Hong Kong travel guide
About Hong Kong
Steamy and gargantuan, Hong Kong has evolved into one of Asia’s most lovable cities. Its incredible skyline – part neon, part steel-and-glass, part towering hills – is one of the most majestic in the world, but it’s a mere backdrop to the 24-hour flurry of activity that makes Hong Kong what it is.
From its boat-buzzed waterfront to its packed dim sum restaurants, its incense-smoked temples to its clattering teahouses, its street markets to its old-world hotels, Hong Kong is a destination teeming with energy. For travellers, the best advice is to go with the flow.
Situated at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta on China’s southwestern coast, Hong Kong is a city that has a remarkable mix of Eastern and Western influences. The handover of this territory from Britain to China was back in 1997, but the centuries of British rule still have a lasting legacy, tangible in everything from the grand period architecture to the local passion for horse-racing.
Even the name of Hong Kong’s centrepiece – the iconic Victoria Harbour – harks back to another era, and today there’s an international flavour to the destination that sets it apart from other Chinese cities. The gastronomy, nightlife and shopping are all world-class.
Hong Kong Island, with its glistening skyscrapers and high-end shopping malls, is in many ways the heartbeat of the city. Get down to street level, however, and the laneways, wet markets and traditional Chinese haunts are a reminder that beyond the city lies a working class populace still making ends meet the old fashioned way – and often the hard way.
It’s also worth remembering, of course, that there’s far more to Hong Kong than the city itself. Its natural attractions include hiker-friendly ranges, volcanic landscapes, pristine woodlands, sleepy islands, protected marine parks and miles of golden beaches.
1,104 sq km (426 sq miles).
7,346,248 (UN estimate 2016).
6,468.4 per sq km.
Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.
President of China Xi Jinping since 2013.
Chief Executive John Lee since 2022.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Dual Chinese-British nationality
Hong Kong does not recognise dual nationality. If you have both British and Chinese nationality, you may be treated as a Chinese citizen by local authorities, even if you enter Hong Kong on your British passport. If this is the case, the British Consulate-General may not be able to offer you consular help.
If you have formally renounced Chinese citizenship, carry evidence that you have done so.
See guidance on nationality in China.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Hong Kong set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact Hong Kong’s Economic and Trade Office in the UK.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Hong Kong.
You may have to pass a temperature check when you arrive.
Passport validity requirements
Your passport must be valid for at least one month after the date you plan to leave Hong Kong.
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
Hong Kong is part of the People’s Republic of China, but it is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) with its own immigration controls.
You can visit Hong Kong for up to 6 months without a visa. For information on entry requirements see the Hong Kong SAR government website.
To stay longer (to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons) you must get a visa. For further information contact the nearest Chinese mission with visa issuing facilities or the Hong Kong Immigration Department.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Hong Kong guide.
Depending on your circumstances, this may include a yellow fever certificate.
There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Hong Kong.
You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty. Children aged 3 and over must follow the same rules as adult travellers unless otherwise stated.
Bringing restricted items into Hong Kong
It’s illegal for visitors arriving in Hong Kong International Airport to carry items including:
- stun guns
- objects with sharp points or edges (for example, samurai swords)
- martial arts equipment (for example, knuckledusters)
You could be fined or given a prison sentence. See further information from the Hong Kong Police Force.
It’s illegal to bring electronic cigarettes or other smoking products, such as heated tobacco products and herbal cigarettes, into Hong Kong. If you are travelling through Hong Kong and do not pass immigration control, you’re exempt. See further information from the Hong Kong Police Force.
Powdered baby formula
There are restrictions on the amount of powdered baby formula allowed to be taken out of Hong Kong. If you do not follow the rules, you could face a fine or imprisonment for up to 2 years.
See more information, including exemptions, from the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Hong Kong
Terrorist attacks in Hong Kong cannot be ruled out.
Protests and civil unrest
Between 2019 and 2020, large-scale political demonstrations took place in Hong Kong, including popular tourist areas. There were some violent clashes between police and protesters.
Protests are rare but could take place at any time. If you are near a demonstration, follow the advice of local authorities and move away to a safe place.
Protecting your belongings
Violent crime is low but pickpocketing and other street crime can happen. Take extra care of passports, credit cards and money in crowded areas and when checking in and out of hotels.
If you plan to hike in Hong Kong’s country parks, stay on the marked trails and do not carry valuables.
Personal attacks, including sexual assaults, are rare but do happen, including by drink spiking. Do not leave drinks unattended and do not accept drinks from strangers. Women travelling alone, or with other females, could be at greater risk. See advice for women travelling abroad.
Laws and cultural differences
National Security Law
The 2020 National Security Law (NSL) includes offences, such as:
- organisation and perpetration of terrorist activities
- collusion with a foreign country
The law can be interpreted broadly and offences can lead to a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Individuals and organisations can be prosecuted.
The NSL applies to activities taking place inside and outside Hong Kong, including in the UK. The NSL applies to all individuals regardless of nationality or residency. Hong Kong’s National Security Police have issued arrest warrants and financial rewards against individuals living outside Hong Kong, including in the UK.
You could be detained or removed to mainland China for some offences under the NSL.
Criticising the government
Some people have been prosecuted for publishing or supporting statements that are critical of the Hong Kong or Chinese authorities, including online. You could also be prosecuted for supporting individuals who are considered to be breaking the NSL.
The Immigration (Amendment) Ordinance came in force in 2021. Under this law, people could be stopped from leaving the Hong Kong SAR. However, the Hong Kong SAR Government has said that these powers will only be used to stop certain asylum seekers from entering Hong Kong.
You can be fined on the spot for littering and spitting.
Wildlife, animal products and souvenirs
The import and re-export of all elephant ivory and its products, including tourist souvenirs, is illegal. You could be fined or given a prison sentence.
Illegal drugs and prison sentences
Do not become involved with illegal drugs of any kind. This includes cannabidiol (CBD). Possession of drugs can lead to a prison sentence.
Using cameras in secure areas
Do not take photographs of military installations.
If you are visiting, you can drive in Hong Kong with a valid UK driving licence for up to 12 months.
If you are living in Hong Kong, see the Hong Kong SAR Transport Department for information on applying for a full or temporary driving licence.
Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as a year of driving experience, a higher minimum age and holding an international driving permit. Check requirements with the car hire company before you travel.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
See extreme weather and natural hazards for information about how to prepare, and how to react if there is a warning.
Typhoon season runs from April to October in Hong Kong and may cause flooding and landslides. Follow any local warnings issued in advance. Public offices will shut down when there is ‘Typhoon 8’ storm signal.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on vaccination recommendations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Hong Kong guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in Hong Kong
FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Hong Kong.
There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Hong Kong.
Medical treatment is expensive in Hong Kong. You can only get prescribed medication through a doctor, unless your UK prescription specifically says the medication will be required in Hong Kong.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Hong Kong
Telephone: 999 (ambulance, fire, police)
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers, funeral directors and translators and interpreters in Hong Kong
- dealing with a death in Hong Kong
- being arrested or imprisoned in Hong Kong
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
Help abroad in an emergency
If you’re in Hong Kong and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Consulate-General.
You can also contact FCDO online.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)
Risk information for British companies
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.