Local Information

Local Travel

Hong Kong pride’s itself on having one of the most efficient and cheapest public transportation systems.  It is a highly integrated multi-modal network of rail, bus, trams, taxis services, but for the visitor the principle means of transport are:

Mass Transit Railway (MTR)
The MTR is one of the world’s most heavily used mass transit systems in the world and is the primary mode of transport throughout urban Hong Kong.  Journeys cost between HK$6-25. Payment is by pre-paid octopus card or cash through ticket machines or customer service centres on the station concourses.  Routes are signed according to the terminal station. Most interchanges between different routes happen cross platform. Frequency of trains 2-4 minutes on all lines.

Taxis
Red taxis, operating within all urban areas, charge HK$24 for the first 2 km and thereafter 0.8 per kilometer. Additional charges are imposed for use of tunnel, and carrying luggage.  Payment is by cash. Drivers speak some English.  There are HK taxi apps for smartphones such as Fly Taxi , and a number with translation functions such as Hong Kong Taxi Cards.  If the drivers do not understand you they will call their taxi company to help with translation.

Money

Currency
Hong Kong’s currency, the Hong Kong dollar (HK$), is pegged to the US$ at a rate of US$ 1.0  =  HK$7.72-7.78. Currency is internationally traded and should be readily available in major cities wordwide. There are numerous banks and currency exchange shops across the city, but check offered exchange rates carefully.

Octopus cards
Most public transport systems (except taxis) accept electronic payment using the Octopus card, a reusable contactless stored value smart card for online or offline systems in Hong Kong.  These may be purchased (or value added) at any MTR station.

All convenience stores, supermarkets, fast food restaurants, government run facilities accept Octopus cards.

Credit cards
Mastercard, Visa and American Express are very widely accepted. Paypal, Union Pay etc. are accepted by some service providers.

Tipping
A 10% service charge is commonly added to restaurant bills.  Tipping, while generally welcomed, is not necessary and seldom practiced.

Other Information

Eating
With more than 30,000 restaurants in Hong Kong, it is difficult to know where to start. Best approach is to look for the Open Rice restaurant director website, and then ask contacts for recommendations.

Language
The official languages of Hong Kong are Chinese and English. Cantonese (a dialect or separate language, depending on who you ask), is spoken by the majority of the population, however, English is very widely spoken.

Climate
Hong Kong has a subtropical climate. Summer is hot and humid with occasional showers and thunderstorms. September temperatures range between 26 °C  and 35 °C . with an average of about 15 days of rain in the month.  September is in the typhoon season, your hotel will issue appropriate weather warnings. Bring very lightweight summer clothes. A lightweight rain jacket is useful both for showers and over air-conditioned restaurants.

Electricity
The voltage in Hong Kong is the British 220/240 volts, three square-pin plug system. Most hotels will be happy to provide you with an adaptor.

SIM cards
Some areas of the city and most commercial and institutional establishments (such as HKU) have free wi-fi access, but short duration international pre-paid / roaming, 3G / 4G  data and voice cards are cheap and give universal access.  These can be purchased at all convenience stores and telecoms outlets.  Main service providers include Smartone3HKChina MobileCSL.

Safety / Emergencies
Although Hong Kong is generally a very safe city, there may be a risk of theft in heavily trafficked tourist areas, so just remain vigilant.   If you get in any difficulty (or lost) just ask, HK is a super friendly place and locals are always willing to help.  If you need the emergency services, just dial 999 on any phone.