Hong Kong: Things to know

All your pre-visit and on-location info, from taxis and tipping to visas and vaccinations, via weather warnings and when to go. Essentially, the climate swings from temperate to tropical, and taxis are colour coded


The official languages are English, Cantonese and Mandarin

Time zone

Hong Kong Time (GMT+8)


Hong Kong Dollars (HKD$)

Country dialling code



Subtropical, with cool winters (December to February) not below 10C/50F (expect sharp winds), and hot, humid and stormy summers (May to September) up to 35C/ 95F

When to visit

Book ahead if you want to visit during Chinese New Year and aim to avoid China’s two ‘Golden Week’ national holidays, kicking off on 1 May and 1 October. Otherwise, spring (March to mid-May) and autumn (late September to late November) are particularly pleasant


British passport-holders can enter without a visa for a period of up to 180 days; many other nationalities (including the US, Canada, Australia and most European countries) have a 90-day visa-free window. Visit the government site to find out what applies to you


Not required, but long-stay travellers may want to consider hepatitis A, and a tetanus booster if it’s been 10+ years since your last dose


Type G (three-prong)


In restaurants with table service, a 10% service charge is usually already added, round up or add another 10% for exceptional pleasure. At eateries where you pay at a cashier’s desk, exact change is the norm. Hotel staff appreciate a small gratuity


Dial 999

Tourist office

Information centres at the airport, The Peak Piazza between The Peak Tower and The Peak Galleria and the Star Ferry Concourse in Tsim Sha Tsui, on the Kowloon side

Getting there

Airlines and airports: Hong Kong International Airport is in Chek Lap Kok, on Lantau island. It is one of the busiest airports in the world, serving all major airlines and many regional ones

Transfers: The Airport Express train – the quickest and most direct way to the city –will get you into town within half an hour (costing HK$100 to Hong Kong Station, HK$90 to Kowloon). Otherwise, the airport is well served by buses (which take approximately double the time, but are cheaper at around HK$30-40) and taxis (approx. HK$250-300; you’ll find red and blue taxis waiting), or you can look into renting a car here

Getting around

Public transport: Easy to use and relatively inexpensive. The MTR (subway) is clean, safe and wildly efficient, and will get you to most places of interest. On the north shoreline of Hong Kong island, trams are a quaint substitute, and there are taxis, buses and minibuses everywhere.

Cabs: The most common red cab can go anywhere, green cabs only travel within the New Territories and blue cabs only on Lantau island. Hail any one with a ‘for hire’ light on. Uber also operates here

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