Hong Kong perches on the edge of mainland China occupying an anomalous position as a territory straddling two worlds. Since the handover in 1997 Hong Kong has become a 'Special Administrative Region of China', no longer a subject of British colonial sovereignty. Past and present fuse to create a capitalist utopia embedded within the world's largest Communist country.
Hong Kong offers a dense concentration of shops and shopping malls with a cross-pollinated cosmopolitan culture that embraces Nepalese and British cuisines with equal enthusiasm. It is the perfect gateway for travelers to Southeast
Asia and China, providing a smooth transition from west to east. As one of the key economies of the Pacific Rim, Hong Kong Island showcases a gleaming landscape of skyscrapers and boasts a highly developed transport infrastructure that makes commuting around it a dream.
Hong Kong consists of four sections: Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands. Kowloon and the New Territories form part of the Chinese mainland to the north of Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong Island, containing the central business hub, lies on the southern side of the harbor facing Kowloon. The Outlying Islands comprise a composite of 234 islands.
Language: The official languages in Hong Kong are English and Cantonese. The other main language is Mandarin.
Currency: The unit of currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD); HK$1 is divided into 100 cents. Major banks are open from 9am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 12:30pm on Saturday. Banks and moneychangers charge commission as do hotels that provide exchange services. All major credit cards are accepted and ATMs are widely distributed. Some HSBC 'Electronic Money' machines provide 24-hour cash withdrawal facilities for Visa and MasterCard holders.
Time: Local time is GMT
Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The UK-style 3-pin plugs are standard.
Communications: The international access code for Hong Kong is +852. The outgoing code depends on what network is used: 001 for PCCW, 0080 for Hutchinson and 009 for New World. City codes within Hong Kong are not required. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators. Mobile phones can also be rented on arrival at the international airport. Internet cafes are widely available, and access is free at many coffee shops, shopping malls, MRT stations and public libraries in town.
Duty Free: Travelers to Hong Kong over the age of 18 years do not have to pay duty on 1 liter of spirits or wine, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco. A reasonable amount of items for personal use is also permitted. Prohibited items include narcotics, psychotropic drugs, firearms and ammunition; counterfeit items, endangered species (alive or stuffed), and copyright infringed products.
Hong Kong Tourist Office: +852 2807 6543 or www.discoverhongkong.com