When visiting Hong Kong, it's a good idea to be immunized against typhoid and hepatitis A and B, and in winter, a flu vaccination is also advisable, especially if you're infection-prone or are a senior citizen. Speak with your physician and check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO) websites for health alerts, particularly if you're pregnant, traveling with children, or have a chronic illness.

Water from government mains satisfies WHO standards, but most locals don't drink water straight from the tap. Expect to pay HK$10 to HK$20 for a 1½-liter bottle of distilled or mineral water, or drink boiled tap water.

Condoms can help prevent most sexually transmitted diseases, but they aren't absolutely reliable, and their quality varies from country to country. However, most major brands, such as Durex, are easily available in Hong Kong and can be purchased at convenience stores and pharmacies.

Health Warnings

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 800/232–4636;

World Health Organization.

Hong Kong–Specific Issues

Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, is a form of influenza that affects birds (including poultry) but can be passed to humans. It causes initial flu symptoms, followed by respiratory and organ failure. Although rare, it's often lethal. The Hong Kong government now exercises strict control over poultry farms and markets, and there are signs warning against contact with birds. Pay heed to warnings, and make sure that any poultry or eggs you consume are well cooked.

Local Health Information

Hong Kong Department of Health Hotline. 2961–8989;

Hong Kong Travel Health Service. 2961–8840; 2150–7235;

Over-the-Counter Remedies

You can easily find most familiar over-the-counter medications (like aspirin and ibuprofen) in pharmacy chains like Watsons or Mannings, and usually in supermarkets and convenience stores. Acetaminophen—or Tylenol—is known as paracetamol and is sold under the brand name Panadol. Oral contraceptives are available without a prescription at pharmacies.

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