Container Port of Hong Kong
Passengers touching down at Hong Kong's new International Airport are awe-struck by the enormity of the facility. It is one of the largest, busiest, most modern passenger terminals in the entire world. The Airport Express train, public busses, ferry service and taxis are on hand to transport you to the city. Travelers should exchange sufficient money for transportation at the airport exchange facility located immediately outside the baggage claim area. Upon arrival and departure in Hong Kong, visitors are asked to fill in the health declaration form provided to all passengers (including transit passengers) at the airport, ports and border points. There are number of taxes levied by the Hong Kong Airport Authority such as the Air Passenger Departure Tax (APDT) and the Airport Security Surcharge (ASS). Some of these charges may already be included in your ticket purchase so check with your travel agent for up to date information. Like almost anywhere, visitors to Hong Kong must hold a passport valid beyond the intended length of stay and evidence of onward / return transportation by sea / air. Visas and vaccinations are not a prerequisite for most countries but, as always, it is a good idea to check with your local Chinese embassy or consulate. Frequent visitors should look into a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Travel Pass available through the immigration department. Visas for mainland China can be obtained in Hong Kong through the Visa Office of People's Republic of China, Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in Hong Kong, China Travel Service (HK) Ltd, or China International Travel Service HK Ltd. For the most current information concerning entry and exit requirements, travelers should consult the Hong Kong Immigration Department homepage: http://www.info.gov.hk/immd/
Street side shop in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Hong Kong is subtropical and therefore humid conditions prevail with moderate temperature fluctuations depending on the season. Extreme weather, although rare, comes in the form of tropical cyclones or depressions. Ample and adequate warning signals are given to alert the public. In springtime (Mar.-May), evenings can be cool enough to warrant a lightweight jacket or sweater. Summer (June-Sept.) has the humidity at its highest (86% avg.) and temperatures hover between 18C-33C. Be warned that air conditioned buildings can set you to shivering. Autumn sees clear sunny days and wonderful temperatures-even the humidity is backed off some. Winter months are from December to February and generally mild with occasional drops in temperature to a chilly 10C (50F).
Hong Kong Dollar
There are 100 cents in one Hong Kong dollar (HKD). Coins are in denominations as follows: bronze coloured 10, 20, and 50-cent pieces; 1, 2, and 5-dollar coins which are silver in colour; and finally, the 10-dollar coin of nickel and bronze. Notes come in 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000-dollar amounts.
Most places in the world charge a minor commission to exchange currency and Hong Kong is no different. Moneychangers are obliged by law to display rates of exchange. Whether dealing with a hotel, retail outlet or moneychanger, you are well advised to check rates and all applicable commissions before handing over your cash or travellers checks. Receipts must be issued by law. There are no restrictions on currencies being brought in or taken out of Hong Kong. ATMs (automated teller machines) are found almost everywhere. Major credit card holders can usually pay for their transaction with their card or access local currency via ATMs or banks.
UTC / GMT (+8 hours) Eight in the evening in Hong Kong means it is lunchtime in London, 7 am in New York and Los Angeles is still asleep at 4 am. During summer (daylight savings time), add one hour to the above.
Major banks open from 9 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday, and 9 am to 12:30 pm on Saturday. Some banking services are not available an hour before closing. Generally, business hours are weekdays 9:00 am-5:00 pm, and Saturdays 9:00 am-1:00 pm. The vast majority of shops are open seven days a week from 10:00 am-7:00 pm although some busy retail areas like Causeway Bay and the popular tourist haunts of Kowloon stay open even later.
Bank of China and Citibank
Thoroughly modern telecommunication services are available to Hong Kong visitors. Rent a cellular phone at the airport if your home network is not covered by one of Hong Kong's many international roaming service agreements. Payphones, fax and internet access are easy to find. Dependable postal service is readily available and inexpensive. International newspapers are available at major hotels, bookstores and news stands. The South China Morning Post and The Standard are both local English-language dailies. There are also a couple of English-language television channels as well as cable and satellite networks.
220 volts AC (50 cycles) Some better hotels supply hairdryers and such.
Close to 98 percent of the Hong Kong residences are Cantonese Chinese and as such the Cantonese dialect is the official language along with English. Street signs, telephone directories, and most government documents are written in both languages.
Lightweight clothing from fabrics that 'breathe' is best. Depending on the time of year, you may want to consider a woollen sweater or coat. Casual dress is appropriate for most occasions unless the establishment dictates a more formal attire.
Chinese New Year fireworks display at Victoria Harbour
The Hong Kong Tourist Authority publishes a complimentary booklet called Places of Interest by Public Transport, which is full of helpful tips, area maps, and routing advice. The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is considered the easiest way to get around even if the public bus or ferry is more economical. What trip to Hong Kong would be complete without a crossing on the famous Star Ferry or a ride on the Peak Tram? A great way to tour the length of the north shore from Kennedy Town to the Shau Kei Wan district is on the turn of the century double-decker streetcars. Taxis come in three colours and correspond to areas of service: red for Hong Kong Island, green for New Territories, and blue for Lantau Island (where the international airport is located). They are metered and air conditioned with drivers who speak reasonably good English. An Octopus card frees you from fumbling for exact change required on most public transport. You can even use it in convenience stores or fast food outlets. Being an electronic stored-value card enables you to simply place it on the card-reading device and the fare is deducted automatically. Unused credit is refunded along with your deposit when you return the card. It is available at the Airport Express Customer Service Counters on Level 5 of the Hong Kong International Airport, and most public transport customer service centres.
Qualified doctors and dental surgeons, many of whom are western-trained, provide a level of care commensurate with international health organisations standards. Visitors are required to pay HKD 570 if they make use of the Accident and Emergency services in Hong Kong public hospitals. The Hong Kong Government assures visitors they will receive the emergency care they require. People who cannot pay immediately will be billed later. For complete details, contact the Hospital Authority's website: http://www.ha.org.hk/