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Pre-Departure Essential Information

Everything you need to know before you fly

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Do I Need a Hong Kong Visa?

Most nationals don't need visas for short stays, including nationals of the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. There are however a few rules and regulations when it comes to Hong Kong immigration. We've got them covered in our Do I Need a Hong Kong Visa article.

If you plan to work or study in the city, you'll need to apply for a visa from your nearest Chinese embassy or consulate.

How to Travel to Hong Kong

As one of the world's busiest air hubs there are plenty of connections to Hong Kong from airports around the world. Flights to Beijing, San Fransisco and London are particularly competitively priced. Find out more about where to fly from and when, as well as information on train connections from Shanghai and Beijing, ferries and even cargo ships in our How to Travel to Hong Kong article.

Travel to China

For those traveling to China, there are a number of entry options from Hong Kong. You can obtain a Chinese visa in advance and use a bonded ferry straight to China, or alternatively you can pick up a visa in Hong Kong from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Address- Ministry of Foreign Affairs , 7/F Lower Block, China Resources Building, 26 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. The center is open weekdays 9-12 and 2-5.

Be warned; somewhat farcically you cannot take any luggage into the building, and it must be left on the street outside.

Health

No vaccinations are required to enter Hong Kong, although you may consider a vaccination against Hepatitis A. Thankfully, there is no malaria in Hong Kong, although parts of China are a different matter. Bird Flu outbreaks in 1997 and 2003 have seen Hong Kong introduce stringent controls on poultry. Nevertheless, with periodic outbreaks in Southern China , precautions should be taken. Avoid poultry and dairy products in street restaurants and avoid contact with poultry and birds.

Currency

Hong Kong has it's own currency, the Hong Kong dollar ($HK). The currency is pegged to the US dollar at around $7.8 Hong Kong dollars to one US dollar. ATM's are abundant, with HSBC the dominant bank; Bank of America also has a number of branches. Exchanging money is also straightforward, although the banks usually offer better rates than money changers.

Crime

Hong Kong has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and assaults on foreigners are almost unheard of. That said, the usual precautions should be taken against pickpockets in tourist areas and on public transport. Hong Kong police are helpful and speak English.

Weather

Hong Kong has a subtropical climate, despite having four distinct seasons. The ideal time to pay a visit is September to December: when humidity is low, it rarely rains and is still warm. In summer you will find yourself continually shuttling between the heat and air-conditioned transport and buildings that blast out cold air. Typhoons occasionally hit Hong Kong between May and September.

Language

Cantonese is the local dialect of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong. Mandarin usage is on the rise, however it is not widely known. English has suffered a decline in recent years, although most people have at least a basic knowledge.

Help When in Hong Kong

The U.S. Consulate General is located at 26 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong, 24-hours telephone number +852 2523-9011

Making that call- Essential Numbers

Local calls, within Hong Kong, from landlines are free and you can freely use phones in shops, bars and restaurants for local calls.

International Dialling Codes
Hong Kong - 852
China - 86
Macau - 853

Local
Directory Assistance in English - 1081
Police, Fire, Ambulance - 999

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