Travel Tips Hong Kong 

 

You will find here some advices on :

 

How to get the most of HK ?

  • Visit HK during a festival, around Christmas or the Chinese New Year

  • Visit the HKTA's offices (Airport, Star Ferry in TST or Central) for the latest information on how to visit

  • Visit Central on Sunday, when the Philippina have their day off

  • Visit the outlying islands or Macau on weekday to avoid the crowd

  • Do not visit the Peak during poor weather (obvious ?)

  • Use the Tram to visit most of HK Island's urban area

  • Use the lower desk of the Star Ferry between Central & TST

  • Do not miss the 9pm orgasm of The Center  Building (the one with the changing lights) from TST's Waterfront Promenade

  • If in the area, the New World Center's clock in TST becomes animated and play music every half an hour

  • On weekday, from 9am to 5pm,  go to the observatory floor (46F) of Central Plaza in Wanchai, the tallest building of HK

  • Also in Wanchai, thrill yourself at Hopewell Center with the outside lift going to Revolving 66, an expensive restaurant

  • Visit Aw Boo Wan Garden (Tiger Balm Garden) before it disappears

 

How to keep your budget under control ?

  • Do not buy any guide book specific to HK but visit one of the  Hong Kong Tourist Association's offices to get free maps and information booklets about the attractions and safe shops

  • Bargain hard for your room and do not hesitate to walk away to find cheaper. Plenty of guesthouses are now half empty and the price war is fierce. You should get a discount if you stay more than 2 nights. Off course, it helps if you visit during the off season, which means any time except July to September.

  • If you wish to stay in an Hotel, book via travel agencies as they have negotiated deals : prices for mid-range hotels start at around $360 (YMCA Waterloo Rd, Imperial Hotel, New Cathay). 

  • Buy basic necessities at the supermarkets Wellcome or Park'n shop and cook in your guesthouse.

  • Drink water from the tap (usually OK but check the color and ask other travelers if you need to boil it)

  • Call home by using prepaid call cards instead of public telephones.

  • Visit the outlying islands or Macau during week days, when transportation is cheaper.

  • Check your email or surf the web free of charge at the public libraries.

  • Use your feet instead of taxi

  • Use the Star Ferry instead of the MTR to cross the Harbor (much more romantic)

  • As long as you have white skin, have fun in Wanchai discos for free (or the cost of a drink if dancing makes you thirsty)

  • Visit bar and pubs during Happy Hours (usually 4 to 8pm) to get either reduced prices or a "2-4-1" deal

  • CD, VCD or DVD are usually cheaper in small shops than in big complex like HMV

  • For magazines, buy only if interested by checking them first at Time Magazine on Nathan road

  • For souvenirs, go to Stanley Market or walk the night markets

  • If possible, do not change money at the border or at the airport

  • Banks have better exchange rates but they usually charge an handling fee. According to the amount you want to change, it might be therefore more interesting to use one of the numerous money changer around Chung King Mansion : no commission & long working hours. But compare the rates first...

  • Change Renminbi in HK rather than in China

  • For Chinese visa, go to travel agents ($130, 2 working days) but for bus, train or boat tickets to China, patronize CTS (China Travel Service)

  • Get identity photos in photos shops (20 for $70) rather than in automatic machines (4 for $35)

  • Buy only what you really need !

  • Follow the addresses of this guide but bear in mind that information is volatile and that good places can turn bad with a change of wind or a typhoon...

Backpacker's Tips :  Daniel Cooper, Australia (Jan 02)
There is heaps of work being an extra for TV, etc in HK. Best place to find out is walk into the Garden Hostel (Mirador Arcade, Kowloon) and ask the crew there.

But remember that enjoying a trip is sometimes or from time to time worth a little bit more... Backpacking is more about the bag than the money !

 

How to shop safely in HK ?

Be knowledgeable & cautious :

  • Know your product & its accessories : read magazines, visit the showroom of the distributor, check on internet,...  Be very careful with the various international standard (PAL or NTSC for video camera for example). Never let a  salesman make you change your mind for a product you never heard about. If this happen, go back to your studies...

  • Know the price :  call the TST Consumer Advice Center (2926 1088) for Agent's price list (usually 15 to 20% more than the market prices), check at Fortress (a safe but slightly more expensive place to buy), then compare in different shops. Worry about shops quoting you a very low price. This smell like there is a "Bait & Switch Tactic" waiting for you at the corner...

  • Check the warranty : a lot of goods are directly imported and therefore not covered by the HK official agent. For the usual 3 months labor international warranty, you may have to go to the distributor yourself.

  • Test the product before you buy it. If you realize back in your room that it is broken, the shop might tell you to go to the manufacturer directly. After sale service is not to be expected in HK (although it is more and more possible)

  • Inspect the box carefully : serial number, accessories, electrical connection (you may need an adaptator), etc.

  • Check carefully the receipt : make sure that anything you have agreed on is stated on it

  • If you pay by credit card, check that the voucher is properly entered. 

  • Remember that smuggling goods back home could mean trouble and that paying the additional tax would probably make your shopping experience more expensive than at home.  Check the import rules of your country. You may be allowed for a small amount of goods tax free.  


Avoid shops which :

  • Are not affiliated with the HKTA (check for the red logo), in particular in TST area (Mongkok is a relatively safer place to shop as all the products have price tags). HKTA's members are also trying to make money but are supposed to follow a code of discipline. In case of dispute, you could lodge a complaint with the association.

  • Sell goods wrapped in plastic : those are used products

  • Have a lot of staff doing nothing : if you are conned, you can be sure that by the time you come back with the police, the dishonest seller will have walked away.

  • Are not answering seriously your technical questions or make only vague answers.

  • Refuse to hand you the product for inspection.

  • Offer you a very cheap price. This smell like a bail & switch tactic...

  • Are urging you to buy. Shops which do not let you spend the night on a deal have something in their mind...


Wherever you buy :

  • Never say that you are a tourist leaving tomorrow morning by the first plane. Better to say that you are working in HK.

  • Do not buy last minute, just before leaving HK !

  • Negotiate for a discount or a gift

  • If you pay by credit card, expect to pay up to 3% more. This is supposed to be illegal but very common in HK as most of the price are "cash only"

  • Take one night to think it over... Do you really need that product after all ?


In case of trouble :

  • If the shop try a "switch product" tactic, resist & walk away. If they refuse to give you back your credit card, call the police (it is very common to see Police in TST's shops)

  • In case of dispute, always try to get some proof that you have been dealing with the shop (the receipt is good, the name card is bad)

  • Call the Consumer Council Hotline (2929 2222) for assistance

  • Remember that HK Consumer Law does very little in protecting the customer once the product has been sold and if the product description and the invoice are appropriate. If you agree to pay 3 times the normal price, this is your problem. Shops are just making business...

Anyway, enjoy your shopping !

    HK Counsumer Council

 

Backpacker's Tips : Paul Taylor, UK (August 07)
 A good place to buy cheap camera accessories is the flee market in Apliu Street, just outside the Sham Shiu Po MTR. A good place for free internet access, you still have to buy something to drink or eat is Cafe O, 284 Queens Road Central, Hong Kong island, Central MTR



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