worlds. Since the handover in 1997 Hong Kong has become a 'Special Administrative Region of China', no longer a subject of British colonial sovereignty, though much of Britain's cultural and economic influence is still evident. Past and present fuse to create a capitalist utopia embedded within the world's largest Communist country.

Hong Kong offers a dense concentration of shops and shopping malls with a cross-pollinated cosmopolitan culture that embraces Nepalese and British cuisines with equal enthusiasm. It is the perfect gateway for travellers to Southeast Asia and China, providing a smooth transition from west to east. As one of the key economies of the Pacific Rim, Hong Kong Island showcases a gleaming landscape of skyscrapers and boasts a highly developed transport infrastructure that makes commuting around it a dream.

Hong Kong consists of four sections: Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands. Kowloon and the New Territories form part of the Chinese mainland to the north of Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong Island, containing the central business hub, lies on the southern side of the harbour facing Kowloon. The Outlying Islands comprise a composite of 234 islands.

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

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 cultural interest.

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 stores.

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 relationships.

Duty Free

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.

Passport Visa

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).

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