Edited by Mike Aquino.
If you're planning a trip to Hong Kong, make sure you make a few preparations before you leave. These pre-departure essentials will make your travels go much more smoothly.
Hong Kong Visas
Most travelers don't need visas for short stays in Hong Kong, including nationals of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. There are, however, a few rules and regulations when it comes to Hong Kong immigration. We've got them covered in our Do I Need a Hong Kong Visa article.
As one of the world's busiest air hubs, there are plenty of connections to Hong Kong from airports around the world. Flights to Beijing, San Francisco, and London are particularly competitively priced.
Transportation into and around Hong Kong is quite effortless, thanks to the Airport Express railway that takes you right into Kowloon and Central; and the multiple public transport options in Hong Kong. Buy an Octopus Card upon arrival to pay for your ride on the MTR, bus, tram and Star Ferry. Taxis are also cheap, but only accept cash.
For those traveling to China, there are a number of entry options from Hong Kong. You can obtain a Chinese visa in advance and use a bonded ferry straight to China or alternatively, you can pick up a visa in Hong Kong from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The ministry is located at 7/F Lower Block, China Resources Building, 26 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. It is open weekdays 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 5 p.m. Be warned: You cannot take any luggage into the building, and it must be left on the street outside.
Health and Hong Kong
No vaccinations are required to enter Hong Kong, although you might want to consider a vaccination against hepatitis A. Thankfully, there is no malaria in Hong Kong, although parts of China are a different matter.
Bird Flu outbreaks in 1997 and 2003 have led to Hong Kong introducing stringent controls on poultry. Nevertheless, with periodic outbreaks in Southern China, precautions should be taken. Avoid poultry and dairy products in street restaurants and avoid contact with poultry and birds.
For more information on keeping your health safe when traveling to Hong Kong, read up on the latest CDC advice on Hong Kong travel.
Currency in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has its own currency, the Hong Kong dollar (HK$). The currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar at around $7.8 Hong Kong dollars to one U.S. dollar.
ATMs in Hong Kong are abundant, with HSBC the dominant bank. Bank of America also has a number of branches. Exchanging money is also straightforward, although the banks usually offer better rates than moneychangers.
Crime in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and assaults on foreigners are almost unheard of. That being said, the usual precautions should be taken against pickpockets in tourist areas and on public transportation.
If you end up in a dangerous situation or as a victim of a crime, Hong Kong police are typically helpful and speak English.
Weather in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has a subtropical climate, despite having four distinct seasons. The ideal time to pay a visit is September to December. When humidity is low, it rarely rains and is still warm. In summer, you will find yourself continually shuttling between the heat and air-conditioned transport and buildings that blast out cold air. Typhoons occasionally hit Hong Kong between May and September.
Learn more about Hong Kong's weather here:
Language in Hong Kong
Before traveling to Hong Kong, it can be helpful to learn some basics in the language Cantonese, which is the local dialect of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong. Mandarin usage is on the rise. However, it is not widely known.
English usage has suffered a small decline, although most people have at least a basic knowledge.
Get Help in Hong Kong
If you need help while in Hong Kong, the U.S. Consulate General is located at 26 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong. Its 24-hour telephone number is 852-2523-9011. Here is more information on the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong.
Useful Hong Kong Mobile Apps
You can explore Hong Kong like a local, even on your very first day in the region. Just download the following useful mobile apps to decipher Hong Kong’s transportation, travel spots, and even its toilets!
My Hong Kong Guide is an official Hong Kong Tourism Board app that suggests itineraries, lists thousands of attractions and activities, refers you to travel ideas from local experts, and more. Download here: Apple App Store, Google Play
For other Hong Kong travel-related mobile apps, visit the official Hong Kong Tourism Board download page.
Essential Numbers in Hong Kong
Local calls within Hong Kong from landlines are free, and you can freely use phones in shops, bars and restaurants for local calls. Here is some helpful information on making a call in Hong Kong. If you travel with your cell phone, make sure you ask your service provider what is included in your bill.
International Dialing Codes Hong Kong: 852 China: 86 Macau; 853
Local Numbers to Know Directory assistance in English: 1081 Police, fire, ambulance: 999