- Ever wonder what has changed since the handover of Hong Kong to China?
- Want to see the other extremes of Hong Kong besides being one of the world’s financial capitals, and one of the world’s most densely populated cities?
- Curious about the uniqueness of the once British-governed former Chinese fisherman village?
Hong Kong, also known as the fragrant harbour, the pearl of the orient, and the crossroad between the East and the West, is an exotic tourist destination, and is a place that you cannot miss out. Whether you are visiting solely Hong Kong, or together with other places, this website provides all of the necessary information for you to plan and enjoy the most of your Hong Kong visit.
Orientation :Located at the southeast coast of China, Hong Kong is composed of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, The New Territories and 262 outlying islands. Total area is 1,092 square kilometers (50 sq km of water inclusively). Geographic coordinates are 22.15 N. longitude, and 114.10 E. latitude.
Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula are separated by the Victoria Harbour, and connected by 5 tunnels, 2 are solely for rails, whilst the other 3 are publicly used, namely Cross Harbour Tunnel(Hung Hum Tunnel), Eastern Harbour Crossing and Western Harbour Crossing, they carry different tolls, none of them allows pedestrians. Kowloon and the New Territories are separated by the Boundary Street which runs East-West.
The major roads in Hong Kong Island all run East-West, Queen's Road (Central, West, East) from Western District to Wan Chai, Hennessy Road from Wan Chai to Causeway Bay, King's Road from North Point to Quarry Bay. The major road in Kowloon is Nathan Road which runs North-South from Mong Kok to Tsim Sha Tsui, Argyle Street runs East-West in Mong Kok.
There are 18 geographic and administrative districts, amongst which, tourists are mostly interested in the below -
Population :7 million. Around 95% are of Chinese descent.
Language :Traditional Chinese and English are the official written languages. Street names, road signs, shopping centers, department stores and all public utilities display both languages. For spoken language, over 90% of Hong Kongers' first language is Cantonese, a dialect of Chinese.
Religion :Varied. Hong Kong has churches, Buddhism temples, Hinduism temples, Sikh temples, synagogues, and mosques.
Climate :Subtropical monsoon.
Spring : Mar – May – warm and rainy, evenings are cool. Windbreaker and long pants are sometimes required in the evenings of Mar and April, shorts in day time. umbrellas or raincoats is nice to have.
Summer : Jun – Aug – hot, humidity can be as high as 80%, occasional typhoons, temperature range is 28-36°C, . Summery clothes day and night, umbrellas or raincoats is recommended.
Autumn : Sep – Nov – warm and low humidity. Summery clothes are still needed, in November evenings, you may need a windbreaker.
Winter : Dec - Feb – cold and dry, occasionally falls below 10°C, but never snows. Thick jackets are required, but indoor places such as restaurants and shopping centers can be very warm.
The Hong Kong Observatory provides detail 7-day weather forecast .
When to visit :Although many people reckon that September to Februrary is the best time to visit Hong Kong, in fact, it has different attractions for different seasons, so just equip yourself with the necessary clothing, and umbrella or raincoats, you can visit Hong Kong at any time of the year.
Spring gives you the best fresh, natural views, migratory birds, and blossoming plants, you'll like the beautiful bauhinia which is the city flower and widely grown in Hong Kong; Summer is very energetic especially at the beaches and waterfront areas where sunshine and sea bleeze are enchanting; Autumn has the most comfortable weather that allow you to visit anywhere in greater pleasure; Winter has many big festival celebrations for you to take part in.
Currency / money :Hong Kong Dollar(HKD or HK$) is pegged to the US Dollar, and 1 USD equals about 7.8 HKD
There is no limit on currency brought in or taken out of Hong Kong. You can change your traveler's checks at most of the banks, hotels or money-changers, with a small handling fee.
ATM : Easy to find, especially at crowded shopping areas.
There are two types of ATMs, namely EPS and Jetco, as long as the ATM display the logo that matches your debit card, you can withdraw HKD day and night.
Working in HK needs a working permit. Hawking or street performing is illegal in Hong Kong, even though you may see other people doing it, they bear the risks of being arrested.
Octopus card :Octopus card is an electronic money, or stored-value smart card, originally developed for Mass Transit Railway(MTR) rides only, now it's usage has been extended to many retail purchases. Besides MTR, Octopus card can be used in all buses, ferries, trams, minibus, trains(except trains that goes to the Mainland of China), convenient stores(7-11, Circle K), fast food chain stores(MacDonald, KFC, Café de Coral, Maxims, Fairwood), supermarkets(Wellcome, Parkin Shop), drug stores(Mannings, Watsons), some public phone booths, parking meters and some vending machines. Some transportations offers discounts for same-day return trip, they do so by Octopus card. A refundable deposit of HK$50 is required to purchase the card, you can replenish or check the remaining value at any MTR station. Remaining value of an Octopus card can be refunded at any MTR station (Airport station inclusively), if the refund is within 6 months of purchase, a handling fee of HK$7 will be applied, besides, if the remaining amount is over HK$500, it takes MTR several days to process the refund, so tourists are not recommended to leave too much money on their Octopus card. Note that Octopus cards are not accepted by taxis.
TIP : I found it super convenient to have an Octopus card, and felt uncomfortable when I forgot to bring it, I recommend you beginnig your Octopus convenience experience by purchasing the card upon your arrival, at the MTR service desk located at the Arrival Hall at the Airport, or any MTR station.
To fly to Hong KongBesides Cathay Pacific Airways, Dragonair, Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express Airways, Metrojet, and Oasis (temporarily ceased operation since Apr2008) which are based in Hong Kong, many international airlines fly to/from Hong Kong, including (but not exclusively) United Airlines, Japan Airlines, British Airways, Quantas Airways, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Air Canada, Finnair, American Airlines, Air France, Air New Zealand, Cebu Pacific Air, Uni Air, Mandarin Airlines, China Southern, China Eastern, China Airlines, Lufthansa, Saudi Arabian, Jet Airways, Eva Air, PAL, Jetstar, Shanghai Airlines, Korean Air, Air Mauritius, Air China, Asiana Airlines, South African, Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways, El Al Israel, Vietnam Airlines, ANA, Royal Brunei, Qatar Airways, Garuda Indonesia, Hainam Airlines, Air India, Biman Bangladesh, Sri Lankan, Emirates Airline, Swiss, Virgin Atlantic, Continental, East Star Air, Xiamen, Air Asia, Thai Air Asia, Air Niugini, and Orient Thai.
Airport :Chek Lap Kok Airport is the only international airport in Hong Kong, airport code is "HKG", located on Hong Kong’s largest outlying island, Lantau Island. There is another public-used airport located inside the Shun Tak Shopping Centre, and is solely for the helicopter ride to and from Macau. Other airports are either privately-own, or for military purposes.
In 2008, the Chek Lap Kok Airport won for the seventh time in 10 years the best airport in the world. Needless to say, Chek Lap Kok’s services and facilities will give you a pleasant experience.
- Airport tax : HK$50.
- To and from Airport : Airport Express, Airbus, taxi, bus.
TIP : The most convenient and fastest way is to take the Airport Express, but it is expensive, a single journey from the Airport to Central District costs HK$100. The cheapest way is, after you leave the restricted area and reach the Arrival Hall of the Airport, walk towards your left until the last lift, take the lift down to street level, there is a bus stop right in front of the lift. Take bus route S1 to the bus terminus which is also the Tung Chung MTR Station, then take MTR to your destination. Total time and cost from the Airport to Central District are 66mins(36mins + 30mins) and HK$24(HK$20.5+HK$3.5) respectively.
Similarly, when you go to the Airport from the city, exit B at Tung Chung Station (Tung Chung Line), walk for about 30 seconds to the bus terminus and take bus route S1 (the first bus stop you'll see), get off at the Airport(you won't miss it as most passengers get off at the Airport).
Visitors' information and service center :located at Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, just in front of the Star Ferry Pier. You can get maps and information about some touristy areas.
Travel Agencies in Hong Kong :If you want to extend your trip to the Mainland China or Macau, you can get a travel agent to arrange it for you. Joining a tour group at travel agencies is cheaper than doing it yourselves, and hassle-free. China Travel Agency is the place where you can get a visa to go to China. To ensure a travel agent is licensed, check it here.
Visa / passport :Hong Kong allows visa-free visits for tourists from many nations, check visa status to find out if you need a visa to visit Hong Kong.
According to the Hong Kong law you are required to carry your passport in public places as a proof of identity. This law was created in the 70’s to facilitate the police to identify illegal immigrants or workers.
Useful phone numbers and IDD country code:
- Emergency (police, fire, ambulance) : 999
- St. John Ambulance (free ambulance service, usually it is for less serious incidents, and will less likely draw the attention of the media) :
Hong Kong Island - (852)25766555
Kowloon - (852)27135555
The New Territories - (852)26392555
- Hong Kong Tourist Association / Hong Kong Consumer Council : (852)29296111 / (852)29292222
- Telephone directory (free service) : 1081(English), 1083(Cantonese)
- Cathay Pacific Airways : (852)27471234
- IDD country code : 852. Note that there is no city code.
- Voltage : 220V 50Hz
- Plug and receptacle : British 3-pin rectangular blade plug. This plug and receptacle is technically known as the BS 1363 (British 13 A/230-240 V 50 Hz earthed and fused).
Inoculation :Visitors are advised to have the below shots before entering the country -
- Hepatitus A, B
Time zone :It is GMT + 8 all year round.
Smoking regulations :Smoking is prohibited in all indoor public places, restaurants, bars and public transportation, as well as other places.
Tipping :Most eateries have 10% service charge included in their bills. Even if service charge is included, an extra 10% tipping is customary and recommended.
- Follows the British traffic system, drives on the left side of the road and right side in the car. So before you cross a street, look to your right, left, then right again.
- Drivers and passengers are required by law to wear seat belts, except if seatbelt is not installed. Vehicles includes (but not exclusively) -
- Private car
- Mini bus
- Front seats of lorry, van and all other non-passenger vehicles
- Drivers and passengers of motor cycles are required by law to wear helmets.
- Riding 2 people in a bicycle is not allowed.
Calendar :Some Chinese festivals follow the lunar calendar and do not fall on the same day every year, this conversion table for the years of 2010, 2011 and 2012 are useful for planning your trip.
Lunar calendar is a calendar determined by how the moon revolve around the earth, day 15 is when the moon is the roundest and fullest of the month, and it has only 29-30 days per month. Strictly speaking, the Chinese lunar calendar is a lunisolar calendar, i.e. a leap month exists every few years to synchronize with the solar calendar.
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