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Hong Kong: 7 Things Travelers Need To Know Before Visiting

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Hong Kong’s status as one of the world’s greatest cities is well-earned.

With an unmatched food scene, legendary nightlife, and a jaw-dropping skyline, the city lures visitors with an endless amount of things to do.

From lively street markets and beautiful parks to the towering skyscrapers that help make the territory one of the most densely populated places in the world, Hong Kong is a true delight to visit.  

Hong Kong at night

But before setting off to Hong Kong, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this post, we'll cover everything you need to know about traveling to Hong Kong, including:

  • What are the costs for travelers?
  • Things to know about culture and etiquette
  • What are the top attractions?
  • How safe is it?
  • Local food and drinks
  • How good is the WiFi?
  • How long can you stay?

Ready? Here are the top 7 things you need to know before visiting Hong Kong:

Hong Kong Big Buddha

Did you know… Hong Kong is not technically a country. For decades it was a British colony and under their rule developed a strong capitalist economy. However, in 1997 British rule was transferred to China, making Hong Kong a special administrative region (SAR) of China. Now, it is governed under the principle of “one country, two systems” meaning that even though they are now technically part of communist China, they can retain much of their political and economic autonomy.

1) Hong Kong Affordability

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Dollar or HKD. The current exchange rate is $1 HKD = $0.13 USD and $1 USD =$7.81 HKD.

Here are the average costs for travelers in USD:

Accommodation

  • Average hotel price: One night at a 3-star hotel typically costs around $210, or around $275 for a 4-star hotel.
  • Luxury 5-star hotels: Luxury 4-star hotels average $450 per night, and there are plenty of options, especially if you want to splurge. For instance, the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong has standard rooms starting at $635 and Premier Executive Suites with panoramic views of the harbor for $2,500 per night.
  • If you're on a budget: Hong Kong has plenty of hostels to choose from, and travelers can expect to pay around $20 per night for a bed in a dorm or between $35 – $65 for a private room.

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Hong Kong Skyline At Night

Food

The food in Hong Kong is incredible, and there is so much to try, including plenty of affordable options.

  • A 3-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two costs around $65.
  • For a cheap meal at an inexpensive restaurant or from a street food vendor, expect to pay around $8.
  • A beer costs between $6-$7, while a cappuccino is about $5.

Transportation

  • Public transportation on the MTR is the best way to get around in Hong Kong. Tourists can buy travel passes that cost around $8.50 per day and cover unlimited travel on the city’s metros, trams, and light rails. If you don’t buy the tourist pass, single journey tickets are based on distance and range between $0.90 and $3.
  • Taxi fares start at$3.20and cost an additional $2 per mile traveled. Uber is available and rates are comparable to taxis.
  • For travel between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, tourists can opt for the iconic Star Ferry, which costs between $0.50 and $0.83 depending on when you go and which deck you choose.
Star Ferry sails in the water in Hong Kong

2) Culture And Etiquette In Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s culture and traditions are much different than those found in the West. Make time to read up on appropriate etiquette before taking off for your vacation.

Check this list before your trip! Here are some of the major Dos and Don’ts in Hong Kong.

  • DON’T smoke in public – smoking is banned indoors and in public spaces outdoors, including parks, beaches, and public transportation.
  • DO raise your hand: When dining out and you need something from your waiter, raise your hand and give a wave to get their attention.  
  • DON’T take the MTA during rush hour: Avoid the train during the hours of 7 am-9:30 am and 5 pm-7 pm as that is when they are packed with commuters going to and from work.
  • DO use your chopsticks correctly: Never use your chopsticks to point at someone or something, and don’t ever put them upright in a bowl of rice, as it is considered inappropriate. Additionally, don’t use your own chopsticks to take food from a communal platter, use the ones that came with the dish.
  • DON’T be alarmed: Restaurants are always busy and try to maximize space, so it is common to be seated with other diners when out at a restaurant.
  • DO respect your elders: Show respect to anyone older than you – be sure to offer them a proper greeting, follow their lead, and give up a seat for them on a busy train.
Female Tourist Wearing A Straw Hat As She Is Seen Wandering Down A Fleamarket In Hong Kong, Asia

3) Top Attractions in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is full of incredible places to explore. Here are a few of the top things to see and do while visiting:

  • Victoria Peak – No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a visit to Victoria Peak, the highest point on the island. Visitors can reach the top by riding the 8-minute-long Peak Tram. The views from the top are incredible.
  • Temple Street Night Market – Best visited between 7 pm – 10 pm; visitors should arrive hungry at this epic market. You’ll find fantastic street food as well as cheap clothes and souvenirs.
  • Hong Kong Museum of History – A museum dedicated to telling the story of Hong Kong with many worthwhile exhibits. The Hong Kong Museum of History is a fantastic way to learn more about the territory’s long and interesting past.
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4) How Safe Is It For Tourists?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

As with many Asian cities, Hong Kong is very safe for travelers. However, there are still some things that travelers should keep in mind to stay safe during their visit:

  • Beware of thieves: pickpocketing and scams are the most common crimes tourists will encounter, but they are rare. Take extra caution in busy areas, tourist spots, and on public transportation.
  • Avoid protests: Occasionally there are political protests that take place throughout Hong Kong– if you encounter one while visiting it is not advised to join in.
  • Know how to call for help: If you or someone you are with need emergency assistance call 999.
  • DO get travel insurance: Travel insurance can help in health emergencies as well as with covering the costs of any travel mishaps during your Hong Kong trip. For 5 great options, read more here.
the bright lights of the Temple Street Night Market in Hong Kong

5) Local Eats And Drinks

One of the best parts of travel is checking out the local cuisine, and Hong Kong is a fantastic place to try new foods. Don't let yourself leave without trying at least one of the following:

Food

  • Fish balls – A popular snack where fish meat is formed into balls and stewed
  • Pineapple bun- a soft, sweet bun with a crunchy sugar topping that cracks while being cooked and resembles the pattern of a pineapple.
  • Cha siu baau – soft white buns that are stuffed with barbecued pork and sauce before being steamed
  • Chicken feet – more delicious than it sounds, chicken feet are deep fried and stewed in a black bean sauce
People sit and eat Hong Kong Street Food

Drinks

  • Milk tea- a sweet, creamy drink made with Ceylon black tea and condensed milk, served hot or cold
  • Red bean ice –  a refreshing summer drink made with sweetened red beans, evaporated milk, vanilla ice cream, and crushed ice
  • Beer – the most commonly drank beers in Hong Kong are San Miguel and Tsingtao

6) How's the WiFi?

Using Ookla, an internet speed testing service, the average internet speeds in Hong Kong for April 2023 were 52.61mbps download and 11.87mbps upload.

Hongkong Street Scene in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

7) How Long Can I Stay?

U.S. Citizens can travel to Hong Kong without needing a visa as long as they leave within 90 days. Passports must be valid for at least one month beyond the date of your intended departure and must contain at least one blank page.  

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.