Hong Kong

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Hong Kong is part of China, kind of.


Contents

Hong Kong's Couch Situation

WARNING - We have reports coming in to our moderators about a Hong Kong CS member. The member is known to long-term HKCS members for his ill treatment of surfers and inappropriate behaviour toward young female surfers. There have been attempts to bring his misdeeds to light in the past but people still wanted to be hosted by him, despite some of his rather creepy negative references. His original profile has numerous detailed negative references which include stealing clothing, cheating surfers out of money, taking photos of female surfers while they are sleeping without their consent... the list goes on. This member has now resorted to making fake profiles. Although the fake ones that were brought to the Safety Team's attention have now been deleted, we suspect that he will simply create more, likely in multiple in order to post self-made references or include some of the fake profiles as 'friends' in order to make his profile look more legitimate.

We encourage you to avoid any members with multiple or disturbing negative references and click friend and reference links to try to establish whether they are real people. Please report any profiles that you suspect to be fake to the local moderator and the safety team. We feel this member is using HK's couch shortage to his advantage to prey on people and it's clear that his preferred targets are young women. Please plan ahead, arrive with enough money for a hostel and immediately get out of any situation which does not feel 'right' to you, even if you can't explain why. Should you need support going to law enforcement, we can provide this.

It may be hard for you to find a couch here. There are far more surfers than couches in our city.

Hong Kong is a densely populated city of small flats and high rents. It's also a business, tourism and travel hub. When searching for a couch in Hong Kong, please keep in mind that many of us can't host due to our living situation (small apartment shared with roommates/family, demanding work schedules) and that those of us who do host get many requests every day that we have to say "No" to or that we have trouble keeping on top of due to their sheer volume. 10-20 requests a day - that's per available couch - is not unusual here and some members have reported as many as 30 requests per day.

Members who have their couch settings set to "Coffee or a drink", "Travelling" or "No" also report getting Couch Requests. Please don't do this.

Members have also reported receiving messages with headings such as "URGENT! HELP NEEDED!" only to find that the requester has failed to a) research, b) plan for and c) budget for their Hong Kong accommodation. Please don't do this. Not only is it annoying and falsely indicative of a true emergency but this kind of behaviour also puts you in a vulnerable position safety-wise (see above). Be street smart and remember that your travel is your own responsibility.

Also remember that when you advertise your Couchsearch by posting on the Hong Kong city message board, your audience consists of an unknown percentage of potential couches (you know, the same people receiving all those Couch Requests they have to say no to), people who are local but don't host and a lot of fellow travellers looking for HK info and activities... who can't host you.

To minimize frustration, manage your expectations and keep our Hong Kong city message board FREE of Couch Requests, we encourage you to:

  1. Develop a firm plan B and be ready to use it.
  2. Start clicking that "CouchSearch" button early and be prepared to send out more requests than usual.
  3. Write personalized couch requests. Make sure your host is aware that you have read their profile and that you are interested not only in surfing their couch but meeting and connecting with them on a personal level.
  4. Arrange a guesthouse or hostel for your first few nights and then meet with people at our regular Thursday night gathering or by meeting with people for coffee or a drink. Travellers occasionally find a couch after networking once they arrive.

You can also try our

Hong Kong Hostels and Guesthouses

The Hong Kong Youth Hostel Association has seven youth hostels with curfews located mostly outside the city. Free shuttle bus service is provided by several hostels but the service stops at 10:30pm so you'll need to factor in $100 to $300 for late night and early morning arrivals.

For accomodation in the HK$150-$250 range within the city, the major backpacker's hostel area in Hong Kong include: Mongkok, Tsim Sha Shui and Causeway Bay. Most of Hong Kong's guesthouses and hostels are located in high-rise buildings called ... Mansion. Don't expect a European style hostel experience... or a real mansion. They usually offer very small motel style rooms for 1 or 2 people or a simple bedspace. The following places have been recommended by CSers.

"Most hostels I found online are full, and I have no booking?"

Don't worry. There are more than 700 registered hostels in Hong Kong (according to a survey conducted in August 2011), it is almost impossible for all of them to be full at the same time.

Many of the hostels in Hong Kong (especially the ones in the locations listed out below) do not do online booking and they don't have their own website so you have a good chance of finding rooms there if you visit them in person once you arrive, especially during busy holiday seasons.

The following buildings have plenty of hostels (at least 20) in each of them. The streets listed below also have hostel clusters.

  • Kowloon: Tsim Sha Tsui: Chungking Mansion – 36-44 Nathan Road (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station, Exit E) (Yes, that's the Chungking in Chungking Express [1]) - According to a survey in August 2011, there are more than 160 registered hostels in Chungking Mansion.
  • Kowloon: Tsim Sha Tsui:: Mirador Mansion – 54-64B Nathan Road (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station, Exit E)
  • Kowloon: Mongkok: Sincere House – 83 Argyle Street (Mongkok MTR Station, Exit D2)
  • Kowloon: Mongkok: Wing Wah Building – 40 Shantung Street (Mongkok MTR Station, Exit E)
  • Kowloon: Mongkok: Fa Yuen Street (between Argyle Street and Soy Street) (Mongkok MTR Station, Exit E)

The following websites can help you to look for reasonably priced guesthouses in Hong Kong.

Mid-range and Higher end Accommodation

These are another option for budget travellers if your couchsearch doesn't work out and hostel reservations are hard to make. Team up with other CSers and you can share costs.

General info on Hong Kong hotels *Link 1 *Link 2

Short/Long term stay

Some websites that our CS-ers recommend, if you're looking for flatshare/renting a flat in Hong Kong:

Or try our "Apartment/Flat-Share Hunting" subgroup under the CS Hong Kong group.

Click here for a CSers list of reasonably priced serviced apartment providers in HK.

Getting Around

Public transportation is a Hong Kong specialty. It's something this city does very well. Quick and efficient, you can get almost anywhere in town by some kind of combination of the methods listed below. However, don't expect a taxi driver to have either an encyclopedic knowledge of the city's roads or a GPS device. And if you're going somewhere that isn't a landmark, try to copy down the Chinese name for it or the name of a nearby landmark. It's also helpful to have a map, even a hand-drawn one, with you.

From Airport to City

The MTR Airport Express Train is the fastest way to get to the airport from Central. Express trains run every 12 minutes from around 6 a.m. to 12:45 a.m. Journeys from the airport to Hong Kong station take approximately 24 minutes and a round-trip ticket costs HK$180.00. The MTR runs 24 hours on New Year's Eve.

Bus to/from the airport from/to various parts of the city

Transfer to MTR Buses S1 or S56 take you from the airport to the nearest MTR station (Tung Chung Station).

Taxi

  • to Hong Kong Island - at least HKD300
  • to Kowloon - at least HKD250
  • to New Territories (except Lantau Island) - at least HKD180
  • to Lantau Island - at least HKD50

MTR

MTR train.JPG

The Mass Transit Railway is efficient and reliable and covers the major areas of the city. It can also be taken across the border to Shenzhen. Note that you'll need a visa to enter Shenzhen.

Octopus Card

If you're staying for more than a few days, consider buying an Octopus stored-value card. It can be used to pay for the MTR, buses, minibuses, trams and ferries and you can also buy things at 7-11 or Welcome grocery stores with them. The cards are available at service counters at any MTR station. The minimum price is HK$100 plus a HK$50 deposit (refundable when you leave Hong Kong, minus a HK$9 service charge). For travel, simply swipe the card on the unmissable yellow Octopus pad, and the fare is automatically deducted. Airport Express travel pass cards are HK$220 for a single Airport Express journey plus three days' unlimited travel on the MTR, or pay HK$300 for two Airport Express trips plus three days' MTR travel.

Buses

Buses in Hong Kong are plentiful. Most are double deckers and are excessively air-conditioned. The air-con feels nice on short trips during the summer but for longer trips or on colder days, you can start to lose the feeling in your extremities. Bring a jacket... or a thermal blanket. Fares are based on distance travelled. Exact change is required. Octopus cards are accepted.

The routes are split between several companies and they go to places all over the territory.

Minibuses

Minibuses are small passenger buses that carry about 16 people. Green minibuses operate on specific routes at fixed prices. Exact payment is required when getting on. Octopus cards are accepted. Red minibuses operate on routes that are not always fixed and passengers can get on and off anywhere along the route except where special prohibitions apply. Pay as you alight. The driver can provide change for small notes.

At a terminus, minibuses often don't depart until they're full. En route, they must be flagged down at a designated stop. They won't stop at your destination unless you tell them to with a "Yau lok mgoi," so you need to know where you're supposed to get off or be a gambling type. If you have something that clearly shows where you want to get off or a clearly written Chinese address, the driver may be helpful but if you're not sure where you're going or have no Chinese references to show the driver, they probably won't have the time or ability to help you. Seatbelt law applies... if you can find them.

Taxi

Taxis are relatively cheap compared with other international cities. Starting at HK$20 for the first 2 km, the fare increases by HK$1.50 per 200 metres. If you cross the harbor tunnels, expect to pay the return tunnel toll charge. There are lots of taxis and flagging them down with a wave is easy, but they don't stop at double yellow lines. Receipts given on request. It's always a good idea to have a map clearly showing your destination or the address written in Chinese as most drivers don't speak much English and may not be familiar with certain streets or areas of town even if they do. Your drivers will appreciate any references to local landmarks or major hotels that you can give them. And there's a seatbelt law so buckle up.

One thing to watch out for

Red taxis legally must take you anywhere in Kowloon or on Hong Kong Island but sometimes they have a preferred destination at shift change times. They usually use a piece of cardboard to cover/uncover their flag light on the dashboard as a signal. Cardboard on means the driver is looking for Kowloon passengers. No cardboard means they're looking for Hong Kong passengers. This isn't much of an issue when you can find the taxis going your way around the corner. It however does become a problem when you have something heavy to carry or you can't find a taxi going your way. Beware that some drivers will refuse to take you or 'get lost' if you insist. If you're in a tight spot, we we suggest you explain to the driver and bug him 'til he sees the light and then keep an eye out to prevent 'getting lost'.

Tram

One of our earliest forms of public transit is still going strong. For HK$2.30 per adult, $1.20 for children under 12 and $1 for seniors 65+, you can ride along the north side of Hong Kong Island from Shau Kei Wan to Kennedy Town. Just get on at the back and pay at the front as you alight. Octopus cards are accepted.

Ferries

The Star Ferry - This operates between the Central/Wan Chai and TST/Hung Hom ferry piers on an ever shrinking channel of water. Once heavily travelled by commuters and tourists alike, it's becoming more of a tourist phenomenon due to the relocation of the pier on the island side some years ago. You can get some great skyline photos from the ferry on a clear day.

Outlying Island ferries - There are several companies which operate ferries to Lantau Island (Discovery Bay and Mui Wo), Lamma Island (Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan), Cheung Chau, Peng Chau and other islands around Hong Kong. For schedules and fares, check the links.

Hong Kong/Macau/China ferries

Further info

Nightlife, Dining and Entertainment

Hong Kong at night.jpg

Main Nightlife Areas

Central - Lan Kwai Fong and Soho / Wan Chai - Lockhart Road / Tsim Sha Tsui - Knutsford Terrace

Magazines and Event listings

The following websites can help bring you up to speed on the local club scene, nightlife, concerts, festivals and shows.

Bars

Some favourite local haunts include: (Central, Soho and Wanchai.)

  • Le Jardin bar, weekly meetup venue
  • Yumla bar, dancing, house music
  • Club 71 bar, al fresco, chilled
  • Makumba African bar, dancing, World music/French influence
  • Mes Amis bar, dancing, pop music

The Underground

File:ElectricEelShock2006.JPG
Electric Eel Shock in HK 2006

Events, venues and organizations

Comedy

  • Takeout Comedy - live standup and improv shows, local and international performers, most shows in English, Cantonese shows on Mondays and Thursday
  • Free Open Mic Night Every Wednesday in Central

Restaurants

Vegetarian Restaurants:

Vegan Restaurants:

Karaoke

Sports, Activities and the Great Outdoors

Clear Water Bay
File:Hong Kong waterfall.jpg
A waterfall in one of Hong Kong's country parks

Hiking

Be sure to check these boards for regular hiking activities

Running and Hiking events

Swimming and Beaches

Camping

Wakeboarding and Waterskiing

Windsurfing and Kayaking

Diving

Rock Climbing

Para-gliding

Snowboarding

Language Exchange

There are lots of language exchange options available in Hong Kong from one on one meetups to clubs that meet regularly in person to social networks available online at your convenience. Mandarin/Cantonese for English seems to be the most popular combination wanted here but there are also many other languages on offer from Japanese to Russian. Here are some of your options:

For one on one exchange:

Groups that meet regularly:

Language exchange social networks:

Hong Kong CS language groups

Paid language courses

HKU Space has a variety of language courses available including French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian.

The Hong Kong YMCA also has courses in Mandarin and Cantonese for non-Chinese speakers.

Sightseeing

Hong Kong is extremely easy to get around by subway, taxi, bus, minibus, walking etc. You can easily design your own itinerary picking the places that you want to visit from below. Most people do not need a tour guide for Hong Kong. For an overview, here are two fun timelapse videos of Hong Kong featuring many of the city's famous landmarks:

  1. Hong Kong: Funky Time Lapse on youtube.
  2. timelapse Hong Kong on Vimeo.


Cultural Heritage and Building architecture

  1. Sample itinerary and walk tour - Central area with a very useful map
  2. Temples and historic villages

Markets

  1. Stanley Market Stanley is famous for its relaxed ambience, sea environs and bargain buys in the main street market. Stanley Market is open daily, 10:30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m..
  2. Temple Street Night Market Temple Street night market opens at 4 pm, but really comes alive after sunset. It offers an amazing range of inexpensive items, especially for men. There are also fortune-tellers and impromptu Chinese opera performances.
  3. Jade Market and Jade Street The Jade Market, located in Yau Ma Tei at the junction of Kansu and Battery Street, features 400 stalls selling jade of all types, shades, sizes and prices. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Nearby is Jade Street, located on Canton Road between Kansu Street and Jordan Road, with shops open 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Jade and gemstone testing is available at Jade Plaza.
  4. Ladies Market The Ladies Market in Tung Choi Street is the place for bags, accessories and inexpensive women's clothing. Men's and children's clothing and toys are also on sale. Open daily from noon to 11:30 p.m.
  5. Bird garden/ flower market/ goldfish market The charming Chinese-style garden on Yuen Po Street includes some 70 songbird stalls as well as courtyards and moon gates. Look and listen but it’s wise to avoid contact with the birds. The Bird Garden is open from 7am to 8pm, daily. The colourful Flower Market sells everything from Dutch tulips to exotic orchids, open daily from 7am to 7pm. The Goldfish market on nearby Tung Choi Street sells aquariums, corals and exotic fish, open daily from 10:30am to 10pm.
  6. Western Market This Edwardian-style building features arts and crafts, fabric shops, alfresco dining, and ballroom dancing.
  7. Local neighbourhood street markets discussion

Temples, Monasteries, Nunneries

  1. Man Mo Temple One of Hong Kong's oldest temples, dedicated to two deities, the ‘civil’ (Man) and the ‘military’ (Mo).
  2. Chi Lin Nunnery The serene 1930s Chi Lin Nunnery (rebuilt in 1998) is spread across 3.2 hectares and is China’s largest group of hand-crafted timber buildings incorporating traditional Tang dynasty (618-907AD) construction techniques.
  3. Po Lin Monastery, Giant Buddha and Wisdom Path Located on Lantau, this is one of Hong Kong's largest temples and monasteries, housing the world's tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha, at 34 m (111ft.) high.

Parks

  1. Hong Kong Park Overlooked by the towers of Pacific Place and Admiralty on one side and Central on the other, the park features a hot house, a Tai Chi garden, a waterfall and the Museum of Tea Ware.
  2. Kowloon Park An oasis in the heart of Kowloon next to the Kowloon Mosque. Enjoy a walk among the trees, a bird sanctuary, fountains and a swimming pool.
  3. Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens Looking down on the old Government House, the Gardens date back to 1864. Look out for the gibbons and orangutans.

Theme Parks

  1. Ocean Park [2]
  2. Hong Kong Disneyland [3]

Other references

  1. For more ideas check the Hong Kong Sightseeing Wiki
  2. For a very long alphabetical listing of HK areas and sights to see check here [4]
  3. For Lonely Planet's list of things to do in Hong Kong (based on a recent survey of Lonely Planet readers), see [5]
  4. For a blogger's list of ten things to do in HK check here [6]
  5. You can check out some panoramic photos of popular spots at 360cities.net
  6. For more tips about what to see/do in Hong Kong, see [7]
  7. For more tourist info about Hong Kong, see I Love Hong Kong
  8. For a blogger's tips and other HK info, see Journey to Hong Kong
  9. Welcome to Hong Kong - a guide for visitors and expats [8]

Shopping

Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year

Christmas

Christmas Day (Dec. 25th) and Boxing Day (first weekday after Xmas) are holidays in Hong Kong and from late November onwards you'll see the decorations and commercial displays in stores as you do in many other places. You'll also see some elaborate lighting displays go up on tall buildings on both sides of the harbour. It's a local tradition to walk around TST near the waterfront and look at the lights and take photos in front of them on Christmas Day. Some roads are blocked off and traffic diverted to facilitate this. It gets crowded in the evenings so if you're keen to test the limits of your personal space, it's an excellent place and time to go for a stroll.

Hong Kong doesn't come to a standstill for these holidays even though business and government offices are closed. While museums and other venues may close early - usually 5 pm - and other places may be on modified hours, most shops and restaurants are still open as they are normally.

There are various events and displays at local theme parks, shopping malls and special concerts and events such as carolling around town. There are also traditional midnight masses at places like St. John's Cathedral but, here's that phrase again, they can be crowded. They often set up speakers outside the church and people take part in the mass there.

New Year

December 31st is a night to party and January 1st is a public holiday. But if you want to go to one of the big events like the countdown in Times Square or want to stake out a good spot to see the fireworks, head out early and keep your group together. Roads get blocked off, traffic is diverted, there are loooots of people and security measures are in place which can mean that if you and your buddies get separated, you might remain that way and ring in the new year alone.

The MTR runs all night on New Year's Eve and there are extra bus and minibus services but keep in mind that some roads are blocked off and there are traffic measures in place. Ferries to Discovery Bay also run all night but on a modified schedule.

The crowd control measures, barricades, lines and security presence might be a pain and seem excessive but it's for a reason. In 1993, 20 people died when there was a stampede during the new year celebrations in Lan Kwai Fong. Please listen to the police, respect the barricades and do your best to seek out less crowded spots to celebrate.

Chinese New Year

Lion Dancers

This is the biggie. The dates for the lunar new year change every year according to the lunar calendar and swing between late January and mid-February. In 2012, the dates are Jan 23,24 and 25 and 2012 will be the year of the dragon.

This is about the only time of year that Hong Kong quietens down a bit. Lots of people go on holiday. Those that stay spend time at home with their family and, for about the only time all year, most shops will be closed during this period until Feb 6. The crowds you're used to the rest of the year, disappear. Well, sort of.

There's still lots to do and crowds to be found. Parades, fireworks, flower markets, Chinese New Year fair in Victoria Park, horse racing...

Other major holidays - note that Hong Kong does not have the Golden Weeks that mainland China does.

Crossing the border

  • Planes: multiple daily flights leave from Hong Kong International Airport (Chek Lap Kok) to airports in mainland China.
  • Trains: The subway of Hong Kong and Shenzhen connect to each other (you'll need to get off the train for transit and custom office crossing)
  1. The MTR East rail line goes Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau where you disembark to cross the border into Shenzhen.
  2. Intercity trains to Dongguan, Foshan, Guangzhou East rail station and Zhaoqing leave from Hung Hom station daily.
  • Fares, schedules and online ticketing Note that once you are in China, rail tickets for any destination cannot be purchased online. They must be purchased at the rail station itself.
  • Ferries: Ferry services run from Hong Kong to the province of Guangdong in mainland China, departing from both the city centre and the Airport. See the Ferry section above for more information.[9]
  • Buses: These private companies operate bus services to many locations in Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian Province:
  1. http://www.trans-island.com.hk/
  2. http://www.eebus.com/
  3. http://www.gdhkmtc.com/schedule.html
  • Hong Kong airport to Shenzhen airport - see discussion here

Visas

Warning: This section is intended to help you understand the basics of Hong Kong and China Visas and give you a foundation from which to move forward and make decisions. However, China has a complicated visa policy that is constantly changing for various reasons. Prices, availability, conditions etc. are all subject to change without notice. Although we try to provide helpful, updated information here to help you navigate the process, you must do your own additional research. If you have updated info for us, please let us know and we'll try to incorporate it as soon as possible.

Visa for Hong Kong

Holders of many passports can travel to Hong Kong visa free.

Visa requirements for holders of different passports, please see this list maintained by the Hong Kong Government:

If you intend to move to Hong Kong or to stay in Hong Kong for a long time, there are various Hong Kong visa options: Hong Kong's Immigration Department website

A list of Hong Kong visa options Note that this links to a business website not a government website and is for reference only.

Hong Kong's Working Holiday Scheme

List of eligible countries and basic regulations for the Working Holiday Scheme

Visa for mainland China (ex HK/Macau/Taiwan)

Most visitors of mainland China require a visa to visit mainland China, except holders of Singaporean and Japanese passports and holders of Hong Kong Permanent Identity card with Chinese ancestry.

There are 8 types of Chinese visa. The popular types are: L Visa (for tourist), F Visa (for business), Z Visa (for work), X Visa (for study) and G Visa (for transit in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing airports).

China has a complicated visa policy that is constantly changing for various reasons. The visa requirements for holders of different passports are different. It is highly advisable that you check with the Chinese Embassy in your home country shortly before you visit China.

Hong Kong is a popular place for foreigners to apply for Chinese visas, because the time required for the granting of visa is relatively short compared to most foreign Chinese embassies.

L Visa: different sub-categories
File:L-visa.jpg
L Visa - All visas require one full passport page

(Note: If you plan to visit the Tibet region of China, you will need to obtain a separate permit in addition to the L Visa.

  1. Single/double entry in 3 months
    • available to all nationalities
    • this is the most common visa that most travelers are granted
    • application methods:
      1. via Chinese embassy in your home country (3-10 days)
      2. via CTS in Hong Kong (4 working days, expect to queue up for 1-2 hours)
      3. via visa agents in Hong Kong (0.5-1 working day, most agents charge ~HK$80 as handling fee)
  2. Single/double entry in 6 months
    • available to all nationalities
    • not a common visa, however, for overseas Chinese visiting relatives in China, it is sometimes granted
    • application methods: same as in item (1) above.
  3. Multiple entries in 6 months/1 year
    • only for holders of Hong Kong identity card (permanent or non-permanent), whatever passport the applicant is holding
    • application methods
      1. via Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong (about a week)
      2. via CTS (4 working days)
  4. Visa on arrival: 5-day visa for visit to Shenzhen only
    • for certain nationalities only (as of June 2010 - holders of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, Ecudor, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Panama, most EU countries passports) - RMB160 for most nationalities (Note: many exceptions, eg. RMB460 for British)
    • the visa only allow the holder to stay in Shenzhen only. Holder of the visa must exit Shenzhen to Hong Kong (by land) or to Macau (by ferry), you may not travel to any other part of China with this visa.
    • application methods
      1. via Luo Hu Border Custom Building (go up 2/F after crossing the HK-Shenzhen bridge at the Lo Wu border point) (30 minutes)
      2. via Shekou Ferry Terminal (go straight after landing in the Shekou pier) (15 minutes)
      3. Note (1): Not available in Huanggong, Futian (aka Lok Ma Chau), Man Kam To and Sha Tau Kok custom points
      4. Note (2): The policy for the 5-day Shenzhen visa changes from time to time and from our past experience there is no announcement of change. If you intend to apply for this visa at the border, it is advisable that you call the Lo Wu border office (see contact number below) before your trip to check whether your passport is qualified under the latest version of the policy.
      5. Note (3): Further discussion - http://www.evisaasia.com/visa-guide/shenzhen-five-days-visa/
  5. Visa on arrival: 5-day visa for visit to Zhuhai only
    • for certain nationalities only (as of June 2010 - holders of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, Ecudor, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Panama, most EU countries passports) - RMB160 for most nationalities (Note: many exceptions, eg. RMB460 for British)
    • the visa only allow the holder to stay in Zhuhai only. Holder of the visa must exit Zhuhai to Macau (by land) or to Hong Kong (by ferry), you may not travel to any other part of China with this visa.
    • application methods
      1. via Zhuhai Jiuzhou Ferry Terminal (turn right and walk down the narrow corridor after arriving in the ferry terminal) (15 minutes)
      2. Note (1): Not available in Gongbei custom points
      3. Note (2): See Note (2) and (3) for 5-day Shenzhen visa on arrival above.

Contacts details

1. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

English visa info

Address: China Resources building, 26Harbor Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Office Hour: Monday to Friday (except public holidays in Hong Kong)
Morning: 9:00 a.m.-12:00 a. m.
Afternoon:2:00p.m.-5:00p.m
Tel: 852-34132300(according to the website, it's a 24 hour Recorded Visa Information Service but experiences may vary), 852-34132424 (Live Answering Telephone available in office hours )

2. CTS

(China Travel Service) - the official visa agent of the Chinese government

Details: http://www.ctshk.com/english/useful/chinesevisa.htm
Offices in HK: http://www.ctshk.com/english/aboutus/branch_hkgmac.htm

3. Visa agents

These are some visa agents that our CS-ers have had good experience using:
  • GuangZhou Guest House, Flat B1/10F Mirador Mansion, 54-64 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (phone 2311 3085): cheap and fast, for example: 1 day processing time and HKD430 for 3 months single entry, HKD550 for 2 entries (German passport)

4. Lo Wu Custom

Tel: 86-755-82327700 (speaks only mandarin)
Service hour: 10am - 10pm.

Latest Situation

These are the latest visa conditions we heard from our CS-ers. (last updated: 27 June 2013):

  • China has imposed extra visa requirements for holders of Norwegian, French passports.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reduced the application fee for holders of Polish passports (RMB160).
  • [March 2011] There seems to be a quota on the number of Visa On Arrival granted each day - reason: The International University Sports Games is carrying on in Shenzhen
  • [15 July 2011] A headsup for everybody who intends to apply for a Chinese visa. The "International University Games" is going to take place in Shenzhen in the next couple of months and we are seeing that most CSers' Chinese visa applications for more than 30 days (Type L - travel) are being refused (ie. most people are granted only a 30-day visa - one entry)
  • [15 May 2012] Increased scrutiny of visa applications due to a 100 day action against illegal foreigners in China. See link for more info.
  • [27 June 2013] 1) Time required for visa application processing increased from 1 day to 4 days. 2) Multiple entry F visa (6 months - 1 year) no longer granted. 3) Z visa no longer granted in HK. See link for more info.
  • [8 January 2014] Single entry Tourist Visa fee increased to $680 for most EU nationalities (except the UK). It definitely takes 4 days instead of 6 hours at the 3 agents above. Travellers holding French passport can no longer apply for tourist visa in HK (except those who live in HK and holds a HKID Card).

Recently it's been noticed that most people can only get 30 day visas. If you intend to travel in China for more than 30 days, do arrange your visa in the Chinese embassy in your home country prior to coming to HK.

Baggage Storage

If you're just passing through HK for a short time and want to leave your luggage at the airport, there's a baggage storage service. There are also lockers at the Macau and China Ferry Terminals, Sha Tin MTR station, Hong Kong station and the Hung Hom Inter-city train station.

For mid/long term luggage storage:


Wi-Fi/ Internet Access / Mobile Internet

Free + Unlimited Wi-Fi

  • HK Airport
  • Most government premises (link)

Free but limited Wi-Fi

  • first 20 mins free in all McDonalds
  • first 20 mins free in all Starbucks
  • first 30 mins free in all Dragon Centre, Sham Shui Po (near MTR Exit C)

more options listed on this HK Group thread

  • i-One - HK's largest chain internet services shop

Computer booth (with free internet access)

  • iCentre - in 14 MTR stations
  • All Pacific Coffee

Prepaid Mobile Internet

  • Check here for details.

Prepaid BlackBerry Plans

  • There are no prepaid BlackBerry plans in Hong Kong but inexpensive monthly plans are available. Check here for details.

Prepaid Sim Card for iPad

  • Check here for details.

More info

The review on this blog is from 2009 but may still be a helpful reference. Review of mobile data plans in Hong Kong

Money

The currency used in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD $). It's currently pegged to the US dollar. Foreign currency can be exchanged at the airport, at currency exchange outlets in major tourist areas or at local banks. Beware if your currency is heavily coin based - I'm looking at you Canadians - as coins cannot be exchanged. Your bank cards will also work in local ATMs. You can use Hong Kong dollars in Macau but not vice versa. For an idea of exchange rates, you can try this website. XE.com

The currency used in mainland China is the renminbi (RMB, CNY, ¥), also known as the yuan.

Cost of living

We've had some questions about the cost of living here. Hong Kong can be an expensive city but it can also suit tighter budgets if you play your cards right. Rent/housing will always be your biggest expense here. Here's a link to a thread on the topic to give you some idea.[10]

Air quality

Hong Kong suffers from poor air quality. If you have respiratory conditions such as asthma, you'll likely need your inhaler. We have no such thing as Euro or California regulations on emissions and a fleet of diesel buses. One small step in the right direction has been converting taxis to LPG but we have a long way to go.

HK's Air Pollution Index explained

HK's Air Pollution Index at the EPD

The Headley Environmental Index

The Amazing Race

Here are links to the most recent Hong Kong leg of The Amazing Race (US). You get to see and get a sense of several areas of the city.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

FAQs

1. Where can I take Cantonese classes?

2. Where can I get prepaid SIM cards?

3. How to renew Chinese visa within China?

4. Moving to HK, Cost of living answer 2

5. Going from Shenzhen Airport to HK City at night

6. Salsa dancing places in Hong Kong

7. Outdoor Cafes in Hong Kong

8. Hostels/hotels near the airport

9. Useful budget flight/hotel websites in Asia

10. Going to Shenzhen by bus via Huang Gang

11. Home internet service providers - ISPs

12. Alternatives to hotels, hostels and couches for 24-48 hour stopovers

13. Ideas for 3-5 hour stopovers

14. Sharings of HK CS hosts

HK Travel and Tourism related articles

Gwyneth Paltrow's take on HK

Rebuttal to Goop's take on HK from CBC blogger Elaine Liu

Engadget feature on Sham Shui Po

CNNGo's 88 Things to do in the summer in Hong Kong

The Washington Post goes camping near Pui O

The New York Times Travel blog finds fireflies in HK

The New York Times checks out some of the newest private kitchens

CNN Go's 45 sightseeing tips for HK

CNN's travel tips for newbies and a slideshow of some of our major attractions

La Stampa via Worldcrunch - Chungking Mansions

CNNGo's guide to the Mid-Autumn Festival 2011

CNNGo's guide to the best live music venues in HK

Yahoo's World's Most Beautiful Ferry Rides

Further info

To find further or more detailed information, please try Hong Kong's wikivoyage.org entry.

Hong Kong's entry at Wikivoyage.org

CS Hong Kong moments

9 June 2012 International CS Day celebration in Hong Kong (Article published in the June 2012 issue of the CS Magazine: http://www.couchsurfing.org/news/article/215)


Hong Kong group on BeWelcome

Alternative to CS: non-profit, volunteer-driven, uncensored.


Hong Kong group on CS

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