Positioned at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta on the coast of southern China, Hong Kong’s geographical position as a gateway between the East and West has made it one of the world’s most thriving and cosmopolitan cities. As a reflection of this, the heart of Asia’s world city has always been the bustling and beautiful Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong’s 1,104-square-kilometer area comprises Hong Kong Island, which lies to the south of the harbour, the Kowloon Peninsula, which forms its northern shores, the New Territories to the north of Kowloon, which stretch all the way to Mainland China, and more than 200 outlying islands, including Lantau Island, where Hong Kong International Airport is located.
Hong Kong is one of the two Special Administrative Regions (SAR) of China. Before the transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997, Hong Kong had been a British colony for nearly 150 years. As a result, most infrastructure inherits the design and standards of Britain. During the 1950s to 1990s, the city-state developed rapidly, becoming the first of the "Four Asian Tigers" through the development of a strong manufacturing base and later a financial sector. Hong Kong is now famous for being a leading financial centre in East Asia, with the presence of local and some of the most recognized banks from around the world. Hong Kong is also famous for its transition port, transporting a significant volume of exports from China to the rest of the world. With its political and legal independence, Hong Kong is known as the Oriental Pearl with a twist of British influence in the culture.
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. Its colonial history and international harbour for the rich blend of cultures that give it its unique character. While the majority of the city’s population are Chinese speakers, simply walking the streets will expose you to a medley of Asian and European languages. In Hong Kong, multiple denominations of Christian churches share space with Chinese joss houses; Buddhist, Taoist and Sikh temples; mosques and synagogues. Moreover, the presence of enduring and ancient cultures in a society that has had to constantly adapt to change has created a unique contemporary culture that is a true mixture of tradition and innovation. Hong Kong is where Christmas is celebrated with as much fervour as Chinese New Year, and where state-of-the-art skyscrapers are designed in consultation with "feng shui" masters.
Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate, but is cooled in winter by sea breezes. Summer (June to September) is long, humid and hot with temperatures often exceeding 32°C (90°F). Typhoons usually occur in summer. Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November/December) have average temperature between 21-24°C. Winters (December-February) are generally very mild, with daytime temperatures of 18-22°C but with nights dipping into 10°C and below sometimes, especially in the countryside. Christmas in Hong Kong is considered warm compared with many other Northern Hemisphere countries. Chinese New Year is notorious for cold (10°C), wet weather; this is because winter in Hong Kong tends to start out mild and dry and then turn a bit cool and wet later, though the cool weather is brief. You can find detailed weather updates for tourist attractions on the Hong Kong Weather Information for Tourists website.
Hong Kong is internationally famous for its safe, affordable and reliable public transport system (eg. MTR, taxi, rail and bus) that keeps the city moving at its trademark lightning speed. If lightning is too fast, you can switch gears by hopping on an unhurried tram or ferry and savour the city at an old-world pace.
In general, all visitors to Hong Kong must have a passport that is valid for at least one month after the period of their intended stay in Hong Kong. However, documents issued to stateless persons must be valid for a minimum of two months after the period of intended stay. Please contact the Immigration Department for further details.
Nationals of most countries do not require a visa to enter Hong Kong for tourism and can stay for periods varying from seven to 180 days, depending on nationality. If you’re unsure of your status, please check with any Chinese embassy or consulate. You can also find further details about visa requirements on the Immigration Department website.
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. You can exchange your currency for HKD at any authorised money exchanger. 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. ATMs are widespread and operate 24 hours. Exchange rates fluctuate daily depending on currency markets.
Electricity and Voltage
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.