There's quite a bit you should know before you head to Hong Kong. Here are some helpful tips that you should definitely look over before taking off and heading to Asia.
Tips when taking a taxi in Hong Kong
- Do be aware that there are three types of taxis in Hong Kong and they are classified by the colors red, green, and blue. When in doubt, just take a red taxi.
- All three taxis go to the airport and Hong Kong Disney.
- Very few taxis accept credit cards. Always have cash on you when grabbing a taxi.
- Taxis do not take Octupus cards
- Fare negotiation by the driver is prohibited.
- Drivers are only required to have change for HK$100 notes. If you only have larger denominations ask if he has change before you get in.
- Most drivers speak very limited English and Mandarin.
- Grab a hotel business card (that lists the hotel address in Chinese) or have the concierge write your destination address out for you before you leave.
- By law, you must wear your seat-belt in all taxis
- Tipping is usually not required or expected in taxis.
- Don't be surprised if the driver rounds the fare up to the nearest dollar.
- There are no extra late-night charges nor peak-hour surcharges.
- If you are crossing the harbor (Hong Kong island to Kowloon or vice versa) the toll charge will be added at the end of your ride.
- Each tunnel has a different price: Cross Harbor Tunnel: $10, Eastern Harbor Crossing: $25, Western Harbor Crossing: $60
Internet in Hong Kong and Cell Phone Tips
- Unlike in mainland China, Internet access is not filtered in Hong Kong. All websites are accessible.
- Free Wi-Fi is available virtually everywhere, including most hotels, shopping malls, and coffee shops.
- You can buy a sim card for your (unlocked) phone once you arrive.
- Prices start for as little as HK$78 per week.
- To get one simply go to a mobile phone shop, and buy a prepaid card - the price paid will already be loaded on the card.
- Activation is super easy. Simply make a call or send an SMS.
- Your phone must be unlocked to use a foreign sim card.
- Commercial hotspots (managed by PCCW and Y5ZONE) are also available throughout the city with the cost being extremely low at around $70 per week.
Safety Tips for Hong Kong
- Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world.
- However, pickpockets are not uncommon in Hong Kong, especially in crowded areas.
- Tourists are advised by the government to carry their passports but unless you think you are highly likely to be stopped by the police there is no great need.
- Tourists, especially Caucasians, are rarely targeted by policemen for ID checks.
Manner and Etiquette tips to know for a trip to Hong Kong
- It is best to avoid subjects relating to politics. If you are asked your opinion, stay neutral.
- Unlike mainland China, there is no need to worry about getting into trouble with the law if discussing politics.
- Hong Kong has freedom of speech and the press - there rights are protected by law.
- Hong Kong people are free to criticize their government and the Chinese government.
- You should be aware that referring to someone living in Hong Kong as Chinese is most of the time frowned upon. Due to a long and convoluted history, it is a contentious topic.
- Avoid it by identifying people as "Hong Kongese", an identity virtually no one would disagree on
- People in Hong Kong often dress up. Do not leave the hotel looking sloppy. Opt to overdress and appear more formal than you think is necessary.
- Spitting and littering are highly frowned upon and can come with a penalty of $1,500. It is considered rude because it disturbs others.
- Smoking in most indoor places and train stations (including bus-stops) is prohibited.
- When you give or receive a business card, always do it with both hands and with a slight dip of your head.
- Welcoming someone should also be done with a slight dip of the head and with a customary firm handshake, but there is no need to bow.
Other Essential Hong Kong Tips
- Tap water in Hong Kong is completely fine to drink unless you are in an older run-down building.
- Because of the rapidly filling landfills, recycling of water bottles (or buying a refillable one) is highly encouraged by locals.
- Hong Kong uses the British three-pin rectangular blade plug.
- Luxury hotels, for the most part, have American plugs and USB outlet chargers included in all rooms.
- Traffic rules are seriously enforced in Hong Kong, especially jaywalking. Use only marked crosswalks and do not cross until you see a green walking sign.
- Download the Google translate app before you arrive. Although there are English signs pretty much everywhere you will most likely run into menus that have little to no English.
One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you.
Lonely Planet Pocket Guides are my absolute favorite because, as the name suggests, they are tiny enough to fit in a pocket or a small bag while still giving you a ton of information. But, here are some other books I recommend as well...
And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).