Hong Kong (香港 Heūng góng in Cantonese, Xiāng gǎng in Mandarin, either way meaning "fragrant harbour") is a place with multiple personalities, as a result of being Cantonese Chinese with a long-time British influence. Today, the former British colony is a major tourism destination for China’s increasingly affluent population. It is also an important hub in the Chinese diaspora with global connections to many of the world’s cities. It is a unique destination that has absorbed people and cultural influences from places as diverse as Vietnam and Vancouver.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China is much more than a harbour city. The traveller weary of its crowded streets may be tempted to describe it as “Hong Kongcrete”. Yet, this SAR with its cloudy mountains and rocky islands is mostly a rural landscape. Much of the countryside is classified as Country Park and, although 7 million people are never far away, it is possible to find pockets of wilderness that will reward the more intrepid tourist.
Hong Kong has a subtropical climate with at least one season to match your comfort zone. Boasting one of the world’s best airports, it is the ideal stopover for those who wish to travel deeper into the Orient.
Hong Kong is divided into a number of contrasting districts.
- Hong Kong Island (香港島) was the site of the original British settlement. The northern part of the Island is densely populated. Here, because of the scarcity of land, you'll find most of Hong Kong's skyscrapers and the famous skyline along the northern coastline. The main business, shopping and nightlife districts, in addition to the government offices, can be found here. The southern part of the Island has more leisure facilities, with beautiful beaches and luxury residential complexes.
- Kowloon (九龍) is the peninsula jutting south towards Hong Kong Island. It is the most populous area in Hong Kong and at one time it was the most densely populated place in the world. Kowloon literally means nine dragons and refers to the eight hills that were once visible before the skyscrapers took the view away. Legend has it that the ninth dragon was the boy emperor who counted the hills.
- The New Territories (新界), named by the British officials when leased from the Chinese government in 1898, are a curious mix of farms, abandoned villages, industrial installations, mountainous country parks and new towns that have populations the size of small cities.
- The Outlying Islands (離島) are the 234 other islands in the territory ranging from Lantau (大嶼山) (twice the size of Hong Kong Island) to rocks poking out of the sea.
Archeological findings date the first human settlements in the area back to more than 30,000 years. It was first incorportated into China during the Qin Dynasty and largely remained under Chinese rule until 1841 during the Qing Dynasty, with a brief interruption at the end of the Qin Dynasty, when a Qin official established the kingdom of Nam Yuet, which later fell to the Han Dynasty.
In January 1841, as a result of the defeat of the Qing Dynasty of China in the First Opium War, Hong Kong became a British colony, under the Convention of Chuen Pi. After the defeat of China in the Second Opium War, the Kowloon Peninsula was ceded to Britain in 1860. In 1898, the New Territories — a rural area north of Boundary Street in Kowloon district — were leased to Britain for 99 years. Hong Kong fell into Japanese hands during the Second World War but returned to British control after the end of the war.
After the communists took control of mainland China in 1949, many of the Chinese businessmen fled to Hong Kong due to persecution by the communist government. Unlike the restrictive policies imposed by the communists in mainland China, the British government took a rather "hands off" approach in Hong Kong, as proposed by former financial scretary John James Cowperthwaite, which led to a high degree of economic freedom. Under such conditions, businesses flourished in Hong Kong and its economy grew rapidly, earning it a place as one of the East Asian Tigers. In 1990, Hong Kong's GDP per capita surpassed that of Britain, the first time a colony's GDP per capita surpassed that of its colonial master. Hong Kong is now the world's fourth largest financial centre after New York, London and Tokyo.
In 1984, the Chinese and British Governments signed the Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong, giving Hong Kong back to China on 1 July 1997. Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the Peoples Republic of China. Under the slogan "One Country, Two Systems", Hong Kong remains a capitalist economy without various restrictions that apply in mainland China such as news censorship and foreign exchange controls.
In accordance with the Joint Declaration, the Basic Law was enacted to serve in effect as a mini-constitution for the Hong Kong SAR. In theory, Hong Kong enjoys "a high degree of autonomy" in most matters except foreign and defence affairs. In practice, it is more complex than that: on the one hand, Beijing exerts much influence, on the other, there are groups pushing for a more democratic regime and universal suffrage.
In many respects, little has changed since the Handover to China in 1997. A Chief Executive, chosen by an elite electoral college, has replaced the Colonial Governor – Beijing’s man has replaced London’s man. What was once a British colony now looks like a Chinese colony. Although “part of China”, Hong Kong operates like a tiny country with its own currency, laws, international dialling code, police force, border controls and the like. It is also a member of international organisations that are not restricted to sovereign states such as the WTO, APEC and the IOC.
The majority of Hong Kong's population are Han Chinese (95%), mostly of Cantonese ancestry, though there are also sizeable numbers of other Chinese groups such as Teochews, Shanghainese and Hakkas. A significant number of Indian, Pakistani and Nepalese live here too, and many have families that have lived in Hong Kong for several generations. The largest groups of recent, non-Chinese, immigrants are Filipinos, Indonesians and Thais, of which most are employed as domestic helpers.
There are four distinct seasons in Hong Kong. Hong Kong can be a little chilly in the winter (10°C) and hot and humid in the summer (33°C). The best times of year to visit are thus, spring (March-May), when the average temperature is around 25°C and autumn (September-December). Christmas in Hong Kong can be a delight with a fair chance of mild sunny weather that will appeal to those coming from colder northern climates. Hotels experience peak occupancy in the months of April and October. Typhoons usually occur between June and September and can bring a halt to local business activities for a day or less. The weather in winter is usually caused by the winter monsoon which brings dry cold winds from the north. In winter the air can be cold but the sun can still burn. Expect winter temperatures to rise to 22°C on sunny days and fall to under 10°C at night. Chinese New Year is notorious for cold wet weather and, since many businesses close, non-Chinese tourists will not see Hong Kong at its best. Should you find yourself in Hong Kong at Chinese New Year, you can make the best of the weather by going hiking if it is dry.
- Chinese (Lunar) New Year (農曆新年)
Although this may seem like an ideal time to go to Hong Kong, many shops and restaurants close down during the Chinese New Year. However, unlike Christmas in Europe where you can hardly find shops open on this big day, you can still get food and daily products easily during the Lunar New Year period. The week or two leading up to the Chinese New Year as well as the period just after the third day up to the fifteenth day are good times to soak up the festive mood and listen to Chinese New Year songs being played in the shops.
- Spring Lantern Festival (元宵節)
If you go to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, you will be able to experience this traditional Chinese festival. A number of beautiful lanterns can be found in the park at this time.
- Ching Ming Festival (清明節)
This festival in Spring is also known as grave sweeping day. To show respect to the deceased, family members go to the grave of their ancestors to sweep away leaves and remove weeds around the grave area. Paper offerings are also burned, such as fake money.
- Cheung Chau Bun Festival (長洲太平清醮)
This is takes place on the tiny island of Cheung Chau. In the past the festival has involved competitions with people climbing bun towers to snatch buns. After the unfortunate collapse of a bun tower in 1978, due to an overload of people, the competition was abandoned. It was resumed again in 2005 with better safety measures.
- Tuen Ng Festival (端午節)
This is a festival in memory of a national hero from the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. Dragon boat races are typically held during this festival and glutinous rice dumplings, usually with pork fillings, are eaten by many.
- Hungry Ghost Festival (中元節)
This festival runs throughout the seventh month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that the gates of hell open during this period and hungry ghosts are allowed to roam freely into our world. Though not a public holiday, this is the time where one can see many people perform various rites to appease the wandering ghosts, such as offering food and burning joss paper. One can also see traditional performances such as Chinese opera which are held to appease these ghosts.
- Mid Autumn Festival / Moon Festival (中秋節)
This festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. Moon cakes which contain lotus seed paste and duck egg yolks are a popular delicacy. Many Western people will find the traditional mooncake hard to appreciate, so you might like to try the ice-cream version as well. The festival is also known as the lantern festival and various parts of Hong Kong will be festooned with decorative lanterns which set the night scene ablaze with colour.
- Chung Yeung Festival (重陽節)
Is a day also known as Autumn Remembrance, which is similar to Ching Ming in spring, where families visit the graves of their ancestors to perform cleansing rites and pay their respects. As the weather cools down during this part of the year, hiking is a good activity to do during this holiday.
- Halloween (萬聖節)
Halloween has grown rapidly in popularity and many people dress up to party till late. Trick or treat is not common but most restaurants and shopping centres are decorated and have special programmes. For young adults and teenagers, Ocean Park is the place to be for Halloween fun. It is not a public holiday.
- Christmas (聖誕節)
Christmas is celebrated Hong Kong style. The city is adorned using traditional Western Christmas decorations. Many shopping centres, such as Pacific Place, offer ample opportunities for children to meet Santa. Most shops and restaurants remain open throughout Christmas. You should expect large crowds out shopping for the Christmas sales.
- New Year's Eve (元旦除夕)
New Year's Eve in Hong Kong is something to check out if you are seeking a carnival experience. Hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets to celebrate the New Year is truly an unforgettable time. There are all-night services on the MTR, night-buses, and of course, many taxis. Fireworks go off on the harbour front, which a lot of people attend to watch on both sides of the harbour: Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon side) and Central (Hong Kong Island). The young adults and older adults decide to party with the rest of Hong Kong at the hot-spots such as Causeway Bay, Lan Kwai Fong and Tsim Sha Tsui. Many people dress up and attend private parties and others flock to the streets to enjoy the atmosphere. Police patrol around popular areas to make sure the city is a safe party-zone. Hong Kong people are not great drinkers and most of them stay dry for the night. Drinking alcohol on the street is uncommon. So visitors who drink should moderate their behaviour or risk being screened out by the police as the only drunks in the crowd.
Non-guidebooks about Hong Kong.
Hong Kong by Jan Morris. In this well-written albeit overly detailed overview, noted Welsh travel writer Morris alternates chapters on Hong Kong's history with descriptions of its geography, economy, politics and society, interspersing word-portraits of some of its leading rulers and entrepreneurs.
Myself a Mandarin Memoirs of a colonial magistrate, by Austin Coates. Each chapter is an entertaining episode of an English man's time as a colonial magistrate in the New Territories.
East and West China, Power, and the Future of Asia. A memoirs of Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong. Published in 1998, Patten provides his account of Hong Kong in the final years before the Handover.
Gweilo Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood, by Martin Booth. A well-written book that offers an insight into colonial life in Hong Kong through the eyes of a young English boy.
The World of Suzie Wong A classic novel published in 1957, later adapted to film in 1961. Set in Hong Kong, it is the fictional story of a young expat's life.
We Deserve Better An account of the "decline" of Hong Kong's "governance, spirit and ambition in the years following the Handover", by Hemlock.
When to visit
Weather— For those who are seeking warm, dry and sunny weather, the ideal time is October to December. Those who are wanting to escape the humidity of tropical climates will appreciate the cooler months of January to March. The temperature ranges from 9°C to 24°C during winter, and from 26°C to 33°C during summer. The humidity is typically high in the spring and worse in the summer, when high temperatures (usual maximum of 32-34°C) are often recorded.
Events — During Chinese New Year, whilst there are some extra celebratory events such as a lion dances, fireworks, and parades, many shops and restaurants are closed for three to five days. The official public holiday lasts three days.
Culture lovers will be able to feast on a multitude of cultural activities from February to April. The Hong Kong Arts Festival, a month-long festival of international performances, is held in February and March. The Man Literary Festival, a two-week English language festival with international writers as guests, is held in March. The Hong Kong International film festival, a three-week event, is held in late March to early April.
Rugby fans, and those wishing to party, should come during the weekend of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens
There is a second round of cultural activities in the autumn lasting till the end of the year.
Christmas is also a nice time to visit as many stores and shopping centres are nicely decorated and the festive mood is apparent across the city.
Hong Kong maintains a separate and independent immigration system from that of mainland China. This means that unlike mainland China, most Western and Asian visitors do not need to obtain visas in advance. However, it also means that a separate visa is still required to enter mainland China from Hong Kong. Macau residents may enter using their identity card while other PRC passport holders and residents of Taiwan holding ROC passports need to apply for a separate visit permit. Detailed visa requirements are available from the Immigration Department . Those who require visas should apply for one at a Chinese embassy, but note that the Hong Kong visa has to be applied for separately from the mainland Chinese one. Anyone arriving at Hong Kong International Airport who requires an onward visa for mainland China, will find a kiosk in the foyer in the arrivals area that issues them. A photograph will be required and the staff will be happy to accommodate you.
Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport (IATA: HKG; ICAO: VHHH) which is also known as Chek Lap Kok 赤鱲角 (named after the small island it was built over), is the main port for visitors to Hong Kong by air. The architect for the impressive airport terminal was Sir Norman Foster. This modern and efficient building opened in July 1998, and it has since been named the best airport worldwide by Skytrax for five years.
There are many direct flights to Hong Kong from every continent in the world. Most major cities in Oceania, Europe and North America are all served with at least one daily flight. Sydney has 6 daily flights, Melbourne 5, London 10, Frankfurt 2, Paris 3, Amsterdam 2, Los Angeles 4, San Francisco 3, Vancouver 3, New York 3, Chicago 2 and Toronto 2.
Flights between Hong Kong and other major Asian cities are also frequent: up to 40 flights per day connect Hong Kong with Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Tokyo, Shanghai, Manila, Seoul, Bangkok and Beijing. Other routes may be cheaper, however. For destinations within China, it is often cheaper to fly from Shenzhen than from Hong Kong, as flights from the mainland to Hong Kong are considered to be international flights and therefore, priced as such. For elsewhere in Asia, consider Macau. The discount airlines land there because it has lower fees than Hong Kong. There are also less frequent flights between Hong Kong and several mid-Pacific islands and nations including a twice-weekly service from Guam.
There are two terminals, creatively called T1 and T2. Signs on approach to the airport by car/taxi list the terminals and check in zones. The station is located between the two terminals, so follow the signs when you exit the station. Once checked in you can clear security at either terminal, there is an underground shuttle bus outside the security area. There are probably more shopping opportunities before security at T2, but the shops close earlier. There are lots of shopping opportunities after security as well. Travellers will find an efficient post office in the airport which provides boxes, wrapping material, scissors and tape. It might be more economical to send your excess luggage via surface mail, rather than paying fees to the airline.
There is a public lounge inside the airport with prices as follows:
- Shower Only $150.
- 2 Hours Lounge Package $400.
- 5 Hours Lounge Package $500.
- 10 Hours Lounge Package $600.
(Lounge Packages Includes: Shower, Hot Meal, Salad Bar, Free-flow of drinks, Unlimited Internet Facilities, TV & Int'l Magazines, Wi-Fi and if available, 15-min complimentary Seated Massage.)
- Nap & Shower Package (Minimum of 3-hours) $450 / Extra Hours $200
The Airport Express is a fast and environmentally friendly form of passenger transport to and from the airport to both Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. The clean, comfortable and efficient train departs frequently, and takes approximately 23 minutes to Hong Kong station. Each of three stations (besides the airport) has baggage handling officers to help you get heavy bags on and off of the train. There is no need to tip them. Each way costs $60-$100, or a round trip for $110-$180, depending on the distance travelled. If you buy your ticket from a machine you will have to pay the standard fare, however, if you travel with other people you can get a discount from the staff at the counter. If in doubt, ask the staff for advice before you hand over your money. After reaching your station, free shuttle buses connect to major hotels in Kowloon and Central, or you can continue onward by MTR or taxi.
- The Airport Express Tourist Octopus 3-Day Hong Kong Transport Pass gives you an Octopus card (see Get Around) good for 3 days of unlimited MTR travel, plus one ride on the Airport Express (for $220) or two (for $300). In effect, you're paying $70 for 3 days on the MTR, which is a fair bit of travel but might be worth it if you're planning to visit the Lantau Island or the New Territories. You can return the card after use to get back $50 deposit, or keep it for your next trip — any leftover value will remain valid for 3 years [you can also add money to the card, which you can use for payment for the busses, the tramway, at many vending machines, some stores, and when taking the Star Ferry]. Around 50% of the trip will be underground and at least 20% of the "above-ground" travel is through "covered" tracks.
If you want to enjoy the view while going to the city, then you should consider taking a bus.
Taking a bus to the airport is cheaper, but slower than the train. For example, the A21 ($33) bus will take you down Nathan Road, the main artery of Kowloon, stopping outside many hotels and hostels. Lines A10, A11 and A12 go to Hong Kong Island ($48, $40 and $45 respectively). Alternatively, take bus S1 to Tung Chung ($3.50) and connect to the ordinary MTR for a cheap ride to the city (Kowloon $17, Hong Kong $23). The free Airport Express shuttle buses connect Kowloon and Hong Kong airport express stations to various hotels in each area.
For a full listing of buses available at HKIA refer to the Hong Kong airport website .
If you are on a budget, take an "E" route bus rather than the "A" routes bus, they take about 20 minutes longer (50-60 min instead of 35-40 min) and are about half price (e.g. $21 for the E11 from Central). These 'External' buses are aimed more at airport workers, so they make several detours around Tung Chung. They will give you a nice tour around the airport island. However, E21 (Kowloon KCR Station to Airport) takes about an hour to the airport comparing to A21 (as E21 tour around not only airport island but Kowloon peninsula).
A taxi from the airport to the city (Central/Mid-levels) will cost you around $350 depending on your exact destination. If you have three or more people travelling together, it is generally cheaper to travel by taxi than by Airport Express, but you may have a problem fitting so many bags into the taxi. Use a red taxi for destinations to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, Green taxis are restricted to the New Territories and blue taxis are for Lantau Island.
There is a large chart at the exit to the taxi stand showing the approximate fares to most destinations. The law is strict on taxi drivers who must charge according to the meter. The meter fare does not include the luggage fee, toll fee, waiting fee or pet fee.
Taxis from the airport to downtown Kowloon can suffer from traffic congestion. If you are going to Hong Kong Island, tell the taxi driver to use the "Western Harbour Crossing" to avoid congestion, but this will attract an additional surcharge.
From the airport there are private cars and vans operating illegally as taxis. Do not take these as they are not licensed and in case of accidents, your insurance will not cover you.
Shenzhen International Airport
Because flying from Hong Kong to the mainland is considered an international flight, flying around mainland China using Shenzhen Airport (IATA: SZX)  is often significantly cheaper. Many hotels in Hong Kong offer a shuttle bus from the hotel direct to Shenzhen airport. In the recently completed Elements shopping centre above the Kowloon MTR station on the Tung Chung and the Airport Express line, there is a shop front waiting room where you can check-in and receive your boarding pass (although check in at this location is not available for china southern airlines passengers), and then board a bus direct to Shenzhen airport. This in-town check-in is completely separate from the in-town check-in provided for Hong Kong International Airport. Take the escalators up from the AE/MTR station to 1/F of the Elements Mall, turn right, and then look for Starbucks. It is opposite Starbucks. The bus uses the new western passage immigration facilities where both Hong Kong SAR and Chinese immigration formalities are completed under one roof. The cost of the service is $100 and the bus is advertised to take 75 minutes (more like 90 minutes in reality). Buses currently run every half an hour from 7:30am to 5pm at Hong Kong side, and from 10am to 9pm at Shenzhen side.
Macau International Airport
Because of higher fees at Hong Kong International Airport, it is often cheaper to fly out of Macau International Airport (IATA: MFM) . Air Asia  has set up a hub at Macau and flies to destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok among others. Viva Macau flies to Sydney. Macau International Airport is easily reached by ferry from Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Hong Kong International Airport. Before completing immigration formalities at the ferry terminal in Macau, one can take a direct bus to Macau Airport without going through Macau immigration.
Sky Shuttle operates a helicopter service every 30 minutes from the Terminal Marítimo in Macau to the Shun Tak Heliport (ICAO: VHST) at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island. The trip takes 16 minutes and one-way fares cost $2,200, plus $200 on weekends and public holidays.
- Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier, 202 Connaught Road (Sheung Wan MTR exit D), Central.
- Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal, 33 Canton Road (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR exit A1), Kowloon.
The Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui is one of the hubs of Star Cruises . Cruise ships leave from here for various cities in Vietnam, mainland China and Taiwan. There are even long haul service all the way to Singapore via various points in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.
Crossing the border to Mainland China puts you in Shenzhen, a well-developed boomtown. Please note that there are special visa regulations if you plan to visit Shenzhen.
There are six land checkpoints between Hong Kong and mainland China, namely Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To, Sha Tau Ko and Shenzhen Bay. Lo Wu is a train and pedestrian crossing; Lok Ma Chau spur line is a pedestrian crossing; Lok Ma Chau and Sha Tau Kok are road, cross-boundary bus and pedestrian crossings; while Man Kam To and Shenzhen Bay bridge are road and cross-boundary bus crossings.
- Lo Wu: This control point can only be accessed by the MTR East Rail Line and the crossing can only be done on foot (unless you take a through-train from Hung Hom where the train will not stop at all. See "By train" section below). It is often congested with travellers during weekends and holidays, so if you want to avoid for the long queues, please use the other control points on holidays. Visa-on-arrival can be obtained on the Chinese side.Getting there/away: Trains from Tsim Sha Tsui East to Lo Wu run every five to eight minutes. Shenzhen city centre lies just beyond the Chinese immigration checkpoint.
- Lok Ma Chau Spur Line: This crossing can be accessed by the MTR East Rail Line, by bus/minibuses or by taxi, and the crossing can only be done on foot. Using the double-decked Lok Ma Chau-Huanggang pedestrian bridge, passengers will find themselves at the FuTian immigration checkpoint of the PRC. The control point is not popular and thus less crowded than at Lo Wu. Travellers should note that its opening hours is slightly shorter than that of Lo Wu. Getting there/away: While 1 out of 2/3 northbound East Rail Line trains terminates at that station, the control point can also be reached from Yuen Long by KMB bus number B1 or by minibus number 75. On the Shenzhen side, Huanggang metro station is just after the immigration checkpoint.
- Lok Ma Chau: This crossing consists of separate facilities for pedestrians which is accessed by bus and for road vehicles, and is the only border control point which offers 24-hour immigration services. A shuttle service, known as the "Yellow Bus", operates between the Lok Ma Chau Public Transport Interchange located at San Tin and Huanggang Port of the PRC side. Alternatively, travellers can board the express buses from urban areas of Hong Kong which will carry their passengers directly to the control point. For both modes, passengers after passing through Hong Kong Immigration control has to board the same bus at the other side of the control point, which will then carry them to Huanggang port of Shenzhen side, where they need to get off again and pass through PRC immigration control. Getting there/away: The Lok Ma Chau Public Transport Interchange is served by KMB buses 277, N277, 76K, and 276B, and passengers can board the "Yellow Bus" shuttle there. Alternatively, passenger can board the buses to the port at urban areas in Hong Kong (See "By bus" section below). Over in Shenzhen, a large taxi stand and a bus terminus is right outside the control point but its no where near the Huanggang metro station .
- Man Kam To: This crossing is mostly used by private vehicles and cross-boundary buses. See "By bus" section below.
- Sha Tau Kok: Located furthest east, this control point can be accessed by taking the cross-boundary coach. It is quite a distance from the centre of Shenzhen and is relatively quiet. There are no Chinese visa-on-arrival facilities. See "By bus" section below.
- Shenzhen Bay Bridge: This control point links Hong Kong directly with Shekou, Shenzhen. It can be used by private vehicles and cross-boundary buses. See "By bus" section below.
Please note that all the crossings, save for Shenzhen Bay Bridge, are located in the Frontier Closed Area and everyone is required to have a permit to be there unless crossing the border. Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau can be easily reached by train, but if you are just there to look around, be ready for some security questioning. It is also not easy to directly access the train departure area from the arrivals area.
There are some Cross Boundary coaches  operating from the business districts in Kowloon or Hong Kong Island to the Chinese side of the checkpoint. If you take these coaches, there is no need to change for the yellow shuttle bus and hence it is a good choice for boundary crossing to avoid the queues.
There are 6 lines of short trip cross boundary coaches serves the port,
- Jordan, Kowloon departs from Scout Centre, Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (5 mins walk from Jordan MTR).
- Mongkok, Kowloon departs from Portland Street, near Metropark Hotel Mongkok (exit from Prince Edward Hotel).
- Wanchai, Hong Kong Island departs from Wanchai Ferry Bus Terminus.
- Kwun Tong, Kowloon departs from Lam Tin MTR, stops at Kwun Tong APM Shopping Plaza and Kwun Tong Rd, Kowloon Bay MTR.
- Tsuen Wan departs from Discovery Park Bus Terminus (10 mins walk from Tsuen Wan MTR).
- Kam Sheng Road departs from Kam Sheung Road West Rail Station.
Except the route to Kam Sheng Road, 24 hour services are provided with half hourly or hourly departure in midnight and around 10-20 mins per bus during the day and evening.
Lok Ma Chau is a around-the-clock border crossing ; visa-on-arrival can be obtained on the Chinese side (subject to nationality, at the present, applications from USA passport holders are not accepted).
Man Kam To control point can be accessed by taking the cross-boundary coach on the bus interchange under the shopping centre of West Kowloon Centre, Sham Shui Po (near Sham Shui Po MTR)in Kowloon, which costs $35, the bus calls at Landmark North also, which is just adjacent to Sheung Shui KCR Station, with section fare of $22. It is seldom crowded with travellers even during holiday periods. You can also enjoy the free shuttle service outside the Chinese checkpoint, which takes you to the central area of Shenzhen. However, no visa-on-arrival can be obtained on the Chinese side, which means you need to arrange for your visa in advanced before arrival.
It is the best route to go to the downtown in Shenzhen especially during holidays.
Sha Tau Kok control point can be accessed by taking the cross-boundary coach on the bus interchange at Luen Wo Hui in Fanling and Kowloon Tong. It connects the eastern boundary of Hong Kong and Shenzhen and it is a bit remote from the central part on Shenzhen. As a consequence, only very few passengers choose to cross the boundary using this checkpoint. No visa-on-arrival can be obtained on the Chinese side.
Coaches departs from Kowloon Tong MTR from 7:00 to 18:30 every 15 minutes which costs $20, which is also the cheapest direct coach to Shenzhen.
Shenzhen Bay control point links Hong Kong directly with Shekou, Shenzhen, and can be accessed conveniently by public buses. Route B2 departs from Yuen Long Railway Station via Tin Shui Wai Railway Station to Shenzhen Bay, while B3 departs from Tuen Mun Pier. There is also a express coach service departing from Sham Shui Po to Shenzhen Bay.
Cycling across the border is possible at the four land crossings with Shenzhen, with Lo Wu probably the easiest to deal with. You can also take your bike across on the ferries, but cycling to or from the international airport is difficult to impossible.
Lok Ma Chau
Travellers entering Hong Kong first go through China immigration and then catch a bus to Hong Kong immigration checkpoint. Foot passengers have a choice of using the "yellow bus " to the Hong Kong Side or cross border buses which go eventually to different areas of Hong Kong. Bikes are currently not allowed on the yellow buses and have to be wheeled through China immigration to the bus terminus to buy a ticket the chosen destination. It's helpful to know where you want to go. Sometimes you need to pay for the bike (about $30). You then load the bike onto the bus yourself and have to unload again about 5 minutes later to go through Hong Kong immigration and then put it back on the bus. All passengers have to do this with their luggage. Usually this whole process is frenetic (even for locals) due to the number of people travelling over the border.
A train runs from the border crossing at Lo Wu into the centre of Hong Kong and cycles are allowed on the train (known as the KCR) with the payment of between $20 and $40 depending upon the time of day and with the front wheel removed. As for all border crossings travellers have to pass through the Chinese side and then the Hong Kong side before boarding the train.
Man Kam To and Sha Tau Kok
These two border crossings are usually used by heavy lorries and cars although it is possible to transit with cycles. Sha Tau Kok is used if the onward route is to the east of Guangdong.
MTR Corporation runs regular Intercity Passenger Train services between Guangdong Province, Beijing and Shanghai. The intercity rail terminus is at Hung Hom Station on Kowloon side. The destinations of the Intercity Passenger Service are Guangzhou (East), Dongguan, Foshan and Zhaoqing in Guangdong Province, as well as Beijing and Shanghai.
The online directory of MTR Corporation provides information on the timetable and fare information for the Intercity Passenger Service.
The Octopus card (八達通, Bat Dat Toong in Cantonese,) is the heart of the public transport system. A contactless smart card, even when placed inside a wallet or bag, you can tap on card readers and the correct amount will be deducted from money stored. Those who are familiar with London Underground's Oyster card or Japan Railway's IC cards will quickly understand the Octopus card. In addition to being used for all forms of public transport (except most of the red-top minibuses and taxis) Octopus is also accepted for payment in almost all convenience stores, restaurant chains like McDonald's and Cafe de Coral, many vending machines, all roadside parking and some car parks. Some housing estates and schools use the card for identification at entry.
When travelling by MTR and some bus routes, payment by Octopus card can sometimes be cheaper than cash, and it's always more convenient. As the Octopus has a fully refundable deposit on the card and on unused credit, there's really no reason not to get one.
Basic adult Octopus cards cost $150, with $100 face value plus $50 refundable deposit. A $7 service charge applies if the card is returned in less than 3 months. The maximum value that an Octopus card can carry is $1,000. The Octopus card also allows the remaining value to go negative once. For example, you may pay for a ride of $5 with a remaining value of $2, but you cannot use the card again until the value is topped up. The negative value of an Octopus card can go as far as $35.
Your Octopus cards' balance is displayed as you exit the gates after each ride, or after each transaction. The balance can also be checked using a small machine near regular ticket machines in MTR stations.
For travellers, there are three convenient ways to refill a card:
- Add Value machines, usually located next to regular ticket machines in MTR stations. These machines accept cash only.
- Customer service at any MTR or KCR station.
- Merchants that accept Octopus (eg. Mcdonalds, Cafe de Coral, 7-Eleven).
In addition to the Airport Express Octopus (see above), you can also buy a 24-hour pass for $50 at any MTR station; however, this is valid only on MTR lines.
Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) underground and overground network is the fastest way to get around the territory, but what you gain in speed you lose in views and (at least for short distances) price. There are ten lines, including the Airport Express, plus a network of modern tram lines operated by the MTR in the North West New Territories. The Kowloon Canton Railway (KCR), including its link to the mainland border at Shenzhen (Lo Wu), was merged into the MTR in 2007 and now operates as a integral part of it.
The most important line for many visitors is the busy Tsuen Wan Line (red), which tunnels from Central to Kowloon and down Nathan Road towards Tsuen Wan in the New Territories and the Island Line (blue) which runs along the north coast of the Island. The new Tung Chung Line (orange) is the fastest route to Lantau and one of the cheapest ways to the airport when coupled with the S1 shuttle bus stationed at Tung Chung MTR station. The line also provides a link to Hong Kong Disneyland via a change at Sunny Bay station. All signs are bilingual in Chinese and English and all announcements are made in Cantonese, Mandarin and English so tourists should not have a problem using the rail system. Should you get lost, staff in the station control room usually speak some English so they would be able to help you out.
Most underground MTR stations have one Hang Seng Bank branch (except for the massive Hong Kong/Central station, which has two). Since they're a common feature, unambiguous and easy to find, they're a good place to tell people to meet you.
Note that in Hong Kong, a subway is an underground walkway, not an underground railway, as in most English speaking countries outside of North America. While many of the trains travel underground, there are also many stations whose trains travel above on raised platforms.
Operated by Hong Kong Tramways, the narrow double-decker city trams trundling on the north coast of Hong Kong Island are a Hong Kong icon. Trams are slower, but the route along the length of Hong Kong Island's centre is useful and with a flat fare of only $2, they're the cheapest sightseeing tour around. Passengers board a the rear, and the fare is paid upon alighting at the front of the tram. Exact change and Octopus cards are accepted.
In a league of its own is the Peak Tram, Hong Kong's first mechanised mode of transport, opened back in 1888. The remarkably steep 1.7 km track up from Central to Victoria Peak is worth at least one trip despite the comparatively steep price ($22 one-way, $33 return; return tickets must be purchased in advance).
There are three types of bus available in Hong Kong, operated by a multitude of companies. While generally easy to use (especially with Octopus), signage in English can be sparse and finding your bus stop can get difficult. Buses are pretty much your only option for travelling around the south side of the island and Lantau.
The large double-decker buses cover practically all of the territory, stop frequently and charge varying fares depending on the distance. The first seats of the upper deck offer great views. The franchised bus operators in Hong Kong include Kowloon Motor Bus  (KMB) (and its subsidary Long Win Bus), Citybus , New World First Bus  and New Lantao Bus. Route and fare information can be found on the companies web sites. Fares will depend more on where you board rather than where you get-off which means it is more expensive to board at the earlier stops rather than the later stops.
Van-sized public light buses carry a maximum of 16 passengers (seats only) and come in two varieties, red minibuses and green minibuses (the red buses are also called maxicabs); the colour refers to a wide stripe painted on top of the vehicle. Riding a minibus may not be easy for travellers, as it is customary to call out the name of the stop or ask the driver to stop in Cantonese. Red minibuses do not accept Octopus but will give you change, while green minibuses do accept Octopus payment but can not give you change if you pay in cash. The Hong Kong Island green minibus #1 down from the Peak to Central is particularly exhilarating. Red minibuses tend to have a more Chinese feel than green buses. Prices on red minibuses are often displayed only in Chinese numbers. The price displayed on a red minibus can legally vary according to the market price, so expect to pay more at busy times. Some people argue that the driving standards of red minibuses is lower than green minibuses; Minibus drivers generally drive fast, especially at night. Always use minibus seatbelts where available. You will notice that they all have an extra, large, digital speedometer in the cabin for the passengers to view, this is required by the government after a few fatal accidents due to speeding. Since the introduction of these passenger speedometers mini-bus accident rates have dropped.
Kowloon Canton Railway also maintains its fleet of KCR feeder buses . KCR passengers can enjoy a free feeder service if the payment is made by Octopus. The route K16 is especially useful for tourists who need to go to Tsim Sha Tsui from the New Territories and mainland China by rail.
Note that if paying in cash, the exact fare is required and no change can be given. Paying by Octopus is much more convenient. The exception to this rule is if you use a red minibus, Octopus cards are not accepted on red minibus services, but they do give you change.
Route numbering is independent in six regions: bus on Hong Kong Island/ in Kowloon and in New Territories/ on Lantau Island, green minibus on Hong Kong Island/ in Kowloon/ in New Territories and several exceptional auxiliary buses route (red minibuses does not have a route number). This leads to duplication of routes in different regions. Although the Transport Department of Hong Kong Government has been working on the unifying of the route numbers, it is still a little bit messy at the moment. If you are confused a bit by the numbering of routes, here is a suggestion: just remember the route number of buses in Hong Kong Island/Kowloon/New Territories only whenever it is necessary. In other special circumstances, ask the driver or the station staff for the Lantau buses and green minibuses and they can answer you.
Generally you need not to mention which district the route belongs to when you are asking for directions (almost all people will assume you will asking for the route which runs in the district you are in, e.g. if you ask for bus route #2, locals will assume you will asking for bus route #2 running in Kowloon if you are in Kowloon), but you really need to mention whether the route is bus or minibus when you ask, since in some cases both bus and minibus can have same route number in the same area which are actually different routes. (e.g. there are both bus route #6 and minibus route #6 in Tsim Sha Tsui, which are actually different routes).
If you are curious enough, you may discover a pattern on the allocation of buses in Hong Kong/Kowloon/NT:
- Prefix 1 on hundred digit: routes use Cross Harbour Tunnel.
- Prefix 2 on hundred digit: refers to some air-conditioned bus routes.
- Prefix 3 on hundred digit: refers to several peak-hour only cross-harbour routes, Hong Kong Island recreational or special bus services.
- Prefix 6 on hundred digit: uses Eastern Harbour Crossing.
- Prefix 7 on hundred digit: refers to some Island Eastern Corridor routes, New World First Bus West Kowloon or Tseung Kwan O routes.
- Prefix 8 on hundred digit: refers to specialized Shatin Racecourse lines.
- Prefix 9 on hundred digit: uses Western Harbour Crossing.
- Prefix A: Airport Airbus routes.
- Prefix E: North Lantau external bus routes.
- Prefix K: KCR Feeder Bus routes.
- Prefix M: Some bus routes that are terminated at Airport Express station.
- Prefix N: Overnight bus routes.
- Prefix P: North Lantau peak-hour only routes.
- Prefix R: North Lantau recreational bus routes (for Hong Kong Disneyland).
- Prefix S: Airport shuttle bus routes.
- Prefix T: Recreational bus routes (T stands for tourists).
- Prefix X: Express routes for special services.
- Suffix A, B, C, D, E, F: Conventional routes.
- Suffix K: Mainly connecting to KCR East Rail stations.
- Suffix M: Mainly connecting to MTR stations.
- Suffix P: Mostly peak-hour only routes.
- Suffix R: Recreational bus routes.
- Suffix S: Peak-hour only routes or special services.
- Suffix X: Buses using highways or express services.
A vast fleet of ferries plies between the many islands of Hong Kong. The granddaddy of them all and an attraction in itself is the Star Ferry, whose most popular line travels between Kowloon and Central from early morning until late at night, and offers amazing views (especially when coming from Kowloon). Upper deck seats cost $2.20 while the lower deck cost $1.70, both payable with Octopus or cash (change given). The Star Ferry also operates between Kowloon and Wanchai.
Ferries to Lamma, Lantau and other islands depart from a variety of ports, but the largest and most important terminal is at Central adjacent to the Star Ferry. Ferries are usually divided into fast ferries and slow ferries, with fast ferries charging around twice the price for half the journey time, although not all destinations offer both kinds of service. Example fares for trips from Central to Yung Shue Wan (Lamma) are $10/15 slow/fast, and to Mui Wo (Lantau) $10.50/$21. Note that all fares increase by around 50% on Sundays and public holidays.
Taxis are plentiful, clean and efficient. They were rated as the cheapest of all big cities in the world. Not good news for the drivers, but good for the tourist. Fares  in Hong Kong & Kowloon start at HK $18, and you can ride for 2 km before additional $1.50 per 200m increments start ticking ($1 for fares of $70.50 and above). New fare increases are indicated in writing until the meter is adjusted. Tipping is not expected but nevertheless still welcome, and drivers often round up the fare to the nearest dollar when giving change.
Drivers are required to provide change for $100 notes, but not for higher denominations. If you only have a $500 or $1000 note and are going through a tunnel, let the driver know beforehand and he will change it when paying at the toll booth.
Life is made slightly more difficult by the fact that there are three different flavours of taxi. These can be distinguished by colour: red taxis typically serve the Island and Kowloon, and some parts of the New Territories (for example Shatin), but they are permitted to travel all over Hong Kong except to Lantau Island; green taxis serve the New Territories (only), but with a slightly cheaper fare than red taxis; blue taxis serve Lantau (only). (You are unlikely to ever encounter a blue Taxi, as there are only about 50 of them in existence.) All three types of taxis can take you to the airport. When in doubt, just take a red taxi.
In addition, red taxis are based in either the Island or Kowloon, if they do take you across the harbour, they will charge you twice the bridge/tunnel toll so they can get back! But you can use this to your advantage by picking a homebound taxi from a cross-harbour taxi rank in places like the Star Ferry pier or Hung Hom station. In these cross-harbour taxi stands only single toll charge will be applied to the taxi fare.
There are no extra late-night charges. Baggage carried in the boot ("trunk" if coming from north America) will cost you $5 per piece and all tolls are payable. The wearing of seat belts is required by law.
All taxis are radio equipped and can be reserved and requested via an operator for a token fee of $5, payable to the driver. You are unlikely to need to call a taxi, though, as they are plentiful.
It is good practice to get a local person to write the name or address of your destination in Chinese for you to hand to the taxi driver, as many drivers speak limited English and Mandarin. For example, if you wish take a journey back to your hotel, ask a receptionist for the hotel's business card.
Renting a car is almost unheard of in densely populated Hong Kong. With heavy traffic, extremely complex road network and rare parking spaces, renting a car is very unappealing. However, if you must (which may be necessary if you need to get to more remote parts of Lantau Island or the New Territories), expect to pay over $600/day even for a small car. Nevertheless, driving habits in Hong Kong are generally much better than in mainland China with drivers generally following traffic rules. Roads are also generally well maintained and directional signs are written in both Chinese and English. Unlike in mainland China, International Driving Permits (IDPs) are also accepted in Hong Kong. Unlike mainland China, traffic in Hong Kong moves on the left (part of Hong Kong's British legacy).
If you wish to drive to mainland China, note that your vehicle must have a second set of number plates issued by the Guangdong authorities and a separate Chinese license will be required. You will also need to change sides of the road at the border.
Cantonese is the language spoken by 95% of the people in Hong Kong. Due to British influences from the colonial era, colloquial Cantonese in Hong Kong tends to incorporate some English words and slang, which may sound strange to Cantonese speakers from mainland China. Though Hong Kong is a former British colony, the degree of English proficiency is limited among non-professionals in those districts where more locals visit than tourists. Also, some locals, even if they can understand English well, do not feel comfortable speaking it. However, others including most taxi drivers, street vendors, salespeople etc. are fluent enough for sufficient communication, especially at tourist destinations such as hotels and certain restaurants. English is spoken fluently among the business community. English language education usually starts in kindergarten. To ensure that local people understand you, it is a good idea to speak in short sentences, use standard English and avoid slang or colloquial expressions.
Hong Kong also has several minority communities, such as the Teochews (Chiuchow in Cantonese) and Shanghainese who fled to Hong Kong when the mainland fell to the communists in 1949. Some of them still speak their respective dialects, though most of them are also fluent in Cantonese. There are also non-Chinese resident communities in Hong Kong, largely originating from the Indian subcontinent, and among them, various South Asian languages are spoken, though it should not cause much of a problem as almost all of them are fluent in English and many are fluent in Cantonese as well.
Most locals are not fluent in Mandarin, but can comprehend it to a certain degree. Mandarin proficiency is increasing, especially after the reunification with the Mainland. Due to the increasing number of tourists from mainland China, most (if not all) shops and eateries in the city centre and more touristy areas will have at least one staff member who can speak Mandarin.
All official signs are bilingual, in both Chinese (Traditional) and English. However, Chinese only signs have become more common in recent years, e.g. at minibus stops. Most shops and restaurants also have English signage, though don't expect this from the more local or obscure establishments. Under the "one country, two systems" policy, Hong Kong continues to use traditional Chinese characters and not the simplified Chinese characters used in Mainland China.
The Hong Kong dollar (港幣) is the official currency, with one unit known formally as the yuen (圓) and colloquially as the men (呅) in Cantonese. The official exchange rate is fixed at 7.80 HKD to 1 USD, although bank rates may fluctuate slightly. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) issues the new purple plastic $10 notes while the rest are issued by three banks (the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, also known as the 'Hong Kong bank', Standard Chartered Bank and Bank of China). The old green paper $10 notes, which were issued by HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank remain legal tender. The style of notes varies a lot between banks though the colour and size are about the same for notes of the same denomination. The larger the denomination, the larger the size of the banknotes. Banknotes come in denominations of:
- $10, green or purple (paper or plastic).
- $20, dark blue or light blue (old or new).
- $50, purple or green (old or new).
- $100, red.
- $500, brown.
- $1000, gold.
Some shops do not accept $1000 notes due to counterfeiting concerns.
The coins come in units of
- $10, in bronze/silver, circular.
- $5, in silver, circular, thicker.
- $2, in silver, wavey-circular.
- $1, in silver, circular, thinner.
- 50¢, in bronze, circular, larger.
- 20¢, in bronze, wavey-circular.
- 10¢, in bronze, circular, smaller.
varying in a descending size (except $10 coin).
Since September 1997, the use of the small coins and change has been reduced due to the innovation of the Octopus card. Originally used just for fare payment for the MTR and buses, it now is used all over the city, for purchases in any amount at convenience stores, fast food restaurants, pharmacies, vending machines, etc.
Automated Teller Machines (ATM's) are common in urban areas. They usually accept VISA, MasterCard, and to certain degree UnionPay. Maestro and Cirrus cards are widely accepted also. They dispense $100, $500 or rarely $1000 notes depending on the request. Credit card use is common in most shops for major purchases. Most retailers accept VISA and MasterCard, and some accept American Express as well. Signs with the logo of different credit cards are usually displayed at the door to indicate which cards are accepted. For small purchases, in places such as McDonalds or 7-Eleven, cash or Octopus Card is the norm.
Hong Kong is still known as an excellent destination for shopping, especially for goods from the mainland. Prices are often comparably cheaper than Europe, North America, or Japan, especially since Hong Kong has no sales tax (VAT). Although Hong Kong prices are still expensive by regional standards, the choice and variety is a lot better than in most south-east Asian countries. Popular shopping items include consumer electronics, custom clothing, shoes, jewellery, expensive brand name goods, Chinese antiques, toys and Chinese herbs/medicine. There's also a wide choice of European clothing but prices are high.
As a generalisation, Hong Kong Island and nearby Tsim Sha Tsui have the upmarket shopping malls (particularly near Central and Causeway Bay), while Kowloon is the place to go for cheap open markets. Causeway Bay in particular is home to Hong Kong's youth fashion scene and is a good place to look for the newest fashion trends. Kowloon's Nathan Road has many shops selling electronics, cameras and gadgets, mainly to tourists (not locals!). Beware that some of the business practices there can be quite deceptive - see the section Tourist traps below.
Most shops in Hong Kong's urban areas open at about 10AM and stay open until midnight, even on weekends. However, there is no hard and fast rule and shops will typically stay open as long as there are customers, which makes Hong Kong a late night shopping paradise.
For cheaper goods, some Hong Kong residents shop in Shenzhen just across the border into China.
Antiques- Head for Hollywood Road in Central. Here you will find a long street of shops with a wide selection of products that look like antiques. Some items are very good fakes, so you should only buy things that you like and always try and bargain on the price.
Books- Swindon Books is one of the oldest English language bookstores in Hong Kong. Its main branch is on Lock Road in Tsim Sha Tsui but it also has smaller branches in malls like the Ocean Terminal. Page One  is a chain-bookstore with branches in Central, Festival Walk (Kowloon Tong) and Times Square (Causeway Bay) offering a wide range of English language and Chinese books, and an extensive selection of travel guides. Dymocks is an Australian chain and has stores in the IFC, The Princes Building, and other locations. The Commercial Press has bookstores in many shopping malls. It has more Chinese titles than English ones but its prices tend to be a bit more reasonable than many other booksellers that specialise in English titles. The Commercial Press has a large store in Miramar Shopping Centre that has a decent collection of English titles.
Cameras- As a tourist you should avoid camera shops in tourist areas such as Tsim Sha Tsui. Instead, seek out one of the larger electronics shops along Sai Yeung Choi South Street in Mong Kok or the Wan Chai Computer centre.
Chinese Art- Try Star House near the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui for more expensive items, otherwise buy from the street markets in Mong Kok.
Computers- The Wanchai Computer Centre is located above Wanchai MTR station and is worth a look for anybody seeking computers and computer accessories. Prices are reasonable and you may find a bargain. Don't be afraid to ask the seller to demonstrate to you that the product is in good working order.
Consumer Electronics- There are many small shops selling electronic goods but as a tourist you are advised to avoid such vendors unless you have the help and support of a local person. Major shops such as Broadway, Fortress or TaiLin are more reliable but may not provide you with the sort of of guarantee and after sales service as you would get in your home country (if you spend a lot of time on the mainland Gome provides warranty service there for most electronics). Do not assume that electrical goods are cheaper in Hong Kong, in some instances prices can be up to five times more than in Europe or North America.
Music and Film- HMV is a tourist-friendly store that sells a wide range of expensive products. For real bargains you should find your way into the smaller shopping centres where you will find small independent retailers selling CDs and DVDs at very good prices. Some shops sell good quality second hand products. Try the Oriental Shopping Centre on Wanchai Road for a range of shops and a taste of shopping in a more down-market shopping centre. Alternatively, brave the warren of CD and DVD shops inside the Sino Centre on Nathan Road between Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei MTR stations.
Sports Goods- A good place to buy sportswear is close to Mong Kok MTR station. Try Fa Yuen Street and the roads around it for a wide range of shops selling sports wear (especially sports' shoes) - you could be spoilt for choice.
Tea- Buying good chinese tea is like choosing a fine wine and there are many tea retailers that cater for the connoisseur who is prepared to pay high prices for some of China's best brews. To sample and learn about Chinese tea you might like to find the Tea Museum which is located in Hong Kong Park in Central. Marks & Spencer caters for homesick Brits by supplying traditional strong English tea bags at a reasonable price.
Watches and jewellery- Hong Kong people are avid watch buyers - how else can you show your wealth if you can't own a car and your home is hidden at the top of a tower-block? You will find a wide range of jewellery and watches for sale in all major shopping areas. If you are targeting elegant looking jewellery or watches try Chow Tai Fook, which can be expensive. Prices vary and you should always shop around and try and bargain on prices. When you are in Tsim Sha Tsui you will probably be offered a "copy watch" for sale.
- Shopping Malls— Hong Kong has a vast number of shopping malls. While some people might prefer a certain building, the shops are similar, so just head to the mall closest to where you are staying.
- Harbour City  - Huge Shopping centre in Tsim Sha Tsui on Canton Road, to get there take the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui, or take the Star Ferry.
- Pacific Place - Also a big shopping centre. Take the MTR to Admiralty.
- Festival Walk - A big shopping centre with a mix of expensive brands and smaller chains. There is also an ice skating rink there. Take the MTR or KCR East Rail to Kowloon Tong.
- Cityplaza - A similarly large shopping centre, also with an ice-skating rink. To get there, take the MTR to Taikoo on the Island Line.
- Landmark- Many the luxury brands have shops here Gucci, Dior, Fendi, Vuitton, etc. Central, Pedder Street. It used to be a magnet for the well-heeled but has since fallen behind in its management.
- APM - All new 24hr Shopping centre in Kwun Tong. Take the MTR to the Kwun Tong station.
- Langham Place - A huge 12 storey shopping mall adjacent to the the Langham Place Hotel in Mong Kok. Take the MTR to the Mong Kong station and follow the appropriate exit directions.
- IFC Mall - Located near the Star Ferry and Outlying Islands Ferry Piers. Has many luxury brand shops, an expensive cinema and superb views across the harbour from the rooftop.
- Times Square - A trendy but not stylish multi storey Shopping Mall with food courts at the lower levels, and Gourmet Dining at the upper stories. Take MTR to Causeway Bay, and exit at "Times Square". Crowded on weekends.
- Citygate Outlet - Located right next to Tung Chung MTR Station, the Citygate is a rare outlet mall with tonnes of mid-priced brands, some of them being Adidas, Esprit, Giordano, Levi's, Nike, Quiksilver and Timberland.
- Golden Computer Arcade- Located in Sham Shui Po, this shopping centre is specialized in selling computer and TV gaming related products. Take the MTR to the Sham Shui Po station. Other computer malls with better environment would be Star City in Tsim Sha Tsui just right on top of the McDonald's as you get out of Star Ferry; Windsor House Computer City in Causeway Bay; Wan Chai Computer mall right outside Wan Chai MTR Station; and Mong Kok Computer Centre on Nelson Street 2 minutes from Mong Kok MTR Station Exit E2.
- DFS (Duty Free Shopping)- Located in Tsim Sha Tsui (across from Harbour City Shopping Mall) and in Tsim Sha Tsui East. As Hong Kong is a tax-free city, you can find DFS in Hong Kong itself not just in airports. A fantastic way to find luxury items and buy them without the burden of sales tax.
- Laforet, Island Beverly and Causaway Place. Best places to find cheap stylish clothes, Asian style. Mostly girls clothes, but also bags and accessories, highly recommended if you are looking for something different. These three shopping malls are all located near exit E, Causaway Bay MTR station.
Hong Kong has a lot of street markets. Some of them just selling regular groceries, others clothes, bags or even electronics.
- Ladies Market- Gents, don't think that it only sells ladies' goods of the market name. Find fake brand label goods here, or illegal imports. Other goods include clothes, toys etc. Make sure to bargain here! Located in Mong Kok and accessible by MTR or bus.
- Flower Market - Prince Edward. Follow your nose to the sweet scents of a hundred different varieties of flowers.
- Goldfish Market- A whole street full of shops selling small fish in plastic bags and accessories Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok.
- Bird Market- MTR Station Prince Edward, exit "Mong Kok Police Station". Walk down Prince Edward Road West until you reach Yuen Po Street Bird Garden.
- Jade Market- Stalls of the beautiful jade green jewels.
- Temple Street - Situated in the middle of Kowloon, this is a place that sells anything and everything. Hong Kong is a really safe city, but this is probably one of the only places you might want to be more careful with your handbags.
- Seafood Street- Sai Kung. Grab tonight's dinner here where the seafood is always fresh.
- Apliu Street- MTR Station Shum Shui Po, this is the place where you can find cheap computer goods, peripherals and accessories. However this would be the worst place to buy your mobile phones, as they tend to be even more dodgy than small stores in Mongkok.
- Stanley Market- One of the more touristy places, this market sells everything from luxury luggage items to cheap brand name clothes (usually overruns from factories). Accessible with number 40 minibus from Causeway Bay. Also, no.6 and 6A bus from Central.
- Discounts and haggling
Many stores in Hong Kong (even some chain stores) are willing to negotiate on price, particularly for goods such as consumer electronics. Always feel free to ask "is there any discount?" and "do I get any free gift?" when buying anything in the territory. You can often get an additional discount if you pay cash (since the store can avoid paying the credit card charges).
- Tourist traps
Just as in any city, there are certain areas with tourist traps. They are often nameless stores that sell electronics such as digital cameras, mobile phones, and computers. These shops can easily be identified with usage of attention-grabbing neon signs of electronics brand names, numerous employees in a very small store space, and often several of these stores in a row. There are many of these stores on Nathan Road, Kowloon and in Causeway Bay. The selling price in these places is often overpriced, so make sure you compare prices before you buy.
One common trick to be aware of, is for the store owner to offer a low price on a particular item, take a deposit or full payment from you and then "discover" that he doesn't have any stock, offering to substitute another (always inferior) item instead. Be sure that you see the actual stock that you will buy before parting with any money.
Another common trick is to give you a great price on a camera you have obviously priced in many shops, take your credit card number and then before handing over the camera point out that it isn't as good as another camera and that you should buy this other camera, always at an increased cost. The camera they are showing you will in fact be a much cheaper one. This happens in Victory company in TST and the shops nearby are in on the act and will tell you the second camera is worth much more so you will buy it. If buying a camera either beat them at this trick by sticking to the one you want or buy in Wan Chai at the Computer centre where they are more reasonable and you can get a bargain if you haggle with them.
If you are unsure of the prices that you have been given by a shop, you can use ShopCite  to check for the latest prices of electronic goods sold by large chain-stores and reputable shops in Hong Kong for price comparison. Since you can use ShopCite  on your mobile, you can use it anytime and anywhere to avoid the tourist traps.
The skyline of Hong Kong is one of the best in the world. See the stunning Hong Kong Island skyline from Kowloon - one of the best view is from the Avenue of Stars at Tsim Sha Tsui. On the other hand, you may choose to take the Star Ferry which runs frequently from Tsim Sha Tsui, Central, Wan Chai, Kowloon City, and Hung Hom.
Hong Kong Tourism Board offers many free walking tours, including the Nature Kaleidoscope Walk and Architecture Walk.
Get a stunning view of Hong Kong Island on Victoria Peak with the giant, wok shaped Peak Tower. Within the building are shops, restaurants, museums, and viewing points. The Peak Tram runs from Central to the bottom of the Peak Tower. Although the view of Kowloon and Victoria Harbour can be good, be prepared for the view to be spoilt by air pollution. There is no point in spending the extra money to visit the observation deck of the Peak Tower. There are a number of nice walks around the peak that quickly leave the tourist area behind and offer nice views of all sides of the island. You will be able to catch a laser show at 8pm every day.
The racing season runs from September to June, during which time meetings take place twice weekly, the location alternating between Shatin in the New Territories and Happy Valley near Causeway Bay MTR station. Both off these races are easily accessible by MTR train but Happy Valley is the more convenient and impressive location, although live races only take place here on Wednesday night. For only $10 entrance fee, a night in Happy Valley can be filled with entertainment. Get a local Chinese gambler to explain the betting system to you and then drink the cheap draft beer! Be sure to pick up the Racing Post section in the South China Morning Post on Wednesday to guide you. A 'beer garden' with racing commentary in English available at Happy Valley near the finish line, and many expatriates congregate here during the races. One good tip, take along your passport and you can get in at tourist rate of 1 HKD. Please be aware that horse racing is a religion in Hong Kong. They have a live broadcast over the radio. Just remember that when one is out or in a taxi and someone is listening to the races, expect no conversation or business to occur for the 1-2 minutes that the race itself lasts.
The most effective way to know how Hong Kong people live is to observe the local life of an ordinary Hong Kong resident.
Go and visit a public housing estate and then a private estate on the same day and you can witness the differences between rich and poor in the city. Next, visit a fresh food market and a larger supermarket or "superstore" and you can witness the struggle between small retailers and corporations. Alternatively, go and visit one of the small shopping centres in Mongkok where you can see teenagers spending their pocket money on overpriced footwear and youth fashions.
Just wander and observe - and don't worry - most areas in town are safe.
There are many traditional heritage locations throughout the territory.
- Heritages in Central District. 
- Ping Shan Heritage Trail  in Tin Shui Wai, New Territories.
- Kowloon Walled City Park  in Kowloon City, Kowloon.
- Tsang Tai Uk  in the New Territories.
- Che Kung Temple  in Sha Tin, New Territories.
- Man Mo Temple and Fu Shin Street Traditional Bazaar  in the New Territories.
- Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas Located 5 minute walk from Shatin KCR station. This is one of the best temples to visit in Hong Kong. There are over 12,000 buddha and you can usually see monkeys. There is also a pagoda that you can climb. If you are hungry before you climb the large number of stairs there is also a very delicious hot pot restaurant on the way. Although, at the top of the hill there are also amazing vegetarian spring rolls.
- Stilt houses in Tai O a traditional fishing village.
- Po Lin Monastery and the Tien Tan Buddha Statue on Ngong Ping, which can now be accessed by riding on the Ngong Ping Cable Car that takes you to the massive golden buddha on Lantau Island. A 20-25 minute ride on the Cable Car with a fantastic view of the island and a great way addition to this already amazing trip.
There are a variety of museums in Hong Kong with different themes, arguably the best museum is the Hong Kong Museum of History  which gives an excellent overview of Hong Kong's fascinating past. Not the typical pots-behind-glass format of museums you find elsewhere in China. Innovative galleries such as a mock-up of a colonial era street make history come to life. Allow about two hours to view everything in detail.
The following is a list of major museums in Hong Kong:
Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum (Central). 
Fireboat Alexander Grantham Exhibition Gallery (Quarry Bay Park). 
Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware (Hong Kong Park). 
Hong Kong Film Archive (Sai Wan Ho). 
Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre (Kowloon Park). 
Hong Kong Heritage Museum (Shatin).  Housed in an impressive modern Chinese-style building, this museum will appeal to those who have a serious interest in Chinese culture.
Hong Kong Maritime Museum (Stanley). 
Hong Kong Museum of Art (Tsim Sha Tsui)-  Hong Kong Museum of Art is a fascinating, strange and elusive place. The entrance lies up one floor, mimicking the “temple” approach to the high altar of culture and art. Here it doesn’t work, instead of the broad sweep and sense of grandeur, one feels threatened and unwelcome. Once you arrive on the first floor, the cold unwelcoming entrance is forgotten and you are bathed in light from the wall of glass that gives you a panoramic view of Hong Kong Island. The objects on show are Chinese ceramics, terracotta, rhinoceros horn and Chinese paintings. There is also a temporary exhibition space devoted to items from their own collection with additional lent material. There is also space for contemporary art produced by Hong Kong artists, most of whom have moved away from the traditional Chinese art forms to North American and British art.
Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence (Shau Kei Wan).  Despite its dry title, this museum is worth a visit if you enjoy military history.
Hong Kong Museum of History (Tsim Sha Tsui). 
Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences (Mid-levels). 
Hong Kong Police Museum (The Peak). 
Hong Kong Railway Museum (Tai Po). 
Hong Kong Science Museum (Tsim Sha Tsui East)-  A museum which decided to make an architectural statement about its purpose, yet somehow got it horribly wrong. This museum is primarily aimed at children. The maths puzzles and optical illusions on the top floor are challenging. There is a giant Rube Goldberg machine spanning the entire museum that is run for a few minutes every two hours. The cafeteria is closed and part of the museum is undergoing renovation as of July 2008.
Hong Kong Space Museum (Tsim Sha Tsui). 
Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre (Hong Kong Park). 
Law Uk Folk Museum (Chai Wan).  This museum is probably the only tourist attraction in Chai Wan.
Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum (Sham Shui Po). 
Madame Tussauds (The Peak).  The usual Tussauds waxworks with characters that appeal to Chinese interests.
- Lantau Island is twice as big as Hong Kong island and is well worth checking out if you want to get away from the bright lights and pollution of the city for a spell. Here you will find open countryside, traditional fishing villages, secluded beaches, monasteries and more. You can hike, camp, fish and mountain bike, amongst other activities.
- The Sai Kung peninsula is also a worthwhile place to visit. Its mountainous terrain and spectacular coastal scenery make this a special place. If you like challenging routes, try going to Sharp Peak (Nam She Tsim in Cantonese). Sharp Peak is famous for its steep slope with a height of more than 400m. The view from the top is fantastic. For a more relaxed route, try to walk along Section 2 of Maclehose Trail.
- Hong Kong Wetland Park  is a relaxing park set amidst an ecological mitigation area. One can stroll along a network of board walks built over the marshy area and watch birds from a tower. The park also features a large visitors centre/museum. The museum has many interactive exhibits ideal for children, as well as some live animal habitats. To visit, take KCR West Rail to Tin Shui Wai Station, then the #705 light rail to Wetland Park. The park is pushchair and wheelchair friendly.
- North East New Territories is also famous for its natural environment. Yan Chau Tong Marine Park is located in the North East New Territories. A few traditional abandoned villages are connected with hiking trails in the territory. North East New Territories is one of the famous hiking hot spot for the locals.
- Short hiking trails (2 hours) can be found on Hong Kong Island and the New Territories.
- There are some outlying islands are also worth to visit, e.g.: Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, Ping Chau, Tap Mun, Tung Lung Island.
- For further information, please visit the homepage of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department .
- Hong Kong Disneyland  opened on September 12, 2005. It is on Lantau Island, about 12 kilometers east of the Hong Kong International Airport, and may be reached via the MTR Disneyland Resort Line from Sunny Bay Station (note that to get to Disneyland from the airport, you must make two connections, the first at Tsing Yi and the second at Sunny Bay; in this case it probably would make more sense to take a taxi). Though significantly smaller in size than other Disney parks elsewhere, it does offer some great attractions ("Festival of the Lion King" stage show, "Golden Mickey's" stage show, "Mickey's PhilharMagic 4D" show) and very short queues most of the year (except the week of Chinese New Year). Disneyland has not been as successful as anticipated and reports in the South China News indicate that it has failed to reach its visitor numbers by as much as one million people. It's not all bad, though - a second theme park should open next door in the near future.
- Ocean Park  is on the southern side of Hong Kong island. With roller coasters and large aquariums altogether, it's still packed on weekends with families and tourists after opening to the public for 30 years. The cablecar is an icon and an essential link between the two parts of the park. The views of the South China Sea from the cable car is always terrific. It would be fair to say that many local people would choose Ocean Park if they had to pick a single theme park to attend. For many, the chance to see Hong Kong's pandas would be a deciding factor. Young adults will be attracted to the wider range of rides. You can get to Ocean Park by a direct bus ride from Admiralty MTR station; it will be the first stop after you clear the Aberdeen Tunnel.
Seeing different sides of Hong Kong by Public Transport
Travelling on a bus or a tram is ideal for looking at different sides of Hong Kong. Not only it is cheap to ride on a bus or a tram, it also allows you to see completely different lifestyles in different districts in a short time. Below are some recommended routes.
- KMB Route 270A. starts from the downtown in Jordan, Kowloon. It goes along Peninsular Kowloon and heads through the New Territories. Then it goes into Sha Tin. Afterwards it goes through Tai Po Road, where you can see many traditional Chinese villages and the scenic Chinese University of Hong Kong. The bus further goes to Tai Po and you can see the traditional Market. After Tai Po, the bus again passes through the countryside and eventually reaches its terminus at Sheung Shui (below Landmark North), which is near the Hong Kong - Shenzhen boundary. The journey takes 80 minutes and costs $13 for the whole journey with a air-conditioned bus. The TST Eastbound train back to the city can be taken from Sheung Shui.
- NWFB Route 15  starts from Central (Exchange Square) to The Peak. It is an alternative way for getting to The Peak by bus rather than by Peak Tram. Your journey to Hong Kong will not be complete unless you have visited the Victoria Peak. You can see the beautiful view of Hong Kong Island, Victoria Habour and Kowloon Peninsula along the Stubbs road during the journey. When you arrive, there are two shopping malls: The Peak Tower and The Peak Galleria, which provide restaurants, a supermarket, and souvenir shops for your convenience. In addition, you can visit the infamous Madame Tussauds Hong Kong  and see if the mannequins look to be the real deal. Direction: you can take MTR and get off at Hong Kong station. You can approach Hong Kong station by the underpass from Central station. After that, follow the exit B1 to Exchange Square and you will see the bus terminus. You can also get off at Admiralty station. Then, follow the C1 exit towards Queensway Plaza. Make a right after you exit the station, and you will see the bus stop. After you get on the bus, just stay on until it arrives to The Peak bus terminus. The bus fare is $9.8 and it takes about 30 minutes for the journey.
- 'Citybus Route 973  Route 973 starts from the Tsim Sha Tsui East Bus Terminus which is located at the Concordia Plaza, which is directly opposite the Science Museum at Science Museum Road. It goes along Salisbury Road, where the Avenue of Stars, The Space Museum and the Art Museum is located. Later it goes to University of Hong Kong, which is the most prominent and the oldest university in Hong Kong after crossing the Western Harbour Crossing. It later pass through the country side of the southern part of Hong Kong . It will reach the Hong Kong southern side, where the Jumbo/Tai Pak Floating Restaurant  is located at Aberdeen. Not long after, the bus passes through a football field, which is a 5-10 minutes walk to the Ocean Park. Finally, the bus passes through the beautiful sandy beach of Repulse Bay, before it actually arrive its terminus station at Stanley Village, where the famous Murray House and the Stanley Village Market is located. The fare is $13.6 and it takes about 95 minutes for the journey.
- Take a tram journey on Hong Kong Island.
The tram system refers to is Hong Kong Tramways , a slow yet special form of transport running on Hong Kong Island. It has been operating since 1904 and is an obvious relic of the British administration. A trip on a tram is a perfect way to have a leisurely tour around Hong Kong Island's major streets and to have a glimpse of the local life. Fares are relatively cheap, just two dollars per trip for an adult and one dollar for Senior citizens (age 65 or older) and children.
It is recommended to ride from as far as Kennedy Town in the west, to as far as Shau Kei Wan in the east, in order to get a strong contrast of "East meets West" and "Old meets New".
A new, modern, tram system operates in the north west New Territories and serves New Towns between Yuen Long and Tuen Mun. Few tourists will be inspired by these trams but they may appeal to trainspotters.
Avenue of Stars and A Symphony of Lights
Hong Kong's version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Avenue of Stars  celebrates icons of Hong Kong cinema from the past century. The seaside promenade offers fantastic views, day and night, of Victoria Harbour and its iconic skyline. This is the place to have your picture taken by a professional photographer who is experienced in night photography. The Avenue can be reached from the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station or 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 synchronised to music and staged every night at 8:00pm. This is the world's "Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show" as recognised by the Guinness World Records. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the light show is in English. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday it is in Mandarin. On Sunday it is in Cantonese. While at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, spectators can tune their radios to FM103.4 MHz for English narration, FM106.8 MHz for Cantonese or FM107.9 for Mandarin. The same soundtrack can be accessed via mobile phones at 35665665 for the English version where normal telephone rates apply. However, whilst the show is not such a big deal, during festival times the light show is supplemented by fireworks that are worth seeing.
You are never far from the sea in Hong Kong and going to a good beach is only a bus-ride away. However, if you want a really good beach, then it is worth making the effort to travel, possibly on foot, and seek out the beaches of the New Territories. Hong Kong's urban beaches are usually well maintained and have services such as showers and changing rooms. Where beaches are managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Dept. shark nets and life guards are present. Dogs and smoking are not permitted on these beaches.
When on Hong Kong Island the best beaches to use include:
Repulse Bay is a large urban beach on the south side of Hong Kong island. It has recently had money spent on its facilities and will appeal to those who have young children.
Middle Bay is popular with gay people and is a 20 minute walk from the crowds at Repulse Bay. Middle Bay has lifeguards, showers, changing rooms, shark nets and a decent cafe serving drinks and snacks.
Shek O is a beach popular with many young Hong Kong people. It is away from the bustle of the city but is well served by restaurants and has a good bus service from the north side of the island. The Thai restaurant close to the beach is worth a try.
Big Wave Bay This beach is smaller than others on Hong Kong Island but still has good services which include a beach side cafe selling a range of drinks and meals that may appeal to Western tourists. Big Wave Bay, as the name suggests, has the sort of waves that appeal to surfers. From Big Wave Bay it is possible to take the coastal footpath to Chai Wan where you can find the MTR and buses. The walk to Chai Wan is about one hour, or more if you are not used to the steep climb up the mountain.
If your hotel does not have a pool or you have concerns about swimming in the sea, then public swimming baths are a great place to cool off when the heat and the humidity is too much to bear. Swimming pools are built and maintained to a very high standard in Hong Kong and cost very little to use ($19 for adults). Swimming pools are great places for young children to play and most pools cater for their needs with shallow pools and fountains. All swimming pool complexes offer swimming lanes and swimming clubs for serious swimmers.
The Kowloon Park swimming pool complex (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR exit A) is centrally located and offers visitors a wide range of services. Indoors is a main pool that is Olympic sized, a slightly smaller training pool, a diving pool and a leisure pool for younger swimmers. During the summer months the indoor pools are air-conditioned, whilst in winter the water is heated. Outdoors, during the summer season, they have four leisure pools to meet the needs of all ages. In summer, the pool is popular with teenagers but all age-groups make good use of the pools. A limited number of sun loungers are available.
The pools in Kowloon Park open at 6:30AM and close at 10PM. There are session breaks when the centre closes for lunch at 12PM until 1PM and then it closes for another hour from 5PM to 6PM. Most public pools in Hong Kong have similar opening and closing times.
Family changing rooms are available in addition to the regular changing rooms. Males and females have separate changing areas but changing rooms do not offer much privacy between users of the same sex. Swimmers are expected to provide their own towels and toiletries. A $5 coin is needed to operate a locker or you can provide your own padlock. An Octopus card or coins are needed for payment to enter the complex.
There are six public pools on Hong Kong island and a further 12 are located across the Kowloon peninsula. More pools of the same high standard are to be found in the New Territories. The pool located in Victoria Park is perhaps the least good because of its ageing facilities and close proximity to a major elevated highway.
You can rent out a Junk Boat for a sailing trip with your family and friends. A typical junk boat can accommodate more than 30 people and can be rented for the day to take you on a tour of your choice. Sai Kung is a popular spot for the trip to start and you can sail to nearby beaches for a more secluded time. A cheaper alternative is to hire a much smaller water taxi (水道) to take you to where you want to go.
Hiking and Camping
Hiking is the best kept secret in Hong Kong, it is a great way to appreciate Hong Kong's beautiful landscapes that include mountains, beaches and breathtaking cityscapes. The starting points for many hiking trails are accessible by bus or taxi. Hiking is highly recommended for active travellers who want to escape the modern urban world.
Hiking in Hong Kong can be strenuous because of the steep trails, and during the summer months, mosquitos and the hot, humid, weather combine to make even the easiest trek a workout. It is highly recommended that you wear suitable clothes, and bring plenty of water and mosquito repellent. It is fairly unlikely that you will have a close encounter with venomous snakes, although they are present in most rural areas. Most local people choose the winter months to undertake the more demanding hiking trails. If you are not especially fit you might plan your route so that you take a bus or taxi to the highest point of the trail and then walk downhill.
Campsites in Hong Kong are plentiful and free of charge. Most are located within the country parks and range from basic sites serviced with only with a drop-toilet, to those that provide campers with modern toilet blocks with cold showers. Some sites have running water and sinks for washing dishes. A few campsites have places to buy drinking water and food, whilst many are serenely remote. Weekends and public holidays are predictably busy, especially in the more accessible places close to roads. Many Hong Kong people like to camp in large groups, talk loudly and stay awake until very late, so if you are noise sensitive try to find a remote campsite or learn to keep your temper.
There are four major trails in the Hong Kong SAR:
- Lantau Trail on Lantau.
- Hong Kong Trail on Hong Kong Island.
- Maclehose Trail through the New Territories. Oxfam organizes an annual charity hike of this 100Km trail every November. Winning teams finish in around 11-12 hours but average people take 30-36 hours to finish the whole trail, which starts from the eastern end of the New Territories (Sai Kung) to the western end (Tuen Mun).
- Wilson Trail starting on Hong Kong Island and finishing in the New Territories.
Hong Kong has some exceptional rural landscapes but visitor impact is an issue. Please respect the countryside by taking your litter home with you. Avoid using litter bins in remote areas as these are not emptied on a regular basis and your litter may be strewn around by hungry animals.
Hong Kong Outdoors  is packed with information on hiking and camping, and other great things to do and places to go in the wilderness areas of Hong Kong.
The horse races may get all the press attention, but mahjong (麻雀) also forms an integral part of Hong Kong gambling culture. Mahjong also has a strong influence on Hong Kong pop culture, with a history of songs and movies based on a mahjong theme. The variant played in Hong Kong is the Cantonese version, which differs in rules and scoring from the Japanese version or the variants played in other parts of China. Mahjong parlours are ubiquitous in Hong Kong, though they do not advertise their services openly and require a fair amount of effort to find. One can also gamble on international football matches.
Perhaps the number one highlight of Hong Kong is the cuisine. Not only is it a showcase of traditional and modern Cantonese cuisine, the various regional cuisines from around China, such as northern Chinese, Chaozhou (Chiuchow/Teochew) and Sichuan are all well represented. There are also excellent Asian and some fairly good Western restaurants as well.
Residents tend to eat out a lot more than in other countries. Because of this, eating out can be fairly cheap, as long as you stick to local restaurants, and avoid the often overpriced Western counterparts.
While dining out, it is easy to find places offering mains for well under $80 offering both local and international food. Fastfood chains such as McDonald's and Café de Coral offer meals in the vicinity of $20. Mid-range restaurants generally charge in excess of $100 for mains, whilst at the top end the city's best restaurants (such as Felix or Aqua) can easily see you leave with a bill in excess of $1200 (including entrées (appetizers), mains, desserts and drinks).
When tipping, tourists can make fools of themselves. Tipping is not a local tradition. If you do tip, you should know that the money is very unlikely to reach the hands of the person who gave you such good service. In cheaper restaurants, you should certainly take all your change, not to do so may be seen as patronising. In more upmarket places a ten percent service charge will have already been included in your bill, so many local people will accept that as the tip. Should you wish to tip, it is acceptable to leave a few coins.
What to eat
Above all, Hong Kong is known for its dim sum (點心), delicately prepared morsels of Cantonese cuisine served from a never ending procession of carts and eaten with tea. Dim sum is usually eaten for breakfast or lunch and is often the focus of family get-togethers on Sundays. An excellent place to go for dim sum is City Hall in Central - just be sure to ask for the dim sum restaurant. If you go to some restaurants in the more local areas (such as Kennedy Town) ask if they have an English menu. In such restaurants customers are often required to write their requirements on a tick-box sheet and hand them to the waiter.
Dim Sum Restaurants
- Ho Choi— A restaurant chain with several branches that serves tasty and affordable dim sum in the morning & afternoon.
- Lin Heung, 160-164 Wellington Street, Central, tel 25444556 — Featured in Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations Hong Kong episode . This is one of the most authentic old world style dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong that uses trolleys to cart its dim sum snacks instead of ordering it using the tick box sheet. Be prepared for a stress induced visit to this restaurant as it is always crowded and you need to work out the system on finding an empty seat and how to grab your desired dim sum snacks from the trolleys. Its a first come first served system, no reservations taken.
- Maxim's, City Hall Low Block, Hong Kong Location 2nd Floor, tel 2521 1303 — A restaurant chain with the most popular branch at City Hall that has an English menu.
- Tao Heung Super 88— A restaurant chain with an affordable price tag for its dim sum with several branches.
- West Villa Restaurant Shop 208, 2/F, Cityplaza II, Taikoo Shing, tel: 2885 4478, Opening hours: 11am – 12pm. 5 minutes walk from exit D2 of Taikoo Shing MTR — Its signature dim sum is the cha xiu bao or roast pork buns that is served steamed, fried or as rolls. One of the items is named "Big Brother Chaxiu" after Hong Kong's film star Jacky Chan who is fond of its char xiu buns.
Besides dim sum, Hong Kong is also known for its roasted meats, especially roast goose though duck and pork are also readily available. Roast meat is typically served with rice or noodles. Congee (粥 jook) is also widespread in Hong Kong and is best eaten at the smaller eateries, though many of them have only Chinese menus. Nevertheless, that shouldn't put you off and nobody can claim to have experienced the cullinary culture of Hong Kong without having a taste of its congee.
Hong Kong also has some pretty good snacks, the most famous among ethnic Chinese tourists being a sweet pastry known as Sweetheart Cakes (老婆餅 lo po peng) and the most famous shop selling this is Hang Heung (恒香), located at Yuen Long (元朗) in the New Territories, though there are branches located throughout all of Hong Kong.
For those who wish to eat Hong Kong's famous seafood, there are different locations in Hong Kong's coastal areas where freshly caught seafood is cooked and served. Places like Sai Kung, Po Doi O, Lei Yu Mun, Lau Fau Shan are good places to find restaurants specialized in seafood. These restaurants have different tanks to keep the seafood alive and will present live seafood specimens to their patrons for them to choose before cooking. Raw fish, known as yee sang (魚生) in Hong Kong, is a relatively popular dish and is prepared differently from Japanese sashimi.
Many exotic delicacies like abalone, conch and bamboo clam can be found for sale in many seafood restaurants. The price of seafood increases where the species is a rarity. Some of the fish and seafood for sale may be endangered by overfishing, so the WWF urges consumers to be aware of buying endangered species. Try to avoid buying juvenile fish that have not had a chance to breed. A vigorous campaign has been fought in Hong Kong to stop people buying shark fin.
For those who want to have other, less endangered exotic food, snake meat is a popular delicacy in Hong Kong. The winter months are the season for eating snakes and it can be bought from a number of restaurants that specialise in this surprisingly tasty meat.
In addition to the usual Cantonese fare, Hong Kong is also home to several good Teochew (known locally as Chiuchow) restaurants serving Teochew dishes such as braised goose (鹵鵝) and yam paste dessert (芋泥).
As with Chinese cuisine elsewhere, food in Hong Kong is generally eaten with chopsticks. The usual etiquette when using chopsticks, such as not sticking your chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice, apply in Hong Kong as well. Dishes in smaller eateries might not come with a serving spoon though they would usually provide one if you request.
Where to eat
A uniquely Hong Kong-style eatery starting to make waves elsewhere in Asia is the cha chaan teng (茶餐廳), literally "tea cafe", but offering fusion fast food that happily mixes Western and Eastern fare: innovations include noodles with Spam, stir-fried spaghetti and baked rice with cheese. Usually a wide selection of drinks is also available, almost always including the popular tea-and-coffee mix yuenyeung (鴛鴦), and perhaps more oddities (to the Western palate) like boiled Coke with ginger or iced coffee with lemon. Orders are usually recorded on a chit at your table and you pay at the cashier as you leave.
Hong Kong also has a staggering range of international restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world. These can often be found in, though not restricted to, entertainment districts such as Lan Kwai Fong, Soho or Knutsford Terrace. Of these, Soho is probably the best for eating as Lan Kwai Fong is primarily concerned with bars and clubs and on Friday and Saturday nights especially can become crowded with revellers. Top chefs are often invited or try to make their way to work in Hong Kong.
Island Seafood— No visitor to Hong Kong should leave without a visit to an outlying island to try one of the many excellent seafood restaurants. Take a ferry from the Central ferry terminal (opposite the IFC and alongside the Star Ferry) to either Lamma Island or Cheung Chau. Both of these islands have many seafood restaurants that are easy to find in attractive car-free locations. The fish and seafood is fresh, very fresh - indeed at the best restaurants you are expected to point and issue a death sentence upon your chosen fish or crab. Expect to find a mismatch between the high prices for the food and the quality of the restaurant. Sometimes the best food is served in the most basic eateries where tables maybe covered in cheap plastic covers rather than a more formal tablecloth. Often, Cantonese people value the food more than the decor. If one of your travelling companions does not like seafood, don't panic, many seafood restaurants have extensive menus that cater for all tastes.
Cooked food centres (Dai Pai Dong 大牌檔) provide economic solutions to diners, and they are Barbecue (BBQ) is a popular local pastime. Many areas feature free public barbecue pits where everybody roasts their own food, usually with barbeque forks. It's not just sausages and burgers - the locals enjoy trying a variety of food at BBQ, such as fish, beef meatballs, pork meatballs, chicken wings, and so on. A good spot is the southern part of Hong Kong Island. Every beach is equipped with many free BBQ spots. Just stop by a store, buy meat, drinks and BBQ equipment. The best spots are Shek’O (under the trees at the left hand side of the beach) and Big Wave Bay.
Wet markets are still prevalent. Freshness is a key ingredient to all Chinese food, so frozen meat and vegetables are frowned upon, and most markets display freshly butchered beef and pork (with entrails), live fish in markets, and more exotic shellfish, frogs, turtles and snails. Maids who cook for their employers usually go to the market everyday to buy fresh ingredients, just like the restaurants.
Supermarkets include Wellcome, , Park N Shop, , and CRC Shop . Speciality markets catering to Western tastes include City Super  and Great . 24 hour convenience stores 7-Eleven and Circle K can be found anywhere.
Drinking has not been something the locals were big on in the past but it is becoming much more popular with the younger generation. The traditional hotspot for both eating and drinking with westerners is Lan Kwai Fong in Central. Wan Chai is also fun, if slightly sleazier with numerous girly bars along Lockhart Road, while Causeway Bay and Eastern Soho out beyond Quarry Bay offer a less touristy experience.
Popular lagers include Tsing Tao (pronounced 'ching dow') or San Miguel. Carlsberg is also very popular and widely available. Beer, wine and spirits are also widely available for purchase, including at supermarkets and 7-Eleven stores.
Imported San Miguel is better than the locally produced variety. More expensive bars will likely serve this, but at others you may have to specifically ask for "Philippine San Miguel" (and pay more). At the lower end only local stuff will be available. Imported bottles can be easily distinguished as they have brown glass with white frosted lettering. Locally filled bottles use a label.
One of the best ways to drink in Hong Kong is to have a walk around all the bars first and have a look which ones are doing special offers and what time they run Happy Hour. Most bars have a Happy Hour, which is a cost effective way to drink. Also keep in mind the races on a Wednesday night at Happy Valley race course, you only pay $10 for entry and pay around $100 for a jug of beer. Also Wednesday nights is ladies night, during which many bars in Wan Chai give free drinks to the ladies.
The legal drinking age is 18, though ID checks are rare.
- Ned Kelly's Last Stand, 11A Ashley Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel 852/2376 0562- A really good bar to go for pre-partying. Located on Ashley road parallel to the famous Nathan road on Kowloon side, it's an Australian themed jazz bar with great food and good live music almost every night starting at 21-22, which is about when the happy hour ends. The place is laid out with long tables where total strangers can sit together. It's quite big with the frequent visitors to Hong Kong such as travelling businessmen and the art-community.
- Sticky Fingers, Shop 61-63 & 67-70 Tsim Sha Tsui Centre, G/F 66 Mody Rd, TST East, 2369 8981- A good place to listen to a great house-band play live rock music on stage. The drinks are pretty tempting too.
- Knutsford Terrace is a popular drinking and dining spot in Kowloon but there are many other places in and around Tsim Sha Tsui. Some of them can get pretty expensive though - up to $50 for a drink in some places.
- Joe Bananas, 23 Luard Rd, Wan Chai, tel 852/2529 1811- Place to go on Lockhart Road for cheap drinks and a comfortable atmosphere.
- Skitz Sports Bar, 18 Fenwick St, Wanchai, tel 2866 3277- A bar with a good selection of drinks with 2 pool tables, darts and large selection of sports on big screens.
- Armani Bar, 2/F Chater House, 11 Chater Road Central- A more upscale bar with great house music in a trendy indoor setting as well as an outdoor section.
- Red Bar4/f, Two ifc, 8 Finance Street, Central, tel +852 8129 8882- A mostly outdoor bar at the top of the IFC building (in Central) that usually hosts big events such as on New Years Eve and more.
- Blues by the Bay, Shop L012B, G/F, 18-24 Salisbury Road, New World Ctr- Located on the Avenue of the Stars, one would tend to have a drink there while watching the Symphony of Lights. Unfortunately the drinks and cocktails in this bar cannot be recommended, since the quantities are very small compared to what you would expect for the price.
A word of caution for Western men: Some women lounging in Western bars and restaurants on Lockhart Road Wan Chai eg Pussy Cat, Mes Amis are prostitutes. They sometimes have a second job as 'waitresses', ie till the bar/restaurant closes. Scams involving drugged drinks, inflated bills, and once more personal info is exchanged, blackmailing the men is very common. Don't be ruined economically and personally by them. Robberies and deaths  involving drugged drinks have also occurred. The bars with curtains on the doors are brothels where your drinks may be cheap but those for the girls will be expensive. Bar fines run from $1500-$3000 and up.
To really go to town, go to the Felix bar at the top of the Peninsula Hotel, Kowloon-side. Stunning views that will impress. Another similar option is nearby Aqua Spirit in the Intercontinental Hotel. Both bars are attached to superb restaurants (in Aqua's case two superb restaurants - Aqua Tokyo and Aqua Roma), though as in the bars expect to pay for the pleasure (see above).
Gay and lesbian nightlife
Gay bars and clubs are located in Central, Sheung Wan, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui (TST). The quality of these venues varies considerably and will perhaps disappoint those expecting something similar to London or Paris. There is certainly no gay area as there are in many Western cities.
- Works- A good bar for tourists to start with and get a feel of the gay scene in Hong Kong. Located a short walk from Central MTR in Hollywood Road. Don't expect many other customers to arrive much before 11AM.
- Propaganda, 1 Hollywood Rd, Central tel 852/2868 1316- This is the sister nightclub to Works. The entrance can be hard to locate, so you can follow the crowd that migrates along Hollywood Road when Works starts to fade. PP, as the locals like to call it, is popular and attracts a good selection of people.
- New Wally Matt- Located in Tsim Sha Tsui the Wally Matt is a welcome change from the more pretentious gay bars on Hong Kong island. Located in Humphrey's Avenue it is a short distance from TST MTR station.
Accommodation in Hong Kong tends to be on the small side, but ranges from cheap backpacker hostels to the ritziest luxury hotels can be found in the city. As a rule of thumb, expensive luxury accommodation are on Hong Kong Island while cheaper digs can be found in Kowloon and the New Territories . However, five-star hotels in Hong Kong are generally cheaper than in other major cities such as New York City, Sydney, Paris or London, though rooms are usually much smaller than their Western counterparts.
Besides luxury five-star hotels, there are also a variety of more affordable hotels, guest houses, backpacker hostels, and holiday camps. The government maintains an online list of licensed hotels and guesthouse. The online directory can be found here: . Prices can be checked, for reference, from one of the local travel agencies.
A few youth hostels  are available in Hong Kong for booking, but most of them are located outside the city. The YMCA 'The Salisbury' is a real YMCA, with a 3-4 Star hotel with nice, clean rooms (including family suites that overlook the harbor), private bathrooms, good security and so on. Located right at the southern end of Kowloon, in the Tsim Sha Tsui neighbourhood (next door to the Peninsula Hotel), with room rates starting around HK$900 per day, it is an ideal place for budget-minded travelers. For the truly budget-minded, there are numerous cheap hostels that can be found inside Chungking Mansions and Mirador Mansions buildings, near the intersection of Nathan Road and Mody Road in Kowloon. Chungking Mansions has been for decades the den of ultra low budget travellers. Today, the clientele is primarily African, Middle Eastern, Indian and Pakistani; the building is often accused of providing sleeping quarters for illegal foreign workers and undocumented immigrants. Unless you cannot find another place to stay, avoid Chungking and Mirador Mansions.
Also note that consumer protection is practically non-existent when dealing with the cheap hostels located at Nathan Road, if you must stay there never pay more than one night beforehand and if possible, use a credit card. Always demand to check the room beforehand, otherwise you can be charged for equipment that somebody else broke. Also be aware that many rooms do not have windows. If you are cheated, contact the tourist information centre near the Star Ferry pier in Kowloon.
Education is taken very seriously in Hong Kong and the territory has three universities which have a world-class reputation. The major tertiary/post-secondary institutions in Hong Kong are:
- University of Hong Kong, .
- Chinese University of Hong Kong, .
- City University of Hong Kong, .
- Hong Kong Polytechnic University, .
- Hong Kong Baptist University, .
- Hong Kong Institute of Education, .
- Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, .
- Lingnan University, .
- Hong Kong Shue Yan University, .
- Open University of Hong Kong, .
Visitors to Hong Kong will soon notice that school children wear 'British-style' uniforms that have been adapted to the sub-tropical climate. Unlike their western counterparts, students here look smart and wear their uniform with pride. It is a tradition for school students to sell 'flags' and collect money for charity on a Saturday morning.
You will need an employment visa in Hong Kong to take up any paid employment, even if you are from Britain or mainland China. This usually involves any potential employer making an application to the Immigration Department on your behalf; crucially you should have skills that are probably not available from the local job market. In June 2006 the Immigration Department revived a rule that allows the spouse of anyone currently working legally in Hong Kong to get a "dependent visa". This allows the spouse to take up any employment they wish, without having to seek approval from the Immigration Department. Unfortunately, a dependent visa is not available if the spouse is from mainland China, unless they have been living abroad for more than one year. In 2006, the Hong Kong government introduced a new program called the Quality Migrant Application Scheme which targets skilled, preferably university educated, labour with good knowledge of languages to come and settle in Hong Kong and seek for employment. For more information, visit the Hong Kong Immigration website.
As large international cities go, Hong Kong is one of the safest in terms of crime and personal safety. The chances are that your home-town is far more crime-ridden than Hong Kong. Nevertheless, Hong Kong does have its share of petty crime, that can be avoided with some street smarts.
Hong Kong cinema has often portrayed the triads (三合會) as machine gun wielding gangsters who shoot anything that gets in their way and just kill for the thrill. This reputation is very much undeserved and while the triads are still very active and powerful, even running a number of businesses, they generally would not target the average person on the street. Just avoid the triads by using some commonsense, such as not engaging in illegal betting or borrowing money from loan sharks, and they will not bother you.
Do not do business with people pushing their cards to you on the streets (so called street hawkers, mainly legal and illegal immigrants near Nathan Road, Kowloon). They may advertise tailor services and consumer electronics and the prices are much lower than in reliable chain stores and department stores. Usually you are asked to pay half beforehand, and when you come to claim your product, they say it's sold out and offer another model for much higher price. It can be very hard to get your money back from them as they might even hold your credit card as a 'hostage' and refuse to give it back unless you agree to take the more expensive item. Don't buy electronic items from brands you'd never heard of because they might be overpriced low quality Chinese products without any warranty anywhere else. Best advice is to avoid street hawkers completely (don't even reply to them or you will attract only more!), and if already in trouble, contact the nearest police officer immediately.
There are likely to be a number of scams to be found along the Avenue of Stars, Tsim Sha Tsui, where a group of people may target tourists. They will ask you to put banknotes into their bags for their magic performance, and of course after the performance you will find yourself getting back forged banknotes. Unlike places such as Thailand, monks in China are not always held in high regard and you should be suspicious of requests for money. In fact, Chinese Buddhist monks are fed by volunteers working in the temples and usually do not beg for food so if you see any monks begging for food, they are likely to be fake. Use your common sense at all times.
Watch your purse and wallet at all times. When in restaurants, do not sling your pack or purse behind your chair. Clutch any bags or purses in front of you when on the buses and railways. Always look like you know what you are doing or where you are going to avoid any pickpockets.
The emergency number for the police, fire and ambulance is 999. Be aware that police officers have the authority to check your ID/Passport without prior cause or suspicion. When there is a search for illegal immigrants, visitors, especially those who are not Caucasian, are also sometimes checked. Cooperate with the police during these investigations, though if police violate their authority, do not hesitate to call the Police Complaint hotline on 2866-7700. Police officers have a badge number displayed on their shoulders, remember it, dial the number mentioned above and report the matter.
Hong Kong has some great hikes, but be safe and always walk in a group, particularly on Lantau Island and the New Territories. Although you are never more than a few kilometres from urban areas, you may encounter natural obstacles such as steep ravines and washouts. Incomplete mobile phone services in some areas may add to the risk of exploring country parks. In many places you will only be able to pickup a mobile phone signal from mainland China, so you should carry a phone that is able to make international calls. If you are forced to use a signal from the mainland you should note that it is not possible to dial 999 for emergency assistance.
A number of hikers get lost each year, occasionally resulting in tragic death or injury. Hikers should equip themselves with detailed hiking maps, compass, mobile phone, snacks and adequate amounts of drinking water. Hazards include falling, overheating and snakes. Robberies have also been reported on remote footpaths, but the risk is very low, especially if you hike with friends. In some places hikers will encounter stray dogs, wild pigs, buffalo and monkeys. Please, do not, under any circumstances, feed wild animals.
The hiking and camping season is also the time of the year when hill fires are most likely to occur. At the entrances to country parks you will likely observe signs warning you of the current fire risk. With an average of 365 hill fires a year, you should take the risk of fire seriously and dispose of cigarettes and matches appropriately.
Same sex relationships are legal and levels of tolerance are increasing in Hong Kong. Although homosexuality is not much talked about in Hong Kong, locals will never attack gay or lesbian couples holding hands or kissing on the streets, though they may pass some negative comments. Unlike western cities, violence against homosexuality is rare, if not non-existent, in Hong Kong. A number of Hong Kong's celebrities are widely understood to be gay.
Typhoons normally occur during the months of May to November, and are particularly prevalent during September. Whenever a typhoon approaches within 800km of Hong Kong, typhoon warning signal 1 is issued. Signal 3 is issued as the storm approaches. When the storm is expected to hit, signal 8 is issued. At this point, most of business activities shuts down, including shops, restaurants and the transport system. However, some entertainment facilities such as cinemas may still open for business. Signal 9 and 10 may be issued depending on the intensity of the storm. During a typhoon visitors should heed all warnings very seriously and stay indoors until the storm has passed.
Taxis may still be available when signal 8 or above is raised, but they are under no obligation to serve passengers as insurance cover is no longer effective under such circumstances. It is sometimes possible to negotiate a fare with the driver, typically up to twice the meter fare.
Rainstorms also have their own warning system. In increasing order of severity, the levels are amber, red and black. A red or black rainstorm is a serious event and visitors should take refuge inside buildings. A heavy rainstorm can turn a street into a river and cause serious landslides.
The Hong Kong Observatory is the best place to get detailed weather information when in Hong Kong. In summer a convectional rainstorm may affect only a small area and give you the false impression that all areas are wet.
Signage on the roads in Hong Kong is similar to British usage. Zebra lines (zebra crossings) indicate crossing areas for pedestrians and traffic comes from the right. To stay safe, visit the Transport Department's website  for complete details.
Crossing roads by foot should also be exercised with great care. Traffic in Hong Kong generally moves fast once the signal turns green and motorists frequently drive across pedestrian crossings even when the green man is showing that it is safe to walk. To help both the visually impaired and even people who are not, an audible aid is played at every intersection. Rapid bells indicate "Walk"; Intermittent bells (10 sets of 3 bells) indicate "Do Not Start to Cross"; and slow bells indicate "Do Not Walk".
Jay-walking is an offence and police officers maybe out patrolling accident black-spots. Its is not uncommon to see local people waiting to cross an empty road - when this happens, you should also wait because it maybe that they have noticed that the police are patrolling the crossing.
One unexpected cause of sickness in Hong Kong is the extreme temperature change between 35°C humid summer weather outdoors and 18°C air-conditioned buildings and shopping malls. Some people experience cold symptoms after moving between the two extremes so often; it is not unusual to wear a sweater or covering to stay warm indoors (though the Hong Kong Government currently encourages the temperature in air-conditioned buildings be kept at 25.5 °C for energy saving, etc.)
Tap water in Hong Kong has been proven to be drinkable and safe, although not all the locals drink it. Old habits die hard and a number of people still prefer to boil and chill their drinking water when it is taken from the tap. The official advice from the Water Board is that the water is perfectly safe to drink unless you are living in an old building with outdated plumbing and poorly maintained water tanks. Bottled water is widely available but remember that Hong Kong's landfill sites are filling up fast and plastic bottles are a major environmental problem.
Healthcare standards in Hong Kong are generally on par with the West so finding a doctor is not much of problem should you get sick. Most doctors can also speak English fluently.
Despite Hong Kong's name meaning "fragrant harbour", this is not always so. Air pollution is a big problem due to a high population density and industrial pollution from mainland China. During periods of very bad air pollution tourists will find visibility drastically reduced. Persons with serious respiratory problems should seek medical advice before travelling to the territory and should ensure that they bring ample supplies of relevant medication.
Pollution is a contentious topic in Hong Kong and is the number one issue among environmental campaigners. That being said, much of the pollution originates from factories in mainland China and not from Hong Kong itself. Levels of pollution can vary according to the season. The winter monsoon can bring polluted air from the mainland, whilst the summer monsoon can bring cleaner air off the South China Sea. During major holidays in mainland China when many factories close down, levels of air pollution in Hong Kong can drop significantly.
Some Westerners say Hong Kong can be a rude city with the large crowds, pushing, shoving, and crowdedness — similar to New York City or London. However, it can be best described as hurried and efficient (terse, perhaps), but not mean spirited. Even on a night out, the atmosphere is rarely menacing and most people in shops and restaurants are helpful and friendly. Most folks know a modicum of English, since Hong Kong was a British colony, so you don't have to worry about offending anyone by speaking English. Some Hong Kong people use the term gwai lo (commonly translated as "foreign ghost" in English; it literally means "ghost guy") to refer to Caucasian foreigners. However, locally, this term is simply used as a term to refer to Caucasians and usually no longer carries the derogatory meaning it once intended.
Manners and Etiquette
Manners are very important to local people. However, their ideas of manners can be different from Western ideas and this is especially obvious when it comes to table manners. More than half of the people you see on streets are visitors, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between mainland Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese and other Asians. All these may carry no meaning at all to non-locals, but they do to local people and it is especially apparent in terms of manners. The culture itself and the level of public education is very different across the region (per Americans and Mexicans, Germans and Italians). English is a second language to the locals, and they are usually a lot more reserved (i.e. especially polite) when using it.
In any case, one should note that Hong Kong has significant cultural differences from mainland China due to British influences and the lack of communist influences. In particular, as Hong Kong was then a British colony, it was largely spared the Cultural Revolution that devastated much of the mainland. For instance, spitting on the pavement, which is very common in the mainland, is considered uncivilised in Hong Kong. The mad dash for seats seen in the underground train systems in mainland cities is also considered uncivilised in Hong Kong, so move in an orderly manner when entering the MTR trains.
Due to increased tourism and competition from both Mainland China and other places, courtesy in Hong Kong has increased dramatically. Now, when you approach a department or chain clothing stores, staff greet you when you enter the store and thank you when you leave the store, even if you haven't bought anything. Just a quick glance at a particular item will instantly provoke an employee to ask if you need assistance. Usually, they will stay at your side getting the right sizes, etc until you are ready to make the purchase. Some visitors will be impressed by this kind of service, though others might find the service rather pushy. Although it is perfectly fine to ignore the sales staff, it is courteous to at least respond with a simple hello/good-bye.
Hong Kong used to be known for its fairly conservative dress sense, but these days women wearing halter-necks and sleeveless tops can be easily spotted; you'll widely see fashionable cloth in every kind of length and style. It seems like Chinese women and girls are interested in up to date clothing, even if it does not fit the weather conditions, for example warm winter long boots. Public nudity is illegal, so don't try to go topless on the beach. On the flip side, very few restaurants, even upmarket ones, have strict dress codes and it's unlikely you'll be refused entry anywhere for not wearing a jacket and tie.
As with anywhere in China, politics is generally a sensitive topic not to be discussed. While nobody denies that Hong Kong has been a part of China since the handover in 1997, the political camp is somewhat split between pro-Beijing and pro-democracy groups. Current issues include a request for universal suffrage for the people of Hong Kong, which the central government in Beijing has been reluctant to grant. Relations between the mainland and Hong Kong are also rather complicated. On one hand, people in Hong Kong like mainland tourists as they are the biggest spenders in Hong Kong. On the other hand, they also blame mainlanders for stealing the jobs from Hongkongers as mainlanders are usually willing to accept a much lower pay. To sum it up, avoid political discussions unless you know the situation or you listen well.
Hong Kong has communications facilities as modern as anywhere in the world. The cost, particularly for mobile phone users, is one of the cheapest globally.
Postal services are efficient and of high quality. You will find post offices in major city areas and outside of opening hours, coin-operated stamp vending machines. You can buy stamps (sets of ten stamps of $1.4, $2.4, $3) from many convenience stores such as 7-Eleven or Circle K (OK). It is relatively inexpensive to ship your purchases back home from any Post Office.
Hong Kong has one of the highest penetrations of broadband in the world, and almost all homes and businesses are connected to the Internet through high-bandwidth broadband connections. Cyber cafes are widespread in the city, but they are generally geared towards gamers and some require a deposit, usually around HK$100.
For simple internet access, you may want to go to free computer terminals in cafes such as Pacific Coffee Company and sometimes Starbucks. Free terminals can be found in some public areas, such as shopping malls, the airport, the MTR (e.g. Wanchai station, Central Station, Tsim Sha Shui Station) and public libraries.
Hong Kong Central Library
The Hong Kong Central Library in Causeway Bay, opposite Victoria Park, has hundreds of free computer terminals and free ethernet ports if you bring a notebook computer; Wireless access is provided free of charge in the library. Power outlets are also available.
Free Wi-Fi access is now available from most government premises including public libraries; see the Hong Kong Government Wifi website  for exact locations. A daily allotment of 20 minutes free Wi-Fi is available from coffeeshops such as Starbucks and some fast food chains such as McDonald's. You may also choose to stand outside a phone booth or a 7-Eleven store. A wifi prepaid access card is somewhat expensive in Hong Kong and not worth the trouble.
The standard prefix for international calls is 001, but there are also other prefixes, for different long distance phone companies. All prefixes start from either 0 or 1. Just remember to make sure your phone is registered in the respective company first.
Hong Kong's country-code is 852 (different from China (86) and Macau). Local phone numbers (mobile and landlines) are typically 8 digits; no area codes are used. All numbers that begin with 5, 6 or 9 are mobile numbers, while numbers beginning with 2 or 3 are fixed line numbers. For the operator, dial 1000. For police, fire or ambulance services dial 999.
Mobile phone subscriber penetration is very high (115% in 2004). Hong Kong has a total of 11 different mobile operators, of which CSL is the largest. If you have a GSM handset (GSM 900, 1800) or W-CDMA (UMTS or 3G-GSM) handset, purchase a prepaid SIM card to use in your phone. They can be bought for cash at most convenience stores. Cheaper 2G (from any provider) and newer 3G cards (only from 3) are available, but both are relatively inexpensive. If your CDMA handset has a SIM slot, you can pick up the less popular CDMA SIM cards (only from 3), note that the CDMA network is not popular in Hong Kong, so coverage is not as great as that of GSM and W-CDMA (UMTS). A card with value of around $50 should be sufficient unless you are making international calls or you plan on using data services (3's HSDPA mobile broadband SIM is most likely cheaper at $48 per day than using the hotel's internet connection). Most cards provide standard services such as SMS and voice mail. For the adventurous types, discounted prepaid SIM Cards can be purchased in Ap Liu Street in Sham Shui Po, and "Sin Daat" arcade in Mongkok (Argyle St - close to Lady street). Cheap GSM and 3G phones can be purchased here as well (be careful, some phones sold here are 3G only). Mobile phone numbers also have eight digits and begin with 5, 6 or 9.
For those on short visits, international roaming is available in Hong Kong onto its GSM 900/1800 and 3G networks, subject to agreements between operators. For those coming from the mainland, some China Unicom SIMs will provide Hong Kong roaming at purchase time, and China Mobile provides a dual-number service which results in cheaper rates than straight roaming.
Although the mobile phone toll in Hong Kong is one of the lowest in the world, all mobile phone companies charge for BOTH incoming and outgoing calls (similar to USA, but different from most European countries, Japan, Taiwan or Korea) and this includes the unfortunate situation of having to pay to listen to increasingly common spam (advertising) calls. Coverage is generally excellent and is available on almost all operators even when underground, including the whole MTR system, on board the trains and cross-harbour tunnels.
Payphones are available and $1 is for a local call for 5 minutes usually. If you don't have a mobile and need to make a short local call, most restaurants, supermarkets and shops will oblige if you ask nicely. Public payphones are becoming more and more difficult to find on streets nowadays, the take is to go into any MTR/train stations, they always have payphones there. The airport has a courtesy phone just before you step out of the glassed area after the customs - you cannot go back there once you have left.
- Macau, the former Portuguese colony and present gambling haven is just an hour away by TurboJet  ferry. Ticket prices start at $141 for the one-hour ride to Macau. The ferry building is near the Sheung Wan MTR station on Hong Kong Island. Less frequent ferries are also available from New World First Ferry  in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.
- Shenzhen, mainland China boomtown just across the border can be reached by KCR East Rail in about 40 minutes. The train is convenient if you are keen on shopping as it terminates in the Lo Wu commercial centre. Another alternative, especially if you are starting from the island is the ferry to Shekou which takes around 50 minutes and costs around $100.
- Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province can be reached by train within 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on Guangdong Line . If you are on a budget, many cross border buses are available throughout Hong Kong. The trip will take more than 3 hours, including going through customs at the border and changing buses. Check bus schedules and fares online .
- The Wikitravel itinerary A week near Hong Kong has suggestions for travel from Hong Kong to nearby destinations.
- Another itinerary Overland Kunming to Hong Kong covers one route to or from Hong Kong.
- Hong Kong Culinary Tour gives a short tour to discover the unique cuisine of Hong Kong.
This page was last edited at 12:37, on 27 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Martin Cox, michael plummer, jan and Ian Sergeant, Wikitravel user(s) Marboy and Jonathan 784, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.