Planning to Visit Hong Kong: The Must Knows
Hong Kong is a large cosmopolitan city that you cannot compare to New York or London.
To get the sense of Cantonese culture, you have to get out of HK Central and explore the outlying islands, New Territories, and surrounding fishing villages, and to help you get the most out of your next trip there below is an insider guide to the city.
The British ruled Hong Kong from Y 1841 to 1997 before handing sovereignty over to China. This agreement established a 50-year period of autonomy when Hong Kong would be governed by a “One Country, Two Systems” agreement. As such, Hong Kong is currently a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China with its own constitution, currency, passports. The official languages are Cantonese and English.
Hongkongers are generally quite proud of their cultural heritage. They like to identify as Hongkongers 1st and, by extension, Cantonese, then as Chinese.
In the major urban districts, most residents will speak English, but Cantonese is the local language. Please do not speak to them in Mandarin, it is not similar to Cantonese.
HK’s public transit is efficient, clean, and affordable. About a 25c buys a ride on the famous Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour. Another historic mode of transit, the tram costs just 30c per journey.
But before you do anything, buy an Octopus card. It can be used on all public transit, at convenience stores, and even at some coffee shops.
Hong Kong also has Uber and affordable taxis starting at $3.
When greeting people 1st thing in the morning, a friendly “Joh sun” (good morning) is an easy phrase to master. For something more complicated, Hongkongers often greet each other with “Nei hou ma? Sek jor faan mei?”(How are you? Have you eaten rice yet?).
Hong Kong does not turns off its air-conditioning ever. In July, you may be sweating on the streets 1 min and shivering inside a department store the next. In the Spring, March–early June, carry an umbrella and pack a classic trench coat to prepare for the non-stop rain.
Definitely pack good walking shoes or plan to buy them, as Hong Kong has so many hills and public transport is the best ways to get around, so expect to be walking a lot. Hongkongers love colorful sneakers, get yourself a pair while you are there, the louder and more colorful, the better.
Chinese cuisine is all about sharing. If you are traveling as a 2-some, there is no need for you to order 2 portions; order a sampling of dishes and share.
Tea Etiquette: When refilling the glasses or cups for others, start with the most senior or eldest person at the table. When someone serves you tea, it is common practice to tap your 2 1st fingers on the table as a thank you.
Do’s and Do and Do Not’s
Do take the Airport Express train from the airport into town. It’s just a 24-minute trip to Central.
Do turn the teapot lid upside down or place it on top of the handle if you need a refill.
Do make a wave motion with your hand to signify to taxis that you’d like to cross the harbor. Cross-harbor taxis usually have a white cover over their lights.
Do take pictures of everything. Unlike most places, it is not just tourists who are snap-happy. Hongkongers like to document everything.
Do Not stick your chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice, as it’s associated with funerals.
Do Not try to hail a cab if you see double yellow lines by the curb. Taxis can only stop if there is a single line, or none at all.
Do Not feel obliged to leave a 20% tip, unless the server goes above and beyond. There’s a 10% service charge on the check already, anything extra should reflect the experience.
I lived there for 4 years, it is a terrific city!
Enjoy your trip
Latest posts by Paul Ebeling (see all)
- President Trump is the Man to Run the Country in This ‘National Emergency’ - April 1, 2020
- Wall Street’s Key Stock Analysts Research Report, All Buys - April 1, 2020
- The Top 5 DJIA Stocks for Q-1 are… - April 1, 2020