Positioned at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta on the coast of southern China, Hong Kong’s geographical position as a gateway between East and West has made it an attractive hub for international trade. As a reflection of this, the heart of Asia’s world city has always been the bustling and beautiful Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong Island lies to the south of the harbour, while the Kowloon Peninsula forms its northern shores. To the north of Kowloon lies the New Territories, which stretch all the way to Mainland China. Hong Kong is also home to more than 200 outlying islands, including Lantau Island, where the Hong Kong International Airport is located.
Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate with distinct seasons. Summer begins in June; it is hot, humid and sunny, with occasional showers and thunderstorms. Average Temperature: 26°C – 31°C. You can find detailed information about current and seasonal weather and 7 days weather forecast on the Hong Kong Observatory website. While you’re in Hong Kong, you can also dial 1878 200 and press '3' for English to check the latest situation.
From Hong Kong’s establishment as a colonial port, through its period as a manufacturing hub, and up until its current role as an international financial centre, the city’s population has always looked outwards. As a result, English is widely spoken. Today, it is the language of preference in the government, business and tourism sectors. All official signs and public transport announcements, as well as most menus, are bilingual. As a visitor, you may expect to encounter minimal problems when communicating in English with locals as most taxi drivers, salespeople, tourism industry employees and the police have reached competent levels of the language.
ATMs can be found almost everywhere. Many take international cards and some HSBC 'Electronic Money' machines provide 24-hour cash withdrawal (HK$) facilities for Visa and MasterCard holders.
The legal tender in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD), which is pegged to the US dollar at a rate of about 7.80 HKD to 1 USD, although exchange rates may fluctuate slightly. While coins are issued by the Government, interestingly, the issue of Hong Kong bank notes are shared between three commercial banks: HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Bank of China. These notes vary in design and colour according to denomination. Find more on Hong Kong’s coins and banknotes here.
You can exchange your currency for Hong Kong dollars at any authorised money exchanger. For extra peace of mind, look for a money exchanger that is accredited by the Quality Tourism Services (QTS) Scheme.
Electricity and Voltage
The standard electrical voltage in Hong Kong is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Most hotel bathrooms also have outlets for 100 volts, but if not, you will need a transformer for any appliance or electrical equipment. The majority of electrical outlets in Hong Kong take a three-pronged UK-style plug. You can buy an inexpensive adaptor for your electrical equipment at most convenience stores.
Using Mobile Phones/Telephones
Most of the world’s mobile telecommunications systems operate in Hong Kong, including GSM 900, PCS 1800, CDMA and WCDMA. Check if your service provider has a roaming agreement with a Hong Kong operator. And be sure to pay attention to the roaming rates!
You can rent local SIM cards or mobile phones when you arrive at the airport or in town. Prepaid Calling Card and Mobile Data Prepaid SIM Card for mobile phones can be easily purchased from major convenience stores in Hong Kong.
Local private landline telephone calls are free and cost only HK$1 for five minutes from public telephones. International Direct Dial (IDD) service to most countries and regions of the world is available at most hotels for a fee. The IDD code for Hong Kong is +(852). For worldwide IDD Codes, please click here.
Retail shops generally open from 10am to 7pm daily, although those in popular shopping areas such as Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui will stay open until 9:30pm or even later, especially on weekends. Many shops in Hong Kong remain open every day of the year, except the first two days of Chinese New Year.
Most shops in Hong Kong accept major credit cards; however, at open-air markets, most vendors will only take cash. As these can offer attractive bargains and are found all over Hong Kong, it’s best to bring both cash in Hong Kong dollars and credit cards when shopping.
Do some comparison shopping before you buy. Prices are usually clearly marked, particularly in shopping malls, department stores and chain stores. However, some small shops and street markets do not always display prices. Confirm unit price before purchase. In this case, bargaining is still possible. Shop with QTS-accredited merchants: QTS sign
The Quality Tourism Services (QTS) Scheme is Organiser: the Hong Kong Tourism Board, which also provides assistance for enquiries about purchases from shops accredited by the QTS Scheme. Find a list of QTS-accredited retail shops here.
Restaurants tend to stay open until around 11pm, while bars and clubs will close in the wee hours, with plenty of them operating all night, particularly in popular nightlife hubs such as Wan Chai.
Of all the varieties of Chinese cuisine, Cantonese tends to dominate the dining scene in Hong Kong. The city borders Guangdong, the Chinese province from which Cantonese cooking originates. Distinct from other types of Chinese cooking in its light seasoning, Cantonese cuisine places a strong emphasis on freshness – hence the ability of the traditional market to endure in Hong Kong alongside more modern supermarkets.
Hong Kong is not only the city where East meets West, it is also where East eats Western. And the selection runs the gamut from Michelin stars to sandwich bars. Italian, French, German, Mediterranean, Mexican and American all feature strongly. Given Hong Kong’s cosmopolitan population and passion for dining trends, you’d be hard pressed not to find what your taste buds hanker for somewhere in the city.
With 11,000 restaurants at your service in Hong Kong, where do you even start? Read on for a guide to the city’s not-to-be missed eating experiences. Whether Chinese, Asian or from farther afield, each bite is truly Hong Kong.
Free Wi-Fi services are widespread in Hong Kong. In particular, there are many hotspots, which are completely free or free for a certain period of time. Look for the Wi-Fi.HK logo at venues across the city and the Wi-Fi.HK SSID on your device. Free wireless internet access is available at most seating and public areas in the passenger terminals of Hong Kong International Airport. Some government buildings also offer free ‘GovWiFi’ services, including some public libraries. You can access the internet for free at many coffee shops in town, as well as at certain iCentres at selected MTR stations and at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s Business Information Centre at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. Check with your hotel concierge for a nearby location to access Wi-Fi. Most hotels offer broadband internet access; however, this may involve a charge in some cases.
We recommend that visitors take out travel insurance before visiting Hong Kong. Also, check with the travel insurance company about 24-hour emergency coverage and contact numbers. When you are in Hong Kong, carry records of the insurance policy as well as the insurance providers’ hotline with you for identification purposes in case of an emergency. Keep in mind, that some insurance companies require records from hospitals, police or other appropriate authorities in order to process claims.
Immigration & Customs
In general, all visitors to Hong Kong must have a passport that is valid for at least one month after the period of their intended stay in Hong Kong. However, documents issued to stateless persons must be valid for a minimum of two months after the period of intended stay. Please contact the Immigration Department for further details.
Nationals of most countries do not require a visa to enter Hong Kong for tourism and can stay for periods varying from seven to 180 days, depending on nationality. If you’re unsure of your status, please check with any Chinese embassy or consulate. All visitors entering Hong Kong must go through customs clearance and declare any dutiable commodities exceeding duty-free quotas. Learn more about dutiable commodities and the latest duty-free concessions.
For further details, please visit the Customs and Excise Department website. To avoid any unnecessary delays, please follow the guidelines set by Hong Kong International Airport.
Visas for Mainland China Travel
All travellers to the Chinese Mainland, except Hong Kong Chinese residents, require visas. The mainland issues single-entry, double-entry and multiple-entry (six months, unlimited entry) visas, the latter designed for frequent travellers who have long-term business establishments (e.g. joint ventures) in the mainland. The Visa Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC at 42 Kennedy Road, Central, Hong Kong. [Tel: (852) 2585-1663 / 2585-1680]. Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and the China Travel Service at various locations, Central office, [Tel: (852) 2522-0450], Tsim Sha Tsui office, [Tel: (852) 2736-1863]. Many travel agencies specialising in China travel can also obtain visas. The China Travel Service normally takes 48 hours to issue a visa, but can do so in one day for a premium. The Visa Office takes 24 hours and also offers a more expensive same-day service.