Hong Kong Getting Prepared

Passports

You must have a valid passport to travel to Hong King.  If you already have one, please check the expiration date and ensure that it will still be valid at least six months after your last day in Hong Kong (At least through January of the following year).  If you do not have a passport or if it will expire before the above timeline, see the U.S. State Department site for directions on how to obtain one and apply immediately using their expedited service. Other nationalities must contact their respective Consulates.

Visas 

Participating in the course requires applying for a training visa. Appropriate information will be provided to accepted participants. Requirements for different nationalities vary. Make sure that you find the correct information at the Hong Kong Immigration Department web site If you plan to travel to mainland China, even the neighboring city of Shenzhen, you will need to obtain a separate visa. Contact the Chinese Consulate to find out requirements and apply with enough time.  

Banking

Remember to call your bank and tell them that you will be traveling, so that they don't block your cards for “suspicious activity”. Don't get too much cash at once. You can get what you need from an ATM, although you usually have to pay a transaction fee to your bank or the ATM bank or both. Visa and MC credit or debit cards are generally accepted in commercial locations, but a few places might accept cash only; if in doubt, ask. An additional convenience option is the Octopus Card. This works similar to Wiscard. You can add money to it  and use it instead of cash in most locations including all public transport. More on this below. The currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Dollar (1 USD = 7.76 HKD, February 2017).  

What to pack

The average high/low temperatures in Hong Kong are around 80ºF/70ºF during the month of June with average humidity of 85% and frequent rain or showers. Pack an umbrella. It's still recommended to pack a light jacket or windbreaker. Even if it unlikely that you will feel cold outdoors, most places have the air conditioning at full blast.

Computers.

Although some computers might available for use at the university library, it is highly recommended to take your own portable computer. all modern computers have switchable power so they can be charged using a simple adapter plug. Before you leave, you may want to install the VPN (Virtual Private Network) software which allows you to access resources as if you were at the University. Also configure your device to access the eduroam WiFi network. Information on how to do that can be found here

Travel

You will make your own flight arrangements.  In addition to local student agencies (including STA Travel on State Street) and online options, you may also try consolidators who offer tickets at a reduced rate, though they are usually non-refundable and dates cannot be changed: www.wholesale-flights.com. If you are not an experienced traveler it is strongly suggested that you travel with at least one other member of your student group. 

Arrival

The exchange rate from US dollars to Hong Kong dollars is approximately 7.80  You might want to make a withdrawal of at least HK$1000 as soon as you land to pay for transportation and first needs. 
Buy an Octopus card at the customer service kiosk at the airport. The price of HK$150  includes a $50 HKD refundable deposit for the card that you can get back when you leave Hong Kong, and $100 HKD of spending money.  You probably want to add value to top it off at HK$500. You use the card to pay for travel anywhere in the MTR system, vending machines within the stations, and almost any store and restaurant in the city. The card can be returned at the end of your trip to get back your unused money up to HK$500  including your $50 HKD deposit  (minus a $9 HKD handling fee)

Here is information provided by HKUST on how to get there from the airport. The simplest way to go from the airport to the university is by taxi, and it is a very competitive fare if two or more people share the ride. Available online information indicates that a taxi would charge about $380 HKD (~$50 USD) from the airport and it would take about 40 minutes. Taxis can take up to 4 passengers depending on luggage. Make sure that you use a red taxi, since those are the only ones that are allowed to service the University (Taxis accept cash only). 
Using only the MTR and public transportation system takes about 2 hours and requires a few transfers. Check the MTR Website for more information.  The cheapest fare to travel on the MTR system from the airport to the University is about $65 HKD (~$8 USD)  according to their website.

Meals

Meals are not provided by the program. There are several restaurants and cafeterias within the university. The main cafeteria opens from 7 am to 11 pm and the average meal price is $4-$6 USD

Tips from past participants

Prior participants to the program prepared a Travel Guide that you will find very useful. It includes tips on how to prepare for your trip to Hong Kong, and how to make the most of your stay there. Read it before you go, and keep it handy while you are there. 

Traveling in China
Would you like to travel outside of the summer lab dates?  Past participants strongly recommend traveling after the course rather than before, because you will then have a better sense of the language, culture, places to see, how things work and the cost of travel.  On weekends you may take day trips to visit nearby sites. Extensive traveling should be saved for after the course, to avoid interfering with your course work.

Comments