Practical Information

Climate and clothing

Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate with distinct seasons. In December the weather is usually cool, dry and cloudy, with occasional cold fronts. The temperature can drop below 10°C in urban areas whereas the average Temperature lies between 12°C – 20°C.

You can find detailed information about current and seasonal weather on the Hong Kong Observatory website. While you’re in Hong Kong, you can also dial 1878 200 and press '3' for English to check the latest situation.

Time

Hong Kong operates on Hong Kong  time UTC/GMT +8 hours.

Communication

Mobile Phones
Most of the world’s mobile telecommunications systems operate in Hong Kong, including GSM 900, PCS 1800, CDMA and WCDMA. Check if your service provider has a roaming agreement with a Hong Kong operator. And be sure to pay attention to the roaming rates!

You can rent local SIM cards or mobile phones when you arrive at the airport or in town. Prepaid Calling Card and Mobile Data Prepaid SIM Card for mobile phones can be easily purchased from major convenience stores in Hong Kong.

Telephones
Local private landline calls cost only HK$1 for five minutes from public telephones. International Direct Dial (IDD) service to most countries and regions of the world is available at most hotels for a fee. The IDD code for Hong Kong is +(852).

Language

Cantonese, a minority dialect of Mainland China, is spoken by 88 per cent of people in Hong Kong. Nonetheless, other Chinese dialects, such as Hakka, Taishanese and Teochiu are also present, as is Mandarin of course – China’s official dialect. But due to Hong Kong’s history as a colonial port and its current function as an international finance center, English is widely spoken. It is even the language of preference in the government, business and tourism sectors. All official signs and public transport announcements, as well as most menus, are bilingual.

Electricity

The standard electrical voltage in Hong Kong is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Most hotel bathrooms also have outlets for 100 volts, but if not, you will need a transformer for any appliance or electrical equipment. The majority of electrical outlets in Hong Kong take a three-pronged UK-style plug. You can buy an inexpensive adaptor for your electrical equipment at most convenience stores. On request, most hotels will provide transformers to visitors with electrical appliances of a different voltage.

Emergency Numbers

  • Police, Fire Department & Ambulance:  999
  • Police Hotline:  +852 2527 7177
  • Hong Kong International Airport:  +852 2181 8888
  • Telephone Directory Inquiry:  1081

Currency/Credit Cards/Banks

The legal tender in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD), which is pegged to the US dollar at a rate of about 7.80 HKD to 1 USD, although exchange rates may fluctuate slightly. Major banks open from 9am to 4:30pm on weekdays and 9am to 12:30pm on Saturdays.

You can exchange your currency for Hong Kong dollars at any currency exchange office or bank. For extra peace of mind, look for a money exchanger that is accredited by the Quality Tourism Services (QTS) Scheme. At Hong Kong International Airport, currency exchange counters are open from early morning until late at night and many located within the city stay open into the evening. Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are widespread and operate 24 hours. Exchange rates fluctuate daily depending on currency markets.

Traveller's cheques are accepted by most leading banks and hotels. International credit cards such as American Express, VISA, Diners Club and MasterCard are also welcome at many hotels, retail shops and restaurants. Such premises usually display stickers showing the credit cards they accept at their entrances.

ATMs can be found almost everywhere. Many take international cards and some HSBC 'Electronic Money' machines provide 24-hour cash withdrawal (HK$) facilities for Visa and MasterCard holders.

Government Tax

All goods besides tobacco and alcohol are tax free.

Gratitudes

Tipping is not customary in Hong Kong. In less expensive restaurants, a tip could be seen as patronizing, and in more upscale restaurants, a 10% service charge is included in the bill.

Religious Services

Religious freedom is one of the fundamental rights enjoyed by Hong Kong residents. It is protected by the Basic Law and the relevant legislation. There are a large variety of religious groups in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), including Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism. For more information please click here.

Pharmacies

Pharmacies are also widely available. You can get most, if not all, medicines available anywhere else in the world. This applies to prescription medicines as well as non-prescription drugs. Pharmacies are generally open 7 days a week between 10 am and 7 pm. You might find some pharmacies which have even longer opening hours.  For late-night emergency cases you can always go to a hospital pharmacy. In every district, there is at least one clinic which has a 24-hour pharmacy service for emergencies. Please click here to view a complete list of registered pharmacies in Hong Kong provided by The Pharmaceutical Service of the Department of Health.

Taxis

With the exception of some very remote areas, taxis are plentiful throughout Hong Kong. They can usually be hailed on the street (except in restricted areas) or summoned by phone. All are metered, relatively cheap, air-conditioned and clean. Taxis in Hong Kong are categorized by three colors, each indicating a geographical area. All taxis can travel to and from Hong Kong International Airport as well as Hong Kong Disneyland. For more information please refer to our travel information section.

Health & Safety

Health
Upon your arrival at Hong Kong International Airport or at a boundary control point, automatic sensors will take your temperature. If it is considered high, you may be required to participate in a quick health check.

Vaccination certificates are usually not needed when travelling to Hong Kong, but please check with your local carrier because requirements may change.

Hong Kong tap water is soft in character and conforms to the World Health Organization’s recommended guidelines for drinking-water quality

Safety
Hong Kong is remarkably safe by day and night. Police officers frequently patrol many areas and are both professional and helpful.

Nonetheless, it would be unwise to let your guard drop completely anywhere in the world.

  • Keep your money, valuables and travel documents in a safe place, such as inside a hotel room safe.
  • Watch out for your belongings when you are carrying them, especially when you are in a crowded place.
  • Beware of people making dubious offers and attempts to distract you in order to steal your belongings.
  • Be wary of people offering gambling or investment opportunities.

Smoking Restrictions

Smoking is prohibited in all indoor public places in Hong Kong, including restaurants, bars, malls and karaoke venues. The smoking ban is also implemented on public transport carriers, within public transport facilities, and in both the indoor and outdoor areas of some premises, including public beaches and swimming pools, escalators, and inside the Hong Kong Wetland Park.

Any person smoking or carrying a lighted cigarette, cigar, or pipe in a designated no-smoking area will be liable to a fixed penalty of $1500.

Public Hygiene

Please be aware that Hong Kong has strict laws about maintaining environmental hygiene, including fixed penalty fines of $1500 for littering or spitting. See what constitutes a littering offence here.

Visa Letter of Attestation

Participants to the IOF Business Meetings are strongly advised to make sure they fulfill all legal requirements to enter Hong Kong. Besides a valid passport, an entry visa may also be required. Nationals of most countries do not require a visa to enter Hong Kong for tourism and can stay for periods varying from 7 to 180 days, depending on nationality. Please visit the official website of the Hong Kong Immigration Department or contact any Chinese embassy or consulate to find out whether, depending on your citizenship, country of long-term residence, and the duration and reasons for your stay, you need a visa to enter Hong Kong.

Visitors are required to have adequate funds to cover the duration of their stay without working and, unless in transit to mainland China or the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR), to hold onward or return tickets.

An attestation letter to assist in visa formalities will only be sent on request. Should you wish to receive a letter, please note that your request must be registered as early as possible by filling in the appropriate fields in the on-line registration form or by sending an email to the meeting registration agency MCI Suisse SA – iofhongkong2013.reg@mci-group.com before November 15, 2013 in case it has not been requested at the time of registration.

Please carefully check that the attestation letter provided to you, to assist in visa formalities, meets all the requirements of your local consulate.

Tourist Information

Hong Kong is frequently described as a place where "East meets West", reflecting the culture's mix of the territory's Chinese roots with influences from its time as a British colony. This vibrant city is waiting to be explored by inquisitive visitors. To find out more information please visit the official website of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.