Situated at the mouth of the Pearl River on the southeast coast of China, Hong Kong is made up of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories, covering an area of 1,104 sq. km. Running up to the boundary with Mainland China, the New Territories contains 262 outlying islands, including Lantau where the airport is located.
Hong Kong is one of the world’s most immigration-friendly cities as travelers from some 170 countries and territories enjoy visa-free access to the city for stays of between seven and 180 days. However, all visitors to Hong Kong must have a passport that is valid for at least one month after the period of their intended stay in Hong Kong. For further details of visa requirements, please check with the Hong Kong Immigration Department.
Hong Kong has a subtropical climate with distinct seasons. December is one of the best seasons to visit Hong Kong, sunny and warm.
The legal tender is the Hong Kong dollar (HK$), which is linked to the US dollar at a rate of about 7.80 HKD to 1 USD. Currency for Hong Kong dollars can be exchanged at authorised money exchangers in town, or at the Hong Kong International Airport, where the currency exchange counters are open from early morning to late at night. 24-hour automated teller machines are also conveniently located throughout the territory.
Traveller's Cheques & Credit Cards
All leading banks and hotels accept Traveller's cheques. Major credit cards such as American Express, VISA, MasterCard and Diners Club are also widely acceptable at hotels, retail shops and restaurants.
Hong Kong provides free local private landline facility. Visitors can also use the public phones which cost only HK$1 for five minutes, or use the phone in the hotel room, which usually make a charge. International Direct Dial (IDD) service to most countries and regions of the world is available at most of the hotels in Hong Kong. Mobile phone users should find it convenient in Hong Kong as most of the wireless systems used around the world, such as GSM 900, PCS 1800, CDMA and WCDMA operate here. Local SIM cards or mobile phones can easily be rented in the telecom shops around Hong Kong or at the airport.
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 local network provider to make sure they have a roaming service to Hong Kong.
Most hotels provide broadband Internet access for a fee. Visitors can also access the Internet for free in some MTR stations, and at many coffee shops in town.
Free WiFi service is available at HK International Airport and some busy MTR stations such as Causeway Bay, Central, Tsim Sha Tsui etc. There is also Free GovWiFi service in some government buildings including some public libraries.
The standard electrical voltage in HK is 220 volts AC, 50HZ. Most hotel bathrooms also have outlets for 100 volts, but you will need a transformer for any appliance or electrical equipment. The majority of electrical outlets in Hong Kong take a three-pronged UK-type plug. Inexpensive adaptors can be bought at supermarkets or grocery stores in Hong Kong.
The normal office hours in Hong Kong are 9am - 5pm or longer on weekdays, and 9am - 1pm on Saturdays. Major banks are open 9am - 4:30pm on weekdays, 9am - 12:30pm on Saturdays, and closed on Sundays and public holidays. The HKSAR Government adopts a five-day workweek for Hong Kong civil servants but emergency and essential services are not affected.
Most retail shops open every day throughout the year and some only close during the Chinese New Year holiday. Generally, shops open from 10am to7pm. Shops in business districts like Central close as early as 7pm, while shops in some busy retail areas like Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui stay open until 10pm or even later, particularly on weekends.
Majority of the restaurants, especially those in busy retail areas, stay open until 11pm or later, while some bars and clubs in areas such as Lan Kwai Fong, Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui keep going through the night.
Chinese and English are the official languages of Hong Kong, and all official documents and signs are bilingual. Over 88% of the people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese, though English is also widely used in the Government and by the legal, professional and business sectors as well as tourist areas. Most people in the retail and servicing industries are able to communicate in English.
Taxis: A taxi ride from the Hong Kong International Airport to the Kowloon costs around HK$ 250-HK$300 and takes approximately 40 minutes. Urban taxis are red and the current rates are HK$20 for the first two kilometers and HK$1.50 for each additional 0.2 kilometer travelled. Additional charges for luggage and tolls may apply.
Airport Express: Airport Express is the fastest train service connecting the Hong Kong International Airport and downtown Hong Kong. Trains depart every 12-minutes from 0550 to 0115 hours daily, with the last train leaving the Airport Station at 0048 hours. The Airport Express takes 20 minutes to Kowloon and 24 minutes to Central.
Mass Transit Railway (MTR): MTR is the main public transportation in the urban area. The official venue, the Crowne Plaza Kowloon East is linked to the MTR subway station "Tseung Kwan O" of the Tseung Kwan O line. For more information about the MTR operations, download either the MTR Apps onto your smart phone, or the MTR map.