The Hong Kong Unofficial Guide

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Misc. Information on Hong Kong

Above: Central district where a lot of corporations have their headquarters and different countries have their consulates.

Visa / Entry Permit

To find out whether you need a visa to visit Hong Kong, or where you can apply, check out the visa/entry permit page of the HK SAR Government Immigration Department web site.


There are many churches in Hong Kong, including English-speaking ones. For a more British format, I would recommend St. Andrew's in Kowloon. For more of a North American style, Evangelical Community Church is a good choice. They meet in the YMCA on Salisbury Road (Tsim Sha Tsui) on Sundays. There is also a congregation that meets in Wanchai area on Hong Kong Island. (Check their website for the location.) If you check the South China Morning Post, you can find advertisments from many English-speaking churches; but then you may have to buy the paper because I couldn't find it in their site. (also see LINKS section of this site on churches)


There are scores of local newspapers in Chinese. But there are two local newspapers in English: South China Morning Post and Hong Kong Standard. SCMP has a higher circulation.

Not counting cable or satellite TV, there are two TV stations, TVB and ATV. Each of them have two channels: Chinese and English, well, to a large extent. Sometimes the English channel becomes the non-Cantonese channel, airing Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, etc. programming. Check out the LINKS section for the links to their sites.


In general, Hong Kong dollors are used. But there are many banks and money changes. Credit cards are also widely accepted, especially Visa and MasterCard. But then some smaller stores have a minimum purchase before you can "put it on plastic". And some stores actually charge you a few percent more for using credit card.

  • The exchange rate : about US$ 1 = HK$ 7.8.
  • There are thousands of ATMs where you can get cash either from your credit card or even from your own bank account using your bank card.


Hong Kong money - $10, $20, $50, $100. Click to expand (195K).

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Staying Connected

Cell phones, email, long distance calls, snail mail - just take your pick! more...

Useful Phone Numbers

  • Emergency : 999 (ambulance, fire, police)
  • Hong Kong Tourism Board multilingual visitor hotline: 2508-1234 (country code 852; open 8am-6pm daily)
  • Directory assistance : 1081 (English)
  • Making a collect call : 10010 (there're probably cheaper options)
    See also staying connected page


220 Volts 50 Hz is the standard and it is quite reliable. 220 means that most U.S. electrical supplies will get fried if you don't connect the proper transformer to it first. They are available on Ap Liu Street in Sham Shui Po.

Generally electrical outlets are in the British style - three rectangular legs, the same as those used in Singapore, but different from those in USA or Australia. Converters can be bought in many hardware or electrical supplies store or even 10-dollar shops that are everywhere in Hong Kong nowadays. But beware that those small ones don't do the voltage conversion for you.

Nowadays most notebook computers can handle from 110 VAC to 220VAC - but check the label on the back first!

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Above: standard electrical outlets in Hong Kong


Being an international metropolitan, there're many expatriates working in Hong Kong in various fields e.g. finance, education, law, medicine, etc. more


There are a number of cinemas that show English films in their original soundtrack - with Chinese subtitles. For a small fee, you can even reserve your tickets over the phone. On line ticket purchasing is also available (see the LINKS section). A word of caution: check the language of the movie because some of the western movies have two versions: English, and Cantonese-dubbed. But then that might be a good way to learn some Cantonese!

Helpful Hints

Bathrooms - if you have an urgent "call" and must go, you should not try to find a public bathroom: there are not that many of them. The locals usually "borrow" the restrooms at restaurants. Big Chinese restaurants usually have their own. And so do most McDonald's! Ones in shopping malls usually are the cleanest. If you are in a very 'local' area, it will help for you to know how to ask for it in Cantonese! more


When it comes to holidays, Hong Kong has the best of both worlds - the east and the west. In addition to Christmas, Easter, and New Year, Hong Kong also has a bunch of Chinese festivals that are public holidays.

The biggest of all is Chinese New Year (also called lunar new year). A lot of factories are closed for a week or even two. Many restaurants also don't do business for at least 3 days.

Chinese New Year usually falls somewhere in February, varying from year to year. Unless you want a restful time, Chinese New Year may not the best time to visit Hong Kong if your stay is short!

Above : a dragon boat race in
Shau Kei Wan Typhoon Shelter

The other festivals include Ching Ming festival, Labor Day (May 1), Buddha's birthday, Dragon Boat festival, HK SAR Establishment Day (Jul 1), Mid-Autumn festival (15th day of 8th month on lunar calendar), National Day (Oct 1), and Chung Yeung festival (lunar 9th day of 9th month). more...

Time Zone

Hong Kong is GMT +8, in the same time zone as Beijing, China. For people from the U.S., the easiest way is to think this way: Hong Kong is exactly the same as on the East coast e.g. New York, D.C., etc., except that you "flip the clock"! 12 noon in New York is 12 midnight in Hongkong. But then since some States have daylight savings time part of the year, you have to figure that in as well.

Since Americans "spring forward" and "fall back", so after "falling back", Hongkong is one hour ahead of New York (but since you have to flip the clock, that means 13 hours ahead).

Clear as mud?

A side note: actually the time zone in HK can be summed up in one word: fast! The pace of life in Hong Kong is very fast.



If your family is relocating to Hong Kong and you have kids, you will need to decide what schools you want to put them in.

The schools you will be most interested in are "international schools". These are schools where English or a non-Chinese language is used as the medium of instruction, and most of the students are from families of expatriates or people with other-than-Hongkong background. Most of these are private schools - so you can expect higher school fees. The ESF (English Schools Foundation) schools are a less expensive alternative.

Check out the links on the international schools in the LINKS section.


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| currency | tipping | staying connected
| useful phones | electricity
| cinema | hints | school | festivals | time zone |


Housing in Hong Kong is among the most expensive in the whole world, but the convenience is also hard to beat.

You will find it hard to rent a small, semi-decent flat / apartment for less than US$800 a month. For a flat in a nicer and more convenient area, be prepared to pay US$1600 and up. more


Above: one of the upscale condo complexes, the Belcher's in Pokfulum area.


Hong Kong is considered to have sub-tropical climate. What does that mean? I think it means that unlike the nearby Singapore where you don't get 4 seasons, Hong Kong does. And the winters are mild - it doesn't snow, but the summers are hot and sticky.

However, if you're visiting Hong Kong in summer, the indoor weather could be freezing. With the air-conditioning in full blast, even though it could be 30 deg. C or more outside (upper 80's deg. F) with relative humidity of 85%, it still can be 15 deg C inside (upper 50's F). Pack along a light jacket.

You can check the weather forecast at the Hong Kong Observatory's website (click here) - only for the outdoors though. A few typhoons visit Hong Kong each year, but it is not often for a direct hit (more about typhoons).


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