Population/Currency/Facts, Hong Kong
What's this? It's psychedelic Hong Kong money designed to give counterfeiters colorful hallucinating headaches.
Fondest memory: If you wish to change foreign money in Hong Kong, it's always better to do so at one of the big banks (HSBC, Bank of China, Standard Chartered) instead of the little money exchange shops that you'll see in tourist shopping areas.
The only exception is if you are changing Chinese yuan back into Hong Kong dollars. Make sure you check the exchange rate if you do this particular transaction because those shops are competing with each other for this big business. You also need to check and see if there are any commission charges.
Hong Kong's currency is the Hong Kong dollar. As of 1999, the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at HK$7.80 = US$1.00, with the rate being able to fluctuate by only 10 HK cents.
Traveler's checks are a safe way to carry money abroad. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are widely accepted in Hong Kong. Note that the airport is probably the worst place to exchange currency for Hong Kong dollars. Most banks will do the exchange at a much better rate.
There is no sales tax in Hong Kong.
Favorite thing: Electricity: 220 V, 50 Hz, which is compatible to equipment in Great Britain. Most hotels have 110 V outlets for shavers. Hong Kong has a variety of plug outlets, most standardized on Great Britain's three-pin square sockets (13 amps); these differ from the outlets used in the United States and Canada--and even mainland China!
By far the best rate of exchange on my last trips to Hong Kong were to be had at Chungking Mansions. At the entrance in the lobby area there are several exchange booths so the competition is pretty good for the traveller. As always count your cash before you leave the booth counter.
36-44 Nathan Road, walking down towards Salisbury Road about 250 meters on the left hand side before Salisbury.
Okay this tip is not confined to hotels in HK only but to all hotels where an electronic safe is found at your hotel room.
Wipe the touch keys down before operating it with a damp cloth, and then dry it before entering your secret code. Try to do this every time you use the safe.
Also after you have keyed in your code and closed the door firmly locked on the safe. Press all the other keys /numbers that do not make up your code, and press them firmly. Doing this may set off a small alarm from the safe but it stops quickly and no one will pay any attention (!!).
The reason to do this is because certain hotels have caught their own hotel staff placing, a light oil residue or powder on to the touch keys that shows them when using a certain light what numbers were pressed. They were managing to open the safe, and one very clever thief was taking only 1 or 2 US$ from each room. Would you have noticed ? It is not a lot but in a 400 or 500 room hotel the guy was doing quite well for himself.
Favorite thing: I stayed in the Causeway Bay area and there are loads of money changers in the area but you have to pick the right one that has the best rate as they vary wildly. Some of the best exchange rates I found are on Yee Wo Street.
Population: 7,116,302 (July 2000 est.)
0-14 years: 18% (male 676,756; female 602,434)
15-64 years: 71% (male 2,520,473; female 2,563,355)
65 years and over: 11% (male 342,942; female 410,342) (2000 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.35% (2000 est.)
Birth rate: 11.29 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)
Death rate: 5.93 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)
Net migration rate: 8.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.12 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2000 est.)
Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China
Geographic coordinates: 22 15 N, 114 10 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
total: 1,092 sq km
land: 1,042 sq km
water: 50 sq km
Area - comparative: six times the size of Washington, DC
This isn't a must for you to do, rather a resource if you are planning on coming here to visit or live...these websites should be helpful:
Some basic things to consider:
***POPULATION AND LANGUAGE***
The population is well over 6 million, 95% of which is Chinese.
Chinese and English are the official languages. Cantonese is the most widely spoken Chinese dialect, though Mandarin, Shanghainese and other Chinese dialects are also spoken. Many people, especially in shops, hotels, and service industries, speak English.
Hong Kong has a subtropical climate:
Spring (March - mid-May): Temperature and humidity rising. Average temperature: 23°C (73°F)
(late May - mid-September): Hot and humid. Temperature may rise to 33°C (91 °F) with humidity up to around 90%. Average temperature: 28°C (82°F)
(late September - early December): temperature and humidity drop. Clear sunny days. Average temperature: 23°C (73°F)
(late December- February): Cool with low humidity. Average temperature: 17°C (62°F)
Visitors must hold a valid passport. Citizens of some 24 countries, including the USA, Japan, and certain Western European and South American nations are permitted one-month visa-free visits. Three-month visa-free visits are available to another 23 countries as well as all Commonwealth countries. The British are allowed a 12-month no-visa stay.
Visitors may bring into Hong Kong free of duty:
Tobacco - 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco.
Liquor - A one-litre bottle of wine or spirits.
Ivory - The importation and exportation of raw or worked ivory is governed by strict regulation.
***AIRPORT DEPARTURE TAX***
Adults: HK$50; children (aged 12 years and under) free.
The unit of currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HK$). Check VT currency exchange for latest rates.
Most foreign currencies and traveller's cheques are easily changed in Hong Kong, either at banks, hotels or moneychangers.
The voltage in Hong Kong is 200/220 volts, 50 cycles. Most hotels provide adaptors.
All water direct from government mains in Hong Kong satisfies the United Nations World Health Organization standards. Bottled water is widely available in hotels and supermarkets.
Telephones in Hong Kong are advanced, economical and easy to use. Local calls are free, and many stores and restaurants offer use of a telephone free of charge to patrons. Calls from public coin phones cost HK$1. Most hotels have International Direct Dialling (IDD). Please note that some hotels charge a handling fee for local and/or international calls. You can also make long-distance calls from (IDD) Public Coin Phones and from HK Telecom International Ltd. Offices. Call 013 for information.
The main post offices are on Hong Kong Island, next to the Star Ferry and in Kowloon at 10 Middle Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. Both are open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm on Saturday. All post offices close on Sunday and public holidays.
***OFFICE AND BANKING HOURS***
Most offices open from 9am to 5pm with a lunch hour from 1 pm to 2pm. On Saturday the hours are 9am to 1 pm. Some Chinese businesses open at 10am and close around 6pm or later. Major banks are open from 9am to 4.30pm on weekdays, 9am to 12.30pm on Saturday.
Coming out of Disneyland to the real Hong Kong was truly a shocker as things are not so beautiful. Given, I was expecting that but the stark difference really jolted me. For the last few times that I'd visited Hong Kong, the furthest I went to CityGate where the buildings were spanking new.
Fondest memory: Entering Mongkok, the old buildings were abound. It's nothing bad as we can't expect every building to be brand new. But the entire place feels alot more crammed and some of the buildings looked like they are in dire need of whitewash.
Though some buildings may be old, what's interesting is that you can find interesting sundry stores and knick-knack shops around the area. Worth the visit!
Favorite thing: This is not fake money! Relax when you received it. It is a new Ten Dollar Note issued since July 2002 and the ten dollar coin will be phased out gradually. No need to call the police when you receive it! (Really happened some time ago)
Population - 7.6 million
Area - 1 092 sq km
Full name (Mandarin): Xianggang Tebie Xingzhengqu
July 1 (1997) - Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day
October 1 (1949) - National Day
GDP: $198.5 billion
Unemployment: 7.5 % (2003)
Internet Users: 4.35 million
'Fragrant Harbour' Hong Kong's English name is derived from two Chinese characters, Heung and Gong, usually translated as 'Fragrant Harbour,' though the actual origins of the name are obscure.
Originally it was only the name of a small settlement near Aberdeen, the main fishing and entrepot port on pre-colonial Hong Kong Island. Some historians suggest that Hong Kong's Chinese name was inspired by its export of fragrant incense.
Fondest memory: Kowloon: 'Nine Dragons' ( click for postcard )
The explanation for Kowloon's name is even more romantic. In Chinese, the peninsula's name is Gow Lung, meaning 'Nine Dragons'. The name is thought to have been coined by Emperor Ping, one of two boy- emperors of the doomed Sung Dynasty whose court fled to Hong Kong eight centuries ago. He is said to have counted eight mountains in the area, and decided to name it 'Eight Dragons' (in accordance with the belief that every mountain is inhabited by a dragon).
The Emperor's tally of the peaks was corrected by a quick-witted courtier who pointed out that as emperors were also believed to be dragons, the place should be named 'Nine Dragons' - Ping being the ninth. The origin of Kowloon's name may be a legend, but it is a historical fact that the boy-emperor's travelling palace stayed there. One ancient carved-rock inscription recording the imperial visit stands in a small park on the very edge of Hong Kong International Airport.
There are more than six million people in Hong Kong. About 1.3 million live on Hong Kong Island, around 2 million in mainland Kowloon, and the remainder in the New Territories and Outlying Islands. For administrative and electoral purposes, the territory is divided into various Districts.
Almost 95% of the population is ethnic Chinese; the international community includes various nationalities.