Hong Kong Currency Exchange Guide

Hong Kong is a fascinating tourist destination full of incredible sights, impressive landscapes and delectable cuisine. From the stunning skyline to the enchanting street markets and vibrant nightlife, there is something for everyone in Hong Kong. You can enjoy diverse culinary experiences worldwide, explore breathtaking hiking trails, or relax in some of the city’s best spas. Whether you are seeking adventure or relaxation, Hong Kong has it all.

General Hong Kong Currency Information

What is the currency of Hong Kong?

Hong Kong’s official currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD).

What do Hong Kong notes & coins look like?

HK dollar

The 2018 series of Hong Kong dollar notes offers detailed visual presentations of cultural heritage. Not only are they designed to emphasize the thematic subject on the reverse side, but they also sport a vertical orientation that underscores the uniqueness of the design. What’s even more impressive is that this updated design is used by all three note-issuing banks—Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited, and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited. This continuity in design reaffirms their commitment to portraying culture in a dynamic way.

hk coins

Hong Kong coins come in various denominations, ranging from $10 to 10¢. The $10 coin is distinctive due to its brass inner core and white nickel alloy outer ring. Its obverse features a standard bauhinia image with a distinct embossed image, while its edge contains alternately milled and plain sections. The $5 coin has a milled edge with Chinese and English characters that read “Hong Kong Five Dollars’. Meanwhile, the 10¢ coin has a plain edge, the $2 and 20¢ coins have scalloped edges, and the $1 and 50¢ coins have simple milled edges.

Economy

Hong Kong is an incredibly vibrant and dynamic economy, with services making up a whopping 93.4% of its GDP! According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Hong Kong has held steady at the 6th rank in terms of merchandise trade exports in 2021, staying just as strong as in 2020.

Its great location in Asia, combined with the Mainland economy’s incredible opportunities, makes it a dream international business, trade and financial hub, as well as a world-renowned tourist city that provides high-value and knowledge-intensive services to its global partners. Moreover, it makes for a great gateway for overseas investors as well as a platform for Mainland enterprises to expand into the international market.

Brief currency history

Hong Kong’s currency is rooted in a long and varied history. The city first issued currency in 1846, when its first bank, Oriental Bank, printed banknotes in Hong Kong dollars.

After the Hong Kong Mint was established in 1960, coins began to be available by 1863, issued by the Hong Kong government in 1-mil and 1-cent bronze coins and 10-cent silver coins. This highlights that Hong Kong originally adopted a silver currency standard between 1862 and 1935, where paper money was referred to as yin hi (“silver paper”).

During this time, all notes circulated were backed by silver, and issuing banks had the commitment to pay out an equivalent amount of silver upon the presentation of the note. As for coinage, all of the coinage except for one mil and one cent pieces was made from silver.

In 1935, due to the abolishment of the silver standard, all coins were metal alloyed, and anti-counterfeiting measures were put in place. For banknotes, instead of silver as security, foreign currency was used; these banknotes were controlled by the Exchange Fund overseen by the government.

Before World War II, the US dollar was used to peg its value, but this changed when Japan invaded the region and introduced the Japanese Yen as currency.

The yen was banned after the war, and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the governmental currency board of Hong Kong, began pegging the HK dollar to the US dollar in 1972. This peg continues today, with occasional changes in value carried out by the HKMA.

Currently, banknotes are issued by three commercial banks licensed by HKMA and circulate widely around Hong Kong – The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited, and Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited.

Taking Travel Money to Hong Kong

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What currency should I take to Hong Kong?

If you’re travelling to Hong Kong, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollars (AUD) for Hong Kong dollars (HKD) before you leave. Get more information on converting AUD to HKD.

Is it better to convert currency in Australia or Hong Kong?

If you’re travelling from Australia to Hong Kong, it’s always better to convert your Australian dollars into Hong Kong dollars ahead of time. Doing so will give you peace of mind before takeoff, as you’ll already have your local currency ready upon arrival. Plus, compared to exchanging currency within Hong Kong, converting your money beforehand can be a much more cost-effective option. By taking the initiative, you can save yourself some extra cash and put it towards another expense during your stay in the beautiful city.

How much money can I take to Hong Kong?

Travelling to and from Hong Kong comes with some currency restrictions. To ensure compliance with the laws, it’s important to know that the maximum amount of money that can be taken in or out of the country is HK$120,000 (around AUD $22,900) or its equivalent. Anything above this amount has to be declared at the time of entry or exit. Knowing these regulations beforehand makes all the difference for a safe and enjoyable trip.

Where to convert currency in Australia?

With no hidden costs or commissions and more than 50 stores located across the country, Crown Currency Exchange has been providing reliable service for over 20 years. Moreover, we pride ourselves on always offering a competitive exchange rate. Whether exchanging from HKD to AUD or vice versa, Crown Currency Exchange provides an efficient, convenient service that can take care of all your foreign exchange needs.

Is tipping customary in Hong Kong? How much is expected?

 In Hong Kong, tipping is not a requirement, but there are certain scenarios where it would be polite and customary to leave a gratuity. Let’s dive into the specifics.

Restaurants: Generally speaking, leaving a 10% tip at sit-down restaurants would be considered polite in Hong Kong. If you are at a take-out restaurant or street food stall, simply leaving your change as a gratuity works too. In some cases, such as high-end restaurants, it would be wise to leave HK $10-20 (around AUD $2-4) as an added courtesy, although it is not expected nor required.

Hotel Staff: Tipping at hotels in Hong Kong is generally not expected; however, many people choose to leave a small tip in recognition of the staff’s attentiveness. If a service charge has been included on your bill, no additional tipping is necessary; if not, it is recommended that you give HK $15-20 (approx. AUD $3-4) as a show of gratitude. It is also commonplace to offer bathroom attendants a couple of Hong Kong Dollars for their services.

Taxi Drivers: It is not expected to tip taxi drivers in Hong Kong. It is instead common practice to round up your fare to the nearest dollar or leave the change for them as a gesture of kindness.

Tour Guides: Tour guides rely heavily on tips for their livelihoods, so it is recommended that you give them something for their service. A good amount to leave would be between HK $10-70 (around AUD $2-14) per guide, who will normally split this amount with the driver if applicable.

Spas: Tipping at spas is not customary, but if you were exceptionally pleased with your service, then leaving some change would be appreciated by staff members.  

Can you bargain in Hong Kong?

Bargaining is generally not accepted at department stores or well-established retailers in Hong Kong. You may, however, be able to get lucky with promotions or discounts. For a more hands-on approach, the Ladies Market and many street markets in Hong Kong offer an environment where bargaining is both accepted and expected. Engage in an enjoyable ‘haggling’ experience to get the best deals while you soak up the local atmosphere.

What is ATM access like in Hong Kong?

ATM machines can be easily located throughout the city, with MTR stations, shopping centres, convenience stores and bank branches all featuring them. It is also possible to get cash from ferry services, such as Star Ferry.

What should you budget per day?

Budget

For those travelling on a low budget, a reasonable amount of spending per day would be approximately HKD $330-500 (AUD $63-95). This amount should cover accommodation costs such as staying in a hostel or dormitory, meals such as fast food or cooked meals from groceries, use of public transport, and participation in certain activities like visiting museums. Planning your expenditure ahead of time can help you have an enjoyable visit without overspending.

Moderate

If you want to be less restricted in your daily budget, a moderate amount of spending per day would be approximately HKD $750-1,200 (around AUD $143-229) per day. This range of budget can get you rooms in budget hotels, access to public transportation like buses, and fast food meals. Additionally, more excursions may be available depending on your location within Hong Kong.

Luxury

If you’re seeking a luxurious experience in Hong Kong, a daily budget of HKD $2,700+ (around AUD $514 and up) will cover everything from premium accommodation to hassle-free transportation to delicious local cuisine. Take some time to explore the city with guided tours or venture off on your own, safe in the knowledge that you have the resources to make your stay truly special.

Currency details

Currency:

Hong Kong dollar

Currency code:

HKD

Currency symbol:

$, HK$

Central bank:

Hong Kong Monetary Authority

Nickname:

Honkie

Currency sub-unit:

Cent = 1/100

Bank notes:

$10, $20, $50, $100, $500, $1,000

Coins:

10¢, 20¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $5, $10

Must-dos while you are in Hong Kong

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1. Visit Victoria Harbour 

Victoria Harbour is the gateway to Hong Kong. This iconic waterfront area is lined with skyscrapers, shopping malls, and restaurants, making it one of the most lively areas in the city. You can take a stroll along the harbourfront promenade or hop onto one of the many ferries that depart from here. A visit to Victoria Harbour should definitely be at the top of your list! 

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2. Take the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour  

Taking a ride on the Star Ferry is one of the best ways to experience Hong Kong’s stunning skyline without breaking your budget. The Star Ferry provides stunning views of both sides of Victoria Harbour, including some of Hong Kong’s famous skyscrapers. Plus, it’s a great way to get around if you want to save some money on transportation costs.

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3. Ride the Peak Tram to The Peak

The Peak Tram is one of Hong Kong’s oldest transportation services, and it takes passengers up to Victoria Peak—the highest point in all of Hong Kong. On this journey, you’ll get incredible views as you ascend up into the sky. At The Peak, there are plenty of activities for visitors, such as shopping, dining, and sightseeing. 

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4. Explore Stanley Market  

Stanley Market is one of Hong Kong’s most popular markets located in Stanley Town on southern Hong Kong Island. It’s full of interesting stores selling traditional Chinese goods like silk clothing and antiques, as well as souvenirs like postcards and magnets that make perfect mementos from your trip. Be sure to take some time out from exploring other parts of town to check out this bustling market.

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5. See the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island  

The Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island is an impressive bronze statue that stands at over 100 feet tall and faces north towards Beijing—it’s an iconic sight not only for visitors but also for locals who come every day for prayer and meditation sessions under its watchful eye. The statue is surrounded by lush greenery, which makes it even more beautiful—definitely worth a visit when you’re in town.

Other helpful guides & resources on travel in Hong Kong

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