HongKong in September

Old Aug 3rd, 2003, 07:33 PM
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HongKong in September

I'll be in HongKong for 1 week in 09/2003. Should I exchange the $US to $HK in advance before I leave the US? If I have to exchange the money in HongKong, where should I go to do the exchange? I need to know the most trusted place and carry good exchange rate. I also have another question: jewelry store? I also need to know a shop that sell jewelry and trusted please. I also love dim sum, where is the good place to eat and inexpensive? I appreciate all your advices. I enjoy this forum so much. So many people with kind hearted. Thank you all in advance for your help. I look forward to hearing from you all.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2003, 08:11 PM
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You can change money at any Bank in Hong Kong. As the HK$ is effectively pegged to the US$, there is little fluctuation in the exchange rate.

As for the jewellery store, are you thinking of spending hundred of thousands of HK$s or just a few thousand? It does make a difference. As with buying jewellery anywhere in Asia, you do need to know what you are buying. For medium priced stuff I would suggest looking at Favourite Jewellers in Prince?s Building.

Plenty of restaurants selling Dimsum at reasonable prices, but Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities in the World.
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Old Aug 4th, 2003, 12:31 AM
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I agree with the above poster that as the rate is pegged there is no "best" place to exchange. However, you should be able to use your ATM card, and that is the best way to get funds, IMO, as you will get a good rate and won't be dependent on banking hours. Check with your bank to make sure your card is authorized for international withdrawals, and also check the charges, some banks charge up to US$2.50 for international withdrawals. A "cirrus" , "Plus" or "NYCE" card should work.

I would get a little money before you leave the US so you have enough to get to your hotel. No more than US$100 would be necessary. A cab from the airport to a hotel in Central will cost about US$40-50; the train (Airport Express) is about US$12 one way.

For jewellery, I like Golden Mile Jewellery in Hutchison House, which is on the water a block or two from the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Shop 114A, 1st floor, Hutchinson House (i.e., one flight up from the ground, they use the European numbering system). Tel: 2525-6760. They have a nice selection in all prices ranges and will also make to order.

Please do some research before you leave to get an idea of quality and price in the US, that is the only way you will know if you are getting a bargain. I would avoid the shops along Hennessy Road and Queens Road, I don't think they are that trustworthy.

For dim sum, here are three of my favourites;

City Hall Chinese Restaurant. This restaurant is on the third floor of City Hall in Central (very close to the Star Ferry). They have carts, and is one of the few places left which uses dim sum carts. No English menu as I recall. Good food and a good view of the harbour. Very popular with local Hong Kongers. Not expensive by Hong Kong standards. 2/F, Low Block, City Hall, Central. Tel: 2521 1303

Metropol Restaurant. Also has the carts. Good food and good value. Very crowded at lunch on workdays, you may need a reservation. No view. 4th Floor, United Centre, 95 Queensway, Admiralty. Tel: 2865 1988. http://www.heichinrou.com Probably the most expensive of the three restaurants named here.

Zen. Kind of a noveau Chinese dim sum. Menu is in English, and nice ambience in the restaurant. Shop 001 (lower ground floor), Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty. Tel: 2845 4555 Per person dim sum meal would be between US$20 ? 35.
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Old Aug 4th, 2003, 12:59 AM
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Some misunderstanding here. The fact that the Hong Kong dollar may be pegged to the U.S. dollar has nothing to do with the amount of money that banks, hotel exchange desks, different exchange bureaux, and ATMs will give you, which can vary by a large margin, both due to different tourist exchange rates and due to service charges, as lamwinn1 one obviously suspects. And there certainly are better and worse places to exchange.

Banks tend to offer tourists weak rates over the counter and charge high fees. ATM machines tend to offer you nearer to the Interbank rate, which is better than the average tourist rate, and then the only question, as mentioned, is how much your bank is going to charge you for overseas usage of your card. If you are planning to draw large sums for jewellery purchases then you'll need to check your ATM card's withdrawal limit, and you may be limited by the maximum withdrawal allowed by local machines, however. For an initial withdrawal, there is a Hongkong and Shanghai Bank ATM upstairs at the airport, at departures level. The HKTB staff at the information desk as you exit customs can point you in the right direction.

From a security point of view if you are planning to spend large sums on jewellery, you'd be better to use a credit card, which again will give you nearer to the Interbank exchange rate, and there'll be no usage fee from the bank. But the vendor may ask for up to 5% surcharge. Unless you are able to negotiate that away, then the benefit of using the card is lost.

After banks, hotel exchange operations tend to have the worst rates. But Hong Kong is packed with exchange bureaux, and while those in the busiest areas have poor rates, those in the back streets have the best, and they are clearly posted outside. Usually no commission is payable, and what you see is what you get, but be sure to ask. If you are planning to change a few thousand U.S. dollars, you can bargain for a better rate still.

Starting from the Star Ferry proceed towards The Peninsula and you'll find money changers amongst the shopping on your left. This is a prime tourist-as-victim territory, and rates here can easily be 10% worse than those you'll get further on. Pass The Peninsula and turn left up Nathan Road. On your right you'll find the Chungking Mansions shopping arcade, with money changers at the entrance. As you'll quickly discover the ones at the entrance have better rates, but the ones deeper inside have better rates still. Make notes.

Back on Nathan Road continue until you pass the Holiday Inn, and turn right, then next left, and start to look at money changers' rates inside some of the little arcades to your left, and in the next left turning. The lowest in this area is, as far as I know, about the lowest you are going to get. When I lived in Hong Kong I had friends from the mainland who came to visit me and for whom every penny counted, and this is where we always went.

You'll find you'll get rather more jewellery and a lot more dim sum for the same amount of U.S. if you exchange this way, or in similarly out of the way areas elsewhere.

Needless to say, rates at Thomas Cook at the airport are appalling. So if you haven't brought a few Hong Kong dollars with you, and the ATM isn't working, change as little as you can.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
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Old Aug 4th, 2003, 10:03 AM
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if you have the cash, the best method is to leave it in your a/c at home and use your atm card....take large withdrawals as you probably have a service charge for each transaction (take $300 at a whack or more)--check with your bank for service charges...atms are everywhere ...take some travlers checks for an emergency, which you always cash at your hotel...

don't change more than $5-100 at home before you leave...it really depends on how much you will have to spend before you get to your hotel, i.e. taxi, tips, etc when you arrive...if you are being driven to your hotel you will not nedd anything or much at all....you could always give the driver a $5 bill as a tip if it is not included in your fees, and he can cash it...
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Old Aug 5th, 2003, 05:18 AM
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I thank you all so much for your great tips of the HK$ exchange, jewelry shops and dim sum.
I probably will check out the exchange rate that Peter mentioned on Nathan road and will eat the dim sum at places with carts. I just look and choose, I don't have to have the English menu. For jewery, I will check out the places that recommended by Tangata and Cicerone. I have never been HK, this is my first trip. Some people said it is getting expensive there, some said it is cheap there. I guess I will find out myself. Peter, you lived there long, can you tell me whether or not can I take the Star Ferry at nite to see the lites of Harbor view? Do any of you know anything about the Jumbo Floating Restaurant? Please tell me more about it. Again, I appreciate everything you advised. Warmest regards to all.
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Old Aug 5th, 2003, 05:52 AM
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Yes, the rates at Thomas Cook at Chap Lap Kok are horrid, but why worry about the few extra dollars they charge for comission when you are in a bind and need money? You are on holiday, afterall. It is ironic that people who will pay $10 for a Coke at a cafe will scream bloody murder at the exchange rate at a cambio. Yes, by all means try and find the best rate, but don't spend all your free time running around looking for it. Time is also money.

I have found very good dim sum in Hung Hom, which is the residential area east of Tsim Tsa Tsui. You will find natives here, not tourists.
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Old Aug 5th, 2003, 06:33 AM
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My personal preferences to see the HK lights are on top of Victoria's Peak, along the walkway on Kowloon by the water, & any bar in the hotels on the Kowloon side (Shangri-la, Peninsula, & Intercontinental). I think star ferry closes at night, but I want to say at 10 pm?

As for Jumbo or even Rainbow, they both have ships that will pick you up from Central and take you back,

And yes, Hong Kong can be a very expensive city. But you can find places where it is inexpensive to eat and stay. One of my favorites was a English pub in Central next to the Park City hotel (4 yrs ago, so if my memory is dim, please forgive me). Breakfast at the hotel was 20 USD, the pub three blocks down did a full english breakfast for 3.50 USD.

Look at their winners for the "best" lobster in HK @ the HKTB. One place serves Lobster for 550 HKD, another 125 HKD.

My favorites comments about Hong Kong: "Its like New York City on Speed" and "HK loves three things; Money, Food, & Sex....and in that order."

Oh! that reminds me! I have to dig out the number for the Acupressure school for the blind on Nathan Road...

Hope it helps, and enjoy one of the most unique cities in the world.


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Old Aug 5th, 2003, 11:42 AM
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I am so glad to receive different tips and different points of view. I take them all seriously. Thanks to ThinGorjust for the local dimsum, I like that. You are right CalifJef, I will try not to save $2.00 for running around looking for best rate exchange. Accupressure! that sounds very appalling, I would like to check into that, what about massage? I mean a clean massage, nothing else involved. I am looking forward to hearing from your advises. Many thanks again for all of you here. Best regards.
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Old Aug 5th, 2003, 12:12 PM
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The Star Ferry runs from 6:30 AM to 11:30 PM. I had a massage at the Peninsula Hotel and it was excellent, although very expensive.
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Old Aug 6th, 2003, 06:05 AM
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AcuPressure means massage. Acupuncture means the needles.

My sister is a licensed masseuse here in CA at a Day spa. I find that getting a massage is one of the greatest personal decedance that one can give to yourself.

I'd recommend any person travelling to HK from Europe or America to look into getting a massage on the first day there. Nothing better to reenergize your body after a cramped 18 hours flight.

Travallers fun fact! Did you know that on most tourist class seating you have two inches more width (22") than the slaves had going to America on slaveships (20")?

And while in the US there are "massage parlors" element, most places do solely massage without the hankypanky. Which I feel is best. Going to a "parlor" for "other" is like going to the dentist to get your shoes repaired.

I will say that most places that do massage in Asia prefer to have the customer clothed in their underwear. In the US, it is customary for a masseuse to have you undress completely and get under a sheet. With careful sheet placing and usage no "nether-region" is exposed.

The school used to charge 40 USD for a one hour massage. I am sure it has gone up, but it will be cheaper than a $85 USD massage from the hotel. Writers note: I have a friend who *swears* by the masseuse at the Kowloon Shangri-la (85 USD) and says she gives the best massage in Asia. From a man who travels all over East asia four to six times a year, I give the statement credibility.

Also in Shenzen (on the Chinese border with HK area) you can get a one hour massage for 7 USD.

Hope it helps
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Old Aug 6th, 2003, 11:48 AM
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Thank you again for the "massage tip". CalifJeff, you are right, I think I need massage after 18 hours in the airplane seat. I will look into it and will get one while there. Warmest regards to all.
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