The official languages in Hong Kong are Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin dialects) and English.
The official name of Hong Kong is The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. The region doesn’t have a formal capital. The region is divided into the following districts: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories and Outlying Islands.
The standard time in Hong Kong is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+8).
Counting and numbers
Dates in Hong Kong are written with the day first, then the month, then the year. A common way to write a day would be: 6 February 2008.
With written numbers, commas and decimal points are exactly the same as in US, but swapped from what you are used to in Europe. So HK$ 7.79 means 7 Hong Kong Dollars and 79 cents.
Hong Kong uses the metric system for measurements and Celsius for temperatures. You can find a conversion tool here.
Electricity and plugs
The standard electrical voltage is 220 volts / 50HZ, so you will need an adaptor if you don’t come from a European country (which uses the same system). The majority of electrical outlets are three-pronged plugs. If you need an adapter and/or a converter, you can buy them as soon as you enter Hong Kong (at the malls located within the airport). Please read the instructions on your electrical equipment before plugging them anywhere.
The official currency is the Hong Kong dollar. Denominations include the 10 c, 20 c, 50 c, 1 $, 2 $, 5$ and 10$ coins and the 10$, 20$, 50$, 100$ and (rarely used) 1000$ banknotes.
Check this conversion rate tool before planning your vacation.
Banks and ATMs
Banks are generally open from 9 AM to 5 PM with a lunch break from 1 PM to 2 PM. On Saturdays, banks are open from 9 AM to 1 PM.
Credit cards can be used all over Hong Kong. Make sure to ask your bank what are the fees and commissions applicable for using your credit card in a foreign country. Although it’s probably not crucial you can tell your bank that you will be withdrawing money in Hong Kong. When using both the ATMs to withdraw money and the credit card to pay, make sure to keep all the recipes.
Most foreign currencies and traveler’s cheques are easily changed in Hong Kong at banks or hotels.
Using the telephone
The country code for China is 852. To call Hong Kong from US you will first need to dial out of the U.S. and then into China, which means 011+852 + local number. To call a Hong Kong number from within the city, just dial the number you were given. To call US from Hong Kong dial 00+1+the US number (make sure to use the area code as well).
You need a HK$ 1 coin to use a public phone. Local calls are free and most restaurants and stores offer free use of the telephone.
You can also ask your mobile carrier to tell you what network to connect to once you get to Hong Kong (provided you have the roaming activated).
Useful telephone numbers
Travelers from most countries can enter China without a visa for periods of 7 to 180 days (6 months). Citizens of 24 countries –including USA and certain Western European countries- are allowed one-month visa-free visits. Citizens of all the Commonwealth countries are allowed three-months visa free visits. Make sure to check at the Chinese embassy in your country for the latest information.