Hong Kong

Consulates

consulates
Germany
21/F United Centre, 95 Queensway
+852 2105 8788
consulates
United States of America
26 Garden Rd
+852 2523-9011

For visa inquiries, visit the site and fill out the form.

consulates
Thailand
8/F Fairmont House, 8 Cotton Tree Drive, Central
+852 2521
consulates
South Africa
27/F Great Eagle Centre Rms 2706-2710, 23 Harbour Road, Wanchai
+852 2577 3279
consulates
Cambodia
Unit 1819, Star House, 3 Salisbury Rd, TST
+852 2546 0718
consulates
France
26/F Admiralty Centre II, 18 Harcourt Rd, Wanchai
+852 3752 9900
consulates
Finland
Suites 2405-2408, 24F, Dah Sing Financial Centre, 108 Gloucester Road, Wanchai
+852 2525 5385
consulates
Myanmar (Burma)
Suites 2401, Sun Hung Kai Centre, 30 Harbour Rd
+852 2845 0810
consulates
Poland
06, 35/F, Hopewell Centre, 183 Queen's Road East, Wanchai
+852 2840 0779
consulates
China
7F, Lower Block, China Resources Bldg, 26 Harbour Rd, Wanchai
+852 3413 2300
Nationals of the Schengen countries pay $150 for single entry visas
M-F 9AM-noon and 2PM-5PM
Use Wanchai MTR station and walk from there

Visas to Mainland China can be obtained from here. The normal visa service takes four working days including the day when the application is submitted but an express service of two or three working days is available for an extra fee.

consulates
Canada
12-14F, One Exchange Square Central
+852 3719 4700
consulates
United Kingdom
1 Supreme Court Rd
+852 2901 3000
consulates
 

Hong Kong has most major foreign consulates and official representatives for visa needs.

traffic

Traffic rules are seriously enforced in Hong Kong where penalties can be stringent, and road conditions are excellent, although road courtesy remains to have a room to improve. However, the driving speed can be so fast to claim more death toll when accidents happen.

Signage on the roads in Hong Kong is similar to British usage. Zebra lines zebra crossings indicate crossing areas for pedestrians and traffic comes from the right. To stay safe, visit the Transport Department's website (http://www.td.gov.hk/road...) for complete details.

Crossing the road by foot should also be exercised with great care. Traffic in Hong Kong generally moves fast once the signal turns green. To help both the visually impaired and even people who are not, an audible aid is played at every intersection. Rapid bells indicate "Walk"; intermittent bells 10 sets of 3 bells indicate "Do Not Start to Cross"; and slow bells indicate "Do Not Walk".

Jay-walking' is an offence and police officers may be out patrolling accident black-spots. It's is not uncommon to see local people waiting to cross an empty road - when this happens, you should also wait because it maybe that they have noticed that the police are patrolling the crossing.

The quality of medical care in Hong Kong is excellent but expensive for tourists who are not qualified to get a government subsidy. In cases of emergency, treatment is guaranteed, but you will be billed later if you cannot pay immediately. As a tourist, you are required to pay $570 for using emergency services $100 for Hong Kong residents. Waiting times at hospital emergency rooms can be lengthy for non emergency patients, since people are prioritised according to their situation. If you have a problem making payment in public hospitals, you can apply for financial assistance but you will need to prove your economic status to social workers based in the hospital.

One common cause of sickness is the extreme temperature change between 35°C humid summer weather outdoors and 18°C air-conditioned buildings and shopping malls. Some people experience cold symptoms after moving between the two extremes. You are recommended to carry a sweater even in the summer-time.

Heat stroke is also common when hiking. Carry enough water and take scheduled rests before you feel unwell.

post

Postal services are efficient and of high quality. You will find post offices in major city areas and outside of opening hours, coin-operated stamp vending machines. You can buy stamps sets of ten stamps of $1.4, $2.4, $3 from many convenience stores such as 7-Eleven or Circle K OK. It is relatively inexpensive to ship your purchases back home from any Post Office.

telephone

Hong Kong's country-code is 852 different from mainland China (86 and Macau 853). Local phone numbers mobile and landlines are typically 8 digits; no area codes are used. All numbers that begin with 5, 6, 8 or 9 are mobile numbers, while numbers beginning with 2 or 3 are fixed line numbers. For calls from Hong Kong, the standard IDD prefix is 001, so you would dial 001-country code-area code-telephone number. Note that calls to Macau or mainland China require international dialling. For the operator, dial 1000. For police, fire or ambulance services dial 999.

crime

With an effective police and legal system, Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world. However, pickpockets are not uncommon in Hong Kong, especially in crowded areas. Needless to say, common sense should be used as you do in other parts of the world. Although local people feel safe to carry a knapsack with a wallet inside, one should be wary in crowded areas where pickpockets are likely to strike, particularly at the main tourist attractions. Do not wave your wallet in public, show the cash inside, or letting people know where you keep your wallet.

Although Hong Kong Island, parts of the New Territories and the Outlying Islands, including Lantau Island, are the more relatively safer parts of Hong Kong, exercise caution when travelling to Kowloon. Even tourist attractions, such as Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok have had bad reputation for crime by Hong Kong standards. As they are relatively poorer areas, alike other parts of Kowloon, there is a higher crime rate, involving pickpockets, and infamously acid spills in Mong Kok. When travelling away from Hong Kong Island, avoid revealing items that would identify you as a tourist frequently, such as cameras, backpacks, electronics, flashy clothing, and avoid carrying large amounts of money.

Hong Kong films have often portrayed triads 三合會 as gun wielding gangsters who fear nobody, but that only happens in the movies. Even in their heyday, triads tended to engage only in prostitution which is legal itself, but organised prostitution, i.e. pimping or brothels, are not, counterfeiting or loan-sharking and lived underground lives, and rarely targeted the average person on the street. Just stay away from the triads by avoiding loan sharks and illegal betting.

Call 999 when you urgently need help from the Police, Fire and Ambulance services. Hong Kong has a strict service control system, so once you call 999, the police should show up within 10 minutes in most cases, usually less. For non-emergency police assistance, call 2527-7177.

corruption

Hong Kong is ranked as the world's 13th "cleanest" region in the Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International which aims to put an end to corruption, outpacing the U.S and most European countries such as Germany and France.

In Hong Kong, corruption is a serious offence. Unlike mainland China, money given for unfair competition is regarded as corruption, regardless of who the recipients are. Trying to offer a bribe to civil servants will almost certainly result in arrest and a prison sentence.

The territory has a powerful anti-corruption police force: the Independent Commission Against Corruption ICAC, which has been taken as a role model by Interpol and the United Nations. A number of countries, such as Australia have adopted the Hong Kong system to combat corruption.

contact

Hong Kong has communications facilities as modern as anywhere in the world. The cost, particularly for mobile phone users, is one of the cheapest globally.

find a doctor

Healthcare standards in Hong Kong are on par with the West, and finding a reputable doctor is not much of a problem should you get sick. Doctors come in two flavours: those that practice traditional Chinese medicine and the western variety. Both are taken equally seriously in Hong Kong, but as a visitor the assumption will be to direct you to a western doctor. Doctors that practice western medicine almost always speak English fluently, but you may find the receptionist to be more of a challenge.

Seeing a doctor is as easy as walking off the street and making an appointment with the receptionist. Generally you will be seen within an hour or less, but take note of the opening times displayed in the window of the doctor's office. A straightforward consultation for a minor ailment might cost around $150 to $500, but your bill will be inclusive of medicine. In Hong Kong, it is normal for a doctor to sell you medicine. Most surgeries and hospitals will accept credit cards. Expect to pay more if you visit a swanky surgery in Central. Check the directory (http://www.hkdoctors.org) maintained by the Hong Kong Medical Association for further information. Help finding general practitioners, medical specialists and dentists might also be available at your consulate.

hiking

Several hikers have lost their lives in the wilderness in the past decade. Hikers should equip themselves with detailed hiking maps, compass, mobile phones, snacks and adequate amounts of drinking water. Most areas of the countryside are covered by a mobile phone network but in some places you will only be able to pickup a mobile phone signal from mainland China. In this case, it is not possible to dial 999 for emergency assistance. A number of emergency telephones have been placed in Country Parks, their locations are clearly marked on all hiking maps.

Heat stroke is a major problem for hikers who lack experience of walking in a warm climate. If you plan to walk a dog during the hot summer months, remember that dogs are more vulnerable to heat stroke than humans and owners should ensure their pets get adequate rest and water.

The cooler hiking and camping season in October to February is also the time of the year when hill fires likely strike. At the entrances to country parks you will likely observe signs warning you of the current fire risk. With an average of 365 hill fires a year, you should take the risk of fire seriously and dispose of cigarettes and matches appropriately. According to some hikers' accounts, in places where fires and camping is not allowed, the Staff of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department AFCD will most likely fine an offender.

While it's generally very safe to hike, the countryside can provide shelter to illegal immigrants and a few cases of robbery have been known. However, the police do patrol hiking routes and most major paths do offer the security of fellow hikers.

legal matters

Most travellers who have got into trouble with the law are involved with illicit drugs. Drugs such as ecstasy MDMA and marijuana are subject to tight control and tourists risk immediate arrest if they are found in possession of even small amounts of banned substances. Most Hongkongers tend to have strong negative views against narcotics, including 'soft' drugs such as marijuana.

Under Hong Kong law, local residents are required to carry Identity Cards with them at all times, and the police frequently carry out spot checks when they have "reasonable grounds for suspicion". Tourists are advised by the government to carry their passports but unless you think you are highly likely to be stopped by the police there is no great need; most visitors choose to keep their passport in a safe place. People will not target you because you are dressed well. People in Hong Kong often dress up. Caucasians are rarely targeted by policemen for ID checks. South Asians, especially Pakistanis and Nepalis often get targeted by policemen. As long as you dress well this does not mean formally, you are unlikely to be targeted

You are expected to cooperate with the police during their investigations, and understand that they may search your pockets and bags. By the law, you can reject a request to search your bags and body in public. You also have the right to refuse to answer any questions, to contact your embassy and to apply for legal assistance. The police are obligated to comply with your request but they may detain you for up to 48 hours.

Discrimination is known to happen. People with a good educational background and reputable jobs are usually better treated by the police, while young people, those from developing countries and western countries with loose regulations on drugs may experience more frequent checks. The police and the government are exempt from the Race Discrimination Ordinance. However, there is a law to ban any form of police brutality, including verbal attacks and any use of foul language. Call 2866-7700 for the official Independent Police Complaints Council and report the officer's badge number displayed on his/her shoulder. The complaint will be taken seriously.

pollution

Despite Hong Kong's name meaning "fragrant harbour", this is not always so. Air pollution is a big problem due to a high population density and industrial pollution from mainland China. During periods of very bad air pollution tourists will find visibility drastically reduced, especially from Victoria Peak. Persons with serious respiratory problems should seek medical advice before travelling to the territory and ensure that they bring ample supplies of any relevant medication.

Pollution is a contentious topic in Hong Kong and is the number one issue among environmental campaigners. Much of the pollution originates from factories in mainland China and from Hong Kong motorists. Levels of pollution can vary according to the season. The winter monsoon can bring polluted air from the mainland, whilst the summer monsoon can bring cleaner air off the South China Sea.

natural disasters

Natural disasters are not usually a major issue in Hong Kong. There are no nearby fault lines, so earthquakes are rare and relatively mild when they do happen. The main hazards that Hong Kong faces are typhoons and floods.

Typhoons normally occur during the months of May to November, and are particularly prevalent during September. Whenever a typhoon approaches within 800km of Hong Kong, typhoon warning signal 1 is issued. Signal 3 is issued as the storm approaches. When winds reach speeds of 63-117 km/hour, signal 8 is issued. At this point, most nonessential activities shut down, including shops, restaurants and the transport system, offices and schools. Ferry services will be suspended, so visitors should return to their accommodation as soon as possible if they are dependent on these boat services to reach a place of safety. Signal 9 and 10 will be issued depending on the proximity and intensity of the storm. Winds may gust at speeds exceeding 220 km/hour causing masonry and other heavy objects to fall to the ground. During a typhoon, visitors should heed all warnings very seriously and stay indoors until the storm has passed. Remember that if the eye of the storm passes directly over there will be a temporary period of calm followed by a sudden resumption of strong winds from a different direction.

Some taxis are available during signal 8 or above, but they are under no obligation to serve passengers as their insurance is no longer effective under such circumstances. Taxi passengers are expected to pay up to 100% more when a typhoon strikes.

Rainstorms also have their own warning system. In increasing order of severity, the levels are amber, red and black. A red or black rainstorm is a serious event and visitors should take refuge inside buildings. A heavy rainstorm can turn a street into a river and cause serious landslides.

The Hong Kong Observatory (http://www.weather.gov.hk) is the best place to get detailed weather information when in Hong Kong. In summer a convectional rainstorm may affect only a small area and give you the false impression that all areas are wet.