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Hong Kong Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT +8

Electricity

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The UK-style three-pin plugs are standard.

Language

The official languages in Hong Kong are English and Cantonese. The other main language is Mandarin.

Travel Health

There are no specific health risks associated with travel to Hong Kong. Hong Kong's health facilities are first class but expect to pay cash. High quality medical care is widely available but comprehensive travel insurance is recommended to cover expenses.

Tipping

A 10 percent service charge is usually added to restaurant bills in Hong Kong, but waiters will still expect some loose change in addition to this. If no service charge is included, a 10 percent tip is expected. Taxi fares are rounded up to the nearest dollar, usually automatically by the driver.

Safety Information

Hong Kong is considered a safe destination but caution should always be exercised when travelling. Pickpockets are likely to target unsuspecting tourists so leave valuables locked up in hotel safes when possible. All street protests and political gatherings should be avoided. The typhoon season is usually between April and October, and the accompanying heavy rains may cause flooding and landslides.

Local Customs

Littering and spitting are illegal in Hong Kong and will incur spot fines. In Hong Kong, the concept of 'face' is very important; avoid causing someone to lose face by publicly insulting them or contradicting them in front of others as this is considered very impolite. The Chinese have great respect for hierarchical relationships.

Business

Despite its close proximity to China, Hong Kong's business culture is worlds apart and more akin to the West. But one regional aspect is the concept of 'saving face', an awareness of positive appearances and perceptions of other people or companies. Bad news should never be presented in front of others and keeping one's cool is vital. Open displays of emotion such as anger and irritation are frowned upon, as is causing embarrassment to another person.

Business culture in Hong Kong is quite conservative. Dress styles are formal and deference to senior members of companies is vital, with business suits usually in dark colours. Avoid wearing bright ties, or blue or white coloured clothes as these colours are associated with mourning. When greeting business associates, either shake hands or, if no handshake is offered, bowing is appropriate.

Respect for personal space is important and physical contact should be avoided. Gifts are given during introductions but never opened in front of the giver. Watches as gifts are inappropriate as they are associated with death. The business languages in Hong Kong are both Mandarin and English. Tone should always be even and measured, and cultural sensitivity and etiquette are vital.

When tea is served at a business meeting, never sip from your cup until your host has taken their first. Business in Hong Kong is conducted efficiently and punctuality is vital. If you are late, effusive and repeated apologies are in order, regardless of whether you caused the delay. It is customary to exchange business cards (printed in English on one side and Cantonese on the other) at the start of a meeting. Business cards should be given and received using both hands, with the Cantonese side facing the recipient. It's common to greet the more senior person first.

Business entertainment is usually in the form of a lunch or dinner organised by the hosting partner, and food is also normally ordered and paid for by the host. Finally, the phrase 'have you eaten,' is a subtle form of greeting which generally means 'are you wel?'. Business hours run from 9am to 5pm during the week and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.

Communications

The international access code for Hong Kong is +852. Some of the more popular mobile service providers are CMHK, CSL, Smartone and Birdie. Free WiFi access is available at most coffee shops, shopping malls, restaurants and hotels.

Duty Free

Travellers to Hong Kong over the age of 18 years do not have to pay duty on the following: 1.1 litres of spirits with 12 percent or more alcohol content; and 100 cigarettes, 100 cigars and 500g of tobacco.

Become our Hong Kong Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Hong Kong travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Hong Kong or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.