General Information on Hong Kong
Hong Kong is known to be one of the world's busiest commercial, financial and corporate markets, and container ports. It is also the global gateway to China and easily accessible to different parts of the world. The cultures and traditions of East and West, of ancient and modern, are united in Hong Kong, creating a dynamic and cosmopolitan society.
With a population of 7.2 million, of which 92% are Chinese, the official languages are Chinese and English, with a large percentage of the population being bilingual. Cantonese is the most widely spoken local dialect and Mandarin is becoming more popular. Street signs, menus and tourist publications are bilingual.
Hong Kong is a small territory of just 1,091 sq km, nestling on the Southern coast of China. It is made up of the Hong Kong Island (78 sq km), the Kowloon Peninsula (46 sq km), and the New Territories plus 260 outlying islands (967 sq km).
Hong Kong has a subtropical climate. The average temperature in May lies between 24℃(75℉) and 28℃(82℉). The average rainfall in May is about 316mm. Short sleeves and cotton work best with a lightweight sweater for indoors as all restaurants, shopping malls, conference and entertainment venues are air-conditioned.
Hong Kong time is GMT plus 8 hours.
Dining out is gourmet's delight, an exciting adventure with a limitless choice of restaurants and dishes. There are more than 30,000 restaurants in Hong Kong, providing visitors with a truly international eating experience. From the cuisine of regional China to spices of our Asian neighbours; from the classic dishes of continental Europe to the nouvelle and traditional cuisine of North America. In Hong Kong, seafood is a passion; only the best and the freshest is offered. The range of restaurants is immense with high standards.
Hong Kong is the shopping window of the world. Its diversity will astonish the most seasoned shopper. It is a haven for choices - from fashion to furniture, from antiques to jewellery and from cameras to computers. This range of choices extends to the shopping environment. There are designer boutiques and street stalls, classic shopping malls and frenetic markets, modern art galleries and antique shops, and they are open every day of the week. Nothing could be simpler than shopping in Hong Kong.
Most restaurants add 10% service charge automatically and waiters also expect to pick up loose change. Larger gratuities are expected when there is no service charge. Small tips are common for bellboys, doormen and cloak room attendants. Taxi drivers also tend to pick up loose change.
Currency Exchange/Credit Cards
The unit of currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HK$). It is pegged to the US$ at approximately HK$7.7 to US$1. Most foreign currencies and traveller's cheques can be changed at banks, money-changers, hotels and major retail outlets. Banks usually offer the best exchange rate. The Hong Kong Dollar notes are available in $10, $20, $50, $100, $500 and $1,000 denominations. Coins come in 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, $1, $2, $5 and $10 denominations. All major credit cards are widely accepted. Check the cash prices; it may be lower than the credit card price.
Office and Banking Hours
Most offices are open from 09:00 to 17:00 on weekdays and 09:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays. Major banks are open from 09:00 to 16:30 on weekdays. Some banks also open on Saturdays. Banking facilities are available within the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The same local Police Force that has made Hong Kong one of the safest cities in the world continues to maintain law and order. However, delegates are advised to carry some identification with a photograph at all times.
Electricity & Water
Local voltage is 220V at 50Hz. Adaptors can be easily bought, and most hotels have multi-voltage fitting. All water direct from government main meets the World Health Organisation standards. Bottled water is widely available.
Hong Kong is geographically compact with plentiful taxis day and night and are inexpensive with meters clearly displayed. Excellent public transportation in the form of buses, trams and the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is relatively cheap and frequent. The famous Star Ferry operates from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central District and to Wanchai. From Hong Kong's airport at Chek Lap Kok, you can reach the Central District by the Airport Express (AE) in about 30 minutes. Hong Kong's fast air-conditioned airbus can also take you direct from the new Airport terminal to convenient points including Tsim Sha Tsui, Central and Wanchai, Causeway Bay, Taikoo Shing and Kowloon MTR Station, which are all close to most major hotels. The airbuses leave from the airport every 10 to 15 minutes and the airbus fare ranges from HK$15 to HK$48. In-town check-in facilities are available at Hong Kong AE Station and Kowloon AE Station. Hotel shuttles run between major hotels on Kowloon and Hong Kong Island and the Hong Kong and Kowloon MTR Stations. Please check with your hotel front desk for more information. The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre is within walking distance of the Wanchai MTR Station.
For more information about visiting Hong Kong, please also visit the website of the HKSAR Government http://www.gov.hk/en/nonresidents/ and the Hong Kong Tourism Board website http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/index.jsp