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> Starter kit for Hong Kong, Just some information to get you started and links to many more ideas
post Jan 12 2010, 11:32 AM
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Hong Kong is situated on the southeast coast of China at the mouth of the Pearl River facing the South China Sea. Covering an area of 1,104 square kilometers (425 square miles), the territory is made up of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories. At the core is Victoria Harbour, which separates Hong Kong Island from Kowloon and beyond that, the New Territories that runs up to the boundary with Mainland China. As well as making up the bulk of Hong Kong's land mass, the New Territories also incorporates 262 outlying islands, including Lantau where the airport is located.

Despite its dense urban environment, more than 70% of Hong Kong's total area is rural, including about 40% designated as protected country parks and nature reserves that are all easily accessible.

Population: More than 7 million

Electricity: 220V / 50Hz UK plug

Time Zone: GMT +8

International Calling Code: Dial +852 to call a Hong Kong number from overseas. There are no regional codes.

Currency: The legal tender is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD), which is linked to the US dollar at a rate of about 7.80 HKD to 1 USD, although exchange rates may fluctuate slightly.

Language: Chinese (mainly Cantonese but Mandarin is gaining prominence) 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.

Weather: Hong Kong has a subtropical climate with distinct seasons. Typhoon season is May to November. Spring is from March to May, temperature and humidity are rising. Evenings can be cool. Summer is from June to August, hot, humid and sunny, with occasional showers and thunderstorms. The temperature can exceed 31°C. Autumn is from September to November, there are pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. Many people regard these as the best months of the year to visit Hong Kong. Winter is from December to February Cool, dry and cloudy, with occasional cold fronts. The temperature can drop below 10°C in urban areas.

Getting here: Hong Kong is major international transport hub served by more than 80 airlines and numerous cruise lines, and by ferries and trains from Mainland China. To get into town from the airport there is a train that leaves every 12 minutes and takes 20 minutes to get to Kowloon and 24 minutes to get to Hong Kong Island. There are international ferry terminals in Kowloon in an area called Tsim Sha Tsui and Hong Kong Island in Central. The train station is in Kowloon in an area called Hung Hom.

Immigration: In general, all visitors to Hong Kong must have a passport that is valid for at least one month after the period of their intended stay in Hong Kong. Nationals of most countries do not require visas and can stay for periods varying from 7 days to 180 days, depending on nationality

Getting around: Hong Kong is geographically compact and boasts one of the world's most efficient, safe, affordable and frequent public transport systems. Options for transport include the MTR (subway), bus, minibus, streetcar, ferry or taxi. Public transportation is clearly marked and very user friendly and taxi are cheap and the drivers are honest.

Important Phone Numbers:
Emergency Services (Police, Fire, Ambulance) 999
Police Hotline 2527 7177
Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Hotline (multilingual) 2508 1234
Hong Kong Immigration Department 2824 6111
Department of Health 2961 8989
Weather (Hong Kong Observatory) 1878 200

Where to stay: This is the official link on the Hong Kong Tourism Board website page: www.yha.org.hk but I think you will find many more options at www.hostelworld.com

What to do: You can get it all here from bustling city life with fancy shopping, fine dining and exciting night life to national parks with great hiking and isolated beaches. If you are only here a few days here are some of the must do things. Take the peak tram up to The Peak for spectacular views over the city, harbour and mountains beyond. Take the Star Ferry Harbour Tour in the evening during the nightly Symphony of Lights show. Visit Lantau Island and take the cable car to the world’s tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha, along with the Po Lin Monastery.

If you want to shop there are plenty of malls, in Kowloon in the Tsim Sha Tsui area or on Hong Kong Island in Central, Admiralty or Causeway Bay to name a few. There are also good markets. Stanley Market on Hong Kong Island and Temple Street Night Market and Jade Alley in Kowloon are popular places.

If you like the outdoors hop on a ferry and go to some of the outlying islands for hiking and nice beaches. Lama Island is a good one, the ferry is easy to catch from the terminals near the IFC mall in Central on Hong Kong Island.

If you want to rock ‘til dawn head directly to Lan Kwai Fong and nearby Soho on Hong Kong Island.

For more information on things to do in Hong Kong check out this website: www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/index.html

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