To enter Hong Kong, you will need a passport that is valid for at least 30 days beyond the date of your intended stay, adequate funds to cover your stay without working locally, and evidence of onward/return transportation. Many neighboring areas require that your passport is valid for at least 6 months before they will allow you to enter, so if you plan on regional travel beyond Hong Kong, make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you plan to enter such areas. You do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. You may be granted an extension of your stay if you apply to the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department. You must have an appropriate visa to work or study in Hong Kong. Visit the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department or the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China website for the most current visa information. Make sure that you have enough empty pages for entry and exit stamps in your passport to ensure your entry and exit. Travelers should be careful not to stay beyond the date permitted in order to avoid difficulties when departing the city.
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Please note: Each traveler is fully responsible for bringing and acquiring travel documents (e-tickets, hotel and travel vouchers, etc.) necessary for his or her itinerary. If you are not a citizen of the United States, your entry requirements may vary— please contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the country or countries to be visited and obtain the specific requirements for entry.
Please refer to the instructions given in your itinerary confirmation. If in the event that you are unable to locate our representative, please call the local contact number as specified on your voucher or confirmation itinerary for immediate assistance.
Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since July 1, 1997, has a high degree of autonomy, except in the areas of defense and foreign policy
Full Name: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China
Religion: Eclectic mixture of local religions 90%, Christian 10%
System of Government: Limited democracy
Population: 7.18 million
Location: East Asia
Hong Kong operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), plus 8 hours.
At 9:00 am in Hong Kong, it is:
• 8:00 pm the previous day in New York – Eastern Standard Time (EST)
• 7:00 pm the previous day in Chicago and Houston – Central Standard Time (CST)
• 5:00 pm the previous day in Los Angeles and San Francisco – Pacific Standard Time (PST)
• 3:00 pm the previous day in Hawaii – Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST)
*Note: Add one hour to local time during Daylight Savings Time.
A good source of health information for travelers is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.
You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Sightseeing may require, at minimum, the ability to walk at a moderate pace for a mile or two, and the balance and agility necessary to climb stairs, enter and exit buses and boats, and navigate uneven or cobble-stoned streets. Some sightseeing stops do not have elevators or wheelchair access. Bring medications in their original, clearly labeled, containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles be sure to have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity. When on vacation, it is always wise to watch what you eat and drink, but please do not drink the tap water while travelling in Hong Kong. Most hotels will provide complimentary bottled water and additional bottled water can be purchased throughout your trip.
Hong Kong’s unit of currency is the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) available in the following denominations: Banknotes: 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10 HKD; Coins: 10, 5, 2, 1, 0.50, 0.20, 0.10 HKD. Foreign currency and traveler’s checks can be exchanged only at authorized agencies such as banks, exchange offices, and hotels. Major credit cards such as American Express, Master Card, Visa, and Diners Club are accepted, but expect to pay in cash at most family owned restaurants and small shops. The exchange rate is constantly fluctuating, but it can be found to be approximately 1 USD = 7.7 HKD. For the most updated exchange rate, please check http://www.xe.com.
Electrical service in Hong Kong is supplied at 220 volts/ 50 hertz. Bringing an adaptor is a good idea if you are planning on using electronics (i.e. cell phones, laptops, cameras, etc.) during your trip.
Much of Hong Kong cuisine is influenced by the Western world, Japan, and Southeast Asia. The territory’s history of colonization, as well as being an international port has much to do with why the cuisines are so diverse. Although much of their food is similar to that of China or other parts of Asia, there are many staple cuisines that are prominent only to Hong Kong. Dim sum is a style of Chinese food that originated from Hong Kong where dishes are prepared as individual, bite-sized portions, and is traditionally served in small steamer baskets or small plates. Traditionally, it is served ready-to-eat and is carted around the restaurant where you are allowed to look at, select, and decide which dishes you would like to consume.
Desserts are also especially popular in Hong Kong as bakeries are very easy to find throughout the city. Do not forget to try their pineapple buns, egg tarts, and “eggettes” (egg custard waffles). Hong Kong style milk tea is also a very popular drink renowned to the area. Great places to experience true Hong Kong style food are their street carts and night markets; both are vastly common here and you will find numerous selections of street food and snacks at extremely low prices.
The official languages in Hong Kong are Chinese Cantonese and English. Thanks to its international harbor and colonial history, Hong Kong maintains a rich blend of cultures that give it its unique character. Although about 89 percent of the population speaks Cantonese, Chinese Mandarin and other Chinese dialects are also commonly spoken.
Hong Kong has a subtropical climate and has four distinguishable seasons. During spring, temperatures are rising and the weather becomes quite humid. The beginning of spring (March and April) is a great time to visit Hong Kong because the weather is nice and warm with mild humidity. The weather in the summer is hot, sunny, and very humid with possibilities of occasional showers and thunderstorms. June actually witnesses the highest average of rainfall. Autumn is the sunniest season in Hong Kong, and whereas temperatures are still high, humidity and rainfall are significantly lower. The weather is enjoyable and temperatures are comfortable, making this the most pleasant season to visit. Winter months are cool, dry, and cloudy, and experience occasional cold spells. January is the coldest month out of the year, where temperatures can dip as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas. Typhoon season occurs from May to September, but it is not something one needs to worry about since the country is so well prepared. Storms are always being tracked and monitored and warnings are broadcasted on televisions, radios, newspapers, etc.
Hong Kong is an efficient and modern country that offers convenient, quick, and easy ways to get around. The most common ways are:
The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) system makes getting around Hong Kong especially quick and with ease. It consists of ten rail lines and runs every two to twelve minutes from around 6 am to 12:30 am or 1 am. Travelling by MTR is convenient and efficient, and can get you to your destination faster than other forms of transportation. Take note that smoking, eating, and drinking are prohibited on the MTR and there are no restrooms located inside the MTR stations.
Taxis are very common and found almost everywhere, except in some very remote areas. They can be hailed on the street (except in restricted areas) or summoned by phone. Hotel staff will often assist with hailing a taxi for you if needed. Taxis are usually used for travelling locally or short distances. All taxi drivers use a meter, but it is always prudent to check and ensure they have started the meter at the beginning of your journey to avoid any issues and to ask for a receipt afterwards. One thing to keep in mind is that many, but not all taxi drivers will know English so it would be wise to show them a card with your destination written in Chinese (the hotel concierge will often do this for you).
The bus system in Hong Kong is extensive and routes cover most of the territory, taking you just about anywhere. The popular double-decker buses offer great views of the city on the top deck. They are usually air-conditioned with television screens, but are always clean, comfortable, and reliable.
Many people still rely on ferries to get them to their destination on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the Outlying Islands. Cross- harbor ferries are usually quicker and less expensive than the buses and the MTR. Not only does this offer a different mode of transportation, but the routes offer amazing views of Hong Kong.
This will be contingent on your own personal preference and the time of year you are traveling. Generally, we suggest that travelers pack lightly and to bring comfortable, casual clothes in natural, “breathable” fabrics because of the humidity. Choose versatile styles that can be layered. A lightweight (preferably non-plastic) raincoat or poncho is a good idea, especially during the rainy season, as well as a sweater or lightweight jacket for when the weather cools down or in air-conditioned buildings. A sturdy, comfortable pair of walking shoes is a must, as sandals may not be comfortable for some sightseeing activities. Some hotels have pools, so you may want to pack your swimming suit. Do not forget to bring sun block, sunglasses, insect repellent, pocket packs of tissues, a sunhat, an umbrella (for both the sun and rain), and any medications you may need. Most hotels offer reliable laundry and dry cleaning services.
All different styles of clothing are worn in Hong Kong, but you can find that their fashion tastes are more similar to those in Japan, rather than in Britain or the United States. Hong Kong residents are often style-conscious, dress well, value cleanliness, and modest. Wearing comfortable, casual clothes such as short sleeved shirts, polo shorts, etc., are great for sightseeing. Visiting a temple in Hong Kong is not strict as in other countries, but one should still dress politely in modest and conservative clothing as a sign of respect, as they would at any other religious place.
Hotels may impose a hefty charge on international calls. Check your hotel’s policy before placing any calls. To avoid hotel markups you can use a calling card from your local long-distance carrier. A number of United States cell phones manufactured today have the ability to operate overseas on the GSM (Global System for Mobile) standard. We recommend that you contact your cell phone service provider to determine if your phone operates on the GSM and what, if any, activation may be required. In Hong Kong, reception on any cell phone can be unreliable and unpredictable. In some locations, transmission is not possible at all. If access to e-mail is of critical importance during your trip, please check availability in advanced. Most hotels have business centers or in room WI-FI service, surcharges may apply.
Emergency phone numbers are:
Police Hotline: +852 2527-7177
Tourism Info: +852 2508-1234
Lonely Planet Hong Kong (City Guide) by Piera Chen and Chung Wah Chow
Top 10 Hong Kong (Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide) by Liam Fitzpatrick, Jason Gagliardi
Pocket Rough guide Hong Kong & Macau (Rough Guide Pocket Guides) by Rough Guides
Lonely Planet Hong Kong and Macau Guide by Lonely Planet