Travelers’ Tips for Managing Money in Hong Kong

in Hong Kong

piggybankworld-116x1161Hong Kong is a tourist mecca, with visitors from around the world lured by the bargain shopping, buzzing nightlife, and delectable cuisine. But it can be confronting at first for foreign travelers with little concept of the country’s money.

Hong Kong may be famous for its economical shopping options, but a stay in the Asian nation can be pricey. Accommodation is a large expense, and drinking in those famous bars isn’t cheap either.

Tourists should expect to spend roughly HK$600 a day if staying in midrange hotels and eating average meals.

There are a few areas where tourists can save money though. Hong Kong’s transport system makes getting around affordable with its inexpensive taxis and public transport options. Hong Kong also enjoys no sales tax, adding to its allure for serious shoppers. While tipping is practiced in Hong Kong, the rules are not as strict as some countries such as the United States. There is no obligation to tip taxi drivers or bellboys, although if service is exceptional a small gratuity can be given. Most restaurants automatically add a 10% service charge, but diners may choose to add an additional tip. If a service charge is not applied, a 10% tip is customary.

Automated Teller Machines, or ATMs, can be found almost everywhere in Hong Kong. Most are linked to international systems including Cirrus, Maestro, and Visa Electron. Some also allow Visa and MasterCard holders to withdraw money, although tourists using this service should beware of high processing fees and interest charges.

Unlike many tourist destinations, Hong Kong has no currency controls. Visitors can enter and leave the Asian nation with as much cash as they like. Hong Kong banks generally offer the best rates for transferring foreign currencies, although travelers should be mindful of additional fees. Some banks charge non-account holders hefty commissions on each transaction. While this fee can be worthwhile if you’re converting a large quantity of money, it’s not practical for small amounts. Here a better option is a licensed moneychanger, such as Chequepoint. While these organizations do not charge a commission, their exchange rates are less attractive than the banks. These rates are clearly posted so travelers can make an informed choice. The exchange counters at airports and hotels generally give the worst exchange rates in Hong Kong.

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