Things Canadians should know before travelling to Hong Kong

A police officer stands next to some protesters who are blocking the door of a train at a subway platform in Hong Kong on Tuesday, July 30, 2019. Protesters in Hong Kong have disrupted subway service during the morning commute by blocking the doors on trains, preventing them from leaving the stations. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Anti-government demonstrations are rocking Hong Kong, disrupting the city with marches and flooding transportation systems.

The protests were sparked over a bill that would have allowed extradition from the semi-autonomous territory to mainland China, but have since broadened into a movement that demands democratic reform. The mass demonstrations, which are drawing hundreds of thousands of people, are said to be affecting the region’s economy and at times lead to chaotic and violent scenes.

So what should Canadians who live in Hong Kong or are planning to visit know about navigating this region?

No government advisory

Currently, the Government of Canada’s travel advisory states to take normal security precautions in Hong Kong. There is also a notice about the ongoing protests, which advises travellers to monitor local news and avoid areas where the demonstrations are taking place.

Travel expert Barry Choi says this won’t help any travellers who are second-guessing a trip to China.

“Because there’s not technically an advisory, you can’t cancel your trip,” he tells Yahoo Canada. “Sometimes with travel insurance, if the government puts up an official advisory, you can cancel your trip.”

Stay informed

Another simple piece of advise Choi can offer is to use common sense. If there’s a protest at City Hall, for example, avoid going to the area.

“If you’re going to Hong Kong to visit tourist areas, like Disneyland or Ocean Park, it’s unlikely the protestors will be there,” he says.

However, it’s still best to be aware. Choi suggests speaking with the concierge at your hotel on places to avoid, and check local news reports.

“These protests are the things that affect all the people locally so they’re pretty on it,” he says. “This affects every citizen in Hong Kong so I’m pretty sure they’re well aware of what’s going on.”

Avoid wearing black

Choi says additional caution can be exercised by booking hotels away from where protests are known to take place.

And since protestors are wearing all black to show solidarity, Choi says it’s probably best to not wear that colour.

“This might be a good over-caution,” he says. “But maybe don’t wear those colours. You don’t want to look like protestors.”

A protester throws a tear gas canister which was fired by police as they face off with riot police on streets in Hong Kong, Sunday, July 28, 2019. Police launched tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday for the second night in a row in another escalation of weeks-long anti-government and pro-democracy protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)