All foreign visitors to Hong Kong must have a valid passport, which will remain valid for a minimum of one month beyond the intended period of stay. Visitors from most countries can enter Hong Kong without a visa for periods of seven days to 180 days, depending on nationality. For U.S. citizens the visa free period is 90 days.
Cantonese is the Chinese dialect spoken by over 88% of the people in Hong Kong. However, English is widely used in the Government and business sectors as well as in tourist areas. Most taxi drivers and salespeople are able to communicate in English. Chinese (Cantonese is widely spoken) and English are the official languages of Hong Kong. All official signs are bilingual (using traditional characters). Most shops and restaurants also have English signage, though don't expect this from the more local or rural establishments.
The legal tender is the Hong Kong dollar (HK$), which is linked to the US dollar at a rate of about 7.80 HKD to 1 USD, although exchange rates may fluctuate slightly. There are 100 cents in a dollar. Banknotes are issued in denominations of $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1000, and coins in 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2, $5, and $10.
Automated teller machines (ATMs) can be found almost everywhere and some HSBC 'Electronic Money' machines provide 24-hour cash withdrawal (HK$) facilities for Visa and MasterCard holders. American Express cardholders have access to 'Aeon' ATMs and can withdraw local currency with Express Cash service in town.
International credit cards such as American Express, VISA, Diners Club and MasterCard are also widely acceptable at hotels, retail shops and restaurants. Such premises usually display stickers of accepted cards at their entrance.
Mobile operators in Hong Kong also have roaming agreements with most overseas operators, enabling visitors to use their own mobile phone when they come to Hong Kong. Before leaving home, check with your network provider to make sure they have a roaming service to the various destinations you will be visiting, and be sure to check pricing. You can also rent local SIM cards or mobile phones when you arrive in Hong Kong, at the airport or in town.
Hong Kong has a subtropical climate with distinct seasons. In spring (Mar-May) both temperature and humidity rise, and evenings can be cool. Summer (Jun-Aug) is hot, humid, and sunny, with occasional showers and thunderstorms. The temperature can exceed 90F. In Autumn (Sep-Nov) there are pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures, and many people regard these as the best months of the year to visit. Winter (Dec-Feb) is cool, dry and cloudy, and temperature can drop below 50F.
The voltage in Hong Kong is 220V / 50Hz. The plug is a UK plug type; therefore, an adaptor is required.
The time zone is G.M.T. +8, or 13 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time. Daylight savings time is not practiced in Hong Kong.
Most hotels and restaurants will add a 10 per cent service charge to the bill. For restaurants that don’t, a ten percent a tip is recommended. For taxi rides you can round up the fare, and possibly add another HK dollar or two. Hotel porters and bellboys are generally tipped a minimum of HK$10. In many situations loose change is always appreciated. It is customary to tip your tour guide and driver.
There are no inoculations required for Hong Kong. Upon arrival automatic sensors will take your temperature at the Hong Kong International Airport and boundary control points, and if it is high, you will be required to have a quick health check. Tap water is soft in character and conforms to the guidelines for drinking-water quality recommended by the World Health Organization. However, most people prefer to drink bottled water. Mineral water including major imported brands is readily available from supermarkets and convenience stores.