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Place: Hong Kong
Hong Kong in a Nutshell
by Jeremy Lee
Hong Kong is an all-year-round destination. It enjoys a mild climate from the middle of September to the end of February, while the weather from May to mid-September is rather warm and humid. Eighty per cent of Hong Kong's precipitation occurs between May and September, with August registering the highest rainfall.During the summer months the heat and humidity is basically what you might expect from a tropical climate. Most women don't even bother with makeup and hair spray as within minutes of going outside they will be soaked with sweat.
Visitors from most countries can enter Hong Kong without a visa for periods of seven days to six months, depending on nationality. If you have any questions in regard to visas for your specific nationality you should check with your embassy or local consulate..
Finding a place to stay is easy as Hong Kong is compact, so visitors are never too far from shopping and major sights. Hong Kong also has an excellent transportation system so visitors can easily reach other areas, no matter where they stay. Most hotels are located in the heart of the city, in Central, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island and in Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui East in Kowloon. There are also a growing number of resort-style hotels in the New Territories that offer relaxing alternatives. The only unfortunate problem, if you are a tourist that is, is that Hong Kong has been enjoying the highest hotel occupancy rates over the last year so you need to book far in advance. And beware of bait and switch operators offering low cost Asian hotels on the Internet. They will offer you a low price and after you pay and confirm, they will email back with a counter offer usually 2-3 higher then the price posted. Most of the hotel liquidators are in Asia so there is little you can do but beware.
You choices for Public transportation are varied from bus, ferry or train. The local underground train is called the MTR and is efficient, relatively inexpensive and user-friendly. The system covers extension areas of Hong Kong with signs in English and Chinese, and is one of the cleanest I have seen in some time.
Just like most international destination, most restaurants will levy a 10 per cent service charge but waiters will expect to be given some loose change. Restaurants that don't add a service charge will expect a 10 per cent tip. However, tipping is left to your discretion. Bellboys, porters, restroom attendants and taxi drivers will happily accept loose change.Just because you see a service charge added to a bill does not mean the wait staff receives any of these tips. I have personally asked several wait staff in regard to this and all have said that they receive no part of the service fee. If you receive good service, pay a tip directly to the wait staff.
The standard electrical voltage in HK is 220 volts AC, 50HZ, so you will need an adaptor for your 100-volt appliances and electrical equipment.The majority of electrical outlets in Hong Kong take a three-pronged plug. You can buy an inexpensive adaptor for your equipment when you arrive in Hong Kong.And also, most modern hotels will have at one or more 110V receptacles in the room for a laptop or appliance.Feel free to ask the service staff for an adaptor, but beware that 95% of the staff will speak little, or no English,but will be extremely helpful regardless.
Most hotels have Internet access.You need to be aware of the fact when you are choosing a hotel that complimentary High Speed Internet service does NOT mean it is free. Obviously, complimentary has different meanings in different parts of the world. You will have to pay for the connection by the day, and most hotels have weekly specials, you should bring your own CAT-5 cable with you,or rent one from the front desk if not available in the room. You can also access the Internet for free at many coffee shops, large shopping malls, major MTR stations and public libraries in town. For people bringing their laptops to Hong Kong, Wireless Broadband service is common at major shopping malls and coffee shops. If you use a modem, note that the BT system using in Hong Kong will gradually be replaced by the RJ system. If you are still using the BT plug, you can buy a BT-RJ adaptor in Hong Kong to solve the connection problem.
Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world even at night, when people may walk alone with confidence.When you are walking around local tourist areas like Kowloon or Tsim Sha Tsui expect a lot a hawkers targeting tourists, as well as a lot of itinerant monks.
English is very widely spoken. There will be no problems in communicating with people in most hotels, restaurants and even some taxis.But the farther you get away form the business centers, the more difficult time you will have finding English speaking people. Small shops like 7-11, which are everywhere will basically have no English speaking service. Taxis are mostly Chinese speaking drivers.
Basically, in a nutshell, Hong Kong is a fast paced,exciting city. Don't go there if you are looking for peace and quiet, but if you are looking for a high energy trip to Asia,Hong Kong is the place for you. For more in depth info on Hong Kong visit the links in the authors bio.
About the Author
Jeremy is a travel writer and frequent traveler to Hong Kong. He is contributing author to http://www.travel-hong-kong-guides.com and the http://www.travel-the-world-guides.com series. For more in depth info on Hong Kong click on the links above.