As a frequent flyer, there is a fixed set of questions I ask my best friend, Google, before I head out to a place I’ve never been to. For first-time visitors to Hong Kong, here are my answers so you don’t have to search for them one by one. I hope you find them useful and they will make your trip much easier and more enjoyable.
1. Where should I get mobile data sim?
Mobile data is very affordable in Hong Kong. For less than 9 USD, you can get at least 1.5GB data for 5-day use. For this reason, I always recommend my friends from abroad to get a data sim instead of WiFi egg. WiFi egg could be slightly cheaper if you come in big groups but it limits your flexibility as you always have to stay with the group (or at least the person carrying the egg) to stay connected to your social network. If one of you get lost, that person can’t possibly message you without the Internet connection. It also means that you will have to carry the egg and a portable charger for the egg. To me, that’s honestly too much work.
There is a 1010 store (operated by CSL – one of the largest telecommunications service providers in Hong Kong) at the arrival hall next to 7-11. The 1010 store will be a better choice if you are not sure which data package suits you most or are less familiar with how to change your phone SIM card. Staff at the 1010 store will be happy to assist and they can set up your phone for you straightaway.
Local tip: If you are confident you can survive without data before you reach your hotel, order your data SIM online ahead of time and ship it to your hotel. You can get a better deal by buying data SIM online, from the Data SIM Store. It’s about 30% less than what you get from 7-11 or telecoms shops in Hong Kong.
2. What is Octopus card and where can I buy an Octopus card?
An Octopus card is a prepaid electronic payment card for public transport, shopping and more! You can use the card to pay for airport express to the city center, MTR, buses, ferries and even our traditional trams. It can also be used to settle payment at convenience stores, shops, fast-food restaurants and so on. This is a must-have item if you’re traveling around Hong Kong.
Buy at the Airport
You can purchase a Sold Tourist Octopus at the following stores within the Hong Kong International Airport on arrival:
- China Travel Service (Counter A4, Arrival Hall, Terminal 1)
- 7-Eleven (Unit 5T058, Arrivals Meeters & Greeters Hall, or any 7-Eleven outlets)
For more ways to buy an Octopus card, visit their company webpage.
Local tip: The Sold Tourist Octopus card is priced at 39 HKD (~ 5 USD) without initial stored value and no deposit is required. Remaining value can be refunded but the Octopus will be deactivated. If you are not too interested in keeping the card as a souvenir, you may consider purchasing one of the Octopus Ornaments, which may be a better option if you are into cartoon characters.
3. How to get to the city center of Hong Kong?
The fastest way is probably by the Airport Express, it takes you 22 and 24 minutes to get to Kowloon and Hong Kong stations respectively.
To/From Hong Kong Island:
- First train: 5:50 am
- Last train: 0:48 am
- Frequency: 12 min
- Duration: 24 min
- First train: 5:53 am
- Last train: 0:52 am
- Frequency: 12 min
- Duration: 22 min
There are buses to the city center at the bus terminal outside of the Hong Kong airport but it will take you 40-60minutes if you travel by bus. Of course, you always have the option to take a taxi. (Do note that Uber is not officially legal in Hong Kong and it can be more expensive than riding a taxi.)
Local tip: Purchase Airport Express ticket online 2 hours before your departure from Klook here and you can enjoy over 30% off the regular price. You can get through the gate simply by scanning the QR code you receive after paying online with your credit card.
4. Is tipping required in Hong Kong?
No. Unlike the US or European countries, voluntary tipping is appreciated but not required. If service fee is required, restaurants will include the service charge (usually 10-15% of your total spending) on the bill you get, there is no need to give extra tips (although it will be much appreciated). Just pay the amount stated on the bill!
Local tip: If you do find service by a particular waiter or waitress really good, you may tip him or her with cash. Tipping on the credit card bill doesn’t really benefit the waiter or waitress. 20-50 HKD is considered generous tip and I would recommend tipping before they serve dessert at a Chinese restaurant.
5. Do I need a power plug adapter or power converter for Hong Kong?
Electricity in Hong Kong is 220V AC, with a frequency of 50hz and majority of electrical outlets in Hong Kong uses a three-pronged UK-style plug.
Local tip: You may need a transformer for any appliance or electrical equipment, buy an inexpensive adaptor from convenience store near your hotel. My personal favourite universal adaptor is the Verbatim Universal Travel Adapter.
Now that you know the basics of Hong Kong, you can start planning your trip here! Vsitter, the automatic personalized travel planner helps you explore the city based on your travel preferences. Just fill in your travel details and preference, with several taps, a personalized itinerary will be generated automatically in a few seconds! Try it, it’s free.