HONG KONG FIRST TIME TRAVELLER GUIDE When you heard Hong Kong, what comes to your mind? Is it Ocean Park, Disneyland, Sumptuous Dimsum? Or what? I guess, all of the above. When my then boyfriend turned out my husband asked me what I would like to receive from him since it was Christmas, then I guess a Hong Kong vacation was not too bad to ask. Since I have been already to different theme parks here in the Philippines like Star City and Enchanted Kingdom so I was wondering how it is like to be in the world’s renowned DISNEYLAND RESORT? Is it twice the fun? Will I bring out more the childish or child-like attitude in me when I am already there? Well, I was so glad and blessed that he agreed to have a vacation instead since he wanted to go to Disneyland too. So what are the things you need to do especially if you are a first timer on travelling abroad or first timer to Hong Kong. This country is in Asia-Pacific and this is one of the countries that Filipino can go to without having a visa. I will share some things that you need to prepare and do so you will enjoy a hassle-free vacation. Check these things below: 1. VALID PASSPORT. This is a primary document you need to have since you can not go to any country without this. The validity of your passport should be six (6) months prior your scheduled vacation. 2. TRAVEL AGENCY. Since it will be your first time, a help from travel agency will do to iron out things and prepare the necessary hotel and flight bookings. Good thing about travel agency is that they will provide you the tourist guide when you are there. So your tour is scheduled and you can visit Hong Kong’s primary tourist spots within a time frame. It’s quite expensive but I guess it is worth it. You don’t need to cram or confuse on what place to visit, your guide will help you on that. 3. WATCH OUT FOR PROMO. When you plan to book your vacation through promo ads, you need to ask the details of the promo being advertise since there is always a catch as part of the marketing strategy. Usually, travel agency advertisement about lowest package deal to Hong Kong for 3 days and 2 nights but sometimes it does not include plane fare and airline tax. So, if you already selected an agency to handle your vacation get-away better ask them other options. Or you can tell them your budget so they will be the one to look for promo within your budget. Just to give you an idea, just budget your money ranging from twenty-five thousand to thirty- five thousand (P25,000 to P35, 000) will do. This budget is good for two which includes hotel with breakfast, plane tickets, tour and other fees. 4. AIRPORT. Go to the airport 3 hours prior to your flight because you need to pass different section prior to boarding. CHECK-IN COUNTER – check in your luggage to your assigned counter. Counter has signage on top, so you can check that it’s your assigned counter by comparing to your ticket on flight details. Check your airline carrier for maximum allowance of baggage to hand carry and to check in. While falling in line to the counter, an officer will give a small immigration form. You need to fill it out and present it to the immigration officer later. This form has to copies. Give one copy to the immigration officer here in the Philippines. And the other copy to the officer in Hong Kong PAY YOUR TRAVEL TAX- This is another counter few step from check in counter. If you can not find it you can ask any airport officer or the person in the counter as to where to the counter for paying travel tax. You can actually pay your travel tax first before checking in your luggage or vice versa. TERMINAL FEE- after checking in and paying the travel tax you need to pass in this section. Hong Kong terminal fee is around five hundred pesos (P500). So include this in your list of expenses. Travel tax and terminal fee are fees you need to personally pay in the airport and not through your travel agency. IMMIGRATION – After paying the terminal fee you need to go to your boarding area but before reaching it you need to pass in this section. All of the passengers who will have international flight will flock here. So expect that there are many of you in queue. The officer will go through your documents for validity. You need to bring out your plane ticket, passport, immigration form, hotel accommodation receipt or transmittal provided by the travel agency for verification. You can smile at the Immigration officer but do not expect them to smile back at you. I guess that’s there protocol. They are avoiding close contact with the passengers so as to avoid bias judgment. BOARDING AREA - This is the waiting area. A lounge that you can use to wait for you plane. Just refer to your ticket as to what GATE you need to go and wait for there are many gates for different flights. The waiting are is usually surrounded with stalls selling food and drinks. I would suggest you buy bubble gum, lots of it. Since you will be travelling for 3 hours, so you need to chew something to avoid hissing sound stays in your ears. ON THE PLANE –As a rule, turn off your cellular phone please. Put your hand carry on the overhead carrier and then just relax and reserve your energy for your tour. 5. ARRIVING AT HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – Finally, you are in Hong Kong. Upon arrival to the airport you need to secure your documents and hand carry luggage, you might forget them due to over excitement. When you are finally off the plane you need to follow the crowd or your fellow passengers. Hong Kong International Airport is twice as big as the one we have here in Philippines you might get lost if you will not able to keep on track to your destination. Before getting you check in luggage, you need to pass again to the immigration. There are lots of immigration counter, DO NOT choose the one for HONG KONG RESIDENTS because you are a tourist and not a resident. Prepare your passport and relevant documents for checking. After passing the counter, there is an ARROW or SIGNAGE that will lead you to the conveyor where you can find your luggage. Please, please, please read the signage if you get lost or better ask any officer you see to help you out. They can understand ENGLISH, but you need to slow down when speaking so they can understand you fully. Go out to the WAITING AREA of the airport where you can find your tourist guide waiting for you. 6. INSIDE THE HOTEL- Your guide will bring you to your hotel to unload your things. And reminder, Hong Kong electric outlet is not the same as ours. They are using 3-hole rounded adapter to the socket of every appliances. You therefore, you can not recharge your cellular phone, camera or any gadget to their outlet. What you will do is go to the FRONT DESK tell them you will buy the ADAPTER for your devices and they will give one and charge you more or less 20 to 25 Hong Kong Dollars. Take it or leave it. Well, so far just follow those simply things above and you will never go wrong when you will be in Hong Kong. Enjoy Hong Kong’s scenic views and learn how to speak BASIC CANTONESE. This will be relevant when you are shopping and want to ask for discounts. Enjoy your grandiose vacation!