No wonder Hong Kong is a metropolitan country that does not have a rich history in terms of reign and emperors but yes it has, in fact, quite an interesting fact which is that – Hong Kong was under the British rule from 1841 to 1997 before handing sovereignty over to China. This agreement was established post a 50-year period of autonomy when Hong Kong achieved governance by a “One Country, Two Systems” agreement. Since then it is a complex yet technologically advanced nation and is a “Special Administrative Region” of China with its own currency, constitution, passports, and official languages (Cantonese and English). This travel blog will take you to a few things that are essential before you travel to Hong Kong
Please note that, do not speak Mandarin when in Hong Kong, they do not consider it as their language as per locals, thus avoid this act.
Hongkongers are very proud of their culture and heritage thus when in Hong Kong learn few gestures and signs which can make them feel like being an expat. For instance, avoid addressing them as Chinese as and they are proud to be Cantonese rather than an extension of Chinese.
Hong Kong currency is Hong Kong dollars – HK$ – The Hong Kong dollar is the official currency of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It is subdivided into 100 cents. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is the governmental currency board and also the de facto central bank for Hong Kong and the Hong Kong dollar. Official website: hkma.gov.hk
You can exchange your currency at the airport or else you have reliable foreign money exchange counters in the city within your location. If not required do not carry much of cash as you may find ATM’s and money exchange counters easily. But remember you will have to carry a lot of cash while shopping and roaming around as Hong Kong deals in cash majorly.
Getting around Hong Kong in the budget is possible via metro line, ferries, and buses. A very well connected network all through Hong Kong. In fact, take the airport express train from the airport for central as it is just 24 minutes and cheap.
Another historic mode of transport is a ferry that is very cheap – starts from 2 HK$ from Victoria harbour and then you can take a tram to the Central Peak which is the skyline of Hong Kong. (it is just 30 cents).
Remember before you step out the airport please buy an Octopus card. It is not only for public transport but it gets used at convenience stores, and even at some coffee shops. This card is really helpful for solo travellers and for travellers who are travelling on a low budget. Hong Kong does have Uber and affordable taxis – that starts from $3); however, the latter sees a “changeover” in hours as the shift changes.
What to pack before you come here
Hong Kong weather sometimes is unpredictable – still, the entire year Hong Kong is oppressively quite hot and humid. When you listen to any local saying that it is summers – they mean it is the season that stretches from late April to late October. This means it has a rainy season as well. Please carry lots of jackets, an umbrella, rain sheets, as rain showers are unpredictable. Moreover, Hongkongers never turn off air conditioners – it is pretty cold inside the hotels and at the workplace. So better be warm is the tip.
Eat as locals do
The biggest hurdle for a traveller in Hong Kong is the variety of Cantonese and Chinese food, from which to distinguish is a big task. Do share food as Chinese cuisine is all about sharing. If you sharing twosome then order one portion and share. Enjoy dim sum at traditional restaurants on the streets near central, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon etc. Do remember not to put the chopsticks in a vertical position as it is a sign associated with funerals.
For the serious traveller, Hong Kong is a shopping paradise but no second thought Hong Kong is dammed expensive for any national coming here for shopping. You’ll find ample shops in every possible street in Hong Kong. You’ll be spoilt for all the vivid choices the streets have to offer. From the Avante Grande malls to all the international brands’ outlets at central and Tsim Sha Tsui you will get hooked by the variety it has to offer.
But for shoppers who looking for bargained shopping explore the largest shopping street in Hong Kong – Temple Street. Do also check other streets in Yau Ma Tei and Tung Street in Mong Kok for cheap clothes and electronics. With this do explore Granville Road in Tsim Sha Tsui and Cheung Sha Wan Road in Sham Shui Po for cheap clothes.
One tip – Bargain, bargain and bargain as much as you can, show your skills if you do not see any price on the products, but if you see any price on the product this means the attendant will not be willing to negotiate.
Hong Kong is not quite popular for a good late night culture, but this is not right it is like another New York or Manhattan. It is not a speedy country, and can’t be compared with the neighbouring Bangkok but the evenings and night clubs are happening, in the pubs of Tsim Sha Tsui – where you may find many expats taking a stroll on the sideways of the streets. It is filled with locals too. Lan Kwai Fong is the city’s nightlife heart and comes alive as happy hour slopes in and on the weekend nights, the street turns into one big open-air bar and LGBTQ nightlife scene with doors open for all. Sky bars are big business here, and please remember if you intend to experience be ready to eye-watering prices for cocktails.
Please note: Do feel free to carry around a beer or glass of wine in the street as Hong Kong has lax open-container laws.
Here’s a quick sneak peek into some basics to survive in HK:
- You don’t have to be fluent in English while talking to the locals but please speak slowly so that they understand word by word in pieces.
- Don’t use flowery or tough English terms. Keep it simple.
- Try to catch their actions if not able to make them understand what you are asking.
You can also learn a few Cantonese phrases online.
- Hello – Néih hóu (pronunciation: Neyi Hou)
- Good Morning – jóusàhn (pronunciation: Sou San)
- How are you doing? – néih hóu ma (pronunciation: Layi Hou Maa)
- I don’t speak Cantonese – ngóh m̀hsìk góng gwóngdùngwá (pronunciation: Wa sihk gwong dung waa)
- I’m a vegetarian – ngóh sihk jāai (pronunciation: Wa sihk taai)
- How much is it? – Géidō chín a (pronunciation: gei cin aa)
- Are there any discounts? – yau mou zit aa (pronunciation: yau mou zit aa)
Keep reading and happy travelling 🙂
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