Hong Kong – “The Pearl of the East”
Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate with distinct seasons. In May, temperature and humidity are rising. Evenings can be cool. The average temperature ranges from 17oC – 26 oC. The only predictable weather events that could have a significant impact on your travel plans are typhoons. Typhoon season begins in May and ends in November. When a typhoon is approaching, warnings are broadcast on television and radio. You can find detailed weather updates for tourist attractions on the Hong Kong Weather Information for Tourists website.
English is widely spoken in Hong Kong and is the language of preference in the government, business and tourism sectors. As a visitor, you can expect to encounter minimal problems communicating in English, as most taxi drivers, salespeople, tourism industry employees and police have reached competent levels of the language. Also, all official signs and public transport announcements, as well as most menus, are in both English and Chinese.
Visitors from most countries can enter Hong Kong without a visa for periods of seven to 180 days, depending on nationality. Check with the Hong Kong Immigration Department for details about visa requirements.
Immigration & Customs
It is against Hong Kong law, to bring some items into Hong Kong. All travellers, including those transiting through Hong Kong International Airport, are liable for prosecution if they are found in possession of these dangerous items. Check for tips and advice here before you travel.
You can buy a Prepaid Calling Card or Mobile Data Prepaid SIM Card from major convenient stores at the airport or in town. For instance, the Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM Card offers voice calls and local mobile data services. Alternatively, you may use the roaming services if available. Mobile operators in Hong Kong also have roaming agreements with most overseas operators enabling visitors to use their own mobile phone when they come to Hong Kong. Before leaving home check with your network provider to make sure they have a roaming service to the various destinations you will be visiting and be sure to check pricing.
Since the mid-1980s, the value of the Hong Kong dollar has been pegged at HKD7.8 to the US dollar, and consequent rates of exchange to other currencies. However, the market rate exchange to the US dollar fluctuates marginally. Banks and money changers charge commission. Similarly, commissions are payable in hotels and major retail outlets which provide exchange facilities for their customers.
The standard electrical voltage in Hong Kong is 220 volts AC, 50HZ, so you will need an adaptor for your 100-volt appliances and electrical equipment. The majority of electrical outlets in Hong Kong take a three-pronged plug. You can buy an inexpensive adaptor for your equipment when you arrive in Hong Kong.
Fun, Shopping & Dining
The vast majority of shops are open every day throughout the year, some only closing during the Chinese New Year holiday. Generally, opening hours are 10:00am – 7:00pm. However many stores in busy retail areas like Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui stay open until 9:30pm or even later, particularly on weekends. Shops in Central close as early as 7:00pm.
Most restaurants will levy a 10% service charge but waiters will expect to be given some loose change. Restaurants, which do not add a service charge, will expect a 10% tip. However, tipping is left to your discretion. Bellboys, porters, restroom attendants and taxi drivers will happily accept loose change.
Visit the Hong Kong Tourism Board for various travel guides while planning your fabulous trip in Hong Kong.