Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media

Planning

Entry Requirements: A passport valid for at least another 6 months, and for some nationalities, a visa. U.S. citizens can stay up to 90 days without a visa.

Time: 13 hours ahead of U.S. eastern standard time.

Money: The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 7.8 to 1. For quick conversions when out shopping or dining, divide the Hong Kong amount by 8. Neighboring Macau and Shenzhen have their own currencies but many tourist-heavy places just over the border will accept Hong Kong dollars.

Phone Calls: Local directory assistance is 1081. Emergency is 999. Standard phone numbers in Hong Kong are 8-digit. No need to dial the city code, 852, if you are in the city. The biggest cell phone networks are on the GSM standard; inexpensive temporary SIM cards can be bought at convenience stores and phone shops.

When to Go: Peak summer months (mid-June through mid-September) are hot and humid.  November through April has comfortable temperatures, from 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (14 to 25 degrees Celsius).

Getting There: Hong Kong International Airport is connected to over 150 cities through 800 flights a day.

Getting Around: The fastest way to get into town from the airport is the Airport Express train, which begins just outside the baggage pickup area. For shorter stays, ask station attendants about farecards for travelers. If staying more than four days, consider getting an Octopus stored value card that can be used on MTR underground railway and many other systems, including minibuses and ferries, as well as at some convenience stores and cafes.

Checklist

Passport/Visa: Visitors need a passport that is valid for at least six months. A number of countries have visa-free privileges for entry into Hong Kong, but time limits vary, so check this list: www.immd.gov.hk/ehtml/hkvisas_4.htm. Separate visa arrangements are necessary for crossing the border into mainland China, though entry into neighboring Macau is visa-free for most nationalities.

Climate: Hong Kong is in a subtropical zone, and the weather can change quickly, though it is generally cool and dry from December through February, and hot and humid from April through September. Monsoons and tropical storms do affect the surrounding area. Check the Hong Kong Observatory's website. www.hko.gov.hk

Immunizations: No proof is required for entry, though those traveling on to other parts of Asia should check requirements for their final destinations. www.welltogo.com.au

Insect Repellent: Mosquitoes are a bother most of the year in outlying districts close to water and/or heavy vegetation. Malaria is not a concern in Hong Kong, but dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis do occur. Most convenience stores and pharmacies sell insect repellent sprays and patches.

Hiking Gear: Bring sensible, non-slip shoes. The city is mostly flat but there are older areas with cobblestone steps and hilly terrain, both of which can become slippery during rainy weather. Most of Hong Kong's hiking trails are well-paved. Carry sunscreen.

Toiletries: Many products can be found at the city's two big pharmacy chains, numerous department stores, and neighborhood shops. For departure from Hong Kong, note that there are rules on carry-on liquids and aerosols. For details, see www.hongkongairport.com/eng/tbu/security.htm#new_rule.

Attire: Weather in Hong Kong ranges from cool to hot, but the air conditioning in some restaurants, concert halls, and theaters is downright cold. Wear multiple light layers of clothing so that you can easily adjust to your surroundings.

Voltage Converter: Hong Kong electricity is 220 volts, so a converter will be needed to protect computers and appliances that are set to operate on lower-voltage currents. Try www.globalsources.com/manufacturers/Voltage-Converter.html.

Web Links

Hong Kong Tourism Board

General information at www.discoverhongkong.com, but the gem of the site is the listing of the board's free talks, walks, and cultural tours. www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/heritage/ck/index.jhtml

Star Ferry Harbor Tour

Schedules and prices for around-the-harbor tickets. www.starferry.com.hk/harbourtour/en_fare.asp

Hong Kong Street Map

Detailed maps of most places in the city, searchable by street and building names. www.ypmap.com/en/viewer.asp?mapService=LocationMap

Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Information about a government-run museum specializing in local culture. http://www.heritagemuseum.gov.hk/eng/attractions/attractions.aspx

Holistic Hong Kong

A link to the health-conscious and New-Age scenes in Hong Kong. www.holistichongkong.com

Lammazine

An online magazine dedicated to life on the outlying island of Lamma. www.lamma.com.hk

CheungChauHK

What to do on the island of Cheung Chau. www.cheungchauhk.com

Jason's Walks

Local historian and author offers tours with an emphasis on Hong Kong's rich past. www.jasonswalks.com

Dim Sum and Then Some

Where to dine and shop. www.dimsumandthensome.com.hk

Urbtix and HKticketing

Centralized information and online ticketing for many cultural events happening in Hong Kong. urbtix.cityline.com.hk and www.hkticketing.com

Local Media

HK Magazine

Free English-language weekly ubiquitous in the areas with large non-Chinese populations: Central/Soho/Midlevels, Wan Chai, Tsimshatsui. Useful for listings and restaurant reviews. Print only.

bc Magazine

Free monthly with listings of events and local information. www.hk.bcmagazine.net

The Standard

Tabloid-size newspaper that comes out on the weekdays and Saturdays. Includes news and features. www.thestandard.com.hk

The South China Morning Post

Daily broadsheet that competes with The Standard, though it has a bigger circulation and deeper pockets for coverage. Web site articles are subscription-only. www.scmp.com

RTHK

Radio Television Hong Kong broadcasts in English as well as Chinese. www.rthk.org.hk/index_eng.htm

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