Hong Kong's protests have become more unpredictable, grown increasingly violent and spread beyond government districts in recent days, about two months after they kicked off. Still, experts say the city is safe for travelers - as long as they steer clear of action and stay alert.
"It is still safe to travel there," says Matt Bradley, regional security director of International SOS. "It's just there's more disruption than there was before."
A strike on Monday caused chaos in the city of 7.4 million, shutting down transportation systems, forcing flight cancellations and shuttering stores. Demonstrators clashed both with police and with counter-protesters, with dozens arrested. The protests originally started over a bill, now tabled, that would allow mainland China to extradite suspected criminals. But activists have expanded their list of grievances and demands, and observers expect the demonstrations to continue.
Bradley said his company is expecting more protests on Wednesday and Friday. "Our assessment is that the protests are going to continue until they get the result that they're looking for," he says.
Tourists have generally not been caught up in the activity, though at least one South Korean national who was demonstrating has been arrested, according to Brendan O'Reilly, intelligence analyst for the Asia region for global risk management firm WorldAware.
He said many demonstrations are announced in advance by mainstream activist groups, but smaller and more violent protests have also cropped up, especially around police stations. Those can be especially risky to travelers, Bradley says, because they may not immediately be recognisable as a protest and visitors might not know to get away.
"Avoid all protests whenever you see them; try to learn about them in advance so you can avoid even going there," Bradley says. "If you go there and they're around where you're at, you've just got to get out of there."
Kate Springer, an American journalist based in Hong Kong, said in an email that while major tourist spots such as Victoria Peak or the Big Buddha statue have been "relatively unscathed," protests have taken place in other tourist areas including Central, Admiralty, Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok.
"The tricky thing for travelers who might not know the city well is that the protesters have a 'whack-a-mole' strategy where they protest in one area, then move quickly to another area," she wrote. "So it's hard to anticipate their next move. I could see travelers getting accidentally caught up in it or stuck in traffic due to the activity."
Bradley urged travelers to be flexible in their plans and monitor local sources of news for the best information.
O'Reilly said travelers can take one other precaution: avoiding black T-shirts, which have been worn by those protesting the extradition bill, or white T-shirts, which have been adopted by counter-protesters.
"In addition to avoiding protest locations, visitors might want to reassess their clothing choices to avoid getting caught up in the clashes," he said in an email.
Freelance journalist and photographer Laurel Chor, a Hong Kong native who has been covering the protests, said in an email she still considers the area safe for visitors. Other than Monday, she said, the protests have been easy to avoid - though she acknowledged the situation could change.
"The biggest risk is inhaling tear gas if you happen to be nearby," she wrote. She added that protesters "are actively trying to court the international community and are actually extra friendly and helpful to tourists."
Visitor numbers from the Hong Kong Tourism Board show that the number of tourists increased 14 percent year-over-year through June, reaching almost 35 million for the first half of the year. Tourist activities are continuing as usual, according to the board.
"Hotel and tourism operators are also monitoring the current situation, and are prepared to provide necessary assistance to minimise impacts on travelers in the event that unforeseen circumstances arise," Bill Flora, the tourism board's US director, said in an email. "Hong Kong continues to be a welcoming city for travelers."