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.

Drinking water quality in Hong Kong


Mobile Phone
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.

Once settled, you may consider subscribing to a monthly plan offered by a local mobile phone network provider to enjoy reasonable rates.

Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM Card

Choice of Mobile Phone Network Providers


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, the post box is located outside the lift lobby of Lift 31-32 on 2nd Floor, with the mailing service available at Mail Room (Room 2615).


Public Transportation System
Hong Kong's public transportation system is considered to be world-class in terms of its management and efficiency. Once you are oriented, getting around by public transportation is relatively easy. As a general rule, the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is always a safe bet for traveling efficiently. This is especially so during peak hours when roadways can become congested.

Click here to download the MTR System Route Map.

Taxi Service
Taxis in Hong Kong are generally abundant. You can queue for them at the taxi stands or flag down one on the street. In general, taxis are not allowed to drop off or pick up passengers on roads with double yellow lines or in restricted zones.

All taxis are metered, and you should refer to the meter for the exact charge. Taxi fare information is listed on the inside of the taxi, or from the Hong Kong Transport Department's website. Charges in addition to the meter charge may include a tunnel toll if the journey passes through paid tunnels and there will be a luggage fee of $5 per piece. Always ask for a receipt. This helps you track down lost items or the taxi driver. If you cannot read the price, the taxi number or the fine-print on the the receipt, ask for a hand-written version. Foreign currencies, credit cards or Octopus cards are not accepted. Tipping is not necessary except for rounding to the nearest dollar.

Passengers are required by law to wear a seatbelt, when available, whether sitting in the front or rear. All taxis are regulated and taxi drivers are required to display their Taxi Driver Identity Sign on the dashboard.

Failure to pay your taxi fare is a criminal offence in Hong Kong.

Taxis running in the city are red in color, while those in the New Territories are in green and those on Lantau Island are in blue. Red taxis can travel anywhere, while the green and blue taxis can operate only within their respective areas. All taxis can travel to and from the Hong Kong International Airport.

If you encounter any problems with the taxi service, such as possible overcharging, take down the taxi driver's name and license plate number as shown on the Taxi Driver Identity Sign on the cab's dashboard to lodge your complaint.


Library and learning commons
HKUST’s five-story library is centrally located on campus and open seven days a week. In addition to book, periodical, microfilm collections, media materials, the library has extensive electronic collections including electronic databases and full-text e-journals.

Students are also welcome to make use of our learning commons. They are student-centered space to promote intellectual exchanges, sharing of creative ideas and total learning experience.

Sports and Recreation
The campus offers a great range of sports and recreational facilities, all free to registered students, including:

  • Indoor sports complex
  • Sports Field
  • Astroturf soccer pitch
  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Indoor swimming pool
  • Gym room
  • Tennis courts
  • Squash courts
  • Climbing wall
  • BBQ pits by the sea
  • Multi-purpose rooms suitable for different activities like table-tennis, aerobic dance, fencing, martial arts and indoor archery
  • Music room, Piano rooms and Band room
  • Creativity Room
  • Reflection Room (for prayer, reflection or meditation)

Campus Banks
Most international banks have branches in Hong Kong. On campus, there are three banks: Hang Seng Bank, Bank of China, and the Bank of East Asia.

Electronic Payment
ATMs are widespread in Hong Kong. Most terminals are linked to international money systems, including Cirrus, Maestro, Plus, Visa Electron, UnionPay, as well as the Visa and MasterCard credit systems. However, you should note that there are ATM systems in Hong Kong; one is linked to the Bank of China and its partners, and the other used by HSBC and other international banks. You may be charged a fee if you use an ATM machine operating on a system not linked to your bank.

Credit Cards
Most major banks offer credit cards to students. Please be aware of payment due dates, annual fees and interest charges to protect your credit rating. Always check the credit card slip and receipt before signing and keep all copies of receipts as proof of purchase.

Money Exchange
We recommend that you do not carry large amounts of cash. Instead, carry a mixture of cash, bank drafts, checks or travelers' checks in order to safeguard your finances when entering Hong Kong. The combined amount should at least cover your hall fee payment and personal expenses during the first month. For degree-seeking students and exchange students who are going to spend more than one semester here, you are advised to open a local bank account as soon as possible after arrival so that secure electronic money transactions can be carried out.

Banks usually have the best foreign exchange rates, although some are better than others. Often, the rate depends on the amount you are changing, and whether you hold an account with the bank. Commissions and service charges may apply in some cases, so you may wish to shop around before exchanging money.

The basic unit of currency is the Hong Kong dollar which is pegged at about HKD7.80 to USD1.00, and consequent rates of exchange to other currencies. The Hong Kong dollar is divided into 100 cents and notes in denominations of $10, $20, $50, $100, $500 and $1,000 are issued by HSBC, the Bank of China and the Standard Chartered Bank. The government also issues $10 notes. The colors of $10, $20 and $50 notes have changed in recent years, but all remain legal tender. Please be aware that there are different designs for notes of the same denomination.


There are many eateries on and around campus. They are a great place to catch up with your friends as well as fill your stomachs.

Various Canteens
The student canteens located in Lower Ground Levels 1 and 7 and at the Business School Building are the largest canteens on campus. The canteens mainly serve Chinese dishes, with some noodles, pastas and sandwiches. There is also a McDonald's on campus.

Location: Academic concourse

A variety of pasta, salads, sandwiches, bakeries and pastries are offered. A light evening menu is available for diners graving for casual yet tasty meal. For the health-conscious customers, the salad counter is never lack of choice.

Hungry Korean
Location: Across LT-G

It offers a large variety of traditional Korean food freshly made to order with natural and healthy ingredients.

American Diner
Location: Near LT-G

For breakfast, it serves pastries, muffins, sandwiches, omelettes, continential breakfasts. For lunch and dinner, the restaurant serves salads, sandwiches, baked potatoes, soups and hot entrees.

Pacific Coffee
Location: LSK Business Building

Remember to present your HKUST Student ID Card to enjoy 30% discount.

Location: Next to bookstore

Remember to present your HKUST Student ID Card to enjoy 30% discount.

Location: CYT Building

Sandwiches prepared on a variety of freshly baked breads, with your choice of cold cuts or Veggie Delite.

UniBistro & UniBar
Location: University Center

The University Center Bistro serves a Western menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The adjacent Uni-Bar is the bar on campus.

Location: Conference Lodge

A stylish restaurant with panoramic sea views, a sensational bar and a patio for al fresco dining. The well-varied menu offers something for everyone, with options that includes international dishes and local favorites, health-conscious meals, and vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free items.

Ebeenezer's (Halal-certified)
Location: LSK Building

Ebeneezer's Kebab & Pizzeria is a well-known eatery in Hong Kong that specializes in a variety of kebabs, Indian curries, biryanis and pizzas. It is Halal-Certified.

Chinese Restaurant
Location: Atrium (Ground Floor)

What would be an authentic Hong Kong experience without dim sum and the many-course Cantonese dinner?! The Chinese Restaurant, located right on campus, is a full scale restaurant. You can order dim sum for lunch, and Chinese dishes for dinner.

Seafront Cafeteria
Location: UG Hall VI (Ground Floor)

“Seafront” is a cafeteria located at Hall VI serving Chinese soup noodles, rice dishes, and desserts. It is the only caterer on campus that opens until after midnight.

Campus Supermarket
Location: Lower Ground Level 7

You can get your daily necessities from the campus supermarket. Some wishing to opt for simple breakfasts can get your milk, cereals and breads from here.

Location: Lower Ground Level 5