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China Travel Guide: Hong Kong SAR

Travel Information

Flag of Hong Kong SAR
                    Tourism Rating    Travel Safety   Entry Requirements  Avoiding Petty Theft

                     Special Note   Road Safety and Conditions   Medical Care

 Travel Visas to Any Country Blue

 

 
Tourism Rating   Top of Page  
Three globes = One of the best vacation destinations

 

 

 

One of the Best (three of four globes)

Hong Kong is a desirable travel destination: it offers a dynamic, modern economy, a beautiful skyline and an interesting blend of China and British history.  Travel boat, or bus is equally rewarding.  Driving in Hong Kong is not recommended.

Travel Information on Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region  of China, is presented here.  Travel Information for China can be found at China: Travel Information.

  1. Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since July 1, 1997, has a high degree of autonomy, except in the areas of defense and foreign policy.  At present, Hong Kong retains its own currency, laws, and border controls. It is composed of three geographic areas: the New Territories, the Kowloon Peninsula, and Hong Kong Island.


  2. Hong Kong is a sight to behold.  It is attractive, mysterious, crowded and a magnet for tourism.


  3. Hong Kong is a great place for independent travel, although if your time is limited, you  will benefit from hiring a tour guide.


  4. ThereArePlaces recommended travel destinations for Hong Kong are located at  Hong Kong: Best Places To Visit.


  5. Additional information on travel to Hong Kong can be found at China's official tourism site for Hong Kong Discover Hong Kong.


  6. When planning your travel, be sure to review the ThereArePlaces Travel Planning Guides for insights on how  to "travel well" and "travel safe".

 

   
Travel Safety   Top of Page  
Green light = safe travel

 

 

Overall, Hong Kong is a safe travel destination for tourists. 

  1. No official health advisories, travel advisories, or specific terrorism warnings for Hong Kong have been posted by the U.S. Government at this time.  Before you depart, always check with the Department of State  and CDC to insure that these conditions have not changed.  In addition, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office  of the British Government provides excellent travel advisories.
    • During 2003, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreaks were of concern in Hong Kong and other areas of China.  Make sure you check with the CDC  on current health issues before you depart.


  2. The State Department's Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444 .


  3. The Hong Kong SAR Government has a web site in English at http://www.gov.hk/en/about/abouthk/factsheets/index.htm  which provides useful information (“Hong Kong Fact Sheets”) on a comprehensive range of subjects..


  4. The emergency number for local emergency assistance (equivalent to 911 in the United States ) is 999.



  5. Americans visiting Hong Kong are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Hong Kong.
  6. When planning your travel, be sure to review the ThereArePlaces Travel Planning Guides for insights on how  to "travel well" and "travel safe".

 

   

 

Entry Requirements   Top of Page
 

Passport required for travel in China - A passport with a minimum of six months validity remaining and evidence of onward/return transportation by sea/air are required.  A  visa is  not required to enter the Hong Kong SAR for visits up to 90 days.

  • U.S. citizens who arrive in Hong Kong with an expired or damaged passport may be refused entry and returned to the United States at their own expense.

  • A departure tax and an airport security tax must be paid at the airport, unless these have been included in the traveler's airfare.

  • For the most current information concerning entry and exit requirements, including required documentation, prohibited items etc., travelers can consult the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong,Internet Home Page: http://www.immd.gov.hk/ehtml/home.htm)

If you do not have a passport, see our article on the Ins and Outs of Passports.  Other important travel documents, including visas are covered in our Information Guide on Passport, Visas, Customs.

Visas are required to transit  to China from Hong Kong. Persons transiting China on the way to and from Mongolia or North Korea or who plan to re-enter from the Hong Kong or Macau Special Administrative Regions should be sure to obtain visas allowing multiple entries. Permits are required to visit Tibet as well as many remote areas not normally open to foreigners.

U.S. citizens should obtain all required visas prior to departing the U.S. Specifically, U.S. citizens wishing to travel to the PRC from Hong Kong require a PRC visa and should apply at the PRC Embassy or consulates in the U.S.

  • Parents whose children hold U.S. passports should be aware that the PRC Consulate or Visa Office may require original birth certificates or other U.S. documents for these children.


  • Persons applying in Hong Kong for PRC visas for U.S.-born children have been unable to obtain PRC visas without the original U.S. birth certificate.


  • Parents should consider bringing their children's birth certificates if applying for a PRC visa in Hong Kong.


  • Further information on entry and exit requirements for the PRC is available at China Travel Information.


  • In addition, you can contact the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, 2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 328-2500, Internet home page: http://www.china-embassy.org  , or the PRC consulates general in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, or San Francisco.


  • Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest PRC embassy or consulate.

DUAL NATIONALITY:  China does not recognize dual nationality.

Under PRC nationality law, persons who are of Chinese descent and who were born in the mainland of China or Hong Kong are PRC citizens.

  • However, under an agreement between the United States and the PRC, all U.S. citizens entering Hong Kong on their U.S. passports, including such persons as may be considered PRC nationals by the PRC authorities, are considered U.S. citizens by the Hong Kong SAR authorities for purposes of ensuring consular access and protection.

Dual nationals, who are or previously were Hong Kong residents, and who wish to ensure U.S. consular access and protection after the initial 90-day period of admission into Hong Kong, must declare their U.S. nationality by presenting their U.S. passports to the Hong Kong Immigration Department and completing an application for declaration of change of nationality.

  • This declaration of change of nationality will ensure U.S. consular protection and will also result in loss of one's Chinese nationality (but not necessarily one's right of abode).



  • Although such individuals' failure to declare U.S. nationality may jeopardize U.S. consular protection, such failure will not jeopardize their U.S. citizenship.



  • Dual national residents of Hong Kong who enter Hong Kong on their Hong Kong identity cards rather than their U.S. passports and who desire to guarantee U.S. consular protection should declare their U.S. nationality to the Hong Kong Immigration Department as soon as possible after entry.

Dual nationals contemplating onward travel to PRC should be especially attentive to use of their U.S. passports, as the PRC authorities may require them to use the same document for entry into the PRC as they used to enter Hong Kong.

  • Under PRC nationality law, persons who are of Chinese descent and who were born in the mainland of China or Hong Kong are PRC citizens. However, under an agreement between the United States and the PRC, all U.S. citizens entering Hong Kong on their U.S. passports, including such persons as may be considered PRC nationals by the PRC authorities, are considered U.S. citizens by the Hong Kong SAR authorities for purposes of ensuring consular access and protection.



  • Dual nationals who are or previously were Hong Kong residents and who wish to ensure U.S. consular access and protection after the initial 90-day period of admission into Hong Kong, must declare their U.S. nationality by presenting their U.S. passports to the Hong Kong Immigration Department and completing an application for declaration of change of nationality.

    • This declaration of change of nationality will ensure U.S. consular protection and may also result in loss of one's Chinese nationality (but not necessarily one's right of abode). Although such individuals' failure to declare U.S. nationality may jeopardize U.S. consular protection, such failure will not jeopardize their U.S. citizenship.


    • Dual national residents of Hong Kong who enter Hong Kong on their Hong Kong identity cards rather than their U.S. passports and who desire to guarantee U.S. consular protection should declare their U.S. nationality to the Hong Kong Immigration Department as soon as possible after entry.



  • Dual nationals contemplating onward travel to PRC should be especially attentive to use of their U.S. passports, as the PRC authorities may require them to use the same document for entry into the PRC as they used to enter Hong Kong. The Nationality Law of the PRC does not recognize dual nationality.

    • U.S. citizens, including such persons as may be considered Chinese nationals by the PRC authorities, who enter and depart the PRC using a U.S. passport and a valid PRC visa retain the right of U.S. consular access and protection under the U.S.-PRC Consular Convention.


    • The ability of the U.S. Embassy or Consulates General in the PRC to provide normal consular services would be extremely limited should a dual national enter the PRC on a non-U.S. passport. Therefore, travelers should carefully consider whether or not to use a passport or travel document other than their U.S. passport.

Further information on consular protection and dual nationality is available on the Department of State Consular Affairs Home Page at http://travel.state.gov . Information can also be obtained from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State at 2201 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520, or call tel. (202) 647-6769, or the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong SAR at (852) 2841-2211. Information on the right of abode in Hong Kong may be obtained from the Hong Kong Immigration Department at tel. (852) 2824-4055, fax: (852) 2598-8388, via the Internet at: http://www.immd.gov.hk/, or via e-mail at: roa@immd.gov.hk.

In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide protection abroad. For additional information, please see the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page at http://travel.state.gov for an explanation of dual nationality issues. U.S. citizens who are also citizens of  any other nation are reminded that U.S. law requires they enter and depart the United States documented as U.S. citizens.

 
Avoiding Petty Theft   Top of Page  
 

 

 

 

Exchange dollars only at permitted businesses.

Before you travel, read our articles on Pickpockets, Con Artists, and ATM safety in the ThereArePlaces Information Guide on Personal Safety for travelers to help avoid the situations described below.

  • There have recently been cases where both local and foreign hikers have been robbed/beaten in country parks and Victoria Peak. Although no U.S. citizens have been reported among these victims, U.S. citizens should be extremely vigilant when walking in these areas and should travel in groups.



  • Travelers should exercise caution when in congested areas and pay particular attention to personal belongings while in crowded markets and while traveling around Hong Kong on public transportation
  • .

  • Violent crime, though rare, does occur in Hong Kong and Macau.


  • Hotel guests should refuse to open their room doors to anyone they do not know personally.

If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members of friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution for the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney

   
   
Special Note      
       
 

 

 

 

1. About 90 percent of the population in Hong Kong depends on public transport. Taxis, buses, and the mass transit railway (MTR) are readily available, inexpensive, and generally safe. The MTR is an underground railway network and is the most popular mode of public transport, carrying an average of 2.3 million passengers a day.

2.  Visitors to Hong Kong should be aware that U.S. law prohibits the
importation into the United States of counterfeit, brand-name items, such as watches, compact discs, computer software, and clothing.

3.  Travelers are liable to prosecution and possible detention if they bring into/out of Hong Kong any firearm or ammunition. Unless otherwise exempted by laws, possession of an "imitation firearm" is also an offence. "Arms" means any firearm, air rifle/air gun/air pistol from which any shot, bullet or missile can be discharged with a muzzle energy greater than two joules, electric stunning device, gun/pistol or other propelling/releasing instrument from or by which a projectile containing any gas or chemical could be discharged, weapon for the discharge of any noxious liquid/gas/powder, and harpoon or spear gun. Paintball guns are included in this category.

Travelers are also liable to prosecution if they bring into/out of Hong Kong any "weapon," which includes Chinese-style throwing dart, gravity knife, gravity-operated steel baton, knuckleduster, Chinese-style fighting iron, spring-loaded steel baton, any knife the blade of which is exposed by a spring or other mechanical/electric device, and any bladed/pointed weapon.

4.ThereArePlaces makes every attempt to ensure that the travel information we present to you is current. Before you depart, be sure to check with official government sources to determine the status of critical information relating to a particular county.

   
Road Safety and Conditions   Top of Page  

Important information for drivers

 

 

 

 

 

Important information for drivers

 

We recommend that you do not drive in Hong Kong.  

Using public transportation is a safer and much less of a hassle than renting or driving a car.  If  you want to avoid public transportation, have you hotel staff hire a driver and a car for your touring.

  • In Hong Kong, traffic moves on the left.


  • Hong Kong's urban areas are heavily congested with traffic during the daytime.

  • The emergency number for local emergency assistance (equivalent to 911 in the United States ) is 999.



  • During the daytime, traffic congests Hong Kong's urban areas.


  • Each year, some 21,000 drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are injured or killed in traffic accidents in Hong Kong


  • The use of seat belts in vehicles, if so equipped, is mandatory both in the front and back seats.


  • Hong Kong law requires that all registered vehicles carry valid third-party liability insurance.


  • The use of hand-held cellular phones while driving in Hong Kong is strictly prohibited. A breach of this law can lead to a maximum fine of $2,000 HK ($260 US). However, motorists can use "hand-free devices," such as headphones and speakerphones.


  • At the scene of a traffic accident, drivers are required to undergo alcohol level testing. Any driver found exceeding the prescribed limit of blood alcohol level may face prosecution under Hong Kong law.

If you are determined to drive, you should expect to encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning driving in Hong Kong is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good

The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death can be a fine of $50,000 HK ($6,500 US), imprisonment for five years and disqualification from driving for not less than two years on first conviction.

U.S. citizen visitors who do not plan to stay in Hong Kong for more than twelve months can drive in Hong Kong on their valid U.S. driver's license. They need not obtain an international driving permit (IDP). An IDP is a legal identification document that translates driving license information into eleven languages, including English, and should only be used as a supplement to a valid driving license.

Speed Limits in Hong Kong:

  1. Built-up areas - 50 KPH or as posted.
  2. Highways - 80KPH or as posted.
  3. Expressway - 100 KPH or as posted.

For information on obtaining international drivers licenses, contact AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance. For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1179.html#safety .

   
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Internatioanal Driver's Permit (IDP) required

 
Medical Care   Top of Page  
 
Western-style medical facilities with international staffs are available in Hong Kong
  • Good medical facilities are available, and there are many Western-trained physicians in Hong Kong.


  • Doctors and hospitals generally do not accept credit cards and require immediate cash payment for health services.


  • Many U.S. health insurance providers do not cover their subscribers overseas. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.

Most hospitals in Hong Kong will not accept medical insurance from the United States.  Travelers will be asked to post a deposit prior to admission to cover the expected cost of treatment.

We strongly urge you to consult your medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, you should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing medical service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your departure, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.

Your existing medical insurance carrier may cover "customary and reasonable" medical care while you are abroad. Usually, if reimbursement is provided, it is paid at a reduced rate (due to the use of an "out of system" provider). Check with your insurance carrier before you depart to determine the type and amount of coverage that may be provided. If coverage is provided, be sure to ask how claims should be filed and ask them to send some claim forms, in case you require any medical treatment while on vacation.

Read our article on  travel insurance to learn the factors that you should consider before you purchase or decline to purchase a travel related insurance policy.

ThereArePlaces Information Guide on Health contains valuable health related advice for the traveler considering a trip abroad.

   
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