Hong Kong being an international harbour for the rich blend of cultures, has its unique character. Locals speak mainly Cantonese while English and Mandarin are widely spoken. All official signs, most commercial materials and menus are bilingual, while public transport announcements are in Cantonese, English and Mandarin.
English is the language of instruction at HKUST, and you can expect to encounter minimal problems communicating in English on campus. With our experiences, it is worthwhile to learn some Cantonese upon arrival or ideally in advance before travelling to Hong Kong if you really want to understand and live in the culture, interact with the locals and to get the most out while you are here. You will also find yourselves adapting to the environment much easier and happier.
Hong Kong has 17 statutory public holidays a year. Most shops and restaurants, major attractions, theme parks and public transport will operate as usual on most of these days, but banks and offices will be closed. For the Lunar New Year, commercial outlets will usually be closed for a couple of days and some traditional or family-run businesses may stay closed for up to 2 weeks.
Hong Kong's official public holidays can be found here.
The water supply in Hong Kong is amongst the safest in the world. But as the quality and maintenance of water pipes varies from building to building, it is suggested that you consume boiled or bottled water.
Information about the drinking water quality in Hong Kong is available here.
Most of the world's mobile telecommunications systems operate in Hong Kong, including GSM 900, PCS 1800, CDMA and WCDMA.
If you wish to stay connected immediately upon arrival in Hong Kong, you can purchase a Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM card or a prepaid SIM card from recognized mobile phone network provider which offers free local calls, free WiFi, bundles of mobile data, as well as affordable international calls and SMS messages. Before purchasing one, you should check carefully the validity of the prepaid cards as it varies from days to months. They are available at the airport as well as at major convenience stores.
Information about the choice of service providers is available here.
The Hong Kong Post provides fast and reliable local and international global service. Local regular mail costs HK$2 for a standard letter article. For courier service, in addition to the Hong Kong Post, international services including FedEx, UPS, DHL, and SF Express are also available in Hong Kong.
On campus, post boxes are located outside the lift lobby of Lifts 31-32 on 2/F and the driveway outside LT-F and LT-L. Mailing counter service is available at Room 2615 (Lifts 31-32). More details can be found here.