Hong Kong Region Guide

Hong Kong Region Guide

China's special administrative region

Overview

Hong Kong is located in Eastern Asia, on the South China Sea bordering China.

Hong Kong ’s climate is tropical monsoon; cool and humid in winter, hot and rainy from spring through summer, warm and sunny in fall. The terrain is hilly to mountainous with steep slopes; lowlands in the north.

Hong Kong is an exciting and fascinating place, with many of the comforts of home. Its dynamic East-meets-West atmosphere means you can go to exotic markets for dinner ingredients or find comfort food at an American-style eatery. It’s extremely easy to navigate, with a superior public transportation system. It is busy, vibrant; around every corner there’s a new spectacle to behold. And the students are a dream—education and teachers are highly respected, and students tend to be extremely well behaved.

Occupied by the UK in 1841, Hong Kong was formally ceded by China the following year; various adjacent lands were added later in the 19th century. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and the UK on 19 December 1984, Hong Kong became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 1 July 1997. In this agreement, China has promised that, under its "one country, two systems" formula, China's socialist economic system will not be imposed on Hong Kong and that Hong Kong will enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the next 50 years.

Living

  • Population: 6.7 million
  • Time Zone: GMT/UTC +8 (Hong Kong Standard Time), +7 during summer months.
  • Telephone Area Code: 852

Money

Currency

The currency of Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Dollar. (Currency code: HKD)

Denominations

  • Notes: HK$10, HK$20, HK$50, HK$100, HK$500, HK$1000
  • Coins: 5 cents (rarely seen or used but still legal tender); 10 cents; 20 cents (scalloped edge); 50 cents (all these are bronze, when new look like "gold coins");
  • $1, $2 (scalloped edge); $5 (these are "silver") and $10 ("silver outer rim with a bronze center").

Visas

Entry visas are generally freely given on arrival at Hong Kong International Airport, and visas to enter China can be obtained in Hong Kong (but take around 3 days for processing). Work permits should be arranged by the school/institution which employs you.

Accommodation

Short term

  • Budget: HK$100 – 400 (Most of these are around the Tsimshatsui area. If you are desperate for somewhere cheap, the most likely option is the infamous Chunking Mansion on Nathan Road. Other options are the youth hostels which are cheap and reliable).
  • Low end: HK$500-1500
  • Mid-range: HK$1500-2000 (although these hotels are much cheaper out of season)
  • High-end: HK$2000-3000
  • Luxury: HK$3000 and up.

Long term

The Asian financial crisis, from which Hong Kong has never fully recovered, combined with the severe economic damage caused by SARS, means prices have gone down considerably, making it more affordable to live.

Schools sometimes offer accommodation in the package, which is an added bonus, but tales abound of teachers being left in slum-like squalor. A very simple solution to the accommodation problem would be to use agents like rent-a-room (www.rentaroomhk.com) which offers decent accommodation for as little as US$350 a month on short leases. That would provide a decent base from which to start looking around for something more permanent.

Serviced apartments usually start at around HK$15000 a month, although cheaper options are available in the New Territories.

Smaller apartments (around 500 sq/ft) cost around HK$7000. These apartments were originally designed as a 2-room - very small rooms. So perhaps 2 can share an apartment. Transportation is no problem at all, to anywhere. The locals pay much attention to the direction an apartment faces. Similar apartments in quality, size etc will cost MUCH more when facing East, South-east or South. This is part of the fung-shui principle.

Most apartments in HK are let unfurnished although if one prefers, one can always rent what is called 'service apartments’.

Teaching

Hong Kong has some of the highest wages for English teachers in Asia. Part-time teaching can bring US$30-US$50 per hour. Full-time jobs in a center can run around $2,000 per month. Kindergarten teachers can net over US$1,800 per month. English teachers brought in as part of the government’s English program start at US$4,000 plus room and board. International school teaching, which may or may not require teaching credentials but does require a Bachelors degree, starts at US$2,300 at the low end and averages around US$4,000 per month. Many international schools also supply housing or a housing stipend. Standard hourly rates are around HK$500.

Tourism

Public Holidays 2005
1 Jan - New Year's Day
9-11 February - Chinese New Year
25 March – Good Friday

28 March – Easter Monday

2 April – Labour Day (additional holiday)

16 May – Buddha’s Birthday (additional holiday)

11 June – Tuen Ng Festival
1 Jul - Hong Kong SAR Establishment Day
19 September – Mid Autumn Festival (Lantern Festival)
1 October – National Day

11 October - Cheung Yueng
25 Dec - Christmas Day
26 Dec - Boxing Day

Hong Kong is made up of a scattering of Islands around the Kowloon Peninsula which connects to mainland China. Hong Kong island is where it all seems to happen – tall skyscrapers, lots of busy hard working people and endless amounts of money. Check out the Central Market, the Zoo, and Man Mo temple and the 800m outdoor escalator down to the harbour. Aberdeen Harbour holds the delight of countless Chinese junks, have a tour or eat on one of the floating restaurants. Beaches like Stanley and Repulse Bay on the southern side of the island are attractive, though often busy.

Kowloon is a great shopping district and the night life happens here too. There is a lively night market on Temple Street, and you could pay a visit to the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and the Space Museum. The Promenade has lovely views of Victoria Harbour, especially in the evening.

Don’t miss the majestic views from the top of Victoria peak – and see the whole world. Although the new Territories is mostly dedicated to accommodation, the Sai Kung Peninsula is a pleasant break for hikers and boaters. There are plenty of other green spots here worth investigating if you find yourself tired of the human crush.

There are over 200 islands that make up Hong Kong and many of them are unspoilt. Lantau Island houses some fascinating monasteries, and Cheung Chau is making a name for itself as a tourist desitation.

And don’t forget, it’s just a hop away to the rest of China. But that is another entire website!