The Hong Kong Unofficial Guide

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Cautions and Precautions

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Hong Kong Tourist Traps

Cautions & Precautions

Above: notice posted in every taxi advising passengers of the standardized charges of taxis.

  • Don't drink the water...

    ... the water in the harbor, that is! If even Batman decided not to take a dip with his bulletproof suit on, you know it's dangerous. Joking aside, a gulp or two won't kill you. But we won't tell you what's in it. (Water off the tap is supposed to be ok, but few locals do that. They boil it first. After all, the quality highly depends on the pipes it passes through.)

Above: taxis at Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry
  • Watch out for how much the taxi-driver charges you.

    There are some taxi drivers in sheep's clothing. They either trick the meter, go the long way, or cover up the decimal point of the fare on the meter.

    The safe thing is to know how much it should cost (the per km charge, toll charges, and luggage charge are all posted in every taxi, and a chart of approximate fares is posted at the airport). Get a receipt from the driver also. If they can't or won't give you one, copy down the licence number and the driver's name (shown on the dashboard). But then just a small percentage of the taxi-drivers are wolves. (Getting a receipt is always a good practice any way just in case you leave something behind.)
  • Stairs in Hong Kong could be hazardous.

    Most of them have steps not as high as those found in North America. So don't let your mind go into neutral when going down or even up the stairs. I am serious!

  • Don't get picked by pickpockets

    Always keep an eye on your belongings. They even work in teams, sometimes even involving a vehicle to suddenly stop in front of you while someone else does the lifting! I have also known an unsuspecting tourist shopping in a store who set his backpack down to try on some jeans and afterwards his wallet was missing! Remember: their hands are faster than your eyes!

  • Electronics Scams

    This is probably the biggest tourist trap here that many have fallen prey. Many of the shops on Nathan Road in Kowloon selling electronic products don't display the prices on the items. Many tourists have been scammed or cheated. One ploy is to give you an unbelievably good price, then after they have your money, they say they are out of stock, offering you another item but at an outrageous price. Some tourists have said that even calling the police did not help.

  • Money exchange

    If you can avoid it, don't do it at the airport. You'll usually get a better deal elsewhere.

  • Watch out when doing anything with a rickshaw

    Even taking a picture in, with, at, or even OF a rickshaw will cost you money! So settle on the price with the driver BEFORE you click that camera! There is no fixed price on the ride or a picture, but it is said that a picture costs HK$10 to $HK20 (US$1.25 - US$2.50). But then nowadays you probably don't have much a problem because you would be lucky to find even one rickshaw operator. (2008.12.30)

  • Look both ways before crossing a street

    If you are from a country where the traffic goes on the right side, you'll want to pay special attention to this since in Hong Kong when it comes to traffic, left is right and right is wrong! Besides, pedestrians don't necessarily have the right of way - at least many drivers think that.
  • Tissue and Windbreaker

    A lot of indoor places and vehicles can be very cold with the air conditioning at full blast (even in winter), so take along a windbreaker. Some restaurants don't provide napkins. Have a pack of tissue handy.

Easy on pocket book hotel prices:

  • Check the Bill

    Check your bill at the restaurant after a meal - especially at a dim sum restaurant. Though it does not happen a whole lot, sometimes a 'mistake' is made and you're charged an extra dish or for an extra person for tea.
  • Street Food

    Avoid buying cooked food from hawkers pushing a little cart.
| water | food | taxi driver | pictpocket | rickshaw | electronics | street crossing | stairs

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