Hong Kong

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Hong Kong


Hong Kong (香港 hoeng1 gong2 in Cantonese) is a place with multiple personalities. The population is mainly Cantonese but British influence is quite visible. It has absorbed people and cultural influences from places as diverse as Vietnam and Vancouver and proudly proclaims itself to be Asia's World City.

Hong Kong has been a major destination for tourists and business people from around the world for at least a century. Today it is also a major tourism destination for mainland China's increasingly affluent population.

Hong Kong is much more than a harbour city with crowded streets: this territory with its cloudy mountains and rocky islands also offers rural landscapes with breathtaking views. Much of the countryside is classified as Country Park and, although 7.4 million people (2021) are never far away, it is possible to find pockets of wilderness that will reward the more intrepid traveller.

Hong Kong has a subtropical climate with at least one season to match your comfort zone. Boasting one of the world's best airports, it is the ideal first stop for those on their way deeper into China and further Asia.


Map of Hong Kong

  Hong Kong Island (香港島) (Central, East Coast, South Coast)
The site of the original British settlement and the main focus of most tourists. Most of Hong Kong's highest skyscrapers and the financial centre can be found here. Hong Kong Island is more modern and wealthy and considerably more prestigious than the other areas of Hong Kong. The Peak is the tallest point on the island, with the best views and highest real estate values in the world.
  Kowloon (九龍)
The peninsula to the north of Hong Kong Island, with great views of the island. It offers a chaotic mix of malls, street markets, and residential tenements. With over 2.1 million people (2011) living in an area of less than 47 km², Kowloon is one of the most densely populated places in the world. Kowloon includes Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀), the location of many budget hotels and upscale stores, and Mong Kok (旺角), a shopping district.
  New Territories (新界)
Named by British officials when leased from the Chinese government in 1898, the New Territories contain a curious mix of small farms, villages, industrial installations, mountainous country parks and towns that have populations the size of some cities.
  Lantau Island (大嶼山)
A large island west of Hong Kong Island. You will not find many idyllic villages, but once you get over the stray dogs and the ramshackle buildings you will find beautiful mountains and beaches. The airport, Disneyland, and the Ngong Ping cable car are found here.
  Outlying Islands (離島)
These islands surrounding Hong Kong Island are well-known weekend destinations for Hong Kongers. Highlights include Lamma (南丫島), well known for its seafood and Cheung Chau (長洲), a small island that used to be a pirates' den, but now attracts seafood aficionados, windsurfers and sunbathing day trippers.


Capital Victoria
Currency Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
Population 7.4 million (2021)
Electricity 220 volt / 50 hertz (BS 1363)
Country code +852
Time zone UTC+08:00
Emergencies 999
Driving side left

"Hong Kong" translates from Cantonese as "fragrant harbour".

While part of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong operates as a Special Administrative Region with a high degree of autonomy. Visa requirements, laws, currency, culture and language are different from the rest of China, so for most tourists it is like visiting a different country. Since the handover from the British in 1997, Hong Kong has operated under a "One Country, Two Systems" principle, maintaining most laws and government structures from colonial times. Hong Kong enjoys some freedoms unheard of on the Chinese mainland, though they have been curtailed since the National Security Law was imposed in July 2020.



The area of Hong Kong was incorporated into China during the Qin Dynasty in 214 BC, and largely remained under Chinese rule until 1841 during the Qing Dynasty. Hong Kong Island became a British colony in January 1841, as a result of the defeat of the Qing in the First Opium War. After the defeat of China in the Second Opium War, the Kowloon Peninsula was ceded to Great Britain in 1860. The Opium War Museum is located across the border in Dongguan. The New Territories were leased to Great Britain in 1898 for a term of 99 years. Hong Kong was only a sparsely-populated backwater prior to the arrival of the British, but would grow rapidly into one of the world's most densely populated areas following the establishment of a free port under British colonial rule.

When World War II broke out, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared that Hong Kong was an "impregnable fortress". However owing to Britain's main war effort in Europe, Hong Kong was not given sufficient resources for its defence. After slightly more than two weeks of fighting, Hong Kong was surrendered to the Japanese on 25 December 1941, and subject to a brutal occupation that lasted until the end of the war. Upon the resumption of British control, all restrictions on non-Europeans owning property on prime real estate land were lifted, followed by an astonishingly swift post-war recovery.

After the communists took control of mainland China in 1949, many Chinese people, especially businessmen, fled to Hong Kong due to persecution by the communist government. Unlike the restrictive policies imposed by the communists in China, the British government took a rather hands-off approach in Hong Kong, and allowed a high degree of economic freedom. However, various social issues still persisted during the 1950s and 1960s, including the continuation of Communist-Nationalist conflict among residents, labour disputes, and widespread corruption. These problems, when combined with effects of the Cultural Revolution, culminated in the 1967 riots by communist rioters, with an aim to subvert British rule. The riots were eventually suppressed by the authorities, but they forced the colonial government to take measures of reform, such as cracking down on corruption.

Under reforms, businesses flourished in Hong Kong and its economy grew rapidly, earning it a place as one of the East Asian Tigers. Today, Hong Kong is considered to be an industrialised and developed economy, and is one of the world's most important financial centres, along with the likes of New York and London.

Boundary Stone along the Victoria City Boundary at Old Peak Road

In 1984 the Chinese and British Governments signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, Britain agreeing to return Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. On 1 July 1997 Hong Kong became a special administrative region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China. As Hong Kong was the last remaining British colony with a significant population and economic importance, the handover was deemed by many to be the "end of empire". In theory, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy in most matters except foreign affairs and defence.

In 2014, the Umbrella Protest was held to demand free elections for Hong Kong's chief executive. The Chinese government had proposed elections for the position, but would only allow candidates they had screened and approved to stand for election. The proposed amendments to the Basic Law (Hong Kong's equivalent of a constitution) were voted down by the pro-democracy legislators, meaning that the chief executive is still elected by an election committee with limited representation. The protests eventually died down without changing the Chinese position, though they have led to a significant political movement called localism which demands more political autonomy for the territory, and for some even the previously unknown concept of independence from China. In 2016, the Chinese government banned two pro-independence Legislative Council members from taking their seats after they refused to take an oath of loyalty to China.

Simmering tensions eventually led to the breakout of massive and violent protests in June 2019. The protests began in opposition to an extradition bill that would have allowed people to be extradited to mainland China to face criminal charges, but expanded into a wider anti-government movement, and continued even after the extradition bill was withdrawn. In response, the Chinese government imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong in July 2020, outlawing many forms of speech and advocacy against the government. This crackdown has led to a massive brain drain in Hong Kong, with many well-educated young professionals fleeing to Western countries, in particular the United Kingdom and Canada, in search of political freedom.

Despite not being a sovereign state, Hong Kong is a member of some international organisations that are normally restricted to sovereign states, such as the WTO, APEC and the IOC. In these organisations, and in international sports competitions, Hong Kong participates under the name "Hong Kong, China" (中國香港).



Hong Kong Island (香港島) gives the territory of Hong Kong its name and is the place that many tourists regard as the main focus. The parade of buildings that make the Hong Kong skyline has been likened to a glittering bar chart that is made apparent by the presence of the waters of Victoria Harbour. To get the best views of Hong Kong, leave the island and head for the Kowloon waterfront opposite.

View from Tsim Sha Tsui

The great majority of Hong Kong Island's urban development is densely packed on reclaimed land along the northern shore. This is the place the British colonisers took as their own and so if you are looking for evidence of the territory's colonial past, this is a good place to start. Victoria was once the colony's capital but has been re-branded with a more descriptive name, Central. Here you will find the machinery of government grinding away much as it always has done, except that Beijing, not London, is the boss that keeps a watchful eye. Seek a glimpse of government house (香港禮賓府) which had been home to 25 British governors, and is now the official residence of the Chief Executive. Nearby, the Legislative Council (LegCo) continues to make the laws that organise the territory.

Rising up from Central is the Escalator and the Peak Tram. The famous 800-metre escalator passes through the hip district of Soho and takes you into the residential neighbourhood known as the Mid-Levels because it is half-way up the mountain. Up top is Victoria Peak, known locally as The Peak, the tallest point on the island where foreign diplomats and business tycoons compete for the best views of the harbour from some of the most expensive homes to be found anywhere. Most tourists do not go much further than the Peak Tram, but take a short walk to the top and you will escape the crowds and be rewarded with some of the best harbour views. It is worth investing in a good map from leading bookshops in Central if you want to enjoy some of the superb footpaths that crisscross the island.

The southern side of the island has developed into an upmarket residential area with many large houses and expensive apartments with views across the South China Sea. The island's best beaches, such as Repulse Bay, are found here and visitors can enjoy a more relaxed pace of life than on the bustling harbour side of the island. Wan Chai and Causeway Bay are the most visited neighbourhoods on the northern side of the island.

Kowloon (九龍) is the peninsula to the north of Hong Kong Island. With over 2.1 million people living in an area of less than 47 square kilometres, Kowloon is one of the most densely populated places on the planet, and has a matching array of places to shop, eat and sleep. Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀), the tip of the peninsula, is Kowloon's main tourist drag and has a mix of backpacker and high-end hotels. Further north, Mong Kok (旺角) has a huge choice of shops and markets in an area of less than a square kilometre. Kowloon side, as it's often known, managed to escape some of the British influences that characterise the Hong Kong Island side. Kowloon real estate prices are the highest in the world, with multiple flats in West Kowloon setting world records with their multi-million dollar prices thanks to their panoramic views of Victoria Harbour.

The New Territories (新界), so named when the British leased more land from China in 1898, lie north of Kowloon. Often ignored by travellers who have little time to spare, the New Territories offers a diverse landscape that takes time to get to know. Mountainous country parks overlook New Towns that have a clinical form of modernity that has attracted many to move here from mainland China. Public transport and taxis make this area surprisingly accessible if you dare to get out and explore this offbeat place. You will not find many idyllic villages, but once you get over the stray dogs and the ramshackle buildings you will doubtlessly find something that will surprise you and cause you to reach for your camera.

The Outlying Islands (離島) are the generic label for the islands, islets and rocks in the seas around the territory which is made up of a total of 236 islands. Lantau (大嶼山) is by far the largest of them and therefore often considered its own district. The Hong Kong International Airport is built on landfill attached to Lantau. Lantau hosts some of the territory's most idyllic beaches as well as major attractions such as Disneyland and the Ngong Ping cable car. Other islands include Lamma (南丫島), well known for its seafood, and Cheung Chau (長洲), a small island that used to be a pirates' den, but now attracts seafood aficionados, windsurfers and sunbathing day trippers.



The majority of Hong Kong's population are Han Chinese (92%), mostly of Cantonese ancestry, though there are also sizeable numbers of other Chinese groups such as Chiuchao (Teochews), Shanghainese and Hakkas. A significant number of Indians, Pakistanis and Nepalis live here too, some as domestic helpers, though many have families that have lived in Hong Kong for several generations. White people, some of them recruited by local companies and some descended from British colonisers, make up just under 1% of the population. Other smaller communities whose presence in Hong Kong dates back to colonial times include the Parsis and the Baghdadi Jews, though the latter are now far outnumbered by expatriate Jews from Israel and Western countries.

The largest groups of non-Chinese immigrants are Filipinos, Indonesians and Thais, most of whom are employed as domestic helpers. On Sundays, being the free day of these domestic workers, they congregate in their thousands - mostly Filipinas - in Central and Admiralty and spend the day there together, sitting talking, eating and drinking wherever there is free room.

The territory is also home to a significant number of people hailing from Australia, Europe, Japan and North America, making it a truly international metropolis.


Hong Kong skyline at night

Under the policy of the "One Country, Two Systems" arrangement, Hong Kong largely retains its governmental structure from colonial times, with separate executive, legislative and judicial branches.

The head of the executive branch is the chief executive, who leads an Executive Council composed of various cabinet secretaries. The legislative branch is the Legislative Council. The Court of Final Appeal, which is led by the Chief Justice, tops the judicial branch. Unlike in mainland China, Hong Kong has a judiciary based on the British model, and continues to follow the English Common Law system as opposed to the Civil Law system used in mainland China.

Both the chief executive and 70 members of the legislature are elected by interest groups that are largely stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists. 20 members of the legislature are elected by popular vote, but nominations must be approved. The central government in Beijing is therefore effectively in control of both executive and legislative branches.

Most pro-democracy legislators quit in November 2020 in protest against a decision made by Chinese authorities that authorises the Hong Kong government to take down and ban "pro-independence" legislators, resulting in the instantaneous disqualification of 4 legislators. They were later rounded up by the police ostensibly for subversion after a primary election before the next legislative election. The legislature went under another "reform" that abolished the previous constitution of the Legislative Council, in which 35 members were elected by popular vote and the other 35 were elected by business interest groups, a move criticised by Western countries.



Due to its history as part of that region, the local culture in Hong Kong is similar to that of Guangdong province. However, due to over a century of British rule, the British have also left their mark. In addition, because the city escaped the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution, Hong Kongers have maintained some aspects of traditional Chinese culture which have largely disappeared in the mainland.


Hong Kong
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
Source:w:Hong Kong#Geography and climate
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches

Hong Kong has a humid subtropical climate. Summers are usually hot, lasting from June to September, with temperatures usually exceeding 30 °C, while night-time summer temperatures do not drop below 25 °C . The area, with most of southern China, is affected by typhoons. Typhoons usually occur between June and September, though some typhoons may affect Hong Kong as late as October. These can bring a halt to local business for a day or less.

Winters in Hong Kong are generally very mild, with temperatures ranging from 10 °C to 20 °C, and dropping further sometimes by about 1 to 2 °C in the New Territories and countryside. Christmas in Hong Kong is warm compared to European countries. Chinese New Year is notorious for cold wet weather, because winter in Hong Kong tends to start out mild and dry and then turn cooler and wetter later.

Spring in Hong Kong is from March to May and autumn is from September to November with an average temperature of around 20 to 25 °C. Autumn is considered a more comfortable season as spring tends to be more humid and rainy.

Although most buildings in Hong Kong have air conditioning to cope with the summer weather, winter heating is less common. During the coldest days, most locals simply wear more layers, even indoors. In a restaurant, for example, it is not unusual to see customers eating with jackets and scarves on. Furthermore, some larger Chinese restaurants keep the air conditioning on during winter, though the temperature in air conditioned shopping malls stays the same regardless of season or weather outside.

Holidays and festivals


Lunar New Year dates

The year of the Dragon began on 4 Feb 2024 at 16:25, and the Lunar New Year was on 10 Feb 2024

  • The year of the Snake will begin on 3 Feb 2025 at 22:10, and the Lunar New Year will be on 29 January 2025
  • The year of the Horse will begin on 4 Feb 2026 at 4:02, and the Lunar New Year will be on 17 Feb 2026

Contrary to popular belief, the change of the zodiac does not occur on the first day of the Lunar New Year, but instead occurs on Li Chun (立春 lì chūn), the traditional Chinese start of spring.

Dragon Boat on the beach at Silver Mine Bay, Mui Wo, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Dragon Boat Racing, Tuen Ng Festival
Lion dancing: a dramatic spectacle at Chinese New Year.
  • Chinese (Lunar) New Year (農曆新年). Although this may seem like an ideal time to go to Hong Kong, many shops and restaurants are closed during the first 3 days of the Chinese New Year, so visitors will not see Hong Kong at its best. However, unlike Christmas in Europe where you can hardly find shops open, department stores, supermarkets, and Western fast-food restaurants generally remain open, so you can still get food and daily products easily during the Lunar New Year period. The week or two leading up to the Chinese New Year, and the period from the 4th to the 15th day are good times to soak up the festive mood and listen to Chinese New Year songs being played in the shops. There are some celebratory events such as lion dances, fireworks, and parades.
  • Spring Lantern Festival (元宵節). If you go to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, you will be able to experience this traditional Chinese festival. A number of beautiful lanterns can be found in the park at this time.
  • Ching Ming Festival (清明節). This festival in Spring is also known as grave sweeping day. To show respect to the deceased, family members go to the grave of their ancestors to sweep away leaves and remove weeds around the grave area. Paper offerings are also burned, such as fake money.
  • Cheung Chau Bun Festival (長洲太平清醮). This takes place on the tiny island of Cheung Chau. In the past the festival has involved competitions with people climbing bun towers to snatch buns.
  • Tuen Ng Festival (端午節). This is a festival in memory of a national hero from the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. Dragon boat races are typically held during this festival and glutinous rice dumplings, usually with pork fillings, are eaten by many.
  • Tin Hau Festival (天后誕). Celebrates the birthday of Tin Hau, a traditional Chinese goddess also known Mazu (媽祖) in Mandarin who is popular among fishermen and sailors. Though typically more subdued than those in Taiwan, celebrations are held the many Tin Hau temples throughout Hong Kong, with the most notable celebrations held at the temples in Yuen Long and Sai Kung.
  • Hungry Ghost Festival (中元節). This festival runs throughout the seventh month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that the gates of hell open during this period and hungry ghosts are allowed to roam freely into our world. Though not a public holiday, this is the time where one can see many people perform various rites to appease the wandering ghosts, such as offering food and burning joss paper. One can also see traditional performances such as Chinese opera which are held to appease these ghosts.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival/Moon Festival (中秋節). This festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. Moon cakes which contain lotus seed paste and duck egg yolks are a popular delicacy. Many Western people will find the traditional mooncake hard to appreciate, so you might like to try the ice-cream version as well. The festival is also known as the lantern festival and various parts of Hong Kong will be festooned with decorative lanterns which set the night scene ablaze with colour.
  • Chung Yeung Festival (重陽節). It is a day also known as Autumn Remembrance, which is similar to Ching Ming in spring, where families visit the graves of their ancestors to perform cleansing rites and pay their respects. As the weather cools down during this part of the year, hiking is a good activity to do during this holiday.
  • Halloween (萬聖節). Halloween has grown rapidly in popularity and many people dress up to party till late. Trick or treat is not common but most restaurants and shopping centres are decorated and have special programmes. For young adults and teenagers, Ocean Park and Disneyland is the place to be for Halloween fun. It is not a public holiday.
  • Christmas (聖誕節). Christmas is celebrated Hong Kong style. The city is adorned using traditional Western Christmas decorations. Many shopping centres, such as Pacific Place, offer ample opportunities for children to meet Santa. Most shops and restaurants remain open throughout Christmas. You should expect large crowds out shopping for the Christmas sales.
  • New Year's Eve (元旦除夕). New Year's Eve in Hong Kong is something to check out if you are seeking a carnival experience. Hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets to celebrate the New Year is truly an unforgettable time. There are all-night services on the MTR, night-buses, and of course, many taxis. Fireworks go off on the harbour front, which a lot of people attend to watch on both sides of the harbour: Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon side) and Central (Hong Kong Island). The young adults and older adults decide to party with the rest of Hong Kong at the hot-spots such as Causeway Bay, Lan Kwai Fong and Tsim Sha Tsui. Many people dress up and attend private parties and others flock to the streets to enjoy the atmosphere. Police patrol around popular areas to make sure the city is a safe party-zone. Hong Kong people are not great drinkers and most of them stay dry for the night. Drinking alcohol on the street is uncommon. So visitors who drink should moderate their behaviour or risk being screened out by the police as the only drunks in the crowd.

Other festivals

  • Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. This annual event brings many visitors from around the world to celebrate the most entertaining installment in the IRB Sevens Series. It is a giant three-day sell-out event that takes place between the last days of March and the beginning of April.
  • Hong Kong Summer Spectacular. Dragon Boat Race, music festivals, summer sales, as well as book exhibitions, Anime Fair, all in the hottest summer parties and coolest carnival!
  • Hong Kong Summer Pop Music Festival Every summer, the Hong Kong Summer Pop Music Festival gathers top musicians who bring spectacular performances!
  • Hong Kong Arts Festival, a month-long festival of international performances, is held in February and March.
  • Man Literary Festival, a two-week English language festival with international writers as guests, is held in March.
  • Hong Kong International Film Festival, a three-week event, is held in late March to early April.

Units of measure


Hong Kong's official system of measurement is metric, but both the traditional Chinese and British Imperial systems of measurements survive to limited extents. In particular, the traditional Chinese system of weights continues to be widely used in wet markets. While mainland China has recalibrated the traditional Chinese units to better align with the metric system, Hong Kong continues to use the traditional versions of those units, meaning that one jīn (斤, gān in Cantonese) is 604.8 g in Hong Kong, not 500g like in mainland China. While the jīn is now divided into 10 liǎng (兩, léuhng in Cantonese) in mainland China, it is still divided into 16 liǎng in Hong Kong, meaning that the Hong Kong liǎng is 37.8 g, and not 50 g like in mainland China. Public weighing scales in wet markets are required by law to display traditional Chinese, British Imperial and metric units side by side.

Perhaps one of the most common usage of Imperial units in Hong Kong is in real estate advertisements, where flat sizes are advertised in square feet, though they are recorded in square metres on official documents. Miles (Chinese: 咪 in this sense) are used to mark addresses and locations on the Castle Peak Road, so you may see addresses marked as "18¾ milestone, Castle Peak Road" (青山公路18¾咪). Apart from these examples, Imperial units are only known to the older generation and perhaps engineering professionals.



Its quick rise as an economic power and unique mix of East and West has made Hong Kong an interesting destination to write about.

  • Myself a Mandarin (Oxford in Asia), Austin Coates. The memoirs of Austin Coates are entertaining episodes of the Englishman's time as a colonial magistrate in the New Territories district.
  • East and West: China, Power, and the Future of Asia (Macmillan, 1998), Chris Patten. Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, provides his account of Hong Kong in the final years before the handover to China.
  • Gweilo: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood (Bantam Books), Martin Booth. An insight into colonial life in Hong Kong through the eyes of a young English boy.
  • Hong Kong: Epilogue to an Empire (Penguin Books), Jan Morris. A detailed overview of the territory's history with descriptions of its geography, economy, politics and society.
  • The World of Suzie Wong (Fontana Press) Richard Mason. A classic novel published in 1957. Set in Hong Kong, it is the fictional story of a young expat's romance with a Chinese woman.
  • Hong Kong Landscapes: Shaping the Barren Rock (Hong Kong University Press), Bernie Owen and Raynor Shaw. Beautifully illustrated, this is a fascinating guide to the territory's geology and geomorphology.


  • Chungking Express, 1994, Wong Kar-wai. The unrelated stories of two love-struck cops in Hong Kong with colourful and fast cinematography.
  • The World of Suzie Wong, 1960. Based on the novel by Richard Mason, it is the fictional story of an expat's affair with a Chinese woman. The film has interesting footage of Hong Kong in the late 1950s.

Visitor information



See also: Cantonese phrasebook

Hong Kong's official languages are Chinese and English.

Cantonese is the main language spoken by locals. The Hong Kong variant is mostly the same as in Guangzhou across the border, but tends to incorporate some English words and slang, which frequently sounds strange to other Cantonese speakers (like "我唔sure得唔得", means "I am not sure if it's okay"). News broadcasts are in standard Cantonese. Like all Chinese languages, Cantonese is a tonal language and not easy for foreigners to master, although learning a few simple greetings will get you acquainted with locals much more easily.

Official Chinese language

Hong Kong's Basic Law states that both English and Chinese are the official languages of Hong Kong. The definition of what the Chinese language actually is, however, is not clear and is rather political. People with a strong local identity would say it is Cantonese, a language in its own right, whereas people with a stronger sense of Chinese nationalism would say it is Standard Chinese (Mandarin), with Cantonese being just a local dialect. In practice, Cantonese remains the dominant language and the medium of instruction in local schools, though Mandarin is making inroads.

Unlike for Mandarin, there is no widely used romanisation system for phoneticising Cantonese. However, some accurate phonetics systems do exist for learners, such as the Yale system or Jyutping. These are rarely learnt by native speakers though, thus limiting their usefulness for written communication.

唔該; m' goi

Just one Cantonese word that will go a very long way in and around Hong Kong. Learn this word and you can use it to say please, thank you and excuse me. M̀h'gōi rhymes with boy and should be said with a cheery high tone rising at the end. Give it a go.

English is a common second language. Education in English typically begins in kindergarten, and fluency in English is often a prerequisite for securing a good job. As a result, English is spoken to an advanced level by most white-collar professionals and business people. In contrast, English proficiency tends to be more limited among the average working class person, particularly outside the main tourist areas. In addition, while many people can understand written English pretty well, they may not necessarily be comfortable speaking it.

As English is an official language of Hong Kong, government offices are required by law to have English-speaking staff on duty. There are three terrestrial English language TV stations: TVB Pearl, ViuTVsix, and HKIBC. English-language films in cinemas are almost always shown with the original soundtrack and Chinese subtitles, though children's films, especially animations, are often dubbed into Cantonese. As a former British colony, English in Hong Kong generally follows British spelling and vocabulary choices. Most secondary and tertiary institutions adopt English textbooks for instruction, even though in most cases lectures are conducted in Cantonese.

English street names are seldom used among local people and taxi drivers. Even a local who speaks English fluently may not know the English name. Before you go anywhere, ask hotel staff to write down the street names using Chinese characters.

English in Hong Kong has its own specific features. For example, it's very common among the locals to say "bye-bye" and wave a hand to bid farewell, instead of a more formal "goodbye". They don't mean to be rude or sarcastic.

Most locals are not fluent in Mandarin, but can understand it to some degree. Mandarin has been compulsory in all government schools since the handover, and with the huge influx of mainland tourists many people in the tourist industry will often speak Mandarin. Most shops in the main tourist areas, as well as all government offices, will have Mandarin-speaking staff on duty. It is worth bearing in mind that with current sociopolitical tensions with the mainland Chinese, many locals are reluctant to communicate in Mandarin as it tends to be closely associated with perceptions of cultural domination and political interference, and some may even find it offensive to be addressed in Mandarin. If you don't speak Cantonese, it's generally better to try English first.

All official signs are bilingual in Chinese and English. Under the "one country, two systems" policy, Hong Kong continues to use traditional Chinese characters, and not the simplified Chinese characters used in the mainland. Similar to the use of Mandarin, some locals will be offended by the presence of simplified Chinese characters, and will insist that you use traditional Chinese characters.

Some of Hong Kong's older residents may speak other dialects such as Hakka, Teochew and Shanghainese, but they are generally able to speak Cantonese as well. You may also hear other languages among Hong Kong's non-Chinese minorities, but people in these groups generally speak English, and often Cantonese as well.

Hong Kong Sign Language (HKSL, 香港手語) is the language of the deaf community, though not widely understood outside of it. It is mutually intelligible with Macau Sign Language, and more distantly related to Chinese Sign Language used in the mainland, but not mutually intelligible with it.

Get in

Visa policy of Hong Kong
  Hong Kong
  May enter with Entry–Exit Permit for Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR - Varies
  May enter with Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents - 30 days
  Visa-free - 180 days
  Visa-free - 90 days
  Visa-free - 30 days
  Visa-free - 14 days (India with online pre-registration)
  Visa-free - 7 days
  Visa required in advance



Hong Kong maintains a separate and independent immigration system from that of Mainland China. Citizens of most Western countries do not need a visa to visit Hong Kong. If required, the Hong Kong visa can be applied for at a Chinese diplomatic mission, but must be done so separately from the Mainland Chinese one; there is no single visa that serves both areas. A visa is still required to enter Mainland China from Hong Kong and vice versa. Macau is also a separate jurisdiction with regards to visas. As leaving Mainland China for Hong Kong is considered to be leaving China, if you wish to re-enter Mainland China after visiting Hong Kong, make sure you have a multiple-entry Chinese visa.

See Entry requirements to Hong Kong for a list of visa requirements or visa-free stays by country of citizenship. All holders of an APEC Business Travel Card can use the counters for Hong Kong residents at immigration control and can stay for up to 60 days in Hong Kong visa-free if their card has 'HKG' printed on the reverse.

Foreign nationals who require visas for Hong Kong (if they cannot enter visa-free, want to remain for longer than permitted by their visa exemption, or want to work, study or establish/join a business) can either apply for one at a Chinese embassy or consulate, or directly through the Hong Kong Immigration Department. Foreign nationals living in Macau who require visas for Hong Kong can apply for one at the Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Foreign nationals living in Mainland China may apply for a Hong Kong visa at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Shanghai, or at the Office of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR in Beijing.

An Entry Permit of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Holders of Chinese passports need to apply for a appropriate entry permit (往來港澳通行證) to enter Hong Kong, except when transiting through Hong Kong, whereby visa-free access is granted for up to seven days. They do not need to use a PRC passport if using such an entry permit. Alternatively, Chinese passport holders may apply for an Entry Permit of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region issued by any overseas Chinese embassy/consulate.

Holders of Macau permanent identity cards or Visit Permits with permanent resident status can enter Hong Kong visa-free for up to 180 days. Holders of Macao Visit Permits without permanent resident status can enter Hong Kong visa-free for up to 30 days. See Visit/Transit Arrangements to Hong Kong for Macao Residents for more details. Though they can be used when leaving Macau, Macau digital identity cards are not accepted by Hong Kong immigration, and the physical one must be presented when entering Hong Kong.

Citizens of Taiwan are granted visa-free access to Hong Kong for 30 days if they have a Mainland Travel Permit/Taiwan Compatriot Pass (Taibaozheng, 台胞證). Otherwise, a pre-arrival registration is required which can be applied for through the Immigration Department. See Arrangements for Entry to Hong Kong for Overseas Chinese and Chinese residents of Taiwan for more details. "Chinese residents of Taiwan" refers to citizens of Taiwan, as a result of complex political relations.

Holders of British National (Overseas) (BNO) passports cannot use these passports to enter Hong Kong and should instead use their Hong Kong passport, Hong Kong ID card, or Hong Kong document of identity when passing immigration and during their stay in Hong Kong.

Expiry of the limit of stay is counted from the day after the date of entry. For example, if you have a 7-day visa and arrive on January 1, you are allowed to stay until January 8. If you are arriving late at night, you may want to wait until after midnight to clear immigration. Likewise, you may be able to clear immigration just before midnight on the last day that your visa is valid and then take a flight or boat in the middle of the night on the next day. For more information, see question #11 of the Visa FAQs.

Hong Kong no longer issues passport stamps, and visitors are instead given an entry slip with their terms of entry. All entries and exits are recorded electronically as well.



You can save time if you are a regular visitor by registering to use the e-Channel. Instead of clearing passport control at a manned counter, you can avoid the queues by going through an automated barrier which uses fingerprint recognition technology. You may be eligible to use e-Channel if you are a Macau resident or have electronic travel documents issued from a list of over 100 countries. You can also enrol on the basis of membership in selected frequent flyer programmes (some of these frequent flyer programmes in turn require you to possess status in their upper tiers).



If you have goods that are banned or more than your allowance, you must declare them at the Red Channel when you enter Hong Kong — even when travelling from Mainland China, Macau or Taiwan.

The following are banned goods and must be declared at the border:

  • Meat and eggs
  • Animal products
  • Fish
  • Rice (exceeding 15kg)
  • Ozone depleting substances
  • Items with forged trade marks
  • Radio communication transmitting apparatus
  • Smokeless tobacco
  • e-cigarettes and herbal cigarettes

A traveller aged 18 or above is allowed to bring into Hong Kong – for their own use – as part of their duty-free allowance:

  • 1 litre of alcoholic liquor with an alcoholic strength above 30% by volume measured at a temperature of 20 °C
  • 19 cigarettes OR 1 cigar OR 25 g of cigars OR 25 g of other manufactured tobacco

If the traveller holds a Hong Kong Identity Card, they must have spent 24 hours or longer outside Hong Kong to benefit from the duty-free allowance relating to alcoholic liquor.

Due to heavy demand from mainland China, the Hong Kong government has restricted the amount of baby milk powder formula that may be taken out of the territory to no more than 1.8 kg. Violation of this restriction could lead to fines and imprisonment.

For more information, visit the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department website.

By plane


Hong Kong International Airport

Main article: Hong Kong International Airport
Dropoff area of Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG IATA), also known as Chek Lap Kok 赤鱲角 (the name of the small island containing the airport), is on Lantau Island in the west of Hong Kong. Designed by Sir Norman Foster, it has since been named "World's Best Airport" by Skytrax 8 times and is an important air hub with connections to many of the world's cities.

Hong Kong's flag carrier is Cathay Pacific (國泰航空), which is widely regarded as one of the world's best airlines in terms of customer service, and has an extensive network with flights to many cities around the world. Other Hong Kong-based airlines include Hong Kong Airlines (香港航空), as well as low-cost carriers HK Express (香港快運航空) and Greater Bay Airlines (大灣區航空).

Train is the quickest way between airport and city, by the MTR Airport Express. This costs $105 one-way to Kowloon, and $115 to Hong Kong Island; return tickets valid for 30 days are $185/$205. One-way journeys cost $5 less if traveling with Octopus. Tickets are sold at a discount on apps such as Klook, with 1/3 off. There's no barrier at the airport so you can just board and pay at the city end. Trains run frequently between 06:00 and 00:45 and take 30 mins; they also stop at Tsing Yi, and continue beyond the airport to AsiaWorld-Expo.

Two other train options are:

  • Take the Airport Express only as far as Tsing Yi and change there for a regular Tung Chung (orange) line MTR train. This is a tad cheaper ($70 plus the continuing section) but the main advantage is that the Tsuen Wan (red) line runs right down Nathan Road in Kowloon, prime territory for budget hotels, before crossing to Hong Kong Central. So although it involves two changes, it may get you there just as quickly. Note that from a cursory glance at the MTR map, you might think there's also an interchange at Sunny Bay, but the Airport Express doesn't stop there.
  • Take public bus S1 to Tung Chung (takes 15 mins) and catch a regular Tung Chung (orange) line MTR train into the city. Around $20-30 depending on the destination.

Bus: three routes run into town from the airport, find them by turning right as you exit Arrivals. The most useful for most visitors is the A21, which runs down Kowloon's Nathan Road to Hung Hom railway station. This takes 75 mins, running every 10-20 mins 06:00-midnight, fare $33.

Taxis are also available but expensive if travelling alone or in pairs and going to Hong Kong Island (due to distance and tolls; keep in mind that harbour tunnel crossings generally require passengers to reimburse twice the cost of tolls in addition to the regular fare), and are often slow because of downtown traffic. Those who are headed for New Territories may opt to take the slightly cheaper green taxi. Those headed for somewhere else in Lantau Island may take the slightly cheaper blue taxi. There are also additional charges for luggage in the car's boot even if the passenger loads it without assistance from the driver. Taxis may be more cost effective than the train if travelling in groups in four and with few bags.

Shenzhen International Airport


As flights between Hong Kong and mainland China are treated as international flights, it is often cheaper to fly to/from Shenzhen Airport (SZX IATA), in the nearby mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen.

To travel between Shenzhen Airport and Hong Kong:

  • Direct buses operate between the airport and the Elements Shopping Mall, above the Kowloon MTR station. You can check-in and receive your boarding pass (except for China Southern Airlines passengers) at the check-in desk on the 1st floor of the shopping centre, opposite Starbucks. This in-town check-in is completely separate from the in-town check-in provided for Hong Kong International Airport. The cost of the service is $100 and the bus is advertised to take 75 minutes, but it usually takes 100 minutes. Buses run every 30 minutes from 6:30AM to 7PM from Hong Kong and from 10AM to 9PM from Shenzhen.
  • From Fuyong Ferry Terminal at Shenzhen Airport one can buy ferry tickets to Hong Kong. Passengers who need to transfer between flights at Hong Kong and Shenzhen airports can use the ferry service to/from Hong Kong airport without having to pass through Hong Kong immigration.
  • A cheaper way is to take Shenzhen Metro Line  11  from the airport to Futian in central Shenzhen (29 minutes, ¥7). From here, you can connect to the High Speed Rail direct to West Kowloon in downtown Hong Kong (15 minutes, $80). Even cheaper is taking Shenzhen Metro Line  10  to "Futian Checkpoint" (10 minutes, ¥2) (called Lok Ma Chau on the Hong Kong side) or Shenzhen Metro Line  1  to "Luohu" (20 minutes, ¥4) (Lo Wu on the Hong Kong side), then pass through a long corridor and an international border gate (have visa ready) and once in Hong Kong, hop on the  East  Rail suburban rail line to central Hong Kong (45 minutes, $35).

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport


Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is a bit further away than Shenzhen, but has more flights and with direct coach connections to Hong Kong.

Macau International Airport


It is also often cheaper to fly out of Macau International Airport (MFM IATA). Air Asia has a hub at Macau from where it operates service to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai, among other cities.

To travel between Macau Airport and Hong Kong:

  • With the Express Link service, you can transfer directly from airport to ferry (or vice versa) without going through Macau immigration. $70 from Hong Kong (with baggage being checked in there) / $50 to Hong Kong, excluding the ferry ticket cost.
  • If you don't need a visa for Macau, the cheaper way is to clear Macau immigration and to go yourself to Macau Taipa Ferry Terminal just to the north from the airport. Outside of the airport, take a bus MT1 or 26 from "Rotunda de Aeroporto / Wai Long" bus stop, and get out at the terminal (normally the next stop). The ticket price is HK$4.2 or MOP4.2. From the airport, it's wise to get some change before taking this bus, and both the ATMs normally dispense both HKD and pataca, and the local shops accept the former in lieu of the latter (at 1:1 rate), so there's no need to have any pataca if you're going straight to Hong Kong - you may still get coins of both currencies as a change, however). It is possible to walk to the ferry terminal, but it will take around 20 minutes. If coming from Hong Kong, choose Cotai Water Jet ferry to get to Macau Taipa Ferry Terminal.
  • Alternatively, the AP1 bus will transport you to Macau Outer Ferry Terminal - a bit more straightforward way, but the bus trip will take longer (and will be more scenic), as the bus will have to cross to the mainland part of Macau.
  • Those having a few hours to spare in Macau and not much baggage may choose to take one of the buses going to one of the casinos (Venetian, Sands, etc.) waiting both near the airport and the Macau Taipa Ferry Terminal, spend some time there, then return to either ferry terminal or the airport using a similar bus. These buses are free of charge.

By helicopter


Sky Shuttle operates a helicopter service every 30 minutes from the Terminal Marítimo in Macau to the Shun Tak Heliport (HHP  IATA) at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island. The trip takes 15 minutes and one-way fares cost $4,100, plus $400 on public holidays.

By train

See also: Rail travel in China
West Kowloon station
High speed train from West Kowloon station to Guangzhou South station
Overnight sleeper train from West Kowloon station to Beijing West station

Multiple frequent high-speed trains connect Hong Kong with Shenzhen and Guangzhou every day, with one daily long-distance service each from Beijing and Shanghai. MTR High Speed runs some short-distance high-speed passenger services (meaning up to Guangzhou) under the Vibrant Express brand, while CRH (the high-speed branch of China Railways) operates the remaining short-distance trains and all the long-distances ones. It takes 23 minutes from Shenzhen, 48 minutes from Guangzhou, 8½ hours from Shanghai and 9 hours from Beijing on the daytime trains. Overnight high-speed sleeper services from Shanghai and Beijing run four times a week, taking 11 h 14 min and 12 h 34 min respectively. The line runs underground in Hong Kong, so don't expect to see any sights. The old slower trains to Hung Hom from mainland China have been cancelled, so high-speed rail is now your only option for travelling by train directly from the mainland.

Services on this line go to the new 1 West Kowloon Station Hong Kong West Kowloon station on Wikipedia. This new station is huge, although most of its footprint is underground. There is a food court (important as many shorter services don't have a dining car, including all Vibrant Express trains), as well as other facilities such as a business lounge and public waiting spaces. It is connected to Austin station on  Tuen Ma  line and Kowloon station on the  Tung Chung  and  Airport  lines as well as a bus complex.

The station has several levels:

  • L2 - Sky Corridor
  • L1 - Various footbridge connections
  • G - Station entrance, transport area, ground level
  • B1 - Ticketing
  • B2 - Arrival Concourse, Parking
  • B3 - Departure Concourse
  • B4 - Platforms

Through a joint checkpoint arrangement, both Mainland and Hong Kong immigration and customs are at this station. The station's Mainland Port Area is under Mainland China's legal jurisdiction, and is demarcated by a yellow line. That means the moment you clear immigration to board a train at West Kowloon, you are subject to Mainland Chinese law. Chinese Internet censorship doesn't apply to the Mainland Port Area, as mobile Internet service is provided by Hong Kong operators.

Alternatively, it's possible to travel by a wider range of high-speed trains and overnight sleepers from a vast array of Chinese cities to Shenzhen and then change to the Metro or another high-speed rail train to reach Hong Kong. Shenzhen railway station is adjacent to the Lo Wu/Luohu border crossing.

By ferry

A TurboJet catamaran
The Star Pisces at Ocean Terminal
Blake Pier at Stanley

Hong Kong is only a one-hour hydrofoil ride away from Macau and there are also good connections to mainland China. If you plan to only visit Zhuhai, a visa-on-arrival is available at the Jiuzhou Ferry Terminal for up to 3 days. The main terminals are:

  • Operating from 2 Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal Hong Kong–Macau Ferry Terminal on Wikipedia, 202 Connaught Rd (Sheung Wan MTR exit D) in Central.
    • TurboJet, every 5–30 minutes, 24 hours a day to/from Macau.
    • Cotai Jet, every 15–30 minutes, 24 hours a day to/from Taipa, Macau.
  • Operating from 3 Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal on Wikipedia, 33 Canton Rd (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR exit A1) in Kowloon.

If you're flying into Hong Kong airport to reach Macau or other cities in the Pearl River Delta, see Hong Kong International Airport for direct ferry options that skip Hong Kong immigration.

By cruise ship


4 Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on Wikipedia is Hong Kong's new cruise ship terminal that opened at the former Kai Tak Airport runway. The terminal supports two large ship berths. The terminal has free shuttle service to nearby shopping and public transit.

Tip: Check with your cruise line before you travel to find out which terminal your ship berths at.

By bridge

Shuttle buses between Hong Kong and Zhuhai/Macao

The 50-km Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge (HZMB), a bridge and tunnel opened in October 2018, was likely one of the largest construction projects in the world. The link makes it possible to travel quickly across the Pearl River Delta without taking the ferry.

Frequent HZMBus shuttle buses departing up to every 5 minutes, 24 hours a day are available to cross the HZMB. They take around 40 minutes, and tickets can be purchased with Octopus or AliPay from ticket machines, as well as cash and credit cards at the ticket desk at the 5 HZMB Hong Kong Kong Port. The Hong Kong Port can be reached by taxis or various buses including CityFlyer airport (A number) routes, or the B5 shuttle bus from Sunny Bay MTR station, or the B6 bus from Tung Chung. Once arriving at the 6 HZMB Macau Port you can take taxis or the 101X bus, the 102X bus to St Paul's and Taipa, or the HZMB Integrated Resort Connection bus (free) to Taipa Ferry Terminal or the Exterior Ferry terminal to connect to the free casino shuttle buses. Once arriving at the HZMB Zhuhai Port, you can take taxis or the L1 bus which uses historic tourist vehicles, or the 12, 23 or 25 buses to continue your journey in the mainland.

To drive across the bridge, you must apply for a permit from the mainland government if travelling to Zhuhai or three separate permits (one from each of the Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland governments) to drive to Macau.

By other land crossings


Shenzhen is the Chinese city that borders Hong Kong. See China#Get in for information on visa requirements. The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge also makes road connections between Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai possible.

There are 8 land checkpoints between Hong Kong and mainland China. Be sure to note the opening hours of the border crossing before starting your journey. If you are driving across the border, you must have a set of plates issued by each of China and Hong Kong. You will have to change sides of the road at the border since people in Hong Kong drive on the left, and people in mainland China drive on the right.

In addition to crossing the border on foot, another way to cross the border is to take a cross-boundary coach. These buses operate between Hong Kong and several cities in mainland China and are usually easier than crossing the border via several transfers and several modes of transportation. For information on these bus services, see the website of each border crossing listed below. Other than the Shenzhen Bay Bridge and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, these crossings are within the Frontier Closed Area, meaning it's illegal to head there without a permit unless you are crossing the border.

  • 7 Lo Wu Control Point Lo Wu station on Wikipedia (train and pedestrian crossing): MTR trains from Hung Hom run to Lo Wu every 5–8 minutes. Luohu station on Shenzhen Metro Line  1  and Shenzhen Railway Station (for long-distance trains) lie just beyond the mainland China immigration checkpoint. This control point can only be accessed by the MTR East Rail Line and crossing the border can only be done on foot. It is often congested with travellers during weekends and holidays, so if you want to avoid the long queues, use the other control points. Visa-on-arrival for up to 5 days can be obtained on the mainland Chinese side for certain nationalities if you only plan to visit Shenzhen.
  • 8 Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point Lok Ma Chau station on Wikipedia (pedestrian crossing): Northbound East Rail Line trains terminate here. It can also be reached from Yuen Long by KMB bus B1[dead link] or by GMB minibus #75. After crossing the double-decked Lok Ma Chau-Huanggang pedestrian bridge, passengers will find themselves at the Futian immigration checkpoint of the mainland. On the Shenzhen side, Futian Checkpoint station on Shenzhen Metro Line  4  is just after the immigration checkpoint. This control point is less popular and thus less crowded than Lo Wu, and it's more convenient for travelers to central and western Shenzhen. Visa-on-arrival for up to 5 days can be obtained on the mainland Chinese side for certain nationalities if you only plan to visit Shenzhen.
  • 9 Lok Ma Chau Control Point Lok Ma Chau Control Point on Wikipedia (road, bus, and pedestrian crossing): This crossing consists of separate facilities for pedestrians arriving by bus and for road vehicles and is the only border control point which is open 24-hours per day. Lok Ma Chau Public Transport Interchange can be reached via KMB buses 76K, 276B and N73. Alternatively, you can take express buses from Hong Kong directly to the control point. After passing through Hong Kong Immigration control, you must board the same bus at the other side of the control point, where you will be taken to Huanggang port in Shenzhen to pass through mainland China immigration control, with connection to Huanggang Checkpoint station on Shenzhen Metro Line  7 . A shuttle service, known as the "Yellow Bus" operates between 10 San Tin Public Transport Interchange and Huanggang Port of the mainland side.
  • 11 Man Kam To Control Point Man Kam To Control Point on Wikipedia (road and bus crossing): This crossing is mostly used by private vehicles and cross-border buses. See "By bus" section below.
  • 12 Sha Tau Kok Control Point Sha Tau Kok Control Point on Wikipedia (road, bus, and pedestrian crossing): the furthest east control point, it can be accessed by taking cross-border coaches. Predominantly serving travellers towards Eastern Guangdong and Fujian, it is far from the centre of Shenzhen and is relatively quiet. There are no mainland visa-on-arrival facilities. See "By bus" section below.
  • 13 Shenzhen Bay Port Shenzhen Bay Port on Wikipedia (road and bus crossing): This control point links Hong Kong directly with Shekou, Shenzhen. It can be used by private vehicles and cross-boundary buses. See "By bus" section below.
  • 14 Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port (road and bus crossing): Also refer to Hong Kong#By bridge
  • 15 Heung Yuen Wai Control Point Heung Yuen Wai Control Point on Wikipedia (road and bus crossing): The new immigration checkpoint is integrated with a bus terminal. Citybus route B7 and green minibus route 59S provides access to Sheung Shui and Fanling, while on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, Citybus route B8 and KMB route B9 connects the checkpoint with Tai Wai and Tuen Mun. A carpark is also available there, so drivers without Mainland plate or license can park there and connect to Mainland public transport. On the Mainland side, Liantang Checkpoint station on Shenzhen Metro Line  2/8  and bus services are available for travellers.

By bicycle


In Hong Kong, bicycles are forbidden from all tunnels and most highways. Therefore, very few Hongkongers manage to use a bike as a substitute for public transport. However, roads in the country parks, because of the hilly landscape, are ideal for adventure biking. See the information on cycling in 'Get around' below.

You are not permitted to cycle across the border into Hong Kong from mainland China. However, you can bring a bicycle from Shenzhen into Hong Kong by following the procedures below:

  • You can bring a bicycle across the border at Lo Wu Control Point, then board the MTR East Rail train. Bicycles are allowed on the train with a payment of between $20 and $40, depending upon the time of day, and provided that the front wheel is removed. You can alight at Sheung Shui station and continue the rest of your journey by bicycle if you wish.
  • GMB minibus #75 operates between the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point and Yuen Long for $7 and allows a folded bike with 50 cm wheels. While most passengers take a bus connecting to urban areas, it's possible for bikers to take the "yellow bus" ($7) just to the other side of the border. There is not much luggage space on this bus and you may be required to disassemble your bike.

Get around


Hong Kong has an excellent and cheap public transport system. Unlike in mainland China, Google Maps can be used in Hong Kong.

The area in the New Territories next to the mainland Chinese border is known as the Frontier Closed Area (邊境禁區), and is off limits to non-residents without a permit unless they are crossing the border. A Closed Area Permit can be applied for from the Hong Kong Police, but this requires a letter of invitation from a local resident, and permits are generally not granted for tourism. Under a pilot scheme, a limited number of tourists per day are now allowed to visit Sha Tau Kok, but you will need to apply for a permit in advance.

Hong Kong has the world's highest use of public transport, with over 90% preferring the mode. However, for political reasons, you cannot use China's China T-union card as a payment for public transport in Hong Kong: you must have an Octopus Card, a prepaid card to pay for public transport within Hong Kong. However, Hu Tong Xing (互通行) card can be used in both Hong Kong and Shenzhen, but not China T-union (which is Shenzhen only - since China T-union covers mainland China and not the SARs).

Octopus card


The Octopus Card (八達通, Bat Dat Toong in Cantonese) is a prepaid card that can be used to pay for public transportation such as the MTR, trains, trams, buses, mini-buses, and ferries. Most taxis do not yet accept it although more will in future. Paying for public transport with an Octopus Card is usually at a discounted fare (not the case though for buying a return Airport Express ticket).

It can also be used to pay for items in convenience stores, supermarkets, fast food restaurant chains, many vending machines, all roadside parking and some car parks. It can also be used as a building access card. Some chain stores, such as Wellcome, offer discounts for paying with the Octopus Card. This is a great way to avoid carrying and counting coins.

Basic Octopus cards cost $150 ($100 in credit plus a $50 refundable deposit). A $11 service charge applies if the card is redeemed for the deposit within 3 months. The maximum value an Octopus card can carry is $3,000. The credit on the card can go negative. For example, you may pay for a ride costing $5 with only $2 of remaining value on the card (bringing the stored value to −$3) but you cannot use the card again until the value is topped up. The value of an Octopus card can go as low as −$35. That isn't really "negative", meaning you don't have to pay MTR back, since your $50 deposit secures it.

Your Octopus card's balance is displayed on the reader after each use. The balance can also be checked, along with the last nine transactions, using a small machine near regular ticket machines at MTR stations.

It is simple and convenient to top up your Octopus Card:

  • "Add Value" machines, usually next to regular ticket machines in MTR stations.
  • Customer service centres at all MTR stations
  • Certain merchants that accept Octopus (e.g. 7-Eleven, McDonald's, Wellcome, etc.). This is the best way to avoid queues at the MTR station.
  • Octopus app (for local residents) and Octopus for Tourists App (for visitors)

Top-ups are general possible in multiples of $50 only. The exception is tops-ups made through the Octopus for Tourists app which allows for top-up in multiples of $1 but with a higher minimum of $100.

If you are visiting mainland China as well, consider getting a joint Octopus-China T-Union Card, which can be used in most major cities across China (notable exceptions include Wuhan and Hohhot).

MTR Fare Saver Machines


There are several fare saver machines across the MTR system. By tapping your Octopus Card at the reader on one of such machines, you will receive a $1–2 discount on your same-day next MTR journey if such a journey originates from one of the stations indicated on that machine. However, only one such machine services many of the indicated stations, and are often far away from the indicated stations and possibly from areas of interest to tourists. Tsim Sha Tsui and East Tsim Sha Tsui are tricky cases: the machine at The Gateway at Harbour City offers the discount for the former but not the latter, whilst the machine at the Peninsula Centre offers the discount for both.

By Mass Transit Railway

MTR system map
A typical MTR Station entrance; its symbolic red circle icon is easily recognisable.

Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is the fastest way to get around, but it does not offer the views of buses and trams. It is clean, safe, and among the most reliable and efficient systems in the world. There are 5 underground lines (Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan, Island, South Island and Tseung Kwan O lines), 4 Suburban rail lines (Tuen Ma, East Rail, Tung Chung, and Disneyland Resort lines), the Airport Express, and a network of modern light rail lines in the Northwest New Territories.

The most important lines for many visitors are the busy Tsuen Wan Line (red), which runs from Central to Kowloon via tunnel and then down Nathan Road towards Tsuen Wan in the New Territories, and the Island Line (blue) which runs along the north coast of Hong Kong Island. The Tung Chung Line (orange) is the fastest ways to get to Lantau and one of the cheapest ways to/from the airport via the S1 shuttle bus from/to Tung Chung MTR station. This line can also be used to change to the Disneyland Resort Line (pink) at Sunny Bay, which is also the station catch a shuttle bus to take you to the Hong Kong port for those who want to travel by another bus to Macau. All signs are in both Chinese and English and all announcements are made in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. Staff in the station control room usually speak enough English to be able to help lost tourists. The South Island Line can also be used to visit Ocean Park.

In Cantonese, the East Rail line is colloquially referred to as 火車 (fó chē), alluding to its origins as an intercity railway, while the other lines are referred to as 地鐵 (dei tit).

Considerations when using the MTR:

  • Hong Kong's suburban rail system is linked to two border crossings with mainland China, at Lo Wu Control Point and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point, both on the East Rail Line. You pass through a short corridor and then through a large border gate before entering a long one-way corridor and emerging in mainland China, at a station for the Shenzhen Metro. As Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau stations are in a restricted area, it is illegal to take the train to these stations without valid documents (passport and visa for those headed to mainland China and closed area permits for those visiting the restricted area).
  • Rides on East Rail line First Class, the Airport Express, and to/from Lo Wu/Lok Ma Chau follow a separate fare structure from the rest of the MTR system. Thus many promotions applicable to much of the MTR system (including the tourist day pass, the $2 discounts from the fare saver machines) may not extend to these services.
  • The East Rail Line offers a first class car where the seats are wider and more comfortable. The fare is twice that of the regular cars on the same route, and you need to buy a separate ticket for this at a station's ticketing office or validate your octopus card at the designated reader before entering. Ticket inspectors conduct regular patrol in the carriage and passengers without a valid first class ticket or validated Octopus card may be fined up to $500.
  • In Hong Kong, the English name for the underground metro system is the 'MTR'. The term 'Subway' refers to underground walkways, as opposed to the metro system. 'Metro' or 'Underground' are not commonly understood by local people either.
  • Fares depend on distance. Credit cards cannot be used to buy tickets on most vending machines. However those with contactless VISA cards (or Apple or Android pay devices linked to VISA) may directly tap such cards (or devices) at the designated MTR fare gates to pay for their fares in lieu of Octopus cards. This way you do not have to worry about producing $50s and $100s each time to top up Octopus cards. VISA and Mastercard may also be used to top up Octopus cards via the Octopus for Tourists App.
  • Tsim Sha Tsui on the Tsuen Wan line and East Tsim Sha Tsui on the Tuen Ma line are effectively considered one station for purposes of fare calculation and transfers. But to transfer from one line to the other on those stations without incurring additional costs, you need to tap out of the ticket barriers from one station and tap in within 30 minutes to the ticket barriers of the other.
  • Consumption of food and drinks and smoking are strictly forbidden in the paid area of stations and in trains. Offenders are liable to a fine of up to $2,000.
  • Always stand on the right when using escalators to allow people in a hurry to pass on the left.
  • The mad dash, in which commuters shove and wrestle for available seats, that is common in mainland Chinese Metro systems is considered to be uncivilised in Hong Kong.
  • Disabled Access and Stroller Access is provided at the MTR stations, but it will likely require considerable extra walking, often from one end of an MTR station to another. For instance, the lift may be at one end of a platform at train level, whilst the lift to street level will be at the other end. Using lifts and wheelchair access will often require you to walk the length of the station 2 or 3 times, just to get from street level to your chosen train. There is usually one designated reader for wider (wheelchair/stroller) access, but often it is a long walk around the station or platform. Occasionally, there will be an MTR staff booth at a set of gates, but it depends on the individual staff member as to whether they will just tap your card on their terminal and let you through the goods entrance to the platform. If you need a stroller for getting around, it may be better to collapse your stroller, pick up your child and use the escalators and "regular" designated readers. Most Hong Kongers will use a small, lightweight, upright folding stroller (such as the Combi range, which appears to be most popular), than can be easily folded, carried and taken through the gates and escalators. You will also ensure that you aren't fighting for lift space with others who need it, such as wheelchair users and goods trolleys.
  • Some adjacent stations are served by the same two lines (e.g. Central and Admiralty on the Tsuen Wan and Island lines; Yau Ma Tei, Mong Kok, and Prince Edward on the Kwun Tong and Tsuen Wan lines). However some of these stations offer quicker and more convenient cross-platform interchanges than others depending on the direction of transfer. Watch the flashing system maps on the train and listen to the announcements to know which of the stations are convenient for the transfers you wish to make.

By tram

Peak Tram entering Victoria Peak terminus

Operated by Hong Kong Tramways, the narrow double-decker city trams (also known locally as "ding ding") trundling along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island have provided cheap transport for over a century. Riding the tram is a great and cheap way to sightsee. For an excursion lasting 1 hour, board at the Kennedy Town Terminus and get a good seat on the upper deck. As the tram travels eastward, you will have an elevated view of Hong Kong Island and its different flavours, from bustling Hong Kong street life to its glitzy financial and shopping districts and, finally, a taste of the local residential areas.

  • Trams are not air conditioned. Summer months can be very uncomfortable even with the windows open.
  • They run 6AM-midnight.
  • Passengers board at the rear and a flat $3 fare is paid when getting off at the front of the tram. The fare is paid for by Octopus Card, coins (no change given) or contactless VISA/Mastercard (including those embedded on Apple Pay and Google Pay). In fact, those who use a contactless VISA are eligible for a $1 discount (thus cutting your fare by 1/3). There are two readers - one for Octopus Card and the other for contactless VISA/Mastercard, so if you are using Apple Pay with both an Octopus Card and VISA/Mastercard, be careful to tap your device on the correct reader.
  • It is the favourite means of transportation for Hong Kong's large foreign domestic helper community on Sundays (their normal day-off) and may get crowded on that day.

Peak Tram


The Peak Tram, Hong Kong's first mechanised mode of transport, opened in 1888. The remarkably steep 1.7 km track from Central up to Victoria Peak is worth at least one trip despite the comparatively steep price ($62 one-way, $88 return; return tickets must be purchased in advance). The tram turnstiles do take Octopus cards, which will allow you to avoid the ticketing line at the station.

The Peak Tram is likely to be crowded at night when the view of the city's skyline is magic, as well as on public holidays. Queues can be very long (waiting an hour is common at busy times), and a lot of pushing has been reported.

The tram is not the only way to get to the Peak, and there are cheaper (but slower and still quite scenic) alternatives such as the #1 green minibus costing $10.2 & #15 double-decker bus costing $10.3 from Exchange Square Bus Terminus. These buses will often give you great views of both sides of Hong Kong Island on the way up.

Light rail

Geographically accurate map of the Light Rail network

MTR operates a tram system in the northwest New Territories called Light Rail. It is a modern and fast tram system connecting Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, and Tin Shui Wai. It uses a proof-of-payment fare system, in which passengers are required to buy a ticket or tap an Octopus card at the station entrance before boarding and there are no fare gates, but ticket inspection is random. The area is seldom visited by foreign tourists but various sights are nonetheless accessible via Light Rail, such as numerous ancient walled villages (highlighted by the Ping Shan Heritage Trail), the Hong Kong Wetland Park, the beaches of Tuen Mun New Town, Yuen Long Town Centre, and seafood towns like Lau Fau Shan and Sam Shing.

By bus

A Kowloon Motor Bus double decker bus.

Tip on bus routes

Alphabets in bus routes represent the nature of the route. As a rule of thumb:

  • Bus routes start with A terminates at or stops at the airport.
  • Bus routes start with B terminates at land border crossings.
  • Bus routes start with E connects Lantau Island and the city centre. They may or may not stop at the airport.
  • Bus routes start with N are night routes.
  • Bus routes start with K are MTR feeder routes which terminates at MTR stations.
  • Bus routes start with W terminates at West Kowloon Station. Other bus routes also serve the station and neighbouring Kowloon Station, but may take longer time to reach your destination.
  • Bus routes end with M terminate at MTR stations.
  • Bus routes end with K terminate at  East  line or  Tuen Ma  line stations.
  • Bus routes end with P are commuter routes which only operate within rush hours.
  • Bus routes end with R are holiday and public activity routes, which only operate on holidays or immediately after the activity has ended.
  • Bus routes end with X are express routes.
  • 3-digit bus routes starting with 1, 6, 9 are cross-harbour routes that pass through the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, Eastern Harbour Crossing and Western Harbour Crossing respectively.
  • 3-digit bus routes starting with 3 are commuter cross-harbour routes which only operate within rush hours.
  • 3-digit bus routes starting with 8 are horse-racing routes that departs from Sha Tin Racecourse. They only operate on horse-racing days and do not transport passengers to the racecourse.

There are three types of buses available in Hong Kong. In city centre, buses will get stuck in traffic and take much longer than the MTR. However, they cover many more destinations than the MTR. While generally easy to use, signs in English can be sparse and finding your bus stop can get difficult. Buses are also the only public option in some areas. Google Maps, Apple Maps, or City Mapper will let you know the best bus route to take from your current position to destination (if necessary, they will combine it with MTR rides too).

Double-decker buses are used on most routes and cover practically the entire territory, stop frequently and charge varying fares depending on the distance. The first seats of the upper deck offer great views.

The franchised bus operators in Hong Kong include Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) (and its subsidiary Long Win Bus), Citybus (CTB) and New Lantau Bus (NLB). Route and fare information can be found on their company websites. Alternatively it is also wise to install transportation apps such as "App 1933" and "CitybusNWFB" into your smartphone to check fares outdoors if you use mobile devices regularly during your stay.

The resort towns of Discovery Bay and Ma Wan have separate bus services provided by their real-estate developers, namely Discovery Bay Transportation Services[dead link] and Park Island Transport.

Fares depend more on where you board rather than where you get-off (except for the cross-boundary route B2 and a few overnight buses) which means it is more expensive to board at an earlier stop on a route rather than the later ones. Hence, the price of bus rides crossing the harbour between Kowloon and the Island exceeds $9 prior to the crossing. The fare is displayed on a digital display above the farebox - one may pay cash (but no change is given), an Octopus Card, a contactless VISA or Mastercard (on some routes; including those embedded on Apple Pay and Google Pay), or a ticket purchased from a bus travel centre (only applicable to a few routes found at major transit hubs such as Star Ferry or Central Bus Terminus) must be used. There are plenty of bus routes that provide a fare discount for transferring with a particular set of routes; they are often confusing for visitors, however instructions are written on bus stop timetable leaflets. There are also some bus routes (especially the routes going to Stanley) which offer discount if a passenger gets off early and taps the Octopus card again prior to alighting.

There are announcements in Cantonese, Mandarin and English except for most buses on New Lantau Bus. To catch your bus, go to the bus stop with the right number and when your bus approaches, raise your arm to hail the bus (like you would hail a taxi). Buses only stop when requested so press the red buzzer (by the exit doors and on the grab-rails) to signal to the driver that you want to alight. Always board at the front and alight from the centre door.

The MTR also maintains a fleet of feeder buses. MTR passengers can enjoy a free feeder service if the bus trip is paid for on an Octopus card along with a connecting railway journey (except for taking K12 on holidays).

By public light buses/minibuses

A typical green public light bus

Van-sized public light buses or minibuses serve both feeder and trunk routes, carry a maximum of 19 passengers (seats only) and come in two varieties, red minibuses and green minibuses (the red buses are also called maxicabs); the colour refers to a wide stripe painted on top of the vehicle.

  • Most minibus station signs only offer Chinese description, and in the most extreme case, may have nothing more than the route number on the sign. Location markers of minibus stations on online maps are also spotty. Translation apps like Google Translate (including its camera function) and asking other passengers about the route are useful ways to determine whether the route serves your destination.
  • Riding a minibus may not be easy for travellers, as it is required to call out the name of the stop and/or ask the driver to stop in Cantonese (Just shouting 'Please Stop' loudly in English usually suffices), yet more light buses are equipped with bells to notify the driver. Some station names used by minibuses may be outdated, such as "Daimaru" (大丸) station located near Great George Street and Paterson Street refers to Hong Kong's defunct Daimaru department store closed in 1998.
  • If a minibus station requires diversion from a green minibus' usual route and nobody on the minibus asked to stop, drivers may ignore the stop and take short cuts. The foolproof way for travellers is to inform the driver of your destination and remind the driver again when the minibus is approaching your destination.
  • Minibuses sometimes depart from terminus only if they're full, so consider include waiting time if you're boarding a minibus at its terminus.
  • Though more and more red minibuses accept Octopus card, many still do not accept Octopus but will give you change, while green minibuses accept Octopus payment but cannot give you change if you pay in cash. Prices on red minibuses are often displayed only in Chinese numbers. The price displayed on a red minibus can legally vary according to the market price, so one might need to pay more at busy times and on special occasions (such as during a typhoon or demonstration), though it is rare.
  • Some people argue that the driving standards of red minibuses are lower than green minibuses; Minibus drivers generally drive fast, especially at night. Always use minibus seatbelts where available, as it's against the law not to use them. You will notice that they all have an extra, large, digital speedometer in the cabin for the passengers to view, this is required by the government after a few fatal accidents due to speeding. Since the introduction of these passenger speedometers mini-bus accident rates have dropped.
    • Seatbelts are often ignored by minibus passengers, but the police occasionally have an annual or bi-annual crackdown where offenders may be fined. Faulty seatbelts may also be encountered even on newer minibuses: show it to the police officers, and they would likely to spare you from tickets.
    • Intense speeding and overloading are still common problems for night minibus services (regardless of red/green minibuses) due to a lack of enforcement. Speedometers are also usually modified to lower the speed displayed on them, or simply tampered. Dial +852-2754-7668 to report dangerous driving practices by minibus drivers if you encounter them.
  • The Hong Kong Island green minibus #1 down from the Peak to Central is particularly exhilarating. Red minibuses tend to have a more Chinese feel than green buses.

There are six independent route numbering systems, applying to: buses (i) on Hong Kong Island, (ii) in Kowloon and the New Territories, and (iii) on Lantau Island; green minibuses (iv) on Hong Kong Island, (v) in Kowloon, and (vi) in New Territories and several exceptional auxiliary bus routes. Red minibuses do not usually have a route number. This leads to duplication of routes in different regions. Although the Transport Department has been working on unification of the route numbers, they are still a little bit messy. If you are confused a bit by the numbering of routes, here is a suggestion: just remember the route number of buses in Hong Kong Island/Kowloon/New Territories only whenever it is necessary. In other special circumstances, ask the driver or the station staff for the Lantau buses and green minibuses and they can answer you.

Generally you need not mention which district the route belongs to when you are asking for directions (almost all people will assume you are asking for the route which runs in the district you are in, e.g. if you ask for bus route #2, locals will assume you are asking for bus route #2 running in Kowloon if you are in Kowloon), but you really need to mention whether the route is by bus or minibus when you ask, since in some cases both buses and minibuses can have the same route number in the same area which are different routes. (e.g. there are both bus route #6 and minibus route #6 in Tsim Sha Tsui, which are different routes).

By ferry

Star Ferry and the Island skyline
Crew using billhook to catch mooring rope.

A large fleet of ferries sail between the many islands of Hong Kong. The granddaddy of them all and an attraction in itself is the Star Ferry, whose most popular line travels between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central from early morning until late at night, and offers amazing views (especially when coming from Tsim Sha Tsui). The Star Ferry is an icon of Hong Kong heritage and has carried passengers for over 120 years. Taking its 11-minute ride across the harbour and catching some misty breeze is considered a "must do" when visiting Hong Kong. Navigation enthusiasts will also not want to miss the sight of the crew using a billhook to catch the thrown rope as it moors at the pier, a practice unchanged since the first ferry ran in 1888.

Upper deck seats cost $2.50 on weekdays and $3.40 on weekends while the lower deck costs $2.00 on weekdays and $2.80 on weekends, both payable with Octopus, cash (no change given) or by onsite vending machine. The Star Ferry also operates between Tsim Sha Tsui and Wanchai but only offers upper-deck seating. A 4-day tourist ticket is also available for $25.

Ferries to Lamma, Lantau and other islands depart from a variety of ports, but the largest and most important terminal is at Central adjacent to the Star Ferry. Ferries are usually divided into fast ferries and slow ferries, with fast ferries charging around twice the price for half the journey time, although not all destinations offer both kinds of service. Example fares for trips from Central to Yung Shue Wan (Lamma) are $10/15 slow/fast, and to Mui Wo (Lantau) $10.50/$21. All fares increase by around 50% on Sundays and public holidays. There is soemthimes an extra charge for seating in an air-conditioned area.

A kai-to operating between Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau

In addition, there are also a number of ferry services known as kai-to (街渡/街艔) serving the city's most remote islands, in which some are also tourist attractions. These ferries are often operated by small motorised sampans. A list of these services can be found on the website of the Transport Department, and are listed on Apple Maps as proper ferries.

By taxi

Red taxis in Kowloon

Taxis are plentiful and efficient. They are extremely cheap compared to many other large cities.

There are three types of taxi in Hong Kong, easily identified by their colours: red, green and blue, all of which serve the airport and Hong Kong Disneyland. When in doubt, just take a red taxi. Rates for each type of taxi are published online. Rates as of Nov 2023:

Name of taxi Taxi colour Service area Flag down (for first 2 km) Rate for extra 200 m or 2 minutes of waiting
higher rate lower rate
Urban Red Anywhere in Hong Kong (except Southern Lantau Island) $27 $1.90 (up to $93.50) $1.30 (after $93.50)
New Territories Green
  • Tuen Mun District
  • Yuen Long District
  • Tai Po District
  • North District
  • Ma On Shan District
  • Most areas of Sai Kung District (except Tseung Kwan O New Town)
  • Lok Ma Chau Control Point (from 11:00 pm to 06:30 am on the following day)
  • Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Public Transport Interchange
  • Shenzhen Bay Port Hong Kong Port Area
  • Passenger Terminals and the Ground Transportation Centre of the Hong Kong International Airport in Chek Lap Kok
  • Tsing Yi Station of Airport Railway
  • Tsuen Wan MTR Station
  • Prince of Wales Hospital
  • The Accident and Emergency Department of Tseung Kwan O Hospital
  • Sha Tin Racecourse
  • Shun Lee Estate in Kwun Tong
  • Hong Kong Disneyland
  • Hang Hau MTR Station
  • The Public Transport Interchange at the Hong Kong Port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
$23.50 $1.70 (up to $74.50) $1.30 (after $74.50)
Lantau Blue Lantau Island, Chek Lap Kok and the Public Transport Interchange at the Hong Kong Port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. $22 $1.70 (up to $175) $1.50 (after $175)

Considerations when riding taxis:

  • Wearing of seat belts is required by law for the driver and all passengers. Drivers have the right to refuse carrying any passenger who refuses to comply, and will not carry more passengers than the number of seat belts.
  • Tipping is usually not required or expected, however the driver will sometimes round the fare up to the nearest dollar.
  • Drivers are required to provide change for $100 notes, but not for higher denominations. If you only have a $500 or $1000 note and are going through a tunnel, let the driver know beforehand and he will change it when paying at the toll booth.
  • Some taxis accept credit cards and Octopus cards to avoid hassles with small change; these are usually indicated by a sticker in the windshield.
  • There are no extra late-night charges nor peak-hour surcharges. No charges are levied for travel to/from the airport or within downtown but all toll charges for tunnels are added to the bill. The driver will normally pay on your behalf at the toll booth and you just need to reimburse him before alighting.
  • Baggage carried in the boot ("trunk" if coming from North America) will cost you $5 per piece even if you lift it yourself, except for wheelchairs.
  • Harbour crossing passengers (Hong Kong Island to Kowloon or vice versa) are expected to pay the return tolls. But you can use this to your advantage by picking a homebound taxi from a cross-harbour taxi rank in places like the Star Ferry pier or Hung Hom station. In these cross-harbour taxi stands only single toll charge will be applied to the taxi fare.
  • All taxi drivers are required to display inside the vehicle an official name card that includes the driver's photograph and the license plate number. Unless a taxi has an out of service sign displayed, they are legally required to take you to your destination. They are also required to provide you a receipt upon request. If you think you have been "toured" around the city, or if they refuse to either carry you to your destination or provide for a receipt, you may file a complaint to the Transport Complaints Unit Complaint Hotline (Voice mail service after office hours) at +852-2889-9999 or by filling in their online complaint form.
  • All taxis are radio equipped and can be reserved and requested via an operator for a token fee of $5, payable to the driver. You are unlikely to need to call a taxi, though, as they are plentiful.
  • It is good practice to get a local person to write the name or address of your destination in Chinese for you to hand to the taxi driver, as many drivers speak limited English and Mandarin. For example, if you wish take a journey back to your hotel, ask a receptionist for the hotel's business card. Nevertheless, even if you don't, most taxi drivers know enough English to communicate the basics. Buildings might have an English name used by foreigners and a different English name used by locals. The HSBC building in Central is called "Hong Kong Bank" in English by taxi drivers for example. When using a maps app on a phone, your destination may also have a Chinese name which you can show to the driver; if not you can show the Chinese street name and the place of a nearby building written in Chinese.
  • Learning some Cantonese pronunciation for your location will help (especially as some names such as Hung Hom, don't sound in Cantonese like they are written in English). "Do" (said like "Doe" - a deer, a female deer, with a middle tone) and "Gai" (said more like "Kai" with a rising tone) are the Cantonese words for Road and Street respectively. If you can pronounce your suburb and local road correctly, this will help considerably.
  • Mobile taxi apps like eTaxi and HKTaxi are becoming widespread in Hong Kong. The advantage of using a taxi app is that you always get a fair price, all payments are done by card, there's no need to call anyone, and you can get a taxi at any time in less than 10 minutes.
  • Uber, the global rideshare giant, continues to operate in Hong Kong despite a multi-year legal battle with the government on who is allowed to drive for them. Drivers without the appropriate permits run the risk of fines, but passengers don't.

By car

A map of Routes of Hong Kong. Note that the map doesn't include the newly built Tuen Mun–Chek Lap Kok Link and Heung Yuen Wai Highway

Driving across the border

It is unlikely that you will be able to drive across the border to mainland China. If you wish to drive into mainland China then your vehicle must have both Hong Kong and Guangdong registration plates. These are issued in limited numbers to people investing in the mainland, and the price for a second hand plate can be as high as $300,000.

Apart from the previous mechanism, a pilot scheme will allow car owners holding a Hong Kong Identity Card and a valid Home Return Permit to drive across the border to Guangdong via Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge for at most 30 days per each journey. Quotas are limited and randomly allocated by computer, so applications could depend on your luck.

For both cases, you will also need to acquire a mainland Chinese driving licence. Hong Kong, Macau or foreign licences will not be accepted. You will also need to apply for a Closed Road Permit from Hong Kong's Transport Department, and change sides of the road at the border.

Renting a car is almost unheard of in densely populated Hong Kong. With heavy traffic, a complex road network, rare and expensive parking spaces, and well-connected public transportation, renting a car is very unappealing, and can be as expensive as over $600/day even for a small car. That said, there are parts of the New Territories, Lantau Island and southern Hong Kong Island that are poorly, or in some cases not at all served by public transport. Therefore, renting a car should not be ruled out if you intend to spend a significant amount of time hiking and camping in the countryside, particularly if you are staying in a suburban hotel. As a visitor to Hong Kong, you cannot drive to southern Lantau Island south of Shek Mun Kap (石門甲), eastern Sai Kung beyond Northeast of Pak Tam Chung (北潭涌) and some border areas. These boundaries are generally well-marked with warning signs and probably existing roadblocks.

The legal age for driving passenger cars in Hong Kong is 18, the same as the mainland. Hong Kong allows most foreigners to drive with an International Driving Permit (IDP) for up to 12 months. Anyone who drives for more than 12 months is required to get a Hong Kong licence issued by the Department of Transport. A license can be issued "directly"(without a test), to holders of driving licenses from certain countries.

Hong Kong uses traffic rules and signs similar to the United Kingdom (i.e. more or less according to the Vienna convention, although not a signatory). Directional signs are generally bilingual in traditional Chinese and English. The majority of Hongkongers will exceed the speed limit by around 10 km/h which is the tolerated threshold. There are many speed cameras on most major highways. Wearing a seatbelt is mandatory for every passenger who has a seatbelt provided. Many drivers will not signal before changing lanes.

Expressways are not tolled, but most road tunnels, including the 3 cross harbour tunnels, are tolled. The Hong Kong Government is gradually implementing a new ETC system in tunnels named HKeToll. Vehicles must be equipped with a vehicle tag or class tag with sufficient value when driving through tunnels. They are most likely to be dealt by your car rental agency. Vehicles without a tag will be recognized, and driver must pay their toll within 14 days through Faster Payment System, at a 7-11 convenience store or at one of HKeToll's service centre. Failure to pay results in a maximum surcharge up to $525 along with the original tunnel toll.

Traffic in Hong Kong moves on the left (the steering wheel is on the right-hand side), same as the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Thailand and Singapore, but opposite to mainland China. The only exception is the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge where traffic moves on the right.

By bicycle


In general, although cycling is possible, Hong Kong is not a bicycle-friendly place because of its hilly landscapes, government policies, air pollution and a general lack of consideration by many motorists. Locals sometimes cycle on the pavements if they are not crowded, although most of time, pavements are too crowded even for pushing your bike. If you plan to use busy urban roads you should be fit enough to keep up with the traffic, which moves surprisingly quickly.

A network of tarmac cycle tracks sprawl across the New Territories making it relatively easy to bike for longer distances. Unlike cycling in urban areas, riding on these tracks is quite enjoyable for the rural views along the way. There are also several mountain-bike trails in the country parks, although a permit is necessary to bring your bicycle into the parks. Visitors should comply with the Road User's Code. Visit this page for maps of major cycle tracks.

Bike rental is available in several locations across the territory. Popular rental spots include Cheung Chau, Mui Wo (Lantau), Sha Tin, Tai Po Market, Tuen Mun and Ma On Shan. Rental fees are typically $40–60 a day for a standard entry-level mountain bike, or around $150 per day for a higher-spec mountain or road bike.

Basic rules to follow:

  • Cyclists are not allowed by law to ride on highways and tunnels, which are well patrolled.
  • It is an offence to be drunk in charge of a bicycle.
  • By law, you're required to have a front and rear light.
  • Electronic bike conversion systems are not allowed. The police have a strict enforcement policy on this offence.
  • The maximum penalty for riding on pedestrian roads is $500 or a three-month jail sentence. Usually offenders get a warning, but the police occasionally have an annual, or bi-annual crackdown.
  • For folding bike users, sometimes a bus driver will tell you that it's not allowed, but if you talk to them nicely they will usually let you board. A bicycle bag that makes your bike look like ordinary luggage can make your life a lot easier.

Bicycles on public transport


Folding bicycles are permitted on all public transport, provided that they are folded.

  • MTR: Non-folding bicycles are permitted to travel on the MTR system. Travel in the first or last carriage and remove the front wheel.
  • Ferries: Bicycles are permitted on board slow ferries including the Star Ferry, but are not permitted on the Fast Ferries.
  • Taxis: Most taxi drivers will carry bikes in the boot if the front wheel is removed. Some drivers will carry your bike for free, others will legitimately charge extra for 'excess baggage'.

By escalator


The world's longest outdoor escalator system travels from Central through Soho to the residential developments of the Mid-levels. The escalator moves down in the morning rush hour but up the rest of the time, and using it is free — in fact, you can even get Octopus credits from machines along the way for being willing to use your feet! The escalator is covered, but still relatively exposed to the elements.

The escalator cuts through some of the oldest streets found anywhere in Hong Kong, so if you are happy to take a chance and just wander and explore the back streets you are likely to find something of interest that dates back to colonial times.



Hong Kong doesn't have street benches to sit down. Whilst "sitting out areas" are around, these are generally infrequent. Additionally, restaurants (especially cheap and quick ones) will prefer quick table turnover. All this adds up to spending a considerable amount of time on your feet in any given day. Make sure you have a pair of comfortable shoes, as even a good pair of shoes will still leave your feet sore after a full day on your feet.



Guided walks


A list of guided tours is available on the website of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Victoria Peak


Get a stunning view of Hong Kong Island on Victoria Peak atop the giant, wok-shaped Peak Tower! Ever since the dawn of British colonisation, the Peak hosted the most exclusive neighbourhood for the territory's richest residents. Prior to World War II, non-white people weren't permitted to even set foot here (except for the servants of the resident white families). The Peak Tower has an observation platform and a shopping mall with shops, fine dining, and museums. Read more at Hong Kong/Central#Victoria Peak.

Horse racing


Horse racing was introduced by the British during the colonial period, and remains serious business in Hong Kong. While illegal in mainland China, horse racing continues to be legal in Hong Kong under the auspices of "One Country, Two Systems" arrangement. There are live broadcasts over the radio and many people bet regularly. When people are listening to the races, whether in a taxi or restaurant or on the streets, expect no conversation or business to transpire for the 1-2 minute duration of the race.

With the exception of a summer break between mid-July and mid-September, horse races take place on Wednesdays and on weekends, at either 1 Sha Tin Racecourse Sha Tin Racecourse on Wikipedia in the New Territories or 2 Happy Valley Racecourse Happy Valley Racecourse on Wikipedia ($10, Wednesday nights) on Eastern Hong Kong Island. Both racing locations are easily accessible by MTR. Happy Valley is the more convenient, historic, and impressive location, though Sha Tin is larger and hosts more top-level international races. Check with the Hong Kong Jockey Club for the full schedule.

Get a local to explain the betting system to you. Read Racing Post by the South China Morning Post on race days for a guide to the race. A beer garden with $40 draught beer, plenty of expatriates, and racing commentary in English is at the finish line of Happy Valley. Bring your passport and get in at the tourist rate of just $1 (compared to $10 for locals).

Betting can also be placed at any of 100+ branches of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the only institution permitted to conduct legal horse racing in the territory. Expect long lines and big crowds.

Traditional heritage

Stilt Houses in Tai O

There are many traditional heritage locations throughout Hong Kong.

Murray House

In New Territories you will find Ping Shan Heritage Trail passing by some of the most important ancient sights, the walled Hakka village of Tsang Tai Uk, Fu Shin Street Traditional Bazaar as well as a number of temples including Che Kung Temple, Man Mo Temple and the Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas. In Kowloon you will find the Kowloon Walled City Park at the location of the former Kowloon walled city, which has the remnants of the city's south gate, and a small open-air museum. And on Lantau you will find the Stilt houses in Tai O, Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha Statue.

Tian Tan Buddha

Hong Kong has traditionally been known for Cantonese opera (粵劇), which as the name suggests, originates in Guangdong province. This art form employs colourful props and costumes, with stories usually set in ancient China, and is a display of singing, martial arts, acting and acrobatics. It is, however, moribund these days, with modern audiences being primarily restricted to the elderly. The only surviving theatre still dedicated exclusively to Cantonese opera performances is the Sunbeam Theatre.



There are a variety of museums in Hong Kong with different themes. Arguably the best museum is the 3 Hong Kong Museum of History Hong Kong Museum of History on Wikipedia in Kowloon, which gives an excellent overview of Hong Kong's fascinating past. Starting in 2020, only an abridged version of the museum's permanent exhibit is available while the museum is renovated.

Kowloon also has a number of other interesting museums including 4 Dialogue in the Dark Hong Kong Heritage Museum on Wikipedia, which is an exhibition in complete darkness where you should use your non-visual senses with the help of a visually impaired guide, 5 Hong Kong Museum of Art Hong Kong Museum of Art on Wikipedia, which is a fascinating, strange and elusive place exhibiting Chinese ceramics, terracotta, rhinoceros horn and Chinese paintings as well as contemporary art produced by Hong Kong artists, 6 Hong Kong Science Museum Hong Kong Science Museum on Wikipedia, primarily aimed at children, and Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre.

Central also has its share of museums including 7 Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum on Wikipedia, 8 Hong Kong Maritime Museum Hong Kong Maritime Museum on Wikipedia, 9 Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences on Wikipedia, which shows how the healthcare system evolved from traditional Chinese medicine to modern Western medicine, and Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre. There is also a 3D museum from Korea called Trick Eye Museum Hong Kong.

The 10 Hong Kong Palace Museum Hong Kong Palace Museum on Wikipedia in West Kowloon is a branch of the Palace Museum in Beijing's Forbidden City, and largely dedicated to displaying artifacts from the Forbidden City's collection.


Tai Mei Tuk country park, looking south towards Shatin town, north eastern Hong Kong.

Contrary to popular belief, Hong Kong is not all skyscrapers and it is worthwhile to go to the countryside (over 70% of Hong Kong), including the country parks and marine parks. Many are surprised to find that Hong Kong is actually home to some stunning landscapes and breathtaking scenery.

  • Lantau Island is twice as big as Hong Kong island and is well worth checking out if you want to get away from the bright lights and pollution of the city for a spell. Here you will find open countryside, traditional fishing villages, secluded beaches, monasteries and more. You can hike, camp, fish and mountain bike, among other activities.
  • In the waters just off Tung Chung on Lantau Island, live the Chinese White Dolphin. Chinese White Dolphin on Wikipedia These dolphins are naturally pink and live in the wild, but their status is threatened, with the population estimated to be between 100–200.
  • The Sai Kung Peninsula in New Territories is also a worthwhile place to visit. Its mountainous terrain and spectacular coastal scenery make this a special place. There are both challenging and more relaxed routes.
  • Hong Kong Wetland Park in New Territories is a relaxing park set amidst an ecological mitigation area. One can stroll along a network of board walks or explore the large visitors centre/museum.
  • North East New Territories is also famous for its natural environment. Yan Chau Tong Marine Park is in the North East New Territories. A few traditional abandoned villages are connected with hiking trails in the territory. North East New Territories is a famous hiking hot spot for the locals.
  • Short hiking trails (2 hours) can be found on Hong Kong Island and the New Territories. You can even hike up to the Victoria Peak.
  • Some outlying islands are worth visiting, e.g.: Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, Ping Chau, Tap Mun, Tung Lung Island.

Theme parks

Fireworks at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort
  • Hong Kong Disneyland Resort opened in September 2005. It is on Lantau Island, about 12 km east of Hong Kong International Airport. The resort features a Disneyland park, three resort hotels and a lake recreation centre. It offers some great attractions and short queues most of the year.
  • Ocean Park is on the southern side of Hong Kong island, and is the park that grew up with many local Hong Kong people. With roller coasters and large aquariums altogether, it is still packed on weekends with families and tourists. The cablecar is an icon. For many, the chance to see Hong Kong's pandas would be a deciding factor.
  • Ngong Ping 360 on Lantau Island is a Buddhist themed park that features Imperial Chinese architecture, interactive shows, demonstrations, restaurants and coffee shops. The highlight of this trip is the longest cable car ride in Hong Kong that affords stunning views. The ride also takes you to the largest outdoor seated Buddha.
Ngong Ping 360

Seeing different sides of Hong Kong by public transport


Travelling on a bus or a tram is ideal for looking at different sides of Hong Kong. Not only is it cheap, it allows you to see completely different lifestyles in different districts in a short time. Below are some recommended routes.


  • KMB Route 270A. Starts from the downtown in Jordan, Kowloon. It goes along Peninsular Kowloon and heads through the New Territories. Then it goes into Sha Tin. Afterwards it goes through Tai Po Road, where you can see many traditional Chinese villages and the scenic Chinese University of Hong Kong. The bus further goes to Tai Po and you can see the traditional Market. After Tai Po, the bus again passes through the countryside and eventually reaches its terminus at Sheung Shui (below Landmark North), which is near the Hong Kong - Shenzhen boundary. The journey takes 80 minutes and costs $13 for the whole journey with an air-conditioned bus. The Hung Hom bound train back to the city can be taken from Sheung Shui.
  • Citybus Route 15[dead link] starts from Central (Exchange Square) to The Peak. It is an alternative way for getting to The Peak by bus rather than by Peak Tram. Your journey to Hong Kong will not be complete unless you have visited Victoria Peak. You can see the beautiful view of Hong Kong Island, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon Peninsula along the Stubbs Road during the journey. When you arrive, there are two shopping malls: The Peak Tower and The Peak Galleria, which provide restaurants, a supermarket, and souvenir shops for your convenience. In addition, you can visit Madame Tussauds Hong Kong and see if the mannequins look to be the real deal. Direction: you can take MTR and get off at Hong Kong station. You can approach Hong Kong station by the underpass from Central station. After that, follow the exit B1 to Exchange Square and you will see the bus terminus. You can also get off at Admiralty station. Then, follow the C1 exit towards Queensway Plaza. Make a right after you exit the station, and you will see the bus stop. After you get on the bus, just stay on until it arrives to The Peak bus terminus. The bus fare is $9.8 and it takes about 30 minutes for the journey.
  • Citybus Route 973[dead link] starts from Tsim Sha Tsui East Bus Terminus at the Concordia Plaza, which is directly opposite the Science Museum at Science Museum Road. It goes along Salisbury Road, where the Avenue of Stars, The Space Museum and the Art Museum are. Later it goes to University of Hong Kong, which is the most prominent and the oldest university in Hong Kong after crossing the Western Harbour Crossing. It later passes through the countryside of the southern part of Hong Kong. It will reach the Hong Kong southern side in Aberdeen. Not long after, the bus passes by a football field, from which it is a 5–10 minutes walk to Ocean Park. Finally, the bus passes by the beautiful sandy beach of Repulse Bay, before it finally arrives at its terminus station at Stanley Village, where the famous Murray House and the Stanley Village Market are. The fare is $13.6 and it takes about 95 minutes for the journey.
  • Citybus Route H1, H2 are two rickshaw-themed double-deckers going to main heritage spots on Hong Kong Island, such as the Court of Final Appeal (previously LegCo) in Central and the University of Hong Kong. A day pass costs $50, and you can hop on and hop off at any stop.


A colourful tram
Retro tram passing the wet market at Chun Yeung Street, North Point

The tram system refers to is Hong Kong Tramways, a slow yet special form of transport running on Hong Kong Island. It has been operating since 1904 and is an obvious relic of the British administration. A trip on a tram is a perfect way to have a leisurely tour around Hong Kong Island's major streets and to have a glimpse of the local life. Fares are relatively cheap, just $2.60 per trip for an adult and $1.20 for senior citizens (aged 65 or older) and children pay $1.30.

The low price makes it attractive to domestic helpers on their Sunday off, and it can be so crowded that it is very difficult to squeeze on or off. A relaxing tram journey would be better for a weekday. The tram is not air conditioned, while the open windows offer a nice breeze.

Starting from the old district Kennedy Town, you can see the residential areas, followed by the Chinese herbal medicine and dried seafood wholesalers in Sai Ying Pun - Sheung Wan. Then the tram goes in the famous Central district with high rise commercial buildings and banks. Wan Chai and Causeway Bay are the districts popular with shoppers and are always crowded with people at all times. Travelling further east are North Point and Shau Kei Wan areas, which are of completely different styles from that in Central and Causeway Bay.

It is recommended to ride from as far as Kennedy Town in the west, to as far as Shau Kei Wan in the east, in order to get a strong contrast of "East meets West" and "Old meets New". Moreover, trams terminating at North Point will pass a wet market at Chun Yeung Street before reaching the terminus, creating a unique scene for both passengers on trams and shoppers on the street.

The Light Rail, a modern tram system, operates in the northwest New Territories and serves New Towns between Yuen Long and Tuen Mun. Few tourists will be inspired by these trams but they may appeal to enthusiasts, and are useful for getting to the famous Chinese bakeries in Yuen Long.

Avenue of Stars and A Symphony of Lights


Hong Kong's version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Avenue of Stars celebrates icons of Hong Kong cinema from the past century. The seaside promenade offers fantastic views, day and night, of Victoria Harbour and its iconic skyline. This is the place to have your picture taken by a professional photographer who is experienced in night photography. The Avenue can be reached from the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station or the Star Ferry.

The Avenue of the Stars is also a great place to see A Symphony of Lights, a spectacular light and laser show synchronised to music and staged every night at 8PM. This is the world's "Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show" as recognised by Guinness World Records. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the light show is in English. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday it is in Mandarin. On Sunday it is in Cantonese. While at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, spectators can tune their radios to FM103.4 MHz for English narration, FM106.8 MHz for Cantonese or FM107.9 for Mandarin. The same soundtrack can be accessed via mobile phones at 35665665 for the English version where normal telephone rates apply. However, whilst the show is not such a big deal, during festival times the light show is supplemented by fireworks that are worth seeing.



The sports landscape in Hong Kong generally reflects its legacy of British colonial rule. The most popular sport in Hong Kong is football (soccer), and while the local league and national team are not of a high standard, it has the highest participation rate among all team sports in Hong Kong. Rugby union is also popular, with the territory hosting the Hong Kong Sevens, the world's most prestigious rugby sevens tournament, every year. Hong Kong also has a respectable rugby union national team, which is the second strongest team in Asia after Japan. Cricket has a strong following among the South Asian and Eurasian (European and Asian mixed-race) communities, and membership in the Hong Kong Cricket Club or Kowloon Cricket Club is somewhat of a status symbol for Hongkongers. Due to Hong Kong's mild climate, cricket tends to be played in the winter instead of the summer as is common elsewhere.



Pop culture


Hong Kong was one of the main centres of Chinese pop culture from the fall of Shanghai to the communists in 1949 until the 2010s, having given rise to many famous singers and actors such as Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Wong Ka Kui (Beyond), Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Chow Yun-fat and locally Eason Chan. Hong Kong action cinema is legendary among Chinese people across the world, at one point even enjoying some success in Japan and South Korea. The city also played a key role in popularizing the genre of Cantopop, and some Cantopop songs have achieved cult status across the Chinese-speaking world, even among people who do not speak Cantonese. Television dramas by local station TVB also enjoyed loyal followings among ethnic Chinese across the world.

This has diminished greatly since the 2010s, as most of Hong Kong's top singers and actors have relocated to mainland China where they can make a lot more money. Nevertheless, the city does continue to produce notable films on a regular basis, and Cantopop has experienced a revival of sorts in the 2020s, led by a new generation of local talent.

Music festivals


Clockenflap is Hong Kong's largest music festival, and includes popular artists, mainly from Europe and the US. It takes place in November on the Central Harbourfront Event Space.

Indie events


Cantopop is by far the most popular genre in Hong Kong and receives an immense amount of support from the media. Independent musicians and are often harassed and evicted from their rehearsal rooms and concert venues by the government because they are forced to illegally rent warehouse spaces due to unaffordable rents. A few small venues are open for indie shows, such as Hidden Agenda and The Wanch.



You are never far from the sea in Hong Kong and going to a good beach is only a bus-ride away. However, if you want a really good beach, then it is worth making the effort to travel, possibly on foot, and seek out the beaches of the New Territories. With more than 200 outlying islands, as well as an extensive coastline that is jam-packed with impressive bays and beaches, you will surely come across some good looking beaches to while the whole day away. Hong Kong's urban beaches are usually well maintained and have services such as showers and changing rooms. Where beaches are managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, shark nets and life guards are present. Dogs and smoking are not permitted on these beaches.

The best beaches to use include:

Repulse Bay is a large urban beach on the south side of Hong Kong island that features a colourful Chinese temple. Money has been spent on its facilities and will appeal to those who have young children.

Middle Bay is popular with gay people and is a 20-minute walk from the crowds at Repulse Bay. Middle Bay has lifeguards, showers, changing rooms, shark nets and a decent cafe serving drinks and snacks.

Shek O is a beach popular with many young locals. It is away from the bustle of the city but is well served by restaurants and has a good bus service from the north side of the island. The Thai restaurant close to the beach is worth a try.

Big Wave Bay This beach is smaller than others on Hong Kong Island but still has good services which include a number of small cafes close to the beach. Big Wave Bay, as the name suggests, has the sort of waves that appeal to surfers. From Big Wave Bay it is possible to take the coastal footpath to Chai Wan where you can find the MTR and buses. The walk to Chai Wan is about one hour, or more if you are not used to the steep climb up the mountain.

Hung Shing Yeh Beach on Lamma Island is highly regarded as the most popular beach. This beach is Grade 1 and shows off powdery, fine sand as well as clear water. This beach is well-appointed by means of changing facilities, a barbecue area, and a refreshment kiosk. To arrive at this beach, take the ferryboat from Central Pier to Yung Shue Wan. Expect to walk around 20 minutes from the ferry terminal to the beach (buses and taxis are not an option on Lamma).

Swimming pools


In addition to pools in many hotels, there are several public swimming pools scattered across the territory. Entrance costs $19 on weekends/$17 on weekdays for adults and $9 on weekends/$8 on weekdays for children, usually only payable by Octopus Card or by coins. Swimming pools are child-friendly with shallow pools and fountains. All swimming pool complexes are well maintained and offer swimming lanes, hot showers, lockers ($5 coin deposit or your own lock required), both family and same-sex changing rooms (limited privacy), and most have swimming clubs for serious swimmers. Swimmers are expected to provide their own towels and toiletries.

Most pools open at 6:30AM and close at 10PM. They generally close for lunch noon-1PM and then again from 5-6PM. Nicer hotels and residential buildings may also have their own private pool.

  • Kowloon Park Swimming Pool Complex (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR exit A1) is centrally located and offers visitors a wide range of services and includes an indoors Olympic-sized pool, a slightly smaller training pool, a diving pool, and a leisure pool for younger swimmers. During the summer months, the indoor pools are air-conditioned, whilst in winter the water is heated. During the summer season, there are four outdoor leisure pools to meet the needs of all ages. In summer, the pool is popular with teenagers but all age-groups make good use of the pools. A limited number of sun loungers are available.



You can rent a Junk Boat for a sailing trip. A typical junk boat can accommodate more than 30 people and can be rented for the day to take you on a tour of your choice. Sai Kung is a popular spot for the trip to start and you can sail to nearby beaches for a more secluded time. A cheaper alternative is to hire a much smaller water taxi (水道) to take you to where you want to go.

There are a few boats that operate "sunset cruises" on the harbour.



The Hong Kong team continues to play separately from China, playing in the cooler months Sept-April. Both are third-tier ICC teams, occasionally entering qualifying rounds for major tournaments but not routinely facing the stronger nations, though the Hong Kong team remains the stronger of the two. Hong Kong play at Tin Kwong Road (formerly Mission Road) in Kowloon. Cricket in Hong Kong is mainly played by the South Asian and white minorities, which is reflected in the composition of the Hong Kong national cricket team.

Hiking and camping

Pui O beach is a great destination for campers at Sai Kung East Country Park

Hiking is the best kept secret in Hong Kong, it is a great way to appreciate Hong Kong's beautiful landscapes that include mountains, beaches and breathtaking cityscapes. The starting points for many hiking trails are accessible by bus or taxi. Hiking is highly recommended for active travellers who want to escape the modern urban world.

Hiking in Hong Kong can be strenuous because of the steep trails, and during the summer months, mosquitos and the hot, humid, weather combine to make even the easiest trek a workout. It is strongly recommended that you wear suitable clothes, and bring plenty of water and mosquito repellent. It is fairly unlikely that you will have a close encounter with venomous snakes, although they are present in most rural areas. Most local people choose the winter months to undertake the more demanding hiking trails. If you are not especially fit you might plan your route so that you take a bus or taxi to the highest point of the trail and then walk downhill.

Campsites in Hong Kong are plentiful and free of charge. Most are in country parks and range from basic sites serviced with only with a pit toilet, to those that provide campers with modern toilet blocks and cold showers. Some sites have running water and sinks for washing dishes. A few campsites have places to buy drinking water and food. Whilst many are serenely remote weekends and public holidays are predictably busy, especially in the more accessible places close to roads. Hongkongers who camp like to do so in large groups, talk loudly, and stay awake late into the night. If you are noise sensitive try to find a remote campsite or pack some good earplugs.

There are four major trails in Hong Kong:

  • Lantau Trail on Lantau.
  • Hong Kong Trail on Hong Kong Island.
  • Maclehose Trail through the New Territories. Oxfam organises an annual charity hike of this 100 km trail every November. Winning teams finish in 11–12 hours but average people take 30–36 hours to finish the whole trail, which starts from the eastern end of the New Territories (Sai Kung) to the western end (Tuen Mun).
  • Wilson Trail starting on Hong Kong Island and finishing in the New Territories.

Hong Kong has some exceptional rural landscapes but visitor impact is an issue. Respect the countryside by taking your litter home with you. Avoid putting food in litter bins in remote areas as these are not emptied on a regular basis and your trash may be strewn around by hungry animals.

Hong Kong Outdoors and Journey to Hong Kong[dead link] are packed with information on hiking and camping, and other great things to do and places to go in the wilderness areas of Hong Kong.



While the closest casinos are in Macau, other forms of gambling are legal and regulated in Hong Kong:

  • Horse racing is the most popular and is further detailed above.
  • Football betting is legal only at branches of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Betting on other sports is prohibited.
  • Lottery is also legal only at branches of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Marksix is a popular game costing $10 per bet. You pick 6 of 49 numbers, and the lottery result will be announced on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends that don't have horse racing scheduled.
  • Mahjong (麻雀 màh-jeuk) also forms an integral part of Hong Kong gambling culture, although it is often informal and difficult for foreigners to get involved with. Mahjong has a strong influence on Hong Kong pop culture, with a history of songs, films and television series based on a mahjong theme. The game played in Hong Kong is the Cantonese version, which differs in rules and scoring from the Japanese version, Taiwanese version or the versions played in other parts of China. Mahjong parlours are plentiful, although hard to find, in Hong Kong. They also have many unwritten rules that visitors may find hard to understand.




Main building of the University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong has 11 universities. The oldest University of Hong Kong (香港大學) is considered to be one of Asia's top universities. Other highly rated universities in Hong Kong include the Chinese University of Hong Kong (香港中文大學) and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (香港科技大學). Most universities have exchange agreements with foreign universities, offering a good opportunity to study in Hong Kong. Courses for exchange students are often conducted in English.

Learning Cantonese


Some universities and private institutions offer Cantonese lessons for foreigners. This is a good way for those living in Hong Kong for an extended period of time to learn the local language. Like Taiwan and Macau, but unlike mainland China, the script taught is traditional Chinese.



Unless you are already a citizen or permanent resident of Hong Kong then you will need an employment visa in order to work. This usually involves potential employers making an application to the Immigration Department on your behalf; crucially you should have skills and/or qualifications that are in short supply in the local job market. Spouses of employment visa holders can apply for a dependent visa which has no limitations for working within Hong Kong (except perhaps for government posts), although it will terminate at the same time of the visa of the main holder. Spouses who are citizens of the PRC may face issues in obtaining a dependent visa unless they have been living outside the PRC for more than a year.

The Quality Migrant Application Scheme targets highly skilled workers (preferably university educated) to come and settle in Hong Kong and seek employment. For more information, visit the website of the Hong Kong Immigration Department. Hong Kong has a small ESL market; teachers will typically need a bachelor's degree and a TESOL certification. ESL teachers in Hong Kong can expect to earn $12,000-25,000 (monthly) and will usually teach 30 to 40 hours a week. Contracts will sometimes include accommodation and airfare.

You are eligible to apply for permanent residency after living in Hong Kong on a temporary permit for 7 years or more continuously, which allows you to live and work in Hong Kong indefinitely with no restrictions. You must be physically residing in Hong Kong during this time without any long absences. Permanent residency can also be obtained by investing a lot of money in a local business. Check with the immigration department for more details.

Young people between 18 and 30 years old who are citizens of Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and United Kingdom are eligible to apply for a working holiday visa (valid for 6 months for Austrian citizens, 12 months for others), allowing them to take up temporary work and a short period of study in Hong Kong. Visit the Immigration Department's website for more information.

Hong Kong's personal and corporate income tax rates are among the lowest in the world, making it a popular tax haven for many of the world's richest people, and a popular place for multinational corporations to set up their Asia-Pacific headquarters.





Exchange rates for Hong Kong dollar

As of January 2024:

  • US$1 ≈ $7.8
  • €1 ≈ $8.6
  • UK£1 ≈ $9.9
  • AU$1 ≈ $5.2
  • CA$1 ≈ $5.8
  • Japanese ¥100 ≈ $5.4
  • Chinese ¥1 ≈ $1.1
  • SG$1 ≈ $5.9
  • NT$10 ≈ $2.5

Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com

International Commerce Centre, Kowloon

The Hong Kong dollar, denoted by the symbol "$" (港元 or 港幣, ISO code HKD), is the territory's currency. In Cantonese, one dollar is known formally as the 圓 (yùn) and colloquially as the 蚊 (mān). It is subdivided into 100 cents (symbol ¢). In Cantonese, one cent known as a 仙 (sīn), and ten cents is known as a 毫 (hòu). You can safely assume that the '$' sign used in this travel guide and in the territory refers to HKD unless it includes other initials (e.g. US$ to stand for US dollar). The HKD is also widely accepted in Macau in lieu of their home currency at a 1:1 rate.

The official exchange rate is fixed in a range of HK$7.75-7.85 to US$1, although bank rates may fluctuate slightly. When exchanging currency at a big bank, be prepared to pay a small fixed commission, usually about $40 per transaction. If exchanging large amounts, this commission will have a negligible impact on the transaction. If exchanging small amounts, it may be advantageous to exchange at one of many independent exchange stalls or pawnshops found in tourist areas. Although their exchange rates compared with big banks are slightly less favourable for you, most do not charge a commission. They may also be more convenient and a faster way to exchange (no queues, in shopping centres, open 24 hours, minimal paperwork, etc.) However, be wary of using independent exchangers outside banking hours because, without competition from big banks, their rates may be very uncompetitive.

If you go to the right place, Hong Kong can be an excellent place to exchange money, including from one foreign currency to another (i.e. non-HK$ pairs), as some places offer very good exchange rates with low or no commissions, and without the various restrictions and paperwork you have to deal with to exchange money in mainland China. One competitive place to exchange money is Chungking Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui, with a high density of Pakistani and Indian currency sellers.

Try to avoid changing money at the airport, train station, most hotels, or at street blocks or buildings with only one exchange stall since the rates offered there are usually more unfavourable to the traveller. Street money exchange vendors will often offer different rates and you may be able to save around 10% if you can compare several different places rather than using the first one you see. The worst rates will be similar to those found at the hotels and at merchants who accept foreign currency directly.

Getting money by withdrawing with ATM or debit cards may have competitive exchange rates and most big banks (i.e. HSBC, Hang Seng, Standard Chartered, Bank of China, Citibank) do not charge an ATM usage fee, though your banks may impose their own fees (including foreign exchange markups and fixed withdrawal fees). Some smaller banks do not accept ATM cards from overseas customers though. The best banks for foreign tourists to use are HSBC, Hang Seng and Standard Chartered, and ATM machines from those banks are widespread and can be found at any MTR station and along every major street corner.

Other than the $10 banknote, all others are issued by multiple banks in Hong Kong (HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of China). Although they have slightly different designs, notes of the same denomination have the same colour and all of them can be used anywhere in Hong Kong. They come in denominations of $10, $20, $50, $100, $500 and $1000.

It is rare to come across a $1000 note and some shops do not accept them due to counterfeiting concerns.

The Queen's head

You might occasionally encounter coins issued before 1997 that feature the former head of state, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Although these are completely legal tender in Hong Kong, they are becoming rarer and make for a great collectible.

Coins come in units of $10, $5, $2, $1, 50¢, 20¢ and 10¢. Typically you will want to avoid change less than $1 because there are not many things to buy with coins under that. An Octopus Card is the best way to avoid dealing with small change.

The Octopus cards you use for transport (see Get around section) can also be used to pay for items at many fast food chains, supermarkets, and convenience stores. Foreigners can top Octopus cards up at MTR stations, pharmacies, and convenience stores. For the most part you will need to top up in $50 increments but at selected retailers, if you pay with cash at the till, you can request to have the change topped up to your card.

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are ubiquitous. They universally accept Visa, MasterCard, and to a lesser degree UnionPay, Maestro, and Cirrus. No ATM's accpet American Express. They dispense $100, $500 or rarely $1000 notes depending on the request. Credit card use is common in most shops for major purchases. Most retailers accept VISA, MasterCard, and American Express. Maestro debit cards however are not widely accepted by retailers. Signs with the logo of different credit cards are usually displayed at the door to indicate which cards are accepted. For small purchases, in places such as McDonalds or 7-Eleven, cash or an Octopus Card is the norm though some of these outlets can accept credit cards. Contactless VISA or MasterCard can also be used to pay for tram and bus fares directly (in fact there is a promo for a $1 discount off tram fares if using contactless VISA). Sometimes, the merchant can give you a choice of whether to charge your credit card purchase directly to your home currency or Hong Kong dollars. Choosing which currency to directly charge the purchase to won't matter significantly for small amounts but for larger purchases it may be worth reviewing your payment card's policy on them converting foreign exchange transactions; in most cases it is more favourable to charge the transaction in Hong Kong Dollars first and let your card issuer perform the conversion.

If the credit card is swiped or inserted into a terminal, merchants will require that the credit cards be signed and will compare your signature with the card but they do not have to ask for picture ID. The 'chip and pin' system for credit card authorisation prevalent in Europe is not used as extensively in Hong Kong. Many retailers also now utilise contactless/near-field communications for foreign-issued cards and if used for small purchases, a signature is not required. Contactless debit/credit card payment is also an accepted method of payment for fares on busses, trams, the Star Ferry, and most of the MTR (contactless VISA only) - in such cases you tap your card on the designated fare gates or fare collection points. Apple Pay and Google Pay acceptance is near universal within the same venues that take contactless cards.



Opening a bank account in Hong Kong is a straightforward process, requiring a proof of address and a corresponding ID. A Hong Kong identification card (of any type) will make the process much easier, although foreign visitors are allowed to open bank accounts as well using their foreign address. Banks will almost always have English speaking staff available.

Some banks can also provide accounts and UnionPay credit cards in the Chinese RMB currency, which can then be used when travelling in mainland China.



Hong Kong is expensive by Asian standards, with the cost of accommodation especially high. A comfortable mid-range hotel room will cost at least $800 a night, although those who are really on a shoe-string budget could find something for less than $200 for just a bed in a hostel.

Transport is however relatively cheap, with most public transport journeys costing just a few dollars. Even taxis won't break the bank with short journeys costing about $30, although crossing the harbour will add another $80 to your tab.

Eating out in Hong Kong is generally cheaper than in Western countries, and prices start from about $30 per serve for a basic meal of porridge or noodles, although in mid-range restaurants, $200–300 per head is common. At the other end of the spectrum, fine dining can also be very expensive, and prices on the order of $1000 per head or more are not unheard of.

Finally it is worth noting that Hong Kong does not have a sales tax and therefore prices for moderately expensive items (such as imported shampoo, mobile phones etc.) will generally be less than in China, Europe and other countries with sales tax.



As a general rule, tipping is not customary in Hong Kong, though people will not reject any tips you care to hand them. Tipping is a matter of personal choice, but visitors should take into account that locals usually do not leave a tip. Visitors should also know that it is common for bar and restaurant owners to keep some, or all, of the money given as tips to waiters.

In cheaper restaurants, tipping is not expected at all and it will be considered unusual not to take all your change. In medium-to-upmarket restaurants, a 10% service charge is often compulsorily added to your bill (i.e. the prices of food and beverage items you see on the menu do not calculate and include service charge yet). You may, at your own discretion, choose to tip on top of that if the service was exemplary; to give it more chance of reaching the staff, tips should be given in cash and not as additions to a credit card bill. It is also common for mid range Chinese restaurants to give you peanuts, tea and towels and add a small charge to the bill. Known as "cha-sui money" (money for tea and water), it is considered to be common practice, so unless the charge is excessive, tourists should accept it as part of the cost of the meal. Sometimes, restaurants will deliberately give customers change in coins, when notes could be given; it is your choice whether to take all your change or leave a small tip.

Tipping is not expected in taxis but passengers will often round up the fare to the nearest dollar. During a typhoon, when any loss is not covered by insurance, a tip will be expected, or the taxi driver will ask you to pay a surcharge. In hotels, a guest is also expected to tip at least $10–20 for room service, and porters also expect $10–20 for carrying your bags. Bathroom attendants in luxury restaurants and clubs might also expect you to leave a few coins, but it's socially acceptable not to tip.

Do not under any circumstances try to offer a tip to a government employee, especially police officers; this is regarded as bribery and is strictly illegal, and doing so will most probably result in you being arrested.

Exceptionally, on important occasions, such as a wedding party or similar big gala event, local people hosting such events do tip substantially more than ten percent of the total bill. The money is put into a red envelope and given to the manager.


Caution Note: Smaller shops can offer great bargains, however be careful because there is limited consumer protection in Hong Kong and once you have paid and left with your product you have little to no recourse. Completely check your item before paying in order to make sure it is working and authentic. Ask if you can have the item opened for your inspection or if they have a demo item. Some Chinese brands have names and logos very similar to the items they are trying to copy. Stores that have large neon-lighted signs of famous brands are known to fall into this category. If you are buying medicine, you should pay attention to the registration number. Copycat medicines have valid registration numbers, but their numbers are different from the genuine one.

Should you believe you have fallen into any scam or unfair trade practices, dial +852-2545-6182 to report it to Customs and Excise Department. Alternatively, you may fill in this report form and send it to Hong Kong General Post Box 1166, or complete this Report Form.

Fierce competition, no sales tax and many wealthy consumers all add up to make Hong Kong an excellent destination for shopping. Choices are plentiful at competitive prices. Lookout for watches, camping equipment, digital items and luxury cosmetics.

Popular shopping items include consumer electronics, custom clothing, shoes, camping equipment, jewellery, expensive brand name goods, Chinese antiques, toys and Chinese herbs/medicine. There's also a wide choice of Japanese, Korean, American and European clothing and cosmetics but prices are generally higher than in their respective home countries.

Most shops in Hong Kong's urban areas open from about 10AM until 10PM to midnight every day. High rental costs in Hong Kong, ranked second worldwide according to Forbes, makes it no surprise that the best bargain shops could be anywhere except the ground floor. Shops recommended by local people may even be up on the 20th floor in a building that won't give you a hint that it's a place for shopping.

Many shops will accept credit cards. In accepting credit cards, the merchant will look carefully at the signature rather than looking at photo ID. In addition, merchants will not accept credit cards with a different name to the person presenting it. All shops that accept credit cards and many that don't will also accept debit cards as payment. The term used for debit card payment is EPS.

In the old days, Hong Kong was a good place to buy cheap knockoff, fake products and pirated videos and software. Today, Hong Kong residents often buy these items in Shenzhen just across the border in mainland China.

Antiques and arts Head for Hollywood Road and Lascar Road in Central. Here you will find a long street of shops with a wide selection of products that look like antiques. Some items are very good fakes, so make sure you know what you are buying. Try Star House near the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui for more expensive items.

Books Hong Kong houses a fair choice of English books, Japanese, French titles, and a huge range of uncensored Chinese titles. Prices are usually higher than where they import but it is your last hope to look for your books before heading to China. Try Swindon Books on Lock Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. Dymocks, an Australian bookshops, has eleven stores, including in IFC and the Princes Building. For French books, visit Librairie Parentheses on Wellington Street in Central and Japanese books are sold in Sogo Shopping Mall in Causeway Bay. The biggest local bookshop chain is the Commercial Press and they usually have cheaper but limited English titles. For looking for Chinese books, local people's beloved bookshops are all along Sai Yeung Choi Street. Called Yee Lau Sue Den (Bookshop on second floor), they hide themselves in the upper floor of old buildings and offer an unbeatable discount on all books.

Cameras Reputable camera stores are mainly in Central, Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok but tourist traps do exist, especially in Tsim Sha Tsui. The basic rule is to avoid all the shops with flashing neon signs along Nathan Road and look for a shop with plenty of local, non-tourist, customers. Only use recommended shops, as shops such as those on Nathan Road are likely to disappear on your next visit to Hong Kong. For easy shopping, get an underground train to Mongkok and head to Sai Yeung Choi Street, where you might find some of the best deals. The Mong Kok Computer Centre and Galaxy Mall (Sing Jai) are always packed with local people. Several camera shops like Man-Sing and Yau-Sing are known for their impolite staff but have a reputation for selling at fair prices. In the 1990s and early 2000s, most shops didn't allow much bargaining, but this has changed since 2003 with the influx of tourists from mainland China. While it is hard to tell how much discount you should ask for, if a shop can give you more than 25-30% discount, local people tend to believe that it's too good to be true, unless it's a listed seasonal sale. While Hong Kong might offer favourable prices, it is always worth checking prices at Hong Kong based e-commerce such as DigitalRev or Expansys that might ship products to your hotel within a day or at least use their price to bargain with retailers.

Computers The base price of computer equipment in Hong Kong is similar to that in other parts of the world, but there are substantial savings to be had from the lack of sales tax or VAT. The Wanchai Computer Centre, Mongkok Computer Centre and Golden Computer Arcade on Sham Shui Po are all a few steps away from their corresponding MTR stations. Also electronic equipment is available at the large chain stores such as Broadway and Fortress which are in the large malls. The major chain stores will accept credit cards, while smaller shops will often insist on cash or payment by ATM card.

Computer games and gaming hardware If you are interested in buying a new PlayStation, Nindendo DS and the like, the Oriental Shopping Centre, 188 Wan Chai Road, is the place to go. Here you will definitely find a real bargain. Prices can be up to 50% cheaper than in your home country. Be careful to compare prices first. There are also a few game shops in the Wanchai Computer Centre. The back corners in the upper levels usually offer the best prices. You might even be lucky and find English speaking staff here. However, be careful to make sure that the region code of the hardware is compatible with your home country's region code (Hong Kong's region code is NTSC-J, different from mainland China) or buy region code free hardware (like the Nintendo DS lite).

Cosmetics Hong Kong offers a huge range of brand-name make-up, perfume, and skin care products, which are popular purchases for visitors from the mainland. You can find them at malls, department stores, and major shopping areas – for instance, Mong Kok has lots of stores selling cosmetics and skin care products, including some shops that specialise in a particular brand. There are also chains: Sasa and Bonjour have a huge range of products, and other options include Angel, Aster, Colormix, Lan Lan, and the drugstores Mannings and Watsons.

Music and film HMV is a tourist-friendly store that sells a wide range of more expensive products. For real bargains you should find your way into the smaller shopping centres where you will find small independent retailers selling CDs and DVDs at very good prices. Some shops sell good quality second hand products. Try the Oriental Shopping Centre on Wanchai Road for a range of shops and a taste of shopping in a more down-market shopping centre. Alternatively, brave the warren of CD and DVD shops inside the Sino Centre on Nathan Road between Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei MTR stations. Hong Kong has two independent music stores. White Noise Records in Causeway Bay and Harbour Records in TST. Hong Kong's leading department store Lane Crawford has CD Bars in its IFC and Pacific Place stores and there's a good CD bar at Saffron Café on the Peak.

Camping and sports A good place to buy sportswear is close to Mong Kok MTR station. Try Fa Yuen Street with a lot of shops selling sports shoes. There are also many shops hidden anywhere except the ground floor for selling camping equipment. Prices are usually highly competitive.

Fashion Tsim Sha Tsui on Kowloon and Causeway Bay on the island are the most popular shopping destinations, though you can find malls all over the territory. In addition to all the major international brands, there are also several local Hong Kong brands such as Giordano, Bossini, G2000, Joyce and Shanghai Tang. The International Finance Centre in Central has a good selection of haute coutre labels for the filthy rich, while for cheap knock-offs, Temple Street in Mong Kok is the obvious destination, though prices are not as cheap as they used to be and these days, most locals head across the border to Shenzhen for cheaper bargains. There is also Citygate Outlets, an extremely large factory outlet mall containing most of the major foreign and local brands near Tung Chung MTR station on Lantau Island. In the Ladies Market or any markets nearby, there are no price tags on items. Most of the time, the price the merchant will quote you is double the price. Haggle with them and ask to reduce the price at least by 50%. In fact similar clothing items (lower price but fixed) can be found in brick and mortar shops nearby too (e.g. Sai Yeung Choi street)

Tea Buying good Chinese tea is like choosing a fine wine and there are many tea retailers that cater for the connoisseur who is prepared to pay high prices for some of China's best brews. To sample and learn about Chinese tea you might like to find the Tea Museum which is in Hong Kong Park in Central. Marks & Spencer caters for homesick Brits by supplying traditional strong English tea bags at a reasonable price.

Watches and jewellery Hong Kong people are avid watch buyers - how else can you show your wealth if you can't own a car and your home is hidden at the top of a tower-block? You will find a wide range of jewellery and watches for sale in all major shopping areas. If you are targeting elegant looking jewellery or watches try Chow Tai Fook, which can be expensive. Prices vary and you should always shop around and try and bargain on prices. When you are in Tsim Sha Tsui you will probably be offered a "copy watch" for sale. The major luxury brands have their own shops that will ensure you are purchasing genuine items.

Shopping malls


Shopping malls are everywhere in Hong Kong. Locally renowned ones are:

At 415 metres or 88 stories tall, the IFC is among the world's tallest buildings and home to one of Hong Kong's most prestigious shopping centres.
  • IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street. Near the Star Ferry and Outlying Islands Ferry Piers in Central. Has many luxury brand shops, an expensive cinema and superb views across the harbour from the rooftop. Can be reached directly from the Airport via the Airport Express and the Tung Chung line.
  • Pacific Place, 88 Queensway. Also a big shopping centre with mainly high-end brands, including a Harvey Nichols department store, as well as a wonderful cinema. Directly connected to Admiralty MTR via exit 'F'.
  • Festival Walk, 80 Tat Chee Avenue. A big shopping centre with a mix of expensive brands and smaller chains. It has an ice skating rink, cinema and one of Hong Kong's three Apple retail stores. There is also a bus terminal within the mall complex. Take the MTR East Rail to Kowloon Tong.
  • Cityplaza, 14 Taikoo Wan Road. A similarly large shopping centre, also with an ice-skating rink. To get there, take the MTR to Taikoo on the Island Line.
  • Landmark, 15 Queen's Road Central. Many luxury brands have shops here Gucci, Dior, Fendi, Vuitton, etc. It used to be a magnet for the well-heeled but has since fallen behind in its management.
  • APM. 24-hr shopping centre in Kwun Tong. Take the MTR to the Kwun Tong station.
  • Harbour City, 418 Kwun Tong Road. Huge shopping centre in Tsim Sha Tsui on Canton Road, to get there take the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui, or take the Star Ferry.
  • Langham Place, 8 Argyle Street, Mong Kok. A huge 12 storey shopping mall adjacent to the Langham Place Hotel in Mong Kok. Mainly contains trendy shops for youngsters. Take the MTR to the Mong Kong station and follow the appropriate exit directions.
  • Elements (directly above Kowloon Station). This mall is mostly composed of luxury brand shops and restaurants. There is a cinema, ice rink, an airport express station where you can check into your flights and a long distance bus station for the mainland. Hong Kong's tallest building, the International Commerce Centre (ICC), is attached to this mall.
  • Times Square. A trendy multi-storey shopping mall with some luxury brands, with food courts at the lower levels, and gourmet dining at the upper stories. Take MTR to Causeway Bay, and exit at "Times Square". Definitely attracting a younger crowd, this mall is very crowded on weekends and a popular meeting place for teenagers.
  • Citygate Outlets, 20 Tat Tung Rd, Tung Chung (Not to be confused with Cityplaza). Next to Tung Chung MTR Station & directly connected to the Hotel Novotel Citygate Hong Kong, the Citygate is an outlet mall with tonnes of mid-priced brands, some of them being Adidas, Esprit, Giordano, Levi's, Nike, Quiksilver and Timberland. Many of the items are cheaper although also often out of season. Most items purchased here cannot be returned or refunded.
  • Laforet, 24-26 East Point Rd. Best places to find cheap stylish clothes, Asian style. Mostly girls' clothes, but also bags, shoes and accessories, highly recommended if you are looking for something different. Immensely popular with teenagers. These three shopping malls are all near exit E, Causeway Bay MTR station.
  • New Town Plaza, 18 Sha Tin Centre Street. A 9-storey shopping mall covering 1,300,000 m² retail area in Shatin, New Territories. Diverse variety of shops, consisting of sports brands, luxury brand shops, cuisines from countries in different continents, sports, etc. can be found in the mall, which is estimated to be one of the malls with the highest footfall. The mall is linked with a number of shopping centres nearby, including Phase 3 of New Town Plaza with a Japanese style Department store, YATA. 30 bus lanes are available for accessing the shopping mall. Taking the MTR East Rail to Shatin is another possible way.
Stanley Plaza

Street markets


Street markets are a phenomenon in Hong Kong, usually selling regular groceries, clothes, bags or some cheap electronic knockoffs.

Ornaments Shopping in Stanley Hong Kong
  1. Ladies Market- don't be fooled by the name. It is for both sexes for finding cheap clothes, toys, knockoff and fake labels. It's in Mong Kok and accessible by MTR or bus.
  2. Temple Street - Once considered a must-see, Temple Street declined after being closed during the pandemic. Now a shell of its former self a few street food vendors remain surrounded by stalls mostly selling mass produced goods easily found elsewhere and places of ill-repute.
  3. Flower Market - Prince Edward. Follow your nose to the sweet scents of a hundred different varieties of flowers.
  4. Goldfish Market- A whole street full of shops selling small fish in plastic bags and accessories Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok.
  5. Bird Market- MTR Station Prince Edward, exit "Mong Kok Police Station". Walk down Prince Edward Road West until you reach Yuen Po Street "Bird Garden".
  6. Apliu Street- MTR Station Shum Shui Po, this is the place where you can find cheap computer goods, peripherals and accessories. However, this is the worst place to buy a mobile phone, as they tend to be even more dodgy than small stores in Mongkok. It is, however, the best place to buy a SIM card, as plenty of vendors means plenty of competition, and provided you have your phone with you, you can try it right there. Prices for both SIM cards and top-up vouchers are generally clearly marked, less than face value, and you can even buy discounted SIM cards for other nearby destinations if you are going elsewhere after your visit to Hong Kong.
  7. Stanley Market- A place for tourists rather than locals, shops sell everything from luxury luggage items to cheap brand name clothes. Accessible with the number 40 minibus from Causeway Bay. Also, no.6 and 6A bus from Central, and no. 973 bus from Tsim Sha Tsui.
  8. Textiles - Sham Shui Po MTR exit. Several square blocks around Nam Cheong St. (between Cheung Sha Wan Rd. and Lai Chi Kok Rd.) hold dozens and dozens of wholesalers to the textile trade. Although they are looking for big factory contracts, most shops are friendly and will sell you "sample-size" quantities of cloth, leather, haberdashery, tools, machinery and anything else you can think of to feed your creative impulses. Ki Lung Street has an outdoor street market selling smaller quantities of factory surplus cloth and supplies at astoundingly low prices. Haggling is not necessary.
Mong Kok Ladies' Market Shoes

Discounts and haggling


Some stores in Hong Kong (even some chain stores) are willing to negotiate on price, particularly for goods such as consumer electronics, and in many small shops, they will give you a small discount or additional merchandise if you just ask. For internationally branded items whose prices can be easily found (i.e. consumer electronics), discounts of 50% are extremely unlikely. However, deep discounts are often possible on merchandise such as clothes. Look out for shops is selling goods with very deep (more than 50%) discounts that most local people avoid. Remeber: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Electronics stores are often packed together in the same place, so it is often easy to spend a few minutes comparing prices, and to know the prevailing international prices. Start by asking for a 10 to 20% discount and see how they respond to you. Sometimes it maybe appropriate to ask "is there any discount?" or "do I get any free gift?". It is sometimes possible to get an additional discount if you pay cash because credit card companies charge 3% on your bill.

Tourist traps

See also: China#Shopping

The reputation for being a shopping paradise is well deserved in Hong Kong and, added to which, it is also a safe place to shop. Overcharging is seen as an immoral business practice by most local people, and is unlikely to spoil your holiday. Plenty of hotlines are available for complaints.

In areas crowded with tourists, traps do exist. They are often nameless consumer electronics stores with attention grabbing neon signs advertising reputable brand names. Many traps can be spotted if they have numerous employees in a very small store space. Often, several of these stores can be found in a row, especially along Nathan Road, in Kowloon and in parts of Causeway Bay.

One trick is to offer you a low price on an item, take your money only to 'discover' that it is out of stock, and then offer you an inferior item instead. Another trick is to give you a great price on a camera, take your credit card, and before handing over the camera convince you to buy another "better one" at an inflated cost. They may also try to mislead you into buying an inferior product, by claiming that it is a quality product.

One trick specially encountered in electronics shopping are missing items from the box, such as batteries, etc. Once you realise that an important item is missing and come back to the shop to get it, it will be offered at an inflated price. Reputable shops open the box that you will get in front of you and let you take a look to make sure everything is in there and even switch on the equipment before you pay.

Watch out for persons (usually of South Asian descent) who approach tourists in the busier areas of Kowloon. They spot Westerners from a great distance and will make a direct line toward you to sell you usually either a suit or watch ("Genuine Copy" is a phrase often used). Learn to spot them from a distance (since they are already looking for you), make eye contact, put up your hand and definitively shake your head. Good, strong body language in this regard will help you be approached far less often.

Although the law is strictly enforced, tourist traps are usually designed by touts who are experts at exploiting grey areas in the law. Remember, no one can help you if unscrupulous shop owners haven't actually broken the law.

The official Hong Kong Tourism Board has also introduced the Quality Tourism Services (QTS) Scheme that keeps a list of reputable shops, restaurants and hotels. The shops registered usually cater only to tourists, while shops that offer you the best deals usually don't bother to join the programme.

Watch out for people (mostly southeast Asian descent) around tourist areas road asking you where you're going. Don't tell them which hostel or hotel you're searching for, otherwise they will offer to "take you there", and expect money in return.

Supermarkets and convenience stores


Like many crowded urban areas where most people rely on public transport, many Hongkongers shop little and often, and therefore there is an abundance of convenience stores. Convenience stores such as 7-Eleven and Circle K (or often referred to as 'OK' by the locals) can be found on almost every busy street, and in most MTR stations. Although the retail prices are usually higher, they're normally open 24–7, and sell magazines, snacks, drinks, beer, instant noodles, packaged sandwiches, microwavable ready-meals, contraceptives and cigarettes. The types and variety of products provided depends on the size of the shop itself, which can differ greatly, with some shops inside MTR stations being little more than a kiosk. Many stores have an in-store microwave for preparing ready-meals, as well as hot water for preparing instant noodles and instant tea/coffee, and also provide chopsticks for eating food on the go.

Park 'n' Shop and Wellcome are the two main supermarket chains in Hong Kong and they have branches in almost every neighbourhood, some of which open 24–7. In urban areas, some stores are underground and tend to be very small and cramped, although they have a much wider product choice and are somewhat cheaper than the above convenience stores. The U-Select and Vanguard chains are part-owned by the Tesco supermarket from the UK and sell many British/imported products at far lower prices. City'super, Great and Taste are expensive upmarket supermarkets that focus on high-quality products that are aimed towards a more affluent market. Apita and AEON are large Japanese-style supermarkets with a wide product selection and food courts. The YATA department store chain also offers a Japanese-style supermarket experience, though it can be rather overpriced compared to the aforementioned similar chains.


Individual listings can be found in Hong Kong's district articles
Hot and iced Hong Kong tea
Cantonese fast food: winter melon soup (冬瓜盅) with steamed beef cake (蒸牛肉餅), rice and tea
See also: Hong Kong Culinary Tour, Chinese cuisine

Cuisine plays an important part in many peoples' lives in Hong Kong. Not only is it a showcase of Chinese cuisines with huge regional varieties, but there are also excellent Asian and Western choices. Although Western food is often adapted to local tastes, Hong Kong is a good place for homesick travellers who have had enough of Chinese food. The Michelin guide to Hong Kong is considered to be the benchmark of good restaurants for many Western visitors. That said, for most locals, the Michelin guide is not taken particularly seriously, and OpenRice, which serves as Hong Kong's equivalent of Yelp, is the go-to directory for restaurant reviews. The downside is that as it primarily caters to Hong Kong locals, most of the reviews are written in Chinese, though the interface is available in English. According to Restaurant magazine, 4 of the best 100 restaurants in the world are in Hong Kong.

Due to its history as part of that region, unsurprisingly, much of the local cuisine in Hong Kong is very similar to that of neighbouring Guangdong. That being said, over a century of British rule means that the British have also left their mark on the local cuisine, with cakes and pastries being fairly popular among locals. Hong Kongers are also somewhat less adventurous than their fellow Cantonese speakers in mainland China, with several exotic ingredients such as dog and cat meat being banned in Hong Kong. It is also possible to find cuisine from practically every part of China, as many famous chefs fled from the mainland to Hong Kong to escape persecution by the communists in the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War. In particular, the Hakkas and Teochews have left a significant impact on Hong Kong's culinary culture, and there is no shortage of good Hakka and Teochew restaurants for those who have grown weary of Cantonese food.

You may meet some local people who haven't cooked at home for a decade. Locals love to go out to eat since it is much more practical than socializing in crowded spaces at home. A long queue can be a local sport outside many good restaurants during peak hours. Normally, you need to register first, get a ticket and wait for empty seats. Reservations are usually only an option in upmarket restaurants.

Eating etiquette


Chinese food is generally eaten with chopsticks. However, restaurants serving Western food usually provide a knife, fork and spoon. Do not stick your chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice, as this is reminiscent of incense sticks burning at the temple and has connotations of wishing death on those around you. In addition, chopsticks should not be used to move bowls and plates or make any noise. Dishes in smaller eateries might not come with a serving spoon, although staff will usually provide one if you request.

A few Hong Kong customs to be aware of:

  • To thank the person who pours your tea Cantonese style, tap two or three fingers on the table three times. The legend suggests a story involving a Chinese emperor travelling incognito and his loyal subjects wanting to kowtow (bow) to him without blowing their cover — hence the "finger kowtow".
  • If you want more tea in the pot, leave the lid open, and it will be refilled.
  • It is not unusual for customers to rinse their plates and utensils with hot tea before starting their meal, and a bowl is often provided for this very purpose. This is due to the fact that cheaper restaurants may often have washing residues on dishes or utensils.
  • Except for very expensive places, there is no real dress code in Hong Kong. You will often see people in suits and others in t-shirts in the same restaurant.

See also Chinese table manners for more details. While there are some minor differences, much of traditional Chinese dining etiquette applies to Hong Kong too.

Local foods, eating establishments, and costs

Seafood Street in Sai Kung, New Territories
Live seafood tanks, Sai Kung
A selection of dim sum. Clockwise from top left: shrimp dumplings (蝦餃 har gau), chicken and vegetable congee (粥 juk), jasmine tea, steamed dumplings, barbecued pork buns (叉燒包 char siu bau), rice noodle rolls with soy sauce (腸粉 cheong fun)

You can usually tell how cheap (or expensive) the food is from the decor of the restaurant. Menus are not always displayed outside restaurants and English menus are not available at budget restaurants. Restaurants in Soho in Central, in 5-star restaurants, or in other high-rent areas are usually more expensive than restaurants that are off the beaten path. It is easy to find places selling mains for well under $80, offering both local and international food. Local fast food chains such as Café de Coral (大家樂) and Fairwood (大快活) offer meals for $30–50, with standardised English menus for easy ordering. Mid-range restaurants generally charge in excess of $100 for mains. At the top end, fine dining restaurants, such as Felix or Aqua, can easily see you leave with a bill in excess of $1500 (including entrées (appetisers), mains, desserts and drinks). If your budget allows for it, Hong Kong is undoubtedly one of, if not the world's best places to experience Chinese-style fine dining.

Tap water is typically not served and you will need to buy bottled water from most restaurants instead.

Dim sum


Dim sum (點心), literally means 'to touch (your) heart', is possibly the best known Cantonese dish. Served at breakfast and lunch, these delicately prepared morsels of Cantonese cuisine are often served with Chinese tea.

Dim Sum comes in countless variations with a huge price range from $8 to more than $100 per order. Common items include steamed shrimp dumplings (蝦餃 har gau), pork dumplings (燒賣 siu mai), barbecued pork buns (叉燒包 char siu bau), and Hong Kong egg tarts (蛋撻 dan tat), the first two being obligatory for local diners whenever they eat dim sum. Expect more choice in upmarket restaurants. One pot of tea with two dishes, called yak chung liang gin is a typical serving for breakfast.

Siu Mei


Siu mei (燒味) is a general name for roast meats made in a Hong Kong style, including roasted crispy pork belly (燒肉 siu yuk), barbecued pork (叉燒 char siu), roast duck (燒鴨 siu aap) or soy sauce chicken (豉油雞 si yau gai). With the addition of a slightly crispy honey sauce layer, the final taste is of char siu a unique, deep barbecue flavour. Rice with roasted pork, roasted duck, pork with a crisp crackling, or Fragrant Queen's chicken (香妃雞), are common dishes that are enduring favourites for many, including local superstars. It is recommended to taste the roasted pork with rice in 'Sun-Can' of PolyU.



Cantonese congee (粥 juk) is a thin porridge made with rice boiled in water. Served at breakfast, lunch or supper, the best version is as soft as 'floss', it takes up to 10 hours to cook the porridge to reach this quality. Congee is usually eaten with savoury deep-fried Chinese doughnuts (油炸鬼 yau char kway) and steamed rice pastry (腸粉 cheong fun) which often has a meat or vegetable filling.

Hong Kong has several restaurant chains that specialise in congee, but none of them have earned the word-of-mouth respect from local gourmets. The best congee places are usually in older districts, often owned by elderly people who are patient enough to spend hours making the best floss congee.



When asked what food makes Hong Kong people feel at home, wonton noodles (雲吞麵) are a popular answer. Wonton are dumplings usually made from minced prawn but may contain small amounts of pork.

Rice pastry is also a popular dish from southern China. Found particularly in Teochew and Hokkien areas in China, its popularity is widespread throughout east Asia. In Hong Kong, it is usually served in soup with beef and fish balls and sometimes with deep-fried crispy fish skins.

Two-dish rice


The classic working-class meal in Hong Kong, this consists of white rice with numerous other traditional Cantonese dishes to choose from, with customers typically picking two to three dishes, hence the name "two-dish rice" (兩餸飯 léuhng sung faahn). As the dishes are rarely labelled, customers typically choose their dishes by pointing and saying 呢個 (nēi go, meaning "this one"), giving it its nickname "this this rice". Once looked down upon and considered to be "poor man's food", its popularity skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, when dine-in establishments were forced to close, and many two-dish rice stalls are now famous among locals for specific dishes. Do not expect much English proficiency at such establishments, but if you can find a way to communicate, these are excellent places to have an affordable meal, with prices hovering around $40 (about US$5).

Tong Sui


A popular Cantonese dessert is a sweet soup called tong sui (糖水, literally sugar water). Popular versions are usually made with black sesame paste (芝麻糊), walnuts (核桃糊) or sago (西米露) which are usually sticky in texture. Other traditional ones include red bean paste (紅豆沙), green bean paste (綠豆沙) and tofu pudding (豆腐花). Lo ye (撈野) is a similar dish. Juice is put into an ultra-cold pan to make an ice paste, it is usually served with fresh fruit and sago.

Tea cafes & tea time


Hot milk tea Hong Kong style

You might expect that after more than a century of colonial rule tea might be served British style - well, almost. Order a cup of hot Hong Kong milk tea (熱奶茶) in a traditional cafe and what you will get will be a cup of the strongest brew imaginable. With the addition of evaporated milk, this is not a drink for the faint-hearted.

A uniquely Hong Kong-style eatery starting to make waves elsewhere in Asia is the cha chaan teng (茶餐廳), literally "tea cafe", but offering fusion fast food that happily mixes Western and Eastern fare: innovations include noodles with Spam, stir-fried spaghetti and baked rice with cheese. Usually a wide selection of drinks is also available, almost always including the popular tea-and-coffee mix yuenyeung (鴛鴦), and perhaps more oddities (to the Western palate) like boiled Coke with ginger or iced coffee with lemon. Orders are usually recorded on a chit at your table and you pay at the cashier as you leave.

Showing signs of British colonial influence, tea time (下午茶 hah ńgh chàh) plays an important role in Hong Kong's stressful office life. Usually starting at 2PM to 3PM, a typical tea set goes with a cup of 'silk-stocking' tea, egg tarts and sandwiches with either minced beef, egg or ham, but without vegetables and cheese.

Hong Kong's version of milk tea shares a similar taste with Malaysia's teh tarik. A distinctive feature of Hong Kong-style milk tea is the sackcloth bag that is used to filter the tea leaves, which looks like silk stockings after being dyed with tea, giving the name 'silk-stocking milk tea'. Milk tea, to some Hong Kong people, is an important indicator on the quality of a restaurant. If a restaurant fails to serve reasonably good milk tea, locals might be very harsh with their criticism. Yuanyang is also a popular drink mixed with milk tea and coffee.

A signal to tell you teatime has come is a small queue lining up in a bakery to buy egg tarts (a teatime snack with outer pastry crust and filled with egg custard). Don't attempt to make a fool of yourself by telling people that the egg tart was brought to Hong Kong by the British - many locals are assertive in claiming sovereignty over their egg tarts. When a long-established egg tart shop in Central was closed due to skyrocketing rental payments, it became the SAR's main news and many people came to help the owners look for a new place. Hong Kong egg tarts differ from the Macau version mainly in their crust; the Hong Kong version typically uses a crumbly crust like English custard tarts, while the Macau version typically uses a flaky crust like the Portuguese pastel de nata.

For those who wish to have an authentic British high tea experience, the colonial Peninsula Hotel is one of the best places in Asia to do so.

To stuff your stomach in a grassroots Chaa Chan Teng (茶餐廳) (local tea restaurant), expect to pay $10–20 for milk, tea or coffee, $8–10 for a toast, and $25–50 for a dish of rice with meats. Wonton noodles generally cost $20–30.

The cheapest food is in the popular street stalls. Most of the people working there do not speak much English and there is no English on the menu. However, if you could manage to communicate, street-style eating is an excellent way to experience local food. Point, use fingers (or Cantonese numbers) and smile. They're usually willing to help. Local specialities include curry fish meat balls (咖喱魚蛋), fake shark fin soup (碗仔翅) made with beans and vermicelli noodles, egg waffle (雞蛋仔), fried three filled treasures (煎釀三寶, vegetable filled with fish meat), stinky tofu (臭豆腐), fried intestines on a stick, fried squid or octopus and various meats on sticks (such as satay style chicken).

Fast food


Most major fast food eateries are popular in Hong Kong and have reasonable prices. McDonald's sells a Happy Meal set for $20–25.



Seafood (海鮮) is very popular and is widely available. The best places to eat seafood include Sai Kung, Sam Shing, Po Doi O and Lau Fau Shan in the New Territories and Hong Kong's islands, particularly Lamma and Cheung Chau, are abound with seafood restaurants. Seafood is not cheap. Prices range from $200 per head for a very basic dinner, to $300–500 for better choices and much more for the best on offer.

Expect to find a mismatch between the high prices for the food and the quality of the restaurant. Sometimes the best food is served in the most basic eateries where tables maybe covered in cheap plastic covers rather than a more formal tablecloth. Often, Cantonese people value the food more than the decor. If one of your travelling companions does not like seafood, don't panic, many seafood restaurants have extensive menus that cater for all tastes. A number of seafood restaurants specialise in high quality roast chicken that is especially flavoursome. Many exotic delicacies like abalone, conch and bamboo clam can be found for sale in many seafood restaurants but you might want to avoid endangered species such as shark and juvenile fish.

Exotic meats


While Hong Kong has long banned dog and cat meat and has strict rules on importing many meats of wild animals, snake meat is commonly seen in winter in different restaurants that bear the name "Snake King". Served in a sticky soup, it is believed to warm your body.

There's an ongoing debate over the consumption of shark fin in Hong Kong, which is the biggest importer of this exotic cuisine. Commonly served at wedding parties and other important dining events, shark fin is served in a carefully prepared stew at as much as $1000/bowl. The consumption of shark fin is controversial due to the inhumane manner in which the fins are collected. Sharks are removed from the ocean, their fins are cut off, and they are discarded back into the ocean still alive to die a slow unpleasant death. To quell your curiosity, imitation shark fin soup is available, and reportedly indistinguishable from the real thing.

Besides exotic meats, you will also see chicken feet, pig's noses and ears, lungs, stomachs, duck's heads, various types of intestines, livers, kidneys, black pudding (blood jelly) and duck's tongues on the Chinese dining tables.

International cuisine


Due to the large number of foreign residents in Hong Kong, there are many restaurants that serve authentic international cuisine at all price levels. This includes various types of Japanese, Thai, Indian, Malaysian, American and European foods. These can often be found in, though not restricted to, entertainment districts such as Lan Kwai Fong, Soho or Knutsford Terrace. Of these, Soho is probably the best for eating as Lan Kwai Fong is primarily saturated with bars and clubs. Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui is known to locals for having a high concentration of affordable Indian and African restaurants. Top chefs are often invited or try to make their way to work in Hong Kong.

Local Western food


While authentic Western food is certainly available at higher-end restaurants, Western food in Hong Kong has often been localised to the point of being hardly recognisable to Western expatriates, resulting in a unique style known as "soy sauce Western" (豉油西餐). This style of Western food is mainly sold at cha chaan teng, though a local mid-range restaurant chain famous for this style of cuisine is Tai Ping Koon (太平館), best known to locals for a dish called "Swiss chicken wings" (瑞士雞翼).



Home-dining is catching on to be a very popular trend in Hong Kong. BonAppetour is a great way to discover local chefs who would love to have you over for an evening dinner. It's a great way to make friends over home-made food, and company.



Barbecue (BBQ) meals are a popular local pastime. Many areas feature free public barbecue pits where everybody roasts their own food, usually with long barbeque forks. It's not just sausages and burgers - the locals enjoy cooking a variety of things at BBQ parties, such as fish, beef meatballs, pork meatballs, chicken wings, and so on. A good spot is the Southern Hong Kong Island, where almost every beach is equipped with many free BBQ spots. Just stop by a supermarket and buy food, drinks and BBQ equipment. The best spots are Shek O (under the trees at the left hand side of the beach) and Big Wave Bay.

Kau Wah Keng (九華徑) village in Lai King, New Territories was home to some private-run BBQ sites that provide food upon payment. These BBQ sites are unlicensed, and authorities had clamped down their operation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wet markets


Wet markets are still prevalent. Freshness is a key ingredient to all Chinese food, so frozen meat and vegetables are frowned upon, and most markets display freshly butchered beef and pork (with entrails), live fish in markets, and more exotic shellfish, frogs, turtles and sea snails. Local people often go to the market everyday to buy fresh ingredients, just like the restaurants.

Cooked food centres


Cooked food centres are often found in the same building as some of the indoor wet markets. Tables that used to be on the street have been swept into sterile concrete buildings. Inside, the atmosphere is like a food court without the frills. Cooked food centres provide economic solutions to diners, but you might need to take along a Cantonese speaker, or be brave.

Dietary restrictions


As many people in Hong Kong's South Asian community are Hindu or Muslim, your best bet for religious diets that fall into those categories are restaurants that serve those communities. The Islamic Trust is Hong Kong's halal certification body, and Muslims visitors can contact them for more information about halal food in Hong Kong. Due to the small size of Hong Kong's Jewish community, kosher food is rare; contact the Ohel Leah Synagogue for more information on where to get kosher food.

Vegetarians should look for specialist vegetarian restaurants that primarily serve devout Buddhists (look for the characters 素 or 齋, or the 卍 symbol, in this context a Buddhist symbol). Some Buddhist temples may also sell vegetarian food during the weekends or various Buddhist festivals. As Chinese Buddhist vegetarian food does not usually make use of eggs or dairy products, it is almost always suitable for vegans. Remembering the Cantonese phrase 我食齋 (ngóh sihk jāai), telling that you are vegetarian, also goes a long way in getting your point across.

People with allergies will have difficulty in Hong Kong, as awareness of common allergies is poor. Gluten-free diets in particular are very hard to come by as coeliac disease is very rare in Hong Kong, and much of Hong Kong's local cuisine makes heavy use of soy sauce. Dairy is somewhat more common in Hong Kong than in mainland China due to the stronger British influence, but nevertheless does not feature very prominently in traditional Cantonese cuisine, so lactose-intolerant people should not have any major issues finding something suitable for them.





As with the rest of China, tea is a popular beverage in Hong Kong, and is served at practically every eatery. Chinese teas are the most commonly drunk in Hong Kong, but there is also a distinct Hong Kong-style milk tea that is served in chaa chaan teng, and traditional English milk tea can be found in higher-end Western restaurants. In summer 'Ice Lemon Tea' is a common option that is rather bitter and needs some syrup to counter this.


Lan Kwai Fong at night

Unlike mainland China, Hong Kong does not have a culture of heavy drinking. Some Chinese people do drink a lot but generally speaking there are many neighbourhoods in Hong Kong without much in the way of a bar or pub. Drinking alcohol with food is acceptable, but there is no expectation to order alcohol with your meal in any restaurant. A number of popular restaurants do not sell alcohol because of a licence restriction.

Lan Kwai Fong (Central), Wanchai and Knutsford Terrace (Kowloon) are the three main drinking areas where locals, expats and tourists mingle together. Here you will certainly find a party atmosphere, and can expect to see many 'merry' expats in these areas. LKF and Wan Chai are particularly rowdy yet fun places to party. The minimum age for drinking in a bar is 18 years. There is usually a requirement for young adults to prove their age, especially when going to a nightclub. The accepted ID in clubs is either your passport or a Hong Kong ID card. Photocopies are rarely accepted due to minors using fake documents.

Some clubs in Lan Kwai Fong have imposed a dress code on customers and tourists are of no exception. As a general rule, shorts or pants that are above knee length should be avoided.

Drinking out in Hong Kong can be expensive. Beer usually starts from $50 for a pint and more in a bar popular among expats. However, away from the tourist trail, some Chinese restaurants may have a beer promotion aimed at meeting the needs of groups of diners. In cooked food centres, usually found at the wet markets, young women are often employed to promote a particular brand of beer. Convenience stores and supermarkets sell a reasonable range of drinks. The 7-Eleven in Lan Kwai Fong is a very popular 'bar' for party-animals on a budget.

During Wednesdays and Thursdays Ladies night applies in some bars in Wan Chai and Lan Kwai Fong, which in most cases means that women can enter bars and clubs for free, and in some rare cases also get their drinks paid for the night. At weekends, several bars and clubs in these areas also have an 'open bar' for some of the night, which means you can drink as much as you like.

San Miguel (Cantonese name: Seng Lik), Tsing Tao (Ching Dou), Carlsberg (Ga Si Bak), Blue Girl (Lam Mui), Heineken (Hei Lik) and Sol are popular in the town. There is no longer any tax on wine or beer in Hong Kong.


Individual listings can be found in Hong Kong's district articles

With more than 50,000 rooms available, Hong Kong offers a huge choice of accommodation from shockingly cheap digs to super luxury. However, budget travellers who are spoiled by cheap prices elsewhere in Asia are often shocked that the accommodation cost in Hong Kong is closer to that of London and New York.

For longer-term accommodation, be prepared to splurge as real estate prices in Hong Kong are among the highest in the world, and many locals are forced to live in cramped "shoebox" apartments due to the astronomical rents in the city. This lack of affordable housing has been frequently cited as a major driving factor behind the city's socio-political tensions.



While it is possible to get a dorm bed for $120–150, a single room for $270–400, and a double room for $400–500, you should not expect anything in these rooms except a bed, with barely enough space in the room to open the door. Accommodation with reasonable space, decoration, and cleanness is usually priced from $150–200 for a dorm bed, $450–600 for a single room, $700 for a double room, and $800 for a triple room.

Most cheap guesthouses are found along Nathan Road between Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok. Expect a tiny, undecorated room with just enough room for a bed. Bathrooms are often shared and noise could be a problem for light sleepers (not all customers are interested in sleeping). Be sure to read the online reviews before booking as bed bugs, dirty beds, and unclean bathrooms have been reported. Keep your expectations as realistically low as possible.

Popular guesthouse clusters are inside the 17-floor 1 Chungking Mansions Chungking Mansions on Wikipedia (Nathan Road 36-44) (重慶大廈 in Chinese, nicknamed Chungking Jungles by some local people), Mirador Mansions (美麗都大廈) in Tsim Sha Tsui, and New Lucky House (華豐大廈) (15 Jordan Road). These towers are all in the city center and close to the buses to/from the airport. While these towers are regarded as slums by the locals, if you ignore the fake watch sellers and disturbing pimps, the towers are well-patrolled and safe.

Another cluster of hostels and guesthouses can be found on Paterson Street near Causeway Bay. While not as central as the mansions, the internet connections are more reliable and the rooms are generally clean. However, they are still small and cramped. Do not expect a great atmosphere or spacious rooms.

Notice that some drab "guesthouses", especially those in Kowloon Tong, Mong Kok, and Causeway Bay, may actually be love hotels.

The Hong Kong Youth Hostel Association operates 7 youth hostels. All of them are outside of the city and cost $100–$300 to reach via taxi when public transport service is not operating. All but the one on Hong Kong Island also have strict curfew rules and require guests to leave the site from 10AM to 4PM (1PM-3PM on public holidays). Free shuttle bus service is provided by several hostels but the service stops at 10:30PM.

The government advises travellers to stay in hostels with licences, this website may help you a lot: The Office of Licensing Authority maintains an online list of licensed accommodation establishments.

There are 41 camping sites in Hong Kong. The facilities are on a "first-come-first-served" basis and places are booked quickly during weekends and public holidays. You are not allowed to camp other than in a designated camp site (identified by the sign board erected by the Country and Marine Parks Authority) and this rule is strictly enforced.



If the mansions and hostels are too cramped for you, Hong Kong is a good place to spend a bit extra and get a proper hotel room. Many rooms in basic business hotels in the city center can be had for $700 per night. Rooms at mid-ranged hotels in Hong Kong tend to clean but cramped.



For affluent travellers, Hong Kong houses some of the best world class hotels that run a fierce competition for your wallets by offering pick-up service by helicopter, a Michelin star restaurant, and extravagant spas. Major international chains are also well-represented. Five-star hotels include The Peninsula, Four Seasons, Le Meridien, W, InterContinental, JW Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Shangri-La, and Mandarin Oriental. Rooms usually start from $3,000.

There are also some four star hotels such as Marriott, Novotel, and Crowne Plaza. Prices start from around $1,500, depending on the season.

Stay safe


Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world, with a large high-density population with diverse socio-economic backgrounds managed very effectively. The city experienced significant large-scale protests against new legislation with increasingly violent clashes with police between 2014 and 2019. The arbitrariness and broad applicability of the National Security Law imposed by China in 2020 has ended most public protest but is also widely considered to have undermined Hong Kong's long-respected rule of law.

Crime and other emergency services


With an effective police and legal system, Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world, and even female travellers usually do not encounter any problems roaming the streets alone at night. Violent crime is extremely rare, though petty crime occurs from time to time. Pickpockets operate in crowded areas; be particularly careful on public transport during peak hours.

Police officer in uniform

The Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) is Hong Kong's law enforcement agency. Most officers wear light blue uniforms, though higher-ranking officers wear white uniforms. All police officers are required to carry their warrant cards while on duty, and must present it to members of the public on request. English proficiency among lower ranking police officers can be limited, though they will always have English-speaking interpreters on call to assist you. Most police officers are professional and helpful, though there have been widespread allegations of police brutality and misconduct since the late 2010s. Police corruption, especially the types that tourists might encounter, is exceedingly rare. Bribery is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment.

Hong Kong films have often portrayed triads (Chinese organised crime syndicates) as gun wielding gangsters who fear nobody, but that only happens in the movies. Even in their heyday, triads and other organised crime syndicates tended to engage only in prostitution (which is legal itself, but organised prostitution, i.e. pimping or brothels, is not), counterfeiting, loan-sharking or illegal gambling and lived underground lives. Gang violence does occur, but is generally limited to rival triads. Stay away from the triads by avoiding loan sharks and illegal betting, and they will not bother you.

Call 999 when you urgently need help from the police, fire and ambulance services. 999 operators can speak English, and in case if you don't know your current location, you can be located by finding your nearest lamppost and replying the lamppost's number. Hong Kong has a strict service control system, so once you call 999, the police should show up within 10 minutes in most cases, usually less. If you are deaf or have speech impairment, you can report your emergencies by SMS to 992, which requires registration in a police station aforehand. For non-emergency police assistance, call +852-2527-7177.

There is a risk that the 999 system, local police stations and reporting centres may be inaccessible during protests and incidents. As fire and emergency medical services are only notified after the police received a 999 call, consider dialling the following emergency numbers in case when the 999 system is down:

  • Fire Services Department: +852-2723-2233
    • The hotline links directly to Hong Kong Fire Services Department's command centre, and has the same effect of dialling 999 for fire and medical emergencies under normal circumstances.
  • Hong Kong St. John Ambulance: +852-1878-000
    • Another free emergency ambulance provider in Hong Kong. However, given that Hong Kong St. John Ambulance is a rather small organisation (having only 3 stations throughout Hong Kong), it may take a longer time for arrival.

National security legislation

Caution Note: There have been major changes in Hong Kong's legal and political environment with the enactment of the National Security Law. As the law could be interpreted broadly, anyone — foreigners included — who has criticised the Hong Kong or Chinese governments is at risk of arrest and possible transfer to mainland China for prosecution under mainland law. The law also has a global reach, and anyone situated anywhere in the world who has broken this law could in theory be subject to prosecution.

While there is no law that forbids foreigners from participating protests and demonstrations, foreigners are strongly discouraged from doing so. Foreigner involvement could result in heightened police attention, and may lead to National Security Law charges if the authorities believe your involvement constitutes collusion with foreign elements.

(Information last updated 28 Feb 2024)

As a result of the national security law that came into effect on 1 July 2020, promoting the independence of any region within China's territorial claim, including Hong Kong or advocating any sanctions against China or Hong Kong is illegal, punishable with a lengthy prison sentence up to life. Any speech that "incites hatred or subversion" against the Hong Kong or Chinese governments is also illegal; this has been interpreted broadly by the police, to include any criticism against the government that the authorities may find objectionable. Other national security offences, notably sedition, are also investigated and processed as if they are offences under the national security law, which means authorities may exercise the broadened powers under the national security law, and defendants are subject to stricter bail requirements.

The slogan of "Free/Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times", black bauhinia flag, anti-Chinese Communist Party slogans and the protest anthem "Glory to Hong Kong" are deemed subversive and seditious by the authorities. Personal attacks against police officers are also deemed seditious by the courts. Avoid displaying symbols that have been adopted by the independence movement, even if they were not designed for the purpose; these include the old colonial flag, and the British and American flags and national anthems.

Although all cases have been tried in Hong Kong to date, defendants under the National Security Law can be sent to mainland China for trial, and there are concerns about arbitrary enforcement of the law.

The American, British, Australian and Canadian governments have issued warnings. Pro-independence and democratic legislators and activists have been forced to seek political asylum in other countries, and pan-democratic organizations have dissolved themselves, or have been forced to do so under the national security law. The law is also applicable to those who have expressed critical views deemed contrary to the law outside of Hong Kong.


Disrespecting the Chinese flag, emblem and anthem, along with the Hong Kong regional flag and emblem are punishable by 3 years of imprisonment.

Everyone over the age of 16 is required to carry identification, which for foreigners means a passport, but a foreign identity card or photocopy of your passport will likely do; most visitors choose to keep their passport in a safe place. White people are rarely targeted by the police for ID checks. South Asians, especially Pakistanis and Nepalis are more likely to be targeted.

You are expected to cooperate with the police during their investigations, and they may search your pockets and bags. By law, you can reject a request to search your bags and body in public. You also have the right to silence (to refuse to answer any questions), to contact your consulate and to apply for legal assistance. The police are obligated to comply with your request but they may detain you for up to 48 hours.

Most travellers who have got into trouble with the authorities are involved with illicit drugs. Drugs such as ecstasy (MDMA) and marijuana are subject to tight control and tourists risk immediate arrest if they are found in possession of even small amounts of banned substances. Most Hongkongers tend to have strong negative views against narcotics, including soft drugs such as marijuana.

Discrimination is known to happen. People with a good educational background and reputable jobs are usually better treated by the police, while young people, those from developing countries and Western countries with loose regulations on drugs may experience more frequent checks. The police and the government are exempt from the Race Discrimination Ordinance. However, there is a law to ban any form of police brutality, including verbal attacks and any use of foul language. Call +852-2866-7700, or file an online complaint report to the Complaints Against Police Office and report the officer's badge number displayed on his/her shoulder. Although the Office is an internal agency of the police, speaking to them is likely the only way to lodge a complaint if your grievance doesn't involve police corruption.



Traffic rules are strictly enforced in Hong Kong. Penalties can be severe, and road conditions are excellent, although road courtesy still has room for improvement. However, fast drivers create higher death tolls when accidents do happen. There is very little leeway for speeding. As little as 5 km/h above the posted speed limit can be ticketed by the police for speeding, though as much as 10 km/h is usually tolerated.

Signage on the roads in Hong Kong is similar to British usage. Zebra lines (zebra crossings) indicate crossing areas for pedestrians and traffic comes from the right. To stay safe, visit the Transport Department's website for complete details.

For crossing without any traffic control, local people usually wait for vehicles to pass first. Vehicles are not required to let pedestrians cross first.

Crossing the road by foot should also be exercised with great care. Traffic in Hong Kong generally moves fast once the signal turns green. An audible aid is played at every intersection. Rapid bells indicate "Walk"; intermittent bells (10 sets of 3 bells) indicate "Do Not Start to Cross"; and slow bells indicate "Do Not Walk".

Jaywalking is an offence and police officers may be out patrolling accident black-spots. It is not uncommon to see local people waiting to cross an empty road - when this happens, you should stay patient and wait because it is possible that they have noticed a police officer patrolling the crossing. The maximum penalty for jaywalking is $2000.



Smoking restrictions

A smoking-ban includes all indoor areas and a number of outdoor locations such as university campuses, parks, gardens, bus stops, and beaches. The smoking ban includes places for adult entertainment such as bars, clubs and saunas. If you are under cover, you probably should not be smoking. Expect to pay a substantial fine of up to $5,000 if caught smoking in the wrong place. There is also a penalty of $3,000 for dropping cigarette butts.

In a move to discourage smoking, tourists are allowed to carry no more than 19 duty-free cigarettes or 25g of tobacco products. The government has also banned the sales of tobacco products in duty-free shops on arrival gates. Offenders can be charged for cigarette smuggling and the penalty can be tough. According to one local account, a man was fined $2000 after being found guilty of carrying five packs of cigarettes. Illegal duty-free cigarettes can be seen for sale in several locations, such as in night markets, but both the buyer and seller may be charged for smuggling. The police and customs service launch frequent raids. Once caught, ignorance is not an accepted defence.

With effect from 30 April 2022, the importation and selling e-cigarettes and herbal cigarettes (popular in mainland China) are banned. Though subject to other legal restrictions, smoking itself is not an offence.

Cigarette prices in Hong Kong are the second highest in Asia, only behind Singapore. Cigarettes of popular brands such as Marlboro, Salem and Kent can cost over $60 for a 20-pack (2021). There are also some slightly cheaper brands catering for smokers on budget. Hand-rolling tobacco is uncommon and only available in specialty shops.



Hong Kong is ranked as one of the least corrupt jurisdictions in the world by Transparency International, comparing favorably with the U.S. and the UK in this regard.

In Hong Kong, corruption is a serious offence. Money given for unfair competition is regarded as corruption, regardless of who the recipients are. Attempts to bribe police officers or civil servants will almost certainly result in arrest and a prison sentence.

Generally, locals do not appreciate bribes. Most companies and organisations have strict protocols regarding employees receiving gifts. Offering gifts or money to workers personally as a sign of gratitude might actually result in more trouble than is worth.

The territory has a powerful anti-corruption police force: the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which has been taken as a role model by Interpol and the United Nations. A number of jurisdictions, such as New South Wales, Australia, have adopted the Hong Kong system to combat corruption.


See also: Hiking

Several hikers have lost their lives in the wilderness in the past decade. Hikers should equip themselves with detailed hiking maps, a compass, mobile phones, food, and adequate amounts of drinking water.

Most areas of the countryside are covered by mobile phone network, and as long as there is signal from least one mobile phone operator, dialing 112 has the same effect of dialing 999 in case of emergency. However in some places you will only be able to pick up a mobile phone signal from Mainland China. In this case, it is not possible to dial 999 for emergency assistance. Emergency telephones are placed in Country Parks; their locations are clearly marked on all hiking maps. Trail markers often have codes etched onto the posts, which are also marked on Google Map. The codes allow precise location by emergency personnel should you require assistance.

Heat stroke is a major problem for hikers who lack experience of walking in a warm climate. If you plan to walk a dog during the hot summer months, remember that dogs are more vulnerable to heat stroke than humans and owners should ensure their pets get adequate rest and water.

The cooler hiking and camping season in October to February is also the time of the year when hill fires are most likely to strike. At the entrances to country parks you will likely observe signs warning you of the current fire risk. With an average of 365 hill fires a year, you should take the risk of fire seriously and dispose of cigarettes and matches appropriately. According to some hikers' accounts, in places where fires and camping is not allowed, the Staff of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) will most likely fine an offender.

Snakes are common in the countryside, and some are quite large. Most will move out of your way, but small bright green ones are poisonous and stay still. Avoid them.

While it's generally very safe to hike, the countryside can provide shelter to illegal immigrants and hermits and a few cases of hikers being accosted and robbed have been reported. However, the police do patrol hiking routes and most major paths do offer the security of fellow hikers. Some popular unofficial hiking trails in the New Territories may lie within frontier closed area or military closed area. The map of the frontier closed area can be found here. While permits can be obtained from the police, they are unlikely to be issued to hikers. Live-fire exercises are occasionally conducted in firing ranges, which are military closed area. Their coordinates are listed at here. Red flags are erected at day, and red lights are lit at night during firing exercises: stay away from the enclosed areas. Intruders risk arrest and imprisonment for 2 years, or even injuries from gunfire or unexploded ordnance.

Natural disasters

Typhoon warning 1 announcement

Typhoons normally occur during the months of May to November, and are particularly prevalent during September. Whenever a typhoon approaches within 800 km of Hong Kong, typhoon warning signal 1 is issued. Signal 3 is issued as the storm approaches. When winds reach speeds of 63–117 kilometres per hour (18–33 m/s), signal 8 is issued. At this point, most non-essential activities shut down, including shops, restaurants and the transport system, offices and schools. Ferry services will be suspended, so visitors should return to their accommodation as soon as possible if they are dependent on these boat services to reach a place of safety. Some restaurants may continue to operate with reduced manpower and increased price.

Signal 9 and 10 will be issued depending on the proximity and intensity of the storm. Winds may gust at speeds exceeding 220 km/h causing masonry and other heavy objects to fall to the ground. During a typhoon, visitors should heed all warnings very seriously and stay indoors until the storm has passed. If the eye of the storm passes directly over there will be a temporary period of calm followed by a sudden resumption of strong winds from a different direction.

The city's infrastructure has adapted well to typhoons over time, and it is relatively safe place to be in even the most severe typhoons. Locals would be more concerned about when to go to work rather than any real life or property damage, and it is often said the mythical Lee Ka-Shing Force Field repels typhoons and forces locals to go to work under bad weather. Effects brought by typhoon are mostly limited tree collapse and traffic disruption, and are over quickly once the storm passes. However, flooding is a particular concern in low-lying areas like Heng Fa Chuen and Tai O.

Some taxis are available during signal 8 or above, but they are under no obligation to serve passengers as their insurance is no longer effective under such circumstances. Taxi passengers are expected (but not required) to pay up to 100% more when a typhoon strikes.

Rainstorms also have their own warning system. In increasing order of severity, the levels are amber, red and black. A red or black rainstorm is a serious event and visitors should take refuge inside buildings, and the effects are comparable to a Typhoon Signal 9 or 10. A heavy rainstorm can turn streets with poor drainage into rivers and cause serious landslides.

The Hong Kong Observatory is the best place to get detailed weather information when in Hong Kong. In summer a convectional rainstorm may affect only a small area and give you the false impression that all areas are wet.

Gay and lesbian Hong Kong


Hong Kong is generally a safe place for gay and lesbian travellers, and there are no laws against homosexuality in Hong Kong. The age of consent between two males is 16 according to the ruling by the Hong Kong Court of Appeal in 2006, while there is no law concerning that between two females. Same-sex marriages are not recognised and there is no anti-discrimination legislation on the grounds of sexuality. The display of public affection, while not common, is generally tolerated, but it will almost certainly attract curious stares. Gay bashing is unheard of.

Hong Kong people generally respect personal freedom on sexuality. The prominent celebrity film star, Leslie Cheung, openly admitted that he was bisexual but his work and personality are still widely respected. His suicide in 2003 shocked many, and his fans, mainly female, showed considerable support for his partner.

While gay pride parades have been held in Hong Kong, there is no obvious gay community in daily life. Coming out to strangers or in the office is still regarded as peculiar and most people tend to remain silent on this topic.

Gay bars and clubs are concentrated in Central, Sheung Wan, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui (TST). The quality of these venues varies considerably and will perhaps disappoint those expecting something similar to London, Paris or New York. There's also a gay and lesbian section in HK Magazine (free, only in English) and TimeOut Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is one of the longest running LGBT events in Hong Kong, and indeed in Asia. since 1989, it has brought various international and regional LGBT films to Hong Kong. The festival is usually held in November.



Although violent racist attacks are uncommon, discriminatory attitudes exist among large sectors of the population. White people are the least likely to face racism, while discrimination tends to be more widespread against black people, South Asians and Southeast Asians.

Discrimination against Mainland Chinese, even those whose first language is Cantonese, is common. Following the 2019 protests, animosity has increased, and some confrontations even turned violent. Some mainlanders living in Hong Kong, feeling uncomfortable and even unsafe, have chosen to leave the city.



Discrimination should be reported to the Equal Opportunities Commission.

  • Equal Opportunities Commission, 16/F, 41 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, +852-2511-8211, . M-F 8:45AM-5:45PM. A statutory organisation specialises on dealing with discrimination. Though the power of the commission is not on par with law enforcement, it assists victims of discrimination through assisting legal actions. Complaints regarding discrimination can be filed online. Equal Opportunities Commission (Q1547492) on Wikidata Equal Opportunities Commission (Hong Kong) on Wikipedia

Stay healthy


The quality of medical care in Hong Kong is excellent but expensive for foreigners who are not qualified to get a government subsidy. Foreigners on work permits are eligible for subsidised healthcare at public hospitals, but tourists are required to pay the full cost. In cases of emergency, treatment is guaranteed, but you will be billed later if you cannot pay immediately. As a tourist, you are required to pay $570 for using emergency services ($100 for Hong Kong residents). Waiting times at hospital emergency rooms can be lengthy for non emergency patients, since people are prioritised according to their situation. If you have a problem making payment in public hospitals, you can apply for financial assistance but you will need to prove your economic status to social workers based in the hospital.

One common cause of sickness is the extreme temperature change between 35 °C humid summer weather outdoors and 18 °C air-conditioned buildings and shopping malls. Some people experience cold symptoms after moving between the two extremes. You are recommended to carry a sweater even in the summer-time.

Heat stroke is also common when hiking. Carry enough water and take scheduled rests before you feel unwell.

Find a doctor


Healthcare standards in Hong Kong are on par with the West, and finding a reputable doctor is not much of a problem should you get sick. Doctors are of two types: those who practise traditional Chinese medicine and those who practise the Western variety. Both are taken equally seriously in Hong Kong, but as a visitor the assumption will be to direct you to a Western doctor. Doctors who practise Western medicine almost always speak English fluently, but you may find the receptionist to be more of a challenge.

Seeing a doctor is as easy as walking off the street and making an appointment with the receptionist. Generally you will be seen within an hour or less, but take note of the opening times displayed in the window of the doctor's office. A straightforward consultation for a minor ailment might cost around $150 to $500, but your bill will be inclusive of medication. In Hong Kong, it is normal to get your prescribed medicine directly form the doctor. Many clinics and hospitals will accept credit cards, but check beforehand since sometimes only cash is accepted. Expect to pay more if you visit a swanky surgery in Central. Check the directory maintained by the Hong Kong Medical Association for further information. Help finding general practitioners, medical specialists, and dentists might also be available at your consulate.

On Sundays, finding a doctor can be difficult, and hospital A&E rooms will have very long queues.

Tap water


Although Hong Kong is regarded as one of the most developed regions on Earth, drinkability of water may vary around parts of Hong Kong. Tap water in Hong Kong has been proven to be drinkable, but drinking straight from the tap is a very uncommon practice. Most locals still prefer to boil and chill their tap water before consumption. The official advice from the Water Board states that the water is perfectly safe to drink, unless you are in an old building with outdated plumbing and poorly maintained water tanks.

Bottled water is readily available everywhere for a few Hong Kong dollars, and comes in mineralised and distilled varieties. Hotel rooms typically provide bottled water which should be used for drinking and the brushing of teeth if you are new to the region. Bottled water is very popular among locals, but as Hong Kong's landfill sites are filling up fast and plastic bottles are a major part of the environmental problem, empty bottles should be disposed at recycle bins whenever possible. The fine for littering is $3,000.



Despite Hong Kong's name meaning "fragrant harbour", this is not always so. Air pollution is a big problem due to a high population density and industrial pollution from mainland China. During periods of very bad air pollution tourists will find visibility drastically reduced, especially from Victoria Peak. Persons with serious respiratory problems should seek medical advice before travelling to the territory and ensure that they bring ample supplies of any relevant medication.

Pollution is a contentious topic in Hong Kong and is the number one issue among environmental campaigners. Levels of pollution can vary according to the season. The winter monsoon can bring polluted air from the mainland, while the summer monsoon can bring cleaner air off the South China Sea.

The air is noticeably less foggy after rainy days.





Hong Kong has significant cultural differences from mainland China due to its heritage. The bulk of the population are descendants of ethnic Chinese who fled China and found safety in Hong Kong during the colonial era. Locals in Hong Kong have maintained many aspects of traditional Chinese culture that have been abandoned in the mainland, including religion, holidays, music, traditional writing and the official use of a regional language (Cantonese). British influences have also been incorporated into the local culture. After it was handed back to China in 1997, the city has maintained a reputable legal system based on English common law, effective anti-corruption measures and currency.

Hong Kong also has a significant minority of Permanent Residents who are not PRC citizens, and are not ethnically Chinese, but are recognised as Hong Kong residents by the Basic Law. This includes descendants of British, Jewish and South Asian populations from the colonial era. They are eligible to apply for Chinese citizenship, but few have taken up this option.

The Sino-Hong Kong relationship, as always, is a contentious and complicated issue. Many locals consider the mannerisms of mainland Chinese to be crude and uncivilised, and are grateful for what they consider to be the civilising influence of British colonial rule in Hong Kong, while mainland Chinese often criticise Hongkongers for what is perceived as a lack of ethnic solidarity and patriotism, along with arrogance rooted in its history of British colonial rule. With the rise of the localism movement, an increasing number of locals, especially the youth, are rejecting the "Chinese" identity, and instead choosing to identify solely as "Hongkongers", often emphasising their British colonial heritage. Many Hongkongers also feel that China is wiping out Hong Kong's unique culture and attempting to impose Chinese culture on them.

Generally speaking, it is best not to get into a discussion about mainland Chinese with local Hong Kong people.


Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Centre

Many world religions are practised freely in Hong Kong, and discussing religion with local Hong Kong people is usually not a problem. The Chinese majority generally practises a mix of traditional Chinese folk religions and Buddhism. Contemporary Hong Kong is, for the most part, rather secular in daily life, though you are still expected to dress and behave in a respectful manner when visiting places of worship. As in many other parts of Asia, swastikas are used in Hong Kong as a religious symbol for Buddhists, as well as the Hindu minority, and have no connection with Nazism or anti-Semitism whatsoever.

When visiting Chinese temples, take off your hat. Avoid pointing at the statues of deities with your index finger as it is considered to be offensive and disrespectful. Use your thumb or an up-facing open palm instead.

Christianity is followed by 10% of the population, with English language services available all over the territory. Due to the presence of a large community of Filipino migrant workers, some churches also offer services in Tagalog. Protestants in Hong Kong tend to be strongly conservative, and typically take their religion more seriously than those in Europe. It is common for both strangers and acquaintances to ask you to come to their church, although offence will not usually be taken if you decline. The Roman Catholic church is allowed to operate in Hong Kong.

Hindus and Muslims also came here from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan as part of the British Empire. The Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Centre is famous for prayer and research. There is a single Orthodox synagogue, the Ohel Leah Synagogue, serving the tiny Jewish community. The territory is also home to several Hindu temples and a Sikh Gurdwara.

The Falun Gong religion is permitted in Hong Kong, unlike on the mainland where it is banned. The group often quietly demonstrates against the Chinese Communist Party outside tourist hotspots, where they are often also quietly counter protested by pro-Beijing people who oppose their opinions.



In Hong Kong, freedom of speech and the press were generally respected by the government until 2020, when the controversial National Security Law and other national security legislations were imposed. The law has made advocacy or discussion of any topic that the government finds objectionable to be highly sensitive, if not illegal. This includes documentaries about the 2019-20 protests, artwork criticising China, and photos depicting the police force in a negative light. Hong Kong people are somewhat free to criticise their government, as long as their criticism does not touch what the government calls "red line" issues. High-profile foreign critics are denied entry. "National security education" is now mandatory in schools and universities. A handful of websites are blocked but there's no widespread internet censorship, though Hong Kong Public Library initiated a campaign to censor and unshelve deemed subversive books. Media organisations that criticise the government face legal and economic pressure from authorities.

Hong Kong people are particularly sensitive about any changes that may affect the freedom they have enjoyed. Once regarded as apolitical and pragmatic, Hong Kong people, in particular the younger generations, are also more active in discussing politics, though these are affected by the red line of National Security Law.

Major political rallies used to take place every year on 4 June commemorating the bloodshed at Tiananmen Square in 1989. July 1 is a public holiday that commemorates the handover to China, but after more than 500,000 people took to the streets protesting a national security bill in 2003, this day has become a symbolic day of protest every year. The protests and rallies discontinued since the national security law is enacted, and the organisers were charged under the same law in 2021. Venues for protests (such as Victoria Park) are cordoned off by the police, and police will arrest anyone at the slightest suspicion that they are making political advocacy during such days — whether it is mourning the June Fourth incident or expressing support with the 2019-2020 protesters.

Local political parties are broadly split between pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps. While many desire universal suffrage, a right that Beijing has promised but refused to grant, some also try not to offend the mainland as Hong Kong's prosperity is thought to depend on further economic integration with China. The differences can also be observed on many topics such as the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989 and democracy in China. In Hong Kong, where information has traditionally been freely circulated and people are well read, political opinions are extremely polarised. As a general rule, the older generation is split, while the younger generation is overwhelmingly pro-democracy and/or pro-independence.

Unlike in Taiwan, independence for Hong Kong had never been widely discussed before or after 1997, and had hardly gained any public support until the Umbrella Protests of 2014. However a desire for stronger autonomy has been growing since the Umbrella Protests by those increasingly frustrated by Beijing's reluctance to allow democratic reforms, and elections since then have even seen a few pro-independence candidates elected to the territory's legislature. Since the 2019 protests, all pro-independence and many pro-democratic lawmakers have been disqualified and expelled from the legislature, with many of them arrested under the national security law or seeking political asylum in other countries.

Some locals will be very offended if you imply that Hong Kong is part of China. Others will be very offended if you imply that Hong Kong is not part of China. As a general rule, it's best to just stay clear of the topic unless you know your listener well. And generally it's a good idea to use terms like “mainland China” (中國大陸/中國内地/大陸/内地) to avoid irritating anyone.

Manners and etiquette


Hong Kong is a fast-paced society where the phrase "mm goi" (唔該), which literally means "I should not (bother you)", is used pervasively in a situation that you would say "Excuse me" or "Thank you".

The "mm goi" (I should not) mentality extends to a way that they don't want to bother anyone as long as possible. When you get a cough, always cover your mouth with the inner side of your elbow, as that area of your arm does not frequently come in contact with other people, thus avoiding the spread of pathogens. When having a fever, wear a mask. Spitting and littering, an offence subject to a penalty of $3,000, is considered rude because it disturbs others. Hong Kong is noisy due to its huge population density but adding more noises, which will certainly disturb others too, is not welcome. Speaking vociferously over the phone on the bus, for example, will be viewed as egocentric and boorish.

When entering people's homes, always be sure to remove your shoes before you do so.

Hong Kong follows the British tradition in that queue jumping is taboo and you may easily get into a argument or be denied service if you do so. Everyone wants to go orderly and speedily on their way with the least disturbance. Even if an arriving bus is empty, and there are only two people waiting in line, they are expected to enter the bus in order of queue. Jumping a queue in order to ask a question is not practiced either.

When smoking in front of a non-smoker, always ask for a permission because they may think you are trying to seriously disturb their health. Many smokers will just walk away to smoke, even in a place where smoking is legally allowed.

Unlike public transport in some large cities such as Tokyo or London, where it is common to see passengers eat or drink (even in a cautious manner that keeps the surroundings clean), such behaviour is strictly prohibited in all areas of MTR stations, train compartments (except intercity trains), and most buses. This is due to concerns about maintaining cleanliness of public facilities, and there have been cases where misbehaving mainland Chinese visitors have been scolded by locals after refusing to stop consuming food and reacting to locals rudely. Drinking a few mouthfuls of pure water is usually tolerated, but it would be common for a local passenger to politely ask you to stop consuming or even dispose of your food if you're eating it obviously (for example, eating a hamburger and holding a coke). If this happens, just obey the request and reply politely, and you'll always be out of trouble.

While Hong Kong has a generally good reputation when it comes to customer service, it is considered strange to strike up pleasantries with a stranger unless they are pregnant, disabled or senior citizens who are obviously in need. Saying "good morning" to a person you don't know at a bus stop will probably be viewed with suspicion. It is unusual for people to hold doors for strangers, and supermarket staff or bank cashiers seldom ask about your day. Staff in shops and restaurants might not even say "thank you" when you pay.

Like their mainland Chinese counterparts, saving face is a very important part of Hong Kong culture. Mistakes are typically not pointed out in order to avoid causing embarrassment, and it is generally considered poor taste to brag about your achievements or flaunt your wealth in the face of your less well-to-do peers.

Naming customs and modes of address are generally the same as in mainland China, the main difference being that the names and titles are pronounced in Cantonese instead of Mandarin in formal situations in Hong Kong. See the Respect section of the China article for more details.



Superstition is part of the Hong Kong psyche and it can be observed everywhere. Many buildings are influenced by the Fengshui principles which refer to a decoration style that blends the Five Elements (Gold, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth) together, which will turn out to bring you luck, fortune, better health, good examination results, good relationships, and even a baby boy, according to their believers.

Many buildings skip floor numbers with a 4 in them; this includes the 14th and 24th floors (which phonetically mean "you must die" and "you die easily") and even the entire 40s range (so the 50th floor would be directly above the 39th floor). They love the numbers 18 (you will get rich), 369 (liveliness, longevity, lasting), 28 (easy to get rich), and 168 (get rich forever). This also extends to the licence plate numbers on their cars; 1358 is avoided as it phonetically means "you will never prosper", while numbers like 2328 (easy to procreate and prosper) are highly sought after.

Hong Kong people love to joke about their superstitious thoughts but that doesn't mean they ignore them. When visiting your friends in Hong Kong, never give them a clock as a gift because "giving a clock" phonetically means "attending one's funeral". No pears will be served in a wedding party because "sharing a pear" sounds like "separation". Some people refuse to open an umbrella indoor because a ghost spirit, who is thought to fear sunshine, will hide themselves in it. Breaking a mirror will bring you 7 unlucky years.



When you give or receive a business card, always do it with both hands and with a slight dip of your head or you will be seen as either disrespectful or ignorant, even if you are a foreigner. Welcoming someone should also be done with a slight dip of the head and with a customary firm handshake, but there is no need to bow.

You will find that the cashier may hand you receipts or change with both hands too. This is considered a gesture of respect. Because you're the patron, it is up to you to do the same or not when handing cash to the cashier.



When the thermometer hits 30 °C, expect to see many local people wearing warm clothing - this is to protect against the harsh air-conditioning often found on public transport and in places like cinemas and shopping malls. This is actually wise, since the extreme change in temperatures can make people feel ill.

In contrast, when the temperature starts to go under 20 °C, people start wearing very warm clothing to protect themselves from the 'cold'.

Hong Kong women are known for their fairly conservative dress code, although wearing halter-necks and sleeveless tops is not uncommon and acceptable, while teenagers and young adults can very frequently be seen wearing hot pants or short shorts. Public nudity including topless sunbathing is prohibited, even on the beach.

The dress code for men, especially tourists, is less conservative than it used to be. Even in 5-star hotels, smart casual is usually acceptable; although you might want to make your own enquiries in advance before dining in those places. Tourists from colder climates sometimes assume that wearing shorts in the tropics is a sensible idea, but hairy knees can look out of place in urban Hong Kong.



Although Mandarin has been compulsory in all government schools since the handover, and most Hongkongers are able to understand Mandarin to a certain degree, the use of Mandarin is a touchy political issue due to its association with the perceived erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy and cultural identity by the central government in Beijing. If you don't speak Cantonese, you should generally try speaking English before trying Mandarin in order to avoid any potential controversies.





Postal services are provided by Hongkong Post, which is generally efficient and of high quality. Post offices are ubiquitous and coin-operated stamp vending machines provide service when the post offices are closed. You can also buy stamps in sets of 10 from many convenience stores such as 7-Eleven or Circle K (OK). Postal rates are viewable online.

Due to Hong Kong's special status, mainland Chinese stamps cannot be used to send mail from Hong Kong or vice versa.

Internet access


Unlike in mainland China, most Western websites are accessible in Hong Kong. However, as of July 2022, the new National Security Law has been used to block some websites critical of the government, though no large-scale censorship is implemented.

Internet cafes


Internet cafes have become rare as most people have smartphones and wifi-enabled devices. When available, internet cafes charge $20-30 per hour.



Free Wi-Fi is available at most hotels, shopping malls, coffee shops, the airport, most MTR stations, government buildings and some telephone booths.



Hong Kong's country-code is +852 (different from mainland China (86) and Macau (853)). Local phone numbers (mobile and landlines) are typically 8 digits; no area codes are used. All numbers that begin with 5, 6, 8, or 9 are mobile numbers, while numbers beginning with 2 or 3 are fixed line numbers. For calls from Hong Kong, the standard IDD prefix is 001, so you would dial 001-(country code)-(area code)-(telephone number). Calls to Macau or mainland China require international dialling. For the operator, dial 1000. For police, fire or ambulance services dial 999.

Mobile phones

Phone shop in the Sha Tin Plaza mall

Hong Kong has a world class communications infrastructure, with a 5G network being deployed in 2020. Mobile phone usage is cheap and near-iniversal.

Hong Kong has many mobile operators. The best choices for tourists are Three, SmarTone and CSL. All operators offer prepaid SIM cards in micro, nano, and standard sizes. Recharging your credit can be done online with a credit card (Three and CSL will accept credit cards from anywhere) or by purchasing vouchers from retail stores, resellers, convenience stores such as 7-Eleven and supermarkets. Unlimited data plans cost around $28 per day.

Since 1 March 2022, all new SIM cards sold must be registered with your name, and all existing SIM cards must be registered by 23 February 2023. A copy of your identity document or passport is also needed for registration.

Mobile phone numbers have eight digits and begin with 5, 6, or 9. Telephone system is separate from Mainland China, and using Chinese SIM card would incur roaming charges. China Mobile does offer its mainland prepaid customers a reduced rate option for Hong Kong; a fixed fee of 2.9RMB daily or 9 RMB weekly will reduce per-minute and per-SMS rates to mainland levels and incoming calls and SMS become free. Data, however, is separately charged at 30RMB daily for unlimited use.

Kiosks selling SIM Cards and renting mobile hotspot devices and mobile phones are available in the arrivals hall of the airport and at ferry terminals.

All mobile phone companies charge for both incoming and outgoing calls (similar to USA, but different from most European countries, Japan, Taiwan, or South Korea). Coverage is excellent, except in remote mountainous areas. Almost all operators provide a good signal, even when underground in such places as the MTR system, on board trains and in cross-harbour and other road tunnels.

Coverage is decent across all Hong Kong operators, comparison of the coverage and speeds of the networks can be found on Hong Kong Coverage maps created by OpenSignal. In general Hong Kong has advanced mobile infrastructure with the second fastest LTE in the world.

For those traveling to the mainland, it is possible to buy SIMs with discounted pricing on mainland use. These are good to have if you need reliable uncensored internet on the mainland; due to the way roaming works, they are not blocked as a regular VPN would be during "sensitive" periods. China Unicom works on all phones, while China Mobile requires that your phone or internet device support the network technologies it uses on the mainland for 3G/4G access (TD-LTE and/or TD-SCDMA). China Unicom charges $68/500MB or $118/1GB for mainland data. China Mobile offers mainland data at $48 daily (throttled to 128k after 1GB that day), $98/2GB, or $168/4GB.

Landline phones


Landline phones for local calls are charged on a monthly basis with unlimited access, but be careful that hotels may charge you per call.

Payphones are becoming rarer, but still exists in many MTR stations. If you don't have a mobile phone and need to make a short local call, most restaurants, supermarkets, and shops will allow you to use their phone if you ask nicely.





Hong Kong has a vibrant press industry and a wide array of competing newspapers. However, media organisations that are critical of the government face political, legal, and economic pressures from the authorities. Moreover, the national security law has made the advocacy of some political positions, including Hong Kong independence and sanctions from foreign governments, illegal. Some prominent pan-democratic media were also forced to close after their executive members were arrested under that law.

The Oriental Daily News (東方日報) is one of Hong Kong's most widely circulated tabloids, adopting an informal writing style and focusing on celebrity coverage. Oriental Daily News is regarded as heavily biased towards the Beijing government.

Among the broadsheet Chinese-language newspapers that adopt a more formal style and focus on serious news, Ming Pao (明報) is the most widely circulated, while the Hong Kong Economic Times (香港經濟日報) is the main financial newspaper.

The South China Morning Post is Hong Kong's English-language newspaper of record, while The Standard, which adopts a more informal tabloid style and is distributed for free, is its main competitor. The online pro-democracy newspaper Hong Kong Free Press is also prominent and can be accessed for free.

Radio Television Hong Kong is the Government broadcaster. Formerly enjoyed broad autonomy, it has been subject to increasing censorship by authorities. RTHK also make timely traffic broadcast (in Chinese), which is accurate and useful for drivers and travellers in general.


See also: Electrical systems

Hong Kong uses the British three-pin electrical sockets. Additionally, some hotels will have a bathroom with a parallel three-pin outlet which is designed for use with electric shavers, but might be used to re-charge a phone or rechargeable batteries. Electricity is 220 volts at 50 hertz. Most electronic stores will have cheap (HK$15–20) adapters that will allow foreign plugs to fit into British sockets, but these will not convert voltage or frequency.



Although the embassies for China are in Beijing, the separate nature of the special administrative region means that many consulates in Hong Kong operate almost as full embassies (but are not allowed to be called embassies) from the perspective of the traveller in terms of assistance and visa needs. A few (mostly Portuguese-speaking) countries serve Hong Kong through their consulate in Macau. Mainland China and Taiwan don't have official consulates in Hong Kong, as the relationships are not considered country-to-country. However, there are similar offices with similar functions, which are listed here.

Almost any travel agent can also help you get a visa, and most can deliver it the next day. Of course they charge an additional fee, but it may be worth it for the convenience. The China Travel Service office on the arrivals level at the airport is often used. Keep in mind that you cannot apply for a Chinese visa in Hong Kong unless you are a legal resident.