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visiting hong kong

Visiting Hong Kong: everything you need to know

I have a love-hate relationship with cities. Sometimes, actually most times, cities are too much. On the other hand, they stir my mind in the craziest of ways. I live for architecture and art, which is what most cities provide. That out of the way, Hong Kong remains one of my favourite cities. It is an autonomous territory that has many differences from China. One of the most popular questions when it comes to Hong Kong is whether it is part of China. Yes and no. Hong Kongers do consider themselves to be Chinese, but they do not think of themselves as being part of China.

Hong Kong has its own flag, currency, passport, and legal system. Their self-government is very limited, an issue that is constantly a cause of conflict between Hong Kong and Beijing. Politics. Of importance to note is that Hong Kong has different passport control and immigration laws. While Hong Kong allows visitors from different countries to enter into the country without visas, the Chinese require many passport holders to apply for visas before traveling.

For Kenyan citizens, Hong Kong allows one visa on arrival. To visit China, Kenyans should make sure they make their application before confirming their trip.

Guys actually requested for this post, so I’ll give as much info on visiting Hong Kong as is possible.

Visiting Hong Kong as a Kenyan citizen is not difficult, given comparisons may be made to countries that require one to prove both their kidneys are working before traveling. It’s always a relief to have a country that allows us visa on arrival or at least one that has a less gruelling visa application process.

Before visiting Hong Kong as a Kenyan citizen please have the following in mind:

  • Chances are very high that they will take you to the interview room. They said visa on arrival, not that you would have it easy
    😕 I spent almost 2 hours in there being asked all manner of questions. If you’re a girl traveling alone they’d want to know what you’re doing traveling alone, “when do you work given all the stamps on your passport”, “who pays for your trips”… you know, all the “normal questions”. They even created a hotspot for me to login into my bank and social media pages. Again, no one said it would be easy.
  • Kenyans are allowed 90 days visa-free days in Hong Kong.
  • Have a considerable amount of dollars with you. Saying you have money in your account and that you’ll use the ATM once they let you past immigration won’t suffice.
  • Have a flight booked out of the country. The flight guys won’t allow you to board a flight to Hong Kong without it. The immigration guys in Hong Kong will also ask to see proof that you will be out of the country before your visa expires.
  • Have confirmed hotel/hostel bookings. Airbnb is illegal in Hong Kong. You’ll find many listings on the site but that does not make it any more legal.
  • Have an itinerary of all the places you hope to visit and also activities you will engage in. They need to know you’re not going there to cause trouble. I know how that sounds to guys like me who barely make any plans. What to do?!
  • You will have fun in Hong Kong
    😎

Hong Kong Travel Tips

Now that you’re past immigration, here are some tips for anyone visiting Hong Kong:

Get an octopus card

visiting hong kong

An octopus card is like a prepaid debit card that works pretty much everywhere in Hong Kong. This card will make your life when visiting Hong Kong very easy. An octopus card can be used at:

  • Peak tram
  • All MTR stations
  • Star Ferry
  • Mc Donald’s
  • 7-Eleven

Get an octopus card at the Airport express station before leaving the airport. An On-Loan octopus card is available for tourists. There is a $50 HKD refundable fee tied to the card. When leaving the country, one has their cash refunded after giving back the card. I went with the “regular” one cuz I wanted to keep mine as a souvenir. The card may be recharged at all MTR stations and 7-Eleven stores. You save quite a bit using the card as compared to when one uses in Hong Kong.

Take the Airport Express

Hong Kong has one of the most organized transport systems in the world. It is very easy to go everywhere. Use the airport express to connect from the airport to Hong Kong island and Kowloon – it takes about 24 minutes.

Klook allows one to purchase their tickets online, avoiding the queues at the airport. It is also cheaper than getting tickets at the airport.

You may also take the bus from the airport to pretty much everywhere in Hong Kong.

Download the KMB bus and citymapper apps 

These are some of the most useful apps I have come across in my life. I have never relied on maps and apps as much as I did when visiting Hong Kong. Trust me, you’ll need them. They are very accurate. The KMB bus app will give you a schedule of all the buses in Hong Kong. With the citymapper app, you will know how best to connect from one place to the other.

Bonus tip: Moovit works just as great.

Power Plugs 

When visiting Hong Kong, keep in mind that the sockets and power plugs used are type D and G. Electronics are cheap in Hong Kong so getting a great bargain on them should you not have the specified types should be relatively easy.

Regular taxis over Uber

In many other cities, Uber (and other similar companies) are the real deal where saving costs is concerned. Not in Hong Kong. Do not be afraid to hop on a taxi. They are metred so there’s no chance of being overcharged – unless, of course, they use a longer route.

Finally

Now that you know all that about getting ready for your Hong Kong trip, what do you feel about a post that gives a detailed itinerary on things to do in Hong Kong? Bet you’d like that which is why that will be the next post.

Cheers to cityscapes!

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