Exchanging Money in Hong Kong: When, Where and How

hong kong currency

Hong Kong, composed of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories, is home to many sights and sensations that make it one of the best regions to visit for those looking for a vacation that has it all.

From striking architecture to amazing food, top shopping, beautiful temples, and incredible nightlife, there’s not a boring moment to be had. Shower that with culture and tradition and you find yourself in what many consider the most exciting place in southeastern Asian.

With so much to offer, it will come as no surprise to learn that Hong Kong is a relatively expensive region, especially when compared to its Asian neighbors. That is why in order to take advantage of everything Hong Kong has to offer, it pays to be wise about your money and find out how to make the most out of it while you are there.

Start by checking whether you need a visa to enter Hong Kong since only some nationalities are exempt. For instance, Indian citizens who travel to this Chinese region for stays of up to 14 days do have to register online for the PAR Hong Kong.

Once you are clear on the paperwork, it is time to find out all you need to know about exchanging foreign currency in the Region of Hong Kong.

What Is the Currency in Hong Kong?

The local currency is the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD, also HK$) and you are going to need it in order to move comfortably around and enjoy all the offerings of the region. The HKD is solely used in Hong Kong and the most frequently used banknotes are HK$20, HKD50, HKD100, HKD500, HKD1000.

The HKD10 banknote and all coins are issued by the Government of Hong Kong, however, three commercial banks are licensed to issue their own banknotes for general circulation in denominations of HK$20, HK$50, HK$100, HK$500 and HK$1000. Most of the HKD bills and coins in circulation feature Hong Kong’s Bauhinia flower.

In 1863, the Royal Mint in London began issuing special subsidiary coinage for use in Hong Kong within the Dollar system and, since 1972, the HKD has been pegged to the US dollar at HKD7.8 per USD.
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Is the Hong Kong Currency Different from China’s?

Yes, it is. Hong Kong is officially part of China, but the two do not share currencies. If you are visiting from mainland China, you are going to need to exchange the yuan or renminbi into Hong Kong Dollars.

Can I use USD in Hong Kong?

You might want to bring US Dollars (USD) into Hong Kong so you can exchange money once in the region, but Hong Kong’s local currency is the Hong Kong Dollar and that is what you will be using to make your payments and for tipping.

About Tipping

Tipping in Hong Kong is very straightforward. As a general rule:

  • Porters of luxury hotels expect a tip (an HKD10 or HKD20 bill is enough). You can also leave a gratuity for the cleaning staff.
  • Unless you are eating at a very cheap locale, most restaurants automatically add a 10% to 15% service charge.
  • It is not expected in bars and cafes unless table service is provided. If that is the case, a 10% charge will be imposed on your bill.
  • Tips are not expected for taxis, but feel free to leave the small change.

Also, there is no sales tax for purchases or eating out in Hong Kong.

Where to Exchange Money in Hong Kong

Exchanging money in Hong Kong is a non-issue. Often times it just comes down to a matter of convenience. Some travelers prefer to withdraw local currency from ATMs, while others exchange money through banks and hotels.

That being said, it does pay to compare rates around in order to get the most out of your foreign currency.

Exchange Rates in Hong Kong

To get the best offers, you should make for the tourist zones or commercial districts of the area you are staying in and, once there, you are sure to find money changers offering the most competitive rates.

However, some charge exchange fees, so make sure to ask first. If they do want to charge you any extras, move on as most money chargers do not demand any commission for their services.

Exchanging Money in Hong Kong’s Airport

It is pretty easy to exchange money in Hong Kong and airports are no exception. However, be forewarned exchange rates in the airport are pretty bad. You will get much better rates in the city. Nevertheless, if you want to exchange money at the airport, you are going to be greeted by money changers at all the terminals.

Can I Withdraw Money in Hong Kong?

Yes, you can. Actually, many travelers prefer to use Hong Kong’s ATMs to withdraw local currency instead of exchanging their own. The maximum amount you can withdraw varies, but it is usually about HK$20,000 per transaction. You can also make multiple withdrawals at different ATMs if you need to get over that limit.

What Credit Cards Are Accepted in Hong Kong?

American Express, Visa, and MasterCard are all readily accepted in Hong Kong. For the most part, cash is only necessary for taxis, shopping at the local markets, some small shops and restaurants, and tipping. Most hotels, shopping centers, and restaurants do accept all major credit cards.

Currency Converter: from Indian Rupee to HK Dollar

The better exchange rates can probably be obtained in Hong Kong, but you are advised to check before deciding since they vary between vendors. However, you will definitely get a better rate for USD than INR when exchanging for HKD in Hong Kong.

Another option you might consider is changing Indian rupees to US dollars in India, and then changing USD to HKD in Hong Kong. As odd as it might seem, that’s sometimes the cheaper alternative.

You are also more likely to get better rates at ATMs in Hong Kong since the rate from INR to USD is really bad. If you choose this option, however, be wary of fees that may be applied when crossing banking networks.

How Much Indian Currency Can I Take to Hong Kong?

The limit for taking Indian rupees out of the country without declaring them is 25,000 which amounts to about HKD 2,857.

There is no doubt Hong Kong is one of the most exciting places on earth. By knowing how much money to bring and how to exchange your currency safely you are sure to enjoy your trip to the fullest. Just make sure you’ve got your Hong Kong visa ready should you need one, and, if you are an Indian national, remember you must now hold a valid Pre-Arrival Registration or PAR in order to enter the region.