We keep receiving questions and requests from travellers who are planning their trips to Hong Kong. Generally, first time travellers ask for Hong Kong travel tips. First timers are indeed excited about their trip, but they are also uncertain about a lot of things, including visa, language, accommodation, shopping, transport etc. With this easy to understand guide you’ll be able to explore the place better.
1. Visa and currency
Some rules to visit Hong Kong have been changed and you must know them before you pack your bags.
- Effective from January 23, 2017, nationals must apply for and successfully complete online pre-arrival registration before they can continue to enjoy the current 14-day visa-free visit.
- Visa is On-Arrival and will be as per the norm of Immigration Department of Hong Kong
- You should carry international debit or credit cards. International cards may charge additional amounts for usage, you need to clarify this with your card provider.
- There’s no minimum currency required for Visa, but approx. 5000 HKD in cash is recommended from Travel Triangle.
- Exchange currency at banks in Hong Kong to get better rates.
2. Transfers for first time travellers
Here are some useful tips about transfer from the airport. It’s always good to know them before you start your journey to HK.
- Be on time for the transfer procedure, for the shuttle at Hong Kong International Airport will only wait for 10 minutes for Seat-in-Coach (SIC) transfers. For private transfers, the cab driver will wait only for 20 minutes.
- Private transfer is available anytime between 5:00 am to 11:00 pm. If you reach before 5:00 am, you’ll have to arrange a cab for yourself.
- SIC services in Hong Kong start from 7:00 am and operates till 9:00 pm every hour. In case you missed your shuttle, you’ll have to wait for the next one.
- You should always head to the gate number mentioned on your voucher.
- Use HKIA SkyPier Service once you have arrived at HKIA and looking for a direct ferry service to Macau. If you have your luggage with you, arrive at the SkyPier desk 60 minutes before the scheduled sailing time. Passengers without luggage should reach at the desk 30 minutes before the scheduled sailing time.
- The closing time for Turbojet Airport Routes Check-in Counter is 75 minutes (with baggage) before the scheduled sailing time.
- Each passenger is allowed to carry one piece of check-in baggage free of charge. Economy Class passengers are allowed to carry 20 Kg and Super Class passengers are allowed to carry 30Kg.
Documents and Other Details
- You must always carry your original passport, tickets, and the contact details of your travel agent.
- You must carry your 2 photographs and your face should take 70% of the photo with a light coloured background. It is required for Visa on arrival.
- Make sure your passport is valid for at least next six months with a blank page in it.
3. Smart shopping
You’ll find shops in every possible space in Hong Kong. You’ll be spoilt for choices in this shoppers’ paradise. Serious shoppers love HK for the wide variety of goods and shopping places. These small tips will help you shop better in HK:
- Most of the department stores in HK have price clearly visible on items, which means it’s a fixed price and the attendant is not willing to give any discount. If you don’t see prices clearly visible on good, you have a scope of bargaining.
- One of the best travel tips for hong kong visitors is to always check prices in a few shops before you buy anything because shopkeepers tend to overcharge tourists.
- Hong Kong has a wide range of colourful Chinese antiques, but if you are a serious antique buyer, you should restrict yourself to known antique shops and auction houses.
- If you love collecting art, you can find commercial art galleries along Wyndham Street, Sheung Wan, and Hollywood Road. They mainly sell artworks of Chinese and other Asian artists.
- For a complete local shopping experience, you must visit the mini malls if Tsim Sha Tsui. You can buy trendy things, including clothes, imitation jewellery, footwears at cheap rates. Explore Granville Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, and Cheung Sha Wan Road in Sham Shui Po for cheap clothes.
- You can also explore the street markets on Temple Street in Yau Ma Tei and Tung Street in Mong Kok for cheap clothes.
4. Choosing the right accommodation
One of the best Hong Kong travel tips include accommodation advice. Accommodation in Hong Kong is something that’ll probably be the heaviest chunk of your travel budget, which means you must do your homework.
- If you don’t want to spend too much on your accommodation, your best bet is a guesthouse. Guesthouses in Hong Kong are clean, comfortable, and air-conditioned. Ensure your safety by staying in only licensed guesthouses. See the complete list of licensed guesthouses on Home Affairs Department’s official website.
- You can go for some decent budget hotels in Hong Kong. There have accommodation for every budget type.
- Some hotels may ask for a refundable security deposit. If you’ve paid in cash, you’ll get the refund at the time of check-out, but if you’ve paid through card, it’ll reflect in your bank account in a week or so.
5.Commutation and Transport in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has a developed transport network, encompassing both public and private transport. Tourists have plenty of options to go around. Here are a few tips to make your travel hassle-free:
- Buy a Sold Tourist Octopus card at the airport at 7-Eleven store or the On-loan Octopus near the exit for better offers.
- Sold Tourist Octopus card is the most convenient way to pay for your travel in Hong Kong. The card is a rechargeable smart-card that can be used to pay for most forms of public transport, including Bus, MTR Trains, Ferry, and Trams. You can also use the card to pay for your food at fast food restaurants. The charges are generally 5-10% cheaper than regular fare.
- You can add value to your card at any Add Value Machine at all MTR stations, Customer Service Centres of MTR, the Airport Express etc. You can store up to HK$ 1,000 in the card.
- MTR or Airport Express Customer Service Centre will refund remaining balance on your card.
- Avoid rush hours (8am to 9.30am and 5.30pm to 7pm), for the MTR’s interchange stations are jam packed during at that time.
- Drinking and eating on MTR and buses is not allowed.
There’ll be many times during your trip when you’ll have to negotiate for something or ask the way, but the locals may not be well versed with English. Here are a few tips that’ll help you survive in HK:
- You don’t have to be fluent in English while talking to the natives.
- Speak slowly while talking to them.
- Don’t use fancy or difficult English terms. Keep it simple.
- You can learn their actions if you aren’t able to explain by words.
- You can also learn a few Cantonese phrases online.
Good to know Cantonese phrases:
- Hello – Néih hóu (pronunciation: Neyi Hou)
- Good Morning – jóusàhn (pronunciation: Sou San)
- How are you doing? – néih hóu ma (pronunciation: Layi Hou Maa)
- I don’t speak Cantonese – ngóh m̀hsìk góng gwóngdùngwá (pronunciation: Wa sihk gwong dung waa)
- I’m a vegetarian – ngóh sihk jāai (pronunciation: Wa sihk taai)
- How much is it? – Géidō chín a (pronunciation: gei cin aa)
- Are there any discounts? – yau mou zit aa (pronunciation: yau mou zit aa)
7. Eating etiquette for tourists in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is home to approx. 10,000 restaurants and thousands of street food stalls, majority of them specialize in Cantonese dishes. While there are plenty of dining options for you to choose from, you’ll also find some little differences that make a place seem foreign. Here are some tips to save you in a foreign country:
- Always keep tissues with yourself. Why? Because most of the restaurants don’t offer them.
- You should leave some food on your plate at the end of each course. This shows that you were satisfied with the food and the host offered you enough to eat.
- Learn to eat with chopsticks as most of the small restaurants do not have forks.
- Don’t stick the chopsticks in your rice bowl standing straight up because it resembles the ritual of incense-burning during funeral.
- Don’t put your chopsticks across each other, it is thought to bring bad luck.
In most cafes, tea is served unsweetened. You can sweeten it to your own liking.
Hong Kong is one of the safest places in the world for tourists and there’s very little to worry about. It is the place where crime rates are extremely low and safety standards are quite high. However, tourists should be cautious and keep the things in mind:
- Be smart while walking the streets of HK and be aware of people approaching you on the street. Foreigners are more likely to become a victim of con tricks like foreign exchange and fake goods.
- Use a safe at your hotel to avoid carrying valuables in public transportation places.
- While carrying a wallet, keep your IDs separate so that you don’t lose them.