In general, 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. However, documents issued to stateless persons must be valid for a minimum of two months after the period of the intended stay. Please contact Immigration Department for details.
Nationals of most countries do not require visas and can stay for periods varying from 7 days to 180 days, depending on nationality. Visa-free countries include but not limited to: Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, The Philippines, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, U.S.A., etc. If unsure of status, check with any Chinese embassy or consulate. Please check the details about visa requirements on Immigration Department's website.
Visit to Hong Kong
About Hong Kong
The bustling city of Hong Kong was just a collection of fishing villages when claimed by Britain in 1842 following the First Opium War with China. This failed attempt by the Ching Dynasty to stop the British trading in opium led to Hong Kong being ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Nanking that year. The Kowloon Peninsula was handed over in 1860 and a 99-year lease on the New Territories, comprising the area north of Kowloon up to the Shenzhen River plus 235 outlying islands, was granted in 1898.
Under the unique principle of 'One Country, Two Systems', Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty on 1 July 1997 as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. This arrangement allows Hong Kong to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, retaining its capitalist system, independent judiciary and rule of law, free trade and freedom of speech.
Hong Kong's magnificent harbour has been the key to its development as a trading port and entrep?t for China, progressing through an industrial era to become a leading financial and services centre in Asia. The unique blend of eastern and western influences, matched by diverse attractions and stunning countryside, has also made Hong Kong Asia's prime tourist destination.
Despite its dense urban environment, about three quarters of Hong Kong's total area is countryside, including about 40% designated as country parks and special areas that are all easily accessible.
Hong Kong has a subtropical climate with distinct seasons. Spring is from March to May, temperature and humidity are rising, evenings can be cool. Summer is from June to August, the weather is hot, humid and sunny, with occasional showers and thunderstorms. The temperature can exceed 31°C. Autumn is from September to November, there are pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. Many people regard these as the best months of the year to visit Hong Kong. Winter is from December to February. The weather is cool, dry and cloudy, with occasional cold fronts. The temperature can drop below 10°C in urban areas.
You can find detailed current and seasonal weather information at the Hong Kong Observatory website. When in Hong Kong, dial 1878-200 and press '3' for English to check the latest situation.
Cantonese is the Chinese dialect spoken by over 88% of the people in Hong Kong. However, English is widely used in the Government and by the legal, professional and business sectors as well as tourist areas. Most taxi drivers and salespeople are able to communicate in English.
Chinese (Cantonese is widely spoken) and English are the official languages of Hong Kong. All official signs are bilingual (using traditional characters). Most shops and restaurants also have English signage, though don't expect this from the more local or rural establishments.
To help you interact with local people, here are some useful Cantonese phrases .
The legal tender is the Hong Kong dollar (HK$), which is pegged to the US dollar at a rate of about 7.80 HKD to 1 USD, although exchange rates may fluctuate slightly.
The Octopus card is a stored value electronic card widely used in Hong Kong for public transport, purchases in convenience stores, fast food shops, supermarkets, cake shops and vending machines, etc. You simply place the Octopus card over a reader, and the correct amount is deducted automatically from the stored value. With an Octopus card, you no longer need coins.
You can exchange your currency for Hong Kong dollars at authorised money exchangers. At Hong Kong International Airport, currency exchange counters are conveniently open from early morning to late at night. The exchange rate fluctuates daily depending on the money market.
Automated teller machines (ATMs) can be found almost everywhere and some HSBC 'Electronic Money' machines provide 24-hour cash withdrawal (HK$) facilities for Visa and MasterCard holders. American Express cardholders have access to 'Aeon' ATMs and can withdraw local currency with Express Cash service in town.
In emergency situations, you can contact the local police, ambulance service, fire department and other emergency services by calling 999.
If you lose your passport, make a 'lost report' at the nearest police station (call Police Hotline 2527 7177 for locations or refer to their website "Report Room"). Then contact your consulate to have your passport replaced.
Normal office hours in Hong Kong are 9am - 5pm or longer (depending on the kind of business) on weekdays, and 9am - 1pm on Saturdays. Major banks are open 9am - 4:30pm on weekdays, and 9am - 12:30pm on Saturdays. Closed Sundays and public holidays. In 2006, the HKSAR Government started to adopt a five-day workweek for Hong Kong civil servants. Operating standards are being maintained through extended hours for certain weekday counter services and use of alternative means of government dealings. Emergency and essential services are not affected.
Some shops open every day throughout the year, some only close during the Chinese New Year holiday. Generally, opening hours are 10am-7pm. 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 7pm. Most restaurants 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.
Facts and numbers
More than 7 million
220V / 50Hz UK plug
International Calling Code
Dial +852 to call a Hong Kong number from overseas. There are no regional codes.
For more information about Hong Kong, please visit: www.discoverhongkong.com