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Hong Kong Travel Information, Tips and More

 

Delectable dim sum, floating islands, and a one-of-a-kind skyline are just some of Hong Kong’s unique features. Get an eyeful of traditional Chinese architecture in Ngong Ping village, then take the tram to the tippity-top of Victoria Peak for unparalleled views. The rocks and gentle hills of Nan Lian Garden will bring you inner peace, as will a calming cup of tea in a Stanley café. Become one with everything at the Chi Lin Nunnery, a serene Buddhist complex.

Hong Kong is made up of four parts: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands. The prosperous island is the center of economy, politics, entertainment and shopping with its southern part noted for sea shores and bays. Kowloon is another flourishing part where Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok are the most popular destinations. The New Territories and Outlying Islands are ideal places to experience for peace and nature.

Language

Mandarin is the official language of China and is spoken by most of its population. Many people in China, especially young people, study English and welcome the opportunity to practise with foreigners. Don't be afraid to ask for directions in English from people on the street. You’ll usually be rewarded with a polite and often heroic attempt to help.

Tipping, for the most part, is not required in Hong Kong. Most dining establishments add a 10% service charge onto your bill, although more restaurants are cropping up with "no service charge" policies. This is usually stated at the bottom of the menu or of your bill.

Time

Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. There is no daylight savings time in Hong Kong, so remember to add an hour to the time difference between the United States or other countries that observe it

Electric

The standard electrical voltage in Hong Kong is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. The majority of electrical outlets in Hong Kong take a three-pronged UK-style plug. You will need to have an electrical adapter.

What to Wear

Appearances in Hong Kong are important. This is a city where suits are worn for meetings and business functions, and many residents care about looking stylish. Slop around in flip-flops and baggy shorts and you will feel there's a neon "tourist" sign over your head. Pack your nicer pairs of jeans, slacks, or skirts, especially if you’re planning on going to a nice restaurant or out on the town.

From May through September conditions are seriously hot and sticky, but air-conditioning in hotels, restaurants, museums, and movie theaters can be arctic—keep a crushproof sweater or shawl in your bag.  In October, November, March, and April a jacket or sweater should suffice, but from December through February bring a light overcoat, preferably waterproof. Compact folding umbrellas can come in handy to protect against either rain or sun, but hotels will also lend you larger ones for the day.

Wifi

Hong Kong International Airport is equipped with free wifi connectivity with indefinite access so simply enable your smartphone. It is possible to buy data plans for short term visits. At the arrival hall you will find CSL and China Mobile shops where you can purchase a prepaid data plan. Hong Kong has plenty of facilities that offer wifi connections. Among them are public libraries, parks, shopping malls and even the airport bus.

Toilets

Big shopping malls, especially high-end ones, are your best bet for clean, well-stocked restrooms. If there isn’t one nearby, you will likely find public toilets near indoor markets, public parks, and MTR stations. (There’s a handy guide on the MTR website.) It’s best to carry bathroom tissue with you, and don’t expect to find tampon or sanitary napkin dispensers in Hong Kong toilets.

Currency

The legal tender in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD).

1 HKD = 13 cents USD


Exchange your currency for Hong Kong dollars at any authorized money exchanger. For extra peace of mind, look for a money exchanger that is accredited by the Quality Tourism Services (QTS) Scheme. At Hong Kong International Airport, currency exchange counters are open from early morning until late at night and many located within the city stay open into the evening.

ATMs are widespread and operate 24 hours. Many take international cards and some HSBC 'Electronic Money' machines provide 24-hour cash withdrawal (HK$) facilities for Visa and MasterCard holders.

Shopping

Shop with QTS-accredited merchants
You can trust shops displaying the QTS sign because they must pass stringent annual quality assessments showing that they: Provide clearly displayed prices; Display clear product Information; and Ensure superb customer service.

In Hong Kong, you can dress a bride, redo a house and amuse a child one street at a time. The South China practice of grouping similar businesses on one street means you can do much more: goldfish, birds, clothes, electronics and shoes – if it’s worth shopping, it has a street here.

More than a mere district, Tsim Sha Tsui is a giant world bazaar, where Hong Kong’s glittering harbour is met by  an alternate sea of stalls, shops, markets and malls. Even if you’re penny-pinching, merely taking a stroll along Nathan Road and the streets crossing it is an experience worthy of attention. Here you’ll journey past Bollywood-themed memorabilia, Shanghainese tailors, sweet-talking restaurant touts, gorgeous gems and jewellery, flashy cameras, international brand name stores and Asian street label boutiques. You can also escape the hustle and bustle of what’s called ‘the golden mile’ by slipping into a number of spacious and plush malls, including iSQUARE, The One and K11

Take a short walk over to Canton Road where you’ll be confronted with the best the world has to offer in luxury designer goods, not to mention Hong Kong’s biggest shopping mall – the enormous Harbour City and 1881 Heritage, a unique experience that blends history with luxury shopping.
Tsim Sha Tsui’s shopping also extends beyond these two roads. To the east is the Tsim Sha Tsui Centre and Empire Centre, which invite you to rest those protesting feet for a while at a harbour-side alfresco bar and restaurant strip


Mong Kok is Hong Kong’s most congested shopping and residential district, but don’t let that scare you away.  The neon-bathed historic streets that wind through one of the densest parts of the world are worth visiting - just for the ‘peoplescapes’ alone. It just so happens that the shopping is excellent too.

The neighbourhood includes one of Hong Kong’s most popular markets, the Ladies' Market, and also has a ton of shopping streets, which are a common feature in southern China. Conveniently, these are where a cluster of merchants sell one type of product on a single street. Mong Kok has entire streets and street sections dedicated to the sale of goldfish, flowers, birds, sneakers, and kitchenware.

Just about everything from bargain household objects to luxury jewellery is bought, sold and haggled over in Mong Kok. Sai Yeung Choi Street sells electronics, cosmetics and clothes; Shantung Street and Dundas Street are where you can pick up the latest Japanese and Western fashion and accessories; while Langham Place is one of the many malls where you can do your Mong Kok shopping in air-conditioned comfort.

Plastic Shopping Bag Charge

All retail businesses in Hong Kong are required to charge a minimum levy of HK$0.50 for each plastic shopping bag provided to customers. Avoid the levy and be environmentally responsible by bringing your own bag.

Beware of touts (street traders)

Be cautious if you’re approached by sales staff on the street. Don't buy from street touts, nor follow them into any warehouses or showrooms.

Computers and Electronics

Hong Kong’s lack of sales tax and import duty means bargains await on everything from desktop computers to music players. Shops in Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay offer the most competitive prices for electronic goods and communications equipment. For computer hardware, software and accessories, head to Wan Chai Computer Centre in Wan Chai, and Golden Computer Arcade and Golden Computer Centre in Sham Shui Po.

Fashion and Beauty

From skyscraper malls to cubby-hole stalls, the sheer variety of clothes shopping here is a sight to behold. Be measured for an affordable tweed three-piece suit, rifle through a pile of factory surplus in a noisy street market, or pick out uniquely Hong Kong silk scarves and world-renowned creations of local designers. The shopping experience for cosmetics and skincare is no less varied and just about every budget is catered to.

Jewellery and Watches

With more jewellery stores per square mile than any other city in the world, it’s no surprise that the city has a vast supply of precious stones and metals as well as timepieces. Make things easier by narrowing your search down to Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, Central, and Causeway Bay. The Jade Market in Yau Ma Tei is also a guaranteed fun for a few hours, whether you buy anything or not.

Traditional Wares and Wears

Aside from galleries, antiques shops and street markets on Cat Street and Hollywood Road, arts and crafts gems can be found all around town. From screens to traditional silk garments, from revolutionary memorabilia to seals, from calligraphy scrolls to porcelain tea sets, there are always exciting items to be found. Be sure to pay a visit to Chinese department stores, Li Yuen East and West streets and Stanley Markets for a good look!

Things to See and Do

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
Starting at the colonial-era Clock Tower and stretching all the way to Hung Hom, a stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade takes one past the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and the Hong Kong Space Museum. But like most of the love birds and shutterbugs on the promenade, your gaze will be drawn south to the dramatic topographical and architectural spectacle that is the Hong Kong Island skyline towering over the busy waters of Victoria Harbour.

Chinese Medicine
The plants, roots, animal parts and herbal concoctions of Traditional Chinese Medicine will no doubt seem curiously exotic or even downright strange. Traditional Chinese Medicine is an integral part of Chinese life and the way Chinese people perceive health and treat illness. In Hong Kong, more than a fifth of all medical consultations are made with practitioners of Chinese medicine. This traditional form of healthcare represents theories and experiences of Chinese physicians that date back five millennia. Whether it’s dried abalone, ivory-coloured birds’ nests, dried scallops or ginseng; the same remedies that were used in the distant past can be seen and smelled in Chinese medicine shops all over Hong Kong today, providing a tangible link to early Chinese society.

Regardless of whether you’re in the market for a remedy or not, a visit to a Traditional Chinese Medicine shop provides insights into an ancient practice that’s still thriving. In Sheung Wan, there is an area where over 200 shops selling dried seafood and other medicinal goods are clustered. This is also a popular district for purchasing traditional remedies. Take a walk down Ko Shing Street to watch shoppers inspect and haggle over high-quality herbs, followed by a stroll on the strip from Bonham Strand West to Wing Lok Street, where ginseng and bird’s nest are the star products.

The Hong Kong Observation Wheel
Get stunning day- and night-time views of the spectacular Victoria Harbour on the 60-metre-high Hong Kong Observation Wheel. The wheel has 42 luxurious gondolas (including one VIP gondola) that comfortably seat eight passengers and come equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi. The area around the wheel includes a plaza for events as well as drinks and snacks and free Wi-Fi.

Ocean Terminal Deck

Located on the rooftop of Ocean Terminal’s new five-storey extension building, Ocean Terminal Deck is an observatory deck surrounded by the sea that offers a 270-degree panorama of Victoria Harbour as well as breathtaking views of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. It is one of the best venues to enjoy Hong Kong’s sunset and evening views, while being close to the many shopping and dining options of Harbour City.

Star Ferry
The charming Star Ferry boats have been faithfully carrying passengers from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and back since 1888. While the two sides of Victoria Harbour are now connected by a world-class infrastructure system of road and rail tunnels, tens of millions of people still climb aboard the humble Star Ferry vessels each year. Many visitors take the ride for an up-close look at one of the world’s most photographed harbours, while locals have kept their affection for it because, even after a century, it’s still a highly reliable and efficient form of transport. National Geographic rates the Star Ferry crossing as one of 50 ‘places of a lifetime’.

Noah’s Ark Hong Kong
It really is like gazing upon the ark itself, which is why the world's only full-size replica of Noah's Ark is popular with both international and local visitors. Located on Ma Wan island, the distinctive ark on the waterfront overlooks the Rambler Channel and Tsing Ma Bridge. The attraction also has activities and exhibits that explore the unique history and culture of Ma Wan, making it a great destination for families. Noah’s Ark Hong Kong is a wonderful place for parents and children to bond in a comfortable, natural environment, where entertainment and education are combined in diverse activities that promote life, family, the earth and positive values.

Disneyland Hong Kong
From Disney Parks’ first Marvel-themed ride, the all-new ‘Iron Man Experience’ to ‘Star Wars: Tomorrowland Takeover’, Hong Kong Disneyland offers immersive and unforgettable experiences that cannot be missed.

Lan Kwai Fong
Lan Kwai Fong is one of Hong Kong’s most popular nightlife hot spots and home to over 90 restaurants and bars. The atmosphere ranges from stylish wine pairings to raucous jelly shots and the food on offer is as diverse as the clientele.

Thanks to Hong Kong’s dominance in Asian cinema, this centre of late-night revelry is so renowned that its official street sign is more photographed than many of the celebrities who haunt its clubs. Mostly, the area is crowded with people from the surrounding offices of Central, eager to shake off the working day or week. Get in the thick of it with a street side perch, or watch the antics on the road below from one of the upper floors.

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