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Hong Kong Travel Guide - Travel S Helper

Hong Kong

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Hong Kong (Chinese: ; literally, “Fragrant Harbour or Incense Harbour”), formally the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, is an autonomous enclave on China’s southern coast, near the Pearl River Estuary of the South China Sea. It has a total land and sea area of 2,754 km2 and shares a northern boundary with the Mainland Chinese province of Guangdong. Hong Kong is the world’s fourth most densely populated sovereign state or territory, with 7.2 million people of diverse ethnicities.

Following the First Opium War (1839–42), Hong Kong became a British colony, with the permanent cession of Hong Kong Island, followed by the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 and a 99-year lease of the New Territories beginning in 1898. During World War II, Japan held Hong Kong until British administration was restored in 1945. Negotiations between the United Kingdom and China in the early 1980s culminated in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which opened the way for Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty in 1997, when it became a Special Administrative Region with a high degree of autonomy.

Hong Kong retains its own executive, legislative, and judicial powers, as well as an independent legal system, public security force, monetary system, customs policy, and immigration policy, under the principle of “one country, two systems,” while the State Council of China is in charge of military defense and foreign affairs. Furthermore, Hong Kong builds direct contacts with other nations and international organizations in a wide variety of applicable disciplines.

Hong Kong is one of the world’s most important financial centers, with the highest Financial Development Index score and the World Competitiveness Yearbook ranking it as the world’s most competitive economy. It is also the most visited city in the world. Its service-sector-dominated economy is distinguished by free trade and minimal taxes, and it has continuously been ranked as the world’s freest market economy. While Hong Kong is in the top ten in terms of GDP (PPP) per capita, it also boasts the world’s most severe income inequality and the most costly housing. The Hong Kong dollar is the world’s 13th most traded currency, with the world’s 44th biggest economy (in purchasing power parity).

Hong Kong is well-known for its spectacular skyline and deep natural harbor. The region has the second highest density of high-rise buildings of any metropolitan agglomeration in the world. It possesses the world’s most extensive public transit network, encompassing 90 percent of the population. Air pollution and political difficulties continue to be important and troubling issues. Loose emission limits have resulted in a high quantity of particles in the atmosphere. However, when combined with other variables, Hong Kong residents have the highest life expectancy of any state and rank first in the world in a study of national IQ estimates.

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Hong Kong | Introduction

Hong Kong – Info Card

POPULATION :   7,234,800
FOUNDED :  • British possession 26 January 1841
• Treaty of Nanking 29 August 1842
• Convention of Peking 18 October 1860
• Second Convention of Peking 1 July 1898
• Japanese occupation 25 December 1941
to 15 August 1945
• Transfer of sovereignty
from the United Kingdom
1 July 1997
TIME ZONE :   (UTC+8)
LANGUAGE :  Cantonese 90.8% (official), English 2.8% (official), Putonghua (Mandarin) 0.9%, other Chinese dialects 4.4%, other 1.1%
RELIGION :  eclectic mixture of local religions 90%, Christian 10%
AREA : • Total 1,104 km2 /426 sq mi
• Water (%) 4.58 (50 km2; 19 sq mi)
ELEVATION :
COORDINATES :
SEX RATIO :  Male: 46.78
 Female: 53.22
ETHNIC :  93.6% Chinese
6.4% others
AREA CODE :
POSTAL CODE :
DIALING CODE :   +852

Tourism in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a city with many personalities; the majority of the population is Cantonese Chinese, although British influence is noticeable. It is a one-of-a-kind location that has absorbed people and cultural influences from as far away as Vietnam and Vancouver, and it boldly declares itself to be Asia’s World City.

For at least a century, Hong Kong has been a significant tourist and commercial destination for people from all over the globe, and it is now also a key tourist destination for China’s increasingly wealthy mainland population. It is also a major aviation hub, providing links to many of the world’s major cities.

The People’s Republic of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) is much more than a port city. The tourist who has had enough of the city’s congested streets may be tempted to call it Hong Kongcrete. Despite its misty mountains and rocky islands, this region is primarily agrarian. Much of the land is designated as a Country Park, and although 7 million people are never far away, there are patches of wildness that will reward the more daring traveller.

Hong Kong boasts a subtropical climate with at least one season that will suit your needs. It has one of the greatest airports in the world, making it a perfect stopover for travelers looking to go farther into Asia.

While Hong Kong is a part of the People’s Republic of China, it runs as a Special Administrative Region with a significant degree of autonomy, thus it is virtually a distinct nation for most tourists. Visa requirements, regulations, currency, culture, and language are distinct from those found in the rest of China. Hong Kong has functioned under the “One Country, Two Systems” philosophy since its handover from the British in 1997, keeping most laws and government institutions from colonial times. Many Western-style liberties are unheard of on the Chinese mainland, and many Hong Kong residents are proud of it. The values of a free and open society are deeply ingrained in this place.

Climate of Hong Kong

The climate of Hong Kong is humid subtropical. Summers are typically hot, lasting from June through September, with temperatures often surpassing 30°C, while nighttime summer temperatures seldom fall below 25°C. Typhoons wreak havoc on the region, as they do on the rest of southern China. Typhoons typically strike between June and September, while some may strike Hong Kong as late as October. These may put a stop to local commerce for a day or less.

Winters in Hong Kong are typically moderate, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C, however they may dip much lower at times, particularly in the countryside. In comparison to many Western nations, Christmas in Hong Kong is considered warm. Because winter in Hong Kong tends to start pleasant and dry and then become chilly and wetter later, Chinese New Year is known for cold, rainy weather.

Spring in Hong Kong lasts from March to May, while autumn lasts from September to November, with average temperatures ranging from 20 to 25°C. Autumn is seen as a more agreeable season than spring, which is more humid and wet.

Although most buildings in Hong Kong have air conditioning to combat the summer heat, winter heating is a rarity. On the coldest days, most residents just wrap up extra, even inside. It is fairly uncommon to see clients dining at restaurants wearing jackets and scarves. Furthermore, several bigger Chinese restaurants keep their air conditioning on throughout the winter, but the temperature in air-conditioned shopping malls remains constant regardless of the season or weather outside.

Geography of Hong Kong

Hong Kong lies on China’s south coast, 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of Macau on the other side of the Pearl River Delta. It is bounded to the east, south, and west by the South China Sea, and it borders the Guangdong city of Shenzhen to the north across the Shenzhen River. The 1,104 km2 (426 sq mi) region includes Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, and over 200 offshore islands, the biggest of which being Lantau Island. The whole area is made up of 1,054 km2 (407 sq mi) of land and 50 km2 (19 sq mi) of inland water. Hong Kong claims territorial seas out to three nautical miles (5.6 km). Hong Kong is the 179th biggest populated territory in the world by land area.

Because majority of Hong Kong’s geography is hilly to mountainous with steep slopes, less than 25% of the territory’s landmass is developed, with around 40% of the remaining land area conserved as country parks and natural reserves. Because the original forest was largely cut during WWII, low-altitude vegetation in Hong Kong is dominated by secondary rainforests, whereas higher elevations are dominated by grasslands. The majority of the territory’s urban growth is concentrated on the Kowloon peninsula, along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island, and in dispersed communities spread across the New Territories. Tai Mo Shan, at 957 metres (3,140 feet) above sea level, is the greatest elevation in the area. Hong Kong’s lengthy and uneven coastline is home to several bays, rivers, and beaches. The Hong Kong National Geopark was added to UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network on September 18, 2011. The Hong Kong Geopark consists of eight Geo-Areas spread over the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region and the Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region.

Despite Hong Kong’s image as a densely populated city, the territory has made efforts to maintain a natural environment. Furthermore, increased public concern has resulted in significant restrictions on additional land reclamation from Victoria Harbour. Environmental awareness is expanding as Hong Kong suffers from rising pollution, which is exacerbated by the city’s location and towering buildings. Approximately 80% of the city’s haze is caused by other regions of the Pearl River Delta.

Economy of Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a significant capitalist service economy characterized by low taxes and free trade as one of the world’s main international financial hubs. As of 2010, the Hong Kong dollar was the eighth most traded currency in the world. Milton Friedman originally labeled Hong Kong as the world’s biggest experiment in laissez-faire capitalism, but it has subsequently adopted a regulatory structure that includes a minimum wage. It has a highly developed capitalist economy and has been classified as the freest in the world by the Index of Economic Freedom every year since 1995. It is a key center for international banking and commerce, having one of the highest concentrations of company headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region, and is renowned as one of the “Four Asian Tigers” for its fast rise from the 1960s to the 1990s. Between 1961 and 1997, Hong Kong’s GDP climbed 180 times, while per-capita GDP increased 87 times.

As of December 2009, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange was the seventh biggest in the world, with a market value of US$2.3 trillion. In that year, Hong Kong raised 22 percent of global initial public offering (IPO) money, making it the world’s biggest IPO center and the simplest location to raise cash. Since 1983, the Hong Kong dollar has been tied to the US dollar.

The Hong Kong Government has always played a relatively passive role in the economy, with no industrial policy and essentially no import or export regulations. Market forces and the private sector were given free rein to shape practical progress. Hong Kong is often mentioned as an example of laissez-faire capitalism under the government doctrine of “positive non-interventionism.” Following the Second World War, Hong Kong quickly industrialised as a manufacturing powerhouse driven by exports, before swiftly transitioning to a service-based economy in the 1980s. Since then, it has evolved to become a premier provider of management, financial, information technology, business consulting, and professional services.

Hong Kong evolved to become a financial hub in the 1990s, but was severely impacted by the Asian financial crisis in 1998 and the SARS pandemic in 2003. A rebound of external and internal demand has resulted in a significant recovery, as cost reductions have increased the competitiveness of Hong Kong exports and a protracted period of deflation has ended. Government involvement has progressively risen since 1997, with the implementation of export credit guarantees, a mandatory pension system, a minimum wage, anti-discrimination legislation, and a public mortgage backer.

Because the area has limited arable land and few natural resources, the majority of its food and raw materials are imported. Imports account for more than 90% of Hong Kong’s food supply, including virtually all of its meat and grains. Agricultural activity, which accounts for just 0.1 percent of Hong Kong’s GDP, consists mostly on cultivating premium food and flower types. Hong Kong is the world’s tenth biggest commercial entity, with total imports and exports surpassing the country’s GDP. It is the world’s biggest re-exporting facility. The majority of Hong Kong’s exports are re-exports, which are items manufactured outside of the territory, mostly in mainland China, and distributed via Hong Kong. Because of its geographical position, the city has been able to create a transportation and logistics infrastructure that includes the world’s second busiest container port and the world’s largest international cargo airport. Even before the handover of sovereignty, Hong Kong had built substantial economic and investment relations with the mainland, allowing it to currently act as a point of entry for mainland investment. At the end of 2007, there were 3.46 million full-time workers, with the unemployment rate averaging 4.1 percent for the fourth year in a row. Hong Kong’s economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for more than 90% of its GDP, while industry contributes for 9%. In 2007, inflation was 2.5 percent. The top three export markets for Hong Kong are mainland China, the United States, and Japan.

Hong Kong is the eighth most expensive city for expatriates in 2010, down from fifth the previous year. With 8.5 percent of all families holding at least one million US dollars, Hong Kong ranks fourth in terms of the largest proportion of millionaire households, after only Switzerland, Qatar, and Singapore. Hong Kong is also rated second in the world for the number of billionaires per capita (one for every 132,075 people), behind only Monaco. Hong Kong was placed second in the Ease of Doing Business Index in 2011, after only Singapore.

The Economist’s Crony Capitalism Index ranks Hong Kong first in the world.

Hong Kong was the tenth most popular international tourist destination among nations and territories worldwide in 2014, with a total of 27.8 million visitors contributing US$38,376 million in international tourism earnings. Hong Kong is also the most popular tourist destination, with roughly double the number of visitors as its next rival, Macau.

Internet, Comunication in Hong Kong

POST

Postal services are reliable and of excellent quality. Post offices are everywhere, and coin-operated stamp vending machines are available while the post offices are closed. Many convenience shops, such as 7-Eleven and Circle K, sell stamp sets of ten (OK).

INTERNET ACCESS

Unlike in Mainland China, Internet access in Hong Kong is not censored. In Hong Kong, all websites are accessible.

INTERNET CAFES

Because more individuals have smartphones and wifi-enabled gadgets, internet cafés are becoming increasingly scarce. When they are accessible, internet cafés charge between HK$20 and HK$30 per hour.

MOBILE DATA

Many providers provide limited-time 3G plans for as cheap as HK$78 per week. Getting a sim card is simple and painless: just go to a mobile phone store and purchase a card. There is no need to register.

TELEPHONE

Hong Kong’s country code is 852 (as opposed to mainland China’s (86) and Macau’s (853)). Local phone numbers (including mobile and landlines) are normally 8 digits long, with no area codes. All numbers starting with the letters 5, 6, 8, or 9 are mobile numbers, while those beginning with the letters 2 or 3 are fixed line numbers. The typical IDD prefix for calls from Hong Kong is 001, thus dial 001-(country code)-(area code)- (telephone number). Calls to Macau or mainland China must be made using an international dialing code. Dial 1000 to reach the operator. Dial 999 for police, fire, or ambulance services.

MOBILE PHONES

Hong Kong has first-rate communication infrastructure. The cost of using a mobile phone is low.

There are several cellphone operators in Hong Kong. Three, SmartTone, and CSL are the best options for travellers. Prepaid SIM cards are available from all three providers in micro, nano, and normal sizes. Recharging your credit card online (both Three and one2free accept credit cards from anywhere, though Three imposes a two-day delay on any online credit card recharge while one2free is instant) or by purchasing vouchers from retail stores, resellers, convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, and supermarkets. Plans with unlimited data typically cost approximately HK$28 per day. Some service providers, such as One2Free, provide unlimited 3G connection for a week for $78. Some carriers also provide LTE service. China Mobile provides a HKD $80 card with 5 days of 4G connectivity, albeit their network type is not compatible with all phones.

Mobile phone numbers are eight digits long and begin with the numerals 5, 6, or 9. It should be noted that the telephone system is independent from that of Mainland China, and using a Chinese SIM card will result in roaming costs. China Mobile does provide a reduced rate option for Hong Kong to its mainland prepaid users; a set charge of 2.9RMB daily or 9 RMB weekly reduces per-minute and per-SMS rates to mainland levels, while incoming calls and SMS become free. Data, on the other hand, is priced separately at 30RMB per day for unlimited usage.

Renting a Samsung Galaxy Note or Nexus phone at counters A03 or B12 in Hong Kong International Airport’s Arrivals Hall costs HK$68 per day and includes all local and international calls, 3G internet access, and a built-in city guide.

It should be noted that ALL mobile phone operators charge for BOTH incoming and outgoing calls (similar to USA, but different from most European countries, Japan, Taiwan, or South Korea). Except in inaccessible hilly places, coverage is great. Almost all operators give a decent signal, even when underground in areas like the MTR system, trains, and cross-harbour and other traffic tunnels.

Things to know about Hong Kong

Talk

The official languages of Hong Kong are Cantonese and English.

Cantonese is the main language spoken by the locals. The Hong Kong variant is actually the same as Guangzhou’s on the mainland, but it contains some English words and slang, which often sounds strange to other Cantonese speakers. (For example, “我唔sure得唔得,” which means “I’m not sure if this is right.”) Cantonese is the lingua franca in many overseas Chinese communities and in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces. Like all Chinese languages, Cantonese is a tonal language and is definitely not easy for foreigners to master, but locals always appreciate visitors making the effort to speak the language, so learning a few simple greetings will make it easier for you to get to know the locals.

Unlike Hanyu Pinyin – the standard transcription system for Mandarin phonetics – Cantonese has not yet developed a recognized transcription system, and locals rarely bother to learn it. There are, however, some accurate phonetic systems for learners, such as the Yale or Jyutpin system.

As a former British colony, English is a widespread second language, and while it is far from ubiquitous, the chances of meeting an English speaker in Hong Kong are still far greater than in other East Asian cities. Due to the growing importance of Mandarin, the younger generation is often less comfortable with English than previous generations. Learning English often begins in kindergarten, and a fluent knowledge of English can be a prerequisite for a good job. Many employees and business people speak English at a high level. In contrast, the English skills of the middle working class are rather limited, especially outside of the major tourist areas. In addition, while many people understand written English fairly well, they do not necessarily speak it well.

English is the official language of Hong Kong, and the authorities are legally obliged to employ English-speaking staff. There are two English-language terrestrial television channels: TVB Pearl and RTHK. English-language films are almost always shown in cinemas with the original soundtrack and Chinese subtitles, although children’s films, especially cartoons, are often dubbed into Cantonese. British English is still widely used in Hong Kong, especially in government and legal documents. In the media, the South China Morning Post and the two terrestrial television stations use British English. Place names like Victoria Harbour (not Harbor) are reminders of Hong Kong’s colonial heritage. Even modern buildings like the International Finance Centre (not Center) retain the tradition of British spelling. Most high schools and universities teach in English, although most courses are taught in Cantonese.

It is also important to know that many English street names are rarely used by locals and cab drivers. Even a local who speaks English fluently may not know the English name! Before going anywhere, ask the hotel staff to write the street names in Chinese characters.

Although the majority of Hong Kongers are not fluent in Mandarin, they can usually understand it to some extent. Mandarin has been compulsory in all public schools since the handover, and with the huge influx of tourists from the mainland, many employees in the tourism industry frequently speak Mandarin. Mandarin-speaking staff are on duty at most businesses in major tourist areas and at all government agencies. Given the current socio-political tensions with mainland Chinese, some young locals are reluctant to speak Mandarin, as the language is closely associated with perceptions of cultural domination and political interference.

All official signs are bilingual in Chinese and English. As part of the “one country, two systems” policy, Hong Kong continues to use the traditional Chinese characters and not the simplified Chinese characters used on the mainland.

In addition to Cantonese, a significant minority of Hong Kong’s elderly residents, especially in the various walled villages, speak Hakka. Most of these people are bilingual in Hakka and Cantonese, and Hakka is disappearing among the younger generation.

Culture

Hong Kong has considerable differences from mainland China due to its cultural heritage. The majority of the population is descended from ethnic Chinese who fled the PRC during the colonial period and found refuge in Hong Kong. The indigenous people of Hong Kong have retained many aspects of traditional Chinese culture that were abandoned on the mainland, including religion, public holidays, music, traditional writing, and the use of a regional language (Cantonese). Because of Hong Kong’s history, British influences have also been incorporated into the local culture. After its handover to China in 1997, the city retained a strong independent English legal system, effective anti-corruption measures, a free press and a free currency.

The University of Hong Kong regularly conducts surveys on the identity of the population and finds that only a minority of citizens consider themselves Chinese citizens, while most feel they belong to an identity of their own in Hong Kong. This sense of a separate identity has become stronger over the years of surveys. The mainland authorities seem both perplexed and indignant at the rise of such subversive beliefs in an apparently disloyal Hong Kong.

Hong Kong also has a significant minority of permanent residents who are not PRC citizens or ethnically Chinese, but who are recognized as de facto citizens by the Basic Law. These include descendants of the British and Gurka populations of the colonial era.

Relations between China and Hong Kong are, as always, a contentious and complicated issue. Hong Kongers generally do not deny their Chinese roots and are proud to be culturally and ethnically Chinese; racist remarks against Chinese or crude remarks about traditional Chinese customs will certainly offend Hong Kongers. On the other hand, many locals consider the behavior of mainland Chinese to be rude and uncivilized, and in recent years, tensions have arisen between locals and mainland Chinese because of these cultural differences. You will often hear the phrase “Mainland China” (Daai luk) or “Inland” (Noi dei) from Hong Kongers who want to distinguish themselves from other Chinese, both culturally and politically. In general, it is best not to engage in a discussion about Mainland Chinese with Hong Kong citizens.

Religion

Many world religions are practiced freely in Hong Kong and there is generally no problem talking about religion with the locals. The Chinese majority generally practice the traditional Chinese religions, Buddhism and Taoism. As in many other parts of Asia, swastikas are used in Hong Kong as a religious symbol by Buddhists and the Hindu minority.

10% of the population is Christian, and religious services in English are held throughout the region. Hindus and Muslims came from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan as part of the British Empire, and the Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Center are famous for their prayers and research.

The Falun Gong religion is officially allowed in Hong Kong, unlike on the mainland where it is banned. The group often silently protests against the Chinese Communist Party outside tourist centers, where it is also often silently opposed by pro-Pijing Hong Kongers who reject their views.

Politics

In Hong Kong, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are protected by law. Hong Kongers are free to criticize their government. Websites are not blocked. Hong Kong bookstores carry colorful collections of books about the communist regime and many sensitive political topics, although several Hong Kong booksellers, who have widely distributed books considered derogatory by the Chinese government, have recently (2015-2016) mysteriously appeared on the mainland and reportedly been removed. Despite growing concerns about self-censorship, media outlets are diversifying to bring in different voices.

Although freedom is assured, Hong Kong people are particularly sensitive to changes that could affect the freedom they have enjoyed so far. Once considered apolitical and pragmatic, Hong Kongers are also more actively discussing politics, including a proposal to introduce universal suffrage for the election of the region’s chief executive.

On June 4, large political rallies are held each year to commemorate the bloodshed in Tiananmen Square in 1989. July 1 commemorates the reunification of the SAR with China. After more than 500,000 people took to the streets in 2003 to demand universal suffrage, this holiday has become a symbolic day of protest every year.

Local political parties are largely divided between a pro-Beijing camp and a pro-democracy camp. While many want universal suffrage, which Beijing has promised but not yet granted, many also try not to offend the mainland, believing that Hong Kong’s prosperity depends on further economic integration with China. These differences can also be seen on many issues such as the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, Tibetan and Taiwanese independence, and democracy in China. In Hong Kong, where information flows freely and people are highly educated, political views are very different. After all, the city has served as China’s (and Taiwan’s before the 1990s) information hub for the competing dissemination of propaganda and “dissenting opinions.” In Hong Kong, a political discussion can lead to debate, but not to trouble.

Unlike Taiwan, Hong Kong’s independence had never been widely debated before and after 1997 and had received little public support until recently. However, since the umbrella protests in 2014, the desire for greater autonomy has been growing among those increasingly frustrated by Beijing’s slow pace of allowing democratic reforms. Yet very few Hong Kong citizens are calling for true independence from the mainland.

Manners and etiquette

Hong Kong is a fast-paced society, where the phrase “m goi” (唔該, “m” sounds like “hmm”), which literally means “I shouldn’t (bother you)”, is often used in situations where one would say “excuse me” or “thank you”.

The “M goi” (I shouldn’t) mentality goes as far as not wanting to bother anyone as long as possible. When coughing, always cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow, as this part of your arm is not often in contact with other people and thus prevents the spread of pathogens. If you have a fever, wear a mask. Spitting and littering, an offense punishable by a $1,500 fine, is considered rude because it disturbs others. Hong Kong is noisy because of its huge population density, but it is not advisable to make more noise, which will certainly disturb others. Making a loud phone call on the bus, for example, is considered self-centered and rude.

Queue jumping is taboo and you may be refused service, as everyone wants to follow an orderly, quick and hopefully undisturbed path. If you smoke in front of a non-smoker, you should always ask permission, as they may think you are trying to seriously disrupt their health. Many smokers simply walk away to smoke, even in a place where smoking is allowed by law.

Unlike public transport in some major cities like Tokyo or London, where it is common to see passengers eating or drinking (even if they do so carefully and keep the place clean), such behavior is strictly forbidden in all areas of MTR stations, in train compartments (except in intercity trains) and in most buses. The reason for this is the concern for cleanliness in public places, and there have been instances of misbehaving mainland Chinese visitors being insulted by locals after refusing to stop eating food and being rude to locals. Drinking a few sips of pure water is generally tolerated, but it is common for a local passenger to politely ask you to stop consuming, or even throw your food away if you eat it conspicuously (for example, if you are eating a hamburger and holding a Coke). In such a case, simply obey the request and respond politely, and you’ll still be off the hook.

Although Hong Kong generally has a good reputation for customer service, it is considered strange to exchange a friendly word with a stranger, unless they are pregnant, disabled, or an elderly person in obvious distress. Saying “hello” to a stranger at the bus stop will probably be viewed with suspicion. It is unusual for people to hold the door for strangers, and supermarket employees or bank tellers rarely ask about your day. Staff in stores and restaurants may not even thank you if you pay.

Superstition

Superstitions are part of the Hong Kong psyche and can be seen everywhere. Many buildings are influenced by the principles of fengshui, a style of decoration that combines the five elements (gold, wood, water, fire, earth), which, according to believers, is supposed to bring luck, wealth, better health, good exam results, good relationships and even a baby boy.

Many buildings do not have a 14th or 24th floor, which phonetically means “you must die” and “you die easily”. They like the numbers 18 (you will become rich), 369 (vivacity, longevity, permanence), 28 (become rich easily) and 168 (become rich forever).

Hong Kongers like to joke about their superstitions, but that doesn’t mean they ignore them. If you visit your friends in Hong Kong, never offer them a watch, because “offering a watch” means phonetically “attending a funeral”. At a wedding party, do not serve pears, because “sharing a pear” sounds like “parting”. Some people refuse to open an umbrella inside the house because a spirit, thought to fear the sun, might’ hide it. If you break a mirror, it brings seven years of misfortune.

Business

When giving or receiving a business card, always do so with both hands and a slight bow of the head, otherwise you will be considered either disrespectful or ignorant, even if you are a stranger. Similarly, when greeting someone, bow your head slightly and give a firm handshake, but you do not have to bow.

You will find that the cashier may also give you receipts or change with both hands. This is considered a gesture of respect. Since you are the customer, it is up to you to decide whether or not to do the same when handing cash to the cashier.

Dress

When the thermometer hits 30 degrees Celsius, expect many locals to wear warm clothes to protect themselves from the harshness of air conditioners, which are often found on public transportation and in places like movie theaters and shopping malls. This is indeed wise, as the extreme change in temperature can make people sick.

On the other hand, when the temperature drops below 20 degrees Celsius, people start to dress very warmly to protect themselves from the “cold”.

Women in Hong Kong are known for their fairly conservative dress code, although halter tops and sleeveless tops are not unusual and acceptable, while teenagers and young adults can very often be seen in hotpants or shorts. Public nudity is prohibited. It is also forbidden to be completely naked on the beach.

The dress code for men, especially for tourists, is less conservative than it used to be. Even in five-star hotels, casual dress is generally acceptable; however, you should find out for yourself before dining in these establishments. Tourists from colder climates sometimes assume that wearing shorts is a reasonable idea in the tropics, but hairy knees may seem out of place in Hong Kong.

LGBT in Hong Kong

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1991. The age of protection between two males is 16 years, according to a 2006 Hong Kong Court of Appeal ruling, while there is no law for two females. Same-sex marriages are not recognized and there is no anti-discrimination legislation based on sexuality. Public displays of affection are not common, but are generally tolerated, although they will certainly attract curious looks. Homophobic harassment is unknown, although an effeminate boy may be a target of harassment at school.

People in Hong Kong mostly respect personal freedom regarding their sexuality. Prominent film star Leslie Cheung has openly admitted to being bisexual, but his work and personality are still widely respected. His suicide in 2003 shocked many, and his fans, especially women, have shown considerable support for his partner.

Although there have been recent gay pride parades in Hong Kong, there is no apparent gay community in everyday life. Coming out to strangers or in the office is still considered strange and most people remain silent on the subject.

Gay bars and clubs are mainly found in Central, Sheung Wan, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui (TST). The quality of these establishments varies greatly and may disappoint those who expect something similar to London, Paris or New York. Dim Sum Magazine, available for free in most cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs, is Hong Kong’s bilingual LGBT magazine, which gives a good overview of gay and lesbian parties and events in Hong Kong. There is also a gay and lesbian section in HK Magazine (free, in English only) and TimeOut Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is one of the longest running LGBT events in Hong Kong and all of Asia. The festival, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2009, brings various international and regional LGBT films to Hong Kong. The festival usually takes place in November. In 2009, Hong Kong hosted the Gay Pride for the second time, with more than 1,800 people participating.

Entry Requirements For Hong Kong

Immigration

Hong Kong has a separate and independent immigration system from Mainland China. If necessary, the visa for Hong Kong must be applied for separately from the visa for Mainland China and there is no single visa for both territories. A visa is still required to travel from Hong Kong to Mainland China. Macau is also a separate country in terms of visa.

All visitors (whether visa exempt or not) may be required to show proof of sufficient financial resources and a confirmed reservation for further travel.

Obtaining a visa

Foreign nationals who need a visa for Hong Kong (if they cannot enter without a visa, wish to stay longer than their visa exemption allows, or wish to work, study or set up a business) can apply either at a Chinese embassy or consulate or directly to the Hong Kong immigration office. Foreign nationals living in Macao who need a visa for Hong Kong can apply to the Commissioner’s Office of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign nationals living in Mainland China can apply for a Hong Kong visa at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangzhou or at the Hong Kong SAR Government Office in Beijing.


Travellers from mainland China

Exiting Mainland China to Hong Kong is considered an exit from China. If you wish to enter Hong Kong from China and then return to Mainland China, you must have a Chinese multiple entry visa.


Calculation of the visa exemption period

The expiration of the duration of stay is calculated from the day following the date of entry. For example, if you have a 7-day visa and you arrive on January 1, you can stay until January 8. If you arrive late at night, you can wait until after midnight to enter the country. It is also possible that you will pass through the entry checkpoint just before midnight on the last day of your visa’s validity and take a flight or boat in the middle of the night the next day.


Regular visitors to Hong Kong

Save time if you are a regular visitor by registering to use the electronic channel. Instead of going through passport control at a busy counter, you can avoid the lines by going through an automatic gate with fingerprint recognition.


APEC Business Travel Card

All APEC Business Travel Card holders can use the Hong Kong Residents only counters at immigration control and stay up to 60 days without a visa in Hong Kong if “HKG” is printed on the back of the card.


Chinese citizens

Chinese passport holders must apply for an appropriate entry permit (往來港澳通行證) to enter Hong Kong, unless they are in transit through Hong Kong, where they can enter without a visa for up to 7 days.


Residents of Macau

Holders of a Macao Permanent Identity Card or a visitor’s permit with permanent resident status can enter Hong Kong without a visa for up to 180 days. Holders of a Macao Visit Permit without Permanent Resident Status may enter Hong Kong without a visa for up to 30 days.


Residents of Taiwan

Taiwan residents are allowed to enter Hong Kong without a visa for 30 days if they have a “taibaozheng” (台胞证). Otherwise, a visa is required prior to entry, which can often be obtained via an airline.


Arrival cards

All visitors to Hong Kong must complete an arrival card on entry and submit an exit card to immigration control on exit – unless you are a Hong Kong resident (with a Hong Kong ID card or passport with a stay/work/study visa), a permanent resident of Macau (holding a Macau smart ID card) or a Chinese citizen (holding a travel document (往來港澳通行證 or 因公往來香港澳門特別行政區通行證) issued by the mainland authorities. The main exception is for users of the electronic channel, both visitors and residents; the data collection is electronic, so the paper card is not required.


Export limits

Please note that you cannot bring back more than two cans (1.8 kg) of milk powder (e.g. baby food) from Hong Kong.


Day trips to Macau

Macau is a separate international destination and you will need to pass the usual immigration checks on your return, including the arrival card to enter Hong Kong.


Obtaining a visa to Mainland China

China Travel Services HK (CTS) has an office in the arrivals area of Hong Kong airport and can issue visas for China on the spot. A photo is required. The cheapest way to obtain a visa for mainland China is to apply to the Commissioner’s Office of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, where a single-entry visa costs HKD 200 and a double-entry visa costs $300 for most foreign nationals and is issued within four working days. The visa can be issued within three working days for an additional $200 or within two working days for an additional $300.


NOTE: Overstaying is a serious offense, punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 3 years.

If you enter Hong Kong as a visitor, you are not allowed to take up employment (paid or unpaid), study, set up a business or participate in a venture. If you violate the conditions of your stay, you may be fined up to $50,000 and/or imprisoned for up to two years. If you intend to work, study or start/participate in a business, you must apply for an appropriate visa. If you make a false statement to an immigration officer or are in possession of a falsified travel document, you are liable to a fine of up to $14,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 14 years.


Customs

If you have prohibited goods or goods that exceed your duty free allowanceyou must declare them when entering Hong Kong through the red channel, even if you are arriving from Mainland China, Macau or Taiwan.

Meat, animal products, fish, rice, ozone depleting substances, counterfeit marked items and radio equipment are prohibited goods and must be declared.

Travelers aged 18 and over are allowed to import goods for their own use into Hong Kong under their duty-free allowance:

  • 1 liter of alcoholic liquor with an alcoholic strength by volume of more than 30%, measured at a temperature of 20°C
  • 19 cigarettes OR 1 cigar OR 25 g of cigars OR 25 g of other tobacco products

If the traveler is in possession of a Hong Kong ID card, he/she must have stayed outside Hong Kong for at least 24 hours to be eligible for the duty-free regime on alcoholic drinks.

Due to high demand from the mainland, the Hong Kong government has limited the amount of baby milk powder that can be taken out of the country. If you have friends or family in mainland China, they may ask you to bring back as much powdered milk as you can carry, but Hong Kong Customs is desperately looking for smugglers of this valuable product.


NOTE: If you fail to declare prohibited or dutiable items, you can be fined up to $1,000,000 and/or imprisoned for up to two years. If you are caught selling drugs, you can be fined up to $5,000,000 and imprisoned for life.

Trying to leave Hong Kong with more than 1.8 kg of baby milk powder is a crime. Fines and imprisonment are possible.

How To Travel To Hong Kong

Get In - By plane

HONGKONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Hong Kong International Airport, also known as Chek Lap Kok 赤鱲角 (the name of the small island on which the airport is located), is located on Lantau in western Hong Kong. It was designed by Sir Norman Foster and has already been voted “World’s Best Airport” eight times by Skytrax.

Hong Kong’s flagship airline is Cathay Pacific (國泰航空), which is consistently ranked among the world’s best airlines in terms of customer service. With its subsidiary,Dragonair (港龍航空), it has an extensive network of airlines serving many cities around the world.

TO/FROM SHENZHEN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

For travel between Hong Kong and mainland China, it is often cheaper to fly to/from Shenzhen Airport (IATA: SZX), located in the nearby Chinese city of Shenzhen.

For travel between Shenzhen Airport and Hong Kong:

  • Direct buses run between the airport and Elements Shopping Mall, located above the Kowloon MTR station. You can check in and obtain your boarding pass at the check-in counter on the second floor of the mall, opposite Starbucks (except for China Southern Airlines passengers). This in-city check-in is completely separate from the check-in for Hong Kong International Airport. The cost of this service is $100 and the bus ride is listed as 75 minutes, but it usually takes 100 minutes. Buses depart every 30 minutes from Hong Kong from 06:30am to 7pm and from Shenzhen from 10am to 9pm.
  • It is more convenient to take the Shenzhen Metro Line 1 from the airport to the Luohu terminus (65 minutes, CNY9 or USD11.25), then pass through a long corridor and an international border gate (prepare your visa for this) and take the East Rail commuter train in Hong Kong to Hung Hom (43 minutes, HKD35). The total travel time from Shenzhen airport to Hong Kong is therefore less than two hours for a price of HKD46.25.
  • An alternative to Luohu is the “Futian Checkpoint” (called Lok Ma Chau on the Hong Kong side), which is served by the East Rail Lok Ma Chau Spur Line. The emigration queue at this checkpoint is less crowded than at Luohu. The trip from Lok Ma Chau to Hung Hom takes about 48 minutes ($35).

GUANGZHOU BAIYUN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is a little further away than Shenzhen, but it offers more flights and direct bus connections to Hong Kong.

TO/FROM MACAU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

In addition, it is often cheaper to fly from Macau International Airport. Air Asia has a hub in Macau, from where it operates flights to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Chiang Mai, among others.

For travel between Macau Airport and Hong Kong:

  • The Express Link service allows you to go directly from the airport to the ferry (or vice versa) without going through the Macau immigration service.

Get In - By helicopter

Sky Shuttle offers a helicopter flight every 30 minutes between Macau’s Marítimo Terminal and Shun Tak Heliport (IATA: HHP) on the Hong Kong-Macau ferry dock in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island. The trip takes 15 minutes and the one-way fare is $4,100, plus $400 on public holidays.

Get In - By ferry

Hong Kong is only an hour away from Macau by hydrofoil, and there are also good connections to mainland China. The main terminals are

  • Leave from Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier, 202 Connaught Rd (Sheung Wan MTR exit D) to Central.
    • TurboJet, every 5 to 30 minutes, 24 hours a day to/from Macau.
    • Cotai Jet, every 15-30 minutes, 24 hours a day to/from Taipa, Macau.
  • From Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal, 33 Canton Rd (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR exit A1) in Kowloon.
    • Chu Kong Passenger Transport, to Zhuhai and various other places in Guangdong province in mainland China.
    • TurboJet, every 30 minutes to Macau.
    • Xunlong to Shekou in Shenzhen, Mainland China.

Get In - By Cruise Ship

Star Cruises operates from the Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. Cruise ships serve Vietnam, mainland China and Taiwan. There are also long-haul services to Singapore via ports in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.

Get In - By Land

Shenzhen is the city in mainland China that borders Hong Kong.

There are 6 land checkpoints between Hong Kong and the mainland. Find out the opening hours of the border crossings before you start your journey. If you cross the border by car, you must have a set of license plates issued by both China and Hong Kong. Note that you will need to change sides of the road at the border, as Hong Kong driving is on the left, while mainland China is on the right.

Besides crossing the border on foot, there is another way to cross the border: with a “Cross Boundary Coach”. These buses run between Hong Kong and several mainland cities and are generally easier than crossing the border with several connections and different means of transportation. You can find information about these buses on the websites of the border crossings mentioned below.

  • Lo Wu checkpoint (train and crosswalk): MTR trains from Tsim Sha Tsui East to Lo Wu run every 5-8 minutes. Downtown Shenzhen is just past the immigration checkpoint for mainland China. This checkpoint is only accessible by the MTR East Rail Line and the border crossing can only be done on foot, unless you take a direct train from Hung Hom, where the train does not stop at all. See the “By Train” section below. On weekends and holidays, the border crossing is often crowded, so if you want to avoid long lines, you should use the other checkpoints. For some nationals, a visa may be required upon entry on the Chinese side.
  • Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point (crosswalk): This is where East Rail Line trains terminate in the north. From Yuen Long, it is also possible to get there by KMB Bus B1 or GMB Minibus No. 75. After crossing the Lok Ma Chau-Huanggang double-decker pedestrian bridge, passengers will find themselves at the Fu Tian mainland entry checkpoint. On the Shenzhen side, the Fu Tian Checkpoint subway station is just after the immigration checkpoint. This checkpoint is not very popular and therefore less crowded than Lo Wu.
Through bridges and tunnels The 50-kilometer Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau link, which is scheduled to open in late 2017, is probably one of the largest construction projects underway in the world. The link will allow quick travel between the two parts of the Pearl River Delta without taking a ferry, and will also be a remarkable landmark.

Lok Ma Chau checkpoint (road, cross-border bus and crosswalk): This checkpoint consists of separate facilities for pedestrians arriving by bus and for road vehicles and is the only 24-hour border checkpoint. The Lok Ma Chau road junction can be reached by KMB buses 277, N277, 76K and 276B. You can also take express buses from Hong Kong directly to the checkpoint. After passing the immigration checkpoint in Hong Kong, you need to take the same bus across the checkpoint to Huanggang Port in Shenzhen and pass the immigration checkpoint in Mainland China. A shuttle bus, known as the “yellow bus”, runs between the Lok Ma Chau public transportation hub in San Tin and Huanggang Port on the mainland side.

  • Man Kam To Control Point (cross-border road and bus crossing): This crossing point is mainly used by private vehicles and cross-border buses. See the “By Bus” section below.
  • Sha Tau Kok checkpoint (road, cross-border bus and crosswalk): this checkpoint is the easternmost checkpoint and can be reached by cross-border bus. It is far from the center of Shenzhen and relatively quiet. There is no possibility to apply for a visa for the mainland. See the section “By bus” below.
  • Shenzhen Bay Port (road and cross-border bus): This checkpoint directly connects Hong Kong to Shekou, Shenzhen. It can be used by private vehicles and cross-border buses. See “By bus” section below.

Get In - By Bike

Note that bicycles are not allowed in all tunnels and on most highways in Hong Kong. As a result, very few Hong Kongers manage to use their bikes as an alternative to public transportation. However, the scenic park roads are ideal for adventurous bike rides because of the hilly landscape.

Crossing the land border between Shenzhen and Hong Kong by bicycle is possible as follows:

  • Take the MTR train to Lo Wu checkpoint. Bicycles can be taken on the train for a fee of $20-$40 depending on the time of day, as long as the front wheel is removed.
  • The GMB minibus n° 75 runs between Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point and Yuen Long for $7 and allows a folded bicycle with 50 cm wide wheels. While most passengers take a bus to urban areas, it is possible for cyclists to take the “yellow bus” ($7) only to the other side of the border. On this bus, there is not much room for luggage and you may have to disassemble your bike.

Get In - By train

The MTR operates all long-distance passenger trains to Hong Kong, with the main station being Hung Hom in Kowloon. There are up to 10 daily departures from Guangzhou via Foshan, with a journey time of about two hours. Night trains run every other day from Beijing and Shanghai. Tickets can be purchased online or at the station.

There are plans for a cross-border high-speed line between Beijing and Hong Kong and, despite some delays, construction of the section to Hong Kong is underway and is expected to open in 2018. However, for now, the high-speed line stops at Shenzhen North Station, from where one can take the Shenzhen Metro to the border and walk to Hong Kong.

It is also possible to take the bullet train or night train to Shenzhen, which is connected to many Chinese cities, and then take the subway to Hong Kong.

How To Get Around In Hong Kong

Hong Kong has an excellent and affordable public transportation system.

Get Around - Octopus Card

The Octopus card (八達通, Bat Dat Toong in Cantonese) is a prepaid debit card that can be used to pay for public transportation such as the MTR, trains, streetcars, buses and ferries. Most cabs do not yet accept this card, but more will in the future. If you pay for public transport with an Octopus card, you usually get a discounted fare.

It can also be used to pay in grocery stores, supermarkets, fast food chains, many vending machines, all roadside parking lots and some covered parking lots. It can also be used as a building access card. Some retail chains, such as Wellcome, offer discounts for payments made with the Octopus card. It is a good way to avoid carrying and counting coins.

Basic Octopus cards cost $150 for $100 of credit plus $50 refundable deposit. If the card is used for the deposit within three months, a $9 service fee applies. The maximum value of an Octopus card is $1,000. The balance on the card can become negative. For example, if you pay a $5 fare and only have $2 left on the card (bringing the recorded value to -$3), you will not be able to use the card until the value is topped up. The value of an Octopus card can go as low as -$35. Note that this is not really “negative”, i.e. you don’t have to pay anything back to MTR, as your $50 deposit covers this.

The credit of your Octopus cards is displayed on the reader after each use. The credit can also be checked with the last 9 transactions on a small device located near the regular ticket machines in the MTR stations.

It is very easy to reload your Octopus card in 50 dollar increments:

  • “Add Value”, which are usually located next to the regular ticket machines in MTR stations.
  • Customer service centers in all MTR stations
  • Merchants that accept Octopus (e.g. 7-Eleven, McDonald’s, Wellcome, etc.). This is the best way to avoid lines at the MTR station.

It is not possible to reload with a credit card. Some credit cards in Hong Kong offer a reload function for the Octopus card, but this does not apply to cards from other countries.

MTR Discount Ticket Vending Machines

The MTR system has several discount ticket machines. By presenting your Octopus card to the reader at one of these machines, you will receive a discount of $1 to $2 on your next MTR ride on the same day, if that ride starts at the station where the machine is located.

Get Around - By Mass Transit Railway

Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is the fastest way to get around, but it doesn’t offer the same view as buses and streetcars and is more expensive. There are four subway lines (Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan, Island and Tseung Kwan O), four commuter rail lines (West, East, Tung Chung and Ma On Shan), the Airport Express and a network of modern streetcar lines in the northwestern New Territories.

The most important lines for many visitors are the busy Tsuen Wan Line (red), which runs from Central through the tunnel to Kowloon and then down Nathan Road to Tsuen Wan in the New Territories, and the Island Line (blue), which runs along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island. The Tung Chung Line (orange) is the fastest connection to Lantau and one of the cheapest ways to get to the airport by taking the S1 shuttle from Tung Chung MTR Station. This line also provides a connection to the Disneyland Resort Line (pink) at Sunny Bay. All signs are in both Chinese and English and all announcements are made in Cantonese, Mandarin and English. The staff at the station control room usually speaks enough English to help lost tourists.

MTR Usage Considerations:

  • Hong Kong’s suburban rail system is connected to two international borders with the mainland, at Lo Wu Control Point and the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Pointboth on the East Rail Line. You pass through a short corridor, then a large border gate, before entering a long one-way corridor and arriving at a Shenzhen Metro station in mainland China.
  • The East Rail Line offers a first class carriage with wider and more comfortable seats. The fare is twice that of regular cars on the same line, and you must purchase a separate ticket at a station ticket office or present your Octopus card to the ticket reader before boarding the car. Ticket inspectors regularly check the cars and passengers without a valid first class ticket are subject to a $500 fine.
  • Most underground MTR stations have at least one Hang Seng Bank branch that can serve as a meeting point.
  • Note that in Hong Kong, the English term for the underground subway system is “MTR”. The term “subway” refers to the underground sidewalks, as opposed to the subway system.
  • Fares depend on the distance. Credit cards are not accepted for payment of tickets, except for trips by Airport Express.
  • The consumption of food and beverages and smoking are strictly prohibited in stations and on trains. Violators are subject to a $2,000 fine.

Disabled access and stroller access are available at MTR stations, but it is likely that considerable additional walking is required, often from one end of an MTR station to the other. For example, the elevator at one end of the platform may be at train level, while the elevator to street level is at the other end. So be aware that if you use the elevators and wheelchair access, you will often have to go around the station two or three times just to get from street level to the desired train. Normally there is a drive for wider access (wheelchair/pushchair), but it often takes a long walk around the station or platform. Occasionally there is an MTR staff stand at a set of doors, but it depends on the staff member if they just take your card at their terminal and let you through the freight entrance to the platform. If you need a stroller to get around, it may be best to fold up the stroller, pick up your child and use the “normal” escalators and readers. Most Hong Kongers use a small, lightweight, foldable stroller that stands upright (for example, the Combi range, which seems to be the most popular) and is easy to fold, carry, and get through doors and escalators. This also ensures that you won’t have to fight with others who need the space in the elevator, such as wheelchair users and caddies.

Get Around - By Tram

The narrow double-decker streetcars (called “ding ding” in popular parlance) operated by Hong Kong Tramways, which run along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island, have been a cheap means of transportation for over a century. A streetcar ride is a great and inexpensive way to see the sights. For a one-hour excursion, hop on at the Kennedy Town terminal and make sure you get a good seat on the upper deck. As the streetcar heads east, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of Hong Kong Island and its many facets, from the bustling street life of Hong Kong to the quiet of the suburbs to the glittering financial and commercial districts.

  • Streetcars are slower and bumpier than other forms of transportation, and they are not air-conditioned. During the summer months, it can be very uncomfortable even with the windows open.
  • They operate from 06:00 to 23:59.
  • Passengers ride in the back and the flat fare of $2.30 is paid by getting off at the front of the streetcar. The fare is paid with the Octopus card or with coins (change is not given).
  • They are the most popular means of transportation on Sundays for the large number of foreign maids in Hong Kong and it is very difficult to sit or stand on that day.

PEAK TRAM

The Peak Tram, Hong Kong’s first mechanical means of transportation, opened in 1888. Despite its relatively high price ($28 one-way, $40 round-trip; return tickets must be purchased in advance), the remarkably steep 1.7 km ride up from Central to Victoria Peak is at least worth it. The streetcar turnstiles accept Octopus cards, which avoid the line at the station.

At night, when the view of the city skyline is magical, and on public holidays, the Peak Tram is likely to be crowded. Queues can be very long (it is not uncommon to wait an hour at peak times) and there have been many reports of jostling.

Note that the streetcar is not the only way to reach the Peak. There are cheaper (but slower, yet scenic) alternatives such as the green #1 minibus for $8.4 and the #15 double-decker bus for $9.8 from the Exchange Square Bus Terminus. These buses often give you great views of both sides of Hong Kong Island on the way up.

LIGHT RAIL

The MTR operates a streetcar system called Light Rail in the northwestern New Territories. It is a modern and fast streetcar system that connects Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai. It is also known as Ding Ding by the locals. It has an open fare system where passengers have to buy a ticket or take an Octopus card at the station entrance before boarding, and ticket control is done randomly. The area is rarely visited by foreign tourists, but several sites are nevertheless accessible by light rail, such as many ancient walled villages (highlighted by the Ping Shan Heritage Trail), Hong Kong Wetland Park, the beaches of Tuen Mun New Town, downtown Yuen Long, and fishing villages like Lau Fau Shan and Sam Shing.

Get Around - By bus

There are three types of buses in Hong Kong. In the inner areas, buses get stuck in traffic and take much longer than the MTR, but they serve many more destinations than the MTR. Buses are generally easy to use, but English signage can be sparse and it can be difficult to find the bus stop. Buses are also the only public option for getting to the south side of the island and to Lantau. Google Maps will show you the best bus number to get from your current location to your destination.

  • These large double-decker buses cover most of the city, stopping frequently and offering different fares depending on the distance. From the first seats on the top floor, you have a good view. Among the concessionary bus companies in Hong Kong are Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) (and its subsidiary Long Win Bus), Citybus (CTB)New World First Bus (NWFB) and New Lantao Bus (NLB). Information on routes and fares can be found on the companies’ websites. Alternatively, it is also advisable to install transportation apps such as “KMB & LW” and “CitybusNWFB” on your smartphone to check fares outside if you will be using mobile devices regularly during your stay.

Fares depend more on where you get on than where you get off (except for the B2 cross-border line and some night buses), which means that it is more expensive to get on at earlier stops than later ones. As a result, cross-harbor bus rides between Kowloon and the island cost more than $9 before the crossing. The fare is displayed on a digital screen above the fare indicator – you need to use exact change, Octopus card or a ticket purchased at a bus travel center (valid only for a few trips in major transport hubs like Star Ferry or Central Bus Terminus). There are many bus routes that offer a discounted fare for connections on a given route; this is often confusing for visitors, but there are indications of this on the timetable posters at bus stops. There are also some bus routes (especially those that go to Stanley) that offer a discount if a passenger gets off early and pulls out their Octopus card again before getting off.

Except for most of the New Lantau Bus, announcements are made in Cantonese, Mandarin and English. To catch your bus, go to the stop with the correct number and, as the bus approaches, raise your arm to stop the bus (like a cab). Buses only stop when you are told to stop. So press the red buzzer (next to the exit doors and on the handholds) to signal the driver that you want to get off. Always get on at the front and leave the bus through the middle door – unless the bus has only one door or you have to pay to get off.

  • The van-sized public minibuses carry a maximum of 16 passengers (seating only) and come in two variants: red minibuses and green minibuses (red buses are also called maxicabs); the color refers to a wide stripe painted on the vehicle. Traveling in a minibus is not always easy for passengers, as you have to shout the name of the stop in Cantonese or ask the driver to stop. (More and more red minibuses accept Octopus card, but many do not accept Octopus card, but give change, while green minibuses accept Octopus card, but do not give change if you pay in cash. The #1 green minibus on Hong Kong Island, which runs from the Peak to Central, is particularly exciting. The red minibuses generally have a more Chinese feel than the green buses. Prices on red minibuses are often listed only in Chinese numbers. The price displayed on a red minibus can legally vary according to market prices, which means you’ll have to pay more at peak times. Some people say that red minibuses drive worse than green minibuses; minibus drivers usually drive fast, especially at night. Always use the seat belts on minibuses, if they are available. You will find that all minibuses are equipped with a large digital speedometer in the cab, visible to the passengers. Since the introduction of these speedometers for passengers, the number of accidents in minibuses has decreased.
  • The MTR also has a fleet of feeder buses. MTR passengers can take advantage of a free shuttle service if the bus ride is paid for with an Octopus card at the same time as a train ride (except with the K12 on public holidays).

Please note that when paying in cash, the exact price of the ride must be paid and no change can be returned. Paying with Octopus is much more convenient. The exception to this rule is if you are using a red minibus; Octopus cards are not accepted in red minibuses, but you will be given change.

There are six independent route numbering systems, which apply to buses on (i) Hong Kong Island, (ii) Kowloon and the New Territories, and (iii) Lantau Island; green minibuses on (iv) Hong Kong Island, (v) Kowloon, and (vi) the New Territories, as well as to some exceptional additional bus routes. Red minibuses generally do not have route numbers. This results in overlapping routes in different areas. Although the Transport Authority is working to standardize route numbers, they are still a bit confusing at the moment. If you are a bit confused by the route numbering, here is a suggestion: memorize the route number of Hong Kong Island/Kowloon/New Territories buses only if it is necessary. In other special cases, ask the driver or the station staff for the Lantau buses and the green minibuses, and they will be able to tell you.

In general, you don’t need to mention which neighborhood the line belongs to when you ask for directions (almost everyone will assume that you are asking for the line that passes through the neighborhood you are in, for example. If you ask for bus line 2, locals will assume you are asking for bus line 2 in Kowloon if you are in Kowloon), but you really need to mention whether it is a bus or minibus line when you ask, because in some cases, buses and minibuses may have the same route number in the same area, when they are actually different routes (for example, there is both bus line 6 and minibus line 6 in Tsim Sha Tsui, which are actually different routes).

Get Around - By ferry

A large fleet of ferries runs between the many islands of Hong Kong. The granddaddy of all ferries and an attraction in itself is the Star Ferry, whose most popular route runs from early morning to late evening between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central, offering breathtaking views (especially if you’re from Tsim Sha Tsui). The Star Ferry is an icon of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage and has been carrying passengers for over 120 years. The 11-minute ride across the harbor, during which you can breathe a misty breeze, is a must for any visitor to Hong Kong. Sailing enthusiasts should not miss the way the crew catches the rope thrown with a billhook when docking on the pier – a practice that has not changed since the first ferry in 1888.

Upper deck seats cost $2.50 on weekdays and $3.40 on weekends, while lower deck seats cost $2.00 on weekdays and $2.80 on weekends, both of which can be paid in Octopus, cash (no change is given), or at an on-site ATM. The Star Ferry also runs between Tsim Sha Tsui and Wanchai, but only offers seating on the upper deck. A 4-day tourist ticket is also available for $25.

Ferries to Lamma, Lantau and other islands depart from various ports, but the largest and most important terminal is in Central, next to the Star Ferry. Ferries are generally divided into fast and slow ferries, with fast ferries charging about double the price for half the travel time, although not all destinations offer both types of service. Sample fares for trips from Central to Yung Shue Wan (Lamma) are $10/15 slow/fast and for Mui Wo (Lantau) $10.50/$21. Note that all fares are increased by about 50% on Sundays and public holidays.

Get Around - By Taxi

Cabs are numerous, clean and efficient. They are extremely cheap compared to many other large cities.

There are three types of cabs in Hong Kong, easily recognizable by their colors: red, green and blue, all serving the airport and Hong Kong Disneyland. Be sure to choose one of the three types of cabs when you leave the airport. If in doubt, just take a red cab. Fares for the different cabs are published on the Internet

  • City (red) cabs can run anywhere in Hong Kong and are the most expensive. The meter starts at $22.00 for the first 2 kilometers, plus $1.60 ($1.00 after the fare reaches $78.00) for every additional 200 meters or minute of waiting time.
  • New Territories cabs (green) are slightly cheaper than red ones, but they only run in rural areas of the New Territories, at the airport and at Hong Kong Disneyland.
  • Lantau (blue) cabs are the cheapest of the three, but only operate on Lantau Island, including the airport and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Considerations for a cab ride:

  • Wearing a seat belt is a legal requirement and the driver has the right to refuse to carry the passenger if the passenger does not comply.
  • Tipping is not usually requested or expected, but the driver usually rounds up the fare to the nearest dollar.
  • Drivers are required to give change for $100 bills, but not for bills larger than that. If you only have a $500 or $1000 bill and are going through a tunnel, tell the driver in advance so that he or she can change it when paying at the toll booth.
  • Some cabs accept credit cards and Octopus cards to avoid change problems; they are usually identified by a sticker on the windshield.
  • There are no late night or rush hour surcharges. However, luggage carried in the trunk must be paid for at $5 each, except for wheelchairs. There is no charge for trips to/from the airport or downtown, but all tunnel tolls are added to the bill. The driver usually pays on your behalf at the toll booth and you simply give the money back to the driver before you get out of the vehicle.
  • Passengers crossing the harbor (from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon or vice versa) must pay the toll for the return trip. However, you can take advantage of this by taking a cab back to an inter-port cab rank, for example at Star Ferry Pier or Hung Hom Station. At these inter-port cab stands, only one toll is added to the cab fare.
  • All cab drivers are required to display an official nameplate with the driver’s photo and license plate in their vehicle. If a cab does not display an “Off Duty” plate, they are legally required to drive you to your destination. They are also required to issue you a receipt upon request. If you feel that you have been “guided” through the city or if they refuse to take you to your destination or issue you a receipt, you may file a complaint with the Transportation Complaints Department at 2889-9999 (after hours voice mail service).
  • All cabs are equipped with a radio and can be booked and requested through an operator for a $5 protection fee to be paid to the driver. However, it is unlikely that you will have to call a cab as cabs are plentiful.
  • It is recommended that you ask a local person to write down the name or address of your destination in Chinese so that you can give it to the cab driver, as many drivers have a limited command of English and Mandarin. For example, if you want to return to your hotel, ask a receptionist to give you the hotel’s business card. But even if you don’t, most cab drivers know enough English to make themselves understood. Be aware that buildings may have one English name used by foreigners and another English name used by locals. For example, the HSBC building in Central is called “Hong Kong Bank” by cab drivers.
  • It is helpful to learn the Cantonese pronunciation of the place (especially because some names like Hung Hom do not sound in Cantonese as they are written in English). “Do” (pronounced like “Doe” – a doe, a female, with a medium tone) and “Gai” (pronounced like “Kai” with a rising tone) are the Cantonese words for road and path, respectively. If you can pronounce your suburb and local street correctly, it will help you a lot.

Get Around - By car

Considerations for Driving in Hong Kong:

  • In the densely populated city of Hong Kong, it is almost impossible to rent a car. Given the density of traffic, the complexity of the road network, the scarcity and price of parking spaces, and the well-developed public transportation system, renting a car is very unattractive. However, if you intend to walk and camp in the wilderness for a long period of time, you should rent a car. Expect to pay over $600 per day, even for a small car.
  • The minimum legal age for driving a passenger car in Hong Kong is 18the same as on the mainland. However, you must be old 21enough to drive commercial vehicles.
  • Hong Kong allows most foreigners to drive with an International Driving Permit (IDP). If one has an English driver’s license, one can drive in Hong Kong for a limited period of time. Those who drive for more than 12 months must obtain a Hong Kong driver’s license issued by the Department of Transport.
  • Traffic laws and signage in Hong Kong are similar to those in the UK.
  • Most Hong Kongers exceed the speed limit by about 10 km/h, which is considered a tolerance level. There are many speed cameras on most major roads.
  • Traffic lights are always respected.
  • Seat belts must be worn by all passengers who have a seat belt.
  • During rush hour, traffic can be very heavy around the Cross Harbour Tunnel, which is usually congested from 8:00 am to 11:00 am and from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm, and sometimes even until midnight.
  • Many motorists do not use their turn signals before changing lanes.
  • The traffic regulations are seriously enforced and the penalties for not following the rules can be severe.
  • The signs are written in both Chinese and English.
  • Traffic in Hong Kong is on the left side (the steering wheel is on the right), as in the UK, Japan, Australia, Thailand and Singapore, but unlike mainland China.

Get Around - By bike

Although it is generally possible to ride a bike, Hong Kong is not a bike-friendly place because of its hilly landscape, government policy, air pollution, and the general carelessness of many motorists. Locals sometimes ride on the sidewalks when they are not crowded, although most of the time the sidewalks are even too crowded to push the bike. If you plan to ride on the city’s busy streets, you should be fit enough to keep up with the surprisingly fast traffic.

A network of paved bike trails extends throughout the New Territories and makes it relatively easy to cycle long distances. There are also several mountain bike trails in the national parks, but a permit is required to bring bikes into the parks. Visitors must follow the rules of the road, which are based on the UK Highway Code.

Bicycles can be rented at various locations in the area. The most popular rental stations are Cheung Chau, Mui Wo (Lantau), Sha Tin, Tai Po Market, Tuen Mun and Ma On Shan. Rental rates generally range from $40-60 per day for a standard entry-level mountain bike to about $150 per day for a higher-end mountain or racing bike.

There are some basic rules that must be followed:

  • The law prohibits cyclists from riding on highways and in tunnels, which are well guarded.
  • Riding a bike while drunk is an offense.
  • The law states that you must have a front light and a rear light.
  • Electronic bike conversion systems are not permitted. The police have a strict enforcement policy for this type of violation.
  • The maximum fine for driving on pedestrian walkways is $500 or a three-month jail sentence. Offenders are usually given a warning, but the Hong Kong Police occasionally conduct raids once or twice a year.
  • If you use a folding bike, the bus driver will sometimes tell you that it’s not allowed, but if you talk to him nicely, he’ll usually let you on. A bike bag that makes your bike look like a normal piece of luggage can make your life much easier.

BICYCLES ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Folding bicycles are allowed on all public transport as long as they are folded.

  • MTR: Non-folding bikes can be transported in the MTR system. Ride in the first or last car and remove the front wheel.
  • Ferries: Bicycles are allowed on slow ferries, including the Star Ferry, but not on fast ferries.
  • Cabs: Most cab drivers carry bikes in the trunk if the front wheel is removed. Some drivers carry

Get Around - By Escalator

The world’s longest outdoor escalator leads from Central to the residential areas of the Mid-Levels via Soho. During morning rush hour, the escalator goes down, the rest of the time it goes up. It’s free to use – you can even get Octopus credits from vending machines along the way if you’re willing to use your feet!

The escalator runs through some of the oldest streets in Hong Kong. So, if you take the opportunity and simply walk the side streets, you will probably find something interesting from the colonial era. The area immediately east of the escalator was once exclusively Chinese.

Districts & Neighbourhoods In Hong Kong

Hong Kong consists of three regions: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. The regions are divided into 18 geographical districts, each represented by a district council that advises the government on local issues such as public facilities, community programs, cultural activities and environmental improvements.

There are a total of 541 district council seats, of which 412 are elected; the remainder are appointed ex officio by the chief executive and 27 rural committee chairmen. The Department of Home Affairs communicates government policy and plans to the public through the district offices. Hong Kong has a unified system of government; since the abolition of the two municipal councils in 2000, there is no local government. Therefore, there is no formal definition of cities and municipalities.

HONGKONG ISLAND

(香港島) (central, east coast, south coast) This is the place where the original British colony was located and where most tourists are concentrated. This is where most of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscrapers and the financial center are located. Overall, Hong Kong Island is more modern and prosperous and significantly less dirty than other parts of Hong Kong. The Peak is the highest point on the island with the best views and highest property values in the world.

KOWLOON (九龍)

A peninsula located in the north of Hong Kong Island, it offers a breathtaking view of the island. It offers a chaotic mix of shopping malls, street markets and apartment buildings. From here, there is a breathtaking view of Hong Kong Island. With more than 2.1 million people living in an area of less than 47 square kilometers, Kowloon is one of the most densely populated places in the world. Kowloon includes Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀), home to many inexpensive hotels, and Mong Kok (旺角), a shopping district.

NEW TERRITORIES (新界)

The New Territories, leased by the Chinese government in 1898 and so named by British officials, consist of a strange mixture of small farms, villages, industrial sites, mountainous landscape parks, and towns with populations equivalent to some of the larger cities.

LANTAU ISLAND (大嶼山)

A large island to the west of Hong Kong Island. You won’t find many idyllic villages, but once you leave behind the stray dogs and dilapidated buildings, you’ll find beautiful mountains and beaches. This is where the airport, Disneyland and the Ngong Ping cable car are located.

REMOTE ISLANDS (離島)

The Outlying Islands, well known to locals for weekend excursions, include most of the islands surrounding Hong Kong Island. These include Lamma (南丫島), renowned for its seafood, and Cheung Chau (長洲), a small island that was once a pirate’s lair but now attracts seafood lovers, windsurfers, and sunbathers.

Beaches in Hong Kong

Schek O

Seen from the top of the hill, the popular seaside resort of Shek O is beautiful. The atmosphere is still traditional and rustic. Take the subway to Shau Kei Wan MTR station, exit A3. Then take bus number 9 to Shek O.

Deep water bay

This attractive bay lies beyond Aberdeen on a picturesque coastal road flanked by flamboyant trees and imposing cliff-hanging villas. The public beach, one of the finest in Hong Kong, is adjacent to the facilities of the Hong Kong Golf Club. From there, a scenic path runs along the coast to Repulse Bay.

To get there, take the #6, 6A, 6X, 61 or 260 bus from the Exchange Square bus stop in Central.

Repulse Bay

Repulse Bay is the most popular beach in Hong Kong, but the water quality is not always so good. It is easily accessible by bus or cab from the Central Bus Terminus. Take bus no. 6, 6A, 6X, 61 or 260.

Sights & Landmarks In Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, there are no benches in the street to sit on. There are “seats”, but they are usually rare. Also, restaurants (especially the cheap and fast ones) prefer to change tables quickly. All this means that you spend a lot of time standing in a day. Make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes, because even a good pair of shoes can make your feet sore after a full day of standing.

Victoria Peak

From the huge wok-shaped Peak Tower on Victoria Peak, you’ll have a breathtaking view of Hong Kong Island! Since the early days of British colonization, the Peak was the most exclusive area for the richest inhabitants of the territory. Local Chinese were not allowed to live there until after World War II. The Peak Tower has an observation deck and a commercial center with stores, restaurants and museums.

Horse racing

Horse racing is a serious business in Hong Kong. There are live broadcasts on the radio and many people bet regularly. When people listen to the races, whether in a cab, restaurant or on the street, they should avoid talking or doing business for the 1-2 minutes the race lasts.

With the exception of a summer break between mid-July and mid-September, horse racing takes place on Wednesdays and weekends either at Sha Tin in the New Territories or at Happy Valley ($10, Wednesday nights) in eastern Hong Kong Island. Both race venues are easily accessible by MTR, but Happy Valley is the more convenient, historic and impressive venue.

Ask a local to explain the betting system. On race days, read the South China Morning Post’s Racing Post for a guide to the race. At the finish line in Happy Valley, there is a beer garden with a $40 draft beer, lots of locals and commentary on the race in English. Bring your passport and enter for the tourist price of only $1 (versus $10 for locals).

It is also possible to bet at one of the more than 100 branches of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, a non-profit organization that is the only institution authorized to conduct legal horse racing in Hong Kong. Expect long lines and large crowds.

Traditional heritage

There are many traditional cultural sites throughout Hong Kong.

In the New Territories, the Ping Shan Heritage Trail passes through some of the major ancient sites, the fortified hakka village of Tsang Tai Uk, the traditional bazaar of Fu Shin Street and a series of temples such as Che Kung TempleMan Mo Temple and the Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas. In Kowloon, you will find the Kowloon Walled City Park at the site of the old Kowloon Wall. And on Lantau, you will find Tai O stilt housesPo Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha statue.

Nature

Contrary to popular belief, Hong Kong is more than just skyscrapers and it is worthwhile to visit the countryside (over 70% of Hong Kong), including the landscape and marine parks. Many people are surprised to find that Hong Kong actually offers breathtaking scenery and landscapes.

  • Lantau Island is twice the size of Hong Kong Island and is worth a visit if you want to escape the bright lights and pollution of the city for a while. You will find open landscapes, traditional fishing villages, secluded beaches, monasteries and much more. You can go hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking and more.
  • Chinese white dolphins live in the waters of Tung Chung, on the island of Lantau. These dolphins are naturally pink and live in the wild, but their status is currently threatened, with an estimated population of 100-200 individuals.
  • The Sai Kung Peninsula in the New Territories is also worth a visit. The mountainous terrain and spectacular coastal scenery make this place something special. There are challenging routes and more relaxed ones.
  • The Hong Kong Wetland Park in the New Territories is a relaxing park located in the heart of an ecological compensation area. You can walk along a network of hiking trails or explore the large visitor center/museum.
  • The Northeast New Territories is also known for its natural environment. Yan Chau Tong Marine Park is located in the northeast of the New Territories. Some traditional abandoned villages are connected by hiking trails in this area. The Northeast New Territories is a popular place for hiking among the local people.
  • You’ll find short hiking trails (2 hours) on Hong Kong Island and in the New Territories. You can even hike to Victoria Peak.
  • Some isolated islands are worth visiting, for example: Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, Ping Chau, Tap Mun, Tung Lung Island.

Theme parks

  • The Hong Kong Disneyland Resort opened in September 2005. It is located on Lantau Island, about 12 km east of Hong Kong International Airport. The resort also includes a Disneyland park, two resort hotels and a lake recreation center. Although the park is significantly smaller than other Disneyland parks in other countries, it is being expanded to offer more attractions (including the recently opened Toy Story Land and Grizzly Gulch). It has some great attractions and short lines most of the year (except during Chinese New Year week, Easter, Halloween and Christmas).
  • Located on the south side of Hong Kong Island, Ocean Park is the park that many Hong Kongers grew up with. With its roller coasters and large aquariums, it is always full of families and tourists on weekends. The cable car is an icon. For many, the chance to see the Hong Kong pandas is a deciding factor. Young adults will be attracted by the wider range of rides on offer.
  • Ngong Ping 360 on Lantau Island is a Buddhist theme park with imperial Chinese architecture, interactive shows, demonstrations, restaurants and cafes. The highlight of this tour is the longest cable car ride in Hong Kong, which offers a breathtaking view. The ride will also take you to the largest sitting Buddha in the open air.

Seeing different sides of Hong Kong by public transport

A bus or streetcar ride is a great way to see different aspects of Hong Kong. Not only is it cheap, but it allows you to see completely different lifestyles in different parts of the city in a short time. Below are some recommended routes.

Bus

  • KMB 270A Road. Starts in downtown Jordan, Kowloon. It runs along the Kowloon Peninsula and through the New Territories. Then, it goes to Sha Tin. Then it passes through Tai Po Road, where you can see many traditional Chinese villages and the picturesque Chinese University of Hong Kong. The bus continues to Tai Po where you can see the traditional market. After Tai Po, the bus passes through the countryside again and finally reaches its terminus at Sheung Shui (below Landmark North), which is near the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The trip takes 80 minutes and costs $13 for the whole trip in an air-conditioned bus. From Sheung Shui, it is possible to return to the city by Hung Hom train. edit
  • NWFB Line 15 runs from Central (Exchange Square) to The Peak. It is an alternative way to get to the Peak by bus, rather than taking the Peak Tram. Your trip to Hong Kong will not be complete without visiting Victoria Peak. During the ride along Stubbs Road, you will have a wonderful view of Hong Kong Island, Victoria Harbour and the Kowloon Peninsula. When you arrive, there are two shopping malls: The Peak Tower and The Peak Galleria, which offer restaurants, a supermarket and souvenir stores. You can also visit Madame Tussauds Hong Kong and see for yourself that the mannequins look real. Directions: Take the MTR and get off at Hong Kong Station. You will reach Hong Kong Station by taking the underpass from the main station. Then follow the B1 exit to Exchange Square, where the bus terminal is located. You can also get off at Admiralty Station. Then take exit C1 to Queensway Plaza. After leaving the station, turn right and you will see the bus stop. Once you board the bus, simply stay until you reach The Peak Bus terminal. The fare is $9.8 and the ride takes about 30 minutes.
  • The 973 city bus route departs from the Tsim Sha Tsui East bus station, which is located at Concordia Plaza, right across from the Science Museum on Science Museum Road. It runs along Salisbury Road, where the Avenue of Stars, the Space Museum and the Art Museum are located. After crossing the Western Harbour Crossing, it heads to the University of Hong Kong, the best known and oldest university in Hong Kong. It then crosses the landscape of the southern part of Hong Kong. It reaches the southern part of Hong Kong, where the Jumbo/Tai Pak Floating Restaurant in Aberdeen is located. Shortly after, the bus passes a soccer field, from where you can walk to Ocean Park in 5 to 10 minutes. Finally, the bus passes the beautiful sandy beach of Repulse Bay before finally arriving at its terminus in Stanley Village, home to the famous Murray House and Stanley Village Market. The fare is $13.6 and the trip takes approximately 95 minutes.
  • NWFB Route H1, H2

These two double-decker rickshaws serve major attractions on Hong Kong Island, such as the Court of Final Appeal (formerly LegCo) in Central and the University of Hong Kong. A day ticket costs $50 and you can hop on and off at any stop.

Tramway

  • Take a streetcar ride on Hong Kong Island.

This is the Hong Kong Tramway System, a slow but distinctive means of transportation on Hong Kong Island. It has been in operation since 1904 and is a clear remnant of the British administration. A streetcar ride is the perfect way to leisurely explore the main streets of Hong Kong Island and get a taste of local life. Fares are relatively affordable, only $2.30 per ride for adults and $1.00 for seniors (65+), with children paying $1.20.

Note that the low price makes the streetcar attractive to housekeepers on their Sunday off and it can be so crowded that it is very difficult to squeeze in or out. A more relaxed streetcar ride would be better on a weekday.

It is recommended to travel from Kennedy Town in the west to Shau Kei Wan in the east to experience a strong contrast between “east and west” and “old and new”.

A new modern streetcar system is running in the northwestern New Territories, serving the New Towns between Yuen Long and Tuen Mun. Few tourists will get excited about these streetcars, but they may interest train fans.

Avenue of Stars and A Symphony of Lights

The Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, pays tribute to the icons of Hong Kong cinema from the last century. Day or night, this walk offers fantastic views of Victoria Harbour and its iconic skyline. You can have your picture taken by a professional photographer who specializes in night shots. The avenue is accessible from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station or from the Star Ferry.

The Avenue of the Stars is also a great place to see A Symphony of Lights, a spectacular light and laser show synchronized with music, which takes place every night at 8pm. It is the “largest permanent light and sound show” in the world, recognized by the Guinness World Records. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the light show is in English. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, it is in Mandarin. On Sunday, it is in Cantonese. While on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, spectators can tune their radio to FM103.4 MHz for English, FM106.8 MHz for Cantonese or FM107.9 for Mandarin. The same soundtrack can be accessed on cell phones by dialing 35665665 for the English version, at the usual phone rates. Even if the show is not grandiose, the light show is completed by a fireworks display that is worth seeing during the holidays.

Museums & Galleries In Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a large number of museums with various themes. Perhaps the best museum is the Hong Kong Museum of History in Kowloon, which offers an excellent overview of Hong Kong’s fascinating past and does not have the typical “glass jar” format of museums in other parts of China. Innovative galleries, such as a reconstruction of a colonial-era street, bring history to life. Take about two hours to see everything in detail.

Kowloon has several other interesting museums, including Dialogue in the Dark, an exhibition in total darkness where you should use your non-visual senses with the help of a visually impaired guide, the International Hobby and Toy Museum, which exhibits models, toys, sci-fi collectibles and pop culture artifacts from around the world, The Hong Kong Museum of Art, a fascinating, strange and elusive place that exhibits Chinese ceramics, terracotta, rhinoceros horns and Chinese paintings, as well as contemporary art by Hong Kong artists; the Hong Kong Science Museum, which is primarily for children; and the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre.

Central is also home to a number of museums, including the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, which shows the evolution of the healthcare system from traditional Chinese medicine to modern Western medicine, and the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre. There is also a 3D museum of Korea, the Trick Eye Museum Hong Kong.

In the New Territories, there is the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, which is mainly for those interested in Chinese culture, and the Hong Kong Railway Museum.

Things To Do In Hong Kong

Exploring

Take the streetcar from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan. The trip takes about 80 minutes and costs $2.30. Hong Kong streetcars run between the west and east of Hong Kong Island. Starting from the old part of Kennedy Town, you will see the residential areas, followed by the wholesalers of Chinese herbal medicines and dried seafood in Sai Ying Pun – Sheung Wan. Then the streetcar takes you to the famous Central District, with its soaring commercial buildings and banks. Wan Chai and Causeway Bay are popular shopping areas, where it is always crowded. Further east are North Point and Shau Kei Wan, which have a completely different style from Central and Causeway Bay.

Music

Hong Kong is one of the major centers of Chinese pop culture, with a huge and vibrant entertainment industry and home to many famous singers and actors such as Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Wong Ka Kui (Beyond), Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Eason Chan, to name a few. Besides locals, it is almost certain that all foreign bands touring Asia perform in Hong Kong, and concerts of famous singers often sell out.

Indie Events

Cantopop is by far the most popular genre in Hong Kong and enjoys strong media support. Independent musicians are often harassed and driven out of their rehearsal and concert venues by the government, as they are forced to illegally rent warehouses due to prohibitive rents. A few small venues, such as Hidden Agenda and The Wanch, are open for independent concerts.

Beaches

In Hong Kong, you are never far from the sea, and a good beach is only a bus ride away. But if you’re really looking for a good beach, it’s worth the trip to the beaches of the New Territories, perhaps even on foot. With over 200 offshore islands and an extensive coastline full of impressive bays and beaches, you’re sure to find some great beaches to spend the day on. Hong Kong’s urban beaches are generally well maintained and have showers and changing facilities. Beaches run by the Recreation and Culture Department are equipped with anti-shark nets and lifeguards. Dogs and smoking are not allowed on these beaches.

The most appropriate ranges are those like this one:

Repulse Bay is a large urban beach located on the south side of Hong Kong Island. It has recently undergone major investments in its facilities and is particularly suitable for people with young children.

Middle Bay is very popular with gay men and is a 20-minute walk from the Repulse Bay crowd. Middle Bay has lifeguards, showers, changing rooms, shark nets and a decent cafe with drinks and snacks.

Shek O is a popular beach for many young Hongkongers. It is located away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but is well stocked with restaurants and has a good bus connection from the north side of the island. The Thai restaurant near the beach is worth a try.

Big Wave Bay This beach is smaller than others on Hong Kong Island, but it still offers good services, including a series of small cafes near the beach. Big Wave Bay has, as its name suggests, the kind of waves that attract surfers. From Big Wave Bay, you can take the coastal path to Chai Wan, where the MTR and buses are located. The walk to Chai Wan takes about an hour or more if you are not used to the steep climb up the mountain.

Hung Shing Yeh Beach is considered the most popular beach on Lamma Island. This beach belongs to category 1 and is characterized by fine powdery sand and clear water. The beach is well-equipped with changing rooms, a barbecue and a refreshment stand. To get to this beach, you need to take the ferry from Central Pier to Yung Shue Wan. From the ferry terminal to the beach, you will walk about 20 minutes (buses and cabs are not an option on Lamma).

Swimming pools

In addition to the pools at many hotels, there are several public pools located throughout the area. Admission costs $19 on weekends/$17 on weekdays for adults and $9 on weekends/$8 on weekdays for children and can usually only be paid with the Octopus card or coins. The pools are kid-friendly with shallow pools and fountains. All pool complexes are well maintained and offer swim lanes, hot showers, lockers ($5 deposit or lock required), family and same-sex locker rooms (limited privacy) and most have swim clubs for serious swimmers. Swimmers must bring their own towels and toiletries.

Most pools open at 6:30am and close at 10pm. They usually close for lunch at 12:00-1:00 and again from 5:00-6:00.

  • Kowloon Park Swimming Pool Complex (exit A1 of Tsim Sha Tsui MTR) is located in the city center and offers a wide range of services to visitors. It includes an Olympic-sized indoor pool, a slightly smaller training pool, a diving pool and a leisure pool for young swimmers. During the summer months, the indoor pools are air-conditioned, while in winter the water is heated. During the summer season, there are four outdoor pools that cater to all age groups. In the summer, the pool is very popular with young people, but all age groups use the pools well. A limited number of lounge chairs are available.

Sailing

You can rent a junk for a cruise with your family and friends. A typical junk can accommodate more than 30 people and can be rented for a day to take you on a tour of your choice. Sai Kung is a popular starting point for this excursion, and you can also sail to nearby beaches if you want to take a break. A cheaper alternative is to rent a much smaller water cab (水道) that will take you to your destination.

Hiking and camping

Hiking is Hong Kong’s best kept secret. It’s a great way to enjoy Hong Kong’s beautiful scenery, with its mountains, beaches and breathtaking city views. The starting points of many hiking trails are accessible by bus or cab. Hiking is highly recommended for active travelers who want to escape the modern urban world.

Hiking in Hong Kong can be strenuous due to the steep trails, and during the summer months, mosquitoes and hot, humid weather turn even the simplest hike into a workout. It is strongly recommended that you wear appropriate clothing and carry enough water and mosquito repellent. Venomous snakes are unlikely to be encountered, although they are present in most rural areas. Most locals choose the winter months to hike the more challenging trails. If you are not particularly fit, you can plan your route by taking a bus or cab to the highest point of the trail, then walking down.

Campgrounds are plentiful in Hong Kong and they are free. Most are located in landscaped parks and range from simple one toilet sites to those that provide campers with modern toilet blocks and cold showers. Some sites have running water and sinks for washing dishes. A few campsites offer the option of purchasing drinking water and food, while many sites are very isolated. On weekends and holidays, it is expected to be crowded, especially at the more accessible sites near roads. Many Hong Kongers like to camp in large groups, talk loudly and stay up late into the night. Therefore, if you are sensitive to noise, it is best to find a secluded campsite or learn to control yourself.

There are four major hiking trails in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region:

  • Path of Lantau on Lantau.
  • The Hong Kong Trail on Hong Kong Island.
  • Maclehose Trail through the New Territories. Oxfam organizes a charity hike on this 100 km trail every November. Winning teams make it in about 11 to 12 hours, but most people take 30 to 36 hours to complete the entire route, which runs from the eastern end of the New Territories (Sai Kung) to the western end (Tuen Mun).
  • The Wilson Trail begins on Hong Kong Island and ends in the New Territories.

Hong Kong has exceptional rural landscapes to offer, but the influence of visitors is a problem. Please respect the landscape by taking your garbage home. Avoid using garbage cans in remote areas, as they are not emptied regularly and your waste could be scattered by hungry animals.

Hong Kong Outdoors and Journey to Hong Kong are full of information on hiking and camping, as well as other great activities and excursions in Hong Kong’s wilderness.

Gambling

Regulated gambling is legal in Hong Kong:

  • Horse racing is the most popular and is described in more detail above.
  • Betting on soccer is only allowed at Hong Kong Jockey Club branches. Betting on other sports is not permitted.
  • The lottery is also only allowed in branches of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Marksix is a popular game that costs $10 per bet. You draw 6 numbers out of 49 and the result of the lottery is announced on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends when there is no horse racing.
  • Mahjong (麻雀 ma jeuk) is also an integral part of Hong Kong’s gaming culture, although it is often informal and difficult for foreigners to participate. Mahjong has a strong influence on popular culture in Hong Kong, and there are a number of songs and movies that deal with mahjong. The game played in Hong Kong is the Cantonese version, whose rules and ranking differ from the Japanese version or from versions played in other parts of China. Mahjong parlors are plentiful in Hong Kong, although they are hard to find. They also have many unwritten rules that may be difficult for visitors to understand.

Food & Restaurants In Hong Kong

Cuisine plays an important role in the lives of many Hong Kong residents. Hong Kong is not only a showcase for Chinese cuisine with a wide regional diversity, but also offers an excellent selection of Asian and Western dishes. Although Western cuisine is often tailored to local tastes, Hong Kong is a good place for homesick travelers who are tired of Chinese food. The Michelin Guide to Hong Kong is considered the gold standard for good restaurants. Open Rice also has an excellent directory of local restaurants. It’s a pretty safe way to find a few hole-in-the-wall restaurants or eateries while enjoying good local food. According to Restaurant magazine, 4 of the top 100 restaurants in the world are in Hong Kong.

Because of its history as part of this region, it is not surprising that Hong Kong’s local cuisine is very similar to that of neighboring Guangdong. However, after more than a century of British rule, the British have also left their mark on the local cuisine: cakes and pastries are quite popular with the locals. Hong Kongers are also a little less adventurous than their Cantonese-speaking compatriots from mainland China, as some exotic ingredients such as dog and cat meat are banned in Hong Kong. In addition, there are dishes from virtually every region of China, as many famous mainland chefs fled to Hong Kong to escape persecution by the Communists after the Chinese Civil War.

You may meet locals who haven’t cooked at home in ten years. Locals love to go to restaurants, as it is much more convenient than sitting at home in crowded rooms. In front of many good restaurants, there can be long lines at peak times. Usually you have to register first, buy a ticket and wait for a seat to open up. Reservations are usually only an option at high-end restaurants.

Eating etiquette

Chinese food is usually eaten with chopsticks. However, restaurants serving Western food usually provide a knife, fork and spoon. Do not stick your chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice, as this is reminiscent of burning incense sticks in temples and means that you wish death on those around you. Also, chopsticks should not be used to move bowls and plates or to make noise. In small restaurants, dishes may not be served with a serving spoon, although the staff will usually provide one if you ask.

Some Hong Kong customs must be respected:

  • To thank the person who pours you tea Cantonese style, tap the table with two or three fingers. The legend goes back to a story in which a Chinese emperor was traveling incognito and his loyal subjects wanted to bow to him without betraying their cover – hence the “bow”.
  • If you wish to have more tea in the teapot, leave the lid open and the teapot will refill.
  • It is not uncommon for customers to rinse their plates and utensils with hot tea before starting their meal. This is because in less expensive restaurants, there is often a residue of washing-up liquid on the dishes and cutlery.
  • Except in very expensive establishments, there is no real dress code in Hong Kong. It is not uncommon to see in the same restaurant people in suits and others in T-shirts.

Local foods, eating establishments, and costs

You can usually tell how cheap (or expensive) the food is by looking at the restaurant’s decor (menus are not always posted in front of restaurants). Restaurants located in Soho, downtown, 5-star restaurants, or other areas with high rents are usually more expensive than restaurants off the beaten path. It is easy to find establishments that offer main courses for well under HK$80 and offer both local and international dishes. Local fast food chains like Coral’s Cafe (大家樂),Maxim’s MX (美心) and Fairwood (大快活) offer meals for $30-50, with standardized menus in English for easy ordering. Yoshinoya (a Japanese chain) sells gyudon (beef with rice) and Teriyaki-style chicken (with rice or noodles) at a very reasonable price. Mid-range restaurants usually charge more than HK$100 for the main dishes. At high-end restaurants like Felix or Aqua, you can easily walk away with a bill of more than HK$1,500 (including appetizers, main courses, desserts and drinks). However, if your budget allows, Hong Kong is without a doubt one of the best places in the world to enjoy fine Chinese cuisine.


Dim sum 點心

Dim sum (點心), which literally means “touching the heart,” is probably the most famous Cantonese dish. These delicate bites of Cantonese cuisine are served for breakfast and lunch and are often accompanied by Chinese tea.

Dim sum comes in countless variations, with a huge price range from $8 to over $100 per order. The most common dishes are steamed crab dumplings (蝦餃 har gau), pork dumplings (燒賣 siu mai), grilled pork buns (叉燒包 char siu bau), and Hong Kong egg cakes (蛋撻 dan tat), the first two of which are mandatory for local patrons to have when eating dim sum. In high-end restaurants, the choice is wider. A tea pot with two dishes, called yak chung liang gin, is a typical breakfast serving.


Siu Mei 燒味

Siu mei is a generic term for Hong Kong-style roasted meat, including pork belly, fire-roasted pork (叉燒 char siu), roast duck or chicken. The ‘addition of a slightly crispy honey sauce gives a unique and intense grilled taste. Fried pork rice (叉燒 char siu), fried duck, crispy crusted pork or Fragrant Queen chicken (香妃雞) are common dishes, popular with many, including local superstars.


Congee 粥

Cantonese congee (juk) is a thin rice porridge cooked in water. It is served for breakfast, lunch or dinner and at its best is as soft as dental floss. To achieve this quality, the porridge must be cooked for up to 10 hours. Congee is usually eaten with hearty Chinese donuts (油炸鬼 yau char kway) and steamed rice paste (腸粉 cheong fun), often filled with meat or vegetables.

There are several chain congee restaurants in Hong Kong, but none of them have earned the respect of local foodies by word of mouth. The best congee restaurants are usually located in older neighborhoods and are often run by elderly people who are patient in preparing the best congee in the area for hours.


Noodles 麵

When asked what dish Hong Kongers feel at home with, wonton noodles (雲吞麵) are one of the most popular answers. Wontons are ravioli usually made of chopped shrimp, but may also contain small amounts of pork.

Rice paste is also a popular dish in southern China. It is most prevalent in the Teochew and Hokkien regions of China, but is also popular throughout East Asia. In Hong Kong, it is usually served in a soup with beef and fish balls, sometimes with crispy fried fish skins.


Tong Sui 糖水

A popular Cantonese dessert is a sweet soup called tong sui (糖水, literally sweet water). Popular versions are usually made with black sesame paste (芝麻糊), walnuts (核桃糊) or sago (西米露), which usually have a sticky texture. Other traditional dishes include red bean paste (紅豆沙), green bean paste (綠豆沙) and tofu pudding (豆腐花). Lo ye (撈野) is a similar dish. The juice is poured into an ultra-cold pan to produce an icy paste, usually served with fresh fruit and sago.


Tea cafes & tea time 下午茶

A unique Hong Kong-style establishment that is beginning to establish itself in other Asian countries is Cha Chaan Teng (茶餐廳), which is literally called “tea cafe” but offers fusion fast food, cheerfully mixing Western and Eastern dishes: Innovations include spam noodles, fried spaghetti, and cheesy rice au gratin. There is also usually a wide selection of drinks, almost always including the popular Yuenyeung (鴛鴦) tea-coffee blend, but also more unusual (to Western palates) drinks like ginger boiled coke or lemon iced coffee. Orders are usually written down on a piece of paper at the table and paid for at the cash register on the way out.

Tea time (Hang cha), marked by British colonialism, plays an important role in Hong Kong’s stressful office life. A typical tea service usually starts around 2 or 3 pm and consists of a cup of “silk stocking” tea, scrambled eggs and sandwiches with ground beef, egg or ham, but no vegetables or cheese.

Just like the Malaysian “teh tarik”, the Hong Kong variant has a similar taste. The main difference is that a burlap bag is used to filter the tea leaves and the burlap colored by the tea is reminiscent of silk stockings, which earned it the name “silk stocking milk tea”. For some people in Hong Kong, milk tea is an important indicator of the quality of a restaurant. If a restaurant does not serve reasonably good milk tea, the locals’ criticism can be very harsh. Yuanyang is also a popular drink mixed with milk tea and coffee.

One sign that tea time has arrived is a short line at the bakery to buy egg tarts (a tea time snack with a pastry crust and egg pudding filling). Don’t try to make a fool of yourself by saying that egg cake was brought to Hong Kong by the British – many locals claim sovereignty over their egg cake. When a long-established egg cake store in Central closed due to exploding rents, it became the biggest news in the SAR, and many people came to help the owners find a new store.

Try as many different egg pancakes as possible at local stores and find the best one in your area.

To fill your belly at a simple Chaa Chan Teng (茶餐廳) (local tea restaurant), it costs HK$10-20 for milk, tea or coffee, HK$8-10 for toast and HK$25-50 for a rice dish with meat. Wonton noodles usually cost HK$20-30.


Street food

The cheapest food is found in the popular street stalls. Most of the people who work there barely speak English and the menus don’t mention it. However, if you can make yourself understood, eating on the street is a great way to experience the local cuisine. Point to something, use your fingers (or Cantonese numbers) and smile. People are usually willing to help you. Local specialties include curried fish meatballs (咖喱魚蛋), fake shark fin soup (碗仔翅) made with beans and vermicelli, egg waffles (雞蛋仔), three fried stuffed treasures (煎釀三寶, vegetables stuffed with fish flesh), spit-fried guts, fried squid or octopus and different kinds of spit-fried meat (e.g. For example, satay style chicken).


Fast food

Most large fast food restaurants are popular in Hong Kong and charge reasonable prices. McDonald’s sells a Happy Meal set for about $20-25.


Seafood 海鮮

Seafood is very popular and available everywhere. The best places to eat seafood are Sai Kung, Sam Shing, Po Doi O and Lau Fau Shan in the New Territories, and Hong Kong’s islands, including Lamma and Cheung Chau, also have many fish restaurants. Seafood is not cheap. Prices range from HK$200 per person for a very simple dinner to HK$300-500 for a better choice and much more for the best deal.

Expect a disproportion between the high price of the food and the quality of the restaurant. Sometimes the best food is served in the simplest establishments, where tables may be covered with cheap plastic tablecloths rather than a formal tablecloth. Often, the Cantonese place more importance on the food than the establishment. If one of your traveling companions doesn’t like seafood, there’s no need to panic, as many fish restaurants offer extensive menus to suit all tastes. A number of fish restaurants specialize in high quality fried chicken, which is particularly tasty. Many exotic delicacies such as abalone, mussels and bamboo are available for sale in many seafood restaurants, but you should avoid endangered species such as sharks and juveniles.

Sushi

Sushi is very popular and there are several sushi restaurants where you can eat everything and the prices are reasonable.


Exotic meats

While dog and cat meat has long been banned in Hong Kong and the import of many types of wild animal meat is subject to strict rules, snake meat is often offered in winter in various restaurants called “Snake King”. Served in a slimy soup, it is supposed to warm up the body.

In Hong Kong, the largest importer of this exotic cuisine, there is an ongoing debate about the consumption of shark fin. Shark fins are often served at weddings and other important events in a carefully prepared stew that usually costs between $80 and $1,000 per bowl. Shark fin consumption is a controversial issue and WWF Hong Kong is campaigning against the consumption of this endangered species.

In addition to exotic meats, Chinese tables also feature chicken feet, pig noses and ears, lungs, stomachs, duck heads, various types of intestines, livers, kidneys, blood sausage and duck tongues.


International cuisine

Due to the large number of foreign residents in Hong Kong, there are many restaurants offering authentic international cuisine in all price ranges. These include various types of Indian, Thai, Japanese and European dishes. They are often found in entertainment districts such as Lan Kwai Fong, Soho or Knutsford Terrace, but not only there. Of these neighborhoods, Soho is probably the most appropriate for dining, as Lan Kwai Fong is mostly saturated with bars and clubs. Great chefs are often guests or trying to find their way to work in Hong Kong.


Home cooking

Eating at home is a very popular trend in Hong Kong. BonAppetour is a good way to discover local chefs who would like to invite you for dinner. You can make new friends while eating homemade food and in company.


Barbecue

Barbecuing (BBQ) is a popular pastime for locals. In many areas, there are free public barbecues where everyone cooks their own food, usually with long barbecue forks. It’s not just sausages and burgers – locals enjoy preparing a wide variety of dishes at barbecues, such as fish, beef balls, pork balls, chicken wings and so on. A good place for this is the south of Hong Kong Island, where almost all the beaches are equipped with many free barbecues. Just stop by a supermarket and buy food, drinks and accessories for the barbecue. The best places are Shek O (under the trees on the left side of the beach) and Big Wave Bay.


Wet markets

Wet markets are still very common. Freshness is an important ingredient in all Chinese dishes, so frozen meat and vegetables are frowned upon, and most markets offer freshly slaughtered beef and pork (with offal), live fish and more exotic shellfishfrogs, turtles and sea snails. Locals often go to the market every day to buy fresh ingredients, as do restaurants.


Cooked food centers

Cooked food centers are often located in the same building as some covered wet markets. Tables that were once on the street have been moved into sterile concrete buildings. Inside, the atmosphere is that of a no-frills food court. Cooked food centers offer economical options for eaters, but you may need to be accompanied by a Cantonese-speaking customer or be brave.

Coffee & Drinks in Hong Kong

Tea

As in the rest of China, tea is a popular beverage in Hong Kong, served in virtually every restaurant. Chinese teas are the most common, but many places also offer Western milk teas. In the summer, “Ice Lemon Tea” is a common option, which is quite bitter and needs to be compensated with a little sugar.

Alcohol

Some Chinese people drink a lot, but in general, there are many areas in Hong Kong where bars or pubs are rare. Drinking alcohol with food is acceptable, but you are not expected to order alcohol with your meal in a restaurant. A number of popular restaurants do not sell alcohol due to licensing restrictions.

Lan Kwai Fong (Central), Wanchai and Knutsford Terrace (Kowloon) are the three main exit areas where locals, expats and tourists meet. There is definitely a party atmosphere and you can expect to meet many “happy” expats in these areas. LKF and Wan Chai are particularly rough party places, but nevertheless very crowded. The minimum age for drinking in a bar is 18. As a general rule, young adults must prove their age, especially if they are going to a nightclub. Acceptable identification in clubs is either a passport or a Hong Kong identity card. Photocopies are rarely accepted, as minors use false documents.

Some clubs in Lan Kwai Fong have imposed a dress code on their customers, and tourists are no exception. The general rule is to avoid shorts or pants longer than the knee.

Going out in Hong Kong can be expensive. A beer usually costs from $50 and up in a bar popular with expats. However, off the beaten path, some Chinese restaurants offer a beer promotion tailored to the needs of groups of customers. Gargotes, usually found in wet markets, often employ young women to promote a particular brand of beer. Convenience stores and supermarkets offer a reasonable selection of drinks. The 7-Eleven in Lan Kwai Fong is a popular “bar” for partygoers on a budget.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, some bars in Wan Chai and Lan Kwai Fong have a “Ladies Night”, which in most cases means that women can enter the bars and clubs for free and in a few rare cases, their drinks are paid for the night. On weekends, some bars and clubs in these areas are “open bar” for part of the night, which means you can drink as much as you want.

San Miguel (Cantonese name: Seng Lik), Tsing Tao (Ching Dou), Carlsberg (Ga Si Bak), Blue Girl (Lam Mui), Heineken (Hei Lik) and Sol are popular in the city. There are no more taxes on wine and beer in Hong Kong.

Shopping In Hong Kong

The Hong Kong dollar (港幣 or HKD) is the territory’s official currency. In Chinese, a dollar is officially known as Yuen (圓) and colloquially as Men (蚊). You can assume that the “$” sign used in the territory refers to HKD, unless it contains other initials (for example, US$ for US dollar). The HKD is also widely accepted in Macau as a replacement for the local currency at a rate of 1:1.

The official exchange rate is 7.80 HKD to 1 USD, although bank rates may vary slightly. If you are exchanging money at a major bank, you should expect a small fixed fee, usually around US$40 per transaction. When exchanging large amounts, this fee has minimal impact on the transaction. When exchanging small amounts, it may be advantageous to exchange at one of the many independent exchange offices in the tourist areas. Their exchange rates are somewhat less favorable than those of the major banks, but most of them do not charge a commission. They can also be more convenient and faster (no lines, located in shopping malls, open 24 hours a day, etc.). Be careful, however, if you visit independent currency exchange offices outside of bank hours, as without competition from the big banks, their rates can become very uncompetitive.

Avoid exchanging money at the airport or in most hotels, as the exchange rates offered there are usually very poor. Note that street exchange offices often offer different rates and you may be able to save about 10% by comparing several exchange offices rather than using the first one you see. The worst rates are comparable to those in hotels.

For ATM cards, exchange rates and fees are comparable to those for exchanging cash at major banks. Note that some smaller banks do not accept ATM cards from foreign customers. The best banks for foreign tourists are HSBC, Hang Seng and Standard Chartered. ATMs of these banks are widespread and can be found at every MTR station.

The bills are issued by several Hong Kong banks (HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of China) and can be used anywhere in Hong Kong. They are available in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 dollars.

1000 dollar bills are rare and are not accepted by some businesses because of their forgery-proof nature.

Coins are available in units of $10, $5, $2, $1, 50¢, 20¢ and 10¢. Normally, you should avoid change under $1, as there are not many things you can buy with coins under $1. An Octopus card is the best way to avoid handling small change.

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are widely available in urban areas. They generally accept VISA, MasterCard and, to some extent, UnionPay. Maestro and Cirrus cards are also widely accepted. They issue $100, $500 or, more rarely, $1000 bills, depending on demand. The use of credit cards is common in most stores for large purchases. Most retailers accept VISA and MasterCard, some also accept American Express. However, Maestro debit cards are rarely accepted by retailers. Signs with the logos of the various credit cards usually indicate at the door which cards are accepted. For small purchases at stores like McDonalds or 7-Eleven, cash or an Octopus Card is the norm, although some of these stores also accept credit cards for small purchases. In some cases, the merchant may give you the option of paying with your credit card directly in your local currency or in Hong Kong dollars. For small amounts, it doesn’t matter what currency you want to pay in, but for larger purchases, it’s worth checking your credit card’s guidelines for currency conversion.

Merchants ask for a signature on the credit card, compare your signature with the card and do not ask for photo identification. The “Chip and Pin” credit card authorization system is not used in Hong Kong.

Banking

Opening a bank account in Hong Kong is a straightforward procedure that requires proof of address and corresponding identification. A Hong Kong ID card (of any kind) makes the process much easier, although foreign visitors can also open a bank account with their foreign address. Hong Kong banks have English-speaking staff.

Some banks also offer UnionPay accounts and credit cards in RMB, the Chinese currency, which can then be used when traveling in mainland China.

Costs

Hong Kong is expensive by Asian standards, and the cost of accommodation is particularly high. A comfortable middle-class hotel room costs at least $800 per night, but those with very little money can find a bed in a hostel for less than $200.

Most public transportation is relatively cheap, costing only a few dollars. Cabs are not expensive either, with short trips costing about $30, although the port crossing costs $80.

Eating in Hong Kong is generally cheaper than in Western countries, and prices start at around $20 per serving for a simple porridge or noodle meal, although in mid-range restaurants $150-200 per person is common. At the other end of the spectrum, high-end cuisine can also be very expensive, and prices of around $1,000 per person or more are not uncommon.

Finally, it should be noted that there is no sales tax in Hong Kong and therefore prices of moderately priced items (such as Western shampoos, cell phones, etc.) are generally lower than the same products on the mainland.

Tipping

In general, tipping is not common in Hong Kong, although people will not refuse to let you give them something. The amount of the tip is a matter of personal choice, but visitors should keep in mind that locals generally do not tip. Visitors should also be aware that it is common for bar and restaurant owners to withhold some or all of the tip.

In less expensive restaurants, no tip is expected at all and it is considered unusual not to take all the change. In middle to upper class restaurants, a 10% service charge is often added to the bill and is generally considered a tip. For good service, you may tip extra, but it is neither required nor expected; in order for the staff to receive the tip, it must be given in cash and not as an addition to the credit card bill. It is also common for middle-class Chinese restaurants to hand out peanuts, tea and napkins and add a small amount to the bill. This is known as “Cha-Sui money” (money for tea and water) and is considered a common practice. If the fee is not excessive, tourists should accept it as part of the cost of the meal. Sometimes restaurants deliberately give change to their customers when they should be giving bills; you have the choice of taking all your change or leaving a small tip.

Tipping is not expected in cabs, but passengers often round up the fare to the nearest dollar. During a typhoon, if the damage is not covered by insurance, a tip is expected or the cab driver will ask for a supplement. In hotels, guests are also expected to tip room service at least $10-20, and luggage handlers also expect $10-20 to carry your bags. Similarly, bathroom staff in restaurants and upscale clubs may expect you to give them a few coins, but it is socially accepted not to tip.

Under no circumstances should you attempt to tip a government official, especially a police officer; this is considered a bribe and is strictly prohibited, and will most likely lead to an arrest.

Exceptionally, locals who organize such events leave a tip of well over ten percent of the total bill on important occasions such as a wedding or similar large gala. The money is placed in a red envelope and given to the manager.

Shop

The fierce competition, lack of sales tax and some wealthy consumers make Hong Kong an excellent shopping destination. There is a wide selection at competitive prices. Be on the lookout for watches, camping gear, digital items and specialty cosmetics.

Popular shopping items include consumer electronics, custom clothing, shoes, camping gear, jewelry, expensive brand name items, Chinese antiques, toys and Chinese herbs/medicine. There is also a wide selection of Japanese, Korean, American and European clothing and cosmetics, but prices are generally higher than in their respective home countries.

Most stores in Hong Kong’s urban areas open daily from about 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. after midnight. Due to the high cost of rent in Hong Kong, which ranks second in the world according to Forbes, it is not surprising that the best bargain stores can be found anywhere but on the first floor. Locals’ recommended stores can even be on the 20th floor of a building that doesn’t give a hint that it’s a place to shop.

Many stores accept credit cards. When accepting credit cards, merchants pay more attention to the signature than to the photo ID. In addition, merchants do not accept credit cards made out in any name other than the name of the person presenting the card. All businesses that accept credit cards, and many that do not, also accept debit cards as payment. The term used for debit card payments is EPS.

In the past, Hong Kong was a good place to buy cheap imitations, counterfeit products and pirated videos and software. Today, Hong Kongers often buy these products in Shenzhen, just over the border in mainland China.

Antiques and Art Head to Hollywood Road and Loscar Road in Central. You’ll find a long street with stores selling a wide variety of items that look like antiques. Some of the items are very good fakes, so make sure you know what you are buying. More expensive items can be found at Star House, near the Star Ferry Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Books Hong Kong has a good selection of English, Japanese and French books, as well as a large selection of uncensored Chinese titles. Prices are generally higher than imported books, but this is your last hope of finding books before heading to China. Try Swindon Books on Lock Road in Tsim Sha Tsui and Page One in Times Square (Causeway Bay) and Festival Walk (Kowloon Tong). Dymocks, an Australian bookstore, has eleven stores, including at the IFC and Princes Building. French books are sold at Librairie Parentheses in Wellington Street in Central, and Japanese books are sold at Sogo Shopping Mall in Causeway Bay. The largest local bookstore chain is Commercial Press, which generally carries cheaper but limited English titles. If you’re looking for Chinese books, you’ll find the locals’ favorite bookstores on Sai Yeung Choi Street. Under the name Yee Lau Sue Den (second floor bookstore), they hide in the upper floors of old buildings and offer unbeatable discounts on all books.

Cameras There are some serious camera stores mostly in Central, Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok, but there are also tourist traps, especially in Tsim Sha Tsui. The rule of thumb is to avoid all the stores with flashing neon signs along Nathan Road and look for a store with lots of local, non-touristy customers. Only use recommended stores, as stores like those on Nathan Road will probably disappear the next time you visit Hong Kong. If you want to shop conveniently, take the subway to Mongkok and head to Sai Yeung Choi Street, where you may find some of the best deals. Mong Kok Computer Centre and Galaxy Mall (Sing Jai) are always packed with locals. Several photography stores like Man-Sing and Yau-Sing are known for their rude staff, but have a reputation for selling at fair prices. In the 1990s and early 2000s, it was not possible to bargain in most stores, but this has changed since 2003 with the influx of tourists from mainland China. While it’s hard to say what discount you should ask for, if a store gives you more than 25-30% off, locals tend to think it’s too good to be true unless it’s a listed seasonal sale. Even if prices in Hong Kong are good, it’s still worth checking prices with Hong Kong-based e-commerce providers, such as DigitalRev or Expansys, who can deliver products to your hotel within a day or at least use their prices to negotiate with merchants.

Computers The basic prices of computer equipment in Hong Kong are similar to those elsewhere in the world, but the absence of sales tax and VAT means substantial savings. The Wanchai Computer Centre, Mongkok Computer Centre and the Golden Computer Arcade in Sham Shui Po are all within walking distance of their respective MTR stations. Electronics are also available at large chain stores such as Broadway and Fortress, located in major shopping centers. Large chain stores accept credit cards, while smaller stores often insist that customers pay with cash or an ATM card.

Computer games and gaming equipment If you want to buy a new PlayStation, Nindendo DS or other, Oriental Shopping Centre, 188 Wan Chai Road, is the right place for you. You will certainly be able to get some real bargains there. Prices can be up to 50% cheaper than in your home country. Be sure to compare prices beforehand. There are also a few game stores in Wanchai Computer Centre. Prices are usually lowest in the farthest corners on the upper floors. You may even be lucky enough to find English-speaking staff. However, make sure that the regional code of the hardware is compatible with your home country (Hong Kong’s regional code is NTSC-J, unlike mainland China’s) or buy hardware without a regional code (like the Nintendo DS lite).

HMV Music and Movie Store is a tourist-friendly store with a wide selection of more expensive products. For real bargains, head to the smaller malls, where you’ll find small, independent retailers selling CDs and DVDs at very good prices. Some stores also sell high-quality used goods. In the Oriental Shopping Centre on Wanchai Road, you’ll find a wide range of stores and get a feel for shopping in an upscale mall. You can also venture into the many CD and DVD stores at the Sino Centre on Nathan Road, between the Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei MTR stations. There are two independent music stores in Hong Kong. White Noise Records in Causeway Bay and Harbour Records in TST. Hong Kong’s first department store, Lane Crawford, has CD bars in its IFC and Pacific Place stores, and there is a good CD bar at the Saffron Café on the Peak.

Camping and sports A good place to buy sportswear is near Mong Kok MTR station. On Fa Yuen Street, there are many stores selling sports shoes. There are also many stores hidden only on the first floor that sell camping equipment. The prices are usually very competitive.

The Tsim Sha Tsui fashion centers on Kowloon and Causeway Bay on the island are the most popular shopping destinations, but you’ll find malls all over the area. Besides all the big international brands, there are also some local Hong Kong brands like Giordano, Bossini, G2000, Joyce and Shanghai Tang. The International Finance Centre in Central offers a good selection of high-fashion brands for the stinking rich, while Temple Street in Mong Kok is the obvious destination when it comes to cheap knock-offs. There’s also Citygate Outlets, a very large factory outlet center that carries most major foreign and local brands, near the Tung Chung MTR station on Lantau Island. Tourists visiting the Ladies Market or other nearby markets should be aware that there are no price tags on the goods. Most of the time, the price the merchant tells you is twice as much. Negotiate with them and ask them to lower the price by at least 50%. You can also find similar clothes (at a lower but fixed price) in nearby stores (e.g. in Sai Yeung Choi Street).

Tea Buying a good Chinese tea is like choosing a good wine, and there are many tea merchants who cater to connoisseurs willing to pay high prices for some of the best Chinese teas. To sample Chinese tea and learn more, visit the Tea Museum in Hong Kong Park in Central. Marks & Spencer offers traditional, strong English tea bags at a reasonable price for homesick Brits.

Watches and jewelry Hongkongers are avid watch buyers – how else can you show off your wealth when you don’t own a car and your house is hidden in a tower? You will find a wide selection of jewelry and watches in all major shopping malls. If you are looking for elegant jewelry or watches, try Chow Tai Fook, which can be expensive though. Prices vary and you should always look around and try to get a good deal. If you are in Tsim Sha Tsui, you will probably be offered to buy a “replica watch”. The big luxury brands have their own stores where you can be sure to buy authentic pieces.

Shopping malls

There are shopping malls everywhere in Hong Kong. The most famous locally are

  • IFC Shopping Center. Located near the Star Ferry and Outlying Islands Ferry Piers in Central. Has many luxury brand stores, an expensive movie theater and a great view of the harbor from the rooftop terrace. Directly accessible from the airport by Airport Express and Tung Chung Line.
  • Pacific Place. Also a large shopping mall with mostly high-end brands and a beautiful movie theater. Take the MTR to Admiralty.
  • The Walk Festival. A large shopping mall with a mix of expensive brands and small chains. It has an ice rink, a movie theater and one of the three Apple stores in Hong Kong. There is also a bus station inside the mall. Take the MTR East Rail to Kowloon Tong.
  • Cityplaza Shopping Center. A shopping mall of similar size, also equipped with an ice rink. To get there, take the MTR to Taikoo on the Island Line.
  • Emblematic place. Many luxury brands have their stores here: Gucci, Dior, Fendi, Vuitton, etc. in Central, Pedder Street. It used to be a magnet for the wealthy, but in the meantime its management has fallen behind.
  • APM. Brand new 24-hour shopping mall in Kwun Tong. Take the MTR to Kwun Tong station.
  • The city of the port. Huge shopping center in Tsim Sha Tsui on Canton Road. To get there, take the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui or the Star Ferry.
  • Langham Place. A huge 12-storey shopping mall located next to the Langham Place Hotel in Mong Kok. Contains mostly trendy stores for young people. Take the MTR to Mong Kok station and follow the directions to the exit.
  • Features. This shopping mall is located just above Kowloon Station and consists mainly of luxury brand stores and restaurants. There is a movie theater, an ice skating rink, an airport express station where you can check in your flights and a long-distance bus station for the mainland. The tallest building in Hong Kong, the International Commerce Centre (ICC), is connected to this shopping center.
  • Times Square Mall. A trendy multi-storey mall with some luxury brands, with food courts on the lower floors and fine dining restaurants on the upper floors. Take the MTR to Causeway Bay and get off at “Times Square”. This mall definitely attracts a younger crowd and is very busy on weekends, it’s a popular hangout for teenagers.
  • Citygate Outlets. Citygate is located right next to the Tung Chung MTR station and is directly connected to the Novotel Citygate Hong Kong hotel. It is an outlet mall with a wide range of mid-range brands, including Adidas, Esprit, Giordano, Levi’s, Nike, Quiksilver and Timberland. Many items are less expensive, but often out of season. Note that most items purchased here cannot be returned or refunded.
  • Laforet. Island Beverly and Causeway Place. The best places to find cheap and stylish Asian style clothes. Mostly girls’ clothes, but also bags, shoes and accessories, highly recommended if you’re looking for something different. Very popular with teenage girls. These three shopping malls are all located near Exit E of the Causeway Bay MTR station.
  • New Town Plaza. A 9-story shopping mall with 1,300,000 square meters of retail space in Shatin, New Territories. Considered one of the busiest shopping malls, the mall offers a wide variety of stores from sports and luxury brands, gourmet food from countries in different continents, sports, etc. The mall is connected to a series of nearby shopping centers, including New Town Plaza Phase 3 with the Japanese department store YATA. Thirty bus routes are available to access the mall. Another option is to take the MTR East Rail to Shatin.

Street markets

Street markets are a phenomenon in Hong Kong, usually selling ordinary food, clothes, bags or cheap electronic imitations.

  • Ladies Market – don‘t let the name fool you. It is for both sexes to find cheap clothes, toys and knock-off brands. It is located in Mong Kok and is accessible by MTR or bus.
  • Temple Street – The goods sold are the same as in Ladies Market, but there are more street vendors, a handful of fortune tellers and some Chinese opera singers. This street, which appears in hundreds of Cantonese movies, is considered a must-see for most tourists.
  • Flower Market – Prince Edward. Follow your nose to the sweet scents of a hundred varieties of flowers.
  • Goldfish market – A whole street of stores selling small fish in plastic bags and accessories Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok.
  • Bird Market – Prince Edward MTR Station, exit “Mong Kok Police Station”. Walk down Prince Edward Road West to Yuen Po Street “Bird Garden”.
  • Apliu Street- MTR Shum Shui Po Station, you can find cheap computer products, peripherals and accessories here. However, this is the worst place to buy a cell phone, as they tend to be even shadier than the small stores in Mongkok.
  • Stanley Market – A place for tourists, not locals. Stores sell everything from luxury luggage to cheap designer clothes. Accessible by minibus line 40 from Causeway Bay. Also, with bus lines 6 and 6A from Central and bus line 973 from Tsim Sha Tsui.
  • Textiles – Sham Shui Po MTR exit. In Nam Cheong St (between Cheung Sha Wan and Lai Chi Kok), you will find dozens of wholesalers specializing in the textile trade. Although they are looking for big factory orders, most of the stores are friendly and sell you fabrics, leather, haberdashery, tools, machines and anything else you can imagine to feed your creative impulses, in “sample size”. On Ki Lung Street, there is a street market where small quantities of fabrics and accessories from factory surplus are sold at surprisingly low prices. Bargaining is not necessary here.

Discounting and bargaining

Some Hong Kong stores (even some chain stores) are willing to negotiate prices, especially for items such as consumer electronics, and many smaller stores will give you a small discount or extra merchandise if you simply ask. For international brand-name items that are easily priced (e.g., consumer electronics), discounts of 50% are extremely unlikely. On the other hand, deep discounts are often possible on goods such as clothing. However, if there is a store that offers goods at 50% off, most locals will probably not shop there because it is too good to be true.

Since electronics stores are often located in the same place, it is often easy to spend a few minutes comparing prices and find out what the international prices are. Start by asking for a 10-20% discount and see how they respond to your request. Sometimes it may be appropriate to ask, “Is there a discount?” or “Do I get a free gift? “. Sometimes it is possible to get an additional discount by paying with cash, as credit card companies add 3% to your bill.

Tourist traps

Hong Kong rightly enjoys a reputation as a shopper’s paradise and is also a safe place to shop. Overpricing is considered by most locals to be immoral business practice and is unlikely to spoil your vacation. There are many hotlines for complaints.

In tourist areas, there are traps. These are often no-name electronics stores with brightly lit signs promoting well-known brands. Many traps can be identified by the fact that they employ a large number of employees in a very small space. Many of these stores are often found online, especially along Nathan Road, Kowloon and parts of Causeway Bay.

One trick is to offer you a low price for an item, take your money, only to “discover” that it is no longer in stock and offer you a lower quality item instead. Another trick is to give you a good price for a camera, take your credit card and, before handing over the camera, convince you to buy a “better” one at an exorbitant price. They may also try to get you to buy a lesser quality product by pretending it is a quality product.

One trick that is particularly common when buying electronics is missing parts in the package, such as batteries, etc. If you find an important item missing and return to the store to pick it up, it will be offered at an exorbitant price. Serious stores will open the box you have in front of you and allow you to look at it to make sure everything is there, and even turn the device on before paying.

Beware of people (usually of Indian origin) who approach tourists in the busiest areas of Kowloon. They recognize Westerners from afar and approach you directly to sell you either a suit or a watch (“Genuine Copy” is the expression often used). Learn to recognize them from a distance (since they are already looking for you), make eye contact, raise your hand and shake your head with determination. Good, strong body language in this regard will help you to be approached much less often.

Although the law is strictly enforced, tourist traps are usually designed by thugs who are experts at exploiting the grey areas of the law. Remember, no one can help you unless unscrupulous merchants have actually broken the law.

Hong Kong’s official tourism board has also set up the Quality Tourism Services (QTS) Scheme, which maintains a list of serious stores, restaurants and hotels. Registered shops usually only serve tourists, while the shops that offer you the best deals usually don’t bother to join the scheme.

Be careful of people (usually of Southeast Asian origin) who ask you on the street, in tourist areas, where you want to go. Do not tell them which hostel or hotel you are looking for, otherwise they will offer to “take you there”.

Supermarkets and hypermarkets

As in many crowded urban areas where most people rely on public transportation, many Hong Kongers shop infrequently and often, hence the abundance of grocery stores found on almost every corner and at most train stations. These include 7-Eleven, Circle K (called “OK” by locals) and Vanguard. Although more expensive, convenience stores are generally open 24 hours a day and sell magazines, soft drinks, beer, instant noodles, pre-packaged sandwiches, microwaveable convenience foods, snacks, birth control and cigarettes. Many stores have microwave ovens for preparing ready meals as well as hot water for preparing instant noodles and instant tea/coffee and also offer chopsticks for eating on the go.

Park ‘n’ Shop and Wellcome are the two main supermarket chains in Hong Kong, with stores in almost every part of the city, some of which are open 24 hours a day. In urban areas, some stores are located in the subway and are usually very small and cramped, although they offer a much wider selection of products and are slightly cheaper than the convenience stores mentioned above. City’super, Great, and Taste are expensive upscale supermarkets that focus on quality products and cater to a more affluent market. Apita and AEON are large Japanese-style supermarkets with a wide range of products and food courts. The department store chain YATA also offers a Japanese-style supermarket experience, but it is a bit overpriced compared to the similar chains mentioned above.

Nightlife In Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a mecca for pubs, bars, casinos, karaoke and nightclubs as soon as the sun sets in the sky.  The skyline is illuminated and invites to play after a hard day’s work.

Maintenance Districts

There are three entertainment districts in Hong Kong.  Lan Kwai Fong is located in the center of Hong Kong and is the place where most locals go after work.  The establishments here are trendy and entertaining.  Wan Chai, near Causeway Bay, has many bars and nightclubs open until dawn.  Tsim Tsa Tsui in Kowloon is mainly frequented by locals.

Bars and clubs

Bars and pubs can be found all over Hong Kong, and most of them offer a wide selection of beers and other alcoholic beverages from around the world.  They are open 24 hours a day and serve you whenever you want, but only come alive at night. There are English pubs, fancy lounges and less attractive bars in the city.

Different types of clubs

Almost all hotels in the city have nightclubs where DJs play the biggest hits to guests. There are two types of clubs in Hong Kong: Western clubs and Chinese clubs. If you are a tourist, it is better to go to a western club. Find out the dress code beforehand, or you may not be admitted. It is best to call ahead and get on the reservation list. Some are easy to get to, some are only available if you know someone, and some are only available if you arrive early.

Karaoke

The karaoke craze has taken over Hong Kong and has never left. There are many hotels, clubs, bars and restaurants that host karaoke nights or have a private room where one can enjoy karaoke. Often a professional singer is hired to sing with the guests.

Many hotels and restaurants offer live music, from a piano bar to local rock bands. You can listen to oldies and punk rock in the same neighborhood, in different establishments, and the diversity never fails.

The park at night

The Night Park, located in the Tsim Sha Tsui district, is a popular place for night walks. This park is decorated with thousands of lights, many of which are neon. You have to see it to believe it. It’s a good place to walk around at night and see the monuments.

Festivals & Events In Hong Kong

  • Chinese (Lunar) New Year (農曆新年). Although it seems like a great time to visit Hong Kong, many stores and restaurants are closed during the first three days of Chinese New Year, so visitors will not see Hong Kong at its best. However, unlike Christmas in Europe, where open stores are rare, Western department stores, supermarkets and fast food outlets usually stay open, so you can easily find food and convenience items during Chinese New Year. The week or two before Chinese New Year, as well as the period from the 3rd to the 15th day, is a good time to soak up the festive atmosphere and listen to the Chinese New Year songs that are played in the stores. There are some festive events like lion dances, fireworks and parades.
  • Spring Lantern Festival (元宵節). If you go to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, you can witness this traditional Chinese festival. Many beautiful lanterns can be seen in the park at this time.
  • Ching Ming Festival (清明節). This spring festival is also known as “Tomb Sweepers’ Day”. To pay tribute to the deceased, family members visit their ancestors’ graves to sweep leaves and remove weeds around the grave. Paper offerings, such as counterfeit money, are also burned.
  • Cheung Chau Bun Festival (長洲太平清醮). It takes place on the small island of Cheung Chau. In the past, this festival involved contests in which people climbed bun towers to grab buns. After the unfortunate collapse of a bun tower in 1978 due to overcrowding, the contest was stopped. It resumed in 2005 with improved safety measures.
  • Tuen Ng Festival (端午節). This is a festival commemorating a national hero from the spring and autumn period of Chinese history. During this festival, dragon boat races are usually held and many people eat glutinous rice dumplings, usually filled with pork.
  • Hungry Spirit Festival (中元節). This festival takes place in the seventh month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that during this time, the gates of hell open and hungry spirits can roam freely in our world. Although it is not a legal holiday, many people can be seen performing various rituals during this time to appease the wandering spirits, such as offering food and burning smoked paper. One can also see traditional performances, such as Chinese opera, organized to appease the spirits.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival/Lunar Festival (中秋節). This festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. Mooncakes, which contain lotus seed paste and duck egg yolk, are a popular delicacy. Many Westerners are not familiar with the traditional moon cake, so you should also try the iced version. The festival is also known as the Lantern Festival, and various parts of Hong Kong are adorned with decorative lanterns that bathe the night scene in colorful light.
  • Chung Yeung Festival (重陽節). This day is also known as the Autumn Memorial Day and is similar to the Spring Ching Ming, when families visit the graves of their ancestors to perform purification rites and pay homage. As the weather gets colder at this time of year, hiking is a good activity for this holiday.
  • Halloween (萬聖節). Halloween is becoming more and more popular and many people dress up to party late into the night. Trick-or-treating is not common, but most restaurants and malls are decorated and have special programs. For young adults and teens, Ocean Park and Disneyland are places where Halloween is fun. It is not a legal holiday.
  • Christmas (聖誕節). Christmas is celebrated in Hong Kong. The city is decorated with traditional Western Christmas decorations. In many shopping malls, such as Pacific Place, children have the opportunity to meet Santa Claus. Most stores and restaurants are also open on Christmas. Expect to see large crowds shopping for the holidays.
  • New Year’s Eve (元旦除夕). New Year’s Eve in Hong Kong is an experience not to be missed if you are looking for a carnival. Hundreds of thousands of people in the streets to celebrate the new year, it is really an unforgettable experience. The MTR, night buses and of course the many cabs run all night long. A fireworks display is held on the waterfront, followed by many people on both sides of the harbor: Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon side) and Central (Hong Kong Island). Adults, young and old, decide to party with the rest of Hong Kong in hot spots like Causeway Bay, Lan Kwai Fong and Tsim Sha Tsui. Many people dress up and attend private parties, while others flock to the streets to enjoy the atmosphere. Police patrol the popular areas to ensure that the city is a safe party zone. Hong Kongers are not heavy drinkers and most stay sober all night. It is not common to drink alcohol on the street. Visitors who do drink alcohol must therefore exercise moderation or risk being singled out by the police as the only drunk in the crowd.
  • The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. This annual event attracts many visitors from around the world to celebrate the most entertaining edition of the IRB Sevens Series. It is a huge three-day event that sells out between the last days of March and early April.
  • The Hong Kong Summer Spectacular: Dragon boat races, music festivals, summer sales, book exhibitions, anime film fair, the hottest summer nights and the coolest carnival!
  • Hong Kong Summer Pop Music FestivalEvery summer, the Hong Kong Summer Pop Music Festival brings together top musicians to give spectacular performances!
  • The Hong Kong Arts Festival, a month-long festival of international performances, takes place in February and March.
  • The Man Literary Festival, a two-week English-language festival with international writers as guests, takes place in March.
  • The three-week Hong Kong International Film Festival runs from late March to early April.

Stay Safe & Healthy In Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in Asia, if not the world.

Stay Safe In Hong Kong

CRIME

Thanks to an efficient police and legal system, Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world. Nevertheless, pickpocketing is not uncommon in Hong Kong, especially in busy areas. Of course, as in other parts of the world, common sense should be used. Although locals feel safe carrying a backpack with a wallet inside, be careful in crowded areas where pickpockets are likely to be rampant, especially at major tourist attractions. Don’t wave your wallet in public, don’t show the cash inside, and don’t let anyone know where you keep it.

Although Hong Kong Island, parts of the New Territories and the Outlying Islands, including Lantau Island, are the relatively safe parts of Hong Kong, caution should be exercised when traveling to Kowloon. Even tourist areas like Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok have a bad reputation for crime compared to Hong Kong. As they are relatively poorer areas, the crime rate is higher there than in other parts of Kowloon, resulting in pickpocketing and the infamous acid attacks in Mong Kok. If you are traveling outside of Hong Kong Island, be careful not to carry items that could make you look like a tourist, such as cameras, backpacks, electronic devices or flashy clothing, and not to carry large amounts of money.

In Hong Kong movies, the triads (三合會) are often portrayed as armed gangsters who fear no one, but this only exists in the movies. Even at their peak, triads were usually only involved in prostitution (which is legal in itself, but organized prostitution, i.e. pimping or brothels, is not), counterfeiting, or loan sharking and lived underground, rarely targeting the average person on the street. Just stay away from the triads by avoiding loan sharks and illegal gambling, and they won’t bother you.

Call999 if you need urgent help from the police, fire department or ambulance. Hong Kong has a very strict service control system, so after a call, the 999,police should be on the scene in most cases within 10 minutes, usually even faster. For non-emergency police assistance, call 2527-7177.

TOURIST TRAPS

It is increasingly common for any foreigner or store owner to offer “discounts” on their products. The key to avoiding tourist traps is: “If it sounds too good to be true, it is”.

There are a few stores near hotels or tourist sites that have been set up exclusively for tourists. These stores are rarely frequented by locals and the products are usually of poor quality and expensive. Examine the products carefully and watch out for poorly printed labels and packaging.

LEGAL AFFAIRS

Most travelers who have been in trouble with the law have been involved with illegal drugs. Drugs such as ecstasy (MDMA) and marijuana are strictly controlled, and tourists risk immediate arrest if found in possession of even small amounts of banned substances. Most Hong Kongers have a negative attitude toward narcotics, including “soft” drugs like marijuana.

Hong Kong laws require residents to carry an ID card at all times, and police frequently conduct random checks when they have “reasonable suspicion.” The government recommends that tourists carry their passports, but unless you think you are very likely to be stopped by the police, there is no great need; most visitors prefer to keep their passports safe. You won’t be stopped because you are well dressed. Hong Kong people often dress smartly. White people are rarely assaulted by police during identity checks. South Asians, especially Pakistanis and Nepalese, are often stopped by the police. As long as you are well dressed (which does not mean formal), you are unlikely to be targeted by the police.

You are expected to cooperate with the police in the investigation and understand that they may search your bags and pockets. By law, you may refuse a request to search your bags and body in public. You also have the right to refuse to answer questions, to contact your embassy, and to seek legal assistance. The police are obliged to comply with your request, but may take you into custody for up to 48 hours.

It is well known that discrimination exists. People with a good education and a serious job are generally treated better by the police, while young people, people from developing countries and Western countries with less strict drug laws may be checked more frequently. Police and government are exempt from racial discrimination regulations. However, there is a law prohibiting all forms of police brutality, including verbal assault and the use of foul language. Call 2866-7700 to speak to the Independent Police Complaints Council and give the police officer’s badge number on his or her shoulder. The complaint will be taken seriously.

TRAFFIC

Traffic laws are strictly enforced in Hong Kong. Fines can be severe and road conditions are excellent, although courtesy on the road can still be improved. However, driving speeds can be so high that the number of deaths in accidents is higher.

The street signs in Hong Kong are similar to those in Britain. Crosswalks (zebra stripes) indicate pedestrian crossing areas and traffic flows on the right.

Crossing the street on foot should also be done with great caution. As a rule, traffic in Hong Kong flows quickly once the signal turns green. To help both the visually impaired and the blind, an audible signal is given at each intersection. Fast bells signal “Walk”; intermittent bells (10 sets of 3 bells) signal “Do not start crossing”; and slow bells signal “Do not walk”.

Crossing crosswalks is a crime, and police can make rounds at the most accident-prone locations. It is not uncommon to see locals waiting to cross an empty street. If this happens, you should also wait, as they may have noticed the police patrolling the intersection. The maximum fine for crossing a pedestrian zone is 2000 HKD.

TOBACCO

Smoking restrictions In 2007, a smoking ban went into effect. The ban applies to all indoor areas and a number of outdoor areas such as university campuses, parks, gardens, bus stops and beaches. As of July 1, 2009, the smoking ban was extended to adult entertainment venues such as bars, clubs and saunas. If you are undercover, you probably shouldn’t smoke. If you are caught smoking in the wrong place, you can be fined a hefty amount up to $5,000 USD. Throwing cigarette butts is also punishable by a fine of $1,500.

To combat smoking, tourists are only allowed to take 19 tax-free cigarettes or a maximum of 25 grams of tobacco with them since August 2010. The government has also banned the sale of tobacco in duty-free stores located at arrival gates. Offenders can be charged with cigarette smuggling and penalties can be severe. According to a local report, one man was fined $2,000 after being convicted of carrying five packs of cigarettes. Illegal duty-free cigarettes are offered for sale in various places, such as night markets, but both the buyer and seller can be charged with smuggling. Be aware that the police may raid the area at any time. Once caught, ignorance is not an accepted defense.

Cigarettes cost about $50 for a pack of 20 in Hong Kong. Among the most popular brands are Marlboro, Salem and Kent, which are sold for about $50, the second highest price in Asia after Singapore. There are also some slightly cheaper brands for smokers on a budget. Rolling tobacco is not widely available and is only sold in specialty stores.

CORRUPTION

Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, which aims to fight corruption, ranks Hong Kong as the 18th “cleanest” region in the world, ahead of the United States and most European countries such as Germany and France.

In Hong Kong, bribery is a serious offence. Unlike mainland China, money paid for unfair competition is considered bribery, regardless of the identity of the recipients. Any attempt to bribe police officers or officials almost certainly leads to arrest and imprisonment.

The territory has an effective anti-corruption police force, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which has been adopted as a model by Interpol and the United Nations. A number of countries, such as Australia, have adopted Hong Kong’s anti-corruption system.

DEMONSTRATIONS

Although there is usually at least one demonstration a year in Hong Kong (especially in late June/July in the urban areas of Hong Kong Island, i.e. Central, Wan Chai or Causeway Bay), these do not usually have a major impact on the average Hong Kong tourist. Just stay away from large crowds of protesters and police, although it can be said that protests are rarely as violent as in other countries.

Since 2014, efforts for “universal suffrage” for the election of the chief executive (head of the city) in Hong Kong have been growing, with many people calling for the Chinese Communist Party not to interfere in the process. Demonstrations on this issue have been very large so far, but they have been peaceful, although as the election approaches there is a potential for violence between police and demonstrators. At the time of writing (November 8, 2014), the Chinese government has completely rejected the protesters’ demands and the list of candidates for head of government is being approved by a pro-Pyongyang committee. This led to large-scale protests, in which riot police and tear gas were first used and tens of thousands of protesters occupied areas in Central and Causeway Bay. Smaller-scale protests continue.

HIKING

Over the past ten years, several hikers have lost their lives in the wilderness. Hikers should be equipped with detailed hiking maps, a compass, cell phones, snacks and sufficient quantities of drinking water. Most rural areas have a cell phone network, but in some places you can only get a cell phone signal from mainland China. In this case, it is not possible to dial the 999 emergency number. Some emergency call points have been installed in rural parks and their location is clearly marked on all hiking maps.

Heat stroke is a major problem for hikers who are not used to walking in hot climates. If you want to walk your dog during the hot summer months, keep in mind that dogs are more vulnerable to heat stroke than humans, and owners need to make sure their pets get enough rest and water.

The cooler hiking and camping season, October through February, is also the time of year when the risk of high altitude fires is highest. You will likely see signs at the entrance to the landscape parks warning you of the current fire risk. With an average of 365 mountain fires per year, you should take the risk of fire seriously and properly dispose of your cigarettes and matches. According to some hiker reports, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) staff will most likely fine you in areas where fire and camping are prohibited if you do not follow this rule.

Snakes are very common in the countryside, and some are quite large. Most of them will avoid you, but the small, light green snakes are venomous and won’t move. Avoid them.

Although the hike is generally very safe, the landscape can harbor illegal immigrants and a few cases of theft have been reported. However, police patrol the hiking routes and most of the main trails offer safety for other hikers.

NATURAL DISASTERS

Typhoons usually occur from May to November, but are particularly frequent in September. When a typhoon approaches within 800 km of Hong Kong, Typhoon Warning Signal 1 is issued. Signal 3 is issued when the storm is approaching. When the wind speed reaches 63 to 117 km/h, signal 8 is issued. At this time, most non-vital activities must be suspended, including stores, restaurants and the transportation system, offices and schools. Ferry traffic is halted, so visitors who rely on marine transportation should return to their homes as soon as possible to seek shelter. Signals 9 and 10 are issued based on the proximity and intensity of the storm. Winds can gust to over 220 km/h and cause walls and other heavy objects to fall to the ground. During a typhoon, visitors should take all warnings very seriously and stay home until the storm has passed. Remember that when the eye of the storm passes directly overhead, there is a temporary lull, followed by a sudden resumption of strong winds from another direction.

The city’s infrastructure has adapted well to typhoons over time, and even during the strongest typhoons, the city is a relatively safe place.

Some cabs are available in case of signal 8 or higher, but are not required to serve passengers, as their insurance no longer works in these circumstances. In case of typhoon, cab passengers have to pay up to 100% more.

Rainstorms also have their own warning system. Depending on the severity, there are yellow, red and black levels. A red or black rainstorm is a severe event and visitors should take shelter in buildings. A severe rainstorm can turn a road into a river and cause serious landslides.

The Hong Kong Observatory is the best place to get detailed weather information in Hong Kong. In summer, a convective rainstorm may affect only a small area and give you the false impression that all areas are wet.

Stay Healthy In Hong Kong

The quality of medical care in Hong Kong is excellent, but it is expensive for tourists who cannot get government subsidies. In case of an emergency, care is guaranteed, but you will be charged later if you cannot pay immediately. As a tourist, you must pay $570 to use emergency services ($100 for Hong Kong residents). Waiting times in hospital emergency departments can be very long for non-emergency patients, as patients are prioritized according to their situation. If you have problems paying in public hospitals, you can apply for financial assistance, but you must prove your economic status to the hospital’s social workers.

A common cause of nausea is the extreme change in temperature between 35°C summer humidity outdoors and 18°C in air-conditioned buildings and shopping malls. Some people develop cold symptoms when they travel between these two extremes. It is recommended to bring a sweater even in the summer.

Heatstroke is also not uncommon when hiking. Carry enough water and take planned breaks before you feel ill.

FIND A DOCTOR

Health care in Hong Kong is equivalent to that in the West and, in case of illness, it is not very difficult to find a serious doctor. There are two types of doctors: those who practice traditional Chinese medicine and those who practice the Western variant. Both are taken equally seriously in Hong Kong, but as a visitor you will usually be referred to a Western doctor. Western doctors are almost always fluent in English, but the receptionist may be more of a challenge for you.

Seeing a doctor is as easy as stepping off the street and making an appointment with the consultation assistant. You will usually be treated within an hour or less, but pay attention to the hours of operation posted in the window of the doctor’s office. A simple consultation for a minor ailment can cost about $150 to $500, with medication included in the bill. In Hong Kong, it is common for a doctor to sell you medicine. Many doctors’ offices and hospitals accept credit cards, but it’s best to ask beforehand, as sometimes only cash is accepted. Expect to pay more if you go to an ostentatious Central office.

Note that it can be difficult to find a doctor on a Sunday and that the lines in hospital emergency departments are very long on a Sunday.

TAP WATER

Although Hong Kong is considered one of the most developed regions in the world, with one of the highest Gini coefficients in the world, the potability of water can vary from one part of Hong Kong to another. Tap water in Hong Kong is proven to be safe to drink, although most residents still prefer to boil and cool their drinking water when it comes out of the tap. The official advice from the water authority is that the water is absolutely safe to drink, unless you live in an old building with old pipes and poorly maintained water tanks. Locals strongly recommend drinking bottled water, but keep in mind that Hong Kong’s landfills fill up quickly and plastic bottles are a major environmental problem, so it’s best to use the recycling containers provided.

POLLUTION

Although Hong Kong’s name means “fragrant harbor”, this is not always the case. Air pollution is a major problem due to the high population density and industrial pollution from mainland China. In times of very high pollution, the visibility of tourists is drastically reduced, especially from Victoria Peak. People with severe respiratory problems should seek medical advice before visiting the area and ensure that they have sufficient medication with them.

Pollution is a controversial issue in Hong Kong and is at the forefront of environmental activists’ concerns. Much of the pollution comes from factories in mainland China and from Hong Kong motorists. The degree of pollution can vary depending on the season. The winter monsoon can bring polluted air from the mainland, while the summer monsoon brings cleaner air from the South China Sea.

After rainy days, the air is noticeably less hazy.

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Giza is Egypt’s third-largest metropolis. It’s 20 kilometers (12.43 miles) southwest of Cairo, on the west bank of the Nile. The five cities of...

Nagasaki

Nagasaki is the capital and biggest city of Nagasaki Prefecture on the Japanese island of Kyushu. It was a center of Portuguese and Dutch...

Zambia

The Republic of Zambia is a landlocked nation in Southern Africa, bordered to the north by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania to...

Cerkno

Cerkno Ski Resort is a Slovenian ski resort situated on the Črni Vrh hill near Davča, 10 kilometers from the Cerkno municipality center, 50...