Hong Kong Travel Advisory: Is It Safe for Tourists to Visit?

protesters-marching-past-langham-hong-hotel
Protesters marching past The Langham Hong Kong, one of Hong Kong’s toniest five-star hotels. The upscale hostelry is situated in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of Kowloon’s most popular districts with tourists. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Travel Hong Kong

Is Hong Kong safe for tourists? Millions of people have marched in the streets, a general strike has caused transport chaos, flights have been canceled, and thugs have attacked passengers at an MTR station. Check out how governments are advising their citizens to stay safe.

Hong Kong’s Summer of Discontent

As Hong Kong enters the third month of its summer of discontent, protests have become increasingly unpredictable.

Most of the marches through the territory’s commercial and administrative core have been overwhelmingly peaceful.

However, violence has often broken out following marches, and the violence seems to be getting more and more intense.

protest-march-in-shatin
The first major protest march in the New Territories was held in the suburban community of Sha Tin. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Protests have also spread beyond Hong Kong Island to various districts on the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories.

There were pitched battles between demonstrators and police at an upscale shopping mall in Sha Tin. And demonstrators were attacked by thugs wielding sticks at an MTR station in Yuen Long.

Scuffles between demonstrators and police have been breaking out  at police stations in such diverse districts at Admiralty, Mongkok, Shatin, Tai Po, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun, and Wong Tai Sin.

In North Point on Hong Kong Island, there was a violent street fight between anti-government protesters and pro-government elements.

Most troubling, innocent bystanders have often been caught up in the chaos, and that includes visiting tourists.

All of which raises an important question: Is Hong Kong – long  thought of as one of the world’s safest cities – still safe for tourists? 

arrival-sign-at-hong-kong-airport
Welcome to Hong Kong, Asia’s World City. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Amid escalating tensions in Hong Kong, several countries around the world have issued travel advisories. 

The Australian government has taken the boldest step so far, upgrading its Hong Kong travel advisory to “Exercise High Degree of Caution”.

This is the third highest level of caution on a four level scale:

  • Level 1 – Exercise normal safety precautions
  • Level 2 – Exercise a high degree of caution
  • Level 3 – Reconsider your need to travel
  • Level 4 – Do not travel

Here’s is a quick look at the travel advisories issued by key English-speaking countries around the word.

Countries are listed in alphabetical order.

Australian Government Advises ‘High Degree of Caution’

Updated 6 August

Australian government advises a High Degree of Caution.

Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks.

We have raised our advice level for Hong Kong: we now recommend you ‘exercise a high degree of caution’. Protests have become more unpredictable and are expected to continue. Tourist areas have been affected.

There is a risk of violent confrontation between protesters and police, or criminally-linked individuals, particularly at unauthorised protests. The risk is greater at night and on weekends.

We strongly recommend you avoid large public gatherings. Monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities. See Safety and security.

Exercise a high degree of caution in Hong Kong. ‘Flash mob’ protests and random attacks on protesters have become less predictable and are expected to continue. Tourist and residential areas have been affected.

There is a high risk of violent confrontation between protesters and police, or criminally-linked individuals. The risk is greater at night, on weekends and public holidays.

We strongly recommend you avoid large public gatherings. Monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.

Australians in Hong Kong requiring consular assistance can contact the Australian Consulate-General at (852) 2827-8881.

British Government Warns of ‘Significant Violence’

Update, 5 August 2019.

In recent weeks, several large-scale political demonstrations have taken place on Hong Kong Island, in Kowloon and various suburbs in the New Territories.

Clashes have taken place between police and protesters following otherwise peaceful protest activities. These have involved significant violence.

Reports indicate the protests are likely to continue.

You should be prepared that the situation around protests and public gatherings could change quickly, with the potential for significant violence.

If you are in and around areas where demonstrations are taking place, you should remain vigilant, follow the advice of local authorities and move away quickly to a safe place if there are signs of disorder.

Some protests may not have received authorisation from the police. Unauthorised protests have become more frequent and widespread, affecting many areas across Hong Kong, including some areas popular with tourists on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon.

Compared to authorised protests, unauthorised protests are met by a more rapid and more severe police response. Recent unauthorised protests have attracted heavy use of tear gas, including in built up and residential areas. You should therefore exercise vigilance in the vicinity of unauthorised protests.

Activities related to protests have spilled over into large public spaces, including shopping centres, housing estates and metro (“MTR”) stations, on the margins of recent protest routes.

Protests can deviate from planned routes and there is the possibility of injuries among those accidentally caught up in events.Demonstrations may lead to sections of the city being closed off and strikes by public transport workers will significantly disrupt services.

In recent protests, bus routes, MTR stations, the Airport Express and the Hong Kong Macao Ferry Terminal have temporarily suspended operations without warning.

On 20 July, Hong Kong police announced that they had seized a quantity of explosives and offensive weapons in the New Territories and that they were still investigating the motive.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Hong Kong, attacks can’t be ruled out.

There is a likelihood that such clashes could involve significant violence, with the possibility of casualties amongst those involved in clashes or accidentally caught up in events.

You should be prepared that the situation could change quickly in areas where protests and public gatherings are taking place.

If you are in and around areas where demonstrations are, you should remain vigilant, follow the advice of local authorities and move away quickly to a safe place if there are signs of disorder.

Britons in Hong Kong requiring consular assistance can contact the British Consulate-General at (852) 2901-3000.

Canadian Government Warns of ‘Violent Confrontations with Police’

Updated 1 August 2019

Exercise a high degree of caution in Hong Kong. ‘Flash mob’ protests and random attacks on protesters have become less predictable and are expected to continue. Tourist and residential areas have been affected.

There is a high risk of violent confrontation between protesters and police, or criminally-linked individuals. The risk is greater at night, on weekends and public holidays. We strongly recommend you avoid large public gatherings.

Monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.

Canadians in Hong Kong requiring consular assistance can contact the Canadian Consulate General at (852) 3719-4700.

New Zealand Government Upgrades Hong Kong Travel Advisory: ‘Exercise Increased Caution

Updated: 8 August 2019

Large-scale protests and demonstrations have been taking place on Hong Kong Island, in Kowloon and various suburbs in the New Territories.

Acts of violence have occurred, including clashes between police and demonstrators. Locations of gatherings may be unpredictable and change at short notice.

Separately, attacks by reportedly criminally-linked individuals have affected commuters in the New Territories. Further demonstrations are expected.

New Zealanders in Hong Kong are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations, as even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn violent with little or no warning.

New Zealanders are also advised to monitor local media for developments and comply with any instructions and restrictions issued by the local authorities. Expect road closures and disruptions to public transport as a result of demonstrations.

New Zealanders in Hong Kong requiring consular assistance can contact the New Zealand Consulate-General in Hong Kong at (852) 2525-5044.

Singaporean Government Tells Citizens to ‘Avoid Protest Rallies’

In recent weeks, several large-scale protests have taken place at multiple venues in Hong Kong.

Although mostly peaceful and orderly, cases of localised clashes following these protests were reported. Protests which are meant to be peaceful could potentially turn violent with little or no notice.

Singaporeans are advised to avoid any reported locations of upcoming protest rallies and other large public gatherings.

If you are already in Hong Kong, you should take all necessary precautions to ensure your personal safety. You are advised to stay vigilant, monitor developments through the local news, and heed the instructions of the local authorities.

….

You should avoid protests and large public gatherings, and stay in touch with your family and friends so that they know you are safe.

Singaporeans in Hong Kong requiring consular assistance can contact the Singaporean Consulate General at (852) 2527-2212 or (852)9466-1251 (after office hours).

U.S. Government Upgrades Hong Kong Travel Advisory to Level 2:  Exercise ‘Increased Caution’

Updated 7 August 2019

Since June 2019, several large scale and smaller political demonstrations have taken place in various areas of Hong Kong. Most have been peaceful, but some have turned confrontational or resulted in violent clashes.

The protests and confrontations have spilled over into neighborhoods other than those where the police have permitted marches or rallies. These demonstrations, which can take place with little or no notice, are likely to continue.

Actions to Take:

  • Monitor local media for updates.
  • Avoid the areas of the demonstrations.
  • Exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep a low profile.

Americans in Hong Kong requiring consular assistance can contact the U.S. Consulate-General at (852) 2841- 2211 or (852) 2523 9011 (after hours).

  • United States Consulate General Website

15,000 Cabin Crew Hold Protest at Hong Kong Airport>>

Planning to Visit Hong Kong?

The Peak Tram, the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defense, and the Hong Kong Museum of Art are currently closed for renovation.

If you live in Hong Kong, what advice would you give visiting tourists? Please leave comments below.

 

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One Reply to “Hong Kong Travel Advisory: Is It Safe for Tourists to Visit?”

  1. I think the most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings and to avoid large crowds.Try to avoid being stuck in an area that you cannot escape from quickly.

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