Currency

Hong Kong dollar (HK$)

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than HK$800

  • Guesthouse or dorm bed: HK$180–450
  • Meals at a cha chaan tang (teahouse) or dai pai dong (food stall): HK$60–150
  • Museums (free); night markets (free); horse races (HK$10)
  • Bus, tram, ferry ticket: HK$2.60–15

Midrange: HK$800–2500

  • Double room in a hostel or budget hotel: HK$450–1100
  • Chinese dinner with three dishes: HK$300
  • Drinks and live music: HK$500

Top end: More than HK$2500

  • Double room in a boutique or four-star hotel: HK$2200
  • Dinner at a top Chinese restaurant: from HK$800
  • Cantonese opera ticket: HK$200

Bargaining

Haggling is standard procedure in markets and shops (outside of department stores and malls) where prices are not clearly marked. There's no harm in coming in really low, but remain polite at all times. In touristy markets in Shànghǎi and Běijīng, vendors can drop as low as 25% of the original price.

Money

The local currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HK$). ATMs are widely available; international debit/credit cards are accepted in most places except budget Cantonese restaurants.

ATMs

  • Most ATMs are linked up to international money systems such as Cirrus, Maestro, Plus and Visa Electron.
  • Withdrawal fees will typically be between HK$20 and HK$50 per transaction, and the local ATM provider may levy an extra surcharge.
  • American Express (Amex) cardholders can withdraw cash from AEON ATMs in Hong Kong if you have signed up to Amex's Express Cash service before arrival.

Changing Money

The local currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HK$). Hong Kong has no currency controls; locals and foreigners can bring, send in or take out as much money as they like. No foreign-currency black market exists in Hong Kong; if anyone on the street does approach you to change money, assume it’s a scam.

Moneychangers Licensed moneychangers, such as Chequepoint, abound in touristed areas such as Tsim Sha Tsui and Central. While they are convenient (usually open on Sundays, holidays and late into the evenings) and take no commission per se, the less-than-attractive exchange rates offered are equivalent to a 5% commission. These rates are clearly posted, though if you’re changing several hundred US dollars or more you might be able to bargain for a better rate. Before the actual exchange is made, the moneychanger is required by law to give you a form to sign that clearly shows the amount due to you, the exchange rate and any service charges. Try to avoid the exchange counters at the airport or in hotels, which offer some of the worst rates in Hong Kong.

Credit Cards

  • Credit (and debit) cards are widely used in midrange to upmarket shops, restaurants and bars, and it is safe to pay with them.
  • The most widely accepted cards are Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Diners Club and JCB – pretty much in that order. It may be an idea to carry two, just in case.
  • Note that transactions using an international credit or debit card will incur a handling fee from your home bank.

Tipping

  • Hotels A HK$10 or HK$20 note for the porter at luxury hotels; gratuity for cleaning staff at your discretion.
  • Restaurants Most eateries, except very cheap places, impose a 10% to 15% service charge. At budget joints, just rounding off to the nearest HK$10 is fine.
  • Bars and cafes Not expected unless table service is provided, in which case 10% will often be automatically added to your bill.
  • Taxis Tips are never expected, but many people leave the small change.

Travellers Cheques

Travellers cheques offer protection from theft but are becoming less common due to the preponderance of ATMs and are increasingly difficult to cash.