Hong Kong Travel Guide

Population: 7.22 million 

People: Chinese (95% of population) & other groups (5%)

Language: Cantonese and English

Currency: Hong Kong Dollar

Time Zone: UTC+8

International Dialing Code: +852

General Information

Passport and visa
Passport should be valid for six months from the date of entry into Hong Kong. Australian, United Kingdom, Canadian and United States passport holders do not require visas and can stay for maximum 180 days. Nationals not referred above are advisable to check with nearest embassy for more detailed visa requirement since there may be subsequent changes.

Currency
The official currency in Hong Kong is Hong Kong dollar. Major credit card including American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. ATMs are widely distributed throughout the city with English instruction so money withdraw can be easily made.  There is no GST charged in Hong Kong.  Hotels and restaurants charge a 10% service charge.

Phone & Internet service
Telephone connection is widely available. Hong Kong prepaid SIM card is available for you to buy, however, you will need to unlock your phone to be able to use it. Mobile telephone companies offer different Internet packages which are available from monthly subscriptions to charges according to usage. Free WiFi access is available throughout Hong Kong in hotels and at the airport.

Emergency Number: 999 for Police, Fire and Ambulance service
Mobile Networks: GSM 900, PCS 1800, CDMA and WCDMA operate in Hong Kong.

Traffic & Transportation
Taxis are convenient way to get around which offer reasonable prices. Most taxi drivers can speak a little English. However, it is advisable to have tourist attractions written in Chinese characters. Tipping is not expected but you can always round up to the nearest dollar. Also, MTR network is considerably developed with modern subway trains and light rails which offers great access to most parts of the city. Finally, if you want to enjoy great scenery outside the window in downtown Hong Kong Island, you are recommended to take Tram. 

Weather
Hong Kong has a subtropical climate with four distinguishable seasons. Hong Kong’s weather is warm and high humid with average temperature of about 23°C (73°F) from February to April. Fog can reduce visibility leading to the disrupted air traffic and ferry services. Hong Kong experiences the hot and humid weather with occasional thunderstorm from May to August. The South-Southwest monsoon can bring heavy rain with heaviest rainfall on June and August. There is occasional tropical cyclone between July and September which come from the South China Sea.

Health and Safety

Health and well-being
Hong Kong has developed a highly efficiency public healthcare system with well recognized quality at affordable prices. Pharmacies are widely distributed throughout the city. You should consult your doctor or local travel clinic for more updated information and advice on travelling to Hong Kong before departure. If you have a medical condition or allergy of which requires particular attention, carry a doctor’s letter with you that describes the nature of the condition and treatment needed. We also recommend you pack a medical kit, including Paracetamol and a diarrhea remedy.

Vaccinations
There is no required vaccination for travelers to Hong Kong. However, you are strongly recommended to consult your doctor or country’s travel clinic for up-to-date information and advice regarding appropriate inoculations including Tetanus, Diphteria, Measles, Polio, Hepatitis B, Varicella and Influenze.

Travel insurance (recommended)
Buffalo Tours does everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. However, travel inevitably involves some unavoidable risk. Travel insurance is a cost effective way of protecting yourself and your equipment should any problems occur such as cancelled trips, delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss or damage. Please also make sure your travel insurance covers all activities planned on your trip so you can enjoy peace of mind during your journey.

Culture & Customs

Etiquette and cultural differences
Experiencing different cultures is one of the joys of travelling, and it is important that these differences are respected. Knowing a few important customs of Hong Kong people will help make your visit more enjoyable:

DON’T:

  • Point with a single finger
  • Place your chopsticks across the top of your bowl
  • Smoke in public places including beaches and parks since smoking is banned in public places
  • Go nude bathing since public nudity is illegal

DO:

  • Leave some food in the bowl after you have finished eating
  • Offer a light handshake upon meeting someone

Food and drink
In Hong Kong, you expect to find countless choices of authentic foods from all regions of China including Cantonese, Hakka, Shanghai and Szechuan. You will be amazed with the range of unique flavors and cooking styles:  

  • Cantonese cuisine is the culinary style of Guangdong Province with tender and slightly sweet taste which serves a lot of popular dishes such as dim sum, beef with oyster sauce and soy sauce chicken.
  • Hakka food is typified by simple cooking technique with salty and strong taste. One of the popular dishes is baked chick in salt. 
  • Szechuan cuisine serves dishes with hot and spicy flavor. Barbecued meat is one the famous dishes that you may want to try. 

It is notable that tap water is not drinkable. Bottled water is cheap and widely available.

Public holidays

  • Chinese New Year (1st day of the 1st lunar month)
  • Ching Ming festival (April 4 or 5)
  • Labour Day (May 1)
  • Dragon boat festival (5th of the 5th lunar month)
  • Mid-autumn day (August 15 of lunar calendar)
  • National Day (October 1)
  • Good Friday & Easter Monday (April 3,4, 6,7)
  • Birthday of the Buddha (May 25)
  • Tuen Ng Festival (June 20)
  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day (July 1)
  • Chung Yeung Festival (Oct 21)
  • Christmas (Dec 25 and 26)

Helpful tips

Tipping
Tipping is uncommon in Hong Kong except for exceptional services. Since it is a personal matter and travelers are encouraged to tip any amount they feel is appropriate. For your convenience, we have included a suggested tipping guide below:

  • Guides: $5 per day, per person (depending on the length of your trip and your perception of service quality)
  • Drivers: $3 per day, per person
  • Taxis: tipping is not expected but you can always round up the fair
  • Bellhops: $1 per bag
  • Chambermaids: $2 per night
  • Restaurants: In luxurious restaurants, you may find that the tip is already included in the bill under service charge. In local restaurants, tips are not expected.

Price guide

  • Bottled water (1.5l): 13.05 HKD
  • Beer (0.5l): 11 HKD (from a grocery store), 55 HKD (from a pub)
  • Soft drinks (2l): 15 HKD
  • Street food: around 30 HKD
  • Restaurant: under 250 HKD (at a cheap restaurant), 250 – 500 HKD (at a moderate restaurant) and over 500 HKD (at an expensive restaurant)
  • Sim card: 69 - 118 HKD

Pre-departure checklist

  • Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance
  • Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required)
  • All relevant tickets
  • Foreign currency (US$) and/or ATM card
  • Money belt and small padlocks
  • Medication
  • First aid kit
  • Small daypack (for day and overnight trips)
  • Warm clothes - when travelling in cooler climates
  • Wind and waterproof jacket
  • Umbrella
  • Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes
  • Sunscreen, lip balm, sunhat and sunglasses
  • Electrical adapter plug
  • Insect repellent
  • Refillable water bottle

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