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Practical Tips of Getting Around in Hong Kong
Strategically located at the doorstep of China and the centre of the Asia Pacific basin, Hong Kong has developed over the last 150 years into one of the world's leading financial, manufacturing, trading and service centres. Its open economy is built on free trade and free enterprise. Geographically, the territory is divided into four distinct areas: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories and the outlying Islands.
Government departments and most of the offices of commercial establishments are open from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays. Some are open on Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm. Most shops and department stores are open from 10 am to 9 pm. There are also 24-hour convenience shops located all around Hong Kong.
The standard voltage in Hong Kong is 220V AC/50 cycles. The plug/socket system is a 3-retangular-pin type.
English and Chinese are the official languages. Street signs, menus and tourist and government publications are usually bilingual.
Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world. Policemen patrol frequently and are very helpful to visitors. However, proper precautions for all tourists or visitors are called for. For any police emergency, please call 999.
International direct dialling (IDD), Internet, e-mail facilities are easily accessible in Hong Kong. Most of the mobile telephone systems used around the globe operate in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong local time is GMT+8 hours.
Most hotels have a medical clinic with registered nurses. Qualified doctors are on duty at specified hours and on call 24 hours for emergency treatment. There are also many government and private hospitals with 24-hour emergency and outpatient departments. All hotels have lists of recommended medical services. For any medical emergency, please call 999.
Many world-class banks have branches in Hong Kong. Most banks are open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, and some of them are also open from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. There is no foreign exchange control in the territory and the Hong Kong dollar is freely convertible. In Hong Kong, any currency, including Mainland China's renminbi (RMB), may be bought and sold in the open market. Visitors can exchange foreign currency at any bank or exchange shop or at the cashier counters of hotels. Daily exchange rates are available through any bank or on the website of The Hong Kong Association of Banks, but the Hong Kong dollar is pegged at HK$7.8 to US$1. The government issues coins in denominations of 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2, $5 and $10. There are also three different kinds of bank notes issued by 3 different note-issuing banks in denominations of $10, $20, $50, $100, $500 and $1,000.
Most credit cards are accepted in Hong Kong and can be used to obtain cash at banks and automatic teller machines (ATMs). ATMs can be easily found in most places around Hong Kong, and provide 24-hour cash withdrawal.
Discover Hong Kong
Renowned as the culinary capital of Asia, Hong Kong boasts more than 11,000 restaurants, many of them clustered in defined food districts. Apart from enjoying the best Cantonese and regional Chinese food, visitors can sample a full choice of authentic Asian cuisines and Western fare.
Hong Kong offers a host of memorable tourist attractions within its compact area, with The Peak, Victoria Harbour and the Giant Buddha among the most awe-inspiring. You'll be amazed by the diverse contrasts and close proximity of stunning cityscapes and soaring mountains, heritage sites and extensive green countryside.
Hong Kong's efficient and low-cost public transport system includes railways, buses, trams, taxis and ferries. There are three road-only tunnels under the harbour.
To and From the Airport
From 6 July 1998, travellers to Hong Kong have been served by one of the world's largest and most modern airports situated at the Chek Lap Kok on the outlying island of Lantau. The easiest connection from the airport to Central and Kowloon is the Airport Express Railway, which takes just 21 minutes to get to Kowloon, and an extra 3 minutes to Hong Kong. Adult single journey fare is HK$100. In addition, express bus service called “Airbus” operates on frequent schedules to popular spots in the city, with stops near most major hotels. An overnight bus service will cover the airport's 24-hour operation. Taxis are also an option and fares from Chek Lap Kok range from HK$200-HK$400.
In December 2007, the operations of Mass Transit Railway (MTR) [Tel: (852) 2881-8888] and Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCR) has been merged to form one of the most efficient and far-reaching railway networks in Asia. The newly expanded system extends all the way from the heart of Central and Causeway Bay to the New Territories and Lantau Island. It covers 80 stations on the Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan, Island, Tung Chung, Tseung Kwan O, East Rail, West Rail, Ma On Shan and Disneyland Resort lines. The MTR now also operates an Airport Express and Light Rail networks, which can take you to Hong Kong Airport and 68 stops in the North West New Territories. It also provides speedy through train services to major cities across Mainland China.
Trams ply the northern shore of Hong Kong Island at a fixed fare of HK$2.3 from 6am to midnight. There is also the century-old Peak Tram, a funicular railway which runs up to the Peak from 7am to midnight at about 15-minute intervals. Tel: (852) 2522-0922.
The Star Ferry Co [Tel: (852) 2366-2576] operates a shuttle service between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Ferries between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui run every few minutes from 6.30am to 11.30pm. Other Star Ferry boats connect Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui (7.30am-11pm). The Wan Chai Ferry Pier is within a few minutes walk the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Taxi fares are charged by metered tariff. When crossing the harbour by a cross-harbour tunnel, the two-way tunnel toll is added to the fare. With the other tunnels, only the one-way toll is added. There is an extra charge per piece of luggage (both of these extra charges are signposted in the taxi). Flagfall and charges are displayed. Tipping is usually confined to small change. There are two taxi jurisdictions in Hong Kong -- urban and New Territories. Radio taxis: Tel: (852) 2574-7311 / (852) 2527-6324 (Hong Kong Island), (852) 2760-0411 / (852) 2670-0477 (Kowloon), (852) 2457-2266 / (852) 2697-4333 (New Territories).
Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city that welcomes visitors from all around the world. The city has been home to a vibrant Muslim community for more than a century, and today numbers more than 80,000 people. As a result, Muslim visitors will have no difficulty in following their daily religious duties. A range of restaurants throughout the city serve Halal food, with Halal certificates issued by the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong. Cuisines include Indian, Pakistani, Middle Eastern, Western, Chinese and Indonesian. There are four mosques in Hong Kong, all of which are happy to play host to overseas Muslim visitors. Three are located on Hong Kong Island, while the fourth is in Kowloon.
According to Hong Kong Immigration Department, nationals of most foreign countries can visit Hong Kong visa-free. Applicants may submit their visa applications directly to Hong Kong Immigration Department, or through Chinese diplomatic or consular missions in their place of domicile.
Enquiries can be directed to:
Hong Kong Immigration Department
Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong.
Tel : (852) 2824-6111
Fax : (852) 2877-7711
Visas for travelling to Chinese mainland
All travellers to the Chinese Mainland, except Hong Kong Chinese residents, require visas. The Mainland issues single-entry, double-entry and multiple-entry (six months, unlimited entry) visas, the latter designed for frequent travellers who have long-term business establishments (e.g. joint ventures) on the Mainland. The Visa Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC is located at 7th Floor, Lower Block, China Resources Building, No.26, Harbor Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong SAR, Tel: (852) 3413-2300 / 3413-2424. Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon., 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and the China Travel Service at various locations, Central office, Tel: (852) 2853-3888, Mongkok office, Tel: (852) 2998-7888. Many travel agencies specialising in China travel can also obtain visas. The China Travel Service normally takes 48 hours to issue a visa, but can do so in one day for a premium. The Visa Office takes 24 hours and also offers a premium same-day service.