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Hong Kong is a great place to visit when touring Asia for the first time. Kowloon in Hong Kong, can offer a glimpse into the organized chaos that comes with visiting Asia. However, it can be intimidating when trying to plan a trip to a place that seems so foreign. To help you on your way, here are some things to consider when planning a trip to Kowloon in Hong Kong.
The official languages of Hong Kong are Cantonese (Chinese) and English. Hong Kong is a former British colony and most people can speak English. The city is easy to navigate and ask for directions if needed. Road signs and MTR stations are all marked with both languages. Of course, it doesn’t help to learn a few of the basics as well.
Hong Kong uses a three prong plug similar to the one used in the United Kingdom. The standard electrical voltage in Hong Kong is 220 volts AC, 50 Hz. For those traveling from North America, which uses 110 volts, be sure to check your electronics to see if they are dual voltage and will detect the voltage automatically. If they don’t, you will need a transformer.
The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the United States dollar meaning it doesn’t fluctuate very much. There are many currency exchange shops around the city that offer good exchange rates and accept most common currencies. Alternatively, you can use your debit card in one of the many ATMs around the city. Also, don’t be surprised if your banknotes of the same denomination look different from one another. While coins are issued by the government, Hong Kong banknotes are issued by HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, and Bank of China, each with its own unique design.
Larger businesses and restaurants will accept credit cards, but most small shops and street side vendors will not. Cash is needed for these purchases. The Octopus card, the payment system for the MTR – Hong Kong’s subway system – can also be used in certain shops like convenience stores.
Hong Kong has a subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and cool, relatively dry winters. January and February are dry, but cold and cloudy. The spring months bring with them humidity and fog. June to August is hot, humid, and rainy. It is also the middle of typhoon season. The best time to visit is in October, November, or December as temperatures are comfortable and the skies are clear.
Health & Safety
Air pollution in Hong Kong is becoming a serious problem and many days have little to low visibility. The famous Hong Kong skyline is slowly being hidden behind a cloud of smog. For those with respiratory illness, this is of concern. Keep up to date on the air quality by checking out this real-time report.
Hong Kong is incredibly safe with police officers often seen patrolling. However, as with anywhere in the world, it is smart to exercise caution and use common sense when wandering the streets.
Have you been to Kowloon and Hong Kong before? Did you have any concerns before going?