In this section we cover basic safety and health concerns when travelling to Hong Kong and the precautions you should take to make sure your trip is a healthy and enjoyable one. We cover some of the most frequently asked questions such as
There are no required vaccinations for travellers to Hong Kong. However, it is a good idea to make sure that everybody's routine vaccinations are up to date. That includes Tetanus, Diphteria (DTaP), measles (MMR), polio, hepatitis B, Varicella and influenza.
Also, although not required, some vaccines are recommended for travel to Hong Kong. Our doctor recommended Hepatitis A and Typhoid. These are illnesses associated with food and water contamination. Specially if you will be eating at street stalls, staying with relatives or travelling to remote areas in the countryside, the Center for Disease Control recommends both of these.
Rabies is not a problem in Hong Kong and not present in dogs; however, it is present in bats. If there is a chance you will be engaging in any activities where you might be exposed to bats, i.e. caving, then getting the rabies shot is highly recommended.
Make sure to consult with your doctor, and the Center for Disease Control website for the latest recommendations and status of any outbreaks or travel notices in effect you might need to be aware of.
According to the Water Supplies Department, Hong Kong enjoys one of the safest water supplies in the world. However, even though the water itself might be free of contaminants, the plumbing in some parts of the city and buildings is old with unlined galvanised steel pipes that are prone to rusting. These pipes have been banned in new constructions since 1995, but some of the old plumbing is still present, and in these cases, the perfectly safe water running through the rusted pipes might not be that safe after all, not for drinking or even brushing your teeth.
First clue that you should stay away from the tap water at your hotel, will be a little sign by the sink or faucet indicating that the water is not safe, like this one:
Many locals will tell you it is perfectly ok to drink the water, but like mentioned before, it really depends on the pipes the water ran through, we personally prefer to err on the side of caution:
Here's the official stand on water quality in Hong Kong by the Water Supplies Department of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
All travel involves some risk of getting some sort of stomach ailment, and in fact this is the most common complaint of the tourist and can happen anywhere in the world even in the most plush of restaurants/hotels, so eating in the "sanitized" tourist places might not necessarily save you from this common malady.
Being cautious should not prevent you from trying some of Hong Kong's best food experiences in the Dai Pai Dongs and street food hawkers. Their sizzling dishes, clatter, aromas and fresh offerings at any time of the day or night are certainly one of the things you ought to try at least once during your stay.
Here are some precautions to follow when it comes to food safety, whether on the streets or some five-star hotel buffett:
Air pollution and constant smog in Hong Kong is a problem although not as severe as in some Mainland Chinese cities, you certainly need to be aware of the effects the poor air quality might cause.
The government has launched a pollution monitoring system which rates the air quality on a scale from 1 (good) to 10 (bad). When pollution levels reach potentially hazardous levels, the public is advised to reduce outdoor physical activities and out of heavy traffic areas.
You can track it in real time here: Hong Kong Air Quality Health Index.
Index or no index, when pollution is bad you will definitely feel it. The thick smog from the heavy traffic stings your eyes and makes you tired. You will notice people wearing masks when levels of pollution reach extreme levels.
Visitors not used to this high degree of contamination and unclean air are often affected.
The first couple of days might be a bit challenging, specially if you might also be dealing with jet lag and the effects of the time difference.
Try to keep a slower pace and stay hydrated. You might experience the effects of the poor air quality in different ways:
Hong Kong has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. We have never felt threatened in Hong Kong in any way.
There is always people walking about at all hours.
Uniformed police officers are always present and most speak English in varying degrees (English-speaking officers wear a red label under their shoulder badge)
That being said, you need to be careful and use your common sense just as you would anywhere else and protect yourself from being a victim of a petty crime or worse.
Thank you for visiting www.hong-kong-traveller.com!
Here is to a wonderful Hong Kong travel experience!
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