Hong Kong for First Timers

Hong Kong is not just an ordinary city.  It is a fusion of two worlds with the territory’s Chinese roots mixed with the influences of more than one hundred fifty years of British colonization. This East meets West culture is quite evident in the city’s food, architecture, tradition and fashion.

Hong Kong is also known as a shopper’s paradise.  It is a place where you can find anything from the latest products to priceless antiques in luxurious shopping malls or bustling street markets spread throughout the city.


The fun begins as soon as the sun sets in the Temple Street night market in Hong Kong.

If you think that Hong Kong is just for the shopaholic, think again.  Hong Kong is also a perfect family destination with its theme parks, temples and natural reserves. There are lots of family-oriented activities that will keep the young ones and the young at hearts busy.

No wonder Hong Kong has always been a favorite travel destination for Filipinos.  After all, Hong Kong is practically just our neighbor. Approximately, it takes only about two hours to travel to from Manila to Hong Kong.

If it is your first time to travel to Hong Kong, here are a few useful tips to make your trip easier:

Visa

If you are a Philippine passport holder, there is no need to apply for a visa if you are going to Hong Kong for transit, tourism or business as long as your stay will not exceed more than 14 days.

Currency

Like any other country, the Hong Kong currency is consist of banknotes and coins.  The banknotes comes in denominations of HKD 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000.  The coins on the other hand, come in denominations of 1, 2, 5 and 10 HKD.  As of this writing, HKD 1 is equivalent to P6.76 Philippine peso.  That’s about HKD 7.83 to US$1.

Source:  Shore Excursions Asia

It is always recommended to bring a small amount of cash in the local currency when you travel.  If you were not able to do so, there are many ATM machines and currency exchanges in the airport.

Click here for more tips on smart ways to carry money when traveling.

Hotel

There are an infinite number of hotels to choose from when you travel to Hong Kong.  It all depends on your budget and purpose.

Most visitors prefer to stay in Tsim Sha Tsui because that is where the greatest number of hotels are concentrated.  Situated in the southern part of Kowloon island, it is a shopping and nightlife district.  This is where Victoria Harbour is, a place that gives you a stunning view of the Hong Kong harbour.

Business travelers on the other hand, prefer to stay in the financial district in Central, Hong Kong.  This area is crammed with skyscrapers, luxury hotels and clubs where the expats and the locals go.

If you are on a budget, Yau Ma Tei and Mongkok are the best places to stay.  This is the place to experience the authentic local Chinese culture with its fascinating street scenes and endless array of shopping stalls. Here, you will enjoy great deals while shopping.

Generally speaking, hotel prices vary not just on location but also on its view and height.  The best and most expensive rooms are those on the higher floors with a view of Victoria Harbour.

Click here for ways on how to save on hotel costs.

Transportation

Hong Kong has very good and highly developed transportation system.  It claims to have one of the world’s extensive, efficient and safest public transportation.  You can go around using a bus, ferry, taxi, tram or rail.

The MTR is Hong Kong’s comprehensive and efficient subway system.

If you plan to go around, it is best to get an Octopus card.  An octopus card is a smart value card that stores money electronically.  It is a very convenient way to pay fares using Hong Kong’s public transport.  The card can also be used to pay your purchases on convenience stores, fast foods, supermarkets and even vending machines.

Season

The best time to visit Hong Kong is during March and April when it is spring time or between October to December.  These are the months where the weather is very comfortable.  While summer can be stiflingly hot and quite humid, it still remains a very popular season for tourists.  The Hong Kong summer festival is the best time to shop in Hong Kong.   It starts in June and ends in August.

Internet and Wifi

Free wifi connectivity is offered in the airport, hotels, public parks and libraries, malls  and even airport buses.   You can also purchase data plans for short-term visits at the arrival hall at the airport.

Language

Because it is a former British colony, English is an official language in Hong Kong.  So, all official signs and announcements are in both Cantonese and English.   While most people knows English, don’t expect them to be fluent especially now after the handover from UK to China where there is an increasing importance of the use of the Mandarin language.

It is best to speak slowly when you are talking to the natives.  Keep your words simple.  Also, it is best to learn a few Cantonese words and phrases such as:

  • Hello – Néih hóu  (Neyi Hou)
  • Good Morning – jóusàhn (Sou San)
  • How much is it? – Géidō chín a (gei cin aa)
  • Are there any discounts? – yau mou zit aa (yau mou zit aa)

Tipping

Tipping in Hong Kong is not required except in hotels where tipping is necessary.  HKD 10 or HKD 20 should be given to bellboys and maids.  In most dining establishments, a 10% service charge is already added to the bill.

Safety

Although there is little violent crimes in Hong Kong, pick-pocketing can occur in crowded places such as market and trains so avoid bringing valuables with you.

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