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Hong Kong Travel Guide
Hong Kong perches on the edge of mainland China, occupying a unique position as a territory straddling two worlds. Since the handover in 1997 Hong Kong has become a 'Special Administrative Region of China', no longer a subject of British colonial sovereignty, though much of Britain's cultural and economic influence is still evident. Past and present fuse to create a capitalist utopia embedded within the world's largest Communist country. Hong Kong offers a dense concentration of shops and shopping malls with a cross-pollinated cosmopolitan culture that embraces Nepalese and British cuisines with equal enthusiasm. It is the perfect gateway for travellers to Southeast Asia and China, providing a smooth transition from west to east. As one of the key economies of the Pacific Rim, Hong Kong Island showcases a gleaming landscape of skyscrapers and boasts a highly developed transport infrastructure that makes commuting around it a dream. Hong Kong consists of four sections: Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands. Kowloon and the New Territories form part of the Chinese mainland to the north of Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong Island, containing the central business hub, lies on the southern side of the harbour facing Kowloon. The Outlying Islands area consists of 234 islands.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The UK-style 3-pin plugs are standard.
The unit of currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD); HK$1 is divided into 100 cents. Major banks are open from 9am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 12:30pm on Saturday. Banks and moneychangers charge commission as do hotels that provide exchange services. All major credit cards are accepted and ATMs are widely distributed. Some HSBC 'Electronic Money' machines provide 24-hour cash withdrawal facilities for Visa and MasterCard holders.
The official languages in Hong Kong are English and Cantonese. The other main language is Mandarin.
A 10 percent service charge is usually added to restaurant bills in Hong Kong, but waiters will still expect some loose change in addition to this. If no service charge is included, a 10 percent tip is expected. Taxi fares are rounded up to the nearest dollar (usually automatically by the driver).
There are no specific health risks associated with travel to Hong Kong. Food and water are generally safe, although visitors should consider only drinking bottled water for the first few days of their stay. The hepatitis E virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water and precautions should be taken with food and drink. Take precautions against mosquito bites, as there is a risk of Dengue fever. Outbreaks of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease are reported annually. Hong Kong's health facilities are first class, but expect to pay cash. High quality medical care is widely available but medical insurance is recommended to cover expenses.
Hong Kong is considered a safe travel destination, although caution should always be exercised when travelling. Pickpockets are likely to target unsuspecting tourists so one should minimise this risk through vigilance and by leaving valuables locked up in hotel safes when possible. Be wary of accepting drinks from strangers, as reports of spiked drinks are on the increase. Robbers have recently targeted walkers in Hong Kong's Country Parks so it is advisable to stay on marked trails and not to carry large amounts of cash or credit cards. The typhoon season is usually between April and October, and the heavy rains may cause flooding and landslides.
All foreign visitors to Hong Kong must be in possession of onward or return tickets (except when in transit to mainland China or Macao), the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, and proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay in the country. Note that admission and/or transit will be refused to any national holding a passport issued by Kiribati, and endorsed "N-Kiribati" or "Investor". NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Littering and spitting are illegal in Hong Kong and will incur on the spot fines. In Hong Kong the concept of 'face' is very important; avoid causing someone to 'lose face' by publicly insulting them or contradicting them in front of others as this is a general 'no no'. The Chinese have great respect for hierarchical relationships.